The Prophet Muhammad (saw)

Salman al-Farsi: From Fire to Divine Light

Mabih was born in a house where they believed the fire to be holy and grand. The fire, however, got smaller as he grew up. Although the father tried to carve a god out of fire for his son, the son had already put it out; he was, in fact, burning with a yearning to find the truth. Mabih did not sacrifice reason to tradition. All throughout his journey that started in the Jay district of Isfahan and ended in Medina, he remained on the side of reason. When reason is sound, it can elevate a person to higher levels like a staircase. Here is how the first step was taken: Once when Mabih was walking in the countryside, he saw a church. He compared it to the fire in their house. The thought of believing in an invisible God turned the fire into smoke and burned his eyes. It made him ask, "Which religion is the truth?" The answer to the question was tinted with worry. "Are you looking for a religion different than your father's?" "No! I am searching for the Lord of the Earth and Heavens."

The father imprisons his beloved son. The son runs away with a caravan bound for Damascus. The second step is the finding of a priest. He becomes a devoted student to this priest, for the priest is a great scholar in Damascus. But then he realizes that the priest is stealing from the poor and this realization puts an end to his devotion. The third step is another priest. This one is pious, but near the end of his life. Mabih asks the priest for direction before he dies. The priest gives him a brand new direction: Mousul. The person that the priest guides him to is another devoted priest, who is also near the end of his life. Mabih asks him for a sign, which turns out to be another priest in Amuriyyah (Sivrihisar). Mabih sets out again searching for true knowledge. Another dying priest at this fifth stop tells him these striking words: "You will hear that a man from the family of Abraham has come. Go to him if you can, for he is the messenger of the true religion. And look for these signs in him: His people will reject him, calling him an oracle, a lunatic and a wizard. He accepts gifts offered to him but he does not accept charity. He also has a seal of prophecy between his two shoulder blades."

The real journey starts after this fifth stop. People coming from Medina are talking about a man descended from Abraham. Mabih becomes very excited and tells the head of the caravan that he wants to go to Medina. The man wants to know what he will get in return. Mabih says, "I've got nothing left to give you. But I can be your slave." The head of the caravan accepts his proposal. Mabih works so hard in the date gardens that sores open on his chest and back. But he does not complain, for he is watching for something. At last, he learns from an old Iranian woman where ‘the man who has declare himself a prophet' is. He picks a handful of dates and runs to see him. Allah's Apostle asks, "What is this, a gift or charity?" When Mabih tells him that it's charity he does not eat the dates, but offers them to his companions. Mabih runs to see him again the next day. He has more dates in his hands, but this time they are a gift. Allah's Apostle accepts the dates and eats them. He takes off his cloak when he notices that Mabih is trying to see his seal. And there it is! Mabih kisses the seal and hugs the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet tells him, "Go and buy your freedom!"

The price of freedom is three hundred date saplings and 16,000 thousand dirhams. The companions carry the date saplings for their brother. The Prophet plants them with his own hands. The necessary amount of gold is paid too. The Prophet changes Mabih's name to Salman. Salman carries the flag of the army on expeditions. By himself he digs a ditch that would normally require the labor of ten people. For this reason, the Prophet calls him Salman al-Khayr (Salman the Beneficent). Salman's only role model is the Prophet, who freed not only his body, but also his soul. Upon the Prophet's following saying, "No one has eaten anything better than that which is the work of his hands," Salman weaves baskets with his own hands using date fronds. He finds that he has too many possessions and asks his wife to get rid of them saying, "My friend (the Prophet) did not advise me to have these. He advised me that my belongings should be like those a traveler carries around with him." When he got married, his friends asked him what he thought of his wife. He said, "Allah the Almighty created covers and curtains to hide what is inside houses." And he reminded them that the Prophet compared those who shared the secrets of their private life to animals coupling out in the open.

There are other things that Salman reminded us of. He told Abu'd Darda, who called him to the Blessed Lands of Mecca and Medina, "Neither land nor community can elevate a person. The only thing that elevates them is their actions." He highlighted the essence of Islam with this answer. Once he said that there were two men who had fought over a fly; as a result, one went to Hell and the other went to Heaven. Thus, "nothing is small". He called people to create a balance and emphasized the positive impact of sustaining oneself financially by committing oneself to worship and leaving worries behind with the following words: "Your family has rights over you. Pray at night and sleep too. Fast during the day, but not everyday." Wisdom was so important to him that he was struck by the following answer that a non-Muslim woman gave him when he asked if there was a clean place to pray in: "Go ahead and look for a pure heart and pray wherever you want." Upon hearing this answer, he turned to his friend and told him: "Look at the wisdom coming from the heart of a woman who is not Muslim."

Salman Al-Farsi was the governor of the city of Madain at the time of the caliphate of Umar. What a governor he was! He wore the simplest two-piece garments, even when he was addressing thirty thousand people. Of these two pieces, he used one as a prayer rug and the other to cover his body. He had no other clothes. He gave away his salary as governor to the poor and earned his livelihood by working with his hands. He made earthen pots and sold each for three dirhams. He bought new clay for his pots with one of the dirhams, gave one to charity and used the last one to pay for the needs of his household. Instead of trying to make himself look great in people's eyes with elaborate words he shared with them the ever-bright divine light of truth. One time, upon his arrival, a thousand people ran to the masjid to listen to him. Salman was standing; he asked the people to sit down and then started to recite Surah Al-Yusuf. But then, the people scattered one by one, with only a hundred of them remaining in the masjid. Salman, that tender-hearted man, stopped reciting, stood up and roared at the Muslims:

"You want pompous words, but you run away when I recite to you from the book of Allah!"

Poet and writer Ali Ural continues to write about the Companions of the Prophet that reflect his light and radiance


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