Muhiyuddin Ghazi relates how a person who reviled the Prophet ﷺ for twenty years, was declared after reverting to Islam as the Lion of Allah, the Lion of the Messenger ﷺ, and the Leader of Young Men in the Paradise.
Abdul Mutallib had many sons. One of them was named Haris. Haris had a son named Mughairah. Another son of Abdul Mutallib was named Abdullah. Muhammad ﷺ, the Messenger of Allah, was the son of Abdullah. Mughairah and Muhammad ﷺ were of the same age. Both of them were milk brothers too. Wet nurse Halima had breastfed both of them. Both the paternal cousins were friends. Interestingly, each resembled the other in facial features.
Later on, Mughairah was nicknamed Abu Sufiyan and became famously known by it. This Abu Sufiyan isn’t Abu Sufiyan bin Harb, who at the time of the Battle of Uhud, was the commander of the army of the polytheists and had reverted to Islam on the Day of the Victory of Makkah. Rather, he was the Prophet’s paternal cousin – Abu Sufiyan bin Haris. When Muhammad ﷺ was conferred the office of Prophethood, he (Mughairah) became the Prophet’s sworn enemy. He used to insult the Prophet ﷺ and make fun of him through poetry.
He persecuted his companions and recited slanderous poems against them. He left no stone unturned in being hostile to the Prophet ﷺ. Every time the army of Makkan Quraish would attack Madinah, Abu Sufiyan would accompany it. He recited insulting poems against the Prophet ﷺ and disseminated it to the tribes of Arabia. Hassan bin Thabit would respond to the mockery of such reviling poets. Thus passed twenty years of Abu Sufiyan bin Haris burning in the fire of enmity and weltering in the damnation of insulting the Prophet ﷺ till the news came that the Prophet ﷺ along with a large army is marching from Madinah towards Makkah.
This news gave way to chaos in Makkah. There were many dangerous criminals and revilers of the Prophet ﷺ who were convinced that they would be handed over not less than capital punishment. Every one of those devils was planning to run away to some safe haven. Abu Sufiyan bin Haris hurried to his home, took his wife and children with him and took the very route through which the army of Muslims was marching towards Makkah. When he reached the place called Abwaa, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ with the vanguard of the army had already reached Abwaa.
Abu Sufiyan disguised himself, took his son Jafar with him and reached the place where the Prophet ﷺ was camping. He asked for permission to enter. The Prophet’s wife, Umm-e-Salama, said to the Prophet ﷺ: “O Messenger of Allah! Your paternal cousin has come! He wants to meet you.” The Prophet ﷺ replied: “This is my cousin who assaulted my dignity! I do not want to talk to him!” When Abu Sufiyan came to know it, he said: “I swear by Allah, if he doesn’t allow me to meet him, I will wander off with my son into the desert and the two of us will die writhing with thirst and hunger. When what Abu Sufiyan had said reached the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, he felt heavy-hearted and let him in.
He (Abu Sufiyan) entered, and thereafter, pronounced Shahadah. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to Ali: “Teach your cousin the method of wuzoo and namaaz, then bring him to me.” He performed wuzoo and prayed with the Messenger of Allah. Thereafter, the Prophet ﷺ instructed Ali, and Ali (as per the instruction), announced it publicly: “Listen! Allah and his Messenger have accepted Abu Sufiyan! Listen! You all should too accept him!”
Abu Sufiyan was granted safety of life as well as the wealth of Iman. But, he wanted something else too for which he was very eager. Then that time too came. After the victory of Makkah, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ marched towards Taif. In the valley of Hunain the enemy ambushed the Muslim army. Muslims were taken off their feet. Chaos spread through the army.
At that moment, Abu Sufiyan jumped off his horse and stood before the Prophet ﷺ, (daringly) brandishing his sword. It was his earnest wish to die while defending the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. The Prophet ﷺ was surprised to see the utter act of bravery by Abu Sufiyan but couldn’t figure out who that person was. When the dust settled, the Prophet ﷺ enquired: “Who that person is who was battling so fiercely without any care whatsoever for his life?” Hazrat Abbas said: “O Messenger of Allah! He is your brother, Abu Sufiyan bin Haris! Accept him!” The Prophet ﷺ said: “I have already accepted him and Allah has pardoned all his acts of enmity that he had committed against me!” Then he turned towards Abu Sufiyan and said very warmly: “My brother!” Abu Sufiyan’s desire was fulfilled – and he kissed the foot of the Prophet ﷺ in the stirrup.
Endorsing the sense of sacrifice of Abu Sufiyan, the Prophet ﷺ said: “O Abu Sufiyan is my brother and the best person of my family! After the martyrdom of uncle Hamza, Allah has bestowed in the form of Abu Sufiyan bin Haris, a replacement for him (my uncle).”
Thereafter, Abu Sufiyan was referred to as the Lion of Allah and the Lion of the Messenger ﷺ. Yes, the same Abu Sufiyan who had been the biggest reviler of the Prophet (saw) for twenty years.
When Abu Sufiyan was an unbeliever, he was an inveterate enemy of Islam, but once he accepted Islam, he constantly scaled up higher in the service of Islam so much so that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Abu Sufiyan is the leader of young men in the Paradise!”
When the time of death of Abu Sufiyan bin Haris came nigh, he said to the members of his family: “Do not cry for me. I haven’t committed any sin after I reverted to Islam.” He was so fond of prayers that even in the scorching summer he used to offer prayers from (early) in the morning till noon. And then from Zuhr till Asr.
This is the remarkable attribute of Dawat-e-Deen, that a person who reviled the Prophet ﷺ for twenty years, was declared after reverting to Islam as the Lion of Allah, the Lion of the Messenger ﷺ, and the Leader of Young Men in the Paradise. It was the utter grandness of compassion of the Prophet ﷺ that he attracted the one who had insulted him towards himself and gave him a chance for repentance.
To those who hold the banner of Islam and who are lovers of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, there’s a very big lesson in this story.
[Ref.: Seerat ibn Hisham, Tabqat ibn Saad and Siyar A’lam Al-Nubala’i Imam Dhahabi]
(Translated from Urdu by Dr Ahrar Mohammad Khan)