Hudhayfah Ibn Al-Yaman

me as I lay crouching on the ground and asked: ‘Who is this?’ ‘Hudhayfah,’ replied. ‘Hudhayfah?’ he queried as I huddled myself closer to the ground too afraid to stand up because of the intense hunger and cold. ‘Yes, O Messenger of God,’ I replied. ‘Some thing is happening among the people (meaning the forces of Abu Sufyan). Infiltrate their encampment and bring me news of what’s happening,’ instructed the Prophet.

“I set out. At that moment I was the most terrified person of all and felt terribly cold. The Prophet, peace be on him, prayed: ‘O Lord, protect him from in front and from behind, from his right and from his left, from above and from below.’

“By God, no sooner had the Prophet, peace be on him, completed his supplication than God removed from my stomach all traces of fear and from my body all the punishing cold. As I turned to go, the Prophet called me back to him and said: ‘Hudhayfah, on no a ccount do anything among the people (of the opposing forces) until you come back to me.’

‘Yes,’ I replied.

“I went on, inching my way under cover of darkness until I penetrated deep into the mushrikin camp and became just like one of them. Shortly afterwards, Abu Sufyan got up and began to address his men:

‘O people of the Quraysh, I am about to make a statement to you which I fear would reach Muhammad. Therefore, let every man among you look and make sure who is sitting next to him…’

“On hearing this, I immediately grasped the hand of the man next to me and asked, ‘Who are you?’ (thus putting him on the defensive and clearing myself). “Abu Sufyan went on:

‘O people of the Quraysh, by God, you are not in a safe and secure place. Our horses and camels have perished. The Banu Qurayzah have deserted us and we have had unpleasant news about them. We are buffered by this bitterly cold wind. Our fires do not ligh t and our uprooted tents offer no protection. So get moving. For myself, I am leaving.’

“He went to his camel, untethered and mounted it. He struck it and it stood upright. If the Messenger of God, peace be on him, had not instructed me to do nothing until I returned to him, I would have killed Abu Sufyan then and there with an arrow.

“I returned to the Prophet and found him standing on a blanket performing Salat. When he recognized me, he drew me close to his legs and threw one end of the blanket over me. I informed him of what had happened. He was extremely happy and joyful and gave thanks and praise to

Hudhayfah lived in constant dread of evil and corrupting influences. He felt that goodness and the sources of good in this life were easy to recognize for those who desired good. But it was evil that was deceptive and often difficult to perceive and comba t.

He became something of a great moral philosopher. He always warned people to struggle against evil with all their faculties, with their heart, hands and tongue. Those who stood against evil only with their hearts and tongues, and not with their hands, he considered as having abandoned a part of truth. Those who hated evil only in their hearts but did not combat it with their tongues and hands forsook two parts of truth and those who neither detested nor confronted evil with their hearts, tongues or hands he considered as physically alive but morally dead.

Speaking about ‘hearts’ and their relationship to guidance and error, he once said: “There are four kinds of hearts. The heart that is encased or atrophied. That is the heart of the kafir or ungrateful disbeliever. The heart that is shaped into thin layer s. That is the heart of the munafiq or hypocrite. The heart that is open and bare and on which shines a radiant light. That is the heart of the mumin or the believer.

Finally there is the heart in which there is both hypocrisy and faith. Faith is like a tree which thrives with good water and hypocrisy is like an abscess which thrives on pus and blood. Whichever flourishes more, be it the tree of faith or the abscess of hypocrisy, wins control of the heart.”

Hudhayfah’s experience with hypocrisy and his efforts to combat it gave a touch of sharpness and severity to his tongue. He himself realized this and admitted it with a noble courage: “I went to the Prophet, peace be on him and said: ‘O Messenger of God, I have a tongue which is sharp and cutting against my family and I fear that this would lead me to hell-fire.’ And the Prophet, peace be upon him, said to me: ‘Where do you stand with regard to istighfar – asking forgiveness from Allah? I ask Allah for fo rgiveness a hundred times during the day. “

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