Zayd ibn Al-Dathinnah was a companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who was taken prisoner in a treacherous attack on a small band of Muslims.
His captors sold him to the Quraysh tribe. The buyer did not want to keep him as a slave, but wanted to kill him in revenge for the death of his own father in a battle with Muslims. He was tied to a pole in an open space and a large group of people came over to witness his killing. Abu Sufyan, the chief of the Quraysh, said to Zayd just before he was about to be killed: “Would you wish that you were now sitting in comfort with your family and Muhammad was here in your place and we would kill him in your stead?” Zayd answered: “I would not wish to be comfortable with my family if Muhammad (peace be upon him) were to have a prick of thorn in his side.” Abu Sufyan commented: “I have never known anyone who loves another as Muhammad’s companions love him.”
Such love was common to all those who knew him. We are not talking here about the love believers have toward the Prophet who guides them to the truth of faith. Such love is common to all believers in all generations. We are talking about the love of friendship. Those companions of the Prophet, men and women, loved him as no one was ever loved by those around him. His friends were of all types of people: some were great individuals, some were ordinary, and others were simple and naive. They were of different characters, temperaments and social positions. Yet he was the dearest of all people to every single one of them.
Thawban was a servant of the Prophet. He looked sad and as time went by, his sadness seemed to remain as strong as ever. The Prophet noticed that Thawban was even losing weight. He asked him what troubled him. He said: “Messenger of God, when I do not see you for a while, I miss you so badly. I remembered the life to come and thought that even if God grants me admission into heaven, I would not see you, because you will be in the highest position with other prophets. How can I bear that?” The Prophet assured him that he would see him in heaven. Thawban was very pleased and his sadness was over.
What this tells us is that a simple person considered a place in heaven insufficient to give him happiness unless he could see the Prophet. Only when he was assured that he would be seeing him that sadness left him.
This is not an individual case. Women showed the same sort of love. A woman would be told that two or three of her closest relatives were killed in a battle. She would express her sorrow and acceptance of God’s will, but she inquires first whether the Prophet was safe. When she is assured of his safety, she can bear her personal tragedy well.
In fact, several of the most distinguished companions of the Prophet believed in Islam because they knew Muhammad well and loved him because of his personal qualities, including his truthfulness. When he told them that he received revelations from on high, they had no hesitation in believing him. They immediately declared their belief in God’s oneness and in Muhammad’s message.