Slaves in the History of Islam 2

Slaves in the History of Islam 2

The Holy Prophet had also said, “Salman is a sea which cannot be exhausted and a treasure which never comes to end. Salman is from us, the family [of the Prophet]; he has been given wisdom, and is bestowed with reason.”(1) Imam 'Ali said, “Salman was like Luqman, the Sage.”(2) Luqman is thought by many Muslim scholars to be a prophet. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq said that he was even better than Luqman.(3) Imam Muhammad al-Baqir said that Salman was from the mutawassimin (those who know the inner character of the people).(4) Numerous traditions say that Salman knew al-ismul a'zam (the greatest name of Allah);(5) and that he was from the muhaddathin (those to whom the angels talk).(6)

To show the greatness of Salman, it is enough that the Prophet said, “Faith has ten grades, and Salman is on the tenth (i.e., highest) grade, Abu Dharr on the ninth, and Miqdad on the eighth grade.” Whenever Gabriel came to the Prophet, he used to request him to convey the greetings of Allah to Salman, and to teach him the knowledge of the future.(7) Accordingly, Salman used to visit the Prophet at nights, where the Prophet and Amirul mu'minin 'Ali taught him from the secret knowledge of Allah which was never taught to any other person because nobody could bear it. It was because of this that Imam 'Ali said, “Salman got the knowledge of the first and the knowledge of the last ones; he is a sea which is never exhausted and he is from us - the family of the Prophet.”(8)

'Allamah Majlisi writes in 'Aynu'l-Hayat that it is understood from the traditions of Shi'ah and Sunnis both that after the ma'sumin nobody among the companions of the Prophet was equal to Salman, Abu Dharr and Miqdad. Imam Musa al-Kazim said, “On the day of resurrection someone will call on behalf of Allah that 'Where are the hawariyyin and faithfuls of Muhammad bin 'Abdullah, who stayed firmly on the path shown by him and never broke his convent?' Then will arise Salman, Miqdad and Abu Dharr.”(9)

The Holy Prophet said, “Allah has ordered me to love four of my companions.” People asked who those four companions were. The Holy Prophet said, “'Ali bin Abi Talib, Salman, Miqdad and Abu Dharr.”(10) According to traditions, Allah sent for Salman gifts and presents from Paradise; and the Paradise eagerly awaited his arrival.(11)

Once Mansur bin Buzurg, himself of Persian origin, asked Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq as to why he remembered Salman al-Farsi so much. The Imam said, “Do not say 'Salman al-Farsi (the Persian)'. Say, 'Salman of Muhammad.' You should know that the reasons of my often remembering him are three of his special virtues: First, he discarded him own preferences in view of the preferences of Amirul mu'minin 'Ali. Second, he loved poor and preferred them against rich and wealthy persons. Third, he loved knowledge and knowledgeable persons. Verily Salman was a good servant of God, a pure Muslim and he was not from the polytheists.”(12)

Once some companions of the Prophet were describing their forefathers, showing pride in their family-trees. Salman was also among them. 'Umar, who later become the second caliph, turned towards him and asked him to describe his pedigree and family-tree. Salman said, “I am Salman, son of a servant of Allah. I was poor, and Allah made me rich through Muhammad (PBUH&HP); I was a slave, and Allah set me free through Muhammad (PBUH&HP). This is my pedigree and my status, O 'Umar!”(13)

It has been stated earlier that Abu Dharr himself was one of the four pillars of faith and was on the ninth grade of faith (iman). But even Abu Dharr could not understand Salman properly.

Once he went to the house of Salman. Salman had put a cooking pot on fire. The two friends were talking when all of a sudden the pot tumbled down and overturned. But, wonder of wonders, not a single drop fell out of the pot. Salman put the pot on the fire again. After some time the same thing happened again. No drop was spilt out, and Salman nonchalantly put it right again.

Abu Dharr was flabbergasted. At once, he came out and met Imam 'Ali in the way. He narrated to him what he had seen. 'Ali said, “O Abu Dharr, if Salman informs you of all the things that he knows, you will wonder. O Abu Dharr, Salman is a gate towards Allah on the earth. Anybody who accepts him is a believer, anybody who rejects him is a kafir. Salman is from us - the family [of the Prophet].”(14)

I think these few authentic traditions are enough to show the highest status of Salman in the eyes of Allah, in the eyes of the Prophet, Imam 'Ali and his successors.

Salman was appointed governor of Iran. He came to Mada'in, the capital at that time. The people of Mada'in, long accustomed to the splendour and glory of the imperial court of Iranian emperors, came out to welcome the governor designate. They were waiting for a pompous caravan. But no caravan or entourage ever came. Instead, an old man, carrying a few of his belongings on his shoulder was coming towards them on foot. They asked the newcomer whether he had seen the entourage of their governor. The newcomer said, “I am your governor.” And that simple-hearted governor of Mada'in ruled with such knowledge, compassion, justice and firmness that within a short period whole Mada'in was in his hands. That conquest was made not by police or army, but by the power of his spiritual perfection, piety and forbearance.

He died in 36 AH in Mada'in. Imam 'Ali came from Medina to Mada'in in half a day by miracle just to perform the burial rites of his trusted companion and brother.(15) It was a unique distinction of Salman. His grave in Mada'in (in Iraq) is visited by hundreds of pilgrims every day. The pilgrimage (ziyarat) prescribed for that visit shows his greatness in the eyes of Allah.

Continue in the next article: ( Slaves in the History of Islam 3 )



1. al-Majlisi, Bihar; vol. 22, p. 348.

2. al-Majlisi, op. cit., vol. 22, pp. 330, 391; Ibn Sa'd, op. cit., vol. IV:1, p. 61; Abu Na'im, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 187.

3. al-Majlisi, op. cit., vol. 22, p. 331.

4. Ibid, p. 349.

5. Ibid, p. 346.

6. Ibid, p. 327, 349.

7. Ibid, p. 347.

8. Ibid, p. 319; Ibn Sa'd, op. cit., vol. IV:1, p. 61; Abu Na'im, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 187.

9. al-Majlisi, op. cit., vol. 22, p. 342.

10. Ibid, p. 321.

11. Ibid, p. 325; Abu Na'im, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 190.

12. al-Majlisi, op. cit., vol. 22, p. 327.

13. Ibid, p. 381.

14. Ibid, p. 374.

15. Ibid, pp. 372, 380.