Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud Radhiallaahu Anhu
When he was still a youth, not yet past the age of puberty, he used to roam the mountain trails of Makkah far away from people, tending the flocks of a Quraysh chieftain, Uqbah ibn Muayt. People called him “Ibn Umm Abd” the son of the mother of a slave. His real name was Abdullah and his father’s name was Mas’ud.
The youth had heard the news of the Prophet who had appeared among his people but he did not attach any importance to it both because of his age and because he was usually far away from Makkan society. It was his custom to leave with the flock of Uqbah early in the morning and not return until nightfall.
One day while tending the flocks, Abdullah saw two men, middle-aged and of dignified bearing, coming towards him from a distance. They were obviously very tired. They were also so thirsty that their lips and throat were quite dry. They came up to him, greeted him and said, “Young man, milk one of these sheep for us that we may quench our thirst and recover our strength.”
“I cannot,” replied the young man. “The sheep are not mine. I am only responsible for looking after them.”
The two men did not argue with him. In fact, although they were so thirsty, they were extremely pleased at the honest reply. The pleasure showed on their faces . . .
The two men in fact were the blessed Prophet himself and his companion, Abu Bakr Siddiq. They had gone out on that day to the mountains of Makkah to escape the violent persecution of the Quraysh.
The young man in turn was impressed with the Prophet and his companion and soon became quite attached to them.
It was not long before Abdullah ibn Mas’ud became a Muslim and offered to be in the service of the Prophet. The Prophet agreed and from that day the fortunate Abdullah ibn Mas’ud gave up tending sheep in exchange for looking after the needs of the blessed Prophet.
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud remained closely attached to the Prophet. He would attend to his needs both inside and outside the house. He would accompany him on journeys and expeditions. He would wake him when he slept. He would shield him when he washed. He would carry his staff and his miswak (toothbrush) and attend to his other personal needs.
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud received a unique training in the household of the Prophet. He was under the guidance of the Prophet, he adopted his manner and followed his every trait until it was said of him, “He was the closest to the Prophet in character.”
Abdullah was taught in the “school” of the Prophet. He was the best reciter of the Qur’an among the companions and he understood it better than them all. He was therefore the most knowledgeable on the Shariah.
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud attained such a knowledge of the Qur’an that he would say, “By Him besides Whom there is no god, no verse of the book of Allah has been revealed without my knowing where it was revealed and the circumstances of its revelation. By Allah, if I know there was anyone who knew more of the Book of Allah, I will do whatever is in my power to be with him.”
Abdullah ibn Masiud lived to the time of Khalifah Uthman, may Allah be pleased with him. When he was sick and on his death-bed, Uthman RA came to visit him and said:
“What is your ailment?”
“And what do you desire?”
“The mercy of my Lord.”
“Shall I not give you your stipend which you have refused to take for years now?”
“I have no need of it.”
“Let it be for your daughters after you.”
“Do you fear poverty for my children? I have commanded them to read Surah Al-Waqi’ah every night for I have heard the Prophet saying, ‘Whoever reads Al-Waqi’ah every night shall ot be effected by poverty ever.'”
That night, Abdullah passed away to the company of his Lord, his tongue moist with the rememberance of Allah and with the recitation of the verses of His Book.