Muhammad
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Young Sahaba in the Prophet's circle

When we think of the Prophet's life and his Companions, mature and elderly people seem to come to mind. However, when we look at the first Muslims close to the Prophet, who began his Prophethood at the age of forty, we see that most of them were young.

While the Prophet Muhammad was making the call to Islam, he received a large part of his support from youth who comprised the social segment that was open to new things, idealist and energetic. In fact, while several of the first Muslims were around 50 years-old and several were above 35, the age of the remaining majority was under thirty.

For example, the age of the following persons who accepted Islam at an early age was:  Ali 10, Abdullah b. Umar ve Ubayda b. al-Jarrah 13, Uqba b. Amir 14, Jabir b. Abdullah and Zayd b. Harise 15, Abdullah b. Mes'ud, Habbab b. Aret and Zubayr b. Awwam 16, Talha b. Ubaydullah, Abdurrahman b. Awf, Arkam b. Abi'l-Arkam, Sa'd b. Abi Wakkas and Asma bint Abu Bakr 17, Muaz b. Jabel and Mus'ab b. Umayr 18, Abu Musa al-Ash'ari 19, Jafer b. Abu Talip 22, Osman b. Huwayris, Osman b Affan, Abu Ubayda, Abu Hurayra and Umar 25-31. (1)

Those close to the Prophet and those who fought together with him were also young. (2) For this reason, Prophet Muhammad gave distinct importance to them.

As narrated by Samura b. Jundab, the Prophet instructed his Companions not to kill the youth of the idolators. When Abdullah asked his father Ahmad b. Hanbel what this meant, he said, "Older people are not inclined to accept Islam. The youth are closer to Islam than older people." (3)

As reported by Anas b. Malik, there were 70 youth from the Ansar and they called themselves the "Qurra." In the evening they would disperse into various districts of Medina and form study groups. They would lead the people in prayer and return to the Prophet's masjid in the morning. Muhammad sent them to Bi'r-‘Maune to convey the Islamic message. However, they were trapped and all of them were martyred. Consequently, the Prophet read the Qunut prayer for 15 days in the morning ritual prayer and cursed the murderers. (4) (Detailed information related to this topic can be found in the siyar section.)

When we look at all the Prophet's relationships with youth, we see that his whole effort and goal was to generate a youth that was pious, virtuous and chaste.

For he informed us, "On the day when there is no shade except in the shadow of Allah's throne, seven classes of people will find shade in Allah's shadow." The first group in this hadith is "those who rule justly," and the second group is "the youth who are raised worshipping Allah." (5)

In other narrations, it is stated, "Allah loves the youth who pass their youth in obedience to Him," and "Allah loves the youth who repents." (6)

 "On Doomsday until man is asked about these five things he will not be free from interrogation in God's presence: How he spent his life, where he spent his youth, where he earned his property and where he spent it, and what works he consciously made." (7)

 "For a youth who does a service for an elderly person due to age, Allah will prepare others to serve him." (8)

Due to this warm and sincere interest which was encouraging to youth, young Companions matured to the point of sacrificing their lives, property, and families on Allah's path. The oppression, terrible torture, hunger and years of besiegement they saw from the Meccans, their families in particular, as soon as they became Muslim never daunted them. As a necessity of the faith and virtue they got from the Prophet, they not only dared to leave Mecca, but when the time came they even dared to leave this world.

An Introduction to Some of the Young Sahaba Trained by the Prophet:

Jafer b. Abu Talib (d. 8 H.)

Jafer was the son of the Prophet's uncle, Abu Talib, and Ali's older brother. These words spoken by Jafer b. Abu Talib to Najashee when he immigrated to Abyssinia as a result of persecution from the Meccans show his knowledge and self-confidence as a youth:

"O King! We were an ignorant society that worshipped idols, ate dead meat, made every kind of prostitution, cut off ties with our relatives, and treated our neighbors badly. The strong among us oppressed the weak. We were like this until Allah sent us a Messenger from among us whose genealogy, truthfulness, trustworthiness and chastity we know. The Prophet sent to us called us to believe in the unity of God, to serve Him, and to abandon the rocks and idols our fathers worshipped. He called us to be truthful, to fulfill trusts, to continue relations with relatives, to be a good neighbor, to desist from what is haram and from spilling blood, and he forbid us to make prostitution, lying as a witness, violating the property of orphans, and slandering respectable women. He only commanded us to serve Allah and not to take partners with Him, and to pray, give alms and fast." After naming Islam's other commands, he continued, "We immediately affirmed him, believed in him and conformed to what he brought from God. We only served Allah and we did not attribute any partners to Him. We accepted as haram what He made haram and helal what He made helal...(9)

Just as Jafer expressed in a very essential way, the Prophet succeeded within 23 years in turning a society that had continued for centuries in ignorance into the Age of Happiness society. History is witness to how, as a result of Allah's salvation and the Prophet's purification, the cruel and idol-worshipping people of the Age of Ignorance became an exemplary generation by means of social transformation that took place in a very short period of time. It must be for this reason that some methodology scholars said, "Even if there were no proof of Muhammad's apostleship, his Companions alone are enough proof." (10) This new and civilized society formed with his purification and the materialization of a society of Noble Companions is a miraculous transformation, and the formation of such a generation alone proves his apostleship.

Usama b. Zayd (d. 54 H.)

Usama is the son of Zayd b. Harisa, the Prophet's foster child and freed slave. He was "Hibbu Rasulullah" or a youth loved and befriended by the Prophet.

Shortly before the death of the Prophet, Usama was appointed as commander of the Sahaba army that was to be sent to Mutah in which were found Abu Bakr and Umar. Due to this appointment, some began to indicate their criticism, anxiety and displeasure. Hearing their criticisms, the Prophet ordered a sermon to be prepared to the effect that some people had criticized Usama's appointment and that they had criticized his father Zayd (d. 8 H.) (who had been appointed as one of the commanders of the Mutah campaign in  8 H. and was martyred there), (11) but that he loved both of them very much and found them worthy of this duty and that he wanted them to wish Usama well and obey his commands. (12)

Undoubtedly, while appointing Usama, a non-Arab youth, as commander of hundreds of prominent Sahaba, he wanted to show actively that in Islam's preferred understanding of command it was not class and age that were essential, but capability and worthiness. Of course, there were more experienced older Companions in Usama's army. However, the Prophet's appointing a freedman as commander was very important in respect to implanting in their minds that in commandership, class and tribal factors have no importance and in respect to providing opportunities to youth regardless of which social segment they are from. We do not know who made the criticisms regarding the appointment. (13) However, if we make an optimistic estimate, some of these might be people concerned about being subject to some negative results of a battle entered under the direction of a young and inexperienced commander (14) who had been appointed not according to revelation, but under the disposition of consultation. Other criticism might come from new converts or Bedouin who could not accept being under the command of a youth who was the son of a freed slave - even if the Prophet appointed him - or those with their natural characteristics who had not yet escaped from the effects of the Age of Ignorance culture and bigotry and who had not yet fully adopted Islamic teaching. At any rate, the Prophet did not take seriously those who made this criticism, whom he wanted to address, and he implemented the command. On the other hand, many Sahaba, including Abu Bakr who asked permission from Usama for Umar who needed to stay in Medina, obeyed Usama both in regard to the Prophet's appointment and after his death in regard to approval from the Caliph and sending Usama. Thus, they proved once again how meritorious they and Islam were.

Mus'ab b. Umayr (d. 3 H.)

A member of Mecca's wealthiest and noblest family, Mus'ab was raised in comfort and abundance. He was liked by everyone for his way of dressing, his courtesy and his physique. He was an extremely intelligent youth and, due to his fine and clear speech, everyone envied him. There was no worldly blessing Mus'ab had not attained. However, he was in a spiritual crisis. Eventually he went to the Prophet who was in Arkam's house and became Muslim.

His family had tried everything to make him forego this new religion. But Mus'ab abandoned his family, fortune and Mecca and immigrated to Abyssinia. When at the First Aqaba oath those from Medina asked for a teacher to teach them Islam, the Prophet immediately appointed him to this duty. Many people in Medina entered Islam with his efforts, and most learned Islam from him.

When Medina's teacher, Mus'ab, was martyred in the Battle of Uhud, his feet remained uncovered when they covered his head with a shawl and his head remained uncovered when they covered his feet. Finally, at the command of the Prophet, his head was covered with a shawl and his feet were covered with rue plant. (15)

Arqam b. Abi'l-Arqam (d. 55)

One of the first converts to Islam, Arkam's house next to the Safa Peak became a headquarters for the Prophet and other Muslims. Tied with loyalty to the Prophet, he put his house under the Prophet's command. Finding this house, called the "Daru'l-Arqam" in Islamic history, to be very suitable for Islamic activities, the Prophet made it into a center. At first, Muhammad  would clandestinely call people to Islam in this house, and he would teach them how to worship here. Muslims also hid in this house to escape the persecution of the idolators. (16)

Opening his house, which was just next to the Kaaba, for the call to Islam when he was only a youth of 17-18, shows what a very brave and self-sacrificing young man he was.

Muaz b. Jabel (d. 18 H)

Born in 605 A.D. in Medina, Muaz became a Muslim at the second Aqaba oath and became subject to the Prophet's close interest. After the conquest of Mecca, the Prophet appointed him as his deputy.  In the year 9 H. after returning from the Tabuq Campaign, he also appointed him governor of Yemen. The Prophet made necessary recommendations as to how he should govern and call people to Islam to this young governor who was only 27 years-old. These were Muaz's last meetings with the Prophet

Asma bint Abu Bakr (d. 73 H.)

One of the first Muslim young women was Aisha's older sister Asma. Her name first became prominent at the time the Prophet was making preparations for the Emigration. Carrying food at night to the Savr cave where the Prophet and Abu Bakr hid for three days during the Emigration, Asma divided her waistband in two and tied the bag of provisions with one.  The Prophet complimented her saying, "May Allah give you two waistbands in heaven for this one," and she is known as "Zatu'n-Nitakayn" (two waistbands) as a result of this. During those days a group including Abu Jahil came and asked where Asma's father was.  When she said, "I don't know," Abu Jahil struck her and her earrings fell to the ground. (17)

Aisha (d. 58 H.)

Passing the first eight years of her youth as wife of the Prophet, Aisha learned religious sciences from the Prophet himself. Because she shared the same house with Islam's teacher and because it was next to the Masjid, she benefited from his teachings night and day. Listening to his teachings and conversations, she immediately asked and learned anything she did not understand or was curious about or did not know. Also, whenever Muhammad saw any mistake of Aisha's, he immediately corrected her. (18)

Due to the spiritual enlightenment that she got from the Prophet, Aisha became the most distinguished teacher of Islamic principles. Not only reporting the Sunnah and commenting on it, at the same time she put forth the mentality of scholastic criticism on the matter of its being understood correctly. Due to her strong memory, she gave unequalled service in the transmission of hadith and Sunnah to later generations. With the 2210 hadiths she reported, she is fourth in rank among the seven Sahaba who reported the most hadiths. There were more than 200 who reported hadiths from her. At least one fourth of her students were female. (19)The greatest female scholar, Aisha has the most distinguished place among the many representatives of Islamic scholastic mentality. Not only a transmitter of hadith, at the same time she was a commentator on the Qur'an, an expert on canon law and a preacher. She possessed deep knowledge in the fields of Arabian history, Ansab (genealogy), poetry and medicine. Just as she was certain of the hadiths she related, she evaluated the reports that reached her according to high Islamic culture and, regardless of who the transmitters were, she fully performed the duty of correcting mistakes or omissions in them. (20)

With her intelligence and broad experience, the Prophet's beloved wife, Aisha, was a sagacious "mother" who was respected by those, both men and women, who frequently visited her to consult, to get her knowledge on their issues, to listen to her guidance and suggestions, and even to resolve their marital problems and to get her prayer. Her door was even open to enemies who stood against her in former years. Her house was like a center for knowledge, wisdom, guidance and consultation, and it was full of people every day. Her humble house became a hearth of knowledge and wisdom for women/men and the young/the old who went to her to listen or ask questions if they had any. Due to these activities, Medina continued to be a center of knowledge. As a result of the training and teaching activities that continued there for years, the Medina ecole formed the fields of hadith and fiqih, as well as casting the foundation for Islamic sciences and the development of scholastic activity. Just as she verbally answered questions in Medina and Mecca where she made hajj each year, Aisha also did not fail to answer questions sent to her by mail. (21)

As Nedvi, a deceased Indian scholar who wrote the first separate and quite satisfying book on Aisha between the years of 1914-1917, said, "If we turn all the pages of history, we will not see any other woman who has gathered religious, virtuous, political and civilized qualities in her personality and who has fulfilled the requirements of these and become a guide for knowledge and good deeds." (22)

 


1. Sarıçam İbrahim, Hz. Muhammed ve Evrensel Mesajı (Prophet Muhammad and His Universal Message), p. 304-5, Ankara-2001; Karagöz İsmail, Aile ve Genclik (Family and Youth), p. 118-119, Ankara-2005.

2. Ibid., V. 3904) Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, III. 235.

3. Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, V. 13.5) Bukhari, "Adhan," 36, I. 161. 
 
6. For sources and critiques of narrations see: Ajluni, Kashful Khafa, I. 286, no: 748.
 
7. Tirmidhi, "Qiyama," 1, no: 2418, IV. 612
 
8. Tirmidhi, "Birr," 75, no: 2022, IV. 372.
 
9. Ibn Hisam, I. 336 ; Ahmad, I. 203.
 
10. Karafi, Shahabuddin Abu al-Abbas Ahmad b. Idris, al-Furuk, Beirut-t.y., Alamul Kutub, (I-IV), IV.
 
11. See Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-Ghaba, II. 283.
 
12. Mamer, (Abdurrazzâk, XI. 234-5, no: 20413); Ibn Abi Shayba, VII. 415, no: 36980; Shaybani, Muwatta,s. 333; Ibn Sa´d, IV. 66-7; II. 249-250; Said b. Mansur, II. 368, no: 2890; Bukhari, "Fadail al-Ashab," 17,IV. 213; Muslim, "Fadail," 63-4, II. 1884; Tabari, History, III. 226.
 
13. Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, VII. In 759 from critics only Ayyas b. Abi Rabia al-Mahzumi´s name is given. For information see: Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-Ghaba, IV. 320-1, no: 4139.
 
14) Previously the Prophet sent Usama to the Huraka tribe, a branch of the Juhayna. See: Bukhari, "Megazi," 45, V. 88; Ibn Sa´d, II. 119
 
15) See: Bukhari, "Megazi," 17, 26, V. 30-31, 39.
 
16) See: Onkal Ahmet, "Erkam b. Ebu´l-Erkam", DIA, XI. 305.
 
17) See: Ali Yardim, Asma bint Abu Bakr, DIA, XI. 402-404.
 
18. See: Sulayman an-Nadwi, Aisha (in the Age of Happiness), trans. Ömer Rıza Doğrul, İstanbul-1978, in III. 278-285 many of these questions and suggestions have been transmitted.
 
19. For a broad list of students who reported hadith from him see: Zahabi, Siyaru A´lami´n- Nubala, II. 136-9.
 
20. Hatiboğlu Mehmed, Hazret-i Aişe´nin Hadis Tenkitciliği (Aisha´s Hadith Criticism), A.U.I.F.D., XIX. 59-61, 72, year: 1973
 
21. For an example of questions asked to Aisha by letter, see: Malik, 20. Hac 51, I. 340-1; Ahmad, Musnad, VI. 87; Bukhari, "al-Adab al-Mufrad," p. 371, no: 1121, editor: Kemal Yusuf al-Hut, Beirut- 1985, II. print.
 
22. Nadwi, ibid., III. 425.
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