Translated by: Ghalib Saeed Farooqui
Maaba was an obedient son of his parents. When kids tend to play, he at that age would keep himself busy in the temple. His father, Buzkhashan, was a farmer in Persia and by religion was a Zoroastrian – a fire worshipper. He was also the incharge of the temple of fire. Maaba’s hobby was to keep the fire going. He wanted the fire to give light forever!
One day Buzkhashan told his son that he would not be able to go to the farm as he had to do something more important. He asked Maaba to go. As Maaba went close to the farm, he saw a church there. People were praying and chanting their rituals. Maaba went inside the church. He was very impressed with the way they were worshipping. When they finished their prayers, Maaba came to the priest and said, “I like the way you people worship. I thus give up my religion Zoroastrianism and embrace your religion.” Christians were very happy to know that. The priest baptized him and Maaba became a Christian.
Maaba was keen to know the truth so he asked the priest if he could tell him where Christianity’s headquarters were. The priest told him they were in Syria. Maaba stayed there until sunset. When he returned home his father asked him if he had looked after the farm. Maaba said, “No father, I actually saw a church where people were worshipping their God. I liked that so I stayed with them.”
Buzkhashan got mad and said to Maaba that their religion (Christianity) was not a good religion. They were not even close to their pure religion. Maaba’s father locked him in a room alone as a punishment. One day, Maaba managed to send a message through the window to the church telling them that he would like to go to Syria. He asked them to let him know if any caravan was going there. A few days later some tradesmen came from Syria. When they were about to leave, the Christians sent a message to Maaba. Maaba somehow managed to escape from his house and joined the Syrian tradesmen.
When Maaba arrived in Syria he asked the people if they knew anything about the high priest. They directed him to a church. Maaba went there and told the priest that he had come all the way from Persia to learn Christianity. The priest was very happy to know that and allowed Maaba to live in the church with him. Although he was a priest, he was not a good man by nature. He would pose as a devotee before the people but in fact he was a very greedy man. He loved women and wealth. He had seven containers full of silver and gold! Maaba knew all that but he could do nothing against him as the people liked him very much. When the priest died, Maaba told people the truth about him. He showed them all the riches the priest had collected. The people were so mad at the priest that they threw stones at his dead body.
A new priest was appointed in the church. He was really a good man; a good-natured person who did not like worldly affairs. Maaba liked him too and served him as much as he could. Unfortunately, the priest did not live long. On his deathbed he told Maaba that he should go to Mosel, and find a person who was a good servant of Christianity. “I don’t think you will find anyone on the righteous path except this man!” said the dying priest.
Maaba continued his search for the truth. After the death of the priest, he went to Mosel and found that pious man. Maaba served him and learnt a lot from him. The pious man, like the others, had to leave this world. On his deathbed he advised Maaba to go to Nasibain where he should stay with a pious man. He said that he was the only man who could guide him to the righteous path.
Still not tired with the circumstances, Maaba continued his quest and somehow arrived in Nasibain. He met the priest there, told his story and stayed with him. Poor Maaba! This devout man also left him. However, not before he advised Maaba to go to Umooria. “You will find the light you are looking for from a person there,” he said.
Maaba then went to Umooria and found the pious person, a priest there. This priest, like the previous three, was very devout. He had good knowledge too. Maaba spent some time with him. He served the priest and the church. Maaba, like his priest, spent his time, day and night, in prayers. He bought goats and cows. He would drink their milk to be healthy. Maaba was very happy here and thought that he had found what he was looking for. No. At least not then as the final moment had arrived for this priest too. Maaba told him that he had travelled miles and miles to find the priest. “I have had hardships and now when I am learning a lot here, you too are leaving me. Where will I go now?” Maaba asked.
“Ah…” The priest took a deep sigh and then said: “O seeker of the truth, what should I advise you? Now-a-days everyone is in darkness. I do not see anybody who I can refer you to. However, very soon a prophet will emerge. He will revive Abraham’s religion. He will migrate to the city where there are many palm trees. On his back, between his shoulders, there is a seal of prophet hood. He will accept gifts but will not take charity. If you find this prophet, serve him.”
A true lover of God, Maaba was now looking for someone who could take him to the land of Arabia. Fortunately, one day, a caravan of Banu Kalb was passing through Umooria. When Maaba came to know that this caravan was going to Arabia, he visited their leader and begged him to take all of his animals but take him with him. The leader took the cows and goats from Maaba and let him join his caravan.
When the caravan arrived in Al-Qura valley, the traders mischievously sold Maaba to a Jew. Maaba who wanted to become the servant of God became a salve of a Jew! One day, a relative of the Jew came to see him from Yathrib. He needed a servant for his chores. He saw Maaba there so he requested the Jew to sell Maaba to him. Poor Maaba was sold to this new master!
His master brought him to Yathrib. Upon entering the city, Maaba saw palm trees there. Palm trees, wow! It reminded him what the late priest had mentioned. He believed this was the place where the prophet would come! Maaba was patiently waiting for the prophet there. He knew that one day the prophet would be there for sure.
Finally, the moment arrived for which he had been waiting for all his life. One day, he was picking dates from his master’s tree when he saw a man run towards his master from somewhere. “May God destroy Banu Qaila. Every single person is running to welcome the man who has come from Makkah and calls himself a Prophet. People are becoming very excited and crazy about him,” he said as fast as he could.
Maaba could not believe what he heard. He jumped from the tree and asked the person what he had just said. His master got mad and slapped Maaba’s face. “What’s your problem? Go and do your job,” he yelled. Maaba went back.
Nevertheless, Maaba could not wait any longer after he knew that the Prophet was there. One day he took some food and went to the Prophet. “O pious man, you and your friends are poor emigrants. I have some tasty food for you as a charity. I do not think there is anyone needier than you are. Please accept it,” Maaba said while offering food.
The Prophet took the food and distributed it to his friends. He did not take it for himself. Maaba said to himself. “He has fulfilled one condition. He in fact did not take the food for himself.” Next day, Maaba took some food with him for the Prophet. “Please accept this, O pious man, as a gift.” The Prophet accepted it. He ate a little bit and gave the rest to his friends. Maaba believed that he was the Prophet but there was still one more sign left. The seal of prophet hood! He wanted to observe it too. A few days later, when someone passed away, the Prophet went to attend the funeral. Maaba also went there. He was walking behind the Prophet and waiting for the moment when he would be able to witness the seal.
When the Prophet noticed that Maaba was following him he knew why he was there. He lifted his shirt from his back. The third sign of the prophet hood was before Maaba! He could not control himself and put his lips on the seal and started crying bitterly. The Prophet, Muhammad (SAW) asked Maaba to come in front of him and tell him his story. Maaba told whatever had happened to him in his search of truth. Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW), companions also heard the story - one of a kind in history! Maaba embraced Islam - the true religion - at the hands of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).
Who was Maaba?
Maaba was the famous sahabi – Hazrat Salman Farsi (RA)
Salman was the name that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) gave Maaba after he embraced Islam. Islamic history knows Salman Farsi as one of the greatest Muslim scholars.
Hazrat Salman Farsi (RA) had now found what he was looking for. Had he reached his destination after a long journey? It actually was just the beginning of his new life. He was still a slave when he became a Muslim. He could not participate in the battles of Badr and Uhud. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) knew his agony. He asked Hazrat Salman Farsi (RA) to ask his master to release him. His Jew master asked for some gold and 300 plants for his farm. When Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) heard this, he asked his companions to help Hazrat Salman Farsi (RA) get free from his master.
All of his companions were happy to know this. They started collecting plants and soon they were able to collect the required 300 plants. They sowed them in the Jew’s farm. But Hazrat Salman Farsi (RA) still needed gold to get freedom from the Jew. Fortunately, sooner than later, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) received gold after a battle. He gave some gold to Hazrat Salman Farsi (RA) and told him to give it to his master so that he could be free. Hazrat Salman Farsi (RA) wasted no time in giving the gold to his master who then set him free.
Hazrat Salman Farsi (RA), the slave of a Jew now became a true slave of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). He had missed the battles of Badr and Uhud but was lucky to take part in the battle of Ehzaab, and all the other battles after that. Hazrat Salman Farsi (RA) loved to take part in the battles - Jihad! He was a true Mujahid. Because of his love for Jihad, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) once said that 'Heaven would like to see three people – Hazrat Ali (RA), Hazrat Ammaar (RA) and Hazrat Salman (RA).'
Hazrat Salman Farsi (RA) was a great Islamic scholar. His knowledge of religion and his piety made him distinct from the other Sahaba-i-keram