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City of Banjul
Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari (RA) and the boy

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A story is told of two brothers who went to seek justice at the court of Umar (RA) for their father who was killed by a boy, a shepherd. The boy explained the circumstances surrounding the death of the boys’ father but said it was by accident. The two brothers wanted nothing but retribution, the death of the boy for his offense.

Umar (RA) asked the boy if he had a last request before judgement was passed on him. He replied that his late father left some money for him and a younger brother and needed three days to return home, retrieve the money from its hidden place and give it to his brother.

Umar (RA) granted the request but on the condition that the boy had a guarantor, to guarantee that he will return for the judgment and who would face the penalty, of death, if he decided not to return.

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The boy shouted out in the court… “Will someone not help me today?” Dead silence enveloped the courtroom. No one was ready to stand guarantor for the boy, to pay the ultimate price for a stranger. Then a hand raised out of the crowd. It was that of Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari (RA), a very noble, righteous companion, a “Da’i/Daee” too. He stood as guarantor despite the full understanding of its implication or consequences if the boy didn’t return. The issue of surety now fulfilled; Umar (RA) allowed the boy to travel to his home for three days.

The boy didn’t return on the first day. He also didn’t return on the second day either. As the noon of the third day passed, the two brothers came for Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari (RA) and took him to the courtroom, and pressed for fulfilment of the judgement against him. They were, however, reminded that the day does not end till maghrib (sunset). The courtroom was full, and people genuinely worried that this famous Sahabi would be killed for the betrayal of a boy he stood surety. Even by late afternoon there was no sign of the boy. It was said that just before the Adhan of Maghrib was called, the boy opened the door of the courtroom and there he was with bated breath.

It was narrated that Umar (RA) was astonished to see the boy and asked him “Oh boy why did you come back? I did not send anyone after you to call you and you could have gone renegade to save your own life and look after your orphan brother. What made you come back?”

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The boy replied “I did not want anyone to say that when a Muslim gave his word he did not fulfil. So I came back..”

Umar (RA) then turned to Abu Dharr (RA) and said “Oh Abu Dharr, what made you act as the guarantor of this boy, despite not knowing him or whether he would return?”

Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari (RA) replied: “I saw a Muslim in need and I did not ever want anyone to say that a Muslim was in need and no one was there to help him, so I raised my hand to be the guarantor of this boy”

On hearing this, the brothers shouted out “and we forgive the boy. When we have people like this, how can a Muslim ask for forgiveness and no one be there to forgive him?”

I know we have many Muslims who epitomised the characters in the story. The Abu Dharr Al-Ghifaris of our communities who are unquestionably selfless and won’t hesitate to take the bullet for another Muslim. The “boys” of our generation who would always fulfil their promises even if they can renege on them without consequences. The “brothers” who have it in their hearts to forgive even when they can seek justice and are sure to receive it.

But guess if the earlier Muslims, those who really toiled, sweated and paid the ultimate price to build the foundation and pillars of Islam, are to return they definitely would be very disappointed with some of us, and most Muslim countries. The existence of extreme poverty in the midst of extreme abundance the injustice, wanton corruption, discrimination, exclusion, and all that go against the teachings of Islam and that of the Holy Prophet (SAW). One wonders, why we are Muslims but not Islamic, why we believe in Allah but don’t trust Him, why we are not lengthened shadows of our religion? We have to fix this credibility gap. Muslim countries and communities should be the examples, lodestars that show the way. But alas…

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