I was a young girl when I first heard about Abu Hurairah (RA). His description fascinated me. Known for his fondness for cats, he would often carry a kitten on his arm – sometimes playfully hidden in his sleeves. This was the reason he was given the nickname ‘Abu Hurairah’ – Father of the Kitten!
That this esteemed scholar and narrator of the highest number of ahadith could have such a gentle and playful side to him amazed me. “What a man,” I thought in fascination. From that day onwards, he had a special place in my heart. Every time I heard or read his name, I would feel an unexplained fondness for him. My attachment and respect continued over the years.
Recently, I came across a hadith that I had not known before – a story that unravelled the reason for my affection for the “Father of the Kitten”, defined my status with Allah (SWT) and also taught me a valuable lesson on love.
The incident was narrated by Abu Hurairah (RA) himself. He related his experience at calling his non-Muslim mother to Islam. One day he went to the Messenger of Allah (SWT) and asked him to pray for her guidance. The Prophet (SAW) made dua and his supplication was answered immediately: Allah (SWT) guided Abu Hurairah’s (RA) mother to Islam that very day. He went back joyously to the Prophet (RA) to announce the good news.
Then he said, “O Messenger of Allah, pray to Allah to make my mother and me dear to His believing slaves, and to make them dear to us. ” The Prophet (SAW) obliged and supplicated on his behalf. Abu Hurairah ended the narration of this experience with the following words: “There is no believer who hears of me or sees me, but he loves me.” (Bukhari)
Subhan Allah! As I reached the end of his account, my heart stilled for a moment as tears welled in my eyes. It finally explained my long-cherished fondness for this noble Sahaba (RA). The story also struck poignantly on a more personal level. Could it be that I, a weak believer at best, could be counted among Allah’s believing servants because of my love for this Companion (SAW)? My heart fluttered with new-found happiness and I closed my eyes with awe for Him (SAW).
As humans, we have a consuming need to love and to be loved by others. Abu Hurairah (RA) sought it through the supplication of the Prophet (SAW). As a result, he became beloved to millions of Muslims.
What do we do to gain such love? Do we go about pleasing people in the hope of gaining their acceptance? Do we seek the pure, deep and beneficial love? Where does this elusive emotion come from? Allah (SWT), who is Al-Wudood – The Loving – gives us the comprehensive answer to our questions on love.
“When Allah loves a slave, He says to Jibreel, ‘I love so-and-so, so love him.’ So Jibreel loves him and then calls out to the people of heaven,‘Allah loves so-and-so, so love him.’ And the people of heaven love him, and then acceptance is placed in the Earth for him.” (Bukhari)
Therein lies the secret to true acceptance and love. Like Abu Hurairah (RA), I now embark on the quest for this profound acquisition – the love of my Rabb.
Huma Imam is a UAE based writer who hopes to leave gems of inspiration as her legacy.