Abu Ayyub Al Ansari (R.A.)

Khalid bin Zayd bin Kulayb (R.A.) from the Banu Najjar was a great and close companion of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). He (R.A.) was known as Abu Ayyub (R.A.) (the father of Ayyub) and enjoyed a privilege which many of the Ansar in Madinah hoped they would have. When the Prophet (Peace be upon him) reached Madinah after his (Peace be upon him) hijrah from Makkah, he (Peace be upon him) was greeted with great enthusiasm by the Ansar of Madinah. Their hearts went out to him (Peace be upon him) and their eyes followed him (Peace be upon him) with devotion and love. They wanted to give (Peace be upon him) him the most generous reception anyone could be given.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) first stopped at Quba on the outskirts of Madinah and stayed there for some days. The first thing he (Peace be upon him) did was to build a mosque which is described in the Quran as the “Mosque built on the foundation of piety (Taqwa)”. (Surah At-Tawbah 9: 108). The Prophet (Peace be upon him) entered Madinah on his (Peace be upon him) she-camel. The chieftains of the city stood along his (Peace be upon him) path, each one wishing to have the honour of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) alighting and staying at his house. One after the other stood in the she-camel’s way entreating, “Stay with us, O Rasulullah (Peace be upon him).” “Leave the she-camel,” the Prophet (Peace be upon him) would say. “It is under command.”
The she-camel continued walking, closely followed by the eyes and hearts of the people of Yasrib. When it went past a house, its owner would feel sad and dejected and hope would rise in the hearts of others still on the route. The she-camel continued in this fashion with the people following it until it hesitated at an open space in front of the house of Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari (R.A.). But the Prophet (Peace be upon him) did not get down. After only a short while, the she-camel set off again, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) leaving its reins loose. Before long, however, it turned round, retraced its steps and stopped on the same spot as before. Abu Ayyub’s (R.A.) heart was filled with happiness. He (R.A.) went out to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and greeted him (Peace be upon him) with great enthusiasm. He (R.A.) took the Prophet’s (Peace be upon him) baggage in his (R.A.) arms and felt as if he (R.A.) was carrying the most precious treasure in the world.
Abu Ayyub’s (R.A.) house had two storeys. He (R.A.) emptied the upper floor of his and his family’s possessions so that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) could stay there. But the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Night came and the Prophet (Peace be upon him) retired. Abu Ayyub (R.A.) went up to the upper floor. But when they had closed the door, Abu Ayyub (R.A.) turned to his wife and said: “Woe to us (R.A.)! What have we (R.A.) done? The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) is below and we (R.A.) are higher than him (Peace be upon him)! Can we (R.A.) walk on top of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him)? Do we (R.A.) come between him (Peace be upon him) and the Revelation (Wahy)? If so, we (R.A.) are doomed.”
The couple (R.A.) became very worried not knowing what to do. They (R.A.) only got some peace of mind when they (R.A.) moved to the side of the building which did not fall directly above the Prophet (Peace be upon him). They (R.A.) were careful also only to walk on the outer parts of the floor and avoid the middle. In the morning, Abu Ayyub (R.A.) said to the Prophet (Peace be upon him): “By Allah, we (R.A.) did not sleep a wink last night, neither myself nor Umm Ayyub (R.A.).” “Why not, Abu Ayyub (R.A.)?” asked the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Abu Ayyub (R.A.) explained how terrible they felt being above while the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was below them (R.A.) and how they might have interrupted the Revelation.
“Don’t worry, Abu Ayyub,” said the Prophet (Peace be upon him). “We (Peace be upon him) prefer the lower floor because of the many people coming to visit us (Peace be upon him).” “We (R.A.) submitted to the Prophet’s (Peace be upon him) wishes,” Abu Ayyub (R.A.) related, “Until one cold night a jar of ours broke and the water spilled on the upper floor. Umm Ayyub (R.A.) and I stared at the water. We (R.A.) only had one piece of velvet which we (R.A.) used as a blanket. We (R.A.) used it to mop up the water out of fear that it would seep through to the Prophet (Peace be upon him). In the morning I went to him (Peace be upon him) and said, ‘I do not like to be above you (Peace be upon him),’ and told him (Peace be upon him) what had happened. He (Peace be upon him) accepted my wish and we changed floors.”
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) stayed in Abu Ayyub’s (R.A.) house for almost seven months until his (Peace be upon him) mosque was completed on the open space where his she-camel had stopped. He (Peace be upon him) moved to the rooms which were built around the mosque for himself (Peace be upon him) and his family (R.A.). He (Peace be upon him) thus became a neighbour of Abu Ayyub (R.A.). What a noble neighbour to have! Abu Ayyub (R.A.) continued to love the Prophet (Peace be upon him) with all his heart and the Prophet (Peace be upon him) also loved him dearly. There was no formality between them. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) continued to regard Abu Ayyub’s (R.A.) house as his (Peace be upon him) own. The following anecdote tells a great deal about the relationship between them.
Abu Bakr (R.A.) once left his (R.A.) house in the burning heat of the midday sun and went to the mosque. Umar (R.A.) saw him (R.A.) and asked, “Abu Bakr (R.A.), what has brought you out at this hour? Abu Bakr (R.A.) said he (R.A.) had left his house because he (R.A.) was terribly hungry and Umar (R.A.) said that he (R.A.) had left his house for the same reason. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) came up to them (R.A.) and asked, “What has brought the two of you out at this hour?” They told him and he (Peace be upon him) said, “By Him in Whose hands is my soul, only hunger has caused me to come out also. But come with me (Peace be upon him).”
They went to the house of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (R.A.). His (R.A.) wife opened the door and said, “Welcome to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and whoever is with him (Peace be upon him).” “Where is Abu Ayyub (R.A.)?” asked the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Abu Ayyub (R.A.), who was working in a nearby palm grove, heard the Prophet’s (Peace be upon him) voice and came hurriedly. “Welcome to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and whoever is with him (Peace be upon him),” he (R.A.) said and went on, “O Prophet (Peace be upon him) of Allah, this is not the time that you usually come.” (Abu Ayyub (R.A.) used to keep some food for the Prophet (Peace be upon him) every day. When the Prophet (Peace be upon him) did not come for it by a certain time, Abu Ayyub (R.A.) would give it to his family.) “You are right,” the Prophet (Peace be upon him) agreed.
Abu Ayyub (R.A.) went out and cut a cluster of dates in which there were ripe and half-ripe dates. “I did not want you to cut this,” said the Prophet (Peace be upon him). “Could you not have brought only the ripe dates?” “O Rasulullah (Peace be upon him), please eat from both the ripe dates (Rutb) and the half ripe (Busr). I shall slaughter an animal for you also.” “If you are going to, then do not slaughter one that gives milk,” cautioned the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Abu Ayyub (R.A.) slaughtered a young goat, cooked half and grilled the other half. He (R.A.) also asked his wife to bake, because she baked better, he (R.A.) said.
When the food was ready, it was placed before the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and his two companions (R.A.). The Prophet (Peace be upon him) took a piece of meat and placed it in a loaf and said, “Abu Ayyub (R.A.), take this to Fatimah (R.A.). She (R.A.) has not tasted the like of this for days.” When they had eaten and were satisfied, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said reflectively: “Bread and meat and Busr and Rutb!” Tears began to flow from his (Peace be upon him) eyes as he continued:
“This is a bountiful blessing about which you will be asked on the Day of Judgment. If such comes your way, put your hands to it and say, ‘Bismillah’ (In the name of Allah) and when you have finished say, ‘Al hamdu lillah alladhee huwa ashbana wa anama a layna (Praise be to Allah Who has given us enough and Who has bestowed his bounty on us). This is best.”
These are glimpses of Abu Ayyub’s (R.A.) life during peace time. He (R.A.) also had a distinguished military career. Much of his (R.A.) time was spent as a warrior until it was said of him (R.A.), “He (R.A.) did not stay away from any battle the Muslims fought from the time of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to the time of Muawiyah (R.A.) unless he (R.A.) was engaged at the same time in another.” The last campaign he (R.A.) took part in was the one prepared by Muawiyah (R.A.) and led by his son Yazid (R.A.) against Constantinople. Abu Ayyub (R.A.) at that time was a very old man, almost eighty years old. But that did not prevent him (R.A.) from joining the army and crossing the seas as a graze in the path of Allah. After only a short time engaged in the battle, Abu Ayyub (R.A.) fell ill and had to withdraw from fighting. Yazid (R.A.) came to him and asked:
“Do you need anything, Abu Ayyub (R.A.)?” “Convey my salaams to the Muslim armies and say to them: ‘Abu Ayyub (R.A.) urges you to penetrate deeply into the territory of the enemy as far as you can go, that you should carry him with you and that you should bury him under your feet at the walls of Constantinople.’ Then he (R.A.) breathed his (R.A.) last.
The Muslim army fulfilled the desire of the companion (R.A.) of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him). They (R.A.) pushed back the enemy’s forces in attack after attack until they (R.A.) reached the walls of Constantinople. There they buried him. (The Muslims besieged the city for four years but eventually had to withdraw after suffering heavy losses.)