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Abu Zar deported from Madinah for defending the concept of equality and social justice

Hayat Al-Qulub Vol. 1,
By: Allamah Muhammad Baqir Al-Majlisi

Ali bin Ibrahim has mentioned that these verses were revealed about Abu Zar and Uthman due to the fact that when Abu Zar entered Medina in a bad condition and stood before Uthman leaning on his staff, at that time, an amount of 100000 dirhams was piled before Uthman from the Public Treasury and his companions were eyeing the money, expecting it to be distributed among them.
Abu Zar asked: “What money is it?” He replied: “It is an amount of 100000 dirhams brought for me from the surrounding areas and we are waiting for an equal amount so that I can spend it in any way I like.”
Abu Zar asked: “O Uthman, what is more 100000 dirhams or four dinars?”
He replied: “100000 dirhams.” Abu Zar said: “Do you remember I and you had visited the Prophet one night to find him extremely worried and he did not even speak to us. When we visited him the next morning, we found that he was very happy and satisfied. We said: May our parents be sacrificed on you. Why was His Eminence so gloomy last night and that he is happy this morning?”
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “Last night, I had received four dinars of public wealth and I was not able to distribute it. I feared that if I died in that condition and that money should remain with me what my position will be. By now it is given away, so I am comfortable.” Uthman turned to Kaab al-Ahbar and asked: “What is your opinion about one who paid the Zakat applicable on his wealth? Is anything else obligatory on him?”
And according to another report he said: “O Kaab, what restrains the Imam to sanction some amount to the Muslims from Public Treasury and retain some amount so that he may give it to whomsoever he likes according to the exigencies of time?” Kaab said: “There is no problem if you melt them into gold and silver ingots.” Abu Zar brought down his staff on Kaab’s head and said: “O son of a Jewess, what concern have you to interfere in the affairs of Muslims? The statement of the Almighty Allah is correct or your words? When He says: “…and (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah’s way, announce to them a painful chastisement. On the day when it shall be heated in the fire of hell, then their foreheads and their sides and their backs shall be branded with it; this is what you hoarded up for yourselves, therefore taste what you hoarded.”[1]
When Abu Zar recited these verses, Uthman said: “You have become a nasty old man, you have gone mad. If you had not been a companion of the Prophet I would have put you to death.” Abu Zar said, “O Uthman, you are a liar, you cannot kill me. My beloved, the Holy Prophet (S) had informed me that neither can anyone make me deviate from my religion nor kill me. As for my intellect, it is that I remember well the tradition that the Messenger of Allah (S) has stated about you and me.”
Uthman asked: What is it?” Abu Zar replied: “I never issued such a statement, but I witness that I heard the Messenger of Allah (S) that when the descendants of Abil Aas reach upto thirty, they would use the funds of the Almighty Allah to obtain power and consider the people as their servants and practice dishonesty in the religion of Allah.
And they will distribute the amount among themselves. They will interpret the Qur’an wrongly. They would enslave the people and take dishonest persons as their advisors and dispute with the righteous.”
Uthman asked: “O companions of the Prophet, has anyone of you heard this tradition from the Prophet.” All denied having heard such a thing in order to please Uthman. Uthman said: “Call for Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.).” When he arrived, Uthman said: “See what this aged liar is uttering.”
Imam Ali (a.s.) said: “It is enough Uthman, you cannot accuse him of lying, because I have heard the Holy Prophet (S) say about him: “The green sky has not shaded and the dusty earth not borne the weight of any speaker more truthful than Abu Zar.” All the companions present there said: “By Allah, Ali is right, we have indeed heard this from the Messenger of Allah (S).” Abu Zar began to weep and he said: “You are all eyeing this money greedily and accuse me of lying and attributing falsehood to the Holy Prophet (S).”
Then he asked the hypocrites: “Which of you is best?” Uthman said: “Do why think that you are better than us?” “Yes,” said Abu Zar. “Since I have separated from my beloved Prophet, I am wearing the same robe. I have not sold away my religion in exchange of the world and you have created heresies in the religion of God.
You have destroyed the religion for the sake of the world and spent public wealth in wrong ways. The Almighty Allah will ask you and He will not ask me.” Uthman at last asked: “I adjure you in the name of the Prophet, tell me the truth.” Abu Zar said: “Even if you had not adjured me I would have stated the truth.”
Uthman asked: “Which city do you like most?” “The city which is the sanctuary of God and sanctuary of the Messenger, I wish to worship there till death.” Uthman said: “I will not send you there, because you have no respect in my eyes.” Abu Zar fell silent. Uthman again asked: “Which place you hate most?” “Rabza,” he replied, “where I had lived in infidelity.” Uthman said: “I will send you there.” Abu Zar said: “I told you the truth whatever you asked me.
Now you must also tell me truly whatever I ask you. If you send an army to confront the enemy and I am also in that army and if I am taken a prisoner and the enemy demands one-third of your wealth to release me, will you pay that amount to get me freed?” “Yes,” said Uthman. Then he asked: “If they ask for half of your wealth?” “Yes,” said Uthman. Then he asked: “If they ask for all of your wealth?”
Uthman said: “I will give up all my wealth as a ransom to get you released.”
Abu Zar said: “Allahu Akbar, my beloved the Messenger of Allah (S) told me one day: O Abu Zar what your condition will be when you will be asked about your favorite place and you will say that it is Mecca.
So your residence there will not be accepted. Then you will be asked which you hate most and you will say that it is Rabza and that you will be sent there only?”
I asked: O Messenger of Allah (S), would such a time really come to pass?” He replied: “Yes, by the one in whose control my life is, this would really come to pass.” I said: “O Messenger of Allah (S), on that I will take out my sword and fight Jihad valiantly.” But the Holy Prophet (S) said: “No, keep quiet and don’t oppose anyone, if he is a black slave. Indeed between you and Uthman the Almighty Allah has revealed a few verses of Qur’an and the Holy Prophet (S) recited the verses mentioned above.
And their connection with this incident is obvious to all. Thus is Abu Zar’s exile from Medina and his dialogue about his ransom. So Uthman ordered Marwan bin Hakam to extern Abu Zar and his family from Medina and send him to Rabza. And he emphasized that none of the companions should go to see him off. But Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) disobeyed Uthman along with a particular group of people.
They went to say farewell to Abu Zar and comforted him in his troubles. Thus Muhammad bin Yaqub Kulaini has narrated that when Abu Zar set out from Medina, Amirul Momineen (a.s.), Imam Hasan (a.s.), Imam Husain (a.s.), Aqil, brother of Amirul Momineen (a.s.) and Ammar Yasir accompanied him to see him off and at the time of farewell, Amirul Momineen (a.s.) said: “O Abu Zar, you became angry for the pleasure of Allah, so you must hope for rewards only from Him.
These people feared that you might take control of their world and you feared them for the sake of your religion and you secured your religion from them, that is why they externed you and subjected you to troubles. By Allah, if the paths of the earth and sky are closed for one who is righteous, the Almighty Allah appoints calamities for him.
($%%%O Abu Zar, your reality and loneliness and your being aloof from falsehood is your companion.” Then Aqil said: “O Abu Zar, you know that we, Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) consider you dear and we know that you are devoted to us and you honor us for the sake of the Prophet and except for some truthful ones, all have disregarded it. So your reward is upon the Almighty Allah and you are being exiled as a result of the love of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), may Allah reward you for it.
O Abu Zar, know that running away from troubles is cowardice and to ask for immediate release is due to hopelessness. Therefore, do not allow despair and cowardice near you and say: Allah is sufficient for me, the best of the protectors. After that Imam Hasan (a.s.) said: O Uncle, we all know how those people have dealt with you and the Almighty Allah is aware of everything.
Remove the remembrance of the world through the remembrance of His separation. And ease the hardships of the world through hope in comforts of the hereafter, and be patient in difficulties. So that when you meet the Holy Prophet (S) he should be pleased with you.”
Then Imam Husain (a.s.) said: “O Uncle, the Almighty Allah is able to change this hardship into comfort. But every act of Allah is in accordance with the exigencies suited for every day and every occasion.
These people stopped you from their luxury and you prevented them from spoiling your religion. How needless you are from that from which you were prevented and how needful they are from that which is secured from them. May you find patience good, which is the best good deed and it is from noble qualities. Give up grief and sadness which is of no use. Then Ammar said: “May Allah subject to loneliness and trouble one who has subjected you to this trouble and may He terrify one who has terrified you.
By Allah, nothing prevents one to state the truth except the love and desire of the world. And by Allah, the worship of Allah is in the congregation of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and the kingship of the world is for those who obtain power over it through force. That group called people to materialism and they came and entrusted their religion to them; so they suffered loss in the world as well as the hereafter and it is a terrible loss.” Abu Zar said: “Peace be upon you all and the mercy and blessings of Allah. May my parents be sacrificed on these countenances. Indeed, when I see you all, I am reminded of the Holy Prophet (S). I have nothing to do with Medina except your company and devotion.
Uthman dislikes my stay in Medina just as Muawiyah despised my stay in Syria. Uthman swore that he would send me out of Medina to some other place and I was hoping that he would send me to Kufa. But he feared that I will wean away Kufians from the obedience of his brother. So he didn’t like and accept my going there and he swore that he would send me to a place where I have no companion and where I cannot meet any of my friends. By Allah, I don’t want any company except that for Allah. And when Allah is with me, I don’t care for my loneliness. He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne and is powerful over everything. Salutations on the Messenger of Allah (S) and his purified progeny.”
Shaykh Mufeed has narrated through his chains from a Syrian man that when Uthman externed Abu Zar from Medina and sent him to Syria, he used to preach to us moral stories and when he began he first praised and glorified the Almighty Allah and invoke blessings on Muhammad and Progeny of Muhammad and then say: “So to say: We were living in ignorance before the revelation of divine book and before the Holy Prophet (S) could be sent to us.
In the period of Ignorance, we were such that we fulfilled the covenants and spoke the truth and observed the rights of neighbors. And honor the guests and adopt equity with the poor. And made them share our wealth. When the Almighty Allah revealed the Book and sent His Prophet (S) to us, we found those practices to be liked by Allah and the Prophet and the followers of Islam more deserved to follow those practices.
And they remained on that practice for a long time, so much so that the tyrant rulers created such heresies which were never seen before and they destroyed the practice of the Prophet. They falsified one who spoke the truth and gave preference to the impious over the righteous servants of God. O Allah, whatever you have for me if it is better; call me to Yourself before something is changed by me in your religion.
Or I might alter a practice of Your Prophet.” And he repeated this in public many a times and these statements were reported to Muawiyah by Habib bin Muslima. Abu Zar was accused of instigating the people against Muawiyah and Muawiyah wrote to Uthman about it and Uthman told him to send Abu Zar to Medina. When he was brought to Medina, he was exiled from Medina to Rabza.
Moreover it is narrated from some Syrians that when Uthman sent Abu Zar to Syria, he used to stand among the people everyday and dispense good advice and encouraged them obedience of the Almighty Allah. He used to time and again speak about the excellence of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) that he had heard from the Messenger of Allah (S) and attract the people to become attached to these holy personalities. When Muawiyah learnt of these activities, he wrote to Uthman: “So to say: People gather around Abu Zar every morning and evening and he preaches such things.
If you are in need of the people of Syria, you must immediately recall Abu Zar, or he would soon wean away the people from me and you.” Uthman replied: “As soon as you receive my reply, send Abu Zar to me immediately. Was Salaam.” When this letter arrived, Muawiyah summoned Abu Zar and read out Uthman’s letter to him. He said: “Go to Medina as soon as possible.” Abu Zar returned, loaded his belongings on the camel and set out from there.
People of Syria had gathered around him and they were saying: “O Abu Zar, may Allah have mercy on you.” Abu Zar said: “He had sent me to you in anger and now I being recalled to be punished. I think that such dealings will continue between me and him, till a pious man is laid to rest or till people are saved from the mischief of a corrupt man.” With these words he departed from there. When general public learnt that Abu Zar was leaving Syria, they ran out to see him off and they came upto Daire Maran. Abu Zar halted there and the people also camped there.
Abu Zar recited the prayers with them and he led the prayers. After prayers, he said: O people, I advise you that which is beneficial to you. I don’t want to prolong the discussion. And he said: I praise the Creator of the worlds. The audience also said: Praise be to Allah. Then he testified to the oneness of Allah and prophethood of the Prophet. People also followed him in this.
Then he said: I witness that resurrection is truth, Paradise is truth, Hell is a fact and I confess to all that the Messenger of Allah (S) had brought from the Lord. And I make all of you witnesses on this belief of mine. All said: We testify to all that you have said. Then Abu Zar said: “All of you who die on these correct articles of faith should get the glad tidings of salvation, provided he does not co-operate with the sinner and must not hold the actions of oppressors to be good and neither should he help them.
O people, along with your prayer and fasting you must consider it necessary to be angry with the people for the sake of the Almighty, when you see that they are disobeying the Almighty Allah and you must not please your rulers through those actions that invite the anger of the Almighty Allah. If people create heresies in the religion of Allah, whose reality is unknown to you, you must be aloof from them and condemn them even if they are hard on you and throw you out of their court and deprive you of their bestowals and exile you from their towns so that the Almighty Allah is pleased with you.
Because the Almighty Allah is more majestic and higher than all and it is not proper for anyone to please a creature and anger Him. May Allah forgive me and you, I entrust you all to the Almighty Allah and invoke His mercy for you.” People said: “May the Almighty Allah grant you health and may He have mercy on you. O Abu Zar, O companion of the Messenger of Allah (S), would you not like us to take you back to our city?
And protect you from the mischief of the enemies?” Abu Zar said: “May Allah have mercy on you. Go back, because I am more patient on calamities than you are. You must never fall into disunity.” With these words, he set out from there and reached Medina and came to Uthman. Uthman said: “May Allah not give the eyes such a lifespan.”
This saying was common about aged people among the Arabs. Abu Zar said: “By Allah, my parents did not survive that long. But may Allah, not keep alive one who disobeys Him and becomes a slave to his selfish desires.” Kaab al-Ahbar arose and said: “O old man, are you not afraid of Allah that you speak in this way in the presence of the chief of believers?” Abu Zar beat his staff upon Kaab’s head and said: “O son of a Jew, who are you to interfere in the affairs of Muslims. By Allah, Judaism has not left your heart.”
Uthman said: “By Allah, I and you will not live in the same city. You have become senile and mad. Take him away! Mount him on the bare back of a camel and drive it to Rabza with speed, so that he may live there alone without any companion or helper till the Almighty Allah does with him what He likes.”
Thus he was thrown out disrespectfully and beaten with sticks. Uthman ordered that no should accompany him to the gates of the city. When Amirul Momineen (a.s.) came to know about it, he wept so much that his beard became wet with tears. And he said: “Does such a behavior befit a companion of the Prophet?
Surely we belong to Allah and to Him we shall return.” Then he came to see him off with Imam Hasan (a.s.), Imam Husain (a.s.), Ubaidullah, Qatham, Fazl and Abdullah, sons of Abbas. When Abu Zar saw them, he came and began to weep in their separation and said: May my parents be sacrificed on these countenances, when I saw these faces, I used to be reminded of the Messenger of Allah (S) and I used to be surrounded by blessings.
Then he raised his hands to the sky and said: “O Allah, I am devoted to them. Even if they cut me into pieces, I will not give up their love for the sake of Your obedience and seeking the rewards of the Hereafter. You all may go back now, may Allah have mercy on you. I pray to the Almighty Allah that He bestows me with Caliphate among you, the best of Caliphate. Then they said farewell to Abu Zar and returned from there weeping in his separation.
Shaykh Kishi has narrated through authentic chains of narrators from Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) that Uthman called his two freed slaves, gave each of them 200 dinars to go to Abu Zar, convey his greetings to him and ask him to take the amount and use it as he wished. They brought Uthman’s message. Abu Zar asked: “Has he given the same allowance to all Muslims?”
^%%“No,” said the servants. Abu Zar said: “I am also a Muslim and it is not lawful for me to take more than what the others are given.” “Uthman says that it is his personal wealth and swears by the One, except whom there is no god that nothing unlawful is included in it.”
Abu Zar said: “I don’t need this money and I began this day in such a condition that I am needless of all the people.”
The servants said: “May Allah make you prosperous, this money will help you, as we cannot see anything with you with which you may obtain comfort.” Abu Zar said: “There are two loaves of dry barley bread under this mat, some days old. What will I do with these gold coins? By Allah I will not take them and Allah knows that I am not powerful on less or more.
Indeed, I began this morning with needlessness; and love for Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and his progeny, who are the guides of humanity and are themselves guides, pleased at the pleasure of Allah and the best creatures of the Almighty. They guide the people with truth and behave with justice. I have heard the Messenger of Allah (S) say thus about them. And it is extremely shameful for an old man to lie. So take this money back and tell him that I neither need this nor any other money he has, till I will meet my Lord and He will judge between me and him.”
Shaykh Mufeed has narrated that when Abu Zar was brought from Syria to Uthman he asked: “O Abu Zar, which is your favorite town?” Abu Zar replied: “The city to which I migrated.” Uthman said: “You can never remain in the city in which I reside.” Abu Zar said: “You may send me to Mecca, the sanctuary of God.”
Uthman said: “This is also not acceptable.” Abu Zar said: “Send me to Kufa as companions of the Prophet reside there.” “No,” said Uthman.
Abu Zar said: “I don’t like any other place and I will not like to go there.” Uthman said: “Go to Rabza.” Abu Zar said: “The Messenger of Allah (S) has commanded me to accept the command of tyrants and allow myself to be taken wherever I am taken, even if my nose and ears are cut off like that of a black slave.” At last Abu Zar left for Rabza and after remaining there for sometime came back to Uthman. He saw two rows of people standing before Uthman.
Abu Zar said: “O Uthman, you threw me out of this city and sent me to a place which is neither tillable nor do I possess animals except for a few sheep and neither do I have a servant except for a freed slave girl. And neither is there any shade except that of the trees. Therefore, give me a servant and some sheep so that I may arrange to live off them.” Uthman turned his face away.
Abu Zar went to the other side and completed the proof by repeating his demand. But Uthman didn’t relent. Habib bin Muslima said: “O Abu Zar, I give you a thousand dirhams, a servant and 500 sheep.” Abu Zar said: “Give them to someone who is more in need. I don’t want anything from you; I only ask from Uthman the right which the Almighty Allah has fixed for me in His Book.”
At that moment Imam Ali (a.s.) entered and Uthman told him: “Why don’t you take this fool away from me?” “Who is a fool?” asked Imam Ali (a.s.). “Abu Zar,” replied Uthman. Amirul Momineen (a.s.) said: “He is not a fool. I heard the Messenger of Allah (S) say that: The green sky has not shaded and the dusty earth not borne the weight of any speaker more truthful than Abu Zar.
O Uthman, consider him to be the believer of the people of Firon. If he lies, it will harm him only and if he is truthful, some of what he promises will indeed befall you.”
Shaykh Kishi has narrated through Abdul Malik bin Abu Zar Ghiffari through authentic chains that when Uthman tore up a number of copies of Qur’an, Amirul Momineen (a.s.) called me and asked me to bring my father.
When I conveyed the message of Imam Ali (a.s.) to my father he hastened to the Imam immediately. His Eminence, said: “O Abu Zar, a great matter has occurred in Islam today! They have torn up the Book of Allah and placed a piece of iron in it. It is incumbent on the Almighty Allah to apply iron to the body of one who has applied iron to the Qur’an and cut it up into shreds.”
Abu Zar said: “I have heard from the Messenger of Allah (S) that the tyrants who had ruled on Musa (a.s.) fought against the family of the prophet and overpowered them and they continued to slay them for a long time. At last the Almighty Allah sent some youths upon them who had come from another town and they confronted them. And O Amirul Momineen (a.s.), in this Ummah you are like them.” Amirul Momineen (a.s.) said: “O Abu Zar, so you have predicted my death?” He said: “By Allah, I know that from the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) people will initiate the killings with you.”
Moreover, through authentic chains of narrators, it is narrated from Huzaifa bin Usaid that he says: I saw Abu Zar clinging to the knob of the Kaaba and saying: I am Jundab, one who knows me, knows me and one who does not know me should know that I am Abu Zar son of Junadah. I have indeed heard from the Messenger of Allah (S) that: Whosoever deviated from me for first, second and third time would be among the followers of Dajjal (anti-Christ). Indeed, the example of my progeny in this Ummah is like that of the Ark of Nuh. One who boarded it was saved and one who left it was drowned. I have conveyed whatever I was supposed to convey.”[2]
Ibn Abil Hadid has narrated from Ibn Abbas that when Uthman exiled Abu Zar to Rabza he also prohibited everyone to see him off; and he appointed Marwan bin Hakam to take Abu Zar out of Medina. Thus everyone was cowed down by Uthman’s fear and no one went out to see off Abu Zar.
But His Eminence, Ali (a.s.), Imam Hasan (a.s.), Imam Husain (a.s.), Aqil and Ammar Yasir accompanied him. When they came to Abu Zar, Imam Hasan (a.s.) began to speak with Abu Zar. Marwan said: “Perhaps you are unaware that Uthman has prohibited talking with this man? If you were unaware you should know it now.” Amirul Momineen (a.s.) whipped Marwan and said: “Get out from here, may Allah humiliate you and put you into the fire.” Marwan came to Uthman infuriated and reported everything to him.
Uthman was also enraged. When Amirul Momineen (a.s.) returned to Medina after saying farewell to Abu Zar, people told him that Uthman was enraged with him for having accompanied Abu Zar.” Imam Ali (a.s.) said: “His anger on me is like the fury of the horse which chews at the reins. But how much ever he may chew, it is of no use to him.”
Thus when he met Uthman, he asked: “Why did you send my messenger and disregarded my command?”
Amirul Momineen (a.s.) said: “Your messenger wanted to send me back, therefore I sent him back. And since your command was against the command of Allah, I could not have acted on it.” There was a heated exchange between Uthman and Amirul Momineen (a.s.) and Imam Ali (a.s.) arose from the meeting in anger. Since the dispute was of no good consequence a group of companions pacified both the parties.
Moreover, Ibn Abil Hadid has narrated that Abu Zar’s exile to Syria through Uthman was due to the fact that when Uthman began to misappropriate public wealth, and started distributing money according to his wish to Marwan and other hypocrites, Abu Zar began to protest about it in streets and publicly recite the following verse of Qur’an: “…and (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah’s way, announce to them a painful chastisement…”[3]
Uthman continued to receive reports of these protests, but he was busy in his affairs and he paid no attention to Abu Zar, but when many complaints piled up, Uthman sent a freed slave to Abu Zar and told him to refrain from these activities. Abu Zar said: “Uthman restrains men from reading the Book of Allah. And he stops me from condemning one who disobeys the command of God. By Allah, if I please the Almighty it would be more preferable to him than to please Uthman. Rather than I keep Uthman pacified and make God angry. Uthman was further infuriated by this, but he did not confront him due to some exigency.
Then one day Uthman asked in his assembly: “Is it allowed for the Imam to borrow something from Baitul Maal which he may later repay?” Kaab al-Ahbar said that there was no problem in it. Abu Zar said: “O son of two Jews, will you teach us our religion?” Uthman said: “O Abu Zar, this is the limit of your harassment to me and my companions.” Then he ordered that Abu Zar should be exiled to Syria. In Syria, Abu Zar observed the unholy behavior of Muawiyah and began to condemn him too.
One day Muawiyah sent 300 gold coins to Abu Zar. Abu Zar told the messenger: “If it is my share, which you did not give me this year, I will accept it and if it is a gift and favor from you, I am not in need of it.” And he returned it. When Muawiyah constructed the Green Palace in Damascus, Abu Zar said: “O Muawiyah, if it is made from the wealth of Allah, you have been dishonest, and if you have got it made from personal wealth, you have been extravagant.”
In the same way, Abu Zar used to say in Syria, some heresies have appeared in this age, which are neither according to the Book of Allah nor conform to the practice of the Prophet. I see that truth is being trampled upon and falsehood is being popularized. The truthful are regarded as liars and the share of the righteous is given to the sinners.” At last Habib bin Muslima Fehri said to Muawiyah: “Abu Zar will mislead the people of Syria from you, so you must do something about him.”
Moreover, it is narrated from Julam bin Jundal that: During the reign of Uthman I was the agent of Muawiyah in Qansarin. One day I came to Muawiyah for some errand. Suddenly I heard someone screaming at the door: “A line of camels is coming to you on which is loaded the fire of Hell. O Allah, curse those who restrain others from evil but themselves act upon it.”
This infuriated Muawiyah and he asked: “Do you know this man?” “No,” I replied. Muawiyah said: “He is Jundab bin Junadah. He comes every day to the entrance of my palace and calls out in the same manner.” Then he ordered that he should be eliminated. Some people caught hold of Abu Zar and brought him to Muawiyah. Muawiyah said: “O enemy of Allah and Messenger. Everyday you come and talk in this way? If I could kill any companion of the Prophet without the permission of Uthman, I would have killed you.
But I will take permission from Uthman about you.” Julam says: “I tried to see Abu Zar, because he was from my tribe. When I saw him, he was wheat complexioned and tall and thin man. His beard was sparse and due to old age his waist had become absolutely thin.” Thus in reply to Muawiyah, Abu Zar said: “I am not the enemy of Allah and the Messenger. On the contrary, you and your father is the enemy of Allah. You accepted Islam for convenience, whereas you were really infidels.
And the Messenger of Allah (S) had often invoked curse on you and prayed that may you never become satiated by eating. The Messenger of Allah (S) had informed that when the ruler of this Ummah will be one with big eyes and long neck, he will be a glutton and he would never feel satiated. At that time the people of my Ummah should beware of his mischief. Muawiyah said: I am not that person. Abu Zar said: “Only you are that same one, the Messenger of Allah (S) has informed me that it is you.
One day you passed the Prophet and I heard that the Prophet was saying: O Allah, curse this man and never make him satiated of food except in grave. Then I heard him say that his abode was in the Fire. Muawiyah laughed at this and ordered Abu Zar to be taken into custody. After that he wrote about all this to Uthman who called him to Medina as was previously mentioned.
Shaykh Tusi has narrated that Abu Sahla said: I set out for Hajj with Salman. When we reached Rabza, we went to visit Abu Zar. Abu Zar said: “After me, mischief will appear. When it occurs, it is must upon you to remain attached to the Book of Allah and the leader of religion, Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.); and you must not leave them, because I have heard the Messenger of Allah (S) say: Ali is the first of those who believed in me and he testified before all others.
On Judgment Day he would be first to shake hands with me. He is the Siddiq Akbar of this Ummah and the Farooq Azam who separates the truth from falsehood. He is the king of believers and master of property of hypocrites.[4]
Ibn Babawayh has narrated from Naeem bin Qanab that he said: I went to Rabza to visit Abu Zar and saw a lady there.
I asked where Abu Zar was. She said that he had gone out. Suddenly I saw him coming pulling two camels behind him. Each of the camels had a water skin hanging from their necks. I arose, greeted him and then sat down again. When he entered the house, I heard that he was telling his woman as the Prophet had said that: Woman is like a curved bone, if you try to straighten it, it will break, and if you leave it as it is, you will benefit from it.
Then he placed a bowl before me containing a roasted animal like Asfar and he told me to eat as he himself was fasting. Then he performed two rakats prayers and after that he came and began to eat. I said: “Wow, I never knew that a person like you could lie in this way. You said that you were fasting!” Abu Zar said: I have fasted three days in this month and thus earned the reward of fasting for the whole month. Now I have the choice of fasting the remaining days or not.”
Ibn Tawus has through authentic chains narrated from Muawiyah bin Thaliba etc. that when Abu Zar was in his terminal illness, we went to visit him and asked him to make his bequest. He said: I have appointed Amirul Momineen as my legatee. I said: Do you mean Uthman? “No,” I call only Amirul Momineen, who is the rightful chief of believers, that is Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.). He is the spring of the world through whom the earth is stable and inhabited.
Only he is the divine scholar of this Ummah. If he goes away from you, you will see endless evil and corruption in the world.” I said: “We know that you love much the one whom the Holy Prophet (S) loved. Tell me whom do you love most?” He replied: “The most beloved to me in the world is that oppressed elder whose rights have been usurped by the people, that is Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.).”
Barqi has narrated through correct chains of narrators from Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) that one day in Rabza, people saw Abu Zar watering his mule. They asked him if he had no servant to do this? He replied: I have heard from the Messenger of Allah (S) that he said: Every morning the quadrupeds supplicate: O Allah, give me a master who feeds and gives me water, and who does not put a load more than which I could bear. That is why I water him myself.”
Shaykh Kishi has narrated that the Messenger of Allah (S) said in favor of Abu Zar: “The green sky has not shaded and the dusty earth not borne the weight of any speaker more truthful than Abu Zar. He will live alone, enter Paradise alone and will be raised alone.” He used to publicly announce the excellence of Amirul Momineen (a.s.) and say that only he is the legatee and Caliph of the Holy Prophet (S). That is why he was externed from the sanctuary of Allah and the Prophet and he was made to mount the bare-backed camel to be taken to Medina.
He used to regularly call out that rows of Hellfire are being brought for you. And he used to say that I heard from the Messenger of Allah (S): When the descendants of Abil Aas reach upto thirty, they would corrupt the religion of Allah; consider the people as their servants and consider the wealth of Allah as their own. That is why he was killed in starvation and poverty and he continued to observe patience.
Moreover it is narrated that when the time of Abu Zar’s death approached he told his wife to slaughter a sheep and to cook the mutton, and when he was dead, to go and sit on the road to Iraq and say to the first caravan that arrives: O servants of Allah, a companion of the Prophet has passed away in this area. Please could you take the trouble to perform his last rites? Then Abu Zar said: The Messenger of Allah (S) had informed me that I would die in a strange land and some righteous people of his Ummah will perform my last rites.
Then Al-Qama bin Aswad Nakhai has narrated that we were traveling for Hajj with Malik Ashtar along with some other believers. When we reached Rabza, we found a lady by the road. She said: O servants of Allah, O righteous Muslims, a companion of the Prophet, Abu Zar has passed away in this strange area. And there is no one who can help me with his final journey.
So we looked at each other and thanked Allah for giving us such an opportunity. But we were much aggrieved at this and said: Verily we belong to Allah and to Him we shall return. Thus we went along with that poor lady and began to perform the last rites of Abu Zar. There was a dispute among us as each of us wanted to shroud him with his own money. At last it was decided to share the expenses equally.
After that we jointly performed his funeral bath. After that Malik Ashtar led the funeral prayers and we buried him. Then Malik Ashtar stood by his grave and said: O Allah, this Abu Zar is the companion of Your Messenger, he worshipped with Your worshippers and fought Jihad with the polytheists for Your pleasure and he did not make any change in any of Your dispensations. But he opposed through his tongue and heart, all the innovations that were created in Your religion by the hypocrites.
That is why he was oppressed and thrown out of his hometown in degradation after being deprived of his rights. And he continued to live in a strange land. O Allah, destroy the glory and power of the one who deprived him of his rights and who externed him from the place of his migration and the sanctuary of the Messenger. We all raised our hands.
Then the lady of the house brought the roasted animal and said: Abu Zar had adjured you not to step out of this house till you don’t partake this dish. So we partook from it and then returned from there. Shaykh Tusi has narrated this incident from Imam Musa Kazim (a.s.).
It is mentioned in Rauzatul Waezeen that someone asked Abu Zar at the time of his death, where his property was.
He replied: “It is my deed.” People said: “We are asking you about silver and gold.” Abu Zar said: “I never passed any day on the earth in possession of anything. I have heard from my beloved, the Messenger of Allah (S) that he used to say: “The treasure of man is his grave.”
Ibn Abil Hadid has narrated through another report that they reached Abu Zar when he was yet alive.
Abu Zar told them: “I have heard the Messenger of Allah (S) tell some people among whom I was also there: one of you will die in loneliness and a group of believers will be present to perform the last rites. And all of those among whom the Holy Prophet (S) issued this prophecy have passed away in their native towns, except me.
So I am that man. If I or my wife had possessed a garment sufficient to act as my shroud, I would never have accepted anyone giving me a shroud. And I adjure you in the name of Allah, that none of you should give me a shroud who has served as a ruler. Or who has served as a leader of a group or have been a friend of an oppressor or had served as a messenger of an oppressor.
There was an Ansari man in that group who had never participated in any type of rulership. He said: O respected Uncle, I will shroud you in this same sheet that I have covered myself with and the two pieces of cloth that are present in my luggage. Their thread was spun by my mother and I have myself woven those clothes. Abu Zar said: “All right, only you must give me the shroud.”
Shaykh Mufeed has narrated from Abu Amama Bahili that when Uthman sent Abu Zar to Rabza, Abu Zar wrote a letter to Huzaifa bin Yaman: In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. So to say: O brother, fear Allah, as is wont to be feared so that your weeping is more and free the heart from the attachments of the world and remain awake at nights in the worship of Allah and impose hardships on your body in obedience of the Lord, because He is deserving of this weeping and austerity; one who knows that Hell is for those on whom the Almighty Allah is angry, that is why his weeping and austerity and remaining awake at nights in worship is more.
Till he comes to know that the Almighty Allah is pleased with him. And he is deserving for it who knows that Paradise is for one with whom the Almighty Allah is pleased. That is why he is inclined to truth. Perhaps through this he may achieve salvation and in order to obtain the satisfaction of Allah he may consider it easy to leave his family and property and his wakefulness of nights and fasting of the days, and consider it easy to fight Jihad with oppressors and apostates.
So much so that he should come to know that the Almighty Allah has made Paradise compulsory on him all this cannot be known except after death. And one who wants to be in vicinity of divine mercy in Paradise and in the companionship of prophets, it is necessary for him to become just as I have described. O my brother, you are from those whom I can confide my sorrow and complain to them that these oppressors have helped each other in causing pain to me.
Indeed, I have myself seen and heard the oppressions of these oppressors and if I refused them, they deprived me of their bestowals and exiled me from one place to another, separating me from my brothers and relatives and threw me out from the sanctuary of Allah and His Messenger. And I seek refuge from the Almighty that my complaint should be registered with Him that they have acted in this way with me. I tell you that I am pleased with what the Almighty Allah has chosen for me and whatever He has commanded for me.
I am describing my circumstances to you so that you may pray to Allah for my and other people’s salvation and that you may supplicate the Almighty Allah to bestow me and other Muslims with that which is more beneficial and whose consequence is better. And peace be upon you.”
In reply to this, Huzaifa wrote: In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. So to say: O my brother, I received your letter in which you warned me of my return in Judgment Day and emphasized fearing disobedience of God.
You encourage me to adopt all such actions in which my well being lies. O brother, you have always been the well wisher of me and all Muslims and had always been affectionate for us all and have always been fearful with regard to us. You have always commanded good and refrained from evils.
But no one is guided to the pleasures of the Almighty except that they be from Allah and no one escapes His anger and chastisement except through His mercy and forgiveness. Therefore I ask Him for myself and special friends and all the people of this Ummah, His general blessings and encompassing mercy. My brother, through your letter we came to know whatever oppression you are meted out, like being exiled to a strange land etc. all this was extremely sad for us.
My brother, if I knew that your problems could be solved through wealth, I would have most willingly sacrificed all my wealth for you. By Allah, if it had been possible to share your woes, and if I can take up half of your problems, I would have asked them for it. But all these matters are only as much for us as is acceptable to the Almighty Allah. O brother, we and you together should petition the court of the Almighty and become inclined to His rewards and save ourselves from His chastisement.
Indeed, they will soon torture us and very soon they will cut off the fruits of life from our bodies and summon us in the court of Almighty and we would have to submit. Then our deeds will be presented before Allah and we shall be helpless of the deeds that we have sent in advance. O brother, do not regret whatever has been wasted by you and don’t be aggrieved at whatever pains you have received.
On the contrary ask the Almighty Allah to give you a good reward for them and continue to hope for a great reward from Him. O brother, I find death better than worldly life for yourself and myself, because countless mischiefs have appeared that are approaching continuously like dark nights. People of the world have prepared their steeds and are trampling the wealth of the world with their hooves. In these mischiefs, swords will be unsheathed and death will overpower the people. One who comes out or is involved with them or who rides through them, will be doubtlessly killed.
And Arab tribes, whether they be townsmen or gypsies, will take part in these mischiefs, and in that period the most oppressive will be the most respected and one who is the most pious, will be the most degraded. Therefore may the Merciful Allah keep us in His refuge from such circumstances, in which the condition of the people would be such. Indeed, I will not omit praying for you in any position, because the Almighty Allah has commanded in the Holy Qur’an and promised its fulfillment: “Call upon Me, I will answer you; surely those who are too proud for My service shall soon enter hell abased.”[5]
Therefore we seek refuge of Allah from His disobedience in worship and deviation from His obedience. We pray that the Almighty Allah may give me and you salvation and a goodly end. And peace be upon you.”
Ali bin Ibrahim and Kulaini have narrated that Abu Zar had a son named Zar. He died in Rabza. When Abu Zar had buried him, he stood besides his grave and placing his hand on his grave said: O Zar, may Allah have mercy on you; you were a dutiful son of your parents and when you passed away from the world, I was satisfied with you. Your separation has not put me to any loss and except for the Merciful Lord, I don’t have any need from anyone nor do I seek any benefit from anyone that I should be perturbed with any loss.
If after death, there had been no hardship and fear, I would have liked to be in your place. I am aggrieved not because of you and I don’t weep for your separation but I weep upon you. If only I had known what questions were posed to you and what replies you offered. O Allah, You had made some duties obligatory on him and also made him responsible for some of my rights.
O my Lord, I have forgiven him my rights, You also forgive Your rights to him and forgive me, because you are more deserving of generosity and mercy.
Abu Zar owned some sheep through which he subsisted along with his family. But once they all were destroyed in some epidemic.
His wife also expired in Rabza. So he lived alone with his daughter. She says that three days passed but they did not get a grain to eat. When hunger overpowered us my father said: Come dear, let us go to wilderness, perhaps we would find some grass there which we can consume.
So I took my father and went into the desert, but we could not find anything. So my father gathered some sand and placed his head on it. When I glanced at him, I saw that he was near to his death. I began to weep and I asked: Father dear, what will I do in this lonely desert? He said: Don’t worry, after I die, a group of Iraqis will arrive and they will perform my last rites, because my beloved, the Messenger of Allah (S) had informed me during the Battle of Tabuk.
Daughter dear, when I have departed for the heavenly abode, cover me with a sheet and sit on the road to Iraq. When the caravan arrives, you must say: Abu Zar, companion of the Prophet has died in this wilderness. Abu Zar’s daughter narrates that a group of the people of Rabza came to visit my father and asked: O Abu Zar, what are you suffering from, what is your complaint? Abu Zar replied: I am suffering from my sins.
They asked: What do you want? He replied: I want the mercy of my Lord. People said: If you like, we can get you a doctor. He said: It is the doctor who has made me sick. The Almighty Allah is the physician and all the pain is due to Him only. Then his daughter narrates that when my father saw the Angel of Death, he said: Welcome to a friend who has arrived when he was most needed.
Deliverance may not be for one who regrets meeting you. May the Almighty Allah convey me next to His mercy through him. By your right, you know that I had always been eager to meet you and I have never despised death. His daughter says that when he passed away, I covered him with a sheet and waited on the road. Some people arrived and I told them: O Muslims, Abu Zar, companion of the Prophet has passed away. They alighted from their mounts and wept in his grief.
Then they performed his last rites and buried him after prayers. Malik Ashtar was also among them. It is narrated from Malik that: I shrouded him in a cloth I used to carry around and it was worth 4000 dirhams. His daughter says that I used to remain on his grave in such a way that whenever he used to pray during his lifetime, I also prayed in the same way and fasted as he had fasted in his lifetime.
One night I saw him that after the Midnight Prayer he was reciting the Qur’an like he recited during his lifetime. I asked: Father dear, how did the Almighty Allah deal with you? He replied: I was presented to my Merciful Lord and He was happy with me and I was satisfied with Him. He granted me many blessings and honored me. But my daughter, you must perform good deeds but never feel proud. Often history has mentioned wife of Abu Zar instead of his daughter.
Ahmad bin Athim Kufi has narrated that those who participated in the final rites of Abu Zar were: Ahnaf bin Qays Tamim, Saa-sa bin Sauhan al-Abdi, Kharija bin Salat Tamimi, Abdullah bin Muslima Tamimi, Hilal bin Malik Nazle, Jarir bin Abdullah Bajali, Aswad bin Yazid al-Khafi and Malik bin Ashtar bin Harith etc. These people at once washed Abu Zar and arranged for his shrouding. After the burial, Malik bin Ashtar standing by the side of the grave delivered a speech which referred to Abu Zar’s affairs and a supplication about him. After the praise of the Almighty Allah he said: “O Allah, Abu Zar was a companion of Your Prophet and a believer in Your Books and Your Prophets. He fought very bravely in Your way, remained steadfast to Your Islamic laws and never changed or distorted any of Your commands.”
“O my Lord, seeing some conventions of the Book and the tradition he raised his voice and drew the attention of those responsible for the Ummah towards making improvements, as a result of which they tortured him, drove him from place to place, humiliated him, turned him out of the country of Your dear Prophet and put him to extreme hardships. At last he breathed his last in a state of utter loneliness in a deserted place.”
“O Allah, grant Abu Zar a big portion of those heavenly blessings, which You have promised for the believers and take revenge on one who has banished him from Medina and given him full deserved punishment.”
Malik Ashtar prayed for Abu Zar in his speech and all those who were present there said: “Amen.”
Ibn Abde Barr has mentioned in Istiab, that Abu Zar passed away in 31st or 32nd year Hijri and Abdullah bin Masud performed his funeral prayer. Some have said that he died in 34 Hijri but the former report is more accurate.
Notes:
[1] Surah Taubah 9:34-35
[2] The author says: ‘Time’ implies the second time, thus it means fighting against Amirul Momineen (a.s.).
[3] Surah Taubah 9:34
[4] The author says: The mention of Salman in this report is surprising due to some reasons as is very much obvious for those who are knowledgeable.
[5] Surah Momin 40:60

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