The Four Abdullah’s

Among the notable Companions are the four Abdullah’s or known as the ‘Abadilah Al-Arba’ah. They are Abdullah bin Abbas, Abdullah bin Umar, Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-As and Abdullah bin Az-Zubair. All of them were very young companions who were blessed to have been close to the household of the Prophet and in doing so, they were able to learn more about the Prophet with precise detail. All four Abdullah’s later became key figures and a source of knowledge for the Muslims.

1. ‘Abdullāh bin Abbas

‘Abdullāh bin ʿAbbās was born in Makkah, 619CE (about 4 years before Hijra) and is known for his scholarship in the tafsir of the Quran and transmission of the Sunnah. This was due to a special dua made by the Prophet ﷺ for him:

Ibn `Abbas Narrated: Once the Prophet ﷺ embraced me and said, “O Allah! Bestow on him the knowledge of the Book (Qur’an)

Sahih al-Bukhari 75

‘Abdullāh ibn ʿAbbās was the cousin of the Prophet ﷺ, son of his uncle Abbas. He grew up in Madina, assisting the Prophet ﷺ by preparing water for him to make wudhu or accompanying him on his journeys. When the Prophet ﷺ fell ill during his last days, he and Ali would carry him to the Mosque.

Abdullah Ibn Abbas is also said to have seen Jibreel AS twice though not in his original form. The privilege in question of seeing the angel in his true form was only granted to the Prophet ﷺ. He narrated the incident, “Once the Prophet ﷺ was on the point of performing wudu. I hurried to get water ready for him. He was pleased with what I was doing. As he was about to begin salah, he indicated that I should stand at his side. However, I stood behind him. When the salah was finished, he turned to me and said, ‘What prevented you from being at my side, O ‘Abdullah?’ ‘You are too illustrious and too great in my eyes for me to stand side by side with you,’ I replied. Raising his hands to the heavens, the Prophet ﷺ then prayed, ‘O Lord, grant him wisdom.’

After the demise of the Prophet ﷺ, he continued to seek knowledge from the senior Sahabas and soon many people sat in his circles to learn from him. He would take narrations from the Sahaba and then verify them with other Sahabas. Sayyiduna Umar was always fond of him and allowed him to sit in gatherings with the senior Sahaba. Sayyiduna Umar often used to also consult with Abdullah bin Abbas.

One contemporary of his relates, “I saw people converging on the roads leading to his house until there was hardly any room in front of his house. I went in and told him about the crowds of people at his door and he said: ‘Get me water for wudu.’ He performed wudu and, seating himself, said: ‘Go out and say to them: Whoever wants to ask about the Qur’an and its letters (pronunciation) let him enter.’ This I did and people entered until the house was filled. Whatever he was asked, Abdullah was able to elucidate and even provide additional information to what was asked. Then (to his students) he said: ‘Make way for your brothers.’ Then to me he said: ‘Go out and say: Who wants to ask about the Quran and its interpretation, let him enter’. Again the house was filled and Abdullah elucidated and provided more information than what was requested. He held classes on one single subject each day. His classes covered topics such as tafsir, fiqh, Halal and Haraam, ghazawa, poetry, Arab history before Islam, inheritance laws, Arabic language and etymology.” He has related over 1500 hadith and has a widely used useful tafsir of the Quran.

He was also made governor of Basra in his later years, but after the death of Muawiya, he left for Taa’if. He spent his final years here and died in 687, aged 67–68. The Abbasids come from his and his father’s lineage.

2. ‘Abdullāh bin ‘Umar

‘Abdullāh bin ‘Umar was born on 610CE, when Prophethood began. He is the son of the second Caliph, Umar bin al-Khattab. He like Abdullah bin Abbas is also an authority in fiqh and hadith. He was known as the epitome of the sunnah as he would copy every act from the Prophet ﷺ to emulate him the fullest.

Aishah noticed this devotion of Abdullah bin Umar to the Prophet ﷺ and remarked: “There was no one who followed the footsteps of the Prophet ﷺ, may God bless him and grant him peace, in the places where he alighted as did Ibn Umar.

In spite of his close observance of the Prophet’s actions ﷺ, Abdullah was extremely cautious, even afraid, of reporting the sayings of the Prophet ﷺ. He would only relate a hadith if he was completely sure that he remembered every word of it.

To his sister, Hafsah, the Prophet ﷺ once said: “What a blessed man is Abdullah. Should he perform Salat at night he would be blessed even more.” After that, it was said that every night Abd Allah would pray much and sleep but a little.

During the Battle of Uhud, ‘Abdullāh bin ‘Umar presented himself to fight but the Prophet ﷺ did not allow it as he was under 15. Two years later, he took place in the Battle of the Trench.

‘Abdullāh bin ‘Umar was the second most prolific narrator of ahadith, with a total of 2,630 narrations. It was said that he was extremely careful about what he narrated and that he narrated with his eyes full of tears. He was very cautious in life and thus was also cautious in his judgement. He is particularly important to the Maliki and Hanafi Madhabs as they take many hadith and understanding of ibn Umar.

‘Abdullāh bin ‘Umar died in Makkah in 693.

3. Abdullāh bin Amr bin al ‘As

ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀṣ was the son of Amr ibn al-As. He embraced Islam in 7 AH, a year before his father. The Prophet ﷺ named him Abdullah saying: ‘The most beloved of names to Allah is Abdullah and Abdur Rahman.’ The Prophet ﷺ also acknowledged his knowledge and literacy.

Abdullah Ibn Amr Ibn Al As memorized the entire Qur’an in the lifetime of the Prophet ﷺ and recitated the whole Qur’an in a single night. Also, he would fast everyday without fail and prayed Tahajjud every night. Abdullah Ibn Amr RA narrated that, “I memorized the Quran and recited it all in one night. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘I am afraid that you may live a long life and that you may get bored. Recite it over the period of a month.’ I said: ‘Let me benefit from my strength in my youth.’ He said: ‘Recite it in ten days.’ I said: ‘Let me benefit from my strength and my youth.’ He said: ‘Recite it in seven days.’ I said: ‘Let me benefit from my strength and my youth,’ but he refused (to alter it any further).” The Messenger of Allah ﷺ also added: “No one properly understands who reads the Quran in less than three days.”

Once, Abdullah Ibn Amr RA asked the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, “O Messenger of Allah! Shall I record everything you say when you are angry or happy?” The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
“Yes, I do not tell anything but the truth.” This is the ultimate truth since Allah SWT has explicitly stated in the Quran that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ only spoke the truth.

Therefore he was the first to compile a hadith book containing 1000 hadith that he heard/saw directly from the Prophet ﷺ, called Al-Sahifah al-Sadiqah (The Truthful Script). Although this work no longer remains, many of the hadith compilers used his hadith in their collections.

Abu Hurairah Rah said, ‘There is no one more knowledgeable of the sayings of the Messenger ﷺ except Abdullah ibn Amr. He used to preserve them in his heart and I used to preserve them in my heart; but, he used to write them down and I did not.’

He participated in the battles of Yarmuk and Siffin on the insistence of Prophet ﷺ that he must obey what his father had ordained, but in battle, he refrained from fighting.

Abdullah ibn Amr RA narrated: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon you.”

He died in 692AH.

4. Abdullāh bin Zubair

Abdullah ibn Zubayr ibn al-Awwam was born in 624CE, he was the son of the illustrious companion and cousin of the Prophet ﷺ, Zubayr ibn al-Awwam and the daughter of Abu Bakr Siddique, Asma bint Abi Bakr.

He was born in Madina, and one of the first new born of the Muhajiroon. He was the first child on whom tahneek was done by the Prophet ﷺ and the Azaan was given by Abu Bakr RA. He grew up whilst Islam was spreading and when he was old enough, he participated in all the battles. He quickly became a military leader. He was focussed on serving Islam and the Caliph, Umar, Uthman and even Muawiyah. Only when Yazid was appointed the Caliph, he along with Hussain bin Ali was a prominent opposer to Yazid. He rallied enough support in Makkah and became a local caliph, but as Muslim civil wars continued, he was eventually slain.

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