Trial of Ka'b Ibn Malik Radhi
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
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)