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The Sahabah RA and their family relationships – Part 17

Apr 26, 2022

Under this theme, our focus on the Iftaar program during weekdays, will be to take a look at incidents from the lives of the illustrious Sahabah رضي الله عنهم and see how they overcame the trials they faced whether it was because of family or the absence of it.

Today we take a look at this great Sahabi:

Thumamah ibn Uthal

In the sixth year after the hijrah, the Prophet ﷺ decided to expand the scope of his mission. He sent eight letters to rulers in the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding areas inviting them to Islam. One of these rulers was Thumamah ibn Uthal.

Thumamah was one of the most powerful Arab rulers in pre-Quranic times. This is not surprising since he was a chieftain of the Banu Hanifah and one of the rulers of al-Yamamah, whose word no one dared to challenge or disobey.

When Thumamah received the Prophet ﷺ’s letter, he was consumed by anger and rejected it. He refused to listen to the invitation of Truth and goodness. More than that, he felt a strong desire to go and kill the Prophet ﷺ and bury his mission with him.

Thumamah waited and waited for a convenient time to carry out his desire against the Prophet ﷺ until eventually forgetfulness caused him to lose interest. One of his uncles, however, reminded him of his plan, praising what he intended to do.

In the pursuit of his evil design against the Prophet ﷺ, Thumamah met and killed a group of the Prophet ﷺ’s companions RA. The Prophet ﷺ thereupon declared him a wanted man who could lawfully be killed on sight. Not long afterwards, Thumamah decided to perform Umrah. He wanted to perform tawaf around the Kabah and sacrifice to the idols there. So he left al-Yamamah for Makkah. As he was passing near Madinah, an incident took place which he had not anticipated.

Groups of Muslims were patrolling the districts of Madinah and outlying areas on the lookout for any strangers or anyone intent on causing trouble. One of these groups came upon Thumamah and apprehended him but they did not know who he was. They took him to Madinah and tied him to one of the columns in the masjid. They waited for the Prophet ﷺ himself to question the man and decide what should be done with him.

When the Prophet ﷺ was about to enter the masjid, he saw Thumamah and asked his companions, ‘Do you know whom you have taken?”

“No, messenger of Allah,” they replied.

“This is Thumamah ibn Uthal al-Hanafi,” he said. “You have done well in capturing him.”

The Prophet ﷺ then returned home to his family and said, “Get what food you can and send it to Thumamah ibn Uthal.” He then ordered his camel to be milked for him. All this was done before he met Thumamah or had spoken to him.

The Prophet ﷺ then approached Thumamah hoping to encourage him to become a Muslim. “What do you have to say for yourself?” he asked.

“If you want to kill in reprisal,” Thumamah replied, “you can have someone of noble blood to kill. If, out of your bounty, you want to forgive, I shall be grateful. If you want money in compensation, I shall give you whatever amount you ask.”

The Prophet ﷺ then left him for two days, but still personally sent him food and drink and milk from his camel. The Prophet ﷺ went back to him and asked, “What do you have to say for yourself?” Thumamah repeated what he had said the day before. The Prophet ﷺ then left and came back to him the following day. “What do you have to say for yourself?” he asked again and Thumamah repeated what he had said once more. Then the Prophet ﷺ turned to his companions and said, “Set him free.”

Thumamah left the masjid of the Prophet ﷺ and rode until he came to a palm grove on the outskirts of Madinah near al-Baqi’ (a place of luxuriant vegetation which later became a cemetery for many of the Prophet ﷺ’s companions RA). He watered his camel and washed himself well. Then he turned back and made his way to the Prophet ﷺ’s masjid. There, he stood before a congregation of Muslims and said: “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His messenger.” He then went to the Prophet ﷺ, and said: “O Muhammad, by Allah, there was never on this earth a face more detestable than yours. Now, yours is the dearest face of all to me.” “I have killed some of your men,” he continued, “I am at your mercy. What will you have done to me?”

“There is now no blame on you, Thumamah,” replied the Prophet ﷺ. “Becoming a Muslim obliterates past actions and marks a new beginning.”

Thumamah RA was greatly relieved. His face showed his surprise and joy and he vowed, “By Allah, I shall place my whole self, my sword, and whoever is with me at your service and at the service of your religion.”

Lesson to Learn:

If Nabi ﷺ could treat an enemy of Islam, a disbeliever, a man who had come with the firm intent of killing him, with such dignity and honour, feeding him with provisions from his own home, while he hardly had anything for himself, than what stops us from leave alone showing kindness to others, but what about showing a little bit of compassion to our own family, our own kith and kin. It was the kindness of Nabi ﷺ that won the heart of Thumamah RA, so if we could instil kindness in us, than even those family members who are difficult and don want to keep family ties, can be won over.

Tomorrow we will continue this story in sha Allah.

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