The companions of the prophet (s.a.a.w) are the first generation of the Muslim Ummah that lived with the prophet (s.a.a.w). They received the message from the prophet and transmitted it to the following generations until it reached us. They were the best generation of this Ummah. The prophet (s.a.a.w) said about them, "The best generation of my Ummah are my companions and those who follow them ……." They are all udul. Allah, the Almighty, says "….and in this way, we have appointed you a middle nation…. ". The middle nation, here, means that they were udul. Among those companions was Abu Hurayrah. On this basis, we will shed light on the biography of this great companion, showing his companionship to the prophet (s.a.a.w), his continuous pursuit of knowledge, his piety, his degree of accuracy, his suffering while seeking knowledge and his efforts in transmitting the Ahadeeth of the prophet (s.a.a.w).
He was the diligent jurist and the companion of the prophet (s.a.a.w). His name is Abu Hurayrah Al-Dawsi Al-Yamani, the master of authentic memorizers. The scholars differed concerning his name and his father's name. The most correct opinion was the opinion upon which the scholars agree that his name is Abdual – Rahman ibn Sakhr. The prophet (saaw) named him Abduallah and nicknamed him Abu Hurayrah and he continued to be known as Abu Hurayrah, his mother was Maymouna Bint Subaih.
Abu Hurayrah became a Muslim at the hands of at-Tufayl ibn Amr, the chieftain of the Dows tribe to which he belonged. When at-Tufayl returned to his village after meeting the prophet and becoming a Muslim in the early years of his mission, Abu Hurayrah was one of the first to respond to his call. When at-Tufayl visited Makkah again, Abu Hurayrah accompanied him. There, he had the honor of meeting the noble prophet.
Abu Hurayrah stayed in Tihamah for several years and it was only at the beginning of the seventh year of the Hijrah that he arrived in Madinah with others of his tribe. The prophet had gone on a campaign to Khaybar.
Abu Hurayrah stayed in the masjid with others of the Ahl as-suffah. He was single, without wife or child. With him was his mother, who was still a mushrik. He prayed for her to become a Muslim but she adamantly refused. One day, he invited her to have Faith in God alone and follow his prophet but she uttered some words concerning the prophet which saddened him greatly. With tears in his eyes, he went to the prophet who said to him: "what makes you cry, O Abu Hurayrah?" He said: "Today, I invited my mother to Islam and I heard words from her which I don’t like. Do make supplication to God Almighty to make the heart of Abu Hurayrah's mother incline to Islam."
The prophet prayed for her. Abu Hurayrah said: "I went home and found the door closed. I heard water splashing and when I tried to enter, my mother said: "stay where you are, O Abu Hurayrah. "And after putting on her clothes, she said, "Enter!" I entered and she said: "I testify that there is no God but Allah and I testify that Muhammad is his servant and his messenger." He returned to the prophet (saaw) weeping with joy, just as an hour before he had gone weeping from sadness and said: "O messenger of Allah, I have good news. God has responded to your prayer and guided the mother of Abu Hurayrah to Islam".
He accompanied the prophet (saaw) for nearly four years. He loved the prophet a great deal and found favor with him. He was never tired of looking at the prophet whose face appeared to him as having all the radiance of the sun and he was never tired of listening to him. Often he would praise God for his good fortune and say: " Praise be to God who has guided Abu Hurayrah to Islam." "Praise be to Allah who taught Abu Hurayrah the Quran." "Praise be to God who has best- owed on Abu Hurayrah the companionship of Muhammad (saaw)." On reaching Madinah, Abu Hurayrah set his heart on attaining knowledge. Zayed Ibn Thabit, the notable companion of the prophet, reported: "While Abu Hurayrah and I and another friend of mine were in the masjid praying to God the Almighty, The messenger of God appeared. He came towards us and sat among us. We become silent and he said:" Carry on with what you were doing." So, my friend and I made a supplication to God before Abu Hurayrah did and the prophet began to say Ameen to our Dua. Then, Abu Hurayrah made a supplication saying: "O lord, I ask you for what my two companions have asked and I ask you for knowledge which will not be forgotten."
The prophet (saaw) said: "Ameen." We then said: "We ask Allah for knowledge which will not be forgotten, and the prophet replied". The Dawsi youth has asked for this before you."
In his search for knowledge, Abu Hurayrah suffered much hardships and difficulties. He was often hungry and destitute. He said about himself: "When I was afflicted with sever hunger, I would go to a companion of the prophet and ask him about an ayah of the Quran and stayed with him learning it so that he would take me with him to his house and give food.
With his intelligent memory, Abu Hurayrah set out to memorize in the four years that he spent with the prophet, the gems of wisdom that emanated from his lips. He realized that he had a great gift and he set about to use it to the full in the service of Islam. He had free time at his disposal. Unlike many of the muhajirin, he did not busy himself in the market-places, with buying and selling. Unlike many of the Ansar, he had no land to cultivate. He stayed with the prophet in Madinah and went with him on journeys and expeditions.
Many companions get amazed at the number of hadiths he had memorized and often questioned him on when he had heard a certain hadith and under what circumstances. Talha ibn ubaid Allah said: "I don’t doubt that Abu Hurayrah heard form the prophet what we did not hear." He was one of the interpreters of among the companions.Abu Hurayrah said:"I memorized at the hands of the prophet two traditions. I released one of them and concealed the other. If I released it, my throat might be cut off." Once Marwan ibn Al-Hakam wanted to test his power of memory. He sat with him in one room and behind a curtain he placed ascribe, unknown to Abu Hurayrah, and ordered him to write down whatever Abu Hurayrah said. A year later, Marwan called Abu Hurayrah again and asked him to recall the same ahadith which the scribe had recorded. It was found that he had forgotten not a single word. Abi said Al-Khudari reported that the prophet (saaw) said :"Abu Huraynah is avessal of knowledge." Al Amash also narrated that Abi Salih said:"Abu Huragrah was the best memorizar among the companions." Moreover Abu Hurayrah said about himself:"I don’t know any one among the companions who is best in memorizing the hedeaths of the prophet other than me".
Through his incomparable efforts, many of the prophet's hadiths were transmitted to later generations. He is the first name in the roll of hadeeth transmitters who tranmitted, according to Baqi b. Makhalad, 5374 hadith. The most recent research shows that the number of ahadith transmitted by him is 1236 only. He is reported to have had books of hadith in his possessions. At least nine of Abu Hurayrah's students wrote ahadith from him. According to Ibn al-Gauzi, there are 5374 ahadith transmitted by him in musnad Baqi and 3848 ahadith in the musnad of Ibn Hanbal. According to Ahmed shakir, after substracting repeated ahadith, there remain 1579 ahadith transmitted by Abu Hurairah. He observed and learnt some 15oo traditions within the period that he spent with the prophet which are amixture of verbal and practical sunnah. Hasan b. Amr al.Damari saw many books of ahadith in Abu Hurairah, Possessions. Abdeal-Aziz b.Marwan had almost all the ahadith of Abu Hurayrah in written from.
Many comanions and tabiis narrated ahadith From him. Their number was nearly 800 companions and tabiis. Thay are mentioned in the books of the six Imams.
He was an accurate and trustworthy narrator. He transmitted ahadith from the prophet saying: "He who attends the funeral till the prayer is offered for (the dead), his is the reward of one Qirat, and he who attends till the dead is buried, for him is the reward of two Qirats." Abduallah b. umer asked him to be careful as to what he transmitted from the prophet, as he was transmitting too much. Then Abu Hurayrah took his hand and brought him to Aisha, who testified to the narration of Abu Hurairah. Later on Ibn Umar used to say "we lost many qararit. So, he was authentic in the transmittion of the Ahadith.
The most accurate hadaeths are those narrated from Alzahri from Said Ibn Al-musayeb from Abu Hurayrah.The narration of Abi Al-Zynad from Al-Arag from Abu Hurayrah. The narration of ibn Auf and Ayub from Mohammad ibn sireen from Abu Hurayrah. He was mentioned in "Tabqat Al-Quran." He was also mentioned in "Tadhratul – Hufaz." Ibn umar once said to him: "O Abu Hurayrah, you are the most one amongst us who accompanied the prophet and the most acquainted one with the prophet hadiths."
He was known with piety in faith. It is reported that one day, he passed through the market of madinah and naturally saw people engrossed in the business of buying and selling. He said to them: "How feeble are you, the inheritance of the prophet (saaw) is being distributed and you remain here! Won't you go and take your portion."
They asked him: "Where" he said: "in the masjid." Quickly they left. Abu Hurayrah waited until they returned and they said to him: "We went to the masjid and entered and we did not see anything being distributed." He asked: "Did not you see anyone in the masjid?". O yes, we saw some people performing salat, some people reading the Quran, and some people discussing what is halal and what is haram." He said:"That is the inheritance of Muhammad (saaw). It is reported that he used to glorify Allah nearly 12000 times daily.
Much of his time would be spent in spiritual exercises and devotion to God. (Qiyam al-layl) staying up for the night in prayer, was a regular practice of his family. He would stay up for a third of the night, his wife for another third and his daughter for a third.In this way, in the house of Abu Hurayrah no hour of the night be spent without ibadah, dhikr and salah.
During the caliphate of umer, he was appointed as a governor of Bakrain. But umar (R.a.a) brought him and distributed his wealth. He thought that he had acquired the money through unlawful means. Throughout his life, he remained kind and courteous to his mother. He also encouraged other people to be kind and good to their parents. He once said to his daughter, "don’t wear the gold so that you may be saved from the flame of the fire." It was reported that Abu Hurayrah cried during his illness and he was asked why are you crying?" he said :"I don’t cry concerning leaving this life of the world, but concerning the long distance of my journey and the minority of my supplies and that l'll be exposed to the paradise and the Hellfire and I don’t know to where l'll be taken".
Finally, we can say that Muslims owe a debt of gratitude to Abu Hurayrah for helping to preserve and transmit the valuable legacy of the prophet (saaw) and transmitting the message to us. He died in the year 59 A.H. when he was seventy-eight years old and was buried at Al-Baqi (R.a.a).