Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas was considered to be one of the most courageous Arab and Muslim horsemen. He possessed two weapons, his lance and his prayer. Whenever he pierced an enemy with his lance he hurt him; whenever he invoked Allah, He answered. He and the Companions always saw that this was due to the Prophet’s prayer in favor of him.
One day, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw him doing something which made him glad and delighted, he made the following plea: “O Allah, make his spear hit unerringly and answer his prayer.”
Purity of Heart
It was in this way that he became famous among his companions for his prayer, which was like a sharp sword. He knew that about himself; therefore, he never cursed a person. Sa`d would just trust Allah to do with him as He liked.
An example of that is what `Aamir ibn Sa`d once narrated: Sa`d Ibn Abi Waqqas once saw a man insulting `Ali, Talhah and Az-Zubair. He forbade him, but he didn’t stop. Sa`d then said, “Then I will invoke Allah against you.” The man said, “You’re threatening me as if you were a Prophet.”
Sa`d went away, performed his ablution and prayed two rak`ahs. Then he lifted his hands up and said, “O Allah, if You know that that man has insulted people who have already been granted by You that which is the best and his cursing of them has annoyed You, then make an example out of him.”
Only a short while had passed, when a stray camel went out of a house. Nothing could stay it till it entered a crowd as if searching for something. Then it attacked the man, and he fell between its legs. It continued to kick the man down till he died.
If this phenomenon was to prove something, then it proved primarily the purity of his soul, the honesty of his faith, and the depth of his sincerity. He always sought to support his piety by halal food; with great insistence he always refused to take doubtful money.
A Man of Charity
Sa`d Ibn Abi Waqqas lived until he became one of the wealthiest Muslims. When he died, he left a great fortune behind. Although the abundance of money and its legitimacy are rarely to be found together, they certainly were combined in the hands of Sa`d. Thus Allah granted him a great amount of halal money.
He (may Allah be pleased with him) was a great figure in the act of charity, as much as he was a great figure in the act of righteously choosing the sources of his money. His ability to collect purely halal money was equal to, if not second to, his ability to donate it in the cause of Allah.
He became ill during the Farewell Pilgrimage, when he was accompanying the Prophet (peace be upon him), who visited him. Sa`d asked him, “O Messenger of Allah, I own a lot of money and there is nobody to inherit from me except one daughter. May I contribute two thirds of my money as alms?” The Prophet said, “No.” Then he said, “Then half of it?” The Prophet said, “No.” Then he said, “Then a third?” The Prophet said, “Yes, and the third is too much. To leave your heirs wealthy is better than to leave them having to be dependent on someone. If you spend any money in the cause of Allah you’ll be rewarded for it, even the bite you put in your wife’s mouth.”
Sa`d did not remain the father of one daughter because he was later on blessed with other children. Sa`d Ibn Abi Waqqas used to cry a lot out of piety. Whenever he listened to the Prophet preaching or advising, his tears rolled down abundantly, so that his tears nearly filled his lap.
He was blessed with success and accomplishment. Once the Prophet was sitting with the Companions when his eyes gazed on the horizon while listening to what was being revealed secretly and whisperingly. Then he looked at his Companions’ faces and said, “A man who belongs to Paradise will soon appear.” The Companions turned in all directions trying to learn, who this successful person may be. After a while, Sa`d arrived.
Later on, Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn Al-`Aas asked him persistently to tell him the worship or deed which made him eligible for such a reward. Sa`d told him, “Nothing more than what we all do or worship, except that I don’t carry any spite or hatred towards any Muslim.”
The Lion’s Claws
This is the “Lion’s Claws” as `Abdul Rahman ibn `Awf had described him. This is the man whom `Umar chose for the great day of the Battle of Al-Qadisiyah.
The Commander of the Faithful had insight into all his glittering merits when he chose him for the most difficult task confronting Islam and the Muslims:
– His prayers were heard and answered; if he asked Allah for victory, he would be granted it.
– His food was pure, his tongue was pure, his conscience was pure.
– He was a man who belonged to Paradise, as the Messenger prophesied.
– He was the horseman on the Day of Badr, the horseman on the Day of Uhud and in every battle he experienced with the Prophet .
– And another thing, which `Umar would not forget nor underestimate the value and importance among the characteristics which should be present in anyone facing major tasks, was the strength and firmness of his faith.
-`Umar did not forget what happened between Ibn Abi Waqqas and his mother when he converted to Islam and followed the Prophet.
At that time, all attempts to hinder and obstruct him from the cause of Allah had failed. His mother used a device which none doubted would conquer Sa`d’s soul and drive him back to his people’s idols. She announced her abstention from food and drink until Sa`d returned to his ancestors’ and kin’s religion.
She actually carried on her hunger strike with death defying determination and had almost approached death.
Despite all that, Sa`d did not care. He would not sell his faith and religion for anything, even if it were his mother’s life. Hoping that his heart would yield upon seeing her, some relatives took Sa’d to his mother, who was almost dying.
Sa`d went to her. The scene was so impressive, even mountain rocks would yield and melt. However, his belief in Allah and His Messenger proved to be stronger than rocks and iron. He came with his face nearer and shouted so that she could hear him. “You know, by Allah, mother, if you had 100 souls coming out one after the other I wouldn’t abandon my faith in return for anything. Then eat if you like or don’t eat!”
His mother changed her mind. A divine revelation greeted Sa`d’s position and supported it.
But if they (both) strive with you to make you join in worship with Me others that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not… (Luqman 31 : 15)
Ibn Abi Waqqas as a Horseman
Is he not, indeed, the Lion in his claws? Therefore the Commander of the Faithful should hand him the standard of Al-Qadisiyah and throw him against the Persians, who recruited more than 100,000 trained warriors equipped with the most dangerous weapons the earth had ever witnessed, led on that day by the most intelligent and cunning warlords.
Indeed, all those horrible legions, will Sa`d meet with his mere 30,000 warriors, equipped only with spears, nothing more. However, their hearts were filled with the will of the new faith with all it represents: belief, vigor, and a rare, dazzling, longing aspiration for death and martyrdom.
Sa`d Ibn Abi Waqqas is a smart, brave horseman, the Prophet’s uncle, one of the first converts, and hero of different wars and raids. No sword or lance of his ever failed to reach its target. He stands at the head of his army in one of the greatest historical battles as if he were an ordinary soldier, not deluded by power nor acting arrogantly because of leadership.
The article is excerpted from the book Men Around the Messenger, which is a translation based on Khalid Muhammad Khalid’s celebrated work in Arabic “Rijal Hawla Ar-Rasul” which represents the real inspirational stories of sixty-four Companions of the Prophet.
Khalid Muhammad Khalid (1920-1996) is a modern Egyptian Muslim thinker. He is most known for his book Rijal Hawla al-Rasul (Men Around the Messenger). He wrote many books about the life and the companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him.