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‘Selling’ Oneself for Allah


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“And there are some people who sell themselves (i.e. they spend everything of theirs) in pursuit of the pleasure of Allah. And Allah is exceptionally kind to the servants.” (Surah Baqarah v207)
Sayyiduna Suhaib bin Sinaan (radhiyallahu anhu) is commonly known with the title “Roomi”, although he was not from Rome. The reason for him being called this is that when he was young, the Romans had captured him during one of their attacks on the Persian territory and they had enslaved him. He thus grew up among them. Thereafter, an Arab tribe, the Banu Kalb, purchased him from them and brought him to Makkah Mukarramah. Abdullah bin Jud‘aan subsequently purchased him and set him free.
When Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was blessed with nubuwwah, Sayyiduna Suhaib (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) accepted Islam. He was among the very early Muslims, with only thirty some odd people entering into the fold of Islam before him. Like the other weak Muslims, Sayyiduna Suhaib (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) too was tortured and persecuted by the disbelievers of Makkah Mukarramah.
A few days after Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) had left Makkah Mukarramah for Madeenah Munawwarah, Sayyiduna Suhaib (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) quietly left as well. However, as he left, some youngsters of the Quraish prevented him from leaving. He thus devised a plan. The entire night he pretended as though he had a stomach ailment. The disbelievers fell for this trap and went to sleep leaving him unguarded, as they felt that he would be unable to travel due to his sickness.
He thus left Makkah Mukarramah quietly. However, as soon as the disbelievers realised that he had absconded, they followed him until they eventually caught up with him. Sayyiduna Suhaib (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) pulled out his quiver and addressed them saying, “By Allah, you know very well that I am a better archer than you. By Allah, you will not reach me until I have killed one person among you with each arrow (I possess). Thereafter, I will fight you with my sword until I am killed.”
Sayyiduna Suhaib (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) then presented a more lucrative option to them saying, “If (however,) you desire wealth, I will guide you to the place where my wealth is buried (in Makkah Mukarramah). The disbelievers happily agreed to this option, and Sayyiduna Suhaib (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) informed them where his wealth was buried. They thus allowed him to continue with his journey of Hijrah and they returned to Makkah Mukarramah.
When Sayyiduna Suhaib (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) reached Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), who was in Qubaa at the time, he exclaimed O Abu Yahya! The deal has earned great profits (i.e. rewards in the Hereafter).” He was quite surprised that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) had come to know of this incident and expressed his surprise saying, “O Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), no one (who knew of my story) reached you before me. It could only have been Jibreel (‘alaihis salaam) who informed you.”
It was because of this incident, the following verse was revealed, “And there are some people who sell themselves (i.e. they spend everything of theirs) in pursuit of the pleasure of Allah. And Allah is exceptionally kind to the servants.” (Surah Baqarah v207)
(Al-Bidaayah wan Nihaayah vol. 3, pg. 185 & vol. 8, pg. 106 and Usdul Ghaabah vol. 2, pg. 461)
1. The Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) made the great sacrifice of leaving behind their homes, businesses, belongings, family and friends and everything else for the protection and propagation of Deen. They in turn enjoyed many bounties from Allah Ta‘ala and experienced great ease and comfort from their challenges and persecutions. If we also make ‘Hijrah’, i.e. abandon all types of vice, sin, wrongs, and anything which amounts to the disobedience of Allah Ta‘ala, we will also enjoy great bounties, comforts and blessings from the side of Allah Ta‘ala.
2. Sayyiduna Suhaib (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) gave up all his wealth for the sake of protecting his Deen, because he had understood the importance of Deen and the temporary nature of material possessions. Conversely, when a person does not understand this reality, and thus makes material his priority and Deen a secondary issue in his life, he will be prepared to ‘sell’ his Deen, merely to earn a little extra wealth. Hence, he will not mind engaging in interest bearing transactions and thereby waging war with Allah Ta‘ala. For him to lie, cheat, usurp another person’s right, etc. will not be a serious issue, since his priority is the acquisition of material and the amassing of wealth.

Jamiatul Ulama (KZN)
Council of Muslim Theologians

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