14 Nov Suhayb bin Sinan (r.a.)
In the first years when the sun of Islam rose, this light dazzled the eyes of some people and attracted others. The stars gathering around the light of Islam increased day by day; they were proceeding to happiness in both the world and the hereafter.
Once, Ammar bin Yasir, who was going to be one of the first Muslims, saw Suhayb bin Sinan at the door of Arqam’s house. He asked, “O Suhayb! What are you doing here?” Suhayb asked Ammar, “What are you doing here?” Ammar said, “’I want to meet Muhammad and hear what he has to say.” Suhayb said, “’I have the same intention.” Ammar and Suhayb who had the same intention entered into the presence of the Prophet.
These two lucky people who listened to the luminous talk of the Prophet for hours stayed there until it got dark. Upon the offer of the Prophet, they embraced Islam at once.
They felt relieved. They were walking in the air. However, they accepted torture and trouble at the beginning by accepting such a troublesome and hard call. For, when Suhayb became a Muslim, the number of the Muslims had just been over 30. They formed the first rank in Islam. Therefore, they became the target of the polytheists.
Hz. Suhayb was a freed slave of Hz. Abdullah bin Jud’an. Therefore, he was alone; he did not have a strong tribe and connections. To browbeat the Muslims was the only duty of the polytheists. When they found a helpless person, they troubled and oppressed him more.
Suhayb bin Sinan was one of the Muslims that were oppressed by the polytheists in the way of Islam. The polytheists inflicted unprecedented tortures on Hz. Ammar and Suhayb. They made them wear armor on their naked bodies and put them under the scorching sun.
Once, Suhayb, Ammar and Habbab confronted the polytheists in the market of Makkah. When the polytheists saw those believers, they said, “Here are Muhammad’s friends”, insulting and swearing at them. They used all kinds of tortures to intimidate them. However, they did not keep silent when the polytheists attacked them. Suhayb shouted:
“Yes, we are together with Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah. We spend time with him. We believed in the Messenger of Allah but you did not. We approved him but you denied him. Do not forget. We are not worthless because we are Muslims and you are not superior because you are polytheists.”
The polytheists could not put up with this heroic answer of Hz. Suhayb and attacked him by saying, “Are these the people among us to whom Allah gave boons and showed mercy?” They took their frustration out on him by beating him. They did not allow him to speak. They beat Suhayb so hard that he could not speak properly.
However, Suhayb resisted all of those tortures. The tortures only increased his perseverance in the way of Allah. They increased his belief. He tried to support this luminous cause with boundless determination.
Those troubled and painful days started to end. The Prophet was ordered to migrate and he set off for Madinah. The Muslims started to follow him one by one. They regarded time spent without him as worthless. Suhayb bin Sinan decided to migrate too. If he did, he would be saved from the tortures and oppression of Makkans a bit. However, he could not find an opportunity to migrate. Finally, when he saw that Hz. Ali migrated, he got ready for migration and set off for Madinah.
When the polytheists heard that Hz. Suhayb was migrating, some of them followed him. They wanted to prevent him. They caught up with him. They said they would not allow him to leave Makkah. They said,
“You came to Makkah as a slave. You were poor. You became rich thanks to us. You want to take the wealth you obtained here with you. We cannot accept it. We will not let you go.”
Suhayb did not heed the threats of the polytheists and dismounted. He took his arrows out of his quiver. He challenged the Makkans confronting him by saying, “You know well that I am a very good archer. I will fire all of these arrows at you. If I run out of arrows, I shall defend myself with my sword. I will not allow any of you to approach me as long as I have my sword in my hand and my arrows in my quiver.”
His enemies could not do and say anything to Suhayb when he talked like that. They knew very well that this mujahid of Islam would not surrender easily. However, they did not want to let him go. Suhayb made them the following offer:
“You want my wealth in Makkah. I declare that I leave all of my wealth you. I do not want it. Let me go.”
This offer was something that the polytheists would love to hear. When Suhayb gave them his wealth, they became very happy. Suhayb gave up his wealth for the sake of his religion and belief. He preferred to rejoin the Prophet, who was sent as mercy for all realms, to anything else.
Suhayb bin Sinan rejoined the Prophet in Quba in the month of Rabiulawwal. He was very tired. The polytheists took all of his belongings before he left Makkah; so, he had a very tiring, unbearable journey; he was hungry and thirsty. He did not have the strength to stand. However, his tiredness was soothed when he rejoined the Prophet.
Hz. Abu Bakr and Hz. Umar were with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) there. They had bunches of dates with fresh leaves in front of them. Suhayb had a pain n his eye on the way; he was very hungry. He started to eat the dates presented to him quickly. When Hz. Umar saw this, he said to the Messenger of Allah “O Messenger of Allah! Look at Suhayb. He eats fresh dates though he has a pain in his eye.” The Prophet said, “O Suhayb! Why do you eat fresh dates though you have a pain in your eye?” Thereupon, Suhayb said, “O Messenger of Allah! I eat the dates with my part of the eye that has no pain.” The Prophet smiled due to this witty answer.
After this conversation, Suhayb bin Sinan told the Prophet what had happened while he was leaving Makkah: “O Messenger of Allah! When you left Makkah, the polytheists grabbed me and harassed me. I gave up my wealth and bought my freedom along with my family’s freedom.”
When the Prophet listened to Suhayb, he gave him the following glad tiding: “O Abu Yahya! Your transaction has been profitable; you are not at a loss.”
After this conversation, the following verse was sent down:
“And there is the type of man who gives his life to earn the pleasure of Allah; and Allah is full of kindness to (His) devotees.”
Hz. Suhayb became a guest of Sa’d bin Haythama after that. The single Companions lived there. After that, the Prophet established brotherhood between Suhayb bin Sinan and Harith bin Samma.
“The first Muslims are four people: I am the first Muslim among Arabs. Suhayb bin Sinan is the first Muslim among Byzantines. Salman al-Farisi is the first Muslim among Persians and Bilal is the first Muslim among Abyssinians.”
With that statement, the Prophet indicated that Suhayb bin Sinan had a different place among Muslims.
The place where Hz. Suhayb was born was a place near the Tigris around Mosul. His father and uncle were appointed as the judges of Ubulla by the Chosroes. They lived there. Afterwards, the Byzantines attacked this region and invaded Ubulla. They plundered everything there. Among the people they captivated was Suhayb bin Sinan, who was a young child then. Then, he was obtained by the tribe of Banu Kalb and he was sold to Abdullah bin Jud’an as a slave. Afterwards, he was freed by Abdullah.
Suhayb was the fourth person among the seven people who declared their belief in the first years of Islam. They were: the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Hz. Abu Bakr, Bilal al-Habashi, Suhayb bin Sinan, Habbab, Ammar bin Yasir and Sumayya (Ammar’s mother).
Hz. Umar loved Hz. Suhayb very much. He always gave and treated him something. When Hz. Umar was wounded by a fire-worshipper, he gathered an assembly of consultation and advised them to choose a caliph. He also called Suhayb and made him the imam until the new caliph was chosen. Hz. Suhayb undertook this important duty and led the prayers. When Hz. Umar passed away, he also led his janazah prayer. Suhayb bin Sinan’s leadership lasted only for three days. After that, Hz. Uthman was chosen as the caliph.
Suhayb bin Sinan, was distinguished among the Companions with his clean temperament, virtues, maturity, wittiness, clean jokes, and decent talk along with his mercy and hospitality shown to strangers.
Once, Hz. Umar asked Suhayb, “O Suhayb! You give people a lot of food. Does it not mean that you waste your property?”
Suhayb answered him as follows:
“I increased giving food to people after I heard the following hadith from the Messenger of Allah: ‘The best one among you is the one who gives food to others and who greets people.’ That is why, I give a lot of food to people.”
Hz. Suhayb, who died in the 38th year of the Migration at the age of 73, was buried in Jannatul-Baqi.