SA'IID IBN `AAMIR
Greatness Under Worn-out Garments
Does any of us know this man or have any of us ever heard his name before? Most probably, the majority of us, if not all, have not heard his name mentioned before. I imagine that you wonder, who is Sa'iid Ibn `Aamir? Well, you are about to embark on a journey back in time so as to find out all that there is to be known about this "happy" ("Sa'iid" means "happy ") man, so fasten your seat belts.
In short, Sa'iid was one of the outstanding Companions of the Prophet(PBUH), notwithstanding the fact that his name was seldom, if ever, mentioned.He was one of the most distinguished unknown pious Companions. It was natural that he, like all Muslims, would accompany the Prophet (PBUH) in all his expeditions and battles, for as a believer, he could not lag or turn his backon Allah's Prophet (PBUH) in peace or war time. Shortly before the Conquest of Khaibar, Sa'iid submitted himself to Islam. Ever since he embraced Islam and gave his allegiance to the Prophet (PBUH)), he consecrated his life, existence,and destiny to the service of Islam. All the great virtues of obedience,asceticism, dignity, humbleness, piety, and pride thrived harmoniously insidethis pure and kind man.
In our attempt to unveil his greatness, we must bear in mind that, inmost cases, appearance contrasts with reality. If we are to judge him byhis outer looks, we will not do him justice, for he was definitely ill-favoredas regards his appearance. He had dusty uncombed hair. Nothing in his looksor appearance distinguished him from poor Muslims. If we are to judge hisreality by his appearance, we will see nothing impressive or breath-taking.But if we dive deep into his inner self beyond his outer appearance, wewill see greatness in the full meaning of the word. His greatness stoodaloof from the splendor and ornament of life. Yet, it lurked there beyondhis modest appearance and worn-out garments. Have you ever seen a pearlhidden inside its shell? Well, he was much like this hidden pearl.
When the Commander of the Faithful `Umar Than Al- Khattaab dismissed Mu'aawiyah from his position as governor of Homs in Syria, he exerted himself in searching for someone who was qualified to take over his position.
Undoubtedly, `Umar's standards of choice of governors and assistants were highly cautious, meticulous, and scrutinizing. He believed that if a governor committed a sin, error, or violation, two people would be asked to account for it before Allah: `Umar and the governor, even if this governor werein the farthest corner of the earth. His standards of estimation and evaluation of governors were highly subtle, alert, and perceiving. Centuries beforethe advent of Islam, Homs was a big city that witnessed, one after the other, the dawn and eclipse of many civilizations. besides, it was a vital trade center. The attractions of the vast city turned it into a place of seduction and temptation. In `Umar's opinion only an ascetic, devout, and repentant worshiper would be able to resist and renounce its attractions.
`Umar suddenly realized that Sa'iid Ibn `Aamir was the man he was looking for and cried out, "Sa'iid Ibn `Aamir is the right man for this mission." He summoned him. Sa'iid was offered the governorship by the Commander of the Faithful, but he refused saying, "Do not expose me to Fitnah (trials andaffliction)." `Umar then cried out, "By Allah, I will not let you turn medown. Do you lay the burdens of your trusteeship and the caliphate upon myshoulders, then you refuse to help me out? "
Instantly, Sa'iid was convinced of the logic of `Umar's words. Indeed, it was not fair to abandon or avoid their obligation towards their trusteeship and towards the caliphate and lay them on `Umar's shoulders.
Moreover, if people like Sa'iid Ibn `Aamir renounced the responsibility of rule, then `Umar would definitely have a hard time to find a man who was highly pious and righteous enough to be entrusted with such a mission.
Hence, Sa'iid traveled with his wife to Syria. They were newly wed. Ever since his bride was a little girl, she had been an exquisitely bloomingbeauty. `Umar gave him a considerable sum of money at the time of his departure.
When they settled down in Syria, his wife wanted to use this money, so she asked him to buy appropriate garments, upholstery, and furniture, and to save the rest of it. Sa'iid said to her, "I have a better idea. We are in a country with profitable trade and brisk markets, so it would be better to give this money to a merchant so as to invest it." She said, "But ifhe loses it?" Sa'iid said, "I will make him a guarantee that the amountwill be paid notwithstanding." She answered, "All right then."
Of course, Sa'iid went out and bought the necessities for an ascetic life, then gave all his money in voluntary charity in Allah's cause to the poor and those in need. Time went by, and every now and then his wife would ask him about their money and their profits and he would answer, "It is a highly profitable trade."
One day, she asked him the same question before one of his relatives who knew what he had done with the money. His relative smiled, then he could not help laughing in a way that made Sa'iid's wife suspicious. Therefore, she prevailed on him to tell her the truth. He told her, "Sa'iid on that daygave all his money in voluntary charity in Allah's cause." Sa'iid's wife wasbroken-hearted, for not only had she lost her last chance to buy what shewanted but also lost all their money. Sa'iid gazed at her sad, meek eyes glisteningwith tears that only added more charm and grace to her eyes; yet before heyielded to this fascinating figure, he perceived Paradise inhabited by hislate friends and said, "I had companions who preceded me in ascending toAllah and you will not deviate from the path they have taken, not for theworld." He was afraid lest her excelling beauty should make her disobey him;therefore he said as if he were talking to himself, "You know that Paradise is filled with Houris, fair females with wide and lovely eyes as wives for the pious, who are extremely lovely. If one of them had a peep at the earth, she would illuminate it with her light that combines the light of both the earth and the moon. So you should not blame me if I chose to sacrifice your love for their love and not vice versa." Throughout his talk, he was calm, pleased, and satisfied. His wife was peaceful, for she realized that she had no choice but to follow Sa`iid's example and adopt herself to his rigid, ascetic, and pious way of life.
Homs at that time was called the second Kufa. The reason behind this was that its people were easily stirred and swayed to revolt against their governors. Homs was named after Al-Kufa in Iraq, which was notorious for endless mutiny and uprisings. Although, the people of Homs were given to mutiny, as wehave already mentioned, Allah guided their hearts to His righteous slaveSa'iid. Thus, they loved and obeyed him.
One day, `Umar said to him, "I find it rather strange that the peopleof Syria love and obey you." Sa'iid answered, "Maybe they love me becauseI help and sympathize with them."
Despite the love of the people of Homs for Sa'iid, their innate rebellious disposition got the better of them. Hence, sounds of discontent and complaint began to be heard, thus proving that Homs was not called the second Kufa in vain. One day, as the Commander of the Faithful was visiting Homs, he askedits people who gathered around him for their opinion of Sa'iid. Some madecomplaints against him which were blessings in disguise, for they unveiled an impressively great man.
`Umar asked the criticizing group to state their complaints one by one. The representative of the group stood up and said, "We have four complaints against Sa'iid : First, he doesn't come out of his house until the sun rises high and the day becomes hot. Second, he does not see anyone at night. Third, there are two days in every month in which he doesn't leave his house at all.Fourth, he faints every now and then, and this annoys us although he can'thelp it." The man sat down and `Umar was silent for while for he was secretlysupplicating Allah saying, "Allah, I know that he is one of Your best slaves.Allah, I beseech You not to make me disappointed in him." He summoned Sa'iidto defend himself. Sa'iid replied, "As for their complaint that I do notget out of my house before noon, by Allah I hate to explain the reason thatmade me do that, but I have to do so. The reason is that my wife does nothave a servant, so I knead my dough, wait for it to rise, bake my bread,perform ablution and pray Duha, then I go out of my house." `Umar's facebrightened as he said, "All praises and thanks be to Allah." Then he urgedhim to refute the rest of the allegations. Sa'iid went on, " As for theircomplaint that I do not meet anyone at night, by Allah, I hate to say thereason, but you force me to. Anyway, I have devoted the day to them and consecratedthe night for Allah. As for the third complaint that they do not see me twodays per month, well, I do not have a servant to wash my garment and I haveno spare one. Therefore, I wash it and wait for it to dry shortly beforesunset, then I go out of my house to meet them. My defense against the lastcomplaint of the fainting fits is that I saw with my own eyes Khubaib Al-Ansaariybeing slain in Makkah. The Quraish cut his body into small pieces and said,`Do you want to save yourself and see Muhammad in your place instead? Heanswered, `By Allah, I will not accept your offer of setting me free to returnto my family safe and sound, even if you gave me all the splendors and ornamentsof life in return for exposing the Prophet (PBUH) to the least annoyance,even if it was a prick of a thorn. Now, every time this scene of me standingthere as a disbeliever, watching Khubaib being tortured to death and doingnothing to save him flickers in my mind, I find myself shaking with fearof Allah's punishment and I faint."
These were Sa'iid's words which left his lips that were already wet from the flow of his pure and pious tears. The overjoyed `Umar could not helpbut cry Out, "All praises and thanks be to Allah Who would not make me disappointed in you!" He hugged Sa'iid and kissed his graceful and dignified forehead.
What a great guidance must have been bestowed on those outstanding men! What an excellent instructor Allah's Prophet (PBUH) must have been! What apenetrating light must have emanated from Allah's Book! What an inspiring and instructive school Islam must have been! I wonder if the earth can take in so much of the piety and righteousness of those fortunate men. I presume that if that happened, then we would no longer call it the earth but rather Paradise. Indeed the "Promised Paradise."
Since it is not time for Paradise yet, it is only natural that those glorious superior men who pass by life are but few, very few. Sa'iid lbn `Aamir was definitely one of those superior Muslims.
His position allowed him a considerable salary, yet he took only enough money to buy the necessities for himself and his wife and gave the rest in voluntary charity in the way of Allah. One day, he was urged to spend this surplus on his family and relatives, yet he answered, "Why should I give itto my family and relatives? No, by Allah, I will not sell Allah's pleasure to seek my kinfolks' pleasure."
He was later urged, "Spend more money on yourself and on your family and try to enjoy the lawful good things." But he always answered, "I will not stay behind the foremost Muslims after I heard the Prophet (PBUH) say, `When Almighty Allah gathers all people on the Day of Reckoning, the poor believers will step forward in solemn procession. They will be asked to stop for reckoning but they will answer confidently: We have nothing to account for. Allahwill say: My slaves said the truth. Hence, they will enter Paradise beforeall other people."
In A.H. 20, Sa'iid met Allah with a pure record, pious heart, and honorable history. He yearned for so long to be among the foremost Muslims; in fact, he consecrated his life to fulfill their covenant and follow in their footsteps. He yearned for so long for his Prophet (PBUH) and instructor and his pure and repentant comrades. He left all the burdens, troubles, and hardships of life behind. He had nothing but his pious, ascetic, awesome, and great inner self. These virtues made the balance of good deeds heavy rather than light. He impressed the world with his qualities rather than with his conceit.
Peace be upon Sa'iid lbn `Aamir. Peace be upon his life and resurrection. Peace be upon the honorable and obedient Companions of the Prophet and blessings and peace be upon him.