Abu Bakr (RA) and Rabeeah (RA)’s dispute

There was a Sahabi named Rabeeah Al-Aslami (RA). Nabi ﷺ gave him a plot of land and an adjacent plot to Abu Bakr (RA). After some time elapsed, they both disagreed on a date palm tree that was on the border of their lands. Both were claiming that the tree was on their side. As the dispute intensified, Abu Bakr (RA) said some negative words to him. Immediately, he regretted his words causing him to forget the dispute. He was no longer concerned about the tree and he offered it to Rabeeah (RA). He requested him to utter the same words back to make it even.

However, Rabeeah (RA) held him in very high regard, how then can he utter negative words back? Naturally, he refused to do so. Abu Bakr (RA) insisted but he continued to refuse. Eventually, he walked away to take the case to Nabi ﷺ. A few clansmen were close by and had overheard the dispute. They said to Rabeeah (RA), “May Allah have mercy on Abu Bakr! He was the one who said something inappropriate to you, so why is he asking the Messenger of Allah ﷺ for help against you?”

Rabeeah (RA) replied, “Do you know who he is? He is Abu Bakr As-Sideeq, the second of two (in the cave of Thaur) and the most eminent of all Muslims. So beware: do not let Abu Bakr see you taking my side against him, for he might become angry as a result. Then he will go to the Messenger of Allah who will become angry because of Abu Bakr’s anger, and then Allah – the Possessor of Might and Majesty – will become angry because of their anger. And as a result of that, Rabeeah will become destroyed.”

The clansmen were focused on the case, assuming that he would take them as a witness against Abu Bakr (RA). But he was more concerned about pleasing Allah, which is exemplified by his profound reply. Thus, they left the scene and he followed Abu Bakr (RA) closely.

Once they both reached Nabi ﷺ, Abu Bakr (RA) gave his account of what happened. Nabi ﷺ then raised his head towards Rabeeah (RA) and asked him to say his side of the story. For it is a mark of fairness, to listen to both sides of the story before passing a judgement; which we often omit when speaking on a matter. Rabeeah (RA) then narrated the exact same account of what happened. He included the negative words that Abu Bakr (RA) had said and that he refused to repeat them back.

Nabi ﷺ said, “Yes, indeed. And do not say similar words to him, but instead say; ‘May Allah forgive you, O Abu Bakr.'” Rabeeah repeated these words and forgave him. However, Abu Bakr (RA) still felt guilty. Thus he turned around and walked away crying.

Look at the softness of his heart. He used slightly harsh words and that alone reduced him to tears, even after he was completely forgiven. From this story, we can see that the Sahaaba (RA) had clean hearts. They had disagreements in the spur of the moment, this happens to everyone. However, when the hearts are clean disputes are resolved immediately. Before Islam, they would fight for decades and many problems would arise from one small dispute. After Islam, even a big dispute was easily resolved. This highlights the importance and positive changes that occur after tazkiyah is done.

Nowadays, we do not give enough importance to our spiritual purification. We utter many incorrect, hurtful words as though we will never be reckoned or held accountable. To hold others to account whilst forgetting ourselves, is against the teachings of our deen. Rabeeah (RA) feared incurring the wrath of Allah, due to which he gave preference to forgiving rather than arguing. And what about ourselves, what do we give preference to?

May Allah enable us to cleanse our hearts and bless us with good character, Aameen.

— Hazrat Ml. Dawood Seedat حفظه الله

Above is an extract from Hazrat’s talk on 03/08/17 in Masjid-ut-Taqwa, Pietermaritzburg. To listen to the full talk, please click here.

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