Abbad ibn Bishr

In the 4th year after the Hijrah Madinah was still under threat. The influential Jewish tribe, the Banu an-Nadir, broke their agreement with the Prophet (S) and made plans to kill him. For this they were banished from the city. Two months of uneasy quiet passed. Then the Prophet (S) received news that tribes from distant Najd were planning an attack. To pre-empt them, the Prophet (S) gathered a force of over four hundred men, leaving one of his companions Uthman ibn Affan in charge of the city, and set out. Among this force was the young Madinan, Abbad ibn Bishr.

Arriving at Najd, the Prophet (S) found the habitations of the hostile tribes strangely deserted of men. Only women were about. The men had taken to the hills to fight. The time of al-Asr (the afternoon prayer) came. The Prophet (S) feared that the hostile tribesmen would attack them during prayer. He arranged the Muslims in ranks and divided them into two groups and performed the prayer as the Salaah al-Khawf (the Prayer of Fear). With one group he performed one rakah while the other group stood on guard. For the second rakah the groups changed places. Each group completed its prayer with one rakah after the Prophet (S) had finished... On beholding the ranks of the Muslims the hostile tribesmen became uneasy and afraid. The Prophet (S) had made his presence felt and something of his mission was now known at first hand in the central highlands of Arabia whence he departed peacefully.

On the way back, the Prophet (S) pitched camp in a valley for a night. The Prophet (S) , asked: "Who will be our guard tonight?" "We, O Messenger of Allah," said Abbad ibn Bishr and Ammar ibn Yasir both of whom had been paired off as 'brothers' by the Prophet (S) when he arrived in Madinah. Abbad and Ammar left for the mouth of the valley to take up duty. Abbad saw that his "brother" was tired and asked him: "What part of the night do you wish to sleep, the first or the second?" "I shall sleep during the first part," said Ammar who was soon fast asleep quite close to Abbad. Abbad thought, "Why not spend the time in ibadah (worship) and reciting the Quran?" Abbad was enthralled by the Ouran from the moment he first heard it being recited by the mellow and beautiful voice of Musab ibn Umayr when Abbad was just about fifteen years old. The Quran had found a special place in his heart and day and night thereafter he would be heard repeating the glorious words of Allah so much so that he became known among the Prophet (S)'s companions as the "friend of the Quran". The Prophet (S) once stood up to perform the night Prayer in Aishah's house which adjoined the masjid. He heard a voice reciting the Quran, pure and sweet and as fresh as when the angel Jibril revealed the words to him. He asked: "Aishah, is that the voice of Abbad ibn Bishr?' "Yes, O Messenger of Allah," replied Aishah. "O Lord, forgive him," prayed the Prophet (S) out of love for him.

In the stillness of the night, Abbad stood up and entered into the state of Prayer. Finishing the Surah al-Fatiha, he began reciting Surah al-Kahf. Surah al-Kahf is contains one hundred and ten verses which deals in part with the virtues of faith, truth and patience and with the relativity of time. A stranger stalked the outskirts of the valley in search of Muhammad (S) and his followers. His wife whom he had left in the village had been taken as a captive by one of the Muslims. When he eventually found that his wife was gone, he swore he would pursue Muhammad (S) and his companions and that he would not return unless he had drawn blood. The man saw the figure of Abbad at the mouth of the valley and he knew that the Prophet (S) and his followers must be inside the valley. Silently he drew his bow and let fly an arrow which hit Abbad's flesh. Calmly, Abbad pulled out the arrow from his body and went on with his recitation. The attacker shot a second and a third arrow both of which also found their mark. Abbad pulled out one and then the other. He finished his recitation, made ruku and then sujud. Weak and in pain, he stretched out his right hand while still in prostration and shook his sleeping companion. Ammar awoke. Silently, Abbad continued the Salaah to its end and then said: "Get up and stand guard in my place. I have been wounded." Ammar jumped up and began to yell. Seeing this, the attacker fled into the darkness. Ammar turned to Abbad as he lay on the ground, blood flowing from his wounds. "Why didn't you wake me when you were hit by the first arrow?" "I was in the midst of reciting verses of the Quran which filled my soul with awe and I did not want to cut short the recitation. The Prophet (S) had commanded me to commit this surah to memory. Death would have been dearer to me than that the recitation of this surah should be interrupted."

The qualities he was known for were his constant immersion in worship, his courage and his generosity in the path of Allah. At times of sacrifice and death, he would always be in the front line. When it was time for receiving his share of rewards, he would only be found after much effort and difficulty. He was always trustworthy in his dealings with the wealth of Muslims. All this was recognized. Aishah, the wife of the Prophet (S), once said: "There are three persons among the Ansar whom no one could excel in virtue: Saad ibn Muadh, Usayd ibn Khudayr and Abbad ibn Bishr."

Abbad died as a shahid (martyr) at the battle of Yamamah. At the break of day when the battle commenced, Abbad ibn Bishr stood on a mound and shouted: "O Ansar, distinguish yourselves among men…and do not forsake Islam." Abbad lectured the Ansar until about four hundred men gathered around, him at the head of whom were Thabit ibn Qays, al-Baraa ibn Malik and Abu Dujanah, the keeper of the Prophet (S) 's sword. With this force, Abbad unleashed an offensive into the enemy's ranks that blunted their thrust and drove them back to the "garden of death". At the walls of this garden, Abbad ibn Bishr fell. So numerous were his wounds, he was hardly recognizable. He had lived, fought and died as a believer.


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