The Messenger of Allaah sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam said: "Whoever directs someone to a good, then he will have the reward equal to the doer of the action". [Saheeh Muslim]

Story of Abu Hurayrah

“And the foremost to embrace Islaam from the Muhaajireen and the Ansaar and also those who followed them in goodness,  Allaah is well-pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success”.

[soorah At-Tawbah, v:100]

عن أبي هريرة – رضي الله عنه -قال: قال رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم

“3An Abi Hurayrata, radiyallahu anhu, qaal.’ qaala rasool Allaahi, SallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa Sallam…” (on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, he said the prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam said …)

Through this phrase millions of Muslims from the early history of Islaam to the present have come to be familiar with the name Abu Hurayrah. In speeches and lectures, in Friday khutbahs and seminars, in the books of hadeeth and seerah, fiqh and 3ibaadah, the name “Abu Hurayrah” is mentioned in this fashion: “On the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him who said: The Messenger of Allaah, sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam, said… “.

Through his prodigious efforts, hundreds of ahadeeth or sayings of the Prophet were transmitted to later generations. His is the foremost name in the roll of hadeeth transmitters. Next to him comes the names of such companions as 3AbdAllaah the son of 3Umar, Anas the son of Malik, Umm al-Mumineen 3Ayeshah, Jabir ibn 3AbdAllaah and Abu Sa3eed al-Khudri all of whom transmitted over a thousand sayings of the Prophet.

Abu Hurayrah became a Muslim at the hands of at-Tufayl ibn 3Amr the chieftain of the Daws tribe to which he belonged. The Daws lived in the region of Tihamah which stretches along the coast of the Red Sea in southern Arabia. When at-Tufayl returned to his village after meeting the Prophet and becoming a Muslim in the early years of his mission, Abu Hurayrah was one of the first to respond to his call. He was unlike the majority of the Daws who remained stubborn in their old beliefs for a long time.

When at-Tufayl visited Makkah again, Abu Hurayrah accompanied him. There he had the honor and privilege of meeting the noble Prophet who asked him: “What is your name?”

“Abdu Shams (servant of a Sun),” he replied.

“Instead, let it be Abdur-Rahman – the Servant of Ar-Rahman (the Most Merciful)” said the Prophet.

“Yes, Abdur-Rahman (it shall be) O Messenger of Allaah,” he replied.

However, he continued to be known as Abu Hurayrah, “the kitten man”, literally “the father of a kitten” or because he was fond of cats and since his childhood often had a cat to play with.

Abu Hurayrah stayed in Tihamah for several years and it was only at the beginning of the seventh year of the Hijrah that he arrived in Madinah with others of his tribe. The Prophet had gone on a campaign to Khaybar. Being destitute, Abu Hurayrah took up his place in the Masjid with other of the Ahl as-Suffah.

He was single, without wife or child. With him however was his mother who was still a mushrik. He longed, and prayed, for her to become a Muslim but she adamantly refused. One day, he invited her to have faith in Allaah alone and follow His Prophet but she uttered some words about the Prophet which saddened him greatly.With tears in his eyes, he went to the noble Prophet who said to him: “What makes you cry, O Abu Hurayrah?”

“I have not let up in inviting my mother to Islam but she has always rebuffed me. Today, I invited her again and I heard words from her which I do not like. Do make supplication to Allaah subhaanahu wa ta3ala to make the heart of Abu Hurayrah’s mother incline to Islaam.”

The Prophet responded to Abu Hurayrah’s request and prayed for his mother. Abu Hurayrah said: “I went home and found the door closed. I heard the splashing of water and when I tried to enter my mother said: “Stay where you are, O Abu Hurayrah.” And after putting on her clothes, she said, “Enter!” I entered and she said: “I testify that there is no god but Allaah and I testify that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger.” “I returned to the Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam, weeping with joy just as an hour before I had gone weeping from sadness and said: “I have good news, O Messenger of Allaah. Allaah has responded to your prayer and guided the mother of Abu Hurayrah to Islaam.” I added, “O Messenger of Allah, invoke Allaah to make all the believers love me and my mother.” He said, “O Allaah, make every believer love this slave of Yours and his mother.”

Abu Hurayrah loved the Prophet a great deal and found favor with him. He was never tired of looking at the Prophet whose face appeared to him as having all the radiance of the sun and he was never tired of listening to him. Often he would praise Allaah for his good fortune and say: “Praise be to Allaah Who has guided Abu Hurayrah to Islaam”. “Praise be to Allaah Who has taught Abu Hurayrah the Qur’aan.” “Praise be to Allaah who has bestowed on Abu Hurayrah the companionship of Muhammad, may Allaah bless him and grant him peace.

On reaching Madeenah, Abu Hurayrah set his heart on attaining knowledge. Zayd ibn Thabit the notable companion of the Prophet reported : “While Abu Hurayrah and I and another friend of mine were in the Masjid praying to Allaah subhaanahu wa ta3ala and performing dhikr to Him, the Messenger of Allaah appeared. He came towards us and sat among us. We became silent and he said: “Carry on with what you were doing.” “So my friend and I made a supplication to Allaah before Abu Hurayrah did and the Prophet began to say Ameen to our du3aa’. “Then Abu Hurayrah made a supplication saying: “O Lord, I ask You for what my two companions have asked and I ask You for knowledge which will not be forgotten.” “The Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam said: ‘Ameen.’ “We then said: ‘And we ask Allaah for knowledge which will not be forgotten, and the Prophet replied: ‘The Dawsi youth has asked for this before you.”

With his formidable memory, Abu Hurayrah set out to memorize in the four years that he spent with the Prophet, the gems of wisdom that emanated from his lips. He realized that he had a great gift and he set about to use it to the full in the service of Islaam. He had free time at his disposal. Unlike many of the Muhajireen he did not busy himself’ in the market-places, with buying and selling. Unlike many of the Ansaar, he had no land to cultivate nor crops to tend. He stayed with the Prophet in Madeenah and went with him on journeys and expeditions.

Many companions were amazed at the number of hadeeth he had memorized and often questioned him on when he had heard a certain hadeeth and under what circumstances.

He used to say about himself  ” There is none among the companions of the Prophet who has narrated more Hadiths than I except 3AbdAllaah bin 3Amr (bin Al-3As) who used to write them and I never did the same” (1)

He said: “I said to Allaah’s Messenger sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam “I hear many narrations (ahadeeth) from you but I forget them.” Allaah’s Messenger said, “Spread your Ridaa’ (garment).” I did accordingly and then he moved his hands as if filling them with something (and emptied them in my Ridaa’) and then said, “Take and wrap this sheet over your body.” I did it and after that I never forgot any thing. (2)

Al Bukharee titles a chapter in the section on knowledge in his Saheeh; “The Memorization of knowledge”and he included in it the story of Abu Hurayrah( Radi Allaahu anhu: He (Abu Hurayrah) said: The people say that Abu Hurayrah narrates too much. Were it not for two verses in the Book  of Allaah, I would not have narrated a single hadeeth.

“Verily, those who conceal the clear proofs, evidences and the guidance, which We have sent down, after We have made it clear for the people in the Book, they are the ones cursed by Allaah and cursed by the cursers.”

“Except those who repent and do righteous deeds, and openly declare (the truth which they concealed). These, I will accept their repentance. And I am the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.” [Soorah Al-Baqarah, v:159-160]

Indeed our brothers from muhaajireen were busy with the marketplace, and our brothers from Ansaar were busy with their wealth, and Abu Hurayrah stuck with the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alyhi wasalam) content with what was in his stomach, attending what they did not attend, and memorizing what they did not memorize. (3)

Al Hafidh Ibn Hajar rahimahu-Allaah said: “He did not include in this chapter anything regarding anyone but Abu Hurayrah, and this is because he was Companion who memorizes the most Hadeeth.”

Imaan Ash-Shaafi3ee said: “Abu Hurayrah Radi Allaahu 3Anhu memorized the most out of all the narrators of his time”.

Once Marwaan ibn al-Hakam wanted to test Abu Hurayrah’s power of memory. He sat with him in one room and behind a curtain he placed a scribe, unknown to Abu Hurayrah, and ordered him to write down whatever Abu Hurayrah said. A year later, Marwaan called Abu Hurayrah again and asked him to recall the same ahadeeth which the scribe had recorded. It was found that he had forgotten not a single word.

Abu Hurayrah was concerned to teach and transmit the ahadeeth he had memorized and knowledge of Islaam in general. Abu Hurayrah  radi Allaahu 3Anhu once passed by the market in Medinah. He stopped at the market and said, “O people of the market, how incapable you are!”

They said, “And how is that Abu Hurayrah?”

He replied, “Over there the inheritance of Allaah’s Messenger  sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam is being distributed and you are here! Won’t you go and take your share?”

“Where is it?” they asked. He replied, “In the Masjid.”

So they hurried to the Masjid and Abu Hurayrah waited for them until they returned. When they came back, he said, “What’s the matter?”

They replied, “Abu Hurayrah! We went to the Masjid but we didn’t see anything being distributed.”

Abu Hurayrah asked them, “And you didn’t see anyone in the Masjid?”

They replied, “Indeed we did; we saw people praying, others reciting Qur’aan and others studying the regulations of halaal and haraam.”

So Abu Hurayrah said, “Woe to you! That is the inheritance of Muhammad sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam.”

Abu Hurayrah underwent much hardship and difficulties as a result of his dedicated search for knowledge. He was often hungry and destitute. He said about himself: “When I was afflicted with severe hunger, I would go to a companion of the Prophet and asked him about an ayah of the Qur’aan and (stay with him) learning it so that he would take me with him to his house and give food. ” One day, my hunger became so severe that I placed a stone on my stomach. I then sat down in the path of the companions. Abu Bakr passed by and I asked him about an aayah of the Book of Allaah. I only asked him so that he would invite me but he didn’t. Then 3Umar ibn al-Khattab passed by me and I asked him about an aayah but he also did not invite me.

Then the Messenger of  Allaah sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam passed by and realized that I was hungry and said: “Abu Hurayrah!” “At your command”, I replied and followed him until we entered his house. He found a bowl of milk and asked his family: “From where did you get this?” “Someone sent it to you” they replied. He then said to me: “O Abu Hurayrah, go to the Ahl as-Suffah and invite them.” Abu Hurayrah did as he was told and they all drank from the milk.

The time came of course when the Muslims were blessed with great wealth and material goodness of every description. Abu Hurayrah eventually got his share of wealth. He had a comfortable home, a wife and child. But this turn of fortune did not change his personality. Neither did he forget his days of destitution. He said “I grew up as an orphan and I emigrated as a poor and indigent person. I used to take food for my stomach from Busrah bint Ghazwan. I served people when they returned from journeys and l ed their camels when they set out. Then Allaah caused me to marry her (Busrah). So praise be to Allaah who has strengthened his religion and made Abu Hurayrah an imam.” (This last statement is a reference to the time when he became governor of Madeenah.)

Much of Abu Hurayrah’s time would be spent in spiritual exercises and devotion to Allaah. Qiyaam al-Layl was a regular practice of his family including his wife and his daughter. He would stay up for a third o f the night, his wife for another third and his daughter for a third. In this way, in the house of Abu Hurayrah no hour of the night would pass without 3ibaadah, dhikr and Salat.

During the caliphate of 3Umar, 3Umar appointed him as governor of Bahrain. 3Umar was very scrupulous about the type of persons whom he appointed as governors. He was always concerned that his governors should live simply and frugally and not acquire much wealth even though this was through lawful means. In Bahrain, Abu Hurayrah became quite rich. 3Umar heard of this and recalled him to Madeenah. 3Umar thought he had acquired his wealth through unlawful means and questioned him about where and how he had acquired such a fortune.

Abu Hurayrah replied: “From breeding horses” “Put it (the money) in the Bayt Al-Maal (the treasury)” ordered 3Umar.

Abu Hurayrah did as he was told and raised his hands to the sky and prayed: “O Allaah, forgive the Ameer al-Mumineen.” After a while 3Umar called Abu Hurayrah and offered him the governorship again. However, he refused and apologized. 3Umar asked why. Abu Hurayrah said, “So that my honor would not be at stake, my money would not be taken, and my back would not be beaten.” and he added, “I’m afraid I would judge without knowledge or speak without patience.”

Throughout his life Abu Hurayrah remained kind and courteous to his mother. Whenever he wanted to leave home, he would stand at the door of her room and say: As-salaamu alaykum, yaa ummatah, wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh, (peace be on you, mother, and th e mercy and blessings of Allaah)”. She would reply: “Wa alaykas-salaam, yaa bunayya, wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh (and on you be peace, my son, and the mercy and blessings of Allaah).

Often, he would also say: “May Allaah have mercy on you as you cared for me when I was small,” and she would reply: “May Allaah have mercy on you as you delivered me from error when I was old.”

Abu Hurayrah always encouraged other people to be kind and good to their parents. One day he saw two men walking together, one older than the other. He asked the younger one: “What is this man to you?” “My father,” the person replied. “Don’t call him by his name. Don’t walk in front of him and don’t sit before him,” advised Abu Hurayrah.

Muslims owe a debt of gratitude to Abu Hurayrah for helping to preserve and transmit the valuable legacy of the Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam. He died in the year 59 AH when he was 78 years old.

(Golden series of stories of sahabah, the companions of Prophet Muhammad sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam)

Related Posts:

Story of Julaybib (a must read)

Story of Habib Ibn Zayd Al-Ansari


compiled from Men around the Messenger, Aalimonline
Shaykh  Muhammad Sa3eed Raslaan. Pg 22/23


(1) Saheeh Bukhari Volume 1, Book 3, Number 113

(2) Saheeh Bukhari Volume 1, Book 3, Number 119

Also narrated Ibrahim bin Al-Mundhir: Ibn Abi Fudaik narrated the same as above (Hadith…119) but added that the Prophet had moved his hands as if filling them with something and then he emptied them in the Rida’ of Abu Hurayrah. Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 3, Number 120

(3) Saheeh Bukhari Volume 1, Book 3, Number 118


Comments on: "Story of Abu Hurayrah" (4)

  1. Jazakallahu khairun for such a beatiful article subhanallah

  2. jazaana wa iyyaakum

  3. […] Abu Hurayrah radi Allaahu 3Anhu said: “A man came to the Messenger of Allaah sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam and said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, who among the people is most deserving of my good companionship?’ He said, ‘Your mother.’ […]

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