Abbad ibn Bishr

  It was the fourth year after the Hijrah. The city of the Prophet  was still under threat from within and  without. From within the influential Jewish tribe, the Banu an-Nadir, broke their agreement with the Prophet and made plans to kill him. For this, they were banished from the city. This was in the month of Safar.

Two months of uneasy quiet passed. Then the Prophet  received news that tribes from distant Najd were  planning an attack. To pre-empt them, the Prophet  gathered a force of over four hundred men, and leaving  one of his companions Uthman ibn Affan in charge of the city, set out eastward. Among this force was the  young Madinan, Abbad ibn Bishr.

  Arriving at Najd, the Prophet  found the habitations of the hostile tribes strangely deserted of men. Only  women were about. The men had taken to the hills. Some of them regrouped and prepared to fight. The time of  Salaah al-Asr (the afternoon prayer) came. The Prophet  feared that the hostile tribesmen would attack  them during prayer. He arranged the Muslims in ranks and divided them into two groups and performed the  prayer as the Salaah al-Khawf (the Prayer of Fear). With one group he performed one rakah while the other  group stood on guard. For the second rakah the groups changed places. Each group completed its prayer with  one rakah after the Prophet  had finished...

  On beholding the disciplined ranks of the Muslims the hostile tribesmen became uneasy and afraid. The  Prophet  had made his presence felt and something of his mission was now known at first hand in the  central highlands of Arabia whence he departed peacefully.

  On the way back, the Prophet  pitched camp in a valley for a night. As soon as the Muslims had settled  their camel mounts, the Prophet , asked: "Who will be our guard tonight?" "We, O Messenger of Allah,"  said Abbad ibn Bishr and Ammar ibn Yasir both of whom had been paired off as 'brothers' by the Prophet  when he arrived in Madinah after the Hijrah.

  Abbad and Ammar left for the mouth of the valley to take up duty. Abbad saw that his "brother" was tired and  asked him: "What part of the night do you wish to sleep, the first or the second?" "I shall sleep during the first  part," said Ammar who was soon fast asleep quite close to Abbad.

  The night was clear, calm and peaceful. The stars, the trees, and the rocks all appeared to celebrate in silence  the praises of their lord. Abbad felt serene. There was no movement, no threatening sign. Why not spend the  time in ibadah (worship) and reciting the Quraan? How delightful it would be to combine the performance of  Salaah with the measured recitation of the Quraan which he so much enjoyed.

  In fact Abbad was enthralled by the Ouraan from the moment he first heard it being recited by the mellow and  beautiful voice of Musab ibn Umayr. That was before the Hijrah when Abbad was just about fifteen years old.  The Quraan had found a special place in his heart and day and night thereafter he would be heard repeating the  glorious words of Allah so much so that he became known among the Prophet 's companions as the  "friend of the Quraan".  Late at night, the Prophet  once stood up to perform the Tahajjud Prayer in Aishah's house which adjoined  the masjid. He heard a voice reciting the Quraan, pure and sweet and as fresh as when the angel Jibril revealed  the words to him. He asked: "Aishah, is that the voice of Abbad ibn Bishr?' "Yes, O Messenger of Allah,"  replied Aishah. "O Lord, forgive him," prayed the Prophet  out of love for him.

  And so in the stillness of the night, at the mouth of the valley in Najd, Abbad stood up and faced the Qiblah.  Raising his hand in surrender to Allah, he entered into the state of Prayer. Finishing the compulsory opening  chapter of the Quraan, he began reciting Surah al-Kahf in his sweet, captivating voice. Surah al-Kahf is a long  Surah of one hundred and ten verses which deals in part with the virtues of faith, truth and patience and with  the relativity of time.

  While he was thus absorbed in reciting and reflecting upon the divine words, eternal words of illumination and wisdom. ing and reflecting upon the divine words, eternal words of illumination and wisdom, a stranger stalked the outskirts of the valley in search of Muhammad and his followers. He was one of those who had planned to  attack the Prophet  but who had fled into the mountains on the approach of the MusIims. His wife whom  he had left in the village had been taken as a captive by one of the Muslims. When he eventually found that his  wife was gone, he swore by al-Lat and al-Uzzah that he would pursue Muhammad and his companions and that  he would not return unless he had drawn blood.

  From a distance, the man saw the figure of Abbad silhouetted at the mouth of the valley and he knew that the  Prophet  and his followers must be inside the valley. Silently he drew his bow and let fly an arrow.  Unerringly it embedded itself in Abbad's flesh.

  Calmly, Abbad pulled out the arrow from his body and went on with his recitation, still absorbed in his Salaah.  The attacker shot a second and a third arrow both of which also found their mark. Abbad pulled out one and  then the other. He finished his recitation, made ruku and then sujud. Weak and in pain, he stretched out his  right hand while still in prostration and shook his sleeping companion. Ammar awoke. Silently, Abbad  continued the Salaah to its end and then said: "Get up and stand guard in my place. I have been wounded."

  Ammar jumped up and began to yell. Seeing them both the attacker fled into the darkness. Ammar turned to  Abbad as he lay on the ground, blood flowing from his wounds.

  "Ya Subhanallah (Glory be to Allah)! Why didn't you wake me when you were hit by the first arrow?" "I was in  the midst of reciting verses of the Quraan which filled my soul with awe and I did not want to cut short the  recitation. The Prophet  had commanded me to commit this surah to memory. Death would have been  dearer to me than that the recitation of this surah should be interrupted."

  Abbad's devotion to the Quraan was a sign of his intense devotion to and love for Allah, His Prophet  and  His religion. The qualities he was known for were his constant immersion in ibadah, his heroic courage and his  generosity in the path of Allah. At times of sacrifice and death, he would always be in the front line. When it  was time for receiving his share of rewards, he would only be found after much effort and difficulty. He was  always trustworthy in his dealings with the wealth of Muslims. All this was recognized. Aishah, the wife of the  Prophet , once said: "There are three persons among the Ansar whom no one could excel in virtue: Sad ibn  Muadh, Usayd ibn Khudayr and Abbad ibn Bishr."

  Abbad died the death of a shahid (martyr) at the battle of Yamamah. Just before the battle he had a strong  presentiment of death and martyrdom. He noticed that there was a lack of mutual confidence among the  Muhajirin and Ansar. He was grieved and upset. He realized that there would be no success for the Muslims in these terrible battles unless the Muhajirin and Ansar were grouped in separate regiments so that it could be  clearly seen who really bore their responsibility and who were truly steadfast in combat.

  At the break of day when the battle commenced, Abbad ibn Bishr stood on a mound and shouted:

  "O Ansar, distinguish yourselves among men. Destroy your scabbards. And do not forsake Islam."

  Abbad harangued the Ansar until about four hundred men gathered around, him at the head of whom were  Thabit ibn Qays, al-Baraa ibn Malik and Abu Dujanah, the keeper of the Prophet 's sword. With this force,  Abbad unleashed an offensive into the enemy's ranks which blunted their thrust and drove them back to the  "garden of death".

  At the walls of this garden, Abbad ibn Bishr fell. So numerous were his wounds, he was hardly recognizable.
 He  had lived, I fought and died as a believer.

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