In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
When one thinks about pre-Islamic times in Makkah, certain names come to mind – such as Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet’s (SAWS) grandfather, or Waraqah bin Naufal. But there is another important person who is little remembered today: ‘Abdullah bin Jud’an, the first cousin of Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq’s father. In the early years of his life, ‘Abdullah bin Jud’an was neither successful nor happy. In fact, growing up hungrey and poor, he soon became embittered by life. For solace or perhaps out of spite, he turned to evil and committed many crimes. He was caught so often for his evil acts that he was considered by most to be an incorrigiable criminal. People thought that he was evil incarnate and that there was no way that he could ever improve. Everyone hated him, including his fellow clansmen, his family, and even his own father; and he reciprocated that hatred with equal or greater vehemence.
One day, as he was walking in the valleys of Makkah, ruefully thinking about his bitter existence, he noticed a small opening in a mountain, perhaps an entrance to a cave. He thought that there might be something harmful inside, perhaps a venomous snake. That foreboding did not stop him from approaching; instead, it encouraged him to go to it, for his situation was so hopeless, that he actually wanted to be killed so that he could part from his miserable existence.
When he came near to the mouth of the cave, he saw a lean shape inside, and through the darkness, he perceived it to be a snake in an erect position, the position most favored by a veneomous snake when it is ready to strike. Overcome by madness, ‘Abdullah bin Jud’an was terrified, and suddenly realized that he did not really want to die. He imagined that the snake was coming at him, so he jumped wildly, trying to fend off a lethal bite. After a short while, he calmed down, realizing that it was only him that was moving and that the snake was actually in a still position. And when he came nearer, he realized that it was only a statue of a snake, which was made of gold and had two eyes made of precious emeralds. He broke the emeralds off and took them. He then entered deeper into the cave, and from the writings he saw around him, he realized that the cave was a graveyard for the kings of the Jurham tribe. At the head of each grave was a gravestone made of gold; on it was written a short history of the king who was buried underneath. Surrounding the graves were treasures of gold, silver, pearls, precious stones, and much else.
‘Abdullah bin Jud’an picked up a few small treasures, made a sign outside the cave so that he could find it again, and then returned to his people. He was generous with his newfound wealth, giving to family, friends, and to the needy. He was especially generous in gathering people together and serving them food. As time went on, he gained status in society until he became one of the leaders of Quraish. Whenever he ran out of funds, he would return to the cave and take some more. His generosity extended even beyong the boundaries of Makkah. Once when the people of Ash-Sham were suffering hard times ‘Abdullah bin Jud’an sent 2000 camels to them, loading each one with wheat, oils, and other provisions. And every night, someone stood on the roof of the Ka’bah and called out: “Come to the bowls (filled with food) of ‘Abdullah bin Jud’an.”
Yet in spite of all that, the following is related about him in Sahih Muslim. ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said to the Prophet (SAWS), “Indeed, Ibn Jud’an used to provide food (for the people) and he would be hospitable to his guest[s]. Will any of that benefit him on the Day of Ressurrection?” The Prophet (SAWS) answered, “No. Indeed, on no day did he ever say: O my lord, forgive me my sin on the Day of Recompense.”
SAWS: May Allah exalt his mention and protect him from imperfection
Gems and Jewels
Compiled by: Abdul-Malik Mujahid
Publisher: Maktaba Dar-us-Salam