Hazrat Sohaib Rumi: The forerunner of Romans
THE message of Islam was so inviting and persuasive that it did not only appeal to the local Arabs but also to the people belonging to different races living far away from the Arabian Peninsula.
Among the most prominent non-Arab companions of Holy Prophet (SAW) was Hazrat Sohaib Rumi (RA).
The Messenger of Allah, the sublime entitled him as “Forerunners of Romans”.It is reported by Anas Bin Malik (RA) that Holy Prophet (SAWW) spoke about four forerunners.
He said: “I am the forerunner of Arabs; Sohaib is the forerunner of Romans; Bilal is the forerunner of Habsha and Salman is the forerunner of Persia.” Thus, he predicted the spread of Islam in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Arab world.
It was indubitably a great honour that Holy Prophet (SAW) bestowed upon these three foreigners who embraced Islam during its teething and turbulent period.
Sohaib (RA) was the son of a man who ruled an outlying province of the Persian Empire in the area now known as Iraq.
He was, by all accounts, well-educated and intelligent little boy. One day, when attending a picnic party with his mother and other women and children, some Byzantine raiders attacked them and took them as their slaves.
The blonde blue-eyed little boy Sohaib spent his boyhood and youth being traded as a slave. However, all of his owners recognized his intelligence and wisdom.
He soon became fluent in Greek, the dominant language of the Eastern Roman Empire and acquired excellent trading skills. He heard the clergies saying that the time had come for a new prophet to appear in Arabia. This persuaded him to move back to his homeland.
In the beginning of Islam, the fledgling Muslims could not worship openly. Arqam’s house was selected as a place where they could meet, pray and learn about Islam.
It is narrated that Ammar said, “I met Sohaib ibn Sinan at the doorstep of Arqam’s house when the Messenger of Allah was there.
I said, ‘What do you want?’ He asked me in turn, ‘and what do you want?’ I said I would like to speak with Holy Prophet (SAWW) and listen to his message. He said that he would like to do the same.
Then we entered together the house and he (the Prophet) introduced us to Islam and we both accepted it. We remained in the house for the rest of the day and left secretly in the darkness of the night.”
The news about the new religion spread like a wildfire subsequently, new Muslims including Bilal, Yasir, Khabbab, Ammar and Suhaib were incarcerated and subjected to inhuman torture. Summaya, the mother of Ammar was tortured to death.
She is regarded as the first martyr of Islam. Hazrat Sohaib (RA) spent over ten years in Makkah enduring torture and hardship.
When the prophet (SAW) decided to migrate to Madinah with Abu Bakr, Suhaib aspired to accompany them but the pagans on learning his intention, put him under house arrest.
After the departure of Holy Prophet (SAWW), Sohaib (RA) managed to escape at night leaving all his wealth buried in the house.
He rushed toward Madinah on his mount with a sword and bow in hand. The guards later realized and rushed behind him.
They got him on the way. Sohaib (RA) climbed a hillock and addressed the guards, “you know I am one of the best archers. If you come near me, By God, I shall kill one of you.
Then I Shall fight with my sword.” The guards’ leader said, “By God, we shall not let you escape with your life and wealth.
Sohaib (RA) listening this, got a clue. He wanted to join the Holy Prophet (SAWW) at every cost. He said “would you get out of my way if I give you my wealth? “Yes”, they replied.
Sohaib (RA) told them the place in his house where he had hidden his wealth and they allowed him to leave.
When Sohaib (RA) reached Quba, just outside Medina, Prophet Muhammad saw him approaching and said, “Your transaction has been fruitful, O Abu Yahya. Your transaction has been fruitful.”
He repeated it three times. Sohaib was overjoyed and said, “By God, no one has come before me to you, Messenger of God, only the angel Gabriel could have informed you about this.
A verse in the Holy Qur’an indicated toward this incident. “And of mankind, is he who would sell himself, seeking the pleasure of Allah.
And Allah is full of kindness to (His) slaves.” (Qur’an, 2:207)Sohaib (RA) was also known for his generosity. He used to give his entire stipend from the public treasury fi sabilillah, to help the poor and those in distress.
He was so generous that Umar (RA) once remarked:”I have seen you giving out so much food that you appear to be too extravagant.”
Sohaib replied: “I have heard the Messenger of God say: ‘The best of you is the one who gives out food.’
”Moreover, when Caliph Umar (RA) was stabbed during Fajr prayer by a slave called Abu Lolo, he nominated six holy companions to decide who would lead the caliphate.
He, further, declared that Sohaib (RA) will lead prayers until a new Caliph was selected within three days.
Hazrat Sohaib(R.A) departed for his eternal abode at the age of 70 in 685 A.D and was buried in Jannat-ul Baqi.
— The writer is contributing columnist, based in Quetta Balochistan.