“The Ghifar tribe”
Jundub ibn Junadah, known as Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, was among the first persons to embrace Islam, he was one of Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) companions.
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said of him:
"The earth can not carry nor the heavens can cover a man more true and faithful than Abu Dharr."
Abu Dharr was a member of the Ghifar tribe, which was located in the Waddan valley that connected Makkah with the outside world.
The Ghifar tribe lived on the meager offerings of trade caravans of the Quraysh tribe which plied between Syria and Makkah.
It is likely that they also existed on raiding these caravans when they were not given enough to satisfy their needs.
Abu Dharr was known for his courage, his calmness and his far sightedness and also for the repugnance he felt against the idols which his people worshipped.
He denied the silly religious beliefs and the religious corruption that prevailed among the Arabs community at his time.
After being introduced to Islam, Abu Dharr vowed to worship Allah and follow his messenger (pbuh), also he was persistent in inviting other people to Islam. It was because of him that many of his tribe, the Ghifar tribe, embraced Islam.
“A new religion”
While he was in the Waddan desert, news reached Abu Dharr that a new Prophet appeared in Makkah.
He hoped that the new Prophet’s appearance would help change the hearts and minds of people and make them abandon the darkness of superstition.
Abu Dharr didn’t waste much time, he called his brother, Anis, and told him: "Go to Makkah and get whatever news you can about this man who claims that he is a Prophet and get a proof that that revelation comes to him from the heavens. Listen to some of his sayings, come back and recite them to me."
Anis went to Makkah and met Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), he listened to what Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had to say and returned to the Waddan desert.
When Abu Dharr met him, he anxiously asked for news about the new Prophet.
Anis told him that he has seen a man “who calls people to noble qualities and there is no mere poetry in what he says."
"What do people say about him?" asked Abu Dharr.
"They say he is a magician, a soothsayer and a poet."
"My curiosity is not satisfied. I am not finished with this matter." He then decided to travel by himself to Makkah, to find out about the new Prophet and his religion. But his brother warned him of the Quraysh people, who were against Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
On his arrival at Makkah, Abu Dharr was very cautious. The Quraysh were noticeably angry over the denunciation of their gods.
Abu Dharr heard of their violent assault against the followers of the new Prophet. So he refrained from asking anyone about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) not knowing whether that person might be a follower or an enemy.
At nightfall, he laid down in the Sacred Mosque. Ali Ibn Abi Talib, God bless him, passed by him and he realized that Abu Dharr was a stranger, so Ali Ibn Abi Talib invited him to his house. Abu Dharr spent the night with him and in the morning, he returned to the Mosque.
Abu Dharr spent the following day without getting any information about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). At evening he went to the Mosque to sleep and Ali again passed by him and asked:
"Isn't it time that a man knows his house?"
Abu Dharr accompanied him and stayed at his house a second night. Again no one asked the other about anything.
On the third night, however, Ali asked him about the reason he came to Makkah. Abu Dharr told him: "Only if you will give me an undertaking that you will guide me to what I seek."
Ali agreed and Abu Dharr said: "I came to Makkah from a distant place seeking a meeting with the new Prophet and to listen to some of what he has to say."
Ali's face lit up with happiness as he said, "By God, he is really the Messenger of God," and he went on telling Abu Dharr more about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his teachings. Then Ali told Abu Dharr to follow him the next day until they reach Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
“Meeting the new Prophet”
Abu Dharr did not sleep the rest of that night because he was very excited to meet the new Prophet and listen to the words of revelation.
In the morning, he followed Ali Ibn Talib until they reached Prohphet Muhammad (pbuh).
As-salaamu Alayka Yaa Rasulullah, (Peace be on you, O Messenger of God)," greeted Abu Dharr.
Wa Alayka salaamullahi wa rahmatuhu wa barakaatuhu (And on you be the peace of God, His mercy and His blessings)," replied Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Abu Dharr was the first person to greet Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) with the greeting of Islam. After that, the greeting spread among all Muslims and came into general use.
When Abu Dharr asked Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) about the new religion, The Prophet (pbuh) said:
“Islam is to say there is no god but Allah and I am Allah's Apostle. It is also about avoiding evil actions, following good manners, and worshipping only one god.”
He also told him: “Don't waste your money. Don't oppress people.”
When Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) explained Isalm to Abu Dharr, he immediately said:
"I confess that there's no god but Allah and that you're Allah's Apostle. I am satisfied with Allah as my Lord and with you as my Prophet."
Then he stood up and said with enthusiasm:
“By Allah, I'll spread Islam.”
At that moment, another great personality was born. It was the personality of the great companion Abu Dharr al-Ghifari whose full name was Jundub bin Junadah.
Abu Dharr was among the first persons to accept Islam.
Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, welcomed Abu Dharr to Islam, and he taught him everything about Islam, but he advised him not to tell anyone in Makkah that he embraced Islam
"I fear that they will kill you", Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said.
"By Him in whose hands is my soul, I shall not leave Makkah until I go to the Sacred Mosque and proclaim the call of Truth in the midst of the Quraysh," vowed Abu Dharr.
Then Abu Dharr headed to the Holy Mosque, where the Quraysh people were sitting and talking. He stood in the centre and called out at the top of his voice, "O people of Quraysh, I testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."
His words had an immediate effect on them. They jumped up and said, 'Get this one who has left his religion."
They attacked him, and beat him mercilessly. They wanted to kill him, but Abbas ibn Abdulmuttalib, the uncle of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), recognized him and protected him from them, telling them:
"Woe to you! Would you kill a man from the Ghifar tribe and your caravans must pass through their territory?" They then released Abu Dharr.
“Calling people to Islam”
After this incidence, he went back Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who told him:
"Didn't I tell you not to announce your acceptance of Islam?"
Abu Dharr said: "O Messenger of God, It was a need I felt in my soul and I fulfilled it."
"Go to your people," Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) commanded, "and tell them what you have seen and heard. Invite them to God. Maybe God will bring them good through you and reward you through them. And when you hear that I have come out in the open, come to me."
Abu Dahrr left and returned to his people. His brother, Anis, asked about what he has done in Mekkah, Abu Dharr told him that he had become a Muslim and that he believed in the truth of Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) teachings.
"I am not averse to your religion. In fact, I am also now a Muslim and a believer," he said.
His brother, Anis, accpeted Islam and they both went to their mother to invite her to Islam.
"I do not have any dislike from your religion. I accept Islam also," she said.
From that day, Abu Dharr’s family of believers started inviting the Ghifar tribe to Islam and they had never flinched from their purpose.
Eventually a large number of the tribe accepted Islam and the congregational Prayers were instituted among them.
“Prophet Muhammad’s Companionship”
Abu Dharr remained in the Waddan valley, until after Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had gone to Madinah after the battles of Badr, Uhud and Khandaq.
At last, in the Madinah he asked Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to be in his personal service. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) agreed and was pleased with his companionship and service. He sometimes showed preference to Abu Dharr over others and whenever he met him he would pat him and smile and show his happiness.
“After Prophet Muhammad died”
After the death of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Abu Dharr could not bear to stay in Madinah because of his grief and sadness for the great loss. So he left for the Syrian desert and stayed there during the caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar, God bless them.
During the caliphate of Uthman, he stayed in Damascus and witnessed Muslims deviating from Islam, going after worldly pleasures and desires.
He was saddened and repelled by this. So Uthman invited him to come to Madinah. where he was also hurt by people's pursuit of worldly goods and pleasures.
Uthman therefore ordered that he should go to Al-Rabathah, a small village near Madinah. Abu Dharr stayed there away from people, holding on to the traditions (sunnah) of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions.
A man visited him once and when he found his house almost bare, he asked Abu Dharr: "Where are your possessions?"
Abu Dharr said: "We have a house yonder (meaning the Hereafter), to which we send the best of our possessions."
The man understood what Abu Dharr meant and said: "But you must have some possessions so long as you are in this abode."
"The owner of this abode will not leave us in it," replied Abu Dharr.
Also, when the Prince (Amir) of Syria sent Abu Dharr three hundred diners to meet his needs, he returned the money saying, "Does not the Amir find a servant more deserving of it than I?"
Abu Dharr continued in his simple life, and dedicated himself to Allah only until he died, in 32 A.H.