A woman named Umm Anmaar who belonged to the Khuza-a tribe in Makkah
went to the slave market in the city. She wanted to buy herself a youth
for her domestic chores and to exploit his labor for economic gains. As
she scrutinized the faces of those who were displayed for sale, her eyes
fell ON a boy who was obviously not yet in his teens. She saw that he
was strong and healthy and that there were clear signs of intelligence
on his face. She needed no further incentive to purchase him. She paid
and walked away with her new acquisition.
On the way home, Umm Anmaar turned to the boy and said:
"What's your name, boy?''
"And what's your father's name'?''
"Where do you come from?"
"Then you are an Arab!"
"Yes, from the Banu Tamim."
"How then did you come into the hands of the slave dealers in Makkah?"
"One of the Arab tribes raided our territory. They took our cattle and
captured women and children. I was among the youths captured. I passed
from one hand to another until I ended up in Makkah . . ."
Umm Anmaar placed the youth as an apprentice to one of the blacksmiths
in Makkah to learn the art of making swords. The youth learnt quickly
and was soon an expert at the profession. When he was strong enough, Umm
Anmaar set up a workshop for him with all the necessary tools and equipment
from making swords. Before long he was quite famous in Makkah for his
excellent craftsmanship. People also liked dealing with him because of
his honesty and integrity. Umm Anmaar gained much profit through him and
exploited his talents to the full.
In spite of his youthfulness, Khabbab displayed unique intelligence and
wisdom. Often, when he had finished work and was left to himself, he would
reflect deeply on the state of Arabian society which was so steeped in
corruption. He was appalled at the aimless wandering, the ignorance and
the tyranny which he saw. He was one of the victims of this tyranny and
he would say to himself:
"After this night of darkness, there must be a dawn." And he hoped that
he would live long enough to see the darkness dissipate with the steady
glow and brightness of new light.
Khabbab did not have to wait long. He was privileged to be in Makkah
when the first rays of the light of Islam penetrated the city. It emanated
from the lips of Muhammad ibn Abdullah as he announced that none deserves
to be worshipped or adored except the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
He called for an end to injustice and oppression and sharply criticized
the practices of the rich in accumulating wealth at the expense of the
poor and the outcast. He denounced aristocratic privileges and attitudes
and called for a new order based on respect for human dignity and compassion
for the underprivileged including orphans, wayfarers and the needy.
To Khabbab, the teachings of Muhammad were like a powerful light dispelling
the darkness of ignorance. He went and listened to these teachings directly
from him. Without any hesitation he stretched out his hand to the Prophet
in allegiance and testified that "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad
is His servant and His messenger." He was among the first ten persons
to accept Islam .
Khabbab did not hide his acceptance of Islam from anyone. When the news
of his becoming a Muslim reached Umm Anmaar, she became incensed with
anger. She went to her brother Sibaa ibn Abd al-Uzza who gathered a gang
of youths from the Khuzaa tribe and together they made their way to Khabbab.
They found him completely engrossed in his work. Sibaa went up to him
"We have heard some news from you which we don't believe."
"What is it?" asked Khabbab.
"We have been told that you have given up your religion and that you
now follow that man from the Banu Ha shim ."
"I have not given up my religion" replied Khabbab calmly. "I only believe
in One God Who has no partner. I reject your idols and I believe that
Muhammad is the servant of God and His messenger."
No sooner had Khabbab spoken these words than Sibaa and his gang set
upon him. They beat him with their fists and with iron bars and they kicked
him until he fell unconscious to the ground, with blood streaming from
the wounds he received.
The news of what happened between Khabbab and his slave mistress spread
throughout Makkah like wild-fire. People were astonished at Khabbab's
daring. They had not yet heard of anyone who followed Muhammad and who
had the audacity to announce the fact with such frankness and deviant
The Khabbab affair shook the leaders of the Quraysh. They did not expect
that a blacksmith, such as belonged to Umm Anmaar and who had no clan
in Makkah to protect him and no asabiyyah to prevent him from injury,
would be bold enough to go outside her authority, denounce her gods and
reject the religion of her forefathers. They realized that this was only
the beginning . . .
The Quraysh were not wrong in their expectations. Khabbab's courage impressed
many of his friends and encouraged them to announce their acceptance of
Islam. One after another, they began to proclaim publicly the message
In the precincts of the Haram, near the Kabah, the Quraysh leaders gathered
to discuss the problem of Muhammad. Among them were Abu Sufyan ibn Harb,
al Walid ibn al-Mughira and Abu Jahl ibn Hisham. They noted that Muhammad
was getting stronger and that his following was increasing day by day,
indeed hour by hour. To them this was like a terrible disease and they
made up their minds to stop it before it got out of control. They decided
that each tribe should get hold of any follower of Muhammad among them
and punish him until he either recants his faith or dies.
On Sibaa ibn Abd al-Uzza and his people fell the task of punishing Khabbab
even further. Regularly they began taking him to all open area in the
city when the sun was at its zenith and the ground was scorching hot.
They would take off his clothes and dress him in iron armor and lay him
on the ground. In the intense heat his skin would be seared and hit body
would become inert. When it appeared that all strength had let him, they
would come up and challenge him:
"What do you say about Muhammad'?"
"He is the servant of God and His messenger. He has come with the religion
of guidance and truth, to lead us from darkness into light."
They would become more furious and intensify their beating. They would
ask about al-Laat and al-Uzza and he would reply firmly:
"Two idols, deaf and dumb, that cannot cause harm or bring any benefit..."
This enraged them even more and they would take a big hot stone and place
it on his back. Khabbab's pain and anguish would be excruciating but he
did not recant.
The inhumanity of Umm Anmaar towards Khabbab was not less than that of
her brother. Once she saw the Prophet speaking to Khabbab at his workshop
and she flew into a blind rage. Every day after that, for several days,
she went to Khabbab's workshop and punished him by placing a red hot iron
from the furnace on his head. The agony was unbearable and he often fainted.
Khabbab suffered long and his only recourse was to prayer. He prayed
for the punishment of Umm Anmaar and her brother. His release from pain
and suffering only came when the Prophet, peace be upon him, gave permission
to his companions to emigrate to Madinah. Umm Anmaar by then could not
prevent him from going. She herself became afflicted with a terrible illness
which no one had heard of before. She behaved as if she had suffered a
rabid attack. The headaches she had were especially nerve-racking. Her
children sought everywhere for medical help until finally they were told
that the only cure was to cauterize her head. This was done. The treatment,
with a ret hot iron, was more terrible than all the headaches she suffered.
At Madinah, among the generous and hospitable Ansar, Khabbab experienced
a state of ease and restfulness which he had not known for a long time.
He was delighted to be near the Prophet, peace be upon him, with no one
to molest him or disturb his happiness.
He fought alongside the noble Prophet at the battle of Badr. He participated
in the battle of Uhud where he had the satisfaction of seeing Sibaa ibn
Abd al-Uzza meet his end at the hands of Hamza ibn Abd al-Muttalib, the
uncle of the Prophet.
Khabbab lived long enough to witness the great expansion of Islam under
the four Khulafaa arRashidun--Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali. He once
visited Umar during his caliphate. Umar stood up--he was in a meeting--and
greeted Khabbab with the words:
"No one is more deserving than you to be in this assembly other than
Bilal." He asked Khabbab about the torture and the persecution he had
received at the hands of the mushrikeen. Khabbab described this in some
detail since it was still very vivid in his mind. He then exposed his
back and even Umar was aghast at what he saw.
In the last phase of his life, Khabbab was blessed with wealth such as
he had never before dreamed of. He was, however, well-known for his generosity.
It is even said that he placed his dirhams and his diners in a part of
his house that was known to the poor and the needy. He did not secure
this money in any way and those in need would come and take what they
needed without seeking any permission or asking any questions.
In spite of this, he was always afraid of his accountability to God for
the way he disposed of this wealth. A group of companions related that
they visited Khabbab when he was sick and he said:
"In this place there are eighty thousand dirhams. By God, I have never
secured it any way and I have not barred anyone in need from it."
He wept and they asked why he was weeping.
"I weep," he said, "because my companions have passed away and they did
not obtain any such reward in this world. I have lived on and have acquired
this wealth and I fear that this will be the only reward for my deeds."
Soon after he passed away. The Khalifah Ali ibn Abu Talib, may God be
pleased with him, stood at his grave and said:
"May God have mercy on Khabbab. He accepted Islam wholeheartedly. He
performed hijrah willingly. He lived as a mujahid and God shall not withhold
the reward of one who has done good."