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The Story of Prophet Muhammad and the Jewish Scholar of Madinah

Zaid ibn Su`nah was one of the very notable Jewish scholars of Madinah and lived at the time of the prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam – May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) in Madinah. The following story about him is narrated by Abdullah ibn Salaam (may Allah be pleased with him) who was a blessed Companion of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S.).

According to Abdullah ibn Salaam, Zaid ibn Su`nah reports that once the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.S.) took a loan from Zaid to help other people in the city and promised to pay it on a certain date. Two or three days before the due date, Zaid ibn Su’nah approached the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.S.) who was accompanying Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman (may Allah be pleased with them), and a number of other companions to offer a funeral prayer. After the prayers, Zaid ibn Sunah came to the prophet (S.A.W.S.), grabbed him by his shirt and cloak, and looked at him angrily and said:

“O Muhammad! Why don’t you pay off my due?! By Allah, I know nothing of your family except deferment [on debts]. I know well of your people.”

At this Umar got extremely angry and said: “O enemy of Allah! Did you actually just say what I heard you say to the Messenger of Allah? Did you really just do to him what I saw? By the One Who holds my life in His hand, if I were not concerned with [the Prophet’s] leaving us, I would have struck your head with my sword.”

The Prophet and Messenger of Allah, who was looking at Zaid ibn Su’nah quietly and patiently, said (even though the due date hadn’t arrived yet): “O Umar! We don’t need this. I was more in need of your advice to pay off his loan well, and your advice to deal with him courteously. Go with him O Umar, pay off his loan, and give him twenty extra saa` (~44 kilograms) of dates because you frightened him.”

Thus, Umar took Zaid ibn Su’nah, paid off his debt, and gave him an extra twenty saa` of dates. Zaid then asked him for the reason of the increase and Umar replied that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) had ordered to give it because Umar had scared Zaid.

According to Zaid, he then asked: “Do you recognize me, Umar?”

“No”, he said.

“I am Zaid ibn Su`nah”

“The scholar of the Jews?”, Umar asked.

“Yes, the same one.”

“Then what made you behave and speak with the Messenger of Allah as you did?” Umar asked.

“O Umar!” I replied.

“I recognized all of the signs of prophethood upon seeing the face of Muhammad except two signs that were not immediately evident: One, that his forbearance would precede his rashness, and that his forbearance would increase upon encountering excessive rashness. Now I have recognized these two signs as well. Bear witness, O Umar! I am pleased with Allah as my Lord, with Islam as my religion, and with Muhammad as my Prophet. Also bear witness that I give half of my wealth – and I have plenty of wealth – in charity to the nation of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).”

Umar and Zaid then returned to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and Zaid publicly announced: “I bear witness that none is worthy of worship besides Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger and I believe in him.”

Thus, Zaid testified to the Prophet Muhammad’s message and took the pledge of allegiance on his hand. Later, Zaid participated in a number of expeditions along with the Prophet and was martyred in the expedition of Tabuk.

About Prophet Muhammad’s (S.A.W.S.) Character

The above story shows a glimpse of the prophet’s (SAWS) character, In his book Ihya’ ‘Uloom al-Deen, Abu Haamid al-Ghazaali highlighted the prophet’s qualities, some of which are stated as follows –

  • He was the most forbearing of people, the most courageous of people, the most just of people, the most chaste of people.
  • He was the most modest of people and would not look anyone straight in the eye.
  • He would respond to the invitations of slave and free alike, and accept a gift even if it was a cup of milk, and he would reward a person for it.
  • He got angry for the sake of his Lord but he did not get angry for his own sake.
  • He would adhere to the truth even if that resulted in harm for himself or his companions. He found one of the best of his companions slain in an area where Jews lived, but he did not treat them harshly or do more than that which is prescribed by sharee’ah.
  • He would accept invitations to meals, visit the sick, and attend funerals.
  • He was the most humble and quiet of people without being arrogant, the most eloquent without being long-winded, the most cheerful of countenance.
  • He would sit with the poor and offer food to and eat with the needy, honoring the virtuous and softening the hearts of people of status by treating them kindly.
  • He upheld ties of kinship without favoring his relatives over those who were better than them, and he did not treat anyone harshly.
  • He accepted the excuses of those who apologized to him; he would joke but he only spoke the truth, and he would smile without laughing out loud.
  • He did not waste time without striving for the sake of Allah or doing that which was essential to better himself. He did not look down on any poor person because of his poverty or chronic sickness, and he did not fear any king because of his power.

Click here to download the book: Muhammad’s Prophet hood, reality or myth

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The above mentioned story is a summary of the story that has been transmitted by Tabarani (al-Mu`jam al-Kabeer), to which al-Haithami says that all of the narrators of the Tradition are sound. Also transmitted by Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban, and Hakim, among others. The Arabic version of this story has been taken from Muhammad Yusuf Kandhlawi’s Hayaat al-Sahaaba (The Lives of the Companions).

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Note: Click here to read more Islamic stories from the Quran and get access to best Dua books in these publications.


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17 comments… add one
  • Alhassan

    May your efforts bear fruits for all the Ummah to benefit and understand Islam

  • Mohammad Arif Siddiqi

    Thanks for the information these stories which belongs to our prophet
    (SAWS) remind us the dignity of our religion ( Islam)
    Jazakallah

  • Samiuddin Sheikh

    Very true and nice story. It will be stupid to comment on such stories. These stories reflect the action of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) must not have any comments but acceptance.

  • Alhamdulillah. This story has tought us lessons,for example,how to ba patient and accept everyone in respective of who he is . Jazakumullahu khair.

  • Abdulla

    Ja zaka allahumma khayru.

    A timely story and reminder for the muslim umma; the love to our beloved prophet Muhammeed(PBUH) should be shown by following his tradition and not by killing those who mock our Prophet.

    May Allah guide us to be in the straight path – Aammeen

  • Abdulkadir Adamu-muri

    Alhamdulillah I thank ALLAH for being a Muslim and giving our ummah prophet Muhammad rasoollulah(saw) most pious and humble of all His servants.Imamul mursalin,khatumul anbiya. May ALLAH bless us with increasing love and respect for this noble servant of His. Ameen

  • Ayesha Majid Molla

    Thank you so much for presenting such a beautiful story of our beloved Prophet’s(PBUH) life.There is no better time than this when all of the muslim umma need to have lesson from this story.

  • A Shabbir Ahmed

    Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,
    Assalaamu Alaikkum Wa Rahmathullaahi Wa Barakaathahu !

    Jazak Allah for the highly educational mails you send to me. These mails have increased my Knowledge of the Deen and I share the same with my brothers and sisters in India.

    May Allah Subhaanuwa Tha’aala Help you in all your efforts to educate our Ummah !

    Fee Aamaan Illah !
    Your brother in Islam,
    A Shabbir Ahmed

  • Usttaz nurudeen ibraheem

    Fantastic story of prophet muhammad .s.aw.s. Jazakumu llahu khairan

  • MUSTAFA S.A

    An authoritative & emphatic reference to the forbearance of our Holy Prophet, particularly in an era of anti-Islamic false depiction by the biased media..! Pls bring out many such noble incidents of harmony in the lives of Prophet Muhammad as well as other Prophets like Moses, Jesus, Noah, and so on…

  • Musah Abdulai

    Alhamdulillah – this is a remarkable story. It tells the kind of life we Muslims should live in the era of damaging views on Islam. Insha-Allah those doing the damages will turn to perform sujud.
    More of such story…

  • Haider

    No amount of cartoons and caricature can tarnish the fair and noble name of our Prophet Mohammad (SAW)….. the enemies have been doing this since centuries, but they will NOT succeed.

    Don’t they know that there are more people on this planet called ‘Mohammad’ than the nearest 3 common names put together.
    But we all need to follow in his footsteps, his Sunnah and the basic tenets of Islaam to give the ill-informed a fitting response.
    He was a mercy unto ALL creation sent by Allah (SWT) and his deen is only PEACE and PEACE alone…. terrorism is an alien concept ….. light years away from the ambit of Islaam !!

  • Mohammad Irfan Ullah

    Jazzak Allah, we the umma desperately need such reminders. May Allah be pleased with all who put their efforts to awake us.

  • sis aishia

    Salaam alaikum may Allah give us guidance and protect us from all falsehood that rising up against our beloved prophet and our peaceful religion thank you for all the information inshallah.

  • Ishaq Muhammed

    What an inspirational story,this is indeed the true testimony of humbleness & patience,for 2 wrongs can never make a right!may Allah grant us the strenght & ability to emulate the examplary life of our dear prophet Muhammad SAW.Jazakhallah khair

  • Ghazi Ahmed

    Assalamualaikum,

    JazakAllah Khayran for such an inspiring story. It was most definitely needed.

    Sincerely,
    Ghazi Ahmed

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