The Muslims who were residing in the city of Madina at the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAS) can be divided into two groups namely emigrants (Muhajireen) and local residents (Ansar). The characteristics of both of these groups are described in surah Al Hashr. Allah (SWT) says about the emigrants: Al Hashr # 8
(And there is also a share in this booty) for the poor emigrants, who were expelled from their homes and their property, seeking Bounties from Allah and to please Him, and helping Allah (i.e Helping His religion) and His Messenger (SAS). Such are indeed the truthful (to what they say).
These emigrants were continuously tortured in Makkah, and living there became unbearable. It forced them to emigrate to Madina. The disbelievers occupied the properties and belongings of these emigrants. That is why the Qur’an calls these emigrants Faqeer, or extremely poor. Often many of them did not have anything to eat and they used to tie stones on their stomachs. Some would dig holes in the ground to sit in to shield themselves from the cold.
The second characteristic of these emigrants is the reasons why they left their homeland. Not for any worldly gain. Surely, it was to seek the pleasure of Allah (SWT) in this world and to seek the bounties of Allah (SWT) (ridwan) on the day of judgment.
The third characteristic is that they emigrated to help Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (SAS). Here, helping Allah (SWT) means to help the propagation of Islam. They offered outstanding sacrifices to achieve these two goals.
The fourth characteristic of these emigrants was, that they were truthful in their verbal and practical commitments. They stood by the testimony they made with Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (SAS) at the time of their entry into Islam. Allah (SWT) is declaring in this verse that all emigrants are truthful. Hence to say anything bad about them is against the above verdict of Allah (SWT).
In the next verse Allah (SWT) describes the characteristics of Ansar. Al Hashr # 9
And those who, before them, had homes and had adopted the Faith, love those who emigrate to them, and have no jealousy in their breasts for that which they have been given and give them preference over themselves even though they were in need of that. And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be the successful.
It is interesting to note that Imam Malik considers the city of Madina the most blessed and distinguished city in the world. Since it was conquered with Iman (faith). All other cities, including Makkah were conquered through actual battles. Allah (SWT) says, “Hence, the first characteristic of the Ansar was that they were raised in the esteemed city, which was to provide refuge, to The Prophet (SAS) and his followers.”
Secondly, the Ansar did not consider these helpless emigrants to be a burden on them. They received them with open arms and loved them sincerely. Due to this love, the Ansar equally shared their entire belongings as well as their housing facilities with them. Those Ansar who had more than one wife, eagerly divorced one so that she may marry the incoming emigrant. In this process the Ansar introduced his emigrant brother to his wives, and gave him options to choose the one he likes the best. Incidentally, the instructions about hijab had not yet been revealed.
The third characteristic of the Ansar is that they whole heartedly accepted whatever was given to the emigrants by the Holy Prophet (SAS). For example, when the Muslims gained control over Banu Nadher’s and Banu Qainnqa’s properties without indulging in any battle, it was to be distributed by Prophet Mohammad (SAS) amongst five categories mentioned for FAI in Quran. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) asked Thabit bin Qais (RU) to gather all Ansar. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) addressed them and praised them for their exemplary behavior towards the emigrants. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) then suggested, two options regarding the distribution of newly acquired properties. “If I distribute it evenly among the Ansar and the emigrants in that case the emigrants would continue to stay in the Ansar’s homes. Alternately, I can distribute it amongst the emigrants only and in that case they will be able to vacate the Ansars’ homes and begin to live independently.” The leaders of the Ansar, Saad bin Ibada and Saad bin Maaz responded, “Please distribute amongst the emigrants only, and they should also continue to live in our homes.” Allah (SWT) loved this response of the Ansar and revealed the verse stating that the Ansar do not feel any uneasiness in their hearts about the distribution of prime property. The Ansar behaved in such a manner, as if they, themselves had no need at all for these belongings.
Incidentally, this property was distributed only among the emigrants, by Prophet Mohammad (SAS). However, two very needy Ansar Sahal bin Haneef (RU) and Abu Dujana (RU) were also given shares in this distribution.
The fourth characteristic of the Ansar was that they prefer to satisfy the needs of the emigrants, even if they were in need themselves.
Qurtabi has described several situations pertaining to emigrants and Ansar. Some of these are described here since these are very enlightening for all mankind.
Abu Hurairah (RU) narrates that once a person came to Prophet Mohammad (SAS) and said “I’m extremely hungry and it is unbearable for me anymore” Prophet Mohammad (SAS) questioned his wives concerning food in their home. They said there was nothing except water. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) addressed the companions, “Who will host this brother tonight?” One Ansar volunteered. He took the brother to his home and asked his wife to serve the meals. She replied “Meals are hardly enough for our own children.” The Ansar said to his wife, “Lay the children down, that they may go to sleep. Then serve the meal and turn off the candlelight. I shall pretend that I am eating with the guest. He won’t know in the darkness.” The guest ate the meal and both came back to Prophet Mohammad (SAS) the next morning. Prophet Mohammad (SAS) congratulated this Ansar, saying “Allah (SWT) loved your hospitality last night.” (Tirmidhi)
Abdulla bin Omar narrates that one person sent a gift in the form of goat meat to a fellow Muslim. This person sent it as a gift to another Muslim, since he considered him more needy than himself. This third person sent it to a fourth person who he deemed even more needy than himself. This gift passed through seven hands until it reached back to the original donar. This is mentioned by Qushari. A similar narration is by Anas as described by Tha’lbi.
Aisha (RU) narrated that one beggar came to her home and asked for charity. There was only one loaf of bread at her home. Aisha (RU) instructed her servant to give it to the beggar, the servant wondered how Aisha (RU) would break her fast in the evening. Aisha (RU) insisted on giving the loaf to the beggar. It so happened in the evening that a person sent a gift of roasted goat to Aisha (RU). Aisha (RU) invited her servant to join her in dinner.
Nasai reported that once Abdullah bin Omar (RU) fell ill and wanted to eat some grapes. Hence, grapes were purchased and brought to him. By chance a beggar came. Omar (RU) gave the grapes away to the beggar. One of the visitors of Omar (RU) followed the beggar, purchased the grapes from the beggar and presented the grapes to Omar (RU). The beggar came back and Omar (RU) gave him the bunch of grapes again. Another visitor followed the beggar and purchased the grapes again, and then presented them again to Omar (RU). The beggar wanted to come back again, but the people requested him not to return. Incidentally Omar (RU) thought that the grapes were bought from the market each time, otherwise he would not have eaten those grapes brought to him the third time.
Ibn Mubarik reported in his Masnad that one time Caliph Omar (RU) sent four hundred dinars to Abu Ubaidah bin Jarah through a servant as a gift. Omar (RU) instructed his servant to observe how he used this money. The servant reported that Abu Ubaidah distributed all of the money to needy persons.
Similarly Caliph Omar (RU) sent four hundred dinar to Maaz bin Jabal (RU) by a servant, and instructed this servant to observe how he used this money too. The servant reported to Omar (RU) that Maaz (RU) distributed it to the needy persons as well. When only two dinars were left, Maaz’s wife said “I am poor too, I deserve some as well.” Maaz (RU) gave these two dinars to her. Caliph Omar (RU) said to his servant, they are all brothers and are alike in their characteristics.
Huzaifah Aadvi (RU) narrated “I set out to look for the body of my cousin, during the battle of Yarmook, I had some water with me for those who may still have signs of life. I found my cousin, who appeared to be near death. I offered him some of the water I had. He heard a cry from another Muslim brother close to him. My cousin refused to drink the water and insisted it be given to another injured person. As I approached the second person, he heard the cry of a third brother. This second injured brother instructed me to quickly take the water to the third person. In this way, I went to seven different injured persons. Each preferring others needs over his own need. When I reached the seventh, he had already breathed his last breath. I rushed back to my cousin, and he had died as well.
Allah (SWT) divided the whole Ummah of Prophet Mohammad (SAS) into three groups, emigrants, Ansar and the rest of the Ummah. Allah (SWT) described many virtues of both emigrants and Ansar in the Holy Qur’an. However, Allah (SWT) described only one very notable virtue of the rest of the Ummah. This third group must sincerely appreciate the companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAS), since they not only distinguished themselves with pure Iman (faith), but also this faith reached us through them. Hence, this third group should pray for the companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAS), and should not hold any form of grudge in their hearts against the companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAS). It is a very beautiful dua. Al Hashr # 10
And those who came after them say: “Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethern who have preceded us in faith, and put not in our hearts any hatred against those who have believed. Our Lord! You are indeed full of kindnesss, Most Merciful.
Mussab bin Saaid narrated that we can only belong to this group by acquiring the virtue stated above.
Kurtabi deduced from this verse it is mandatory for us to have great respect for the Companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAS). Imam Malek said “A Muslim will not have any share in any booty if he does not have a good deal of respect for the Companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAS). Abdullah bin Abbas said, “Allah (SWT) has ordered all the Muslims to pray for the companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAS) although, Allah (SWT) knew they would differ with each other, and even fight with each other.” Hence we must keep a good feeling about all the Companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAS).
Aisha (RU) narrated “I heard from Prophet Mohammad (SAS) that his Ummah will not be destroyed, if they do not curse the one who has passed before them.”
Abdullah bin Omar said “When you come across someone who curses the companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAS), you should simply say: “May Allah’s (SWT) curse be on the one who is worse among you.” In this way Allah (SWT) will take care of the accuser.
Aawam bin Jushab (RU) said: “I found the earlier Muslims reminding others about the salient virtues of the Companions, to increase love for them. They avoided mentioning differences and conflicts among the Companions, so that enemies do not become over bold about criticizing the Companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAS).”
May Allah (SWT) enable us to appreciate the virtues of the Companions of Prophet Mohammad (SAS) so that we may belong to this third group, and be successful in this life and the life in the hereafter. Ameen.