Two of the Same Age
Source: MAHJUBAH Vol.14 No .12(139) Dec. 1995 | by: Translated by: Quds Sharifi

Several years before the birth of the Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.), there lived a noble, God-fearing family in Mecca. The father of the family, Yasser, was from Yemen and his wife, Somayya, was the daughter of a tailor from the Bani Makhzum tribe. In the year that the Prophet (s.a.w.) was born, a boy was also born to these husband and wife. He was named Ammar and was the same age as the Prophet (s.a.w.). Ammar was nurtured by a chaste and devoted mother and from his very childhood he had the distinction of honesty and bravery. Ammar was a man of few words, but he thought a lot. He was now a young man in his twenties. He suffered from the discrimination shown in the living conditions of people. He saw a very few people having a life of affluence and always thinking of amassing wealth, whereas many others drudged all day long but did not earn enough to keep them in bread and water. They spent the nights in their ramshackle houses and reported to their masters in the early morning. The fruit of their drudgery fell into the hands of their masters.

Ammar saw how the House of Allah was filled with idols and people prostrated in front of them. The pitiful lives of the people of Mecca before Islam touched the hearts of free men like Ammar.

A long way:
Now polytheism and idolatry had been done away with. Muhammad (s.a.w.), son of Abdullah had been appointed as the Messenger of God, but there was still a long way to the ruling of Islam and wiping off the remnants of polytheism off the face of the earth. Men like Abu Jahl and Abu Sufyan and their obedient servants who lived in affluence were the main barriers to the ruling of Islam. The Prophet (s.a.w.) and his loyal companions had to struggle hard for years to destroy the idolatry completely in Mecca and in Medina and endure all hardships to call the pagan ringleaders to Islam and if they refused, put them all to sword.

The story of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and his companions being confined in the Abu Talib cave was a sample of their resistance and struggle. Many companions of his like Hamza Sayyidu Shuhadaa, the Prophet's uncle, were martyred for the cause of Islam and many others like Bilal and Ammar Yasser were tortured butthey never gave in and did whatever they could to put an end to the disbelief in religion and pave the way for the Islamic government to power.

Ammar Yasser accepts Islam:
It was the early days of the prophetic mission of Muhammad (s.a.w.) and so far some people had accepted Islam secretly for the fear of the Quraysh. They received stealthily the instructions and performed them at their home or at their secret meetings. The Quraysh heathens caused the Prophet (s.a.w.) a lot of trouble and his life was in constant danger.
The Quraysh polytheists pursued the Prophet (s.a.w.) and therefore he had found shelter with a few of his friends in the house of Arqam. Ammar also went there. The Prophet (s.a.w.) called him to Islam and he accepted. Ammar said that when night fell they secretly returned home. Ammar's parents also accepted Islam and therefore they were persecuted by their relatives and by the Bani Makhzam tribe. In the hot and burning days of summer especially in Hijaz, the heathens made Ammar and his parents lie supine on the burning gravels. Sometimes they put heavy pieces of stone on their chests and bellies and wanted them to abandon the religion of Muhammad (s.a.w.), and worship idols again. When the Prophet (s.a.w.) saw them in such a pitiful heart-rendering condition, he called them to be patience.

Abu Jahl persecutes Ammar:
Ammar was saying prayers in his room when a knock on the door was heard. It was Zayd who had come to see Ammar. He came in and Ammar welcomed him. Zayd asked Ammar if he knew the latest news. He said he did not. Zayd went on to say that Hamza (Abu Ammareh) the cousin of the Prophet (s.a.w.) who had accepted Islam had beaten Abu Jahl for blaspheming the Prophet (s.a.w.). They both went to see Abu Jahl who had not yet washed his bleeding face so as to move others to pity him and antagonize the Prophet (s.a.w.).

As soon as Abu Jahl saw them, he said angrily: "Don't you see what they have done to me? Aren't you with us? May be you are here to beat me like Hamza." Ammar said they did not want to harm him, but they hated him and his friends very much. Ammar added: "0 Abu Jahl! You blasphemed Muhammad (s.a.w.) and you deserve to be punished." Abu Jahl retorted that it was he who had blasphemed their gods: Al-Lat, Habal and Al-Uzza. Ammar said: "You don't believe in these gods. You know they are nothing but images of god carved in stone, iron, etc. Do you remember the day you were punishing one of your slaves. He entreated you to stop beating him for Habal's sake. You said despisingly who Habal was. Habal was no better thing than you ugly, worthless fellow. You don't worship your gods, you worship yourself. They are mere tools in your hands to deceive people."

Ammar's bitter words aggravated by the deep wounds on his back as a result of being whipped by Hamza, made Abu Jahl fly into rage. He ordered his slaves to persecute Ammar under the strokes of the whip, Ammar thought only of Islam and the victory of Muslims.

Parents in search of their son:
That day late in the afternoon, Somayya was informed of her son being persecuted and told her husband to think of how they could save him. Knowing that they could do nothing against Abu Jahl. Yasser tried to calm her down. It was late at night when a knock at the door was heard. Somayya ran to the door, but it was not Ammar, it was the slave of Abu Jahl who had come to arrest them. When he saw them he used profane language against the Prophet (s.a.w.) and wanted them to abandon Islam. When they disobeyed him, he ordered his slaves to whip them. The strokes of whip on their frail bodies and the pacifying words of the two victims in praise of God were heard simultaneously.

To aggravate the persecution of the two old people, Abu Jahl ordered his slaves to take them to the hiding place of Ammar. But when they saw the languishing looks of Ammar they shed tears of joy. His mother asked him how he was, and he answered he would be fine as far as they did not waver in their faith in God. Yasser told Ammar: "Let me give you good tidings of something that will strengthen your faith. In the revelation, Allah refers to you and to a mosque you had repaired to which the polytheists set fire to." "Is he who pays adoration in the watches of the night, prostrated and standing, bewaring of the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord, (to be announced equal with a unbeliever? Say: unto them, 0 Muhammad): Are those who know equal with those who know not? But only men of understanding will pay heed." (39:9)

The, conditions Abu Jahl made in order to set them free: Abu Jahl kept on persecuting Ammar's parents and the more he did so, the more resistance the supporters of the truth showed. Abu Jahl made three conditions to set them free:
  1. Blaspheme Muhammad (s.a.w.)
  2. Abandon Islam.
  3. Worship the idols in the Kaabah (Al-Lat, Al-Uzza and Al- Manat).

On those days, the Prophet (s.a.w.) and his companions were in the minority and Allah had not allowed them to fight against heathens. Hence the Prophet (s.a.w.) called on them to relieve their suffering and this they were encouraged with more hope to withstand the devilish persecution of Abu Jahl. To prevent the spread of Islam, Abu Jahl persecuted the parents of Ammar more brutally. Once he ordered to whip them to death; to keep them near flames so that their bodies became half-burned and then they were thrown in cold water. He ordered them to be supine on the ground and then told his slaves to put large pieces of stone on their chest and bellies, so that they could not breathe easily. After a day or two both died of all the torture and became the vanguard of martyrs of Islam.

Seeing this, Ammar decided that he should save his life. He profaned the name of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and pretended to have abandoned Islam. Thus Ammar was released, but bereaved ofhis parents. He finally fled to Abyssinia for fear of Abu Jahl. When they told the Prophet (s.a.w.) that Ammar had denied Allah and blasphemed him, the Prophet (s.a.w.) said that it was sheer non- sense.

Some days later, Ammar called on the Prophet (s.a.w.), shedding tears of remorse and shame of himself for his unforgivable act. Ammar said that he was ruined and went astray and that they forced him to do what he should have never done. The Prophet (s.a.w.) caressed him and wiped his eyes and told him to use profane language again if he was forced to.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) then recited this verse: "Whoso disbelieve in Allah after his belief - save him who is forced thereto and whose heart is still content with faith..." (16:106). After the flight of the Prophet (s.a.w.) from Mecca to Medina, Ammar also went from Abyssinia to Medina to join the Prophet (s.a.w.). He looked in the current affairs of Muslims and helped the Prophet (s.a.w.) in building the first mosque in Medina. He carried blocks of rock from the mountain to the building side twice as much as any other man carried.

Ammar was always with the Prophet (s.a.w.) and fought in the capacity of army leader in the battles of Badr, Uhud and Khandaq.

A token of truth:
The Prophet (s.a.w.) said Ammar was with the truth and truth was with Ammar. The Prophet's (s.a.w.) companions, if in doubt as to the true nature of things, consulted Ammar.

A blessed necklace:
Jabir ibn Abdullah Ansari quoted that one day an old man called upon the Prophet (s.a.w.) and begged alms. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said that he could not give him anything but send the beggar to his daughter Hazrat Fatima (a.s.). The Prophet (s.a.w.) told Bilal to lead the old man. When he told her what he wanted, she said: "I have no food here. Take this sheep's skin which serves my sons as covering on the floor." The beggar said that it would be of no use to him. Hazrat Fatima (a.s.) gave him her necklace to sell it and buy food and clothing.

Ammar asked the Prophet (s.a.w.) for permission to buy back the necklace. Ammar gave the old man 200 dinars, some clothing, a riding camel and some food. The old man said the generosity of Hazrat Fatima (a.s.) made me free from need.

Ammar scented the necklace in a piece of fine cloth and said to his slave: "Take this to the Prophet (a.s.) and you yourself are liberated." The Prophet (s.a.w.) gave the necklace back to his daughter and also gave her the slave. Hazrat Fatima (a.s.) liberated the slave. The slave smiled and said that that was really a blessed necklace. It gave food and clothing to a needy fellow and set free a slave.