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Young Scholars Among the Prophet Muhammad’s Companions

Youth is a precious asset that most of us squander in useless pursuits, only to realize our mistake when it’s irretrievably gone. But the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) were not like that. And it’s by means of those who made the most of their own youths that we have access to authentic Prophetic knowledge in our time.

The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said:

Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death. (Shu’ab al-Imān 9575)

Abu Hurayrah

He narrated more hadiths from the Prophet (peace be upon him) than any other Companion. And he learned all those hadiths in just four years, because that’s how long he got the companionship of the Prophet. How did he manage it?

He spent four precious years of his youth, not in pursuing a profitable career or life’s pleasures, but in living among some of the poorest people of Madinah – the Ahlus-Suffah.

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These people were given shelters actually inside the Prophet’s Mosque. The advantage of living there is clear enough – they had the maximum access to the Prophet’s teachings.

Here’s his own explanation of how he came to narrate so much from the Prophet (peace be upon him):

“You people say that Abu Hurayrah tells many narrations from Allah’s Messenger and you also wonder why the emigrants (Muhajirun) and Ansar do not narrate from Allah’s Messenger as Abu Hurayrah does.”

Then he explained that whilst everyone was busy earning a living (the Muhajirun used to work in the marketplace and the Ansar used to work on their properties), he, Abu Hurayrah, would eat enough to satisfy his stomach, and spend his time in the Masjid of the Prophet, among the poor people of the Suffah.

Then he narrated an incident when the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

Whoever spreads his garment till I have finished my present speech and then gathers it to himself, will remember whatever I will say.

Abu Hurayrah spread his garment till the Prophet (peace be upon him) finished his speech, and then gathered it to his chest. He did not forget any of those hadiths. (Bukhari 2047)

How many of us can sacrifice four years of our lives living in a slum, barely eating, for the sole purpose of seeking knowledge?

About 13% of the hadiths in Sahih al-Bukhari are through Abu Hurayrah alone. The total number of hadiths that reached us from him is 5374.

May Allah be pleased with him.

Abdullah ibn Abbas

He was very young when the Prophet Muhammad died. And yet he narrated numerous hadiths. How come?

It’s because he made most of what he had – the companionship of the Companions. He would wait at their doors just to hear a hadith. He realized what a blessing it was that he still had access to those individuals who had lived and spent precious time with the Prophet (peace be upon him), and he made the most of this blessing.

Once, after the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Ibn Abbas said to a man from the Ansar:

“Come let’s go and ask questions from the Companions of Allah’s Messenger because today they are numerous.”

The man replied:

“Do you see the people having a need of you while amongst the people there are many of the Companions of Allah’s Messenger?”

The man didn’t think much of the idea. Nevertheless, ibn Abbas pursued it, and we know the result. (Abu Aziz 178)

And he didn’t just collect and memorize knowledge. He asked questions and pondered deeply. This was the effect of the dua that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had once made for him:

O Allah, make him acquire a deep understanding of the religion and instruct him in the meaning and interpretation of things.

Because he asked questions and pondered on what he learned, he was an expert at explaining the Quran. Mujahid, his student, said about him:

“Whenever Ibn Abbas interpreted something, I saw a light over him.”

The total number of hadiths that reached us from him is 1660.

May Allah be pleased with him.

Jabir ibn Abdullah

He was a Madinan, born twenty years before the hijrah. He participated in nineteen battles alongside the Prophet (peace be upon him). When his father died, he left behind six orphan daughters. It fell to Jabir to take financial care of his six sisters, along with himself and his wife, and he wasn’t a rich man by any stretch of the imagination. And yet he found time to become one of the most prolific hadith narrators amongst the Companions.

The total number of hadiths that reached us from him is 1500.

May Allah be pleased with him.


Abu Aziz, Sa’d Yusuf. Men and Women Around the Messenger. Darussalam.

Laknawi, Rijal: Narrators of the Muwatta al-Imam Muhammad.