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This is the story of the pious mystic Faqhi intellectual and ascetic Salman the Persian. He grew up in the town of Isfahan in Persia in the village of Jayyan. His father was the Dihqan (chief) of the village. He was the richest person there and had the biggest house.His father loved him more than he loved any other. As time went by his love for Salman became so strong and overpowering that he feared to lose him or have anything happen to him. So he kept him at home a virtual prisoner in the same way that young girls were kept.

Salman became devoted to the Magian religion so much so that he attained the position of custodian of the fire which they worshipped. His duty was to see that the flames of the fire remained burning and that it did not go out for a single hour day or night.

Salman?s father had a vast estate which yielded an abundant supply of crops. He himself looked after the estate and gathered harvest. One day as he went about his duties as Dihqan of the village he said to Salman ?My son as you see I am too busy to go out to the estate now. Go and look after matters there for me today.
On the way to the estate Salman passed a Christian church and heard voices raised in prayer which attracted his attention. He did not know anything about Christianity or for that matter about the followers of any other religion. His father had kept him in the house away from people. When he heard the voices of the Christians he entered the church to see what they were doing. He was impressed by their manner of praying and felt drawn to their religion. He said ?This religion is better than ours. I shall not leave them until the sunsets.?

Salman's inclination to Christianity:

Salman asked and was told that the Christian religion originated in Syria. He did not go to his father?s estate that day and at night he returned home. His father met him and asked where he had been. Salman told him about his meeting with the Christians and how he was impressed by their religion. His father was dismayed and said: ?My son their is nothing good in that religion. Your religion and the religion of your forefathers is better.?

?No their religion is better than ours ? he insisted. His father became upset and afraid that Salman would leave their religion. So he kept Salman locked up in the house and shackled his feet. Salman managed to send a message to the Christians asking them to inform him of any caravans going to Syria. Before long they contacted him with the information he wanted. He broke the fetters and escaped his father?s estate to join the caravan to Syria. When he reached Syria he asked regarding the leading person in the Christian religion and was directed to the bishop of the church. He went up to him and said: ?I want to become a Christian and would like to attach myself to your service learn from you and pray with you.?

The bishop agreed and Salman entered the church in his service. Salman soon found out however that the bishop was corrupt. He would order his followers to give money in charity while holding out the promise of blessings to them. When they gave the bishop anything to spend in the way of Allah he would hoard it for himself and not give anything to the poor or needy. In this way he amassed a vast quantity of gold. When the bishop died and the Christians gathered to bury him Salman told them of his corrupt practices and at their request showed them where the bishop had kept their donations. When they saw the large jars filled with gold and silver they said ?By Allah we shall not bury him.? They nailed him on a cross and threw stones at him. Salman stayed on in the service of the person who replaced him. The new bishop was an ascetic who longed for the Hereafter and engaged in worship day and night. Salman was devoted to him and spent much of the time in his company.

After the new bishop died Salman attached himself to various Christian religious figures in Mosul Nisibis and elsewhere. The last one told him that there was none left on the earth that were following the correct path. He also told him that the time had arrived for the advent of a Prophet in the land of the Arabs who would have a reputation for strict honesty one who would accept a gift but would never consume charity (sadaqah) for himself.

Salman's inclination to the Arabs and Islam:

A group of Arab leaders from the Kalb tribe passed through Ammuriyah. Salman asked them to take him with them to the land of the Arabs in return for whatever money he had. They agreed to take him along. When they reached Wadi al-Qura (a place between Syria and Madinah) the Arabs broke their agreement and made him a slave then sold Salman to a Jew. Salman worked as a servant for him but he eventually sold him to a nephew of his belonging to the tribe of Banu Qurayzah. This nephew took Salman with him to Yathrib the city of palm groves which is how the Christian at Ammuriyah had described it.

At that time the Prophet was inviting his people in Makkah to Islam but Salman did not know of this because of the harsh duties slavery imposed upon him. When the Prophet reached Yathrib after his hijrah from Makkah Salman was on top of a palm tree doing some work. Salman?s master was sitting under the tree. A nephew of Salman?s master came up and said ?May Allah declare war on the Aws and the Khazraj (the two main Arab tribes of Yathrib). By Allah they are now gathering at Quba to meet a man who has just today arrived from Makkah and who claims to be Prophet.?

Salman felt light-headed upon hearing these words and began to shiver so violently that he had to climb down in fear that he may fall. He quickly swung down from the tree and spoke to his master?s nephew.
?What did you say? Repeat the news for me.?
Salman?s master grew angry at this breach of protocol and struck him a terrible blow. ?What does this matter to you?? Go back to what you were doing ? he shouted.

That evening Salman took some dates that he had gathered and went to the place where the Prophet had alighted. He went to him and said ?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 sadaqah. I see that you are more deserving of it than others are.?
The Prophet ordered his companions to eat but he himself refrained. Salman gathered some more dates and when the Prophet left Quba for Madinah Salman went to him and said ?I noticed that you did not eat of the sadaqah I gave. This however is a gift for you.? Of this gift of dates both he and his companions ate.

The strict honesty of the Prophet was one of the characteristics that led Salman to believe in him and accept Islam. Salman was released from slavery by the Prophet who paid his Jewish master a stipulated price and who himself planted an agreed number of date palms to secure Salman?s manumission. After accepting Islam Salman would say when asked whose son he was ?I am Salman the son of Islam from the children of Adam.?

Salman's role in islam:

Salman was to play an important role in the struggles of the growing Muslim State. At the battle of Khandaq he proved to be an innovator in military strategy. It was he who suggested digging a ditch or khandaq around Madinah to keep the Quraysh army at bay. When Abu Sufyan the leader of the Makkans saw the ditch he said ?This stratagem has not been employed by the Arabs before.? Salman participated in all of the other campaigns of the Prophet thereafter. He was also with Saad in the conquest of Iraq. After the grand victory the Caliph Umar chose him because of his knowledge of the terrain to select the land upon which Kufa was to be built.

Salman became known as ?Salman the Good?. Salman was a scholar who lived a rough and ascetic life. He had one cloak which he wore and slept on. He would not seek the shelter of a roof but stayed under a tree or against a wall. A man once said to him: ?Shall I not build you a house in which you may live?? ?I have no need of a house ? he replied. The man persisted and said; ?I know the type of house that would suit you.? ?Describe it to me ? said Salman. ?I shall build you a house which if you stood up in the roof would hurt your head and if you were to stretch your legs the wall would hurt them.?

Later as a governor of Al-Madain (Ctesiphon) near Baghdad Salman received a stipend of five thousand dhirhams. This he would distribute as sadaqah. He lived from the work of his own hands. When some people came to Madina and saw him working the palm groves they said ?You are the leader here and your sustenance is guaranteed and yet you do this work??
?I like to eat from the work of my own hands ? he replied. Salman however was not extreme in his ascetism.
It is related that he visited Abu Dardaa with which the Prophet (pbuh) had joined him in brotherhood. He found Abu Dardaa?s wife in a miserable state and he asked ?What is the matter with you.??Your brother has no need of anything in this world ? she replied.
When Abu Dardaa came he welcomed Salman and gave him food. Salman told him to eat but Abu Dardaa said ?I am fasting.??I swear to you that I shall not eat until you eat also.?

Salman spent the night there as well. During the night Abu ad-Dardaa got up but Salman got hold of him and said ?O Abu ad-Dardaa your Lord has a right over you. Your family has a right over you and your body has a right over you. Give to each there due.?

Then in the morning they prayed together and then went out to meet the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) supported Salman in what he had said. (Bukhari)

Salman as a scholar:

As a scholar Salman was noted for his vast knowledge and wisdom. Ali (RA) said of him that he was like Luqman the Wise. And Kab al-Ahbar said: ?Salman is bursting with knowledge and wisdom. He is an ocean that does not dry up.? Salman had knowledge of both the Christian scripture and the Quraan in addition to his earlier knowledge of the Zoroastrian religion. Salman in fact translated parts of the Quraan into Persian during the lifetime of the Prophet (pbuh). He was thus the first person to translate the Quraan into a foreign language.

According to the most reliable account he died in either 31 or 34 A.H at the age of 250 years during the caliphate of Uthman at Ctesiphon.

Abu Hurraira (RA) narrates that the Prophet (pbuh) prayed the following verse: ?If ye turn back He will substitute in your stead another people then they would not be like you.? (Q47:38) The Sahabah asked the Prophet (pbuh) ?O Prophet (pbuh) who are these people that Allah has mentioned that he would chose them instead of us? That they will not do as we did?? The Prophet (pbuh) placed his hand on Salman?s thigh and said ?It will be his people. And even if faith is near the Surya (the Pleiads) someone from the Persians would attain it.?

Who were the people of Kufa and Iraq? Who was Imaam Abu Hanifah? They were all Persians. The divinely chosen denizens of Kufa were Persians. Their spiritual teachers were Persians and so were the three about whom the Prophet (pbuh) said ?Paradise longs for three people. Ali Amar and Salman.? (Tirmidhi)
Abu Hurraira (RA) narrates in another Hadith that the Prophet (pbuh) once prayed the following verse: ?As well as others of them who have not already joined them.? (Q62:3) The Sahabah asked ?O Prophet of Allah (pbuh) who are these people ? The Prophet (pbuh) placed his hand on Salman (ra) and said ?If faith was near the Pleiads then someone from them would attain it.? (Bukhari and Muslim)

Time bore witness to the realisation of the Prophet (pbuh) words. The progeny of the Persians spread their knowledge and populated the world.


Once Abu Sufyan came to Madinah and passed by Salman (ra) Bilal (RA) and Sohayb (RA). The three companions said ?Have not the swords of Allah beheaded this accursed man yet?? Abu Bakr (RA) upon hearing this said ?Do not say such things of the leader of Quraish.? After that Abu Bakr (RA) went to the Prophet (pbuh) and told him of this conversation. The Prophet (pbuh) said ?Have you annoyed these three? If you have then you have annoyed Allah.? Abu Bakr (RA) made haste to the three companions and asked them whether they took offence on his words. They told him that they had not and further said ?O brother may Allah forgive you.? The annoyance of Salman (ra) is the annoyance of Allah. Even the likes of Abu Bakr (RA) fear to offend him.

It has come in another Hadith that the Prophet (pbuh) said ?Allah has commanded me to love four men for He too loves them. They are Ali Abu Dhar Miqdad and Salman.?It has also come in a Hadith that ?Each Prophet had seven helpers and protectors I was given fourteen. Ali Hasan and Hussain Hamzah Abu Bakr Umar Masaab Ibn Ameer Bilal Salman Amar Abdullah Ibn Masood Abu Dhar and Miqdad.

This was Salman Farsi (ra) the Persian who?s quest for the true faith lasted almost all of his 250 years of life. As Muslims and as students it should be our point of aspiration to achieve at least some of the dedication of Salman Farsi (ra) to faith and the gaining of knowledge.