Anṣār [al-]

Muzaffar Iqbal

Al-Anṣār is the abbreviated form of Anṣār al-Nabī,  a plural noun denoting “those of the Madinans who helped and supported the Prophet against his enemies and gave shelter to his Companions” (Baghawī, Tafsīr, sub Q 9:100), more specifically it is used for the believers from amongst the Banū Aws and Banū Khazraj tribes (Fayrūzābādī, Qāmūs; Ibn Sīda, Muḥkam; Zabīdī, Tāj, sub n-ṣ-r). The term was later applied to their progeny, their allies, and those who were under their protection (al-ʿAynī, ʿUmdat al-Qārīʾ on Bukhārī, Īmān, ʿalāmat al-īmān ḥubb al-Anṣār). The term is often inadequately translated as "Helpers", but it is retained in this work as a proper noun referring to a specific group of Companions of the Prophet, upon him blessing and peace.

Etymology, Usage and Identification

The plural noun anṣār (sing. naṣīr, pl. of pl. anāṣīr) is derived from the root n-ṣ-r, which yields the transitive verb naṣara, meaning “he aided or helped,” that is, “he aided a person wronged or treated unjustly” (Rāghib, Mufradāt; Fayrūzābādī, Qāmūs). Of this root 16 forms occur 158 times in the Qurʾān. The noun anṣār appears 11 times, twice referring to the Anṣār of Madina (Q 9:100, 117), for whom the term acts like the name of a tribe (Ibn Sīda, Muḥkam). Ghaylān b. Jarīr (d. 129/746), a Successor (tābiʿī), once asked the Anṣārī Companion Anas b. Mālik (d. 91/709), “See, this name ‘al-Anṣār’: did you give it to yourselves or did Allah give it to you?” He replied: “Indeed, Allah has given us this name” (Bukhārī, Manāqib al-Anṣār, manāqib al-Anṣār).

In addition to Q 9:100 and 117, where the name Anṣār appears, the Qurʾān directly refers to them without using the noun Anṣār in five other verses as those who sheltered and helped the Muhājirūn (Q 8:72, 74), whom they love and for whom they have a self-sacrificing disposition (Q 59:9); and those in whose hearts Allah has instilled love for each other (Q 8:63) (see “Genealogy and Pre-Islamic History of the Anṣār” below). The Anṣār are also the primary referent of the legal ruling in Q 33:6, which abrogated the mutual right of Anṣār and Muhājirūn to inherit from one another because of the fraternal bond (muʾākhāt) formally established between them shortly after the Hijra (see “The Anṣār after the Hijra” below).

The Anṣār and Muhājirūn were two distinct groups of the first Islamic polity in Madina which came into existence through the fusion of these two communities, establishing spiritual kinship, mutual support, and friendship. The distinctive features of this bond between the two communities are reflected in the Qurʾānic description of the two groups as protectors and allies (awliyāʾ, sing. walī) of one another—in contradistinction to those who believed but did not emigrate: Surely those who believed and migrated and strove hard in the way of Allah with their possessions and their lives, and those who sheltered and aided them—they alone are true friends and protectors (awliyāʾ) of each other, whereas to those who believed but did not migrate you are under no obligation of walāya until they migrate; but should they seek help from you in the matter of religion, it is incumbent upon you to provide help, unless it be against a people with whom you have a pact (Q 8:72). The right of fraternal inheritance (walāya fī-l-dīn) (see Inheritance and Patrimony) was thus limited to those Muslims who had emigrated, whereas those who believed but did not migrate to Madina did not inherit from each other although they were nonetheless considered brethren in faith.

Derived from the root w-l-y, walī is a polysemous Qurʾānic term denoting, among other meanings, protector, patron, ally, friend, ward, legal guardian, descendant, and heir (Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān; Zabīdī, Tāj; Rāghib, Mufradāt; Fayrūzābādī, Qāmūs, sub w-l-y; see Friends and Friendship. Classical exegetes invariably refer to the context of the verse’s revelation (the Hijra) and note the strength and intensity of the fraternal bonds established between the Anṣār and the Muhājirūn, particularly the altruism of the Anṣār toward their brethren in faith who had immigrated to their city, abandoning their own homes and properties, following Allah’s command. This brotherhood “was stronger than blood relations,” notes al-Ṭabarī (d. 310/923) as he comments on this verse; “they even inherited from each other until such inheritance was abrogated by Allah Most High.” Similar explanations are given by Qatāda (d. 117/735) and Mujāhid (d. ca.104/722) and draw on a hadith of Ibn ʿAbbās in Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī (Ṭabarī, Qurṭūbī, Bayḍāwī, Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīrs, sub Q 8:72).

Zubayr b. al-Awwām (d. 36/656), may Allah be pleased with him, said about the abrogating verse (Q 33:6):

Allah, the Mighty and the Majestic, revealed this [verse] especially about us, the Quraysh, and the Anṣār. When we, of Quraysh, came to Madina, we had no possessions; we established brotherhood with the Anṣār—and what a blessed brotherhood it proved to be—and we inherited from them… My brotherhood was with Kaʿb b. Mālik who was wounded [in the Battle of Uḥud (3/625) ]; had he died on that day, I would have been his inheritor, but then this verse was revealed concerning us, the Quraysh and the Anṣār, and the [general] law of inheritance was made applicable to us as well. (Tafsīrs of Ibn Abī Ḥātim, Ibn Kathīr)

Some twentieth-century exegetes highlight Q 8:72 as laying down “universal constitutional principles of mutual support, and protection between the Islamic state and its citizens and among citizens themselves” (Mawdūdī, Tafhīm, sub Q 8:72), “a foundational spiritual principle of Islamic society” (Quṭb, Fī ẓilāl al-Qurʾān), and “a general law, valid for all times” (Asad, Messagesub Q 8:72).

The bonds of brotherhood established by the Prophet were, however, maintained throughout the Companions’ lives and remained strong in their public and private affairs. When a system of pensions was established for the Companions during the Caliphate of ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb (r. 12-23/634-644), may Allah be pleased with him, the Muhājir Bilāl b. Rabāḥ (d. 20/641) insisted that his name be registered along with Khālid b. Rabāḥ (Abū Ruwayḥa), his Anṣārī brother, because it was a brotherhood established by the Prophet “which [he] would never break” (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, al-Muʾākhāt bayn al-Muhājirīn wal-Anṣār 1:301; Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-ghāba 1:208; Ibn Saʿd, Ṭabaqāt 3:234).

Genealogy and Pre-Islamic History of the Anṣār

Banū Aws and Banū Khazraj were jointly called Banū Qayla during the pre-Islamic era, because they were descendants of al-Aws and al-Khazraj, the two sons of Thaʿlaba by his wife Qayla. They had lived in Yathrib for many generations before the Hijra of the Prophet to their city in 622CE. Nūr al-Dīn ʿAlī Aḥmad al-Samhūdī (d. 911/1505), whose masterly Wafāʾ al-wafāʾ bi-akhbār dār al-Muṣṭafā provides a comprehensive summation of all previous works on the history of Madina and those who lived in the City of the Prophet, upon him peace and blessing, states that the ancestral head of the Anṣār (jadd al-Anṣār) was ʿAmr Muzayqiyāʾ b. ʿĀmir Māʾ al-Samāʾ, the son of Ḥāritha b. Imrāʾ al-Qays b. Thaʿlaba b. Māzan b. al-Azd, the last named being the head of the Yemenite tribe of al-Azd (al-Samhūdī, Wafāʾ al-wafāʾ 1:167). The genealogy of Anṣār beyond al-Azd is disputed: some genealogists consider him to be from the indigenous Arabs (al-ʿArab al-ʿāriba), the descendant of al-Ghawth b. Nabt b. Mālik b. Zayd b. Kahlān b. Sabāʾ b. Yashjub b. Yaʿrub b. Qaḥṭān, “who was the father of all indigenous Arabs, the first person to speak Arabic,” but whose own genealogy is disputed. Other genealogists consider him to be ʿĀbir b. Shālikh b. Arfakhshad b. Sām b. Nūḥ, while still others think that Qaḥṭān was a descendant of Prophet Ismāʿīl , upon him peace, and hence a “naturalized Arab” (al-ʿArab al-mustaʿriba), the son of Hamaysaʿ b. Taym b. Nabt b. Ismaʿīl, upon him peace (al-Samhūdī, Wafāʾ al-wafāʾ 1:173) (see Arabic).

Like other Arabs before Islam, both the Banū Aws and Banū Khazraj performe Hajj but with corrupted rites that included idol-worship. They used to don the garb for Hajj (iḥrām) in the name of Manāt (see Idols and Idolatry), their main idol, whose statue was at Qudayd, a place between Madina and Makka (Bukhārī, Tafsīr, wa Manāt al-thālithat al-ukhrā; al-Kalbī, Kitāb al-aṣnām, sub Manāt; Yāqūt, Buldān 4:313), and whoever called out to Manāt would consider it sacrilegious to perform saʿī, the seven rounds between the two hills of al-Ṣafāʾ and al-Marwa , during the Ḥajj. According to ʿĀʾisha, may Allah be pleased with her, after their acceptance of Islam, the Anṣār asked the Prophet, upon him peace, about saʿī and Q 2:158 was revealed in response, restituting the Ibrāhīmic rite: Al-Ṣafā and al-Marwa are among the waymarks of Allah; hence, it is no sin for anyone who performs Ḥajj to the House or ʿUmra to ambulate between the two. And whoever does a good deed voluntarily should know that Allah is Thankful, All-Knowing (Bukhārī, Tafsīr, inna al-Ṣafā wal-Marwata min shaʿāʾiri-Llāh).

Though they had themselves lost their monotheism, the Banū Aws and Banū Khazraj retained a certain sense of its superiority over idol-worship, and this resulted in their accepting the superiority of the Jews amidst whom they lived and who had books, scholars, and religious schools (cf. Bukhārī, Ikrā, fī bayʿ al-mukrahi wa-naḥwihi fī-l-ḥaqq wa-ghayrih). This sense of inferiority was so entrenched that barren women of Banū Khazraj and Banū Aws, and those whose children died in infancy, would swear that if they quickened with child or if a sickly child survived, they would give him or her to the Jews to be raised as Jews (Ṭabarī and Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīrs, sub Q 2:256). The Aws had social and business dealings primarily with the Jewish tribes of Banū Qurayẓa and Banū al-Naḍīr, while the Khazraj mostly interacted with the Jewish tribe of Banū Qaynuqāʿ (Ibn Ḥazm, Jamharat ansāb al-ʿArab p. 481).

The internal feuds of Banū Aws and Banū Khazraj started with the Battle of Sumayyir, which erupted due to a murder and continued for almost a century, at one point involving the arbitration of Ḥassān b. Thābit’s grandfather al-Mundhir b. Ḥarām (Ibn al-Athīr, Kāmil, ḥarb Sumayyir 1:519). These battles often involved Jewish as well as various nomadic tribes who lived around Yathrib. The last and most savage of these was the Battle of Buʿāth, which took place five years before the Hijra (ca.617ce) and which involved large-scale plunder and the burning of gardens and residential quarters, leaving both the Aws and Khazraj in a state of despair and weakness (Ibn al-Athīr, Kāmil, yawm Buʿāth 1:538-540). ʿĀʾisha, may Allah be pleased with her, discerned Divine providence in this: “Allah, Most Mighty, let them [fight the] Battle of Buʿāth, so that when the Messenger of Allah arrived [in Yathrib] many elders and leaders of the Anṣār had been killed and they had become very weak; this is how Allah prepared the Anṣār for their entrance into Islam” (Bukhārī, Manāqib, manāqib al-Anṣār). The intense internal fighting that had rent asunder the hearts of Banū Aws and Banū Khazraj, and their subsequent transformation upon accepting Islam, are alluded to in Q 8:63: And [Allah] brought together their hearts; [even] if you had expended all that is on the earth, you could not have brought their hearts together; but Allah did bring them together; verily, He is Almighty, All-Wise (cf. Ṭabarī and Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīrs).

The Beginning of Islam Amongst the Anṣār

According to Ibn Hishām (d. 217/833), al-Ṭabarī, and later historians such as Ibn al-Athīr (555-630/1160-1233) and Ibn Kathīr (701-774/1301-1373), the first of the would-be Anṣār to meet the Prophet was Suwayd b. al-Ṣāmit, a man of Banū Aws from the clan of ʿAmr b. ʿAwf. He was a warrior famous for his bravery, and was called al-Kāmil (the perfect) by his people because of his nobility, distinction in poetry, and esteemed lineage. He had gone to Makka for Ḥajj or ʿUmra at a time when the Prophet used to meet the visiting leaders of various clans. When the Prophet, upon him peace, met and invited him to Islam, Suwayd said, “Perhaps you have a book like the one I have.” The Prophet asked him which book he had and Suwayd responded, “The Parables of Luqmān,” and recited some of its couplets to the Prophet, who replied: “This is excellent speech, but the Qurʾān that Allah has sent down to me as guidance and light is better than this.” Then he recited to him some verses. Suwayd admired it but did not accept Islam, although Ibn Hishām notes “he did not remain too far from it.” Suwayd returned to Yathrib and was killed by Khazraj before the Battle of Buʿāth (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, ʿarḍ Rasūl Allāh nafsah ʿalā al-qabāʾil).

A second early encounter took place when a group of men of Banū Aws from the clan of ʿAbd al-Ashhal came to Makka with Abū-l-Ḥaysar Anas b. Rāfiʿ, seeking alliance with Quraysh against Khazraj. The Prophet went to them and asked if they would choose something better than their present wish. When they asked him what that could be, he told them that he was the Messenger of Allah, sent to all people to call them to Allah and not to associate any other with Him. “By Allah, people, this is much better than that for which you came!” Iyās b. Muʿādh, a young member of the group, immediately proclaimed his Islam to his people; but Abū-l-Ḥaysar took a handful of dirt and threw it in his face, saying, “Shut up! We did not come here for this” (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, Islām Iyās b. Muʿādh). However, his brief meeting with the Prophet, upon him peace, was enough to turn the heart of Iyās to monotheism; it is said that he continued to glorify Allah until his death in the Battle of Buʿāth, and that his clan considered him a Muslim (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, Islām Iyās b. Muʿādh 1:259; Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-ghāba 1:99).

The First Pledge of ʿAqaba

These two early encounters were followed by the formal acceptance of Islam by six men of Khazraj during the Ḥajj of 620ce, the eleventh year of Prophethood, at ʿAqaba, a secluded mountain pass near Minā (q.v.)—whence the name ʿAqaba, meaning “mountain pass”—after the Battle of Buʿāth. When the Prophet invited them to Islam, they accepted readily, saying, “We have left our people torn asunder by enmity and evil, divided like no other people; so, perhaps Allah will unite them through you. We will go and tell them about this matter, and will invite them to this religion of yours which we have accepted; and if Allah unites them in this, then no one will be mightier than you” (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, Islām al-Anṣār). These six first Muslims from Banū Khazraj were: (i, ii) Asʿad b. Zurāra and ʿAwf b. Ḥārith from the clan of Banī al-Najjār; (iii) Rāfiʿ b. Mālik from Banī Zurayq; (iv) Quṭba b. ʿĀmir from Banī Salmā; (v) ʿUqba b. ʿĀmir from Banī Ḥarām; and (vi) Jābir b. ʿAbdullāh b. Riʾāb from Banī ʿUbayd—may Allah be well-pleased with them all (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, Islām al-Anṣār 1:260). When they returned home, the news about the Prophet rapidly spread throughout Yathrib. The next year all of them except Jābir met the Prophet again along with seven additional men, two of whom were from Banū Aws and five from Banū Khazraj. These twelve men formally gave the first of the two Pledges of ʿAqaba (see Pledge). Of the seven additional members of the group, the five from Banū Khazraj were: (i) Muʿādh b. al-Ḥārith, the brother of ʿAwf, who was present at both pledges; (ii) Dhakwān b. ʿAbd al-Qays; (iii) ʿUbāda b. al-Ṣāmit; (iv) Yazīd b. Thaʿlaba; and (v) al-ʿAbbās b. ʿUbāda b. Naḍala. The two from Banū Aws were: (i) Abū-l-Haytham Mālik b. al-Tayyihān from the clan of Banū ʿAbd al-Ashhal; and (ii) ʿUwaym b. Sāʿida—may Allah be pleased with all of them (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, Bayʿat al-ʿAqabat al-ūlā 1:261).

ʿUbāda b. al-Ṣāmit, may Allah be well-pleased with him, later recalled:

I was one of the [twelve] chieftains (nuqabāʾ) who pledged to Allah’s Messenger [on the night of ʿAqaba]. We gave the pledge of allegiance to him that we would associate nothing with Allah, and that we would not steal, commit zinā (unlawful sexual intercourse), kill any person whose killing Allah had made unlawful except with sanction, rob each other, or sin; and [the Prophet] promised us Paradise. If, however, we fulfilled those conditions and yet committed one of the above sins, Allah would give His Judgment concerning it. (Bukhārī, Manāqib al-Anṣār, wufūd al-Anṣār ilā al-Nabī bi-Makka wa bayʿ)

The Prophet sent Muṣʿab b. ʿUmayr with them. He taught Qurʾān to these influential new Muslims and instructed them in matters of their religion; he became known as al-Muqrīʾ ("the Reader") and he stayed in Yathrib with Asʿad b. Zurāra, may Allah be pleased with them both. Many members of Banū Khazraj and Banū Aws accepted Islam at his hands during the year of his residence in Yathrib. One early account mentions the presence of forty men at the first Friday congregation, led by Asʿad b. Zurāra in the quarter of Banī Bayḍāʿ (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, awwal Jumuʿa uqīmat bil-Madīna 1:262).

The Second Pledge of ʿAqaba

Muṣʿab left Yathrib shortly before the next Ḥajj, it having been arranged that a delegation of Banū Aws and Banū Khazraj would go with the Ḥajj caravan from Yathrib and meet the Prophet during the middle night of the Days of Tashrīq (the three days following the Day of Sacrifice: that is, 11, 12, and 13 Dhūl-Ḥijja). On that night, seventy-three men and two women (Nusayba bint Kaʿb, known by her honorific title, Umm ʿAmmāra, and Asmāʾ bint ʿAmr, known by the honorific Umm Manīʿ) of the Anṣār met the Prophet, who recited the Qurʾān to them, called them to Allah, and invited them to Islam. They accepted his invitation. He took their pledge in the presence of his uncle al-ʿAbbās, who had not yet accepted Islam but had joined the Prophet on this solemn occasion (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, amr al-ʿAqaba al-thāniya 1:266).

According to one account, the first to take the hand of the Prophet was al-Barāʾ b. Maʿrūr (died before the Hijra), who while traveling to Makka had been praying facing the Kaʿba instead of Jerusalem, as he had not felt it right to turn his back to the House of Allah; the Prophet advised him to pray toward Jerusalem (see Qibla) (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, amr al-ʿAqaba al-thāniya 1:266). He held the hand of the Prophet and said, “By Him Who has sent you with Truth, we will protect you as we protect our women. We give our allegiance, and we are men of war possessing arms that have been passed on from father to son.” Abū-l-Haytham b. al-Tayyihān interrupted al-Barāʾ and said to the Prophet, “O Messenger of Allah, we have ties with other men (i.e., the Jews). If we sever them and Allah gives you victory, will you then return to your people and leave us?” The Prophet smiled and said, “No, but [my] blood [revenge] will be your blood [revenge] and [my forgiving of] blood will be your [forgiving of] blood; I am of you and you are of me. I will fight against those who fight against you and make peace with those with whom you make peace.” The Prophet then asked them to bring to him twelve of their leaders to whom he delegated their affairs; three of these were from the Aws and nine from the Khazraj. The Prophet said to them, “You are the guarantors (kufalāʾ) for your people, just as the disciples of ʿĪsā, the son of Maryam, were guarantors (kafāla) for him, and I am the guarantor (kafīl) for my people” (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, amr al-ʿAqaba al-thānī). The twelve intendants (nuqabāʾ, sing. naqīb) were: from the Khazraj, (i) Abū Ummāma Asʿad b. Zurāra; (ii) Saʿd b. al-Rabīʿ; (iii) ʿAbdullāh b. Rawāḥa; (iv) Rāfiʿ b. Mālik; (v) al-Barāʾ b. Maʿrūr; (vi) ʿAbdullāh b. ʿAmr; (vii) ʿUbāda b. al-Sāmit; (viii) Saʿd b. ʿUbāda; and (ix) al-Mundhir b. Ḥarām b. ʿAmr; and from the Aws: (i) Usayd b. Ḥuḍayr; (ii) Saʿd b. Khaythama; and (iii) Rifāʿa b. ʿAbd al-Mundhir or—according to Ibn Hishām—Abū-l-Haytham b. al-Tayyihān (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, asmāʾ al-nuqabāʾ al-ithna ʿashara 1:267-268).

Unlike the First Pledge of ʿAqaba, the Second Pledge contained conditions involving war, as the Anṣār pledged themselves to fight against all adversaries of Allah and His Messenger, upon him blessings and peace. “We pledged to fight in complete obedience to the Messenger of Allah,” ʿUbāda b. al-Ṣāmit, who was present at the Pledge, was to recount later: “In weal and woe, in ease and hardship, and in good and bad circumstances; [we pledged] that we would not wrong anyone; that we would speak the truth at all times; and that in Allah’s service we would fear the censure of none” (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, shurūṭ al-bayʿ fī-l-ʿaqaba al-akhīra 1:273).

The Anṣār after the Hijra

Bounded by Mount Uḥud  to the north and Mount ʿAyr to the south, the Anṣār had lived in Yathrib for over a millennium when the first emigrants from Makka arrived shortly after the second Pledge of ʿAqaba, following the Divine command given to emigrate to the place which had been shown the Prophet (as mentioned in a lengthy hadith from ʿĀʾisha, may Allah be pleased with her): “In a dream I have been shown your migration place, a land of date palm trees, between two mountains, the two stony tracts” (Bukhārī, Manāqib al-Anṣār, hijrat al-Nabī wa aṣḥābih ilā-l-Madīna) (see Dreams and their Interpretation). The Prophet told his Companions, “Allah has made ready for you brethren, and homes where you will be able to live in peace” (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, bāb nuzūl al-amr li-Rasūl Allāh fī-l-qitāl 1:278). The first Emigrants to arrive in Yathrib, the ancestral city of Anṣār 160 km from the Red Sea mentioned once in the Qurʾān (Q 33:13), traveled the 450 km northward, many of them with only a few possessions. They left their homes and properties, their beloved city and their settled lives, seeking the pleasure of Allah. They were warmly received by their brethren and sisters in faith and were offered exemplary hospitality, which was to be remembered for generations. The Prophet himself waited for Divine Permission to make the journey, which was granted approximately two and half months after the Second Pledge of ʿAqaba; by then, all the Muslims of Makka had emigrated to Yathrib except for ʿAlī, Abū Bakr and his family, and those who had either been imprisoned by the Quraysh or were otherwise unable to travel due to sickness or for other personal reasons (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, hijrat al-Rasūl 1:285).

Four men from the Anṣār had stayed in Makka after their pledge at ʿAqaba and, following the command to emigrate, they now also left for Madina, each thereby earning the distinction of being included among both the ranks of the Anṣār and the Muhājirūn. They were Dhakwān b. ʿAbd al-Qays, ʿAbbās b. ʿUbāda b. Naḍla, ʿUqba b. Wahb, and Ziyād b. Labīd (Ibn Kathīr, Bidāya 3:204; Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-ghāba 2:278).

Upon his arrival, the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, stayed with Abū Ayyūb al-Anṣārī (d. 52/672) for six months, during which time the Prophet’s Mosque was built on a tract of land bought from Sahl and Suhayl, two orphans who were under the guardianship of Asʿad b. Zurāra (Bukhārī, Manāqib al-Anṣār, hijrat al-Nabī wa aṣḥābih ilā-l-Madīna; Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-ghāba 5:460). Both the Anṣār and the Muhājirūn, including the Prophet himself, participated in the construction of the Mosque, and as they worked they chanted: “No life there is but the life of the Hereafter (al-ākhira) / Have mercy, O Allah, on the Anṣār and Muhājira” (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, Hijrat al-Rasūl 1:295); the couplet was not forgotten and is mentioned again in narrations regarding the digging of the moat for the Battle of the Trench in 5/627, another taxing effort in which both the Muhājirūn and the Anṣār took part. Additional verses in these accounts further illustrate the bonds of love between the Prophet and the Anṣār, who would chant:

We have pledged to Muḥammad

to fight as long as we live.

And the Prophet would respond:

O Allah, there is no good, except the good of the Hereafter.

Bless, O Allah, the Anṣār and the Muhājira.

(Bukhārī, Manāqib al-Anṣār, duʿāʾ al-Nabī, iṣlaḥ al-Anṣār wal-Muhājira; Maghāzī, ghazwa khandaq)

The Hijra of the Prophet to Madina, inaugurating the Hijri Calendar (see Calendar), is an event of global and enduring importance which had its first impact on all aspects of the life of those living in the oasis town. It marks the beginning of the transformation of the spiritual, social, political, and economic lives of Banū Aws and Banū Khazraj, as well as their city, which was renamed Madīnat al-Nabī (lit. the City of the Prophet) and thus Madina, a name often used with honorific epithets such as al-Munawwara (“the resplendent”) or al-Ṭayba (“the fragrant”) indicating its high rank. The Anṣār were bonded with the Emigrants through a formal bond of brotherhood (muʾākhāt) which the Prophet, upon him peace, established between forty-five (or, according to other reports, fifty) men from each of the two groups (Bukhārī, Manāqib al-Anṣār, ikhāʾ al-Nabī bayn al-muhājirīn wal-anṣār; Ibn Hishām, Sīra, al-muʿākhāt bayn al-muhājirīn wal-anṣār). This spiritual brotherhood was so strong that the Anṣār offered their Muhājir brethren a share in all that they had, asking the Prophet to allow them to give half their orchards. When the Prophet did not accept this generous offer, they proposed instead that they should work together in the orchards and divide the produce amongst themselves (Bukhārī, Manāqib al-Anṣār, ikhāʾ al-Nabi bayn al-muhājirīn wal-anṣār). A representative account relates the brotherhood established between ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. ʿAwf and Saʿd b. Rabīʿ, may Allah be pleased with both. The latter said to the former: “I am the richest among the Anṣār; take half of all that I possess. I have two wives; tell me which one would you like to marry and I will divorce her, so that you may marry her after the waiting period (ʿidda).” ʿAbd al-Raḥmān’s magnanimous response is equally representative of the attitude of the Emigrants. He instead replied: “May Allah bless you in your possessions and family, [but show me instead the way] to your market [that I may work]” (Bukhārī, Manāqib al-Anṣār, ikhāʾ al-Nabī bayn al-muhājirīn wal-anṣār). As already mentioned, the Anṣār even left a share in their inheritance for their Muhājir bretherns until it was abrogated by a revelation: And unto everyone We have appointed rightful heirs to inherit whatever parents and near kin may leave. As for those whom you have made a solemn covenant, give them their share. Indeed, Allah is Witness over all things (Q 33:4).

In addition to this spiritual brotherhood, the Prophet also concluded a general treaty with Banū Aws and Banū Khazraj as well as with the three Jewish tribes of Madina (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, al-Rasūl yuwādiʿ al-Yahūd). This treaty, which has been called the world’s first written constitution (Hamidullah, The First Written Constitution in the World), mentions various clans of Banū Aws and Banū Khazraj by name and spells out mutual obligations, duties, and responsibilities of all parties including the Jews of Madina (see Alliance and Treaty).

The Anṣār and the Muhājirūn maintained their distinct positions for at least the first century after the Hijra, even as the relative percentage of the Anṣār rapidly decreased after the conquest of Makka, as foretold by the Prophet, upon him peace and blessings (see below). During his life, the Prophet—peace and blessings upon him—maintained a very special bond with the Anṣār: he honored their chiefs, consulted their elders at every critical moment of his residence in Madina, prayed over their deceased, and mentioned their generosity and help in public whenever occasion arose. The Anṣār, for their part, never wavered in their fidelity to the Prophet and remained steadfast in all tribulations faced by the nascent Muslim community in Madina.

An early test of their devotion occurred in the month of Ramadan in the second year after Hijra (624ce) when, instead of a trading caravan, the Prophet and his slightly more than 300 Companions—of which over two-thirds were from the Anṣār—found themselves within reach of a fully-armed, hostile army of the Quraysh three times their number (ʿUrwa b. al-Zubayr, Maghāzī Rasūl Allāh; Ibn Hishām, Sīra, man ḥadara Badran min al-muslimīn, ghazwa Badr al-kubrā 1:413-414; Ibn Saʿd, Ṭabaqāt 2:12)—an army which had marched to Badr “in vainglory and pride, in defiance of Allah and denial of His Messenger” (Bukhārī, Maghāzī, ʿidda aṣḥāb Badr). Some Companions expressed reluctance to engage the Quraysh—an attitude which invoked Divine rebuke (cf. Tafsīrs of Ṭabarī, Qurṭubī, Ibn Kathīr, sub Q 8:5-8)—but at the formal council of war held at Dhafirān, a valley close to the Valley of Ṣafrāʾ (Yāqūt, Buldān 3:412), it was Saʿd b. Muʿādh, the leader of the Anṣār, who arose after three leaders of the Emigrants (Abū Bakr, ʿUmar, and Miqdād b. ʿAmr) had spoken in favor of a battle only to have the Prophet repeat his statement (“give me your opinion, O People”). Saʿd realized that the Prophet desired the opinion of the Anṣār, who, as per the terms of their Pledge, were under no obligation to engage in battle outside the city of Madina (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, bāb ghazwa Badr al-kubrā). “It seems, O Messenger of Allah, that you mean us,” Saʿd said; when the Prophet concurred, he continued:

We believe in you, testify to the veracity of your truthfulness, bear witness that whatever you have brought is the Truth, and have given you our word to hear and obey you; so go where you wish, we are with you; and by Allah, if you were to ask us to cross that yonder sea and you plunge into it, we would plunge into it with you; not a man would stay behind. We do not dislike the idea of meeting your enemy tomorrow. We are experienced in war, trustworthy in combat. It may well be that Allah will let us show you something which will bring joy to you, so lead us with Allah’s blessings. (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, ghazwa Badr al-kubrā 1:363; Ibn Saʿd, Ṭabaqāt 2:14)

Merits of the Anṣār

Both the Anṣār and the Muhājirūn are given the elevated status of true believers for whom is forgiveness and a most excellent sustenance (Q 8:74). The high station of the elect among them is affirmed in Q 9:100: The first and the foremost of the Muhājirūn and the Anṣār, as well as those who follow them in righteous deeds—Allah is well-pleased with them and well-pleased are they with Him. He has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow; therein they shall dwell forever; that is the greatest success. Both groups are further mentioned in the context of the Hour of Severity (sāʿat al-ʿusra), referring to the Expedition to Tabūk, as those toward whom Allah was merciful although the hearts of some of them had well-nigh swerved (Q 9:117). The Anṣār are also praised for their self-sacrifice in reference to fayʾ, the war booty obtained without combat, because they harbor in their hearts no grudge for whatever the others may have been given [from the booty], but rather give them (the Muhājirūn) preference over themselves, even though poverty be their own lot… (Q 59:9).

Many Hadith and historical reports provide details of events and incidents during the life of the Prophet in which Anṣār distinguished themselves with their self-sacrifice, bravery, love, and devotion to the Prophet and with their readiness to follow Divine commands as they were being revealed. Once some women were praising the women of the Quraysh in the company of ʿĀʾisha, Allah be pleased with her, who said to them, “Indeed, I admit their merit, but by Allah, I have not seen women better than the women of Anṣār in their readiness to follow the Book of Allah. When [the verse of] Sūrat al-Nūr draw your veils over your bosoms was revealed and their men went home and recited it to them, they acted on it that very night; and when they came for the dawn prayer, they all had veils over them” (Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr, sub Q 24:30).

When the Prophet wanted to bestow the coastal area of Baḥrayn upon Anṣār as their fief, they demurred—“unless you give a similar [land] to our brothers, the Muhājirūn” (Bukhārī, Manāqib al-Anṣār, qawl al-Nabī lil-Anṣār iṣbirū ḥattā talqawnī ʿalā al-ḥawḍ). The Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, expressed his deep appreciation and love of the Anṣār on many occasions and he declared that “to love the Anṣār is a sign of belief and to harbor enmity against them a sign of hypocrisy” (Bukhārī, Īmān, ʿalāmat al-īmān ḥubb al-Anṣār and Manāqib al-Anṣār, qawl al-Nabī lil-Anṣār antum aḥabb al-nās). He also said: “Only the believer has friendship with the Anṣār, and only the hypocrite has enmity with them; and whosoever loves the Anṣār, Allah will love him; and whosoever harbors enmity against them, Allah will have enmity against him” (Bukhārī, Manāqib al-Anṣār, ḥubb al-Anṣār min al-īmān); “Had there been no Hijra, I would have been from among the Anṣār” (Bukhārī, Manāqib al-Anṣār, law lā al-Hijra lakuntu min al-Anṣār); and “You are the most beloved to me among people” (Bukhārī, Manāqib al-Anṣār, qawl al-Nabī lil-Anṣār antum aḥabbu al-nās).

When the Prophet was deliberating about a method to call the faithful for ritual prayers, it was ʿAbdullāh b. Zayd, one of the Anṣār, who came to related his dream in which he had seen Jibrīl instructing him with the wording of the adhān (see Call to Prayer). ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb also saw a similar dream (Tirmidhī, Ṣalāt, mā jāʾa fī badʾi al-adhān; Ibn Ḥajar, Fatḥ al-bārī, Adhān, badʾ al-adhān).

During the last illness of the Prophet, upon him Allah’s peace and blessings, two eminent Companions from among the Muhājirūn—Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq and al-ʿAbbās, Allah be pleased with them—passed by a gathering of the Anṣār and found them weeping. When asked why, the Anṣār replied, “We were remembering our meetings with the Prophet [and that made us cry].” The two returned to the Prophet and informed him about this. “The Prophet came out, having tied a cloth on his head, went to the pulpit—and he never climbed it after that day—praised Allah, and then said: ‘I advise you about the Anṣār, O people, they are beloved to me; they have fulfilled the rights I had on them and their right [to meet me in Paradise] remains; honor the righteous among them and overlook the faults of the wrongdoers from among them’” (Bukhārī, Manāqib al-Anṣār, qawl al-Nabī iqbalū min muḥsinihim wa tajāwazū ʿan musīʾihim).

Tests and Struggles of the Anṣār

The Anṣār faced a number of spiritual, moral, material, and social tribulations during the eleven-year period of the Prophet’s residence amongst them. Many hypocrites (see Hypocrisy and Hypocrites) were close relatives of the Anṣār and this created tensions within families. Some hypocrites from Banū Khazraj and Banū Aws tried their best to undermine the Prophet and the entire Muslim community of Madina either through their own joint efforts or in conjunction with the Jews of Madina and the Quraysh of Makka, especially during wartime crisis. Their actions and conspiracies during the Battles of Uḥud (3/625) and Trench (5/625) invoked Divine rebuke (Q 3:167 and 33:12-20, respectively). The Qurʾān called them people with diseased hearts, who tried to incite others against the Prophet, saying, all that Allah and His Messenger had promised us was nothing but deceit (Q 33:12). The sons, daughters, and other relatives of these hypocrites had to face many emotional and spiritual tests due to their overt and covert deceit.

The severest test of this kind was for the eminent Companion ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd Allāh b. Ubayy b. Salūl, whose father, the chieftain of Baʾl-Ḥublā (a section of the clan of ʿAwf from among the Khazraj), was the arch-hypocrite of Madina. Ubayy had almost been chosen as the king of Madina at the time of Hijra and he felt that the coming of the Prophet had robbed him of his kingship. He deserted the Muslim army at the Battle of Uḥud (3/625) along with 300 others. On the occasion of the Expedition of Banī al-Muṣṭaliq (also called Expedition of Muraysīʿ) in the fifth or the sixth year of Hijra, when the army was camped at al-Muraysīʿ, he incited the Anṣār to fight against their Muhājir brothers and said, “Nothing so well fits us and the vagabonds of Quraysh as the ancient saying, ‘Feed a dog and it will devour you’. By Allah, when we return to Madina, the stronger will drive out the weaker.” This was reported to the Prophet. ʿUmar b. Khaṭṭāb asked the Prophet to have him beheaded (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, ghazwa Banī Muṣṭaliq 2:180-181; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh 2:605-606; Ibn al-Athīr, Kāmil 2:193). When his son heard the inaccurate report that the Prophet had decided to execute Ubayy for treason, he went to the Prophet and asked to be the executioner (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, ghazwa Banī Muṣṭaliq 2:182). When questioned, Ibn Ubayy swore that he had not said what he had actually said. A revelation (Q 8:63) confirmed that he had, but the Prophet did not punish him (Bukhārī, Tafsīr, yaqūlūna la-in rajaʿnā ilā-l-madīnati layukhrijanna-l-aʿazz minhā-l-adhalla). He was also one of the main culprits in the Event of Ifk (see Falsehood), which took place during the return journey from this expedition (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, khabar al-ifk fī ghazwa Banī Muṣṭaliq 2:186; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh 2:614).

Another test was faced by the Anṣār at the distribution of the war booty after the Battles of Ḥunayn (q.v.) and Ṭāʾif (q.v.), when some of them felt that certain recent converts from among the Quraysh and Bedouins had been given preference over them. Rumors in their camp turned into widespread discontent, and someone even said that the Prophet had ‘joined his own people’, as some of the largest estates were given to his kin. Saʿd b. ʿUbāda went to the Prophet and told him what was being said in the camp of the Anṣār. The Prophet asked him, “and where do you stand in this matter, O Saʿd?” Saʿd said, “I am, after all, one of my people.” “Then gather your people in this enclosure,” the Prophet told him; and when the Anṣār had gathered, the Prophet went to them. After praising and thanking Allah, he addressed them and then asked them to respond. A synthetic account of this exchange between the Prophet and Anṣār, based on eyewitness reports, reflects many dimensions of their unique bond.

The Prophet said: “O gathering of Anṣār, what is this I hear of you? Do you think ill of me in your hearts? Did I not come to you when you were erring and Allah guided you? You were poor and Allah made you rich; you were enemies of each other and Allah put love for each other in your hearts.”

“Indeed, Allah and the Messenger of Allah are most kind and generous,” the Anṣār responded.

“Why do you not answer me, O Anṣār?”

“How shall we answer you, O Messenger of Allah? Kindness and generosity belong to Allah and His Messenger.”

“Had you wished, you could have said—and you would have spoken truly, and it would have been accepted: ‘You came to us when people had rejected you; we believed in you; you were deserted and we helped you; you were cast out yet we sheltered you; you were poor yet we gave you plenty.’ O gathering of Anṣār, do you feel discomfort in your hearts because I have given the lowly things of this world to some so that they come to Islam, while I entrust you to Islam? Are you not satisfied that men should take away flocks and herds while you take back with you the Messenger of Allah? By Him in Whose Hand is the soul of Muḥammad, but for the Hijra I would have been one of the Anṣār myself. If all men went one way and the Anṣār another, I should take the path of the Anṣār. O Allah, have mercy on the Anṣār, their progeny, and the progeny of their progeny.”

Bukhārī, Maghāzī, ghazwat al-Ṭāʾif fī Shawwāl sana thamān; ʿUrwa b. al-Zubayr, Maghāzi p. 219; Ibn Hishām, amr amwāl Hawāzin 2:305; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh 3:93-94

The Companion Abū Saʿīd al-Khudrī, may Allah be pleased with him, who was present at the gathering, said that upon hearing this the Anṣār wept so much that their beards were soaked in tears.

The Anṣār faced their greatest test shortly after the demise of the Prophet, upon whom be blessings and peace, when the community needed to select a new leader. They assembled at their gathering-place in the quarter of Banī Sāʿida to elect someone from amongst them as the next leader of the Muslim community. When the report of their gathering reached the Muhājirūn, Abū Bakr and ʿUmar, may Allah be pleased with them both, rushed there along with some other Muhājirūn, and found Saʿd b. ʿUbāda, the chief of the Khazraj, who was sick at the time, sitting amongst them. Once they were seated, an orator from the Anṣār arose and extolled their own merits.

When he was finished, Abū Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, arose and said: “O gathering of Anṣār, you possess every virtue you have mentioned about yourselves; but the Arabs will not recognize the rule of anyone but the Quraysh. The Quraysh hold the noblest position amongst the Arabs in their lineage and abode.” Then, taking the hands of ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb and Abū ʿUbayda b. al-Jarrāḥ and giving the choice to the Anṣār, he said, “In consideration of your own good, I am satisfied with either of these two men, so, swear allegiance to whomever you wish” (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, amr Saqīfa Banī Sāʿida 2:414-417).

A man of the Anṣār stood up and proposed that there be two leaders, one from them and the other from the Muḥājirūn. This led to a commotion. There was heated discussion between the Anṣār and the Muhājirūn; harsh words were spoken, and Saʿd b. al-ʿUbāda was almost crushed under the feet of the crowd (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, amr Saqīfa Banī Sāʿida 2:416). But then ʿUmar asked Abū Bakr—may Allah be pleased with them both—to stretch out his hand, and he immediately pledged his allegiance to him, and then many other Muhājirūn and Anṣār likewise pledged their allegiance to Abū Bakr (Bukhārī, Muḥāribīn min ahl al-kufr wal-ridda, rajm al-ḥublā; Ibn Hishām, Sīra, amr Saqīfa Banī Sāʿida 2:414).

Even though the great majority of the Anṣār showed exemplary courage and fidelity to the Prophet, at times some of their members felt that their response to the great tribulations of those exceptional times had not been adequate. Such was the case with Abū Lubāba b. ʿAbd al-Mundhir when he was sent to Banū Qurayẓa during their siege shortly after the Battle of the Trench (5/626). Banū Qurayẓa had long been allies of Banū Aws and Abū Lubāba had been one of their main links with his tribe. Upon his arrival, he was beset by weeping women and children until his heart was softened despite his knowledge of their treachery. When the men asked him if they should surrender, he said, “yes”, but at the same time pointed to his throat as if to warn them that in his opinion submission meant slaughter. As soon as he had gestured, Abū Lubāba was overwhelmed by a sense of guilt. “My feet had not moved from where they were,” he said later, “before I realized that I had betrayed the Messenger of Allah” (Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-ghāba 6:261). Recognizing his shortcoming, he went straight to the Prophet’s Mosque and tied himself to a pillar, vowing not to leave that place until Allah forgave him (Ṭabarī and Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīrs, sub Q 8:27; Ibn Hishām, Sīra, ghazwa Banī Qurayẓa 2:148). His repentance was accepted when the following verse was revealed: There are those who have confessed their sins: they intermixed their good deeds with evil. It may be that Allah will turn to them in mercy, for Allah is All-Forgiving, Ever Merciful (Q 9:102; Ṭabarī and Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīrs). The pillar to which Abū Lubāba tied himself became known as “the pillar of repentance” (usṭuwānat al-tawba). It remains to this day a much-frequented feature of the Prophet’s Mosque, being a place where millions of pilgrims have found solace through their own repentance.

Some Eminent Anṣār

Many Anṣār were literate and some served as the Prophet’s scribes; the most prominent of these was Zayd b. Thābit (d. 45/665), who lived close to the Prophet’s Mosque and was often summoned to transcribe the newly revealed verses of the Qurʾān following a visit from Jibrīl bearing revelation. Zayd was later appointed as the head of the committee which compiled the text of the Qurʾān during the reign of Abū Bakr as well as that of ʿUthmān, may Allah be pleased with them all (Bukhārī, Faḍāʾil al-Qurʾān, jamʿ al-Qurʾān). Zayd was also an expert in the art of recitation, had memorized the Qurʾān, and was a judge (qāḍī) of Madina; he left behind many students who became important scholars during subsequent decades (Ibn Ḥajar, al-Iṣāba 2:592).

Other distinguished members of the Anṣār who played major roles in the affairs of the Islamic state during and after the life of the Prophet, upon him peace, and whose lives and deeds became models for later generations include:

  • Abū Umāma Asʿad b. Zurāra al-Najjārī (d. 1/622), the head of the clan of Banū al-Najjār, one of the twelve chieftains (nuqabāʾ) (see section on “The Second Pledge of ʿAqaba” above), who instituted Friday prayer in Madina after the first Pledge of ʿAqaba, and who was the first Muslim to be buried in Baqīʿ, the graveyard near the Prophet’s Mosque which would later hold the graves of numerous other Companions and which to this day is visited by millions of Muslims every year;
  • Saʿd b. al-Rabīʿ al-Khazrajī, who was martyred at Uḥud (3/625) after receiving more than seventy wounds, and whose last message to his people was this: “If even one of you were alive and the disbelievers succeeded in reaching the Prophet, how would you answer Allah?” (al-Dhahabī, Siyar 1:230);
  • al-Barāʾ b. Maʿrūr, the head of Banū Salmā, who was the first to pledge at the first ʿAqaba;
  • Abū Jābir ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAmr b. Ḥarām al-Salmī al-Badrī (d. 3/625), who was the first to attain martyrdom at Uḥud : his body was mutilated but he was raised up to heaven by the angels (Muslim, Faḍāʾil al-ṣaḥāba, min faḍāʾil ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAmr b. Ḥarām wālid Jābir), and speaking about whom the Prophet told his son Jābir:

Allah Most High does not speak to anyone except from behind a veil, but He spoke to him (Abū Jābir) face to face and said, “O My servant, ask me what you wish and I will grant it to you.” He said, “O my Sustainer, revive me so that I may be killed one more time for Your sake.” [Allah, Most High] replied, “It has already been decreed by Me [that the dead will not go back to the world].” He said, “O my Sustainer, convey my state to those who are left behind.” And Allah, the Mighty and Glorious revealed, Regard not those who are slain in the path of Allah as dead, but they are alive with their Sustainer, and receive sustenance (Q 3:169). (Ibn Mājah, Jihād, faḍl al-shahāda)

  • Saʿd b. Ubāda al-Sāʿidī (d. 16/637), who carried the banner of the Anṣār in battle and whose generosity was legendary;
  • al-Mundhir b. ʿAmr b. Khunays al-Sāʿdī al-Badrī (d. 4/625), the leader of the delegation martyred by treachery at Biʾr Maʿūna;
  • Ḥassān b. Thābit (d. 60/679), the celebrated poet of the Prophet, of whose poetry the Prophet said, “it works like arrows and spears” (Ibn Ḥajar, al-Iṣāba 2:8-9). The Prophet once told Ḥassān to respond to disbelievers’ verses, and prayed for him: “O Allah, help him through Rūḥ al-Qudus (interpreted by commentators as meaning the angel Jibrīl)” (see Angels) (Muslim, Faḍāʾil ṣaḥāba, faḍāʾil Ḥassān b. Thābit);
  • ʿUbāda b. al-Ṣāmit al-Badrī (d. 34/654), who was among the twelve men who pledged themselves at the first Pledge of ʿAqaba, a faqīh (jurist), a ḥāfiẓ (preserver) of the Qurʾān, an expert in Qurʾānic recitation who supervised a school of recitation, and narrator of approximately 181 hadiths which were transmitted by prominent Companions and Successors (al-Mizzī, Tahdhīb 14:183-189);
  • Ubayy b. Kaʿb (d. 39/659), an expert in Qurʾān recitation, one of the members of the Committee appointed by Abū Bakr to compile the official codex (muṣḥaf) and the first person to lead the tarāwīḥ prayer during Ramadan when ʿUmar established the tradition of this prayer as congregational;
  • Abū Ayyūb al-Anṣārī (d. 52/672) of the Najjār clan of Banū Khazraj, in whose house the Prophet lived for six months upon his arrival in Madina. He was present at the Second ʿAqaba and at all battles during the time of the Prophet, upon him peace, and he died while on the expedition to Constantinople (Istanbul) and was buried under the walls of the city; his grave in Istanbul remains a revered site frequented by thousands of believers daily. A number of Companions narrated hadiths from him, including Ibn ʿAbbās, Ibn ʿUmar, al-Barāʾ b. ʿĀzib, Abū Umāmā, Zayd b. Khālid al-Jahmī, Jābir b. Samra, Miqdām b. Maʿd, and Anas b. Mālik (Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-ghāba 2:121-122);
  • Anas b. Mālik (d. 93/712), who was only ten years old when the Prophet arrived in Madina. His mother, Umm Sulaym bint Sahla, was one of the first women of Yathrib to accept Islam and was a cousin of the Prophet’s mother. She and his stepfather, Abū Ṭalḥa (d. ca.51/671), who was the leader of the Banū al-Najjār and one of the twelve nuqabāʾ (see section on “The Second Pledge of ʿAqaba” above), brought him to the Prophet, requesting that he be allowed to serve him; the Prophet accepted the offer and thereafter Anas served the Prophet for over ten years, during which the Prophet treated him like his own son and never rebuked him for any mistake (Aḥmad, Musnad Anas b. Mālik);
  • Abū Ṭalḥa, the father of Anas, whose bond of brotherhood was established by the Prophet with his close Companion Abū ʿUbayda b. Jarrāḥ (d. 17/638), the latter being one of the ten Companions who were given the glad tidings of Paradise(al-ʿashara al-mubashsharīn bil-Janna) by the Prophet, upon him peace, and who was called the “Trustworthy One of the Umma” (Amīn al-Umma). Abū Ṭalḥa was the owner of the largest number of date-palms in Madina. His most cherished possession was Biʾr Hāʾa, an orchard and well facing the Prophet’s Mosque where the Prophet, upon him peace, would often go and drink from its fresh water. When Abū Ṭalḥa heard Q 3:92, he stood up and said, “Messenger of Allah, Allah Most High says in His Book: By no means shall you attain righteousness unless you spend of that which you love. The dearest of my property to me is Biʾr Hāʾa, and I want to give it in charity for Allah, seeking reward from Allah, so you may spend it, O Allah’s Messenger, howsoever you wish.” The Prophet, upon him peace, said, “That is a profitable possession, and I have heard what you have said; but in my opinion you had better give it to your kith and kin.” “I shall do so, O Messenger of Allah,” answered Abū Ṭalḥa, and distributed it among them (Bukhārī, Wakāla, idhā qāl al-rajul li-wakīlih ḍaʿh ḥayth arāka Allāh);
  • Muʿādh b. Jabal (d. 18/639), who accepted Islam at the age of 18 at the hand of Muṣʿab b. ʿUmayr when the latter was sent to Yathrib by the Prophet, upon him peace. For the rest of his life he remained very close to the Prophet, who loved him dearly and attended to his spiritual and moral training. He would sometimes have him sit behind him on his camel, and would answer his many questions. “Tell me a deed that would take me to Paradise and protect me from Hellfire,” he once asked the Prophet when he found him alone, riding his camel during the expedition to Tabūk. The Prophet, upon him peace, replied:

“Verily, you have asked about a great thing, but it is easy for those for whom Allah has made it easy. Establish the ritual prayer, pay the obligatory zakāt, and meet Allah, Most High [while] not associating anything with Him. I shall inform you about the head, the pillar, and the soaring height of this matter: its head is submission (islām), so whosoever has submitted has attained protection; its pillar is ritual prayer; and its soaring height is jihad in the path of Allah; and I shall tell you the gates of goodness (khayr): its gates are fasting, which is a shield; charity; and a slave [of Allah] standing [in prayer] in the middle of the night, which erases sins.” The Prophet then recited: And [those] who are eager to rise from their beds [at night] to call out to their Lord and Sustainer in fear and hope, and who spend on others from what We provide to them as sustenance (Q 32:16). (Aḥmad, Musnad al-Anṣār, ḥadīth Muʿādh b. Jabal)

Al-Bukhārī devoted a book of his Ṣaḥīḥ to “Merits of the Anṣār” (manāqib al-Anṣār), comprising 165 hadiths. Several other Hadith collections, such as Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim and the Sunans of al-Tirmidhī, Ibn Mājah, and Abū Dawūd, also contain chapters with similar titles.


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Zabīdī. Tāj.

See also

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