Preface: These articles are only a summary of the lives of the great Companions and do not cover all the points of their life stories. These stories are not intended as biographies, but rather to provide a glimpse of the main incidents of each companion’s life. For ease of reading, we have not inserted “May Allah be pleased with him (RA)” each time the name of each Companion is mentioned, but please take it that the salutations apply to all of them, may Allah be pleased with them all.
He was born surrounded by comfort and luxury. His father was the governor of Al Uballah and its ruler on behalf of the Persian king, and was one of the Arabs who emigrated to Iraq long before Islam. In his palace on the bank of Euphrates, next to Mosul, the child lived happily and comfortably.
He was taken by slave traders until finally his long journey ended in Makkah. There he was sold to Abd Allah lbn Jud’aan, after having spent his childhood and most of his youth in Roman lands, where he adopted their language and dialect.
His master was so amazed by his intelligence, energy, and sincerity that he emancipated him and set him free, giving him the privilege to trade with him.
His friend Ammaar Ibn Yaasir relates: I met Suhaib lbn Sinan in front of the door of Daar Al-Arqam when the Prophet SAW was there. I asked, ‘What do you want?’ He answered, ‘And what do you want?’ I said, ‘I want to meet Muhammad SAW to hear what he is saying.’ He said, ‘I want the same.’ We both entered and met the Prophet SAW, who invited us to embrace Islam, and we converted. We stayed as we were till evening. Secretly he went out.
Thereupon, Suhaib got to know his path to Daar Al-Arqam. He got to know his path to guidance and light, but also to difficult sacrifice and great redemption. Entering through that wooden door, which separated Daar Al-Arqam and what was inside from the outer world, was not just crossing a threshold, but crossing of a whole world of limitations. An old world, with all that represented it – religion, manners, customs and life – crossing it towards a new world with all that represented it – religion, manners, customs, and life. Crossing the threshold of Daar Al-Arqam, a threshold not wider than one foot, meant, in reality, to cross an ocean of terror, wide and expanding. Stepping over such an obstacle, such a threshold, meant the beginning of an era full of great responsibilities. As for the poor, the stranger, the enslaved, stepping over Daar Al-Arqam’s threshold meant exceptional, extraordinary sacrifices. Suhaib, was a stranger; Ammar Ibn Yaasir, his friend whom he met in front of the door, was a poor man. Why did they go voluntarily to face terror and, moreover, do their best when they me with it in combat?
It was the call of faith, which could not be resisted. It was the good character of Muhammad SAW, the scent of which filled the hearts of the reverent with love and guidance. It was his new, shining magnificence. Dazzling minds were fed up with the old, its misguidance and bankruptcy. Above all, it was Allah’s mercy, bestowed upon whomever He wishes, His guidance and protection bestowed on whomever turns to Him.
Suhaib holds a position in the ranks of the faithful. He held a great and high position among the persecuted and tortured. He held a high position among the generous and self -sacrificing.
He frankly described his great loyalty to his responsibilities as a Muslim who had pledged allegiance to the Prophet SAW and walked under Islam’s standard: I was present in every situation witnessed by the Prophet SAW. I was present at every pledge called by him. I was present in every detachment organized by him. The Prophet SAW never took part in a raid, at the beginning of the period or the end, without my being on his right or left. Whenever the Muslims feared a danger facing them, I was there in the front, and whenever they feared it in the rear, I was there at the back. I never let the Prophet SAW stay in a position between me and the foe until he SAW met Allah.
It was a dazzling image of extraordinary faith and great loyalty. Ever since the first day he received Allah’s light and put his hand into the Prophet’s, Suhaib was imbued with such outstanding faith.
From that day, his relationship towards people and the world, let alone himself, acquired a new dimension. His character turned into a firm, humble and devoted one, subduing events and braving various types of horror.
He went on bravely and courageously shouldering all his responsibilities, never lagging behind, whenever there was danger or a situation to be encountered. His passionate love and ardent desire were not directed towards gains and spoils but rather towards sacrifice and ransom; not towards the greed of life but rather towards the passion of danger and self- sacrifice.
He began the days of his noble redemption and great loyalty with the day of his Hijrah. On that day he abandoned all his wealth, all his gold which he had gained by successful trade during the long years he lived in Makkah. He abandoned all his fortune, all that he owned in a split second, the glory of which was never stained by doubt or retreat.
When the Prophet SAW intended to emigrate, Suhaib knew that and he was supposed to be the third one of the three the Prophet, Abu Bakr RA, and Suhaib.
However, the Quraish decided to prevent the Prophet’s emigration. Suhaib fell into one of their traps and was thereby hindered for some time from emigrating, while the Prophet SAW and his companion set out accompanied by Allah’s blessing.
Suhaib disputed, talked, and argued until he got rid of his persecutors. He mounted his camel and sped across the desert. However, the Quraish sent its hunters to follow him. When they reached him, Suhaib had hardly seen them before facing them and shouting from a near distance, ‘O people of Quraish, you know that I am the best marksman. By Allah, you cannot reach me before I shoot each of my arrows with my bow, then I will strike you with my sword until it falls down. Come on, if you like to try. Or if you like, I will tell you where my money is, and so leave me alone.’
They agreed to take his money saying, ‘You came to us as a poor wretch. Your money increased in our land and among us you claimed high rank and now you want to escape together with your money?’
He guided them to the place where he had hidden his fortune, then they left him alone and returned to Makkah.
Strangely enough, they believed his words without doubt, without precaution. They did not ask him to prove his honesty, nor did they ask him to swear. This situation granted him a great honour, which he deserves as an honest and truthful man.
Alone but happy, Suhaib continued his journey until he reached the Prophet SAW at Qubaa’.
When Suhaib came into view, the Prophet SAW was sitting surrounded by his Companions. As soon as the Prophet SAW saw him, he called to him cheerfully, ‘O Abu Yahia! A profitable sale! A profitable sale!’
Thereupon, the glorious verse was revealed: ‘And of mankind is he who sell himself, seeking the pleasure of Allah And Allah is full of kindness to (His) slaves’ (Quran 2:201).
Indeed, Suhaib had paid all his fortune – the fortune he spent all his youth to gather – in return for his faithful soul. He never felt it was an unjust bargain. Money, gold, the whole world, nothing of that sort was worthwhile as long as he kept his faith, the sovereignty of his conscience, and the determination of his fate.
The Prophet loved him very much. Besides being pious and God-fearing, he was a cheerful and jovial person. The Prophet SAW saw him once eating dates when there was an inflammation in one of his eyes. The Prophet SAW asked him cheerfully, ‘Do you eat dates when there is inflammation in one of your eyes?’ He answered, ‘What’s wrong with that? I eat them with the other eye!’ He was a generous donor, spending all his stipend from the treasury (Bait Al-Maal) in the cause of Allah, helping the needy, aiding the sorrowful, feeding the needy, the orphans, and the captives with the best food.
His extreme generosity attracted the attention of Umar, who said to him, ‘I can see you feeding people too much, to the extent that you are spending lavishly.’ Suhaib answered him, ‘I’ve heard the Prophet SAW say, ‘The best of you is the one who feeds (others).’
The life of Suhaib was filled with an abundance of merits and great situations. To be chosen by Umar lbn Al-Khattab to lead the prayer was another merit to be added.
When the Commander of the Faithful was attacked while leading the Muslims in Fajr Prayer and felt his end was coming nearer and nearer, he began to advise his companions. His last words were, ‘Let Suhaib lead people in prayer’.
On that day Umar chose six of the Companions and entrusted them with the choice of the new caliph. The Caliph of the Muslims was the one who led the prayers. In those days following the death of the Commander of the Faithful until the new caliph was chosen, who was to lead the Muslims in prayer?
Umar would slow down a thousand times before choosing someone especially in these moments, while his pure soul was passing away to meet Allah. If he chose, then there was no one more eligible than the chosen. He chose Suhaib.
He chose Suhaib to lead the Muslims in prayer until the next caliph came to carry out his duties. This choice was a divine blessing upon the pious worshipper Suhaib Ibn Sinan.
Source: Khalid, Khalid Muhammad, Men Around the Messenger, Islamic Book Service, 2004