By: Martyr Murtaza Mutahhari
From: MAHJUBAH Vol. 5 No.8 (147) August 1996
Before the advent of Islam and the formation of an Islamic government, the feudal system prevailed among the Arabs. Arab people were used to obeying their chiefs and once in a while paid tribute to them.
A feudal Arab chieftain was Hatam Ta'i from the tribe of Tai who was noted for his munificence. After Hatam, his son, Adi, succeeded his father and his tribe obeyed him too.
Every year Adi received one-fourth of the income of each of his tribesmen as tribute. Adi's leadership was in the days of the Holy Prophet (SAW) and the spread of Islam.
The Tai tribe were idolaters, but Adi himself was Nazarene and hid it from his people.
Arab people who accepted Islam were introduced to its freedom through teachings, were freed willy-nilly from the thraldom of their chiefs. Adi, like other Arab dignitaries felt that Islam was an imminent danger to himself and antagonised the Prophet, but it was too late and Islam and Muslims piecemeal came to the fore. Adi knew well that one day they would overthrow him. He said to his confidant, a slave, to keep a dromedary close at hand and to tell him right away of the Muslim army's drawing near.
One day the slave came and told him that the Muslim army was somewhere in the nearby. Adi lost no time and fled with his family members to Syria where people were also Nazarenes. But he was so confused and in a great hurries that he forgot his sister, Safaneh and she was left alone there.
When the Muslim army arrived, Adi had already fled. They carried Safaneh as a prisoner to Madinah and told the Prophet about Adi. Outside the mosque of Madinah was an enclosure wherein the prisoners were lodged.
One day the Prophet (SAW) went past the place to enter the mosque. Safaneh, an intelligent young woman accosted the Prophet and said: "I have lost my father and my brother has also hidden himself. Please do me a favour and Allah will reward you." The Prophet asked who her brother was. She replied: "Adi Ibn Hatam." The Prophet (SAW) added: "He was the man who has turned away from Allah and His messenger... and ran away".
The next day again Safaneh accosted the Prophet and the Prophet went away without taking note of what she said. The third day, Safaneh was nearly disappointed and wanted to remain silent, but a young man who was close behind the Prophet signalled her to repeat her plea, and she did. The Prophet said:
"Well I am looking for a trustworthy man to take charge of you and send you back to your tribe." Safaneh asked people that who was the man close behind the Prophet (SAW) and found out that he was Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (AS).
Sometime later, Safaneh told the Prophet (SAW) that there had come some trustworthy people from her tribe to Madinah, and asked the Prophet (SAW) to let them take her back to her brother. The Prophet (SAW) gave her some money and some new clothing and a camel and she accompanied her tribesmen to Syria where her brother was.
No sooner had Safaneh seen her brother, she began to reproach him saying: "You took your wife and children with you but forgot me your own flesh and blood." Adi apologised to her and asked about her opinion as to whether it was advisable for him to join the Prophet or turn away from him. Safaneh advised her brother to join the Prophet, saying: "If he is really Allah's messenger, it will be a great honour for you. And if he is not a Prophet and ambitious, you will not loose your dignity there not far from Yemen because you have popularity among the Yemeni people."
Adi took her sister's advice and went to Madinah to see around who really the Prophet was. If he were truly Allah's messenger, he would follow him, but if he had worldly ambitions, he would co-operate with him as far as their common interests might allow.
Adi called upon the Prophet (SAW) in the Mosque and the Prophet (SAW) asked who he was. Adi said he was son of Hatam Ta'i. The Prophet (SAW) respected him and took him to his house.
On their way, a bent and aged old woman accosted the Prophet and he answered her questions kindly and patiently for a long time.
Adi said to himself that this was a sign of morality that showed he was a Prophet. Never has a tyrant such a temperament to endure a poor old woman.
When Adi entered the Prophet's house, he saw that he had a humble living. There was only a mattress on which the Prophet (SAW) sat. The Prophet (SAW) spread the mattress for Adi. He said this was the second sign of Prophet - like temperament.
The Prophet (SAW) asked Adi if he was a Nazarene. He replied, yes. Then why did you receive one-fourth of the income of each man? This was not allowed in your religion.
Adi was startled because even his next of kin knew nothing of his religion. Adi said to himself, this was the third sign of his being a Prophet.
The Prophet (SAW) added: "You see Muslims in their abject poverty. You see them at the mercy of their enemies. You see others in power. By Allah the Almighty, before long Muslims will have so much wealth and you will hardly find a destitute fellow among them. Their enemies will be vanquished and there will be safety and security in their land that allows a woman traveller to make a journey alone from Iraq to Hijaz without being hurt at all. By Allah it will not take long that the white castles of Babylon will be conquered by the Muslim army."
Adi Ibn Hatam accepted Islam wholeheartedly and remained devoted to Islam as long as he lived. He survived the Prophet (SAW) and remembered his prophecies. He said: "I am glad to live long enough to see the white castles of Babylon were conquered by Muslim army, and also to see a woman travel alone from Iraq to Hijaz without being hurt at all. By Allah I am sure there will soon be the time when there will be no trace of poverty among the Muslims.