One of the companions known for his suffering in the early days of Islam was Khabbab bin Al-Aratt, a young man from the Banu Tamim tribe of Najd (may Allah be pleased with him). He was brought to Makkah as a slave and was purchased by a Makkan woman called Umm Anmar who placed him as an apprentice with a blacksmith to learn sword making. Khabbab excelled in the art and earned the woman many riches.
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) began his mission, Khabbab promptly heeded the call and became either the sixth or seventh person to embrace Islam. Prior to the divine command to migrate from Makkah to Madinah, Khabbab would suffer untold hardships due to his beliefs.
Since he was not from Makkah and had no tribe to support him, the torture he underwent was tremendous. When Umm Anmar came to know of his relationship with the Prophet (peace be upon him), she would visit him at his workshop and brand his head with a hot iron rod.
Umm Anmarâs brother, Sibaâa bin Abdul Uzza, was â along with a group of ruffians â given the task of punishing Khabbab who would be made to put on steel armor and lie in the sun to sweat. Very often he was made to lie flat on burning sand, something that caused the flesh on his back to waste away. While torturing him they would call on him to renounce the Prophet and pledge allegiance to their deities. Khabbab would, however, remain firm in his belief in the One Allah, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and reject their pagan deities.
During his caliphate, Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) once asked Khabbab about his sufferings. He showed him his back, at which Umar said, âI have never seen such a back before.â Khabbab then said, âMy body was dragged over heaps of smoldering charcoal and the blood and fat coming out of my back would extinguish the fire.â
In spite of his hardships, Khabbab remained firm in the faith. He would often visit other companions, including Fatima (the sister of Umar bin Al-Khattab) and her husband to teach them the Qurâan. Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) eventually purchased him and granted him his freedom.
Khabbab fought alongside the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the Battle of Badr and in the Battle of Uhud where his tormentor Sibaâa bin Abdul Uzza met his end at the hands of the Prophetâs uncle, Hamza (may Allah be pleased with him).
It is said that toward the end of her life, Umm Anmar was afflicted with an illness that would leave her suffering terrible headaches. Her relatives sought medical help and were told that the only cure was to cauterize her head â this was done using a red-hot iron.
It is said that when Islam spread and territory after territory came under the influence of the Muslims, Khabbab would weep and say: âAllah seems to be compensating us in this world for all our sufferings and perhaps nothing would be left for us as reward in the hereafter.â
This noble companion died in 37 AH during Aliâs caliphate and was the first companion to be buried in Kufa. Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) once passed by his grave and said, âMay Allah bless and show mercy on Khabbab. He embraced Islam willingly. He emigrated with great pleasure in Allahâs path, and spent his whole life in striving and suffering for Islam. Blessed is the person who is mindful of the Day of Judgment, prepares for his reckoning, remains content with very little of this world and is able to please his Lord.â
Pleasing Allah was the companionsâ greatest achievement â this was their sole purpose of life, something we should all endeavor to achieve. Let us take inspiration from them, value their sacrifice and tread in their steps in fulfilling the command of He whose realm has no end. ¬