Recognizing People’s Qualities
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) valued all his companions recognizing that they were people of honesty, integrity and good judgment. Had they been otherwise, they would not have defied the world around them by accepting Islam. They were the ones who stood by his side, supporting him in all situations. Those who joined his call in its early days earned an even higher position of distinction. The Prophet was very loyal to all his companions, but those who were quick to respond to his call claimed a greater share of his love. One of these was Zayd ibn Harithah.
When he was still a child, Zayd was kidnapped from his tribe’s quarters by some attacking group, and sold as a young slave. He was sold by one master after another, until he was taken by an uncle of Khadeejah, who was to become the Prophet’s first wife. This took place long before he started to receive God’s revelations. Khadeejah was given Zayd as a gift by her uncle, and she gifted him again to her husband, Muhammad, after she married him. Zayd’s father learned of his son’s whereabouts and came to Makkah to buy him back. When he offered this to Muhammad, the Prophet made a counteroffer of giving him Zayd back for free, if Zayd wished to go back with him. But when offered the choice, Zayd opted for staying with his master, Muhammad. His father was amazed, but he told him that he had seen certain qualities of Muhammad that made him unwilling to change his situation with him for any other. Impressed, the Prophet announced his adoption of Zayd as his own son. Zayd’s real father was happy with this arrangement and left Makkah to go back home. Zayd was a favorite of the Prophet, and reciprocated his feelings. Later, when Islamic revelations started, he was, according to some authentic reports, the first man to embrace Islam. He continued to be called as Zayd ibn Muhammad until the prohibition of adoption, at which point he reverted to his original name.
Aishah, the Prophet’s wife, reports: “Zayd ibn Harithah arrived back in Madinah when the Prophet was in my home. He came over and knocked. The Prophet immediately got up to open, putting on his robes, as he was undressed. By God, I never saw him undressed before or after this incident. He embraced Zayd and kissed him.” (Related by al-Tirmidhi and al-Baghawi.)
It is clear that Zayd was away from Madinah, perhaps on a mission or an expedition. When he came back, he would immediately report to the Prophet. Hence, he went to see him wherever he was. On learning that he was in Aishah’s home, he went there. We note how eager the Prophet was to receive him. He would not wait to put on his robe, but he walked as he was wearing it, so that he would not be slow to open the door for Zayd even by one or two seconds. To appreciate this, Aishah adds that the Prophet was never in the state of being undressed for any length of time. She says that she, his wife, never saw him undressed on any other occasion. This fits with her other description of the Prophet as a very shy person. His welcome of Zayd speaks volumes of how truly did the Prophet love him.
A different Hadith that speaks of the Prophet’s appreciation of people’s attitudes is reported by Anas who says: “The Prophet went out once when he was angry. He was met by some children and servants belonging to the Ansar. These were certainly not among the elders of the Ansar. He said to them: ‘By Him who holds my soul in His hand, I do love you.’ He repeated this twice or three times. He then said: ‘The Ansar have fulfilled their commitments, and you still have to fulfill yours. Therefore, be kind to anyone of them who does well and overlook the actions of anyone who does badly.'” (Related by Ahmad and Ibn Hibban.)
This Hadith clearly expresses the Prophet’s gratitude to the Ansar for having fulfilled their commitments to him when they pledged their support and loyalty to him shortly before the Muslims of Makkah began to immigrate to Madinah. He told those immigrants among his companions that they should fulfill their commitments, and he told them how. The mention of the Prophet’s anger at the beginning of this Hadith simply refers to his state at that particular moment; it has nothing to do with what comes after it.
The Prophet’s appreciation of his companions? loyalty is also seen in the following Hadith reported by Anas: “If God’s Messenger noticed that anyone of his companions was missing for three days he would inquire after him. If he were told that the man was away, he would pray for him, but if he were not away, the Prophet would go and visit him. If he learned that he was ill, he would also pay him a visit.” (Related by Al-Baghawi and Al-Suyouti.)
This is a clear example of how far did the Prophet take care of his community. He would mark the absence of any one person: If it continues more than three days, he would inquire after him. He would ask the absentee’s immediate friends and relatives. Should he learn that the man was away, he would pray for him. Normally the Prophet’s companions would take leave of him before they traveled. But some might occasionally not do so, particularly if they felt that their absence would not be long. Otherwise, the Prophet would go and visit an absent companion if he was not away. Paying such a visit would certainly be very pleasant to the absentee, because the Prophet would then be his guest. He would also visit any companion who was taken ill. Although the action is the same in both situations, a visit to an ill person is somewhat different. When we visit a sick person, we do not prolong our stay. On the other hand, a visit to someone who is free of illness may take longer, because there is no possibility of anyone feeling uncomfortable by such a visit.