Suhayb Ar-Rumi

When the Prophet gave permission for his followers to migrate to Madinah, Suhayb resolved to go in the company of the Prophet and Abu Bakr. The Quraysh however found out about his intentions and foiled his plans. They placed guards over him to prevent him from leaving and taking with him the wealth, the gold and the silver, which he had acquired through trade.

After the departure of the Prophet and Abu Bakr, Suhayb continued to bide his time, waiting for an opportunity to join them. He remained unsuccessful. The eyes of his guards were ever alert and watchful. The only way out was to resort to a stratagem.

One cold night, Suhayb pretended he had some stomach problems and went out repeatedly as if responding to calls of nature. His captors said one to another:

“Don’t worry. Al-Laat and al-Uzza are keeping him busy with his stomach.”

They became relaxed and sleep got the better of them. Suhayb quietly slipped out as if he was going to the toilet. He armed himself, got ready a mount and headed in the direction of Madinah.

When his captors awoke, they realized with a start that Suhayb was gone. They got horses ready and set out in hot pursuit and eventually caught up with him. Seeing them approach, Suhayb clambered up a hill. Holding his bow and arrow at the ready, he shou ted:

“Men of Quraysh! You know, by God, that I am one of the best archers and my aim is unerring. By God, if you come near me, with each arrow I have, I shall kill one of you. Then I shall strike with my sword.”

A Quraysh spokesman responded: By God , we shall not let you escape from us with your life and money. You came to Makkah weak and poor and you have acquired what you have acquired..”

“What would you say if I leave you my wealth?” interrupted Suhayb. “Would you get out of my way?”

“Yes,” they agreed.

Suhayb described the place in his house in Makkah where he had left the money, and they allowed him to go.

He set off as quickly as he could for Madinah cherishing the prospect of being with the Prophet and of having the freedom to worship God in peace. On his way to Madinah, whenever he felt tired, the thought of meeting the Prophet sustained him and he proce eded with increased determination. When Suhayb reached Quba, just outside Madinah where the Prophet himself alighted after his Hijrah, the Prophet saw him approaching. He was over-joyed and greeted Suhayb with beaming smiles.

“Your transaction has been fruitful, O Abu Yahya. Your transaction has been fruitful.” He repeated this three times. Suhayb’s face beamed with happiness as he said: “By God, no one has come before me to you, Messenger of God, and only JibriI could have t old you about this.” Yes indeed! Suhayb’s transaction was fruitful. Revelation from on high affirmed the truth of this:

“And there is a type of man who gives his life to earn the pleasure of God. And God is full of kindness to His servants.” (The Quran, Surah al-Baqarah, 2:2O7).

What is money and what is gold and what is the entire world so long as faith remains! The Prophet loved Suhayb a great deal. He was commended by the Prophet and described as preceding the Byzantines to Islam. In addition to his piety and sobriety, Suhayb was also light-hearted at times and had a good sense of humor. One day the Prophet saw him eating dates. He noticed that Suhayb had an infection in one eye. The Prophet said to him laughingly: “Do you eat ripe dates while you have an infection in one eye ?”

“What’s wrong?” replied Suhayb, “I am eating it with the other eye.”

Suhayb was also known for his generosity. He used to give all his stipend from the public treasury fi sabilillah, to help the poor and those in distress. He was a good example of the Quranic verse: “He gives food for the love of God to the needy, the orph an and the captive.” So generous was he that Umar once remarked:

“I have seen you giving out so much food that you appear to be too extravagant.” Suhayb replied: “I have heard the Messenger of God say: ‘The best of you is the one who gives out food.’”

Suhayb’s piety and his standing among MusIims was so high that he was selected by Umar ibn al-Khattab to lead the Muslims in the period between his death and the choosing of his successor.

As he lay dying after he was stabbed by a Magian, Abu Lulu, while leading the Fajr Salat, Umar summoned six of the companions: Uthman, Ali, Talhah, Zubayr, Abdur Rahman ibn Awl, and Sad ibn Abi Waqqas. He did not appoint anyone of them as his successor , because if he had done so according to one report “there would have been for a short time two Khalifahs looking at each other”. He instructed the six to consult among themselves and with the Muslims for three days and choose a successor, and then he sai d:

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