WHO ARE THE FIRST MUSLIMS?

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Who are the first Muslims? What are the name of the first Muslims? How did they become Muslims? Here’s answer…

The first person to believe in the Divine Message was the Messenger of Allah himself, -upon him blessings and peace-, which is expressed in the Quran as such:

آمَنَ الرَّسُولُ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مِن رَّبِّهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ

“The messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord…” (al-Baqara, 285)

قُلْ إِنِّي أُمِرْتُ أَنْ أَعْبُدَ اللَّهَ مُخْلِصًا لَّهُ الدِّينَ

وَأُمِرْتُ لِأَنْ أَكُونَ أَوَّلَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

“Say: “Verily, I am commanded to serve Allah with sincere devotion,

And I am commanded that I shall be the first of those who submit.” (Zumer 11-12)

The next in line to accept Islam after the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- was his honorable wife Khadijah -Allah be well-pleased with her-. Each time the Noble Prophet would return home dejected and depressed from having to put up with the insults, mockery and ill-treatment of his tribesman, the Almighty would soothe his pain with the kind and consoling words of Khadijah -Allah be well-pleased with her- that served as a Divine relief easing his mission.[1]

Once Khadijah -Allah be well-pleased with her- became a Muslim, their daughters Ruqayya, Umm Kulthum and Fatimah -Allah be well-pleased with them- followed in her footsteps.[2]

Having seen the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and Khadijah offer salat together, Ali -may his countenance be ennobled- once asked:

“What are you doing?”

“This is the religion Allah has chosen for Himself. I hereby invite you to believe in the one Allah and worship Him, and reject Lat and Uzza who neither benefit nor harm’, said the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-.

“I have not heard of a religion of this kind until now”, replied Ali. “In any case, I cannot accept anything without first consulting my father Abu Talib.’

As the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- had been calling to Islam only secretly at the time, he said:

“If you will not choose to become a Muslim, Ali, keep this between us, do not expose it.”

That night, the Almighty warmed Ali’s -may his countenance be ennobled-  heart to the light of Islam. He went next to the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- in the morning to ask more questions. Upon receiving the desired answers, he succumbed to the wish of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and became a Muslim. Being only ten years old at the time and fearing his father, he nonetheless kept his acceptance of Islam secret for some time. (Ibn Ishaq, p. 118; Ibn Saad, III, 21).

Every time the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- wished to perform salat, with Ali -may his countenance be ennobled- by his side, he would set out to the valleys of Mecca and worship in secret, and would return by sunset. This continued for a while.

It was only a matter of time before Abu Talib found out about the secret prayers of his son and nephew, whereupon the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- formally invited his beloved uncle to Islam. Abu Talib responded:

“Abandoning the religion of my ancestors, my dear nephew, is not something within my power. But be sure to hold fast onto that with which you have been sent. By Allah, as long as I am alive no harm shall come to you.”

And to Ali -may his countenance be ennobled- he said:

“He invites you only to goodness and integrity. Remain firm on his path, son; do not ever leave him!” (Ibn Hisham, I, 265)

During a commercial visit to Mecca, Abdullah ibn Masud –Allah be well-pleased with him-[3] saw the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, Khadijah and Ali –Allah be well-pleased with them- circumambulate the Kaabah, and noted that Khadijah paid particular attention to covering herself with the hijab. (Zahabi, Siyer, I, 463)

Ufayf al-Kindi also paid a visit to Mecca at the time for trade where he noticed the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, Khadijah and Ali perform salat by the Kaabah. Interested, he requested information about them from Abbas –Allah be well-pleased with him-, who after describing them at length, added:

“By Allah, I know of no other people who believe in this religion apart from those three!”

Even long after having become Muslim, Ufayf –Allah be well-pleased with him- was later always to express his regret for that day and bemoan:

“If only I had accepted Islam that day and had become the second male Muslim! How I wish now to have been the fourth among them!’ (Ibn Saad, VIII, 18; Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba, II, 487)

Right after Ali, Zayd ibn Harithah, –Allah be well-pleased with him-, the freed slave of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, also accepted Islam and offered salat, never leaving the company and service of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- thereafter. So sincere was his devotion to the Messenger of Allah that when the vagrants of Ta’if began stoning the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, he shielded him with his own body until he was left bloody and bruised, for which he was graced with the personal affection and compliments of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-.

In this respect, significant is the following account of Omar –Allah be well-pleased with him- that testifies to the love the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- had for Zayd –Allah be well-pleased with him-.

As Caliph, Omar –Allah be well-pleased with him- had reserved a salary of 3,500 dirham for Zayd’s son Usama, 500 dirham more than the salary of Abdullah, Omar’s own son. Abdullah protested.

“Why do you value Usama more than I, when I have been involved in a greater number of battles than him?’’

Omar’s –Allah be well-pleased with him- response manifested the richness of his heart and the greatness of his humility, along with his extraordinary esteem for justice.

‘Well, son, the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- liked his father more than he liked yours. He also liked Usama more than he liked you. It is for that reason that I have preferred the fondness of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- over mine’. (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 39)

As seen in this example, which is just one among numerous others, the Companions always willingly chose those whom the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- liked over their own.[4]

Abu Bakr –Allah be well-pleased with him- had already been a friend of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- even before Prophethood. Since childhood, he had witnessed the Messenger’s perfect morals, loyalty and trustworthiness and was convinced that a person whose unblemished standards prevented him from uttering even the smallest of lies could never lie about the Almighty. Hence, when invited by the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- to accept Islam, Abu Bakr accepted without hesitation.[5]

In a relevant hadith, the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- states:

“When Allah sent me as a Prophet to you people, you first said ‘You are a liar’. But Abu Bakr said ‘He speaks the truth’ and then supported me with his life and wealth”. (Bukhari, Ashab’u-Nabi, 5)

Nothing had made the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- happier than Abu Bakr’s –Allah be well-pleased with him- acceptance of Islam. Once he became a Muslim, he openly proclaimed his faith without hesitation and began inviting others to believe in Allah and his Messenger.[6]

Abu Bakr –Allah be well-pleased with him- holds an exceptionally important place in the life of the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. In this respect, the success of any given cause depends upon three factors:

  1. A governing idea.
  2. People rallying around that idea.
  3. Financial resource.

The governing idea was the content of Islam, confirmed by Revelation. Regarding the other two factors, Abu Bakr –Allah be well-pleased with him- assumed a crucial role. It was with him that the rallying began and his great wealth was put to use in taking care of the various financial needs of the cause, including, among others, the freeing of Muslim slaves.

To further explain these two points, it can be said that the friendship between the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and Abu Bakr –Allah be well-pleased with him- that spanned across their teenage years, turned into a sublime companionship once the mission of prophethood began.

Already honored for being among the first to accept Islam, Abu Bakr further earned the title as-Siddiq, by not allowing even a speck of doubt to sully his faith. True to this spirit, the upcoming years were to stand witness to his amazing material and spiritual devotion in the cause of spreading Islam, when he was to end up devoting his entire wealth in the way of Allah, glory unto Him.

To love is to overflow with affection for the beloved; it is to be able to love whatever and whoever the beloved loves, to prefer his or her desires over one’s own and to able to sacrifice all in the way of the beloved. The life of Abu Bakr –Allah be well-pleased with him- is filled with such supreme instances of a devoted love for and complete self-annihilation in the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-.

On one occasion, Abu Bakr –Allah be well-pleased with him- became bedridden simply upon hearing the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- was ill. Such uplifting love resulted in a complete bond between the two friends, so much so that the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- said:

“Abu Bakr is part of me and I am part of him. He is my brother both in this world and in the hereafter”. (Daylami, I, 437) This is a confirmation of their companionship in the spiritual world and a mutual reflection of the state of their hearts.

On his deathbed, the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- further said of the doors leading to his Mosque:

“Close all the doors except that of Abu Bakr!” (Bukhari, Ashabu’n-Nabi, 3) This compliment is one of the finest expressions of the spiritual connection and exceptional closeness between the two.

Also becoming Muslim during the first days of the call of Allah’s Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- were Bilal the Abyssinian and his mother –Allah be well-pleased with them-. Bilal –Allah be well-pleased with him- was in fact among the first seven to announce their acceptance of Islam. To renounce his faith, he was inflicted with the severest of tortures, which he would endure, reciting ‘Ahad! Ahad! Allah is one! Allah is one’, each time he was forced to deny his belief.

Paying their ransom, Abu Bakr –Allah be well-pleased with him- freed both Bilal and his mother,[7] for which not only did he receive the praises of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, he also became an exemplar of compassion and generosity.

Mawlana Rumi -may his soul be sanctified- recounts this instance, using the language of the heart, as follows:

“Upon hearing of the horrendous torture exacted on Bilal Habashi, the Siddiq appeared in the presence of the Noble Prophet and informed him of Bilal’s troubles:

‘That sacred soul, who clutches the heavens, has fallen in love with you. He is captivated by your affection. Only for this reason do the oppressors harass that angelic man. In spite of his innocence, they pluck his wings. They want to bury that great treasure in the dirt of idolatry and rebellion…

They are laying him on scorching sand under the burning sun; thrashing his naked body with thorny branches…

But despite the fount-like gushing of blood from his flesh, he still says ‘Allah is one, Allah is one’; he does not give up prostrating to his Lord…’

Compassion and mercy had virtually turned every bit of Abu Bakr’s body into a tongue aching with sorrow and agony, with which he was distressfully and lengthily explaining the torment of Bilal to the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-.

At last, he unveiled the intention in his heart and uttered, ‘I want to ransom him, Messenger of Allah; I am ready to spend all my wealth. I shall not feel at ease in this world until I save that sacred soul who has incurred the wrath and torture of the enemies of Allah only for having loved Allah and having become His slave, and a believer of His messenger’.

The Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- became overly delighted, and responded, ‘I too am your partner in this venture…you compassionate friend of Allah and His Messenger!’

Abu Bakr then immediately headed to the house of Bilal’s master. Bilal had meanwhile passed out from the pain of torture. Abu Bakr had only bitter words to say to his master, the man deprived of even the least mercy.

‘You evil, ruthless soul! How can you torture a friend of Allah? You callous man! With what kind of malice and hatred are you filled?

You merciless beast! Do you think yourself a man? You are a villain deprived of mercy, a disgusting soul clad as a human being!’

Following these words, Abu Bakr quenched the greed of Bilal’s master with so much worldly goods that the man was left in awe as he watched Abu Bakr pour out his ransom.

Realizing the amazement of the deprived man, Abu Bakr said, ‘You fool! Little are you aware that like a child, you have given me a pearl in return for a walnut. Little do you know that Bilal is worth both worlds. The difference is that you look at the color of his skin, while I look at his soul. If you were to insist on more payment during the deal, I would have surely given more to secure him. Were you to insist on even more, I would have given you all I have, and I would have even gone into debt if need be. You simple fool! Remember that only a jeweler can know the worth of a gem’.

Giving voice to a perfect compassion and mercy, Rumi’s -may his soul be sanctified- depiction equally impresses our hearts with the truth that the value of a mature human being is beyond all estimation and that worldly riches amount to nothing in comparison to the spiritual fiber of a human being.

With this humane deed, Abu Bakr –Allah be well-pleased with him- had once more proven the great love he had for the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. Further signs of his boundless love for the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- could be summed up as follows:

– Acting in line with the Quran and principles of Islam brought by the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, lovingly with all his heart.

– Showing compassion to fellow Muslims and persevering in matters to their benefit.

– Not valuing the world and being willingly prepared for poverty if need be.

– Longing to unite with Him.

– Frequently remembering Him.

The guidance of Khalid ibn Said –Allah be well-pleased with him- on the other hand came through a disturbing dream. One night he saw himself on the edge of a huge pit of fire with his father trying to push him down, just when the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- seized him by the waist, saving him from plunging into the flames. When he woke in fear, he said to himself, ‘This must surely be a message!’ Afterwards, through the advice of Abu Bakr –Allah be well-pleased with him-, he went to the Prophet as and accepted Islam.

After hearing about his son’s change of faith, Khalid’s father persecuted him, telling him to, “Go away! You shall no more receive any food from me!”

“Withhold as long as you may…surely Allah will give me my food”, Khalid replied resolutely.

Khalid –Allah be well-pleased with him- remained by the Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- side until the Abyssinian migration. (Hakim, III, 277-280)

Becoming Muslim later were also Khalid’s wife Umayna, his brother Amr and Amr’s wife Fatima –Allah be well-pleased with them-. With the encouragement and guidance of Abu Bakr –Allah be well-pleased with him-, the days of secret calling also saw Abu Fuqayha, Othman, Zubayr ibn Awwam, Abdurrahman ibn Awf, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas and Talha ibn Ubaydullah –Allah be well-pleased with them- taste the delight of Islam.[8]

Othman –Allah be well-pleased with him- once told the following to the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-.

“While in Damascus lying half asleep, Messenger of Allah, we suddenly heard a voice, saying ‘Sleepers, wake up! Ahmed has appeared in Mecca!’ Once we returned to Mecca, we found out about your prophethood.” (Ibn Saad, III, 255)

Talha ibn Ubaydullah –Allah be well-pleased with him- recounts the following:

“I was at the Busra Fair when I heard a priest asking for people from Mecca. I approached him and told him I was from there.

‘Has Ahmed appeared?’ the priest then asked.

‘Which Ahmed?’ I replied.

‘Ahmed ibn Abdullah ibn Abdulmuttalib! The last Prophet set to appear in Mecca. He shall then leave Mecca and migrate to an arid, stony place with date orchards. I advise you to pursue him!’ the priest said.

The priest’s words had made a way into my heart. Immediately leaving the fair, I returned to Mecca.

‘Are there any news of late?’ I asked.

‘Yes’, they replied. ‘Muhammad the Trustworthy, son of Abdullah, claims to be a prophet. Abu Bakr too has followed him’”. (Ibn Saad, III, 215)

Others graced with the blessing of being the first Muslims include Abu Ubayda ibn Jarrah, Abu Salama, Arqam ibn Abi Arqam, Othman ibn Mazun, Asma bint Abu Bakr, Khabbab ibn Arat, Abdullah ibn Masud, Abdullah ibn Jahsh, Jafar ibn Abu Talib, his wife Asma bint Umays, Abu Huzayfa and Amir ibn Fuhayra -Allah be well-pleased with them-.

Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş, The Prophet Muhammed Mustafa the Elect, Erkam Publications

[1] Ibn Hisham , I, 259.

[2] Ibn Saad, VIII, 36.

[3] Abdullah ibn Masud –Allah be well-pleased with him-, also called Abu Abdurrahman, is among the first Muslims. After accepting Islam, he never left the side of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, taking great enjoyment in serving him. Ibn Masud was a thin, delicate man, with a sweet voice and an amiable appearance. Muslims were still very low in number when he entered Islam. The idolaters never ceased harrassing him in Mecca, forcing him to migrate to Medina, where he was sheltered by Muadh ibn Jabal –Allah be well-pleased with him-. He took permanent residence in the town following the Hegira of the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace-, taking active part in all the battles that were to take place thereafter. The Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- used to take great pleasure from listening to Ibn Masud recite the Quran. Because of his profound knowledge, Ibn Masud ended up training numerous scholars of tafsir, hadith and Islamic jurisprudence. The scholars of Kufa, in particular, are known to have given jurisprudential verdicts in accordance with his narrations and opinions. He is reputed to have conveyed a total of 848 hadith narrations. After serving as the Judge of Kufa, Ibn Masud returned to Madina during the caliphate of Othman -Allah be well-pleased with him-, passing away a short time later, aged over sixty years.

[4] Haythami, VI, 174; Ibn  Saad, IV, 30.

[5] Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya, III, 78.

[6] Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya, III, 80-81.

[7] Ibn  Saad, III, 232; Hâkim, III, 319.

[8] Ibn Hisham , I, 268.

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