Hazrath Abudarda, may Allah be pleased with him, was one among those companions of the Holy Prophet who kept the pleasures of the world at bay, engaged himself in teaching of Islamic tenets, law and etiquette to Muslims and was ever ready to sacrifice whatever little he possessed.
Abudarda was a successful trader in Madinah when the Prophet migrated to the city. Even though every single household in the street where he lived had joined the fold of Islam, Abudarda remained unconcerned with the rising tide of Islam. He remained detached even when his bosom friend Abdullah bin Rawaha embraced the new faith and joined the ranks of the faithfuls’ army to fight against the Makkan pagans. He just casually enquired about Rawaha when the victorious army was celebrating its triumph in the streets of Madinah.
Abudarda was meticulous in his personal upkeep. He would use the best of clothes for his personal attire, put on the choicest of perfumes and clothed the idols at home with most expensive dresses and perfume them everyday. But his entry into Islam came about through a memorable incident. One day even as Abudarda was busy at the market, friend Abdullah bin Rawaha visited his house, sought permission for entry from his wife Ummedarda (the couple was called so as their daughter was named Darda) and proceeded to his personal chamber and struck repeatedly with an axe at the idols arranged there and smashed them to smithreens. He then quietly departed.
The lady of the house noticed it later and began to wail. When Abudarda came home, she recounted the incident.
Abudarda first got wild, but later cooled down and contemplated. He thought, the gods would have defended themselves had they least of power. He then reflected on the message of the Prophet for belief in one, invisible Almighty God. It made extreme sense to him. He immediately rushed to Abdullah bin Rawaha’s house, took him along and came to the Prophet and embraced Islam.
His life took a sudden turn from then on. Nothing would interest him more than learning about Quran, Islam and the divine law. Slowly he took leave of business and engaged himself in sessions with the Prophet. No wonder today he is considered a leading narrator of the Hadith. Once he said he would not mind losing a hundred dinar just for the sake of attending a namaz congregation.
His love for Islam and disinterest in worldly pleasures grew intense by each day. He reduced his wants to the basic minimum. He chose for himself the roughest of clothes and ate only as much as was enough to make him stay alive and sit erect. The cushion used for camel riding became his pillow, a thin sheet was what he covered himself during coldest of nights and a bed of pebbles to lie down during nights.
Once some guests stayed with him and were treated with warm meals. But they found nothing that could pass for a bedding in the house and asked him as to where he kept his belongings. Abudarda and his wife replied that they had sent them to a house which would be their permanent home. They also told them that since they considered themselves to be travellers, they were carrying the lightest of luggage.
Hazrath Umar, the second caliph wanted him to take up the governorship of Damascus during his reign. But Abudarda chose to be a preacher instead and took up permanent residence at Damascus. He was perplexed at the sight of luxuries the Damascenes indulged themselves and reminded them about the nation of Aad which was destroyed despite being the strongest on the earth. Once he intervened when he saw a youth being beaten up on the streets of Damascus. People said he had committed a major sin. Abudarda shielded the youth and asked the people not to hate the individual for his sin. He asked them to forgive and forget. The victim promised him to lead a life of rectitude.
Hazrath Amir Muawiya (who later became caliph) sent a proposal for marriage of his son with Abdudarda’s daughter Darda. But Abudarda flatly refused the offer. He instead chose a youth who was more pious. The refusal surprised everyone in the town.
Once caliph Umar visited Damascus and called upon Abudarda. He found the door was just ajar and entered to be greeted in a dark home where Abudarda sat on a bed of pebbles and wrapped in a sheet barely enough to keep away the biting cold of Damascus. He asked him as to why he led a life of misery. Abdudarda recounted the Prophet’s hadith wherein he (the Prophet) had advised his followers to gather only as much of the worldly provisions as they would need on a journey. Tears burst out of Umar’s eyes and they both wept throughout the night.
When the death knocked at his doors, Abudarda collected his friends and asked them to continuously read aloud the Kalima Tayyaba. People asked him if he repented for anything. He said, “Only for his sins”.
Soon after Abudarda departed from this material world, Auf bin Malik Ashjayee saw a dream where stood a beautiful canopied platform amid a lush green garden. Ashjayee was told that the garden had been readied for Abudarda who used to repel the world and its material pleasures with entire force at his command. May Allah be pleased with Abudarda. Ameen!
(Abridged and translated by