Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
22 February 2013 / 11 Rabiulakhir 1434
The Importance of Strengthening our Creed (Aqidah) –
Lessons from the story of Salman Al-Farisi r.a.
Dear blessed Jemaah,
Let us take the opportunity today to learn several valuable lessons from the diligence of a Companion of Rasulullah s.a.w, who was earnest in his attempts to discover the truth. This, despite the fact that the message brought by Rasulullah had not reached him at that time, and neither was he an Arab. Yet his sheer determination to learn about the truth sets an example for us all.
Hopefully this will aspire us to strengthen our taqwa toward Allah and motivate us to heed Allah’s commandments and avoid what He has prohibited upon us.
The Companion we will learn from today is none other than Salman Al-Farisi r.a., a Persian who was a Zoroastrian (Majusi). In his quest to seek the truth, he had initially embraced Christianity. Those who are like Salman are mentioned by Allah in surah Al-Qasas verse 52-54:
Which means: “Those to whom We gave the Scripture before it – they are believers in it. And when it is recited to them, they say, “We have believed in it; indeed, it is the truth from our Lord. Indeed we were, [even] before it, Muslims [submitting to Allah ].”
My dear brothers,
Salman Al-Farisi’s burning desire to learn the truth and the painful journey he undertook to discover aqidah, serves as a touching lesson for all of us. In an account which Salman r.a. himself shared with Ibnu Abbas r.a., as narrated by Imam Ahmad, Salman r.a. recalled of the hardship he had to suffer during his travels to Syria, Iraq and Madinah from his hometown in Esfahan, Iran. He was tricked, oppressed, tortured, and was even made to serve as a slave.
Eventually, he met a Christian priest who told him: “My dear son, the time is near, a Prophet will appear and he brings the message taught by Prophet Ibrahim. He will be chased out of a place in the Arab Land and migrate… There will be signs on this Prophet that cannot be hidden, he will accept gifts but will never consume donation (sadaqah) for himself, between his shoulders there will be a mark of his Prophethood. If you are able to make your way toward that land, go there!”
When Salman Al-Farisi was in Quba, he managed to meet Rasulullah s.a.w. He said to the Messenger of Allah: “I have heard that you are a righteous man and that you have companions with you who are strangers and are in need. Here is something from me as charity.” And he handed dates to the Prophet. The Prophet s.a.w. ordered his companions to eat but he himself did not eat of it. Salman said to himself: ‘This is among the signs of his Prophethood.’
Salman then gathered more dates and once again went to the Prophet s.a.w and said, ‘I noticed that you did not eat of the charity that I gave. This, however, is a gift for you.‘
This time, Rasulullah s.a.w ate the dates together with his companions. Salman then said to himself: ‘This is the second sign of his Prophethood.’
When Rasulullah s.a.w was at the cemetery of Baqi’, Salman managed to witness the seal of Prophethood on the Prophet’s back and said: ‘I became convinced that he is a Prophet. And I bowed my head in front of Rasulullah, hugged him and cried.’
My dear brothers, from this story, there are several beneficial lessons for us. Among them:
First, it is not impossible for us to increase our level of understanding of Islam – from a point where we have minimal understanding of Islam, to that of being a good Muslim.
We are different from Salman Al-Farisi, in the sense that most of us here are born Muslims, and have the freedom to seek knowledge wherever we are. In fact, in Singapore, many mosques and centres for Islamic education offer religious classes for the community.
Not only that, advancements in technology have enabled us to seek knowledge from religious teachers and established ulama through YouTube, Facebook and even official websites of known Islamic scholars.
Thus, we do not have a valid reason to not want to increase our level of religious knowledge.
Second, we need to ensure that we learn from reliable sources, and not simply clicking on websites and reading materials we get online without verifying the sources and the essence of the knowledge.
This is extremely important because the laws and religious guidance cited may be more suited to the context and environment of the country where the scholar is from. Furthermore, an ‘Alim’ would not simply issue a ruling or guidance to a matter without understanding the context and situation of a particular community, in a particular country.
For that matter, it is best that we complement our online learing, with religious guidance from qualified asatizah to ensure that what we have attained online is not only verifiable, but it can also be practised in Singapore.
May the story of the great Salman Al-Farisi r.a. fuel our desire to increase efforts in strengthening our aqidah and iman. Amin.