Shama-il Tirmidhi Chapter 50, Hadith Number 7 (355).

Sa’d bin Abi Waqqias Radiyallahu ‘Anhu reports that from the ummah of Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam I was the first to take the blood of a non-believer, and I was the first to shoot an arrow in the path of Allah.We (the group of Sahaabah in the early period of Islaam) went for jihaad in such a state, where we had nothing to eat. We ate the leaves of tree and pods of the acacia tree. As a result our jaw became ulcerous and wounded, and because of the leaves our excreta was like that of sheep and camel. After that too the people of Banu Asad threatened me. If the status of my ignorance in the deen is such as these people claim, then this world and the hereafter is lost. (The days in this world have been spent in poverty and difficulty, and the state of the deen is this that I do not have knowledge of salaah too).

In this hadith Imaam Tirmidhi only wishes to describe the poverty and difficulties. Therefore this hadith has been shortened to show that due to the poverty and hardship the mujahideen did not even get food. This Muslim army ate leaves from the tree and made jihaad. In this hadith Sa’ad Radiyallahu ‘Anhu mentioned his good deeds, dedication, and his being from among those veteran Muslims who accepted Islaam in its early stages. The reason for this is that during the reign of ‘Umar Radiyallahu ‘Anhu, he was amir of Kufah. Some residents of Kufah made many complaints against him to ‘Umar Radiyallahu ‘Anhu. They even complained that he did not perform salaah properly. ‘Umar Radiyallahu ‘Anhu sent for him. After calling him he said to him: ‘The people are lodging many complaints against you. They are even complaining of your salaah’. In reply to that while stating his innocence, he mentioned his being from among the old Muslims, his sufferings in the path of Islaam etc. He said: ‘These people threaten me on my salaah. I perform salaah in the same manner I have seen Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam perform it, and I am not lax in the least’. Upon that ‘Umar Radiyallahu ‘Anhu sent two people with him to Kufah, that they go around and investigate the matter. They did not leave out a single masjid of Kufah wherein they did not go and interview the musallis (worshippers). All praised Sa’ad Radiyallahu ‘Anhu, but one person said: ‘When you are asking to swear an oath and speak the truth, I shall say the facts to you, that Sa’ad Radiyallhu ‘Anhu does not participate in jihaad, as if he is in love with his life. The second is that he does not distribute the wealth equally, and is not just in his verdicts’. Sa’ad Radiyallahu ‘Anhu said: He has made three complaints, therefore I shall make three curses upon him. ‘O Allah, if this person is a liar, and he has lifted his head for the sake of fame and to show the world, that by criticising a leader, fame is gained, then suitable to every false criticism, lengthen his life, increase in his poverty, and entangle him in mischief’s’. Thereafter, an eye witness reports that, I saw that person, due to old age his eye lids drooped, he fell into poverty, and molested girls in the streets and alleys. When someone asked him, what had happened to you, he used to reply: ‘The curse of Sa’d (Radiyallahu ‘Anhu) has befallen me’. O Allah, we seek protection from Your anger, the anger of Your Rasul, and the anger of Your pious servants. Sa’d Radiyallahu ‘Anhu has drawn attention to three things in this hadith. (a). That he was the first to shed the blood of a non-believer. This incident took place before the hijrah. The people were suffering hardships and were troubled in Makkah. They hid from the non-believers and performed their salaah and other devotions. Once, a few persons, among whom was also Sa’d Radiyallahu ‘Anhu, were performing salaah in a valley. Suddenly a group of non-believers appeared there. They tormented the Muslims and began fighting with them. Sa’d Radiyallahu ‘Anhu picked up a jawbone of a camel that was lying there and threw it onto one of the non-believers, as a result blood began to flow. This is what is meant by shedding the blood of the non-believers. (b). That he was the first to shoot an arrow in the path of Allah. This incident took place in the first year hijri. This was the first sariyyah (expedition) that Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam sent to Raabigh under the command of ‘Ubaydah bin Haarith Radiyallahu ‘Anhu. A battle took place against the non-believers, and arrows were shot from both sides. From the side of the Muslims Sa’d Radiyallahu ‘Anhu was the first to shoot an arrow. (c). The third is of eating leaves in jihaad. This incident was during the Sariyyah of Khabt,`which according to different sources took place in the fifth year hijri. This incident in brief is that Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam sent a group of three hundred Muhaajireen and Ansaar under the command’ of ‘Ubaydah ibnul Jarraah Radiyallahu ‘Anhu to a place on the coast, which was a distance of about five days journey from Madinah Munawwarah, against the tribe of Juhaynah. In the beginning three camels were slaughtered daily. When the amir forbade the slaughtering of camels fearing these would decrease, dates were distributed. These also decreased till everyone received only one date daily. They kept on sucking it and drank water. When this too became scarce, the time came when leaves had to be shaken off trees and eaten. The meaning of khabt is to shake off leaves, therefore this sariyyah became well known as the Sariyyah of Khabt. The beginning of this incident was difficult and full of obstacles, and the end that of pleasantness, which could be read in the books on the history of Islaam. It has been briefly mentioned by this humble servant in the third chapter of my book ‘Stories of the Sahaabah’.

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