I come from Isfahan, from a place called Jai, and I was the most beloved son of my father, who was a figure of high esteem among his people. We used to worship fire. I devoted myself to fire worship until I became custodian of the fire which we lit and never allowed to be extinguished.
My father had an estate. One day, he sent me there. I passed by a Christian church and heard them praying. I went in and saw what they were doing. I was impressed by what I saw in their prayers. I said, ”This is better than our religion.” I did not leave them until sunset, nor did I go to my father’s estate, nor did I return to my father until he sent people to search for me.
I asked the Christians about their affair and prayers which impressed me, and about the origin of their religion. They answered, ”In Syria.” I said to my father when I returned to him, ”I passed by people praying in a church of theirs, and I was impressed by their prayer, and I could see that their religion is better than ours.” He questioned me and I questioned him, and then he put fetters on my feet and locked me up.
Then I sent to the Christians saying I had entered their religion, and I requested that whenever a caravan came from Syria, they should tell me before its return in order for me to travel with them, and so they did.
I broke loose from the iron fetters and went away. I set out with them for Syria. While I was there, I asked about their learned man, and I was told that he was the bishop, leader of the church. I went to him and told him my story. I lived with him, serving, praying, and learning.
But this bishop was not faithful in his religion, because he used to gather money from the people to distribute it, but he would keep it for himself. Then he died.
They appointed a new leader in his place. I have never seen a man more godly than he in his religion, nor more active in his bid for the Hereafter, nor more pious in the world, nor more punctual at worship. I loved him more than I had ever loved any other person before.
When his fate came, I asked him, ”To whom would you recommend me? And to whom would you leave me?” He said, ”O my son, I do not know anyone who is on the path I am and who leads the kind of life I lead, except a certain man in Mosul.”
When he died, I went to that man in Mosul, and told him the story, and I stayed with him as long as Allah wished me to stay. Then death approached him. So I asked him, ”To whom would you advise me to go to?” He directed me to a pious man in Nisibin.
So I went to him and told him my story. I stayed with him as long as Allah wished me to stay. When death overtook him, I asked him as before. He told me to meet a person at `Amuriah in Byzantium. So, to Byzantium I went and stayed with that man, earning my living there by rearing cattle and sheep.
Then death approached him, and I asked him, ”To whom should I go?” He said, “O my son, I know no one anywhere who is on the path we have been on so that I can tell you to go to him. But you have been overtaken by an epoch in which there will appear a prophet in the pure creed of lbrahim (Abraham). He will migrate to the place of palm trees. If you can be sincere to him, then do so. He has signs which will be manifested: he does not eat of charity, yet he accepts gifts, and between his shoulders is the seal of prophethood. When you see him, you will know him.”
A caravan passed by me on that day. I asked them where they had come from and learned that they were from the Arabian Peninsula. So I told them, ”I give you these cattle and sheep of mine in return for your taking me to your land.” They agreed.
So they took me in their company until they brought me to Wadi Al-Quraa and there they wronged to me. They sold me to a Jew. I saw many palm trees and cherished the hope that it was the land that had been described to me and which would be the future place of the advent of the prophet, but it was not.
I stayed with this Jew who bought me until another from Bani Quraidhah came to him one day and bought me from him. I stayed with him until we came to Madinah. By Allah, I had hardly seen it when I knew that it was the land described to me.
I stayed with the Jew, working for him on his plantation in Bani Quraidhah until Allah sent His Prophet (peace be upon him), who later emigrated to Madinah and dismounted at Quba’ among the Bani `Amr ibn `Awf.
Indeed, one day, I was at the top of a palm tree with my master sitting below it when a Jewish man came.
He was a cousin of his and said to him, ”May Allah destroy Bani Qubaa”. They are spreading a rumor about a man at Quba’ who came from Makkah claiming that he is a prophet.” By Allah, he had hardly said it, when I was seized by a tremor, and the palm tree shook until I almost fell on my master.
I climbed down quickly saying, ”What are you saying? What news?” My master gave me a nasty slap and said, ”What have you got to do with this? Return to your work!”
So, I returned to work. At nightfall I gathered what I had and went out until I came to the Prophet at Quba’. I entered and found him sitting with some of his Companions. Then I said, ”You are in need and a stranger. I have some food which I intend to give out as charity. When they showed me your lodgings, I thought you most deserve it, so I have come to you with it.” I put the food down. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to his Companions, ”Eat in the name of Allah.” He abstained and never took of it. I said to myself, ”This, by Allah, is one sign. He does not eat of charity!”
I returned to meet the Prophet again the next day, carrying some food, and said to him, “I can see that you do not partake of charity. I have something which I want to give to you as a present.” I placed it before him. He said to his Companions ”Eat in the name of Allah“ and he ate with them. So I said to myself, ”This indeed is the second sign. He eats of presents.”
I returned and stayed away for a while. Then I came to him, and I saw him sitting, having returned from a burial, and surrounded by his Companions. He had two garments, carrying one on his shoulder and wearing the other. I greeted him, then bent to see the upper part of his back. He knew what I was looking for, so he threw aside his garment off his shoulder and, behold, the sign between his shoulders, the seal of Prophethood, was clear just as the Christian monk had described.”
At once, I staggered towards him, kissing him and weeping. He called to me to come forward and I sat before him. I told him my story as you have already heard me describe the events.
When I became a Muslim, slavery prevented me from taking part in the battles of Badr and Uhud. Therefore the Prophet (peace be upon him) advised me, ”Go into terms with your master for him to free you,” and so I did. The Prophet told the Companions to assist me, and Allah freed me from bondage. I became a free Muslim, taking part with the Prophet in the Battle of Al-khandaq and others.
With these simple clear words, Salman spoke of his great, noble, and sacrificial adventure for the sake of Allah, seeking after the reality of religion that led him to Allah and helped him to find his role in this life. What kind of a noble person was this man? What great superiority was achieved by his aspiring spirit, that restless spirit that withstood difficulties and defeated them, confronted the impossible and it gave way!
What devotion to the truth, and what sincerity that led its owner voluntarily away from the estate of his father, with all its wealth and luxury, to the wilderness, with all its difficulties and suffering. He moved from land to land, town to town, seeking acquaintances, persevering, worshiping and searching for his destiny among people, sects, and different ways of life.
And adhering all the way to the truth with all its noble sacrifices, for the sake of guidance until he was sold into slavery. He was then rewarded by Allah the best of rewards, making him reach the truth and come into the presence of His Prophet.
And then He granted him longevity, enough for him to see the banner of Islam fluttering in all parts of the world and His Muslim worshippers filling its space and corners with guidance, progress and justice!
What do you expect of the Islam of a man with such a noble character but to be a man of such truth!
It was an Islam of the God- fearing and innocent. In his devotion he was intelligent, pious, and the person nearest to `Umar ibn Al-khattab.
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.