How was the prophets treatment of families of martyrs? How was the prophets treatment of martyrs?
“If you want your heart softened, feed the poor and caress the orphan’s head.” (Ibn Hanbal, II, 263, 387)
The boys and girls who lose their parents before the age of puberty are called orphans according to Islamic principles. It is stated in a saying of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) that “There is no orphan after puberty…” (Abu Dawud, Wasaya, 9) and so it was expressed that being an orphan is something related to the period of childhood.
Due to the constant battles and the easiness of divorce, the number of orphans and divorcees in Arab society were very high during the age of ignorance. At that time, orphans were despised and their rights were violated. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was himself raised as an orphan and personally experienced his peoples’ behaviors towards the orphans. In fact, Allah the Almighty expresses in the Qur’an that He protected His Messenger during his childhood as an orphan:
“Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter?” (al-Duha 93; 6) And by the following Divine decree, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was ordered to protect the orphans and appease their needs like Allah the Almighty had done for him:
“Therefore, as for the orphan, do not oppress (him).” (al-Duha 93; 9)
The Prophet’s concern with the orphans and making regulations for their rights began in the early days of his prophethood. The leader of the immigrants to Abyssinia, Ja’far b. Abi Talib (r.a.), said in his speech defending Islam and the believers before the Negus that in the age of ignorance the powerful people had been oppressing the weak, but the Prophet (pbuh) had always been with the weak and protected their rights. He also added that the Messenger of Allah had been forbidden anyone “to consume the orphans’ property.” (Ibn Hisham, I, 359)
In one of the verses of the Qur’an, it is eloquently expressed how those who try to consume orphans property and violate their rights will be disappointed both in this world and in the Hereafter:
“(As for) those who swallow the property of the orphans unjustly, surely they only swallow fire into their bellies and they shall enter burning fire.” (al-Nisa 4; 10)
As it can be seen, those who somehow try to unrightfully consume or waste an orphan’s rights will actually destroy themselves before the orphan. Because of this, there is no way for a believer other than to obey and follow the contents of the following verse:
“And do not approach the property of the orphan except in the best manner…” (al-An’am 6; 152) In fact, because of this intensive Islamic sensitivity about orphans, the Prophet’s Companions hesitated to be near the orphans lest they were to unknowingly violate their rights. When this situation was presented to the Prophet (pbuh), the following verse was revealed:
“…And they ask you concerning the orphans. Say: the best thing to do is what is for their good, and if you become co-partners with them, they are your brethren; and Allah knows the mischief-maker and the pacemaker…” (al-Baqara 2; 220) (Tirmidhi, Wasaya, 11)
By this verse Allah the Almighty emphasized that He knows very well who means good and who means mischief for the orphans. Therefore, one should not abstain from taking responsibilities and should treat the orphans like their brothers.
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh), who stated that consuming an orphan’s wealth is among the most destructive of sins (Bukhari, Wasaya, 23), invites us to be protectors of the orphans in every aspects of life. For instance, in one of his sayings the Prophet (pbuh) says that:
“The best home among the believers is the one in which there is an orphan who is cared for. The worst home among the believers is the one in which there is an orphan who is treated badly.” (Ibn Majah, Adab, 6)
According to this saying, it is not enough to shelter an orphan at home, but one is also required to treat them nicely. If an orphan is treated badly both spiritually and physically, while his food, shelter, and clothing are provided, such kindnesses may turn into a kind of oppression for him.
In one of his sayings Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) notes how one can earn Paradise by treating orphans well:
“If one takes an orphan to his home to feed him, Allah the Almighty will put him into His Paradise unless he commits an unforgivable misdeed.” (Tirmidhi, Birr, 14)
The phrase “unforgivable misdeed” brings to one’s mind two great sins: one is assigning partners to Allah the Almighty or to accept the existence of gods other than Allah; and the other one is to violate other peoples’ rights.
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) also informs us that he will be a neighbor in Paradise to those who raise an orphan by bearing all his material and spiritual problems. One of the reports, in this context, is as follows:
“Whoever raises three orphans gets rewarded like a worshipper who prays all night long, and fasts during the day while unsheathing his sword for the sake of Allah. And I will be with him in Heaven like two brothers as these two fingers.” And then he pointed to his forefinger and his middle finger. (Ibn Majah, Adab, 6)
Being able to enter Heaven certainly is a great joy. What is greater than to be one of the neighbors of the Messenger of Allah in Heaven. Allah the Almighty Who created Heaven and reserved all the high ranks to those who do good deeds has reserved the happiness of being a neighbor to His Messenger (pbuh) to those who protect the orphans. This is expressed in another tradition of the Prophet (pbuh):
“Abu Huraira reported that Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said:
“One who looks after the orphan whether he is his relative or not, I and he shall be together in Paradise like this,” and Malik b. Anas, the narrator of this tradition, explained it with the gesture by drawing his index finger and middle finger close together. (Muslim, Zuhd, 42)
As it is stated in this tradition, orphans are of two types: orphans who are related and other peoples’ orphans. Someone’s grandchildren, brother’s or sister’s children, full or half brothers, and someone’s own children can be counted among orphans who are related.
An orphan may have some property left from his/her parents. In this case, believers should look after them and their property until they reach puberty and prevent their property being lost. If they do not have any possessions, protecting them means to look after them and not to make them feeltheir parents’ absence. In every society, there are countless orphans. Many of them are being oppressed and forced into bad situations for not having someone to protect and guide them.
The protectors of the orphans fill a gap and wrap a wound in their society. They shoulder the responsibility of being a human. Those who prevent someone from being crashed under the burdens of life will feel an endless joy and will enjoy the infinite rewards informed by the following tradition:
“If someone caresses an orphan’s head for the sake of Allah, there will be a reward for every single hair that his hand touched…” (Ibn Hanbal, V, 250)
What a great reward! Therefore, one who embraces and loves an orphan with compassion and tries to make him forget his loneliness and his state will be purified under a shower of Divine blessings.
If an orphan smiles, it is because of the compassionate hand which caressed his head. When an orphan smiles the whole of society will smile. It should not be forgotten that treating an orphan nicely in this world is also a means for peace of mind. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) gave the following advice to one of his Companion who complained about the hardness of his heart:
“If you want your heart to be softened, feed the poor, and caress the orphan.” (Ibn Hanbal, II, 263, 387)
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) has become an example for us not just with his words but also with his actions. When there is a matter related to the orphans, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would always care and observe them. For instance, the land chosen for the building of the Prophet’s mosque belonged to two orphan boys called Sahl and Suhail who were under the guardianship of Medinan believer Asad b. Zurara. These two orphans wanted to donate the land for the mosque construction but the Prophet (pbuh) did not accept it and paid its price. (Bukhari, Manaqib al-Ansar, 45)
We also see some orphans under the personal guardianship of the Prophet (pbuh). According to Ibn Sa’ds report, before his death, Abu Umamah (r.a.) left his three little daughter named Kabsha, Habiba, and Faria, to the Prophet (pbuh). Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) showed these three girls the utmost care and raised them under his personal care. (Ibn Sa’d, III, 610)
Abu Juhaifa (r.a.), who was an orphan, narrates an incident about the civil servants who were responsible for the collection and distribution of alms:
“One of the Prophet’s officers, who was responsible for alms, came to us. He took the alms from the rich and gave them to the needy. I was an orphan, so he gave me a camel, too.” (Tirmidhi, Zakat, 21)
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) also warned his companions who did not have the capacity and the adequate financial means to not take on such a heavy responsibility. He advised Abu Dhar al-Ghifari (r.a.) by saying:
“O Aba Dhar! I see you weak. I want for you the things that I want for myself. Do not be a commander even for two people and do not take on the responsibility of an orphan’s property.” (Nasai, Wasaya, 10)
Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) showed special attention to the orphans and families of the martyrs. He helped them to the best of his ability and means. Sometimes, he personally undertook the responsibility of such people and joined in their sorrow and tears, while other times he reminded the high ranks of the martyrs and thus tried to comfort them.
Bashir b. Aqraba says that:
“When my father Aqraba was martyred in the battle of Uhud, I came to the Messenger of Allah crying. He told me:
“O Beloved! Why are you crying? Don’t cry and Wipe your tears. Would you be contended if I become your father, and Aisha becomes your mother?” I replied:
“May mother and father be sacrificed for you O Messenger of Allah! Of course I would be content at that.” Thereupon, he caressed my head. Now my hair has turned white but the part that the Prophet (pbuh) touched remains black.” (Bukhari, al-Tarikh al-Kabir, II, 78; Ali al-Muttaqi, Kanz, XIII, 298)
We observe another example of Prophet’s kindness to the families of the martyrs in a narration by Umm Haritha, whose son was martyred in the Battle of Badr.
Haritha has been martyred on the day of Badr with an arrow shot by an unidentified person. Thereupon, Umm Haritha came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said,
“O Apostle of Allah! Will you tell me about Haritha?” She added, “If he is in Paradise, I will be patient; otherwise, I will weep bitterly for him.” He said,
“O mother of Haritha! There are Gardens in Paradise and your son has reached the Firdaws al-ala (i.e. the best place in Paradise).” (Bukhari, Jihad, 14; Ibn Hanbal, III, 272)
Another example is that the Prophet (pbuh) first placed Umama the daughter of his uncle Hamza, who had been martyred in the Batlle of Uhud, under the guardianship of Ja’far b. Abi Talib and then married her to Umm Salama’s son Salama (r. anhum). (Ibn Sa’d, VIII, 159-160)
When the Prophet (pbuh) heard about Ja’far b. Abi Talib’s martyrdom in the Battle of Mutah, he rushed to the martyr’s house, hugged his children, and ordered the people around to prepare some food for the martyr’s grieving family. (Ibn Hisham, III, 436)
We also see in the records that the Prophet (pbuh) looked after this martyr’s family closely in the days that followed. Abdullah son of Ja’far (r.a.) narrates the following incident about the Prophet’s care for them:
“I remember very well that one day I and Abbas’s two sons, Kusam and Ubaidullah, were playing outside. Riding a camel Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) came to us. Pointing at me, he said:
“Hold this boy up to me.” And let me sit in front of him. Then he indicated to Kusam and said:
“Hold this one up to me.” And let Kusam sit behind him. Even though Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) knew that his uncle Abbas loved Ubaidullah more than Kusam, he let Kusam ride with him. He, then, caressed Kusam’s head three times and he prayed:
“O Allah! Protect Ja’far’s children!” (Ibn Hanbal, I, 205; Hakim, III, 655)
Similarly, one day Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) stopped by Abdullah b. Ja’far, who was selling something to children in the market. The Prophet (pbuh) prayed for him saying:
“O Allah! Bless this boy’s transactions.” (Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba, II, 289)
Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) also made the following general supplication about the martyr’s families:
“O Allah! Take the sadness out of their heart and the hardships out of their lives. Make those whom the martyr left behind favorable to him.” (Waqidi, I, 316)
 One of the narrators of this tradition says that: I told Abdullah b/ Ja’far:
“What happened to Kusam then?” He said:
“He became a martyr.” Therupon I said:
“Allah and His Messenger know best.” Abdullah agreed:
“Yes, they do.”