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April 2005
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Children's Corner

Huzaifah bin Yaman [Companion of the Holy Prophet (Pbuh)]

The Prophet’s close confidante who proved extremely helpful in devising strategy.

Hazrat Huzaifah bin Yaman, may Allah be pleased with him, was though born in Makkah, had the unique distinction of embracing Islam much ahead of others, almost immediately after the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) attaining prophethood in Makkah. In fact he was a Makkan as his father Yaman belonged to Makkah’s tribe of Abas. But it so happened that Yaman murdered someone among his clansmen and was forced to take refuge in Madinah. He married a woman of tribe of Abdul Shahal. She bore him Huzaifah. Huzaifah grew up in Madinah but since the family kept active contact with Makkah, came to know of the message of Prophet Muhammad very early in his childhood. Even as the light of Islam began to illuminate the Arabian peninsula, Huzaifah developed a passionate desire to see the holy Prophet. He joined a delegation of 10 people of Madinah who traveled to Makkah, called upon the Prophet and embraced Islam at a very young age.

However, he was always dogged by the dilemma as to call himself an Ansar or a Muhajir. When he wanted the Prophet to put him in a certain category, he was told to adopt whatever title he liked. He chose to be Ansar. He participated in all the battles except the Badar. It was because he had promised the Quraish that he would not participate in the impending battle between the Makkans and the Muslims of Madinah. It so happened that he had his father Yaman were caught by the Quraish a little before the Badar was to take place while traveling between the two cities. They released him on the promise that they would not participate in the forthcoming battle against Quraish. Even as Muslims were bracing for the fight, the duo approached the holy Prophet and narrated him the accounts. The Prophet asked them not to violate their vow.

They however, took part in the battle of Uhud. Though Huzaifah survived, his father was slain at the hands of some of the holy companions due to mistaken identity. In fact, Yaman along with Sabith bin Waqash had been deputed to defend the camps housing the families of the Muslim warriors. But as the battle wore on, they left the camps and plunged into the battle fearing that they would miss a golden opportunity to have martyrdom. Sabith fell a martyr at the hands of a soldier from the opponents. But Yaman was chased by a group of soldiers from the Muslim army itself even as Huzaifah was crying from a distance to alarm them. But Yaman was dead. Huzaifah reached as father lay breathing his last. Huzaifah perceived the gravity of the situation and cried aloud: ‘My friends, May Allah forgive you, and He is a forgiver. Ameen!’

When the Prophet came to know of it, he wanted to give blood money on behalf of the companions. But Huzaifah refused to take any compensation and said his father wanted to be a martyr, and his wish has been fulfilled. This elevated him in the estimation of the Prophet.

The holy Prophet was impressed with keen intelligence, decision-making in critical situation, and capacity to keep secrets possessed by Huzaifah. He employed him for all such assignments that required these qualities. He had once confided into him and told him the names of the hypocrites who were damaging the cause of Islam by being the members of the society. He wanted them to keep watch over the activities of hypocrites. This continued even during the time of the caliphate. Second caliph Umar while leading funeral prayers would often ask if Huzaifah was present in the congregation and would excuse himself from leading the prayer if Huzaifah was not present.

At the battle of Trench (Khandaq), the Prophet deputed him to make forays into the enemy camp in a disguise and gather intelligence about their morale even as the siege of Madinah by the Quraish was proving too long. A prayer chanted by the Prophet at that moment removed fear from his heart and stopped shivering that ran through his body due to cold season. The Prophet instructed him to merely gather intelligence and avoid any kind of offensive action. He got into a camp and befriended the men of the opponent camp. It was to be addressed by chieftain Abu Sufiyan. Abu Sufiyan began by advising the people to check who was sitting by their side lest someone carried the news to the opposing camp. Huzaifah got worried for a moment. But then he immediately began to ask the names of all those around him even before they could check his antecedents. Abu Sufiyan began to address them: ‘O people of Quraish, the hailstorm has uprooted our camps, upturned our cooking vessels, killed our animals. Banu Quraizah (a tribe of Jews) has left our company. It is no longer in our interest to be waiting here for a military engagement.’ He then mounted his horse and rode away towards Makkah. While doing so, Abu Sufiyan came within the attacking range of Huzaifah, but the latter remembered the Prophet’s advice and resisted his temptation. This intelligence input considerably helped the Prophet is surmising the morale of the enemy and plan his strategy.

Huzaifa was part of Muslim army which conquered important forts at Hamadan, Ray and Nahavand. Once Umar asked him to point out if there was any hypocrite among his office bearers. He said there is one but refused to identify the person. But he found out after some time that Umar had dismissed him.

When he fell terminally ill prior to his death, he instructed the holy companions who had gathered around him not to put him in an expensive burial garments. When the death finally came knocking at his door he said: ‘O my Lord, You know I always accorded precedence to poverty over affluence, humility over boastfulness and akhira (the day of judgement) over duniya (worldly life).’