Rabiah Ibn Kab Al Aslami RA
Rabiah ibn Kab RA was a companion of Rasulullah SAW. Rabiah ibn Kab RA was a poor man from the tribe of Banu Aslam and he converted to Islam at an early age, requesting of his own accord to be a servant of Rasulullah SAW so as to be in his company as much as possible. Rabiah ibn Kab RA resided in Suffah of the mosque with other poor Muslims, who were called the "guests of Islam" and received charity from Muhammad.
As related by Rabiah ibn Kab RA on how he embraced Islam:
"I was still quite young when the light of iman shone through me and my heart was opened to the teachings of Islam. And when my eyes beheld Rasulullah SAW, for the first time, I loved him with a love that possessed my entire being. I loved him to the exclusion of everyone else. One day I said to myself: 'Woe to you, Rabi'ah. Why don't you put yourself completely in the service of Rasulullah SAW. Go and suggest this to Rasulullah SAW. If Rasulullah SAW is pleased with you, you would find happiness in being near him. You will be successful through love for him and you will have the good fortune of obtaining the good in this world and the good in the next.' This I did hope that he would accept me in his service. Rasulullah SAW did not dash my hopes. Rasulullah SAW was pleased that I should be his servant. From that day, I lived in the shadow of the noble Rasulullah SAW; I went with him wherever he went. I moved in his orbit whenever and wherever he turned. Whenever Rasulullah SAW cast a glance in my direction, I would leap to stand in his presence. Whenever Rasulullah SAW expressed a need, he would find me hurrying to fulfill it.
I would serve Rasulullah SAW throughout the day. When the day was over and Rasulullah SAW had prayed Salat al-Isha and retired to his home, I would think about leaving. But I would soon say to myself: 'Where would you go, Rabi'ah? Perhaps you may be required to do something for Rasulullah SAW during the night.' So I would remain seated at his door and would not leave the threshold of his house. Rasulullah SAW would spend part of his night engaged in Salat. I would hear him reciting the opening chapter of the Quran and he would continue reciting sometimes for a third or a half of the night. I would become tired and leave or my eyes would get the better of me and I would fail asleep. It was the habit of Rasulullah SAW, that if someone did him a good turn, he loved to repay that person with something more excellent. He wanted to do something for me too in return for my service to him. So one day he came up to me and said: 'O Rabi'ah ibn Kab.' 'Labbayk Ya Rasulullah wa Sadark - At your command, O Rasulullah and May Allah grant you happiness,' I responded. 'Ask of me anything and I will give it to you.'
I thought a little and then said: 'Give me some time, O Rasulullah, to think about what I should ask of you. Then I will let you know.' Rasulullah SAW agreed. At that time, I was a young man and poor. I had neither family, nor wealth, nor place of abode. I used to shelter in the Suffah of the mosque with other poor Muslims like myself. People used to call us the "guests of Islam". Whenever any Muslim brought something in charity to the Prophet, he would send it all to us. And if someone gave him a gift he would take some of it and leave the rest for us. So, it occurred to me to ask Rasulullah SAW for some worldly good that would save me from poverty and make me like others who had wealth, wife and children. Soon, however, I said: 'May you perish Rabi'ah. The world is temporary and will pass away. You have y our share of sustenance in it which God has guaranteed and which must come to you. Rasulullah SAW, has a place with his Lord and no request would be refused him. Request him therefore, to ask Allah to grant you something of the bounty of the hereafter.' I felt pleased and satisfied with this thought. I went to Rasulullah SAW and he asked: 'what do you say, O Rabi'ah?' 'O Messenger of God,' I said, 'I ask you to beseech Allah most High on my behalf to make me your companion in Paradise.'
'Who has advised you thus?' asked Rasulullah SAW. 'No by God,' I said, 'No one has advised me. But when you told me 'Ask of me anything and I will give to you,' I thought of asking you for something of the goodness of this world. But before long, I was guided to choose what is permanent and lasting against what is temporary and perishable. And so I have asked you to beseech Allah on my behalf that I may be your companion in Paradise.' Rasulullah SAW remained silent for a long while and then asked: 'Any other request besides that, Rabi'ah?' 'No, O Messenger of God, Nothing can match what I have asked you.' 'Then, in that case, assist me for your sake by performing much prostration to Allah.' So I began to exert myself in worship in order to attain the good fortune of being with Rasulullah SAW in Paradise just as I had the good fortune of being in his service and being his companion in this world. Not long afterwards, Rasulullah SAW called me and asked: 'don’t you want to get married, Rabi'ah?' 'I do not want anything to distract me from your service,' I replied. 'Moreover, I don't have anything to give as mahr (dowry) to a wife nor any place where I can accommodate a wife.'
Rasulullah SAW remained silent. When he saw me again he asked: 'don’t you want to get married, Rabi'ah?' I gave him the same reply as before. Left to myself again, I regretted what I had said and chided myself: 'Woe to you, Rabi'ah. By Allah, Rasulullah SAW knows better than you what is good for you in this world and the next and he also knows better than you what you possess. By Allah, if Rasulullah SAW should ask me again to marry, I would reply positively.' Before long, Rasulullah SAW asked me again: 'Don't you want to get married 'Rabi'ah?' 'Oh yes, Rasulullah,' I replied, 'but who will marry me when I am in the state you know.' 'Go to the family of so-and-so and say to them: Rasulullah SAW has instructed you to give your daughter in marriage to me.' Timidly, I went to the family and said: “Rasulullah SAW has sent me to you to ask you to give your daughter in marriage to me.' 'Our daughter?' they asked, incredulously at first. 'Yes,' I replied. 'Welcome to Rasulullah SAW, and welcome to his messenger. By Allah, the messenger of God's Messenger shall only return with his mission fulfilled. 'So they made a marriage contract between me and her. I went back to Rasulullah SAW and reported: 'O Rasulullah!!. I have come from the best of homes. They believed me, they welcomed me, and they made a marriage contract between me and their daughter. But from where do I get the mahr for her?'
Rasulullah SAW then sent for Buraydah ibn al-Khasib, one of the leading persons in my tribe, the Banu Aslam, and said to him: 'O Buraydah, collect a nuwat's weight in gold for Rabi'ah. This they did Rasulullah SAW said to me: 'Take this to them and say, this is the sadaqa of your daughter.' I did so and they accepted it. They were pleased and said, this is much and good.' I went back to Rasulullah SAW and told him: 'I have never yet seen a people more generous than they. They were pleased with what I gave them in spite of its being little...Where can I get something for the walimah (marriage feast), O Prophet of God?' Rasulullah SAW said to Buraydah 'Collect the price of a ram for Rabi'ah.' They bought a big fat ram for me and then the Prophet told me: 'Go to Aisyah RA and tell her to give you whatever barley she has.' Aisyah RA gave me a bag with seven saas of barley and said: 'By Allah, we do not have any other food.' I set off with the ram and the barley to my wife's family. They said: 'We will prepare the barley but get your friends to prepare the ram for you.'
We slaughtered, skinned and cooked the ram. So we had bread and meat for the walimah. I invited the Prophet and he accepted my invitation. Rasulullah SAW then gave me a piece of land near Saidina Abu Bakr's RA. From then I became concerned with the dunya, with material things. I had a dispute with Abu Bakr over a palm tree. 'It is in my land,' I insisted. 'No, it is in my land,' Abu Bakr RA countered. We started to argue. Abu Bakr cursed me, but as soon as he had uttered the offending word. He felt sorry and said to me: 'Rabiah, say the same word to me so that it could be considered as qisas -just retaliation.' 'No by Allah, I shall not,' I said. 'In that case, replied Abu Bakr RA. 'I shall go Rasulullah SAW and complain to him about your refusal to retaliate against me measure for measure.' He set off and I followed him. My tribe, the Banu Aslam, also set off behind me protesting indignantly: 'He's the one who cursed you first and then he goes off to Rasulullah SAW before you to complain about you!' I turned to them and said: 'Woe to you! Do you know who this is? This is As-Siddiq... and he is the respected elder of the Muslims. Go back before he turns around, sees you and thinks that you have come to help me against him. He would then be more incensed and go to Rasulullah SAW in anger. Rasulullah SAW would get angry on his account. Then Allah would be angry on their account and Rabi'ah would be finished.' They turned back
Abu Bakr RA went to Rasulullah SAW and related the incident as it had happened. Rasulullah SAW raised his head and said to me: 'O Rabi'ah, what's wrong with you and as-Siddiq?' Rasulullah SAW, he wanted me to say the same words to him as he had said to me and I did not.' 'Yes, don't say the same word to him as he had said to you. Instead say: 'May God forgive you Abu Bakr.' With tears in his eyes, Abu Bakr went away while saying: 'May God reward you with goodness for my sake, O Rabiah ibn Kab... 'May God reward you with goodness for my sake, O Rabiah ibn Kab..."
For The Reward of Obedience
In the name of the Merciful, the Beneficent
“All who obey Allah and Rasulullah SAW shall be among those upon whom Allah has bestowed His blessings: the prophets, and those who never deviate from the truth, and the martyrs and the righteous ones. How goodly a company are these! Such is God’s bounty, and sufficient it is that God knows all.”
[Women — “Al-Nis’a” 4: 69-70]
This verse tries to arouse people’s feelings, raising before them the prospect of the goodliest companionship in the life to come. It is a prospect to tempt every heart, even with the slightest degree of goodness and the faintest hope of attaining a good position in the life to come, with noble companions, enjoying Allah’s endless favors. To be in the company of such a group can only come about by Allah’s grace. No human being, devout as he or she may be, can ever hope to attach such a grade merely by their devotion. They attain it only though Allah’s abounding grace.
It is fitting here that we should reflect on how Rasulullah SAW’s companions yearned for his company in the life to come as well. Some of them could not even contemplate parting with him, when he was still alive among them. When this verse was revealed, their hearts were filled with hope.
Al-Tabari relates on the authority of Said ibn Jubayr that a man from Ansar looked depressed when he came to Rasulullah SAW. Rasulullah SAW asked him the cause of his sorrow. He said: “it is something that I have been thinking of.” When Rasulullah SAW asked him about it, the man said: “We come to see you in the morning and in the evening, look at you and sit with you. Tomorrow, you will be raised to be in the company of other prophets in Heaven, and we cannot attain to you.” Rasulullah SAW gave him no reply. Then this verse was revealed, stating: “All who obey and Rasulullah shall be among those upon whom Allah has bestowed His blessings: the prophets. …” Rasulullah SAW sent someone to the man to give him this happy news.
A different version of this report is given by Abu Bakr ibn Mardawaih on authority of Aisyah RA: “A man said to Rasulullah SAW, ‘Rasulullah, you are dearer tome than myself, my family and my children. I may be at home when I mention you, and I cannot wait to come and see you. When I remember my death and your death, I realize that when you are admitted to heaven, your position will be high among the rest of the prophets. Should I be admitted to heaven, I fear that I may not see you.” Rasulullah SAW did not answer him until this verse was revealed:
“All who obey and the Messenger shall be among those upon whom God has bestowed His blessings: the prophets, and those who never deviate from the truth, and the martyrs and the righteous ones. How goodly a company are these? (Verse 69)
Rabia ibn Ka’b Al-Aslami reports: “I used to stay some nights at Rasulullah’s home. One night I brought Rasulullah SAW water for his ablution and purification. Rasulullah SAW said to me, ‘Tell me your request.’ I said, ‘Rasulullah, I seek to be your companion in heaven.’ He said, ‘Say something else.’ I said, ‘That is my request.’ He said, ‘then helps me to triumph over you by frequent prayer and prostration’.” (Related by Muslim)
Al-Bukhari relates on the authority of several of Rasulullah SAW’s companions that Allah’s messenger was asked about a person who loves a certain company, but whose actions leave him unable to catch up with them. He said: “A person is grouped (in the Hereafter) with those whom he loves.” Anas reports, “Muslims were never happier than when they heard this Hadith.”
Those companions of Rasulullah SAW were genuinely concerned about the life to come and with who they would be there, because they had experienced Rasulullah SAW Company in this life. This is, indeed, a matter of concern to everyone who truly loves Allah’s Messenger. The last Hadith spreads its light over us, providing hope and reassurance
Video about Rabiah Ibn Kab RA:
Video 1 - English
Video 2 - English