A study of the history of world religions reveals that it is usually the poor and the oppressed that are the first to follow the Prophets and Messengers of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, because they realize that the Prophet brings with him salvation and dignity to mankind, and also because most of them have no authority or wealth to fear for. But, as it is said, every rule has an exception. For there were always the few rich and men of authority who joined the new faith despite the sacrifices they had to make. And so Abdur Rahman Ibn’Auf Radhiyallahu anhu was one of those few exceptional men. For lbn’Auf was a man of great wealth, who commanded a highly respectable place in the Makkan community. But neither his wealth nor fear of losing respect were to hinder him from following the Prophet of Allah, Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam. Along with ‘Uthmån ibn’Affan and Az-Zubair Ibn AI-Awwam (radiyallahu anhum), Ibn’Auf Radhiyallahu anhu had the honour of being among the first eight who followed the Prophet Muhammad Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, while he was still preaching the message of Islam in complete secrecy, even before moving to the house of lbn Al-Arqam.
Ibn’Auf was an example of the true follower of lslam to whom wealth was a means to attain the Pleasure of Allah, rather than an end in itself.
lbn’Auf Radhiyallahu anhu had his share of the harassment suffered by the rest of the believers, and along with many of them he also left his home-town for Abyssinia. Later, he migrated to Madinah in the company of the early Muhajiroon (emigrants), leaving behind all his belongings. Ibn’Auf Radhiyallahu anhu had a special talent in commerce, which he put to very good use.
It ls reported that when Prophet Muhammad Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam made the special arrangement of fraternity between pairs of Makkan emigrants and Madinite supporters at the beginning of the Madinah era, Ibn’Auf’s counterpart was Sa’d ibn Rabi Radhiyallahu anhu, the Madinite. Sa’d Said to Ibn’Auf: “My brother! Look! I am one of the wealthiest people in Madinah. I have two farms and two wives. Choose the farm you like, and it is yours ; and choose the wife you like, and I will divorce her for you to marry.” Ibn’Auf Radhiyallahu anhu replied: “May Allah bless your family and your property, but I have no need for either. Please take me to your market-place.” lbn’Auf was taken there, and immediately he started business.He collected enough money to get married. When the Prophet Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam learnt of his marriage, he suggested,”Make a wedding party even if it be over a sheep. May Allah bless your possessions!” From that moment onwards, it seemed that he had gold fingers, his wealth was growing at such an incredible rate.
But his wealth was no obstacle in his efforts to work for his faith. He, Radhiyallahu anhu actively participated in every battle with Prophet Muhammad Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam. We are told that in the battle of Uhud alone lbn’Auf Radhiyallahu anhu had more than twenty wounds.
He made use of every possible opportunity to spend his wealth for the sake of Allah, For example, on one occasion the Prophet Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam asked for donations to support a group of fighters for the cause of Allah. Ibn’Auf Radhiyallahu anhu immediately rushed home to come back with a bag of money. He told the Prophet Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam: “I had four thousand pieces. Two thousand I am loaning to Allah (i. e. Giving in charity), and I am leaving two thousand for my family.” The Prophet’s response was :”May Allah bless what you give and may He bless what you keep.”
On the occasion of the battle of Tabuk, the weather was very hot, the journey was long, and supplies were very scarce. Donations were made by able companions. Ibn’Auf gave 200 ounces of gold. ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab Radhiyallahu anhu sensed that lbn’Auf donated everything he owned, which he conveyed to the Prophet Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam. Upon being asked by the Prophet Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam:”Have you left anything for your family?” lbn’Auf answered : “I have left something more and better than I have donated.” “How much?” The Prophet asked. “I have left them what Allah and His Messenger have promised of bounties and rewards.”
Upon the death Prophet Muhammad Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, Ibn’Auf Radhiyallahu anhu took upon himself the responsibility of supporting the widows of the Prophet Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam. Yet, in spite of all his spendings in the way of charity, lbn’Auf was always apprehensive of his wealth for fear that it might be a cause of temptation for him.
Once while he was fasting, food was brought to him to break his fast. He looked at it and said : “Mus’ab ibn’Umair who was better than me was killed in battle, and we could not find him enough cloth to enshroud him. Look now at what Allãh has given us. I am afraid our reward has been hastened for us in this world.” at which he started weeping, and ordered that the food be taken away.
lbn’Auf Radhiyallahu anhu was also known for his humility in dealing even with the slaves, to the extent that people could hardly distinguish him from his slaves when he sat with them. It is no wonder that Prophet Muhammad Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam foretold of Ibn’Auf’s admission to Paradise. The following incident explains how he came to know of the prophecy : One day while everybody was going about their business at Madinah, people suddenly saw a big column of dust on the horizon. Later, there was some commotion in the city. ‘Aishah Radhiyallahu anha (widow of the Prophet) asked :”What is going on?” She was informed there were seven hundred camels of Ibn’Auf laden with goods, At that she said :”May Allah bless whatever He has given him in this world. But his reward in the Hereafter is greater. For I heard the Prophet say:”Abdur-Rahman (Ibn’Auf) will enter Paradise on his knees.” The glad tiding reached lbn’Auf. Upon hearing it, he Radhiyallahu anhu rushed to ‘Aishah radhyallahu anha to ascertain the good news he had just heard. When she confirmed that she had heard it from the Prophet Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam himself, he said : “I ask you to be witness that I have given all these camels with their load in charity for Allah’s sake.”
Source: Heroes of Islam