Eight Abyssinians Who Migrated With Ja’far bin Abi Talib

There were two delegations of Muslims who fled Makkah to Abyssinia due to the persecution of Quraysh. After Muslims were given protection in Abyssinia, there were eight Abyssinians who accepted Islam, then left Abyssinia to Al-Madinah with Ja’far bin Abi Talib (RA).

Those men were Abrahah, Idris, Ashraf, Ayman, Bahir, Tammam, Tamim and Nafi’.

Al-Isbah by ibn Hajr Al-Asqalani states that Tammam was a Jewish rabbi before accepting Islam.

Relating to Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 52 which states, “Those to whom We gave the scripture before, they believe in it [Al-Qur’an],” Al-Mawardi in his tafsir stated that one opinion is that this ayah is related to those eight Abyssinians who were from the People of the Book that accepted Islam.
May Allah (SWT) be pleased with them.

Imam Ali bin Abi Talib: Brother of the Prophet

A man of faith, courage, austerity and knowledge in the way of the Prophet (SAWS) was Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (KW).

Imam Ali was born in Makkah in the Ka’bah during the Era of Ignorance.  His father was Abu Talib, the protector of the Prophet (SAWS) in Makkah, and his mother was Fatimah bint Asad (RA), the woman who also raised the Prophet (SAWS) like a son. He was described by one of his descendants, Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (SA), as being very dark (adam shahid al-udmah), which is the same description given about him in Tarikh Al-Khulafa by As-Suyuti.  Other sources such as Al-Masabih Fi As-Sirah by Imam Abu Al-Abbas Ahmad bin Ibrahim (SA) described him as brown (samrah).

 

Ahmad bin Hanbal stated that there were no more virtues narrated about any from among the companions than Imam Ali.  He is an imam of Sunni and Shi’i muslims alike, and his opinions and sayings are even quoted in madhhab Ibadi, a school of thought practiced in Oman, Tanzania and parts of North Africa that is mistakenly referred to as modern day Khawarij.  Moreover, every spiritual order (At-Tijaniyyah, Al-Ba’Alawiyyah, An-Naqshabandi, etc) traces its knowledge through the chain of Imam Ali.

A few aspects from the life of Imam Ali are:

  • He was raised in the household of the Prophet (SAWS), which includes before and after the revealing of the Qur’an.
  • He was the first male to accept Islam and the first to pray with the Prophet (SAWS).
  • He lied in the bed of the Prophet (SAWS) the night that the Prophet (SAWS) left Makkah to Al-Madinah. Quraysh then beat him up because he spoiled their plot to murder the Prophet (SAWS).
  • When the Prophet (SAWS) paired off companions in Al-Madinah to be best friends, he left Imam Ali for himself and said, “You are my brother in the dunya and the next-life.”
  • When the Prophet (SAWS) left Imam Ali in charge of the affairs of Al-Madinah before heading off to Ghazwah Tabuk, he told him, “You are to me in the position of Harun to Musa though there is no prophet after me.”
  • Upon the passing of the Prophet (SAWS), Imam Ali performed the ghusl as well as the funeral prayer.
  • During the governments of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, Ali gave them the wisest of council. Umar famously said, “’Umar would have been ruined if it were not for Ali.”
  • During the revolt against ‘Uthman while he was the khalifah, Imam Ali sent his sons to his home to protect him. During a siege, ‘Uthman was later killed.
  • Imam Ali was the fourth khalifah and given allegiance by the majority of the Ummah including the People of the Hijaz, Yemen and Iraq.
  • He is credited with being the first to systematize the grammar of the Arabic language and was the teacher of the top scholars of the second generation of Muslims including Abu Al-Aswad Ad-Duwali, Al-Hasan Al-Basri and Mujahid bin Jabr.
  • He was martyred during Ramadan at the time of fajr prayer in Al-Kufah, Iraq by the khariji takfiri named Abdur Rahman bin Muljam.

‘Uways bin ‘Amir: The Best of the 2nd Generation

One of the stellar early Muslims was Uways bin ‘Amir Al-Qarni (RA). He was born in Yemen and came from the Tribe of Murad. He was described as having brown (asmar) skin.

Uways embraced Islam during the time of the Prophet (SAWS) though never personally meeting him. The Prophet (SAWS) told his companions of a man in Yemen who was “The Best of the Followers,” being Uways. Ahmad bin Hanbal’s opinion was that he was the most austere and the most given to salah among the second generation of Muslims. Ash-Shatibi in Al-‘Itisam also referred to him as “The Best of the Worshippers after the Companions” during their era.

Uways achieved martyrdom participating in the army of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (KW) at the Battle of Siffin. The masjid in which he was buried in Ar-Raqqah, Syria was destroyed in an attack by Daesh.

11 Lesser Discussed Aspects of Bilal bin Rabah

The most known companion of the Prophet (SAWS) who was black is Bilal bin Rabah (RA). He is known to have suffered severe torture in Makkah, to be the first caller to prayer and to have participated in the major campaigns such as Badr, Uhud and Khandaq.

Some other and perhaps lesser known aspects about Bilal are the following:

1) Bilal was born in Hijaz, not Abyssinia.

2) His father Rabah was an enslaved Arab, not Abyssinia though he is frequently referred to as Bilal Al-Habashi/The Abyssinian. His mother Hamamah was an enslaved Abyssinian.

3) The Prophet (SAWS) gave him the title “Master of the Callers to Prayer.”

4) He was the treasurer of Ummah’s wealth. He distributed funds to the poor, orphans, widows and wayfayers.

5) The Prophet (SAWS) arranged his marriage to an Arab woman from Bani Bukayr.

6) He entered the Ka’bah with the Prophet (SAWS) on the day of the Conquest of Makkah and helped cleanse it of the false idol deities.

7) He is the only companion to have had the honor of calling to prayer on top of the Kab’ah per the command of the Prophet (SAWS).

8) The Prophet (SAWS) said, “The best of the blacks are three: Bilal, Luqman and Mihja’.” A weaker narration states that he (SAWS) said, “The best of the blacks are four: Luqman, Annajashi, Bilal and Mihja’.”

9) He did not call to prayer during the government of Abu Bakr after the death of the Prophet (SAWS). Upon Abu Bakr telling him to call to prayer after Bilal stated that he wanted to leave Al-Madinah, Bilal told him, “If you freed me for yourself, then I will do what you wish. But if you freed me for Allah, then let me be.” He then left Al-Madinah for Syria.

10) The Prophet (SAWS) visited him in a dream and asked him as to why he had not come to visit him. Bilal then set off for Al-Madinah. When getting to his (SAWS) grave and beginning to weep, Al-Hasan (SA) and Al-Husayn (SA) asked him to call to prayer. Upon Bilal calling to prayer, the People of Al-Madinah wept profusely as they remembered the days of the Prophet (SAWS) walking among them. It’s narrated of this day that the People of Al-Madinah wept the most since the day that the Prophet (SAWS) passed away.

11) Oral traditions state that Bilal’s ancestors went to West Africa and that his descendants were in the royal Keita family of the Malian empire.

Imam Ali bin Musa: Transmitter of Prophetic Knowledge

One of the lights from the descendants of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) is Imam Ali Ar-Rida (SA).

Imam Ali Ar-Rida was born in Al-Madinah during the rule of Bani Abbas.  His father was Imam Musa Al-Kathim bin Ja’far As-Sadiq bin Muhammad Al-Baqir bin Ali As-Sajjad bin Al-Husayn As-Sibt bin Ali Al-Murtada bin Abi Talib (SA).  Like his father, the majority of historians described him as having dark brown skin just as his father was described.

Scholars of hadith including Ahmad bin Hanbal narrated from the chain of Imam Ali Ar-Rida as well as from one of his most notable students Ma’ruf Al-Karkhi (QR).  He is considered to be an imam of knowledge for madhhab Zaydi and is in the spiritual chains of At-Tariqah Al-Qadiriyyah and At-Tariqah An-Naqshabandiyyah.  He is also known to be the 8th imam protected from error of madhhab Ja’fari.

Imam Ali Ar-Rida was known for his good character, austerity and knowledge.  Among his scholarship which exists among us today are Sahifah Ar-Rida, a book of ahadith from the Prophet (SAWS) and sayings of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (KW) as well as Ar-Risalah Adh-Dhahabiyyah, the 1st book compiled regarding Prophetic medicine.  Among the knowledge from Imam Ali Ar-Rida which has reached us is the hadith qudsi that the Prophet (SAWS) said that Allah (SWT) said, “There is no deity except Allah is My fortress, so whoever enters My fortress, (s)he will be safe from My punishment.”

Abdullah bin Harun, the Abbasi khalifah also known by his self-appointed title “Al-Ma’mun,” publically declared that Imam Ali Ar-Rida would be his successor.  Imam Ali Ar-Rida eventually went to Tus in modern day Iran where he died due to poisoning before Abdullah Al-Abbasi.

Imam Ali Ar-Rida was buried in Tus, which is currently known as Mashhad.  The masjid where he is buried is currently the largest masjid in the world, even larger than Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah and Al-Masjid An-Nabawi in Al-Madinah.

Thawrah Az-Zanj: Revolution of Blacks in Early Islamic History

Early Islamic history is chronicled with several rebellions against the tyranny of the Umawi and Abbasi dynasties.  One of those rebellions is referred to as Thawrah Az-Zanj or the Black revolution, Zanj being a term that referred to people of Abyssinian and Nubian heritage.

The leader of Thawrah Az-Zanj was Ali bin Muhammad, who claimed to be a descendant of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS).  Ali bin Muhammad was born in Samarra, Iraq during the era of the Abbasi government.  In Iraq, he saw the machinations of the Abbasi regime as well as slavery of fellow Muslims throughout Iraq.  He eventually left Iraq and moved to Bahrain in which he rallied the people to revolt against the Abbasi government.

After a failed rebellion attempt being led from Bahrain, Ali bin Muhammad relocated to Basrah, Iraq in 247 A.H. in which he called the poor people to follow him, invoking that he was an Alawi, meaning a descendent of Ali bin Ali Talib (KW).  His eloquence combined with his lineage attracted followers among the poor in Basrah, which was also a city that had many disenfranchised blacks who both suffered economically as well as had difficulties getting married.

With the support of poor Africans and marginalized Arabs, Ali bin Muhammad unseated the Abbasi authority in Basrah.  The Zanji movement had autonomy from the Abbasi government for approximately 15 years before it regained control through brutal force.