Sahabah of the Month: Abu Dhar Ghifari

swords vs words

Abu Dharr al-Ghifari (رضي الله عنه ) was one of the first companions to revert to Islam, the fifth after Rasulullah (ﷺ) started to receive revelations. Abu Dharr al-Ghifari (رضي الله عنه ) was known for his keen sense of honor, justice, truth, and patience.

Abu Dharr (رضي الله عنه ) was from the tribe of al-Ghifar. This tribe was well-known since many trading caravans travelled through the Ghifari territory. They were known for stealing and plundering caravans that would pass through; therefore, the Quraish were careful to treat them well. However, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari (رضي الله عنه ) was different. Although most of his tribe were idol worshipers and thieves, he had a deeper understanding of life and knew there was only one God worthy of worship, unlike the idols his tribe were adhering to.

Abu Dharr al-Ghifari (رضي الله عنه ) had heard from the people of the Book that there would be a new Prophet coming soon supporting the Oneness of God. After hearing of such a prophet in Mecca, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari went to speak to Rasulullah (ﷺ) himself. After recognizing that Rasulullah (ﷺ) enjoined what is good, forbid what is evil, and had a light of good character emanating from him, he proclaimed the Shahadah and became a Muslim!
Rasulullah (ﷺ) smiled at this since people from the Ghifar tribe had a generally negative reputation, yet Allah opened the heart of this man in such an early period of Islam showing that Islam was a light that touched everyone’s heart.

Abu Dharr asked Rasulullah (ﷺ) what he could do to serve him, and he said to go back to his tribe and keep his conversion a secret until Rasulullah (ﷺ) calls upon him, as Muslims who announced their faith were persecuted near this time. Abu Dharr al-Ghifari (رضي الله عنه ) understood his orders, but after talking and being with Rasulullah (صلي الله عليه واله و سلم), Iman flooded his entire body to such an extent that he went out to the Haram and publicly proclaimed his faith in One Allah and Rasulullah (ﷺ) being His Final Messenger. The Quraish reacted violently to this and started beating him; however, Al-’Abbas helped him by jumping in front and reminding the Quraish that he was from the tribe of Al-Ghifar.

Abu Dharr (رضي الله عنه ) later returned to his home in Ghifar; however, while in his town, he couldn’t keep quiet about the beauty of Islam. So he kept talking about Rasulullah (ﷺ), the justice of Islam, and noble and proper manners. By means of Abu Dharr (رضي الله عنه ), the entire tribe of Ghifar became Muslim! In fact, Abu Dharr (رضي الله عنه ) even reached out to the neighboring tribe of Bani Aslim to spread the light of Islam.

Rasulullah (ﷺ) held high opinions of Abu Dharr. He later told him to spread truth with patience and words rather than being tempted to use his sword. His life, actions, and words all resonated with truth, and he continued his efforts of opposing wrong and corruption with his speech even during the dangerous times of the Caliphate of Hadrat Uthman.

He would fearlessly go into the capital of corrupt leaders and speak out against them, yet remembering Rasulullah’s (ﷺ) advice and never carrying his sword with him, even in dangerous situations. His words were his sword, and he was successful in demonstrating the power of truth, patience, and peace through his words and speech rather than through fighting and bloodshed.