Suhayb Ar-Rumi

Suhayb Ar-RumiSuhayb Ar-RumiFrom AlimĀ® Online

About twenty years before the start of the Prophet’s mission, that is about the middle of the sixth century CE, an Arab named Sinan ibn Malik governed the city of al-Uballah on behalf of the Persian emperor. The city, which is now part of Basrah, lay on t he banks of the Euphrates River. Sinan lived in a luxurious palace on the banks of the river. He had several children and was particularly fond of one of them who was then barely five years old. His name was Suhayb. He was blond and fair-complexioned. H e was active and alert and gave much pleasure to his father.

One day Suhayb’s mother took him and some members of her household to a village called ath-Thani for a picnic. What was to be a relaxing and enjoyable day turned out to be a terrifying experience that was to change the course of young Suhayb’s life forev er.

That day, the village of ath-Thani was attacked, by a raiding party of Byzantine soldiers. The guards accompanying the picnic party were overwhelmed and killed. Ali possessions were seized and a large number of persons were taken prisoner. Among these w as Suhayb ibn Sinan.

Suhayb was taken to one of the slave markets of the Byzantine Empire, the capital of which was Constantinople, there to be sold. Thereafter he passed from the hands of one slave master to another. His fate was no different from thousands of other slaves w ho filled the houses, the palaces and castles of Byzantine rulers and aristocrats.

Suhayb spent his boyhood and his youth as a slave. For about twenty years he stayed in Byzantine lands. This gave him the opportunity to get a rare knowledge and understanding of Byzantine/ire and society. In the palaces of the aristocracy, he saw with hi s own eyes the injustices and the corruption of Byzantine life. He detested that society and later would say to himself:

“A society like this can only be purified by a deluge.” Suhayb of course grew up speaking Greek, the language of the Byzantine Empire. He practically forgot Arabic. But he never forgot that he was a son of the desert. He longed for the day when he woul d be free again to join his people’s folk. At the first opportunity Suhayb escaped from bondage and headed straight for Makkah which was a place of refuge or asylum. There people called him Suhayb “ar-Rumi” or “the Byzantine” because of his peculiarly hea vy speech and his blond hair. He became the halif of one of the aristocrats of Makkah, Abdullah ibn Judan. He engaged in trade and prospered. In fact, he became quite rich.

One day he returned to Makkah from one of his trading journeys. He was told that Muhammad the son of Abdullah had begun calling people to believe in God alone, commanding them to be just and to do good works and prohibiting them from shameful and reprehen sible deeds. He immediately enquired who Muhammad was and where he stayed. He was told.

“(He stays) in the house or’ al-Arqam ibn Abi al-Arqam. Be careful however that no Quraysh sees you. If they see you they would do (the most terrible things to you). You are a stranger here and there is no bond of asabiyyahi to protect you, neither have you any clan to help you.”

Suhayb went cautiously to the house of al-Arqam. At the door he found Ammar ibn Yasir the young son of a Yemeni father who was known to him. He hesitated for a moment then went up to Ammar and said:

“What do you want (here), Ammar?”

“Rather, what do you want here’?” countered Ammar.

“I want to go to this man and hear directly from him what he is saying.”

“I also want to do that.” “Then let us enter together, ala barakatillah (with the blessings of God).”

Suhayb and Ammar entered and listened to what Muhammad was saying. They were both readily convinced of the truth of his message. The light of faith entered their hearts. At this meeting, they pledged fealty to the Prophet. declaring that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. They spent the entire day in the company of the noble Prophet. At night, under cover of darkness, they left the house of al-Arqam, their hearts aglow with the light of faith and their faces beaming with ha ppiness.

Then the familiar pattern of events followed. The idolatrous Quraysh learnt about Suhayb’s acceptance of Islam and began harassing and persecuting him. Suhayb bore his share of the persecution in the same way as Bilal, Ammar and his mother Sumayyah, Kha bbab and many others who professed Islam. The punishment was inhuman and severe but Suhayb bore it all with a patient and courageous heart because he knew that the path to Jannah is paved with thorns and difficulties. The teachings of the noble Prophet ha d instilled in him and other companions a rare strength and courage.

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