While studying the Seerah of the Beloved Prophet ﷺ for ten days with Qalam Institute this winter, I found myself eagerly soaking in every story about the sahaba. Long or short, significant or seemingly insignificant, I wanted to know every detail about the people around the Prophet ﷺ who had their lives transformed by him. I looked for myself in each of their stories, yearning to connect; thinking, “Yes, if I were to live at the time of the Prophet ﷺ, I would ask him the same eager and inquisitive questions or express my love for him in a similar manner.” But besides these little habits and characteristics of some of the sahaba, their lives and sacrifices didn’t wholly match up with mine. It wasn’t until we went over the remarkable story of Salman Al-Farisi that I found what I had been looking for.
In the fifth year after Hijrah, while preparing for what became known as the Battle of the Trench, the muhajiroon and the ansaar began to argue. The Prophet ﷺ had asked them to split into teams amongst themselves to start digging the trench around the city of Medinah. The muhajiroon believed Salman Al-Farisi should be with them because he was not an original Medinan and had migrated there from Persia because of the Prophet ﷺ. On the other hand, the ansaar believed that Salman should be with them because he had lived in Medinah before the Prophet ﷺ arrived. When the debate started to get heated, the sahaba took their dilemma to the Prophet ﷺ. After hearing their stories, the Prophet ﷺ dismissed their claims of Salman and said, “سلمان منا اهل البيت”.
“Salman is from me, he is of my household.”
Every time I hear or read these words, I am overcome with longing. What does someone have to do to hear those beautiful words from the Beloved ﷺ; where he loves you so much, he claims you as his own? What was special about Salman Al-Farisi that set him apart from all the others? The Prophet ﷺ had once gestured towards Salman and said that even if faith was to be found on a distant star, there would be people who pursue it. Salman Al-Farisi grew up in Persia where his family practiced Zoroastrianism. After learning about monotheism from Christians, he left his home and family behind to follow the truth wherever it lead him. He learned about the coming of the Prophet ﷺ from his Christian teachers who told him to await the Prophet’s arrival in Medinah. By the time Salman was united with the Prophet ﷺ, it had been decades since he had left his home in the pursuit of faith.
After hearing about the Prophet ﷺ, Salman had made it his life’s mission to find him and to follow him. Essentially, Salman Al-Farisi believed in the Prophet ﷺ before ever meeting him; just like we do. Here I found a sahabi, that before knowing the Prophet’s beautiful character personally, before being captured by his eloquence, and before being in a state of awe in his presence, Salman Al-Farisi went through abandoning his old religion, leaving behind his family and familiar home, and being sold into slavery for the sake of his faith in the Prophet ﷺ and the Oneness of God. The reward he received was not only to be embraced by the Beloved ﷺ but also to be welcomed into his family.
Do we not believe in the Prophet ﷺ without witnessing his beautiful character ourselves, without experiencing his hikma firsthand, and without even laying eyes on his blessed face? Have faith, I remind myself. We’re all just playing out the first part of Salman’s story. Strive with his perseverance so that in the end, when we meet the Beloved ﷺ in the hereafter, we might hear our own personal rendition of “سلمان منا اهل البيت”.
“My brothers and sisters are those who believe in me without having seen me.”
Arabic words translated in order of appearance:
- Seerah: Biography.
- Sahaba/Sahabi: Companions/Companion.
- Hijrah: The Muslims’ migration from Makkah to Medinah.
- Muhajiroon: The Migrants, from Makkah.
- Ansaar: The Helpers, original residents of Medinah.
- Hikma: Prophetic wisdom.