Story of Abdur Rahman ibn Awf (R.A.)

According to the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),

“The Truthful and trusty merchant is associated with the Prophets, the upright, and the martyrs”.

This saying is a true depiction of the Islamic perspective on commerce and its value. These teachings of Islam provide a framework for the ethical conduct of business even in today’s world. It stresses the fact that prosperity cannot be achieved without respecting the virtues of commerce and understand the meaning of success both in this life and the next.

Islam is a religion that has always been favorable for businessmen, it began with the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his wife Khadija (May God be pleased with her), they were both merchants. They provided a perfect legal structure of Islamic Law for the early precedents of the business community.

The Companions of the Prophet (PBUH):

The companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) were the men who devoted their entire lives with personal sacrifice and exertion to act upon the teachings of Islam. They stood by their great Messenger and presented human civilization with new and sound inclinations. One of the personalities among Prophet’s (PBUH) companions was Abdur Rahman Ibn Awf, who achieved victory with his entrepreneurial instincts, and his loyalty to Allah and His Messenger

His Story:

We can look at the example set by Abdur Rahman Ibn Awf with awe and delight because it lies under his humble and great wisdom. He was one of the first eight individuals who accepted Islam and was assured of entering Paradise. His 6th sense, ability to smell business opportunity made him successful in his life.

His Early Life:

Abdur Rahman Ibn Awf bore all the punishments that were given to early Muslims and struggled on every point with his life after accepting Islam. But he remained steadfast and firm during all the struggles. When the persecutions became unbearable, he along with others was compelled to leave Makah, he then made his Hijrah to Madinah.

In Madinah, to strengthen the social cohesion among the Insar and Mahajirin, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) began pairing the people. Abdur Rahman Ibn Awf was paired with Saad Ibn ar-Rabi’ah. People of Madinah were filled with the spirit of generosity and magnanimity and offered everything they had to their Muslim brothers. Saad Ibn ar-Rabi’ah in the same spirit offered Abdur Rahman whatever he had. He said

“My brother among the people of Madinah, I am the wealthiest. I am blessed with two orchards and I have two wives. See which of the orchards you like and u shall vacate it for you and which of my two wives is pleasing to you and I will divorce her for you”.

But Abdur Rahman thanked him for his generosity but refused to accept any of the offerings. He just asked about the way that leads to the market-place. With whatever limited resources he had, he began to trade.

When he was young, he was trained to do business by his father. His mind’s eye to sense business opportunity and employ his business acumen made him successful again.

He started the business of dried buttermilk but immediately realized that trading with horses saddles is a more scalable, profitable business.

His business grew by purchasing/selling different commodities, saddles, and horses.

He became a wealthy trader and soon started reaping bigger rewards for his efforts and hard work.

Abdur Rahman became so much accustomed to his success in business that it was believed that if he lifted a stone he would assume gold or silver underneath.

Abdur Rahman earned much wealth as you can imagine but he did not keep it for his own sake. It did not allow that wealth to corrupt him. He helped most of the needy people secretly but also gave money openly in order to encourage others. He wanted to tell people that wealth does not decrease or end if we share it with poor people and spend it in Allah’s way.

Examples Of His Generosity:

There are so many incidents about Allah’s Messenger’s faithful companion that makes us proud when we see the extent of his generosity.

To Muslims setting out on the path of Allah, he gave forty thousand dirhams of silver, forty thousand dinars of gold, two hundred awqiyyah of gold, and five hundred horses.

One thousand camels to another group.

To the survivors of Badr, he gave four hundred dinars, etc.

His legacy of generosity has a long list. He took his entrepreneurial abilities as gifts by Allah and made it a reminder of his duty to the human race. He spent his wealth by sharing it with other people and realized his opportunity of being granted the felicity in life and life after death.

What Can You Do?

There is a lesson for us to learn from the struggles, efforts, and the generosity of Abdur Rahman Ibn Awf. The most powerful tool to purify your wealth and grow it is “Zakat”

He used his business abilities, he converted limited resources into a well-established business with the spirit of sacrifice, spending in the way of Allah, and set the example as one of the richest Muslim businessmen in Islam.

Written by Hisham Sarwar

That is all you ever need to know about me but let me warn you, freelancing for me is a journey, certainly not a destination :)