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Al Ansary

Abu Sufyan Ibn Al Harith (rad)

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Abu Sufyan ibn al-Harith was the cousin of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and during their childhood and youth they were very close to each other, and they resembled each other a great deal. However, despite their strong relationship, Abu Sufyan completely rejected to embrace Islam for so many years.


Abu Sufyan ibn al-Harith was born about the same time as the blessed Prophet Mohamed (PBUH), and he was also a foster-brother of the Prophet.


When Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) made public his call for Islam and warned people about the danger of continuing in their existing state of disbelief, injustice and immorality, the fire of envy and hatred erupted in the heart of Abu Sufyan. What was once a relation of love and brotherhood turned into a relation of resistance and opposition.


At that time Abu Sufyan was one of the most promoted fighters and horsemen of the Quraysh tribe and also one of their best poets.


He used both his sword and tongue in the battle against Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and his mission. He participated in all the battles the Quraysh fought against Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and in all the torture and persecution they made to the Muslims. He composed and recited verses attacking and vilifying Prophet Mohamed (PBUH).


Abu Sufyan stayed like that for almost twenty years. His three others brothers - Nawfal, Rabiah and Abdullah, had all embraced Islam except him.


However, in the eighth year after the Hijrah, just before the Islamic liberation of Makkah, Abu Sufyan's position began to shift. He began to reconsider his hostile position against Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and his family convinced him that he was long in all what he was doing.


Eventually God opened his heart to Islam. He says: “I got up and said to my servant, Madhkur: 'Get ready a camel and a horse for us.†I took my son Jafar with me and we galloped with great speed towards al-Abwa between Makkah and Madinah. I heard that Mohamed camped there. As I approached the place, I covered my face so that no one could recognize and kill me before I could reach Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and announce my acceptance of Islam directly to him.


I proceeded slowly on foot while advance groups of Muslims headed towards Makkah. I avoided their path out of fear that one of the Prophet's companions would recognize me. I continued in this fashion until I saw Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) on his mount. Coming out into the open, I went straight up to him and uncovered my face. He looked at me and recognized me. But, he turned his face away. I moved to face him once again. He avoided looking at me and again turned away his face. This happened repeatedly.


Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and his companions completely rejected to talk or even look at Abu Safyan for days. Until Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) reached al-Jahfah (about four days journey from Makkah).


Abu Sufyan sat down at the door of the tent of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and his son Jafar stood beside him. But still Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) rejected to look at him.


The situation became too much for Abu sufyan and he said: “By God, either the Prophet, peace be on him, shows he is pleased with me or I shall take my son and go wandering through the land until we die of hunger and thirst.â€


When Prophet Mohamed heard this, he relented and on leaving his tent, he looked more gently towards me then before. I so much hoped that he would smile.â€


Eventually Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) relented and told Abu Sufyan, "There is now no blame on you."


The Prophet then called Ali ibn Abi Talib who had newly embraced Islam and told him:


"Teach your cousin how to perform wudu and about the Sunnah. Then bring him back to me."


When Ali returned, the Prophet said: "Tell all the people that the Messenger of God is pleased with Abu Sufyan and that they should be pleased with him."


Abu Sufyan continued: "The Prophet then entered Makkah and I too entered in his entourage. He went to the Sacred Masjid and I also went, trying my best to remain in his presence and not separate from him on any account...


In the Battle of Hunayn the Arabs put together an unprecedented force against Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and they were determined to give a mortal blow to Islam and the Muslims.


Abu Sufyan narrated: The Prophet went out to confront them with a large number of his companions. I went out with him and when I saw the great throngs of mushrikin, I said: ‘By God. Today, I shall atone for all my past hostility towards the Prophet. Peace be on him, and he shall certainly see on my part what pleases God and what pleases him.’


When the two forces met, the pressure of the mushrikin on the Muslims was severe and the Muslims began to lose heart. Some even began to desert and terrible defeat stared us in the face. However, the Prophet stood firm in the thick of battle astride his mule "Ash-Shahba" like a towering mountain, wielding his sword and fighting for himself and those around him... I jumped from my horse and fought beside him. God knows that I desired martyrdom beside the Messenger of God. My uncle, al-Abbas, took the reins of the Prophet's mule and stood at his side. I took up my position on the other side. With my right hand I fended off attacks against the Prophet and with my left I held on to my mount.


When the Prophet saw my devastating blows on the enemy, he asked my uncle: “Who's this?†'This is your brother and cousin. Abu Sufyan ibn al-Harith. Be pleased with him. O Messenger of God.'


“I have done so and God has granted forgiveness to him for all the hostility he has directed against me.'â€


My heart soared with happiness and wept .He turned towards me and said:


“My brother! Upon my life! Advance and strike!â€


The words of the Prophet spurred me on and we plunged into the positions of the mushrikin until they were routed and fled in every direction.â€


After the battle of Hunayn, Abu Sufyan ibn al-Harith stayed in the company of the noble Prophet Mohamed (PBUH). But he was never able to look directly in the Prophet’s eyes out of shame and embarrassment for his past hostility towards him.


Abu Sufyan felt very bad because of what he had done to harm Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and his mission and he spent so many nights regretting trying to extinguish the light of God and refusing to follow His message.


He spent his days and nights reciting the verses of the Quran. Trying to understand and follow its laws and profit by its admonitions. He shunned the world and its adornments and turned to the worship of Allah.


One day Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) saw him entering the Masjid and asked his wife:


"Do you know who is this, Aishah?"


"No, O Messenger of God." she replied.


“This is my cousin. Abu Sufyan ibn al-Harith. See, he is the first to enter the masjid and the last to leave. His eyes do not leave his shoelace."


On the death of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) Abu Sufyan felt intense grief and wept bitterly.


During the caliphate of Umar al-Farouk, Abu Sufyan felt his end drawing near.


One-day people saw him in al-Baqi, the cemetery not far from the Prophet's Masjid where many Sahabah are buried. He was digging and fashioning a grave. They were surprised to see him doing that.


After three days Abu Sufyan was lying on his death bed. His family gathered around him weeping but he said: "Do not weep for me. By God, I did not commit any wrong since I accepted Islam." He then died after serving Islam with all he had of power.

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