Ubayy Ibn Kab

Ubayy Ibn KabUbayy Ibn Kab From AlimĀ® Online

“O Abu Mundhir! Which verse of the Book of God is the greatest?” asked the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace. “Allah and His Messenger know best,” came the reply. The Prophet repeated the question and Abu Mundhir replied.

“Allah, there is no god but He, the Living the Self-Subsisting. Neither slumber overtakes him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on earth, …” and most likely he went on to complete the Verse of the Throne (Ayat al-Kurs i).

The Prophet smote his chest with his right hand in approval on hearing the reply and with his countenance beaming with happiness, said to Abu Mundhir. “May knowledge delight and benefit you, Abu Mundhir.”

This Abu Mundhir whom the Prophet congratulated on the knowledge and understanding which God had bestowed on him was Ubayy ibn Kab, one of his distinguished companions and a person of high esteem in the early Muslim community.

Ubayy was one of the Ansar and belonged to the Khazraj tribe. He was one of the first persons of Yathrib to accept Islam. He pledged allegiance to the Prophet at Aqabah before the Hijrah. He participated in the Battle of Badr and other engagements there after. Ubayy was one of the select few who committed the Quranic revelations to writing and had a Mushaf of his own. He acted as a scribe of the Prophet, writing letters for him. At the demise of the Prophet, he was one of the twenty five or so people who knew the Quran completely by heart. His recitation was so beautiful and his understanding so profound that the Prophet encouraged his companions to learn the Quran from him and from three others. Later, Umar too once told the Muslims as he was dealing wi th some financial matters of state:

“O people! Whoever wants to ask about the Quran, let him go to Ubayy ibn Kab…” (Umar went on to say that anyone wishing to ask about inheritance matters should go to Zayd ibn Thabit, about questions of fiqh to Muadh ibn Jabal and about questions of mone y and finance, to himself.)

Ubayy enjoyed a special honor with regard to the Quran. One day, the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, said: “O Ubayy ibn Kab! I have been commanded to show or lay open the Quran to you.”

Ubayy was elated. He knew of course that the Prophet only received commands from on high. Unable to control his excitement, he asked:

“O Messenger of God…Have I been mentioned to you by name?” “Yes,” replied the Prophet, “by your own name and by your genealogy (nasab) in the highest heavens.”

Any Muslim whose name had been conveyed to the heart of the Prophet in this manner must certainly have been of great ability and of a tremendously high stature.

Throughout the years of his association with the Prophet, Ubayy derived the maximum benefit from his sweet and noble personality and from his noble teachings. Ubayy related that the Prophet once asked him:

“Shall I not teach you a surah the like of which has not been revealed in the Tawrah, nor in the Injil, nor in the Zabur, nor in the Quran?”

“Certainly,” replied Ubayy.

“I hope you would not leave through that door until you know what it is,” said the Prophet obviously prolonging the suspense for Ubayy. Ubayy continues: “He stood up and I stood up with him. He started to speak, with my hand in his. I tried to delay him fearing that he would leave before letting me know what the surah is. When he reached the door, I asked: “O Messenger of God! The surah which you promised to tell me…” He replied:

“What do you recite when you stand for Salat?” So, I recited for him Fatihatu-l Kitab (the Opening Chapter of the Quran) and he said: “(That’s) it! (That’s) it! They are the seven oft-repeated verses of which God Almighty has said: We have given you the seven oft-repeated verses and the Mighty Quran.”

Ubayy’s devotion to the Quran was uncompromising. Once he recited part of a verse which the Khalifah Umar apparently could not remember or did not know and he said to Ubayy: “Your have lied,” to which Ubayy retorted; “Rather, you have lied.”

A person who heard the exchange was astounded and said to Ubayy: “Do you call the Amir al-Muminin a liar?”

“I have greater honor and respect for the Amir al-Muminin than you,” responded Ubayy,” but he has erred in verifying the Book of God and I shall not say the Amir al-Muminin is correct when he has made an error concerning the Book of God.”

“Ubayy is right,” concluded Umar.

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