Rabiah Ibn Kab

Not long afterwards, the Prophet 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.’

The Prophet 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 God, the Prophet 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 God, if the Prophet, peace be on him, should ask me again to marry, I would reply positively.’

Before long, the Prophet asked me again: ‘Don’t you want to get married ‘Rabi’ah?’

‘Oh yes, Messenger of God,’ 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: the Prophet has instructed you to give your daughter in marriage to me.’

Timidly, I went to the family and said: ‘The Messenger of God, peace be on him, 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 the Messenger of God, and welcome to his messenger. By God, 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 the Prophet and reported:

‘O Messenger of Allah. 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?’

The Prophet then sent for Buraydah ibn al-Khasib, one of the leading persons in my tribe, the Banu Asiam, and said to him: ‘O Buraydah, collect a nuwat’s weight in gold for Rabi’ah.

This they did and the Prophet said to me: ‘Take this to them and say, this is the sadaq of your daughter.’ I did so and they accepted it. They were pleased and said, This is much and good.’ I went back to the Prophet 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?’

The Prophet 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 Aishah and tell her to give you whatever barley she has.’

Aishah gave me a bag with seven saas of barley and said: ‘By God, 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.

The Prophet then gave me a piece of land near Abu Bakr’s. 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 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 consi dered as qisas -just retaliation.’ ‘No by God, I shall not,’ I said.

‘In that case, replied Abu Bakr. ‘I shall go the Messenger of God 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 Asiam, also set off behind me protesting indignantly: ‘He’s the one who cursed you first and then he goes off to the Prophet before you to complain about you!’ I turned to them and said: ‘Woe to you! Do yo u 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 the Prophet in anger. The Prophe t 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 went to the Prophet and related the incident as it had happened. The Prophet raised his head and said to me:

‘O Rabi’ah, what’s wrong with you and as-Siddiq?’ ‘Messenger of God, he wanted me to say the same words to him as he had said to me and I did not.’

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