Islamic Date21 Thu al-Qa‘dah
English Date11 July
As Muslims, we are suffering from a serious identity crisis. Even the people who are practicing Islam do not have an Islamic identity. They have more in common with a rock star or soccer player than with a Sahabah (radi Allahu anhu) of Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam). Our youth know less about the Sahabah (radi Allahu anhum) of Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu alahi wa sallam), or even the anbiya (alaihis salam) of Allah, than they know about basketball players, super models, actors or even politicians; whereas, the characters of popular heroes are in direct conflict with Islamic values. This has resulted in a serious identity crisis among Muslims, for one's role models can only be those who one knows about.
Why the Sahabah (ra) of Prophet Muhammad (saw) Should be Our Role Models?
Why should the Sahabah (radi Allahu anhum) of Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu alahi wa sallam) be our role models? They had different personalities and different professions and none was a great scientist or movie star or athlete, so why look up to them or learn about them? The answer is that they were the followers of Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu alahi wa sallam) just as we are. But they were the best of followers ever. So there are no better examples for us to emulate, than the Sahabah (radi Allahu anhum) of the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alahi wa sallam).
What Muslims need more than anything else, is that the people they look up to, be beloved to Allah (subhana wa ta'ala). And Allah's love for humans depends on how closely they emulate His beloved messenger, Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam). Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) says: "Say [O Prophet]: "If you love Allah, follow me, [and] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins." [Al-Quran 3:31]
And Allah's most beloved messenger, Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam), told us: "The best of my followers are those living in my century (generation), then those coming after them and then those coming after the latter." [Bukhari] Therefore, the people to love the most and look up to, after Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam), are his Sahabah (radi Allahu anhum).
Some of Prophet Muhammad's (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) Sahabah (radi Allahu anhum) were of a gentle and lenient temperament, while others were strict; some were learned, while others were illiterate. Some of the Sahabah (radi Allahu anhum) were ascetic and lived on what most will not consider conceivable, while others were traders who were the millionaires of their time. In other words, each was unique. But they have all been praised in the highest terms by Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam).
When we learn about their lives, we will identify more with some and less with others. The mercy of Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) is that He has given us so many role models of behavior, character, and conduct, of those who earned Allah's (subhana wa ta'ala) pleasure. So, hopefully, there will be at least one Sahabi (radi Allahu anhu) with whom we will be able to identify and relate to. That Sahabi (radi Allahu anhu) would become our role model.
A common characteristic among all of the Sahabah (radi Allahu anhum) is that they clearly understood what this world is about; something very limited and unfulfilling. They were very ambitious for the hereafter and focused on gathering all they could for it. Anything that did not give them a chance to gain the pleasure of Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) was a waste of time for them. One could say that the Sahabah (radi Allahu anhum) were obsessed with the hereafter. They judged their victory or defeat, profit or loss, happiness or sorrow by its impact, negative or positive, on their Akhirah/hereafter.
For example, when Haram ibn Milhan (radi Allahu anhu) was stabbed by a spear at Bir Maunah he exclaimed, "Allahu akbar! By the Lord of the Kabah, I won." The disbeliever who had attacked him wondered, "Didn't I kill him? What did he mean by saying, 'I won'?" When the reward of Shahadah was later explained to him, he became a Muslim. [Ibn Hisham, Sahih Bukhari]
The society of Medina was poor in worldly terms, yet the Sahabah (radi Allahu anhum) were very rich, rich in that currency that we are all going to need on the Day of Judgement: Eemaan and Hasanat. They knew that the most precious treasure of a Momin is his/her Eemaan and they were not willing to give it up for anything this world could offer. They had internalized the fact that only a person with Eemaan will have light needed to cross the bridge of Sirat over Hell, on the Day of Judgement, when there will be no light available, except the noor of one's faith.
The Sahabah (radi Allahu anhum) understood the importance of the Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) and his mission. He was everything to them, a guide, a friend, a father figure and a leader. They loved and respected him more than any leader has ever been loved in history.
When Khubaib bin al-Aratt (radi Allahu anhu) was captured and sold to the Makkans, they took him out of Makkah to crucify him. At this point Abu Sufyan asked him, "I adjure you by Allah, don't you wish that Muhammad were here in your place so that we might cut off his head, and that you were with your family?" Khubaib (radi Allahu anhu) answered, "By Allah, I do not wish that Muhammad (sal Allahu alahi wa sallam) now were in the place I occupy or that a thorn could hurt him, and that I were sitting with my family." Abu Sufyan told others, "I have never seen a people who love their leader, more than the people of Muhammad love him." [Sahih Bukhari, Zad Al-Ma'ad, Ibn Hisham]
The Sahabah (radi Allahu anhum) are the heroes of the Muslim nation. Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) praised them in the Quran. They are the ones who formed the first and best society of human beings in the city-state of Medina; a society that was based on Allah's rules. They strengthened Islam while the Prophet was alive, and preserved it after his death. They are the ones who fought for, memorized, lived and died to carry the message of Islam to the rest of the world.
The Sahabah (radi Allahu anhum) did not think in terms of wealth and poverty, life and death, but in terms of Paradise and Hellfire, the pleasure of Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) and the wrath of Allah (subhana wa ta'ala). They used to compete with each other, not for things of this world, but to seek Allah's (subhana wa ta'ala) pleasure, as they knew that this is the only way to enter Jannah. This is what they envied in another.
But our Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) had prophesied that a time would come when it would be said about a person how cool he/she is, while there is not present even a single grain of Eeman (faith) in his/her heart. In other words, the criteria of admiration would radically change!
The so called heroes of today are such that the more you learn about them, the less attractive they become. On the other hand, the Sahabah (radi Allahu anhum) are such that the more you learn about them, the more you love, admire, and respect them. They are the portraits of people striving for the pleasure of Allah (subhana wa ta'ala). Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) endorsed them by telling us in the Quran that these are people who are "pleased with Allah and Allah is pleased with them."
This series is for those who are looking for worthy role models, people who were truly focused on the Akhirah: Who were always thinking about the inescapable future destination of every human being, Jannah or Naar.