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Accounts of Abu Dharr al-Ghifari (Radiallahu anhu, May Allah be pleased with him) say that his tribe lived by pillaging caravans, but that he preferred to live a poor but honest life as a shepherd. Having heard the news that a new prophet had arisen in Mecca, Abu Dharr and his brother traveled to find him. The young seeker converted almost instantly and rushed out to declare his new faith in front of the Kaaba, which at that time was a pagan temple.
Abu Dharr called out at the top of his voice, “O people of Quraysh, I testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
The Quraysh jumped up and said, ‘Get this one who has left his religion.” They pounced on him and began to beat him mercilessly. They clearly meant to kill him. But Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib, the uncle of the Prophet, recognized him. He bent over and protected him. He told them:
“Woe to you! Would you kill a man from the Ghifar tribe and your caravans must pass through their territory?” Then they released him.
He returned to his tribe, where he made other converts for Islam, and then joined Prophet Muhammad (S) after the Hijra, or migration to Medina in 622 CE.
Several years later, during the caliphate of Uthman (R), Abu Dharr stayed in Damascus and saw the Muslims’ concern for the world and their consuming desire for luxury. The greed of the Ummah deeply concerned him. So Uthman (R) asked him to come to Madinah. At Madinah, Abu Dharr saw again the kind of selfishness that made him fear for the Ummah. Uthman therefore ordered that he should go to Rubdhah, a small village near Madinah. There he stayed far away from people, renouncing their preoccupation with wealth and holding on to the legacy of the Prophet and his companions in seeking the everlasting reward of the Hereafter in preference to this transitory world.
Once a man visited him and began looking at the contents of his house but found it quite bare. He asked Abu Dharr:
“Where are your possessions?”
“We have a house yonder (meaning the Hereafter),” said Abu Dharr, “to which we send the best of our possessions.”
The man understood what he meant and said:
“But you must have some possessions so long as you are in this abode.”
“The owner of this abode will not leave us in it,” replied Abu Dharr.
A popular Hadith (whose chain I cannot locate) says, “May Allah have mercy upon Abu Dharr! Lonely will he live, lonely will he die and lonely will he be resurrected.”
“O Abu Dharr! You showed anger in the name of Allah therefore have hope in Him for whom you became angry. The people were afraid of you in the matter of their (pleasure of this) world while you feared them for your faith. Then leave to them that for which they are afraid of you and get away from them taking away what you fear them about. How needy are they for what you dissuade them from and how heedless are you towards what they are denying you. You will shortly know who is the gainer tomorrow (on the Day of Judgement) and who is more enviable. Even if these skies and earth were closed to some individual and he feared Allah, then Allah would open them for him. Only rightfulness should attract you while wrongfulness should detract you. If you had accepted their worldly attractions they would have loved you and if you had shared in it they would have given you asylum” .. Ali bin Abi Talib (R) – Sermon 129 (Nahjul Balagha)