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Story of Hudhaifah ibn Al-Yaman – A Man of Insight

Time: The days of Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab.

Place: Al-Madain (one of the major towns captured from Persia by the Muslim army).

Occasion: The arrival of the new governor and his reception.

Thousands of people rushed to the outskirts of the town to welcome the new governor appointed by Caliph Umar. They were all very anxious to see this well-known companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

What did they see? A modest man on the back of a mule, wearing humble, but clean clothes, and eating bread dipped in salt. People were stunned at that sight.

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For them, this was not a sight of the governor of a formerly Persian-ruled town, where pomposity and luxury were the marks of authority and respect.

They were used to seeing their ruler riding a fanciful horse, with plenty of ornaments and many guards and courtiers surrounding him. But what they had just seen had nothing of the sort. In fact, it was exactly the opposite.

A Humble Ruler

When the new governor saw people surrounding him, watching and waiting for a speech from him, he then said, “Beware of the places of temptation.”

They asked him, “What are the places of temptation?”

Hudhaifah answered:

“The door-steps of the rulers. One of you might be in the presence of a ruler and accept falsehood for truth and praise him with qualities he does not possess.”

With this, the citizens of Al-Madain received their new governor, and with these words, he started his governorship. People immediately realized that he was no regular ruler, who sought honor and worldly gains, but a man to whom this was a responsibility, which required sincerity on the sides of both ruler and the ruled.

The new governor was no other than Hudhaifah ibn  Yaman. Hudhaifah was a  companion of Prophet Muhammad who was known for many qualities, including courage, sincerity, frankness, and humility (in addition to insight).

He hated hypocrisy and flattery, because he knew they were marks of insincerity and cowardice.

Commenting on people’s attitude and reactions to the wrong doings of the rulers, Hudhaifah said:

Some people will object to them with their hearts, tongues and hands. These are the people of truth. Others will object with their hearts and tongues only. These are one-third mistaken.

A third group will object with their hearts only. These have missed two-thirds of the truth. Still others will have no objection to those wrong doings of any sort. These are the dead people among the living.

A Courageous Companion

It was Hudhaifah’s courage that qualified him to be chosen by Prophet Muhammad to infiltrate the enemy in the most difficult battle, that of Al-Ahzab (the Allies) to bring him news of the enemy’s camp.

The night was very cold, with freezing winds fiercely blowing, while the huge army of the enemy was besieging Madinah, the Muslims were exhausted out of the scarcity of food and lack of rest. But no matter what, Hudhaifah was willing and ready for the task, which he executed with great care.

He was in fact almost captured, had it not been for his wit, when the commander of the enemy’s camp warned each fighter to make sure of the identity of the man next to him. Realizing the danger of his exposure, Hudhaifah quickly asked the man next to him his name.

The other major occasion was the choice of Hudhaifah for one of the few commanders who conquered the Persian armies in Iraq.

After the war, Hudhaifah was one of the two people chosen to find a suitable location for the Muslim camp. They chose Kufah for the purpose, and its air helped restore the health of the ill and weak soldiers, who could not stand the air at Al-Madain.

His Death

Hudhaifah’s humility was manifest in every step he took. Even death could not cause Hudhaifah to forget this quality in him. On his deathbed, he asked his companions, “Have you brought the shrouds for me?”

When answered in the affirmative, he wanted to see them. They looked too fancy and expensive. So he ordered them to be exchanged for humbler ones, saying:

“I need only two white pieces of cloth. For it will only be a short while in the grave, and I will be made to change into either better or worse ones.”

(Republished with kind permission from