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Hudhayfah Ibn Al-Yaman (May Allah be pleased with him).

All praise belong to Allah. May His peace and blessings be upon the noble prophet Muhammad. To proceed;

His name was Hudhayfah Ibn Haseel Al-Yaman. His father, Al-Yaman was a Makkan from the tribe of Abs. He killed someone and was forced to leave Makkah. He had to settle down in Yathrib(Madinah), where he became close to al-Ash'hal tribe and later got marry from the tribe. A son named Hudhayfah was born to him. The restrictions on his return to Makkah was eventually lifted and he divided his time between Makkah and Yathrib but stayed more in Yathrib and was more attached to it.

This was how Hudhayfah had a Makkan origin but a Yathribite upbringing.

When the rays of Islam began to radiate over the Arabian Peninsula, a delegation from the Abs tribe, which included Al-Yaman, went to the Prophet(peace be upon him) and announced their acceptance of Islam. That was before the Prophet migrated to Yathrib.

Hudhayfah grew up in a Muslim household and was taught by both his mother and father who were among the first persons from Yathrib to accept the religion of Allah. He therefore became a Muslim before meeting the Prophet(peace be upon him).

Hudhayfah(may Allah be pleased with him) was very keen to meet the prophet(peace be upon him) since he was informed about the prophet(peace be upon him) and also keen on following whatever news there was about him. The more he heard, the more his affection for the Prophet(peace be upon him) grew and the more he longed to meet him.

He eventually journeyed to Makkah to meet with the Prophet(peace be upon him) and asked him, "Am I a Muhajir or am I an Ansari, O Messenger of Allah?.

The prophet replied:

[إن شئتَ كنت من المهاجرين، وإن شِئت كنت مـن الأنصارِ، فاختـر ما تحبُّ].

[If you wish you may consider yourself among the Muhajirin, or if you wish you may consider yourself one of the Ansar. Choose whichever is dearer to you]. Hudhayfah replied: Well, I am an Ansari O messenger of Allah." (See: Al-Kaamil fi At-taarikh).

At Madinah, after the Hijrah, Hudhayfah became closely attached to the Prophet(peace be upon him). He participated in all the military engagements except Badr. Explaining why he missed the Battle of Badr, he said:

"I would not have missed Badr if my father and I had not been outside Madinah. The disbelieving Quraysh met us and asked where we were going to. We told them we were going to Madinah and they asked whether we intended to meet Muhammad. We insisted that we only wanted to go to Madinah. They allowed us to go only after they extracted from us an undertaking not to help Muhammad against them and not to fight along with them. When we came to the Prophet(peace be upon him), we told him about our undertaking to the Quraysh and asked him what should we do. He said that we should ignore the undertaking and seek God's help against them." (See: Saheeh Muslim, No:1787, Sharh Maanii Al-Aathaar, At-tahaawi, 3/97, Mustakhraj Abi Awaanah, 4/318).

Hudhayfah participated in the Battle of 'Uhud with his father. The pressure on Hudhayfah during the battle was great but he acquitted himself well and emerged safe and sound. A rather different fate, however, awaited his father.

Before the battle, the Prophet(peace be on him) left Al-Yaman, Hudhayfah's father, and Thabit ibn Waqsh with the other non-combatants including women and children in Madinah. This was because they were both quite old. As the fighting grew fiercer, Al-Yaman said to his friend: "You have no father (meaning you have no cares). What are we waiting for? We both have only a short time to live. Why don't we take our swords and join the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him)? Maybe, Allah will bless us with martyrdom beside His Prophet."

They quickly prepared for battle and were soon in the thick of the fighting. Thabit ibn Waqsh was blessed with shahadah in the hands of the mushrikin. The father of Hudhayfah, however was set upon by some Muslims who did not recognize who he was. As they slayed him, Hudhayfah cried out: "My father! My father! He is my fathe!!"

No one heard him. The old man fell, killed in error by the swords of his own brothers in faith. They were filled with pain and remorse. Grieved as he was, Hudhayfah said to them: "May Allah forgive you for He is the most Merciful of those who show mercy."

The Prophet (peace be on him) wanted diyah (blood money) to be paid to Hudhayfah for the death of his father but Hudhayfah said: "He was simply seeking shahadah and he attained it. O Lord, bear witness that I donate the compensation for him to the Muslims." (See Siyaru A'lamu-n-Nubala', 2/361-363).

Because of this attitude, Hudhayfah's stature grew in the eyes of the Prophet(peace be on him). Hudhayfah had three qualities which particularly impressed the Prophet: his unique intelligence which he employed in dealing with difficult situations; his quick wittedness and spontaneous response to the call of action, and his ability to keep secret even under persistent questioning.

A noticeable policy of the Prophet(peace be upon him) was to bring out and use the special qualities and strengths of each individual of his companions. In deploying his companions, he was careful to choose the right man for the right task. This he did to excellent advantage in the case of Hudhayfah.

One of the gravest problems the Muslims of Madinah had to face was the existence of hypocrites (munafiqun) in their midst particularly from among the Jews and their allies. Although many of them had declared their acceptance of Islam, the change was only superficial and they continued to plot and intrigue against the Prophet and the Muslims.

Because of Hudhayfah's ability to keep secrets, the Prophet(peace be on him) confided in him the names of the munafiqun. It was a weighty secret which the Prophet did not disclose to any of his Companions. He gave Hudhayfah the task of watching the movements of the munafiqun, following their activities, and shielding the Muslims from the sinister danger they represented. It was a tremendous responsibility. The munafiqun, because they acted in secrecy and because they knew all the developments and plans of the Muslims from within presented a greater threat to the community than the outright hostility of the kuffar.

From this time onwards. Hudhayfah was called "The Keeper of the Secrets of the Messenger of Allah". Throughout his life he remained faithful to his pledge not to disclose the names of the hypocrites. After the death of the Prophet(peace be upon him), the Khalifah often came  to him to seek his advice concerning their movements and activities but he remained tight-lipped and cautious.

Hudhayfah's special qualities were made use of by the Prophet (peace be on him) at various times. One of the most testing of such occasions, which required the use of Hudhayfah's intelligence and his presence of mind, was during the Battle of the Ditch. The Muslims on that occasion were surrounded by enemies. The siege they had been placed under had dragged on. The Muslims were undergoing severe hardship and difficulties. They had expended practically all their effort and were utterly exhausted. So intense was the strain that some even began to despair.

The Quraysh and their allies, meanwhile, were not much better off. Their strength and determination got sapped. A violent wind overturned their tents, extinguished their fires and pelted their faces and eyes with gusts of sand and dust.

At this stage of the confrontation the Prophet(peace be on him) felt he could use the special talents and experience of Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman. He decided to send Hudhayfah into the midst of the enemy's positions under cover of darkness to bring him the latest information on their situation and morale before he decides on his next move. (See Siyaru A'lamu-n-Nubala', 2/362-364).

Let us now leave Hudhayfah to relate what happened on this mission fraught with danger and even death.


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References:

1 – Al-Isaabah fi Tamyeez As-Sahabah, 2/44.

2 – Siyaru A'lamu-n-Nubala', 2/362-340.

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