Habib An-Najjar

Updated: Jan 9

Who was this man? “Then from the farthest end of the city a man came, rushing. He advised, “O my people! Follow the messengers.” (Surah Yasin, 20) Why did he come running from the farthest part of town? The verses 13-30 give more context.

The story of the Dwellers of the town and their Messengers, a lesson that those who rejected their Messengers were destroyed: “Give them an example ˹O Prophet˺ of the residents of a town, when the messengers came to them.” “We sent them two messengers, but they rejected both. So We reinforced ˹the two˺ with a third, and they declared, “We have indeed been sent to you ˹as messengers˺.” (38:13-14)

The famous Seerah author Ibn Ishaq reports that it was the city of Antioch, in which there was a King, Antiochus, who used to worship idols. Allah sent him three Messengers, whose names were Sadiq, Saduq and Shalum and he disbelieved in all of them. “They said ‘You are only humans like us, and Ar-Rahman has not revealed anything. You are simply lying!’ (38:15). He argued how mere humans can receive and convey a Divine revelation.

“The messengers said, “Your bad omen lies within yourselves. Are you saying this because you are reminded ˹of the truth˺? In fact, you are a transgressing people.” (38:19) Qadah said this meant ‘because we reminded you about Allah, you saw an evil omen in us. Nay but you are a mischievous people’.”

“Then from the farthest end of the city a man came, rushing. He advised, “O my people! Follow the messengers. Follow those who ask no reward of you, and are ˹rightly˺ guided. And why should I not worship the One Who has originated me, and to Whom you will be returned. How could I take besides Him other gods whose intercession would not be of any benefit to me, nor could they save me if Ar-Rahman intended to harm me? Indeed, I would then be clearly astray. I do believe in your Lord, so listen to me.” (38:20-25)

Ibn Ishaq reports of what reached him through Abbas (RA) “The people of the city resolved to kill their Messengers, then a man came running to them from the farthest part of the town i.e to help them against his people. They said his name was Habib, and he used to work with ropes. He was a sickly man who suffered from leprosy and he was very charitable, giving half his earnings in charity and his Fitrah (innate disposition) was sound.

˹But they killed him, then˺ he was told ˹by the angels˺, “Enter Paradise!” He said, “If only my people knew of how my Lord has forgiven me, and made me one of the honourable.” “We did not send any soldiers from the heavens against his people after his death, nor did We need to. All it took was one ˹mighty˺ blast, and they were extinguished at once.” (38:26-29).

In this story we learn how soft hearted Habib was. Even after being granted Paradise, he was still thinking of his people, he wanted them to be guided and enjoy the luxuries he was blessed with. The same people who brutally murdered him for inviting them to the truth, he felt pity for them. What gracious and exemplary virtues that Habib embodies of a true Believer.

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