The best example for Muslims to follow is the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) then His Companion (Radhi Allah Anhuma). We should reflect on their sacrifices when the going gets tough for us. Today I will share with you the story of Ammar, son of the first martyr of Islam: Sumaiyah, and his entire family is enough to bring tears to the eyes of any person. They were continually tortured and called upon to renounce their belief in Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Yet this never swayed the heart of Ammar.
His upright character earned him the title as the one who would never deviate from Path of truth until his death. "Let us learn of the life of this noble man, whose body was covered with scars of his torture, whose ear was cut off as he fought for Allah and about whom the Prophet (PBUH) also said paradise longs for Ammar.
But why do we say "if" and why do we make that condition when Yasir's family were really of Paradise? Allah's Messenger (PBUH) was not merely pacifying them when he said, "Patience, O Yasir's family. Verily, your meeting place will be in Paradise." He was declaring a fact which he knew and reiterating an actuality perceived by him.
'Ammar's father, Yasir Ibn Amir, left his native place in Yemen seeking a brother of his. In Makkah he found an appealing place, so he settled there and was in alliance with Abu Hudhaifah Ibn Al-Mughirah, who married him to one of his slave women, Sumaiyah Bint Khayat. Out of this blessed marriage Allah granted the parents a son, 'Ammar. Their embracing of Islam was early, like that of the righteous ones guided by Allah. And like the early righteous Muslims as well, they had their good share of the Quraish's persecution and terror.
The Quraish used to waylay the believers to attack them. If the believers were among the honorable and noble people in their community, the Quraish would pursue them with threats and menace. If the believers were among the weak, poor, or slaves of Makkah, then the Quraish would burn them with the fire of persecution.
Yasir's family belonged to that class. The order for their persecution was handed to Bani Makhzum. They used to take them all – Yasir, Sumaiyah and 'Ammar – to the burning desert of Makkah, where they would pour upon them different kinds of the hell. of torture. Sumaiyah's share of that torment was colossal and terrible. We shall not elaborate about her now, since we shall have – Allah willing – another encounter with her and her likes during those immortal days to talk about the grace of sacrifice and the glory of her firmness. Suffice it to mention now, without any exaggeration, that Sumaiyah, the martyred one, maintained a firm stance that day which gives the whole of humanity an everlasting honor and an ever glorious dignity. Her stance made of her a great mother to believers in all ages, and to the honorable people of all times.
The Messenger (PBUH) used to go where he knew Yasir's family were tortured. He did not have at that time any means of resistance or keeping harm from them. This was Allah’s will, because the new religion was not a passing reform movement. It
was a way of life for the whole humanity of believers who had to inherit along with the religion all its history of heroism, sacrifices, and risks. These abundant noble sacrifices are the cement and the foundation that grant an everlasting firmness and immortality to the faith and the creed. It is the fragrance that fills the hearts of believers with loyalty, joy, and happiness. It is the lighthouse that guides the coming generations to the reality of religion, to its truth and greatness.
Therefore, Islam had to make its sacrifices and have its victims, the meaning of which is illustrated and illuminated in more than one verse of the Qur'an for the Muslims. Allah says:
“Do the people think that they will be left to say: "We believe", and they shall not be tried?” (29:2)
“Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah tests those of you who fought (in His Cause) and (also) tests those who remained patient?” (3: 142)
“And we indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test.” (29: 3)
“Do you think you shall be left alone while Allah has not yet tested those among you who have striven hard…” (9:16)
“Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which you are now, until He distinguishes the wicked from the good” (3:179)
“And what you suffered (of the disaster) on the day (of the Battle of Uhud when) the two armies met, was by the leave of Allah, in order that He might test the believers” (3: 166)
This was the way the Qur'an taught its bearers and descendants that sacrifice is the essence of faith and that resistance of unjust, oppressive challenges is through firmness, patience, and persistence, which form the best and the most superb virtues of faith.
Sumaiyah, Yasir and 'Ammar were of this great and blessed group, chosen by Islam’s destiny to make of their sacrifices, firmness, and persistence a document of Islam’s greatness and immortality.
We said that Allah's Messenger (PBUH) used to go out every day to Yasir's family, commending their fortitude and heroism. His big heart was melting out of mercy and kindness to see them so severely tortured. One day while he was looking for them, 'Ammar called to him, "O Messenger of Allah, we are suffering from extreme torment." The Messenger called to him saying,
"Patience, Abu Yaqdhan, patience O Yasir's family. Verily, your meeting place will be in Paradise.”
'Ammar's companions described the torture that was inflicted upon him in many of their reports. 'Amr Ibn Al-Hakam, for instance, said, "'Ammar used to be tortured so much that he would not be aware of what he was saying." 'Amr Ibn Maimun said, "The polytheist scorched 'Ammar Ibn Yasir with fire, and Allah's Messenger (PBUH) used to pass by him, pass his hand over Yasir's head and say,
"O fire, be cool and peaceful on 'Ammar, as you were cool and peaceful on Ibrahim."
Despite that overwhelming terror, it did not vanquish 'Ammar's spirit, though it overburdened his back and strained his strength.
'Ammar did not feel utterly ruined except on that day when his executioners employed all their devilry in crime and injustice. They burned his skin with fire, laid him on the heated sands of the desert under the burning stones, ducked him in water until he could hardly breathe and until his wounds and gashes were skinned. On that day, when he fell unconscious under the effect of that horror, they said to him. "Say something good about our gods." They kept saying things which he repeated without being conscious of what he was saying.
When he became slightly conscious after he had fainted due to their torture, he remembered what he had said and was mad about it. This slip became so concrete to him that he saw it as an unforgivable sin which could not be atoned for. In a few moments his feeling of guilt made him suffer so much that the torture of the polytheists seemed to him a blessing and a balm.
If he had been left to such feelings for a few hours, they would have destroyed him. He was enduring the dreadful anguish of the body because his spirit was lofty, but now when he thought defeat had reached his spirit, he was overburdened with worries and fear of death and destruction. But Almighty Allah willed that the final, exciting scene would come to its dignified end. An angel stretched out its blessed right hand, shook the hand of 'Ammar and called to him, "Get up, O hero! There is no blame or embarrassment for you.
When Allah's Messenger (PBUH) met him, he found him crying. He Kept wiping his tears wiping his tears and telling 'Ammar, "The polytheists took you, ducked your head in water, and you said such a thing?” 'Ammar answered him, still crying, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah.” Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said then while smiling, “If they repeat it, say the same thing”.
Then he recited the glorious Qur’anic verse:
“ .. except him who is forced thereto and whose heart is at rest with Faith … “ (16: 106)
'Ammar's tranquility was restored, he no longer felt pain when they punished him, and he no longer cared about it. His spirit conquered and his faith conquered. The Qur'an had included this blessed transaction, so whatever happened, happened.
'Ammar remained steadfast until his tormenters were exhausted and they retreated, yielding to his determination.
The Muslims settled in Al-Madinah after the Hijrah of their Messenger (PBUH). The Islamic community there began to take shape very fast and complete itself. Within that group of believers, 'Ammar was allocated a dignified position. Allah's Messenger loved him greatly and used to boast among his Companions about 'Ammar's faith and guidance. He said about him,
"Verily, ’'Ammar is filled to the bones with faith."
When a slight misunderstanding happened between Khalid Ibn Al-Walid and 'Ammar, the Messenger (PBUH) said, "Whoever antagonizes 'Ammar is antagonized by Allah, and whoever detests 'Ammar is detested by Allah. Thereupon, Khalid Ibn Al-Walid, Islam's hero, had to hasten to 'Ammar, apologizing to him and hoping for his sincere forgiveness.
When the Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi was Sallam) and his Companions were building the Masjid in Al-Madinah, after their arrival there, Imam 'Aly (May Allah glorify his face) composed a song and kept on repeating it with other Muslims, saying:
“He who frequents the Masjids, Remaining there standing and sitting, Is not equal to the one who keeps away from dust.”
'Ammar was working at the side of the Masjid, so he kept repeating the song, raising his voice. One of his companions thought that ‘'Ammar was disparaging him. He therefore said some angry words, which angered the Messenger of Allah, and he said,
"What is their business with ’'Ammar? He calls them to Heaven and they call him to Hell. To me, 'Ammar is but a skin between my eyes and my nose”
When the Messenger of Allah loves a man that much, this man's faith, his accomplishment, his loyalty, his grace, his conscience, and conscience and manner have reached the top and ended at the pinnacle of allowed perfection.
That was 'Ammar. Allah had granted him abundant blessings and guidance. In the level of guidance and certitude, he reached a great height which made the Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi was Sallam) commend his faith and raise him among the Companions as a model and an example, saying, "Take the examples of the two succeeding me, Abu Bakr and 'Umar, and follow the guidance of "'Ammar.
He witnessed with The Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) all the battles: Badr, Uhud, Al-Khandaq and Tabuk and others. When the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi was Sallam) passed away, the outstanding Companion continued his march. At the meeting of Muslims with Persians, with Romans, and, before that, at their meeting with the army of apostates, 'Ammar was always there in the first line, an honest, brave soldier who did not miss an opportunity.
One of his contemporaries in Kufa, Ibn Abi Hudhail said about him, "I saw 'Ammar Ibn Yasir when he was the governor of Kufa buying some vegetables. He tied them with a rope and carried them on his shoulders and went home.
One of the public said to him when he was the governor of Kufa, "O you whose ear is cut off. He was scorning him because of his ear which had been cut off by the swords of the apostates during the Yamamah War. The governor, in whose hands was the power of rule, merely said to his insulter, "You insulted the best part of my ear. It was injured in the cause of Allah."
Hudhaifah Ibn Al-Yamman, the expert in the inner language, the language of the heart, was preparing to meet Allah and suffering from the agony of death when his companions surrounding him asked, "To whom should we go, if people differ?" Hudhaifah answered in his last words, "You should turn to Ibn Sumaiyah because he will not part from truth until death."
Yes, 'Ammar would turn with the truth wherever it went.
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) prophesied that 'Ammar will be killed by a tyrant group. He (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “Alas for Ibn Sumaiyah, killed by the tyrant group.
The foretelling was repeated once again when a wall 'Ammar was working beneath fell, and some brethren believed he was dead. They went to offer condolences to the Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi was Sallam), and the Companions were shocked by the news, but the Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi was Sallam) said reassuringly and confidently, “'Ammar is not dead. The tyrant party will kill 'Ammar."
Who was this party? And where? When?
‘'Ammar listened to the prophecy in a way that showed he knew the great Messenger's truth of perception. Yet, he was not horrified. Since becoming a Muslim he had been expecting death and martyrdom every moment of the day and night.
Days and years passed. After the murder of Uthman Radhi Allahu Anhu sedition amongst the Muslims grew strong.
Some Muslims were Partial to Mu'aiwiyah, others were partial to 'Ally the one who demanded the pledge of allegiance to him as the Muslims' caliph. Where do you think 'Ammar would stand? Where should he stand, the man about whom the Messenger of Allah said, "Follow the guidance of ‘Anunar,” and, "Whoever antagonizes 'Ammar will be antagonized by Allah"?
The man who, if he approached the house of Allah's Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi was Sallam), the latter would say, "Welcome the good-scented, kind man, allow him to come in"?
He stood by 'Ally Ibn Abi Talib, not as a prejudiced, biased person, but as one complying with the truth and keeping his promise. 'Ally was the Caliph of the Muslims and had the pledge of allegiance to be its leader (Imam). He took the caliphate and he was worthy of it. Above all, 'Aly had the qualities that made his place to the Messenger of Allah as that of Harun (Aron) to Musa (Moses).
'Ammar, who always turned towards the truth wherever it was to enlighten his insight and loyalty to the possessor of truth in that fight, turned to 'Ally on that day and stood by him. 'Ally (May Allah be pleased with him) was overjoyed with 'Ammar's pledge and trusted that he was right in his demand because great man of truth, 'Ammar Ibn Yasir, approached and went with him.
The terrible Day of Siffin arrived. Imam 'All came out to face the serious rebellion which he felt he had to curb. 'Ammar came out with him, and he was 93 years old then. Imagine, a man of 93 going to fight! It is true, as long as he believed that fighting was his responsibility and duty. In fact, he fought more strongly and better than a man of 30. He was the man who was constantly silent, who spoke little. When he moved his lips, he moved them to supplicate, "I seek Allah's protection from sedition. I seek Allah's protection from sedition."
'Abu Abd Ar-Rahman As-Sulamiy reported: " We witnessed with 'Aly (May Allah be pleased with him) the Battle of Siffin, and I saw 'Ammar (May Allah be pleased with him) not taking one turn nor one of its valleys but the Companions of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi was Sallam) would follow him as if he were their standard!"
When ‘'Ammar was engaged in the battle he knew he was one of its martyrs. The Messenger's prophecy was illuminated in big letters in front of his eyes, "The tyrant party will kill 'Ammar.” For that reason his voice was ringing over the horizon of the battle with the following tune, "Today, I meet dear ones, Muhammad and his Companions."
Mu’awiyah's men attempted to avoid 'Ammar as much as they could so as not to kill him with their swords and people would say they were the "tyrant party". Yet, 'Ammar was fighting as if he were a whole army and his bravery made them mad, so some of Mu'awiyah's soldiers waited for a chance to hit him.
At noon the news of ‘'Ammar’s death spread, and the Muslims went on repeating to one another the prophecy of Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi was Sallam) which had been heard by all the Companions on the day of the festival while building the Masjid: “Alas for Ibn Sumaiyah, killed by the tyrant party.
Now people knew who was the “tyrant party”. It was the one that had killed ‘'Ammar, no other but Mu’awiyah party. ‘Ally’s Companions became more and more convinced of this fact. As for Mu’awiyah’s party, their hearts became suspicious, and some prepared to mutiny and turn to ‘Aly.
No sooner did Mu’awiyah hear of what had happened than he came out announcing to the people that the prophecy was right, and the Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi was Sallam) really prophesied that 'Ammar was going to be killed by the tyrant party. But who killed 'Ammar? Then he shouted to the people of his party,
"He was surely killed by those who came with him out of his house and brought him to the battle."