The Biography of

Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam

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    Lesson 29  

Trial of Ka'b Ibn Malik Radhi Allahu Anhu

Some of the Muslims who had stayed behind in the expedition of Tabuk, without a valid reason, were Ka'b Ibn Malik, Murara Ibn al-Rab'i and Hilal Ibn Umayya Radhi Allahu Anhum. All of them had accepted Islam in the earlier stages and undergone hardships for the sake of their faith. Murara Ibn al-Rab'i and Hilal Ibn Umayya Radhi Allahu Anhuma had also taken part in the battle of Badr. Actually, none of them had ever been lax in accompanying the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam in the previous battles. Their failure to do so in the expedition of Tabuk could have been brought about only by divine will, which perhaps wanted to set another severe trial to test the strength of their faith for the benefit of coming generations. They had been held back on this occasion partly on account of indecision and partly because of their placing reliance on worldly means. They had not given thought to the urgency of the matter as it deserved. Ka'b Ibn Malik Radhi Allahu Anhu explained :

"Every day I would go out to get ready for the journey so that I might leave with them, but I would come back not having done anything. I would say to myself: 'I can do that whenever I want to', but continued procrastinating until the time for departure came and the Prophet of Allah left with the Muslims. I had still not made the necessary preparations. I thought that I could go after a day or two and then join them. I went to make preparations after they had left but again returned without having done what was necessary. Day after day passed until I became sluggish while the army had gone far ahead at full speed. I still thought of leaving Madinah to overtake them and I wish that I had done so, but I did not."

Ka'b Radhi Allahu Anhu explains what transpired after the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam returned from Tabuk :

"Those who had stayed behind came and began to make excuses with oaths. There were about eighty of them and the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam accepted their pleas, administered oaths to them and asked divine forgiveness for them, leaving what they had concealed in their hearts to Allah. Then I came and greeted him and he smiled like one who is angry. He said: 'Come nearer.' I went and sat before him. Then he asked: 'What kept you back? Did you not purchase a conveyance?' I replied: 'True to Allah, it was exactly so, 0 Prophet of Allah. Were I sitting with anyone else in the world I would have thought of offering some excuse for saving myself from his anger for I know how to argue and justify myself but, true to Allah, I know that if I were to satisfy you by telling a lie, Allah will soon make you angry with me. And if I displease you now by telling the truth, I hope that Allah would excuse me in the end. Honest to Allah, I have no excuse at all and I was never stronger and richer than when I stayed behind.' "

The hour of trial had come. The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam forbade everyone to speak to the three who had spoken the truth. Such were those Muslims, who knew nothing but to listen and obey the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam, that not even the members of their own families would address a word to these men. All the three felt forsaken and abandoned, as if they were strangers in an alien country. They endured it for fifty nights. Murara Ibn al-Rab'i and Hilal Ibn Umayya shut themselves up in their houses, lamenting and shedding tears all the while. Ka'b Ibn Malik Radhi Allahu Anhu was, however, young and bustling. He used to join in congregational prayers with the others and went to the market, but nobody seemed willing to talk to him.

But this isolation did not increase the distance between them and the Prophet of Allah nor was there any decrease in the loving regard that the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam had for them. The admonition by the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam rather gave rise to a more intense desire in them to regain his affection.

Ka'b Radhi Allahu Anhu explained : "I would go to the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam and greet him when he sat with others after the prayer, thinking whether his lips had moved in returning my greeting or not. Then I would pray near him and see him with half an eye. I marked that he fastened his eyes on me when I was busy in prayers but he turned away from me as soon as I tried to take a look at him."

The wide world seemed to have closed in on these men. Ka'b Radhi Allahu Anhu relates about the behaviour of one whom he considered to be his inseparable friend: "When the harshness of the people became unbearable, I scaled the wall of Abu Qatada's Radhi Allahu Anhu orchard and went to him. He was my cousin and I loved him dearly. I greeted him, but, by Allah, he did not even return my greeting. I said: '0 Abu Qatada, I beseech you by Allah, do you not know that I love Allah and His Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam? But he still kept quiet, so I repeated my question. He remained silent for a while and then said : 'Allah and His Prophet know best. At that my eyes gave way to tears and I jumped over the wall to go back."

The ordeal, however, did not come to a close at that. The ban was extended to their families and the three were ordered to separate themselves from their wives, without divorcing them. All of them obediently yielded to the command.

The faith of Ka'b Radhi Allahu Anhu was brought to a more delicate and crucial test when the king of Ghassan tried to allure him. He was the ruler of a kingdom that had exercised a deep influence upon the Arabs. A courier of the king contacted Ka'b Radhi Allahu Anhu when the Prophet's Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam aloofness and the indifference of the people towards him had become agonising enough to drive him mad. The courier delivered a letter to him from the king in which he had written : "We have learnt that your master has treated you badly. Allah has not destined you to be humiliated, so come to us and we shall deal kindly with you."

Ka'b Radhi Allahu Anhu regarded the letter as a challenge to his integrity and love for Allah and His Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam. He took the letter to an oven and burnt it.

Finally, their test ended. None of the three had faulted. A revelation came from Allah illustrating their personal example to make it a general lesson for all time to come. They had demonstrated that they could only find solace and refuge in Allah and His Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam. In their own souls they had a feeling of constraint, but they did not falter from the straight path. The revelation showed that whatever suffering and hardships they had endured had raised their degree in the spiritual world :

"Allah has forgiven the Prophet, the Muhajireen and the Ansaar who followed him in the time of difficulty, after the hearts of a party of them had almost deviated. Then He accepted their repentance. Certainly, He is to them full of Kindness, Most Merciful. And the three also (did He forgive) who were left behind, when the earth, vast as it is, was narrowed for them, and their own souls were straitened to them till they thought that there is no fleeing from Allah except towards Him. Then He forgave them that they might turn repentant to Him. Verily, He is the One who accepts repentance, Most Merciful." (Surah Tawbah, Verse 117-118) (1)


Lessons to Learn

All the three Sahabah were called upon to prove, in a way unknown to the annals of any religion, the sincerity of their faith in Allah and their love for the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam. It was undoubtedly, an excruciating trial of their loyalty to Islam and of their perseverance in times of ease and difficulty. All these true-spirited Sahabah spoke the truth when the hypocrites had offered excuses for justifying their absence from the expedition.

The incident was a lesson from Allah that a true believer is not one who lives in comfort while others are in misery. Belief and faith compels one to be on the level of the masses. Their pain must be your pain. Luxury cannot be true while others are in difficulty.

The incident also teaches that companionship and friendship mean nothing if accompanied with disobedience to Allah.



(1) Bukhari


Dua for Halaal wealth

Meaning : O Allah suffice me with Your lawful sustenance against Your unlawful

sustenance and make me, by Your grace, independent from everyone except You.

A Hadith

An honest and and trustworthy trader will rise in the Herefater in the company of the prophets, the truthful and the martyrs. (Tirmidhi)