Bio: Salman al-Farisi

Salman al-Farisi

d. 33/35 H. in Madina Munawwara
radiya Allah anhu



1. Hadith from Shamail al-Tirmidhi
2. From Abdul Wahid Hamid: “Companions of The Prophet”
3. From

1. Hadith from Shamail al-Tirmidhi

2. From Abdul Wahid Hamid: “Companions of The Prophet”, Vol.1
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This is a story of a seeker of Truth, the story of Salman the Persian, gleaned, to begin with, from his own words:

I grew up in the town of Isfahan in Persia in the village of Jayyan. My father was the Dihqan or chief of the village. He was the richest person there and had the biggest house.

Since I was a child my father loved me, more than he loved any other. As time went by his love for me became so strong and overpowering that he feared to lose me or have anything happen to me. So he kept me at home, a veritable prisoner, in the same way that young girls were kept.

I became devoted to the Magian religion so much so that I attained the position of custodian of the fire which we worshipped. My duty was to see that the flames of the fire remained burning and that it did not go out for a single hour, day or night.

My father had a vast estate which yielded an abundant supply of crops. He himself looked after the estate and the harvest. One day he was very busy with his duties as dihqan in the village and he said to me:

“My son, as you see, I am too busy to go out to the estate now. Go and look after matters there for me today.”

On my way to the estate, I passed a Christian church and the voices at prayer attracted my attention. I did not know anything about Christianity or about the followers of any other religion throughout the time my father kept me in the house away from people. When I heard the voices of the Christians I entered the church to see what they were doing.

I was impressed by their manner of praying and felt drawn to their religion. “By God,” I said, “this is better than ours. I shall not leave them until the sun sets.”

I asked and was told that the Christian religion originated in AshSham (Greater Syria). I did not go to my father’s estate that day and at night, I returned home. My father met me and asked what I had done. I told him about my meeting with the Christians and how I was impressed by their religion. He was dismayed and said:

“My son, there is nothing good in that religion. Your religion and the religion of your forefathers is better.”

“No, their religion is better than ours,” I insisted.

My father became upset and afraid that I would leave our religion. So he kept me locked up in the house and put a chain on my feet. I managed however to send a message to the Christians asking them to inform me of any caravan going to Syria. Before long they got in touch with me and told me that a caravan was headed for Syria. I managed to unfetter myself and in disguise accompanied the caravan to Syria. There, I asked who was the leading person in the Christian religion and was directed to the bishop of the church. I went up to him and said:

“I want to become a Christian and would like to attach myself to your service, learn from you and pray with you.”

The bishop agreed and I entered the church in his service. I soon found out, however, that the man was corrupt. He would order his followers to give money in chanty while holding out the promise of blessings to them. When they gave anything to spend in the way oRGod however, he would hoard it for himself and not give anything to the poor or needy. In this way he amassed a vast quantity of gold. When the bishop died and the Christians gathered to bury him, I told them of his corrupt practices and, at their request, showed them where he kept their donations. When they saw the large jars filled with gold and silver they said.

“By God, we shall not bury him.” They nailed him on a cross and threw stones at him.

I continued in the service of the person who replaced him. The new bishop was an ascetic who longed for the Hereafter and engaged in worship day and night. I was greatly devoted to him and spent a long time in his company.

(After his death, Salman attached himself to various Christian religious figures, in Mosul, Nisibis and elsewhere. The last one had told him about the appearance of a Prophet in the land of the Arabs who would have a reputation for strict honesty, one who would accept a gift but would never consume charity (sadaqah) for himself. Salman continues his story.)

A group of Arab leaders from the Kalb tribe passed through Ammuriyah and I asked them to take me with them to the land of the Arabs in return for whatever money I had. They agreed and I paid them. When we reached Wadi al-Qura (a place between Madinah and Syria), they broke their agreement and sold me to a Jew. I worked as a servant for him but eventually he sold me to a nephew of his belonging to the tribe of Banu Qurayzah. This nephew took me with him to Yathrib, the city of palm groves, which is how th e Christian at Ammuriyah had described it.

At that time the Prophet was inviting his people in Makkah to Islam but I did not hear anything about him then because of the harsh duties which slavery imposed upon me.

When the Prophet reached Yathrib after his hijrah from Makkah, I was in fact at the top of a palm tree belonging to my master doing some work. My master was sitting under the tree. A nephew of his came up and said:

“May God declare war on the Aws and the Khazraj (the two main Arab tribes of Yathrib). By God, they are now gathering at Quba to meet a man who has today come from Makkah and who claims he is a Prophet.” I felt hot flushes as soon as I heard these words and I began to shiver so violently that I was afraid that I might fall on my master. I quickly got down from the tree and spoke to my master’s nephew. “What did you say? Repeat the news for me.”

My mastcr was very angry and gave me a terrible blow. “What does this matter to you? Go back to what you were doing,” he shouted.

That evening, I took some dates that I had gathered and went to the place where the Prophet had alighted. I went up to him and said:

“I have heard that you are a righteous man and that you have companions with you who are strangers and are in need. Here is something from me as sadaqah. I see that you are more deserving of it than others.”

The Prophet ordered his companions to eat but he himself did not eat of it.

I gathered some more dates and when the Prophet left Quba for Madinah I went to him and said: “I noticed that you did not eat of the sadaqah I gave. This however is a gift for you.” Of this gift of dates, both he and his companions ate.

The strict honesty of the Prophet was one of the characteristics that led Salman to believe in him and accept Islam.

Salman was released from slavery by the Prophet who paid his Jewish slave-owner a stipulated price and who himself planted an agreed number of date palms to secure his manumission. After accepting Islam, Salman would say when asked whose son he was:

“I am Salman, the son of Islam from the children of Adam.”

Salman was to play an important role in the struggles of the growing Muslim state. At the battle of Khandaq, he proved to be an innovator in military strategy. He suggested digging a ditch or khandaq around Madinah to keep the Quraysh army at bay. When Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Makkans, saw the ditch, he said, “This strategem has not been employed by the Arabs before.”

Salman became known as “Salman the Good”. He was a scholar who lived a rough and ascetic life. He had one cloak which he wore and on which he slept. He would not seek the shelter of a roof but stayed under a tree or against a wall. A man once said to him: “Shall I not build you a house in which to live?” “I have no need of a house,” he replied.

The man persisted and said, “I know the type of house that would suit you.” “Describe it to me,” said Salman.

“I shall build you a house which if you stand up in it, its roof will hurt your head and if you stretch your legs the wall will hurt them.”

Later, as a govenor of al-Mada’in (Ctesiphon) near Baghdad, Salman received a stipend of five thousand dirhams. This he would distribute as sadaqah. He lived from the work of his own hands. When some people came to Mada’in and saw him working in the palm groves, they said, “You are the amir here and your sustenance is guaranteed and you do this work!”

“I like to eat from the work of my own hands,” he replied. Salman however was not extreme in his asceticism. It is related that he once visited Abu ad-Dardaa with whom the Prophet had joined him in brotherhood. He found Abu adDardaa’s wife in a miserable state and he asked, “What is the matter with you.”

“Your brother has no need of anything in this world*” she replied.

When Abu ad-Dardaa came, he welcomed Salman and gave him food. Salman told him to eat but Abu adDardaa said, “I am fasting.”

“I swear to you that I shall not eat until you eat also.”

Salman spent the night there as well. During the night, Abu ad-Dardaa got up but Salman got hold of him and said:

“O Abu ad-Dardaa, your Lord has a right over you. Your family have a right over you and your body has a right over you. Give to each its due.”

In the morning, they prayed together and then went out to meet the Prophet, peace be upon him. The Prophet supported Salman in what he had said.

As a scholar, Salman was noted for his vast knowledge and wisdom. Ali said of him that he was like Luqman the Wise. And Ka’b al-Ahbar said: “Salman is stuffed with knowledge and wisdomÑan ocean that does not dry up.” Salman had a knowledge of both the Christian scriptures and the Qur’an in addition to his earlier knowledge of the Zoroastrian religion. Salman in fact translated parts of the Qur’an into Persian during the life-time of the Prophet. He was thus the first person to translate the Qur’an into a foreign language.

Salman, because of the influential household in which he grew up, might easily have been a major figure in the sprawling Persian Empire of his time. His search for truth however led him, even before the Prophet had appeared, to renounce a comfortable and affluent life and even to suffer the indignities of slavery. According to the most reliable account, he died in the year thirty five after the hijrah, during the caliphate of Uthman, at Ctesiphon.

3. From

Salman al-Farisi is known as the Imam, the Flag of Flags, the Inheritor of Islam, the Wise Judge, the Knowledgeable Scholar, and One of the House of the Prophet . These were all titles the Prophet gave him. He stood fast in the face of extreme difficulties and hardships to carry the Light of Lights and to spread the secrets of hearts to lift people from darkness to light. He was a noble companion of the Prophet . He reported sixty of his sayings.

He came from a highly respected Zoroastrian family from a town near Ispahan. One day while passing by a church, he was attracted by the voices of men praying. Drawn by their worship, he ventured in and found it better than the religion of his upbringing. On learning that the religion originated in Syria, he left home, against his father’s wishes, went to Syria and associated himself with a succession of Christian anchorites. He came to know from them the coming of the last Prophet and the signs accompanying his advent. He then traveled to Hijaz where he was seized, sold into slavery, and taken to Madina, where he eventually met the Prophet . When he found in the Prophet the fulfillment of all the signs of which he had been informed by his Christian teachers, he affirmed the testification of faith – Shahada. Servitude prevented Salman from being at the battles of Badr and Uhud. The Apostle helped him gain his release from slavery by planting with his own hand three hundred palm trees and giving him a large piece of gold. Once a free man he took part in every subsequent battle with the Prophet .

In Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, we find the following in Salman’s account to the Prophet of his journey in search of the true religion:

“Asim ibn Umar ibn Qatada said that he was told that Salman the Persian told the Prophet that his master in ‘Ammuriya told him to go to a certain place in Syria where there was a man who lived between two thickets. Every year as he used to go from one to the other, the sick used to stand in his way and everyone he prayed for was healed. He said, “Ask him about this religion which you seek, for he can tell you of it.” So I went on until I came to the place I had been told of, and I found that people had gathered there with their sick until he came out to them that night passing from one thicket to the other. The people came to him with their sick and everyone he prayed for was healed. They prevented me from getting to him so that I could not approach him until he entered the thicket he was making for, but I took hold of his shoulder. He asked me who I was as he turned to me and I said, “God have mercy on you, tell me about the Hanifiya, the religion of Abraham.” He replied, “You are asking about something men do not inquire of today; the time has come near when a prophet will be sent with this religion from the people of the haram. Go to him, for he will bring you to it.” Then he went into the thicket. The Prophet said to Salman, “If you have told me the truth, you met Jesus the son of Mary.”

In one of the Prophet’s battles called al-Ah zab or al-Khandaq Salman advised the Prophet to dig trenches around Madinah in defense of the city, a suggestion which the Prophet happily accepted. He then went ahead and helped the digging with his own hands. During this excavation, Salman struck upon a rock which he was unable to break. The Prophet took an axe and hit it. The first strike brought forth a spark. He then hit it a second time and brought forth a second spark. He then struck for the third time and brought forth a third spark. He then asked Salman , ” O Salman, did you see those sparks?” Salman replied, “Yes, O Prophet, indeed I did.” The Prophet said, “The first spark gave me a vision in which Allah has opened Yemen for me. With the second spark, Allah opened Sham and al-Maghreb (the West). And with the third one, Allah opened for me the East.”

Salman reported that the Prophet said: “Nothing but supplication averts the decree, and nothing but righteousness increases life,” and “Your Lord is munificent and generous, and is ashamed to turn away empty the hands of a servant when he raises them to him.” Tirmidhi transmitted them.

At-Tabari recounts that in the year 16 A.H. the Muslim army turned to the Persian front. In order to confront the Persian king at one point the Muslim army found itself on the opposite bank of the great Tigris River. The commander of the army, Sacd Ibn Abi Waqqas, following a dream, ordered the entire army to plunge into the rushing river. Many people were afraid and hung back. Sacd, with Salman by his side, prayed first: “May Allah grant us victory and defeat His enemy.” Then Salman prayed: “Islam generates good fortune. By Allah, crossing rivers has become as easy for the Muslims as crossing deserts. By Him in whose hand lies Salman’s soul, may the soldiers emerge from the water in the same numbers in which they entered it.” Sa’d and Salman then plunged into the Tigris. It is reported that the river was covered with horses and men. The horses swam and when they tired the river floor seemed to rise up and support them until they regained their breath. To some it seemed that the horses rode effortlessly on the waves. They emerged on the other bank, as Salman had prayed, having lost nothing from their equipment but one tin cup, and no one having drowned.

They went on to take the Persian capital. Salman acted as spokesman and said to the conquered Persians: “I have the same origin as you. I shall be compassionate toward you. You have three options. You may embrace Islam, then you will be our brethren and you will have the same privileges and obligations as we. Or you may pay the Jizyah tax and we will govern you fairly. Or we will declare war on you.” The Persians, having witnessed the miraculous crossing of the Muslim army, accepted the second alternative.

Salman Al-Farsi was eventually appointed governor of that region. He was the commander of 30,000 Muslim troops. Yet, he was very humble. He lived from his own manual labor. He did not own a house, but instead rested under the shade of trees. He used to say that he was surprised to observe so many people spending all their life for the lower world, without a thought for the inevitable death which will take them from the world one day.

Salman was a very strict and just man. Among some spoils which were distributed one day was cloth out of which each companion had one piece of clothing cut. One day Umar got up to speak and said: Lower your voices so that I may hear you. He was wearing two pieces of that cloth. Salman said, By God, we will not hear you, because you prefer yourself to your people. How is that? asked Umar. He said: You are wearing two pieces of cloth and everyone else is weraing only one. Umar called out: O Abdullah! No one answered him. He said again, O Abdullah ibn Umar! Abdullah, his son called out: At your service! Umar said, I ask you by God, don’t you say that the second piece is yours? Abdullah said Yes. Salman said: Now we shall hear you.

At night Salman would begin to pray. If he got tired, he would start making dhikr by tongue. When his tongue would get tired, he would contemplate and meditate on Allah’s power and greatness in creation. He would then say to himself, O my ego, you took your rest, now get up and pray. Then he would make dhikr again, then meditate, and so forth all night long.

Bukhara relates two hadiths which show the Prophet’s consideration for Salman:

Abu Huraira relates: While we were sitting with the Holy Prophet , surat al-Jumuca was revealed to him. When the Prophet recited the verse, “And He (Allah) has sent him (Mu ammad) also to others (than the Arabs)…” [62:3] I said, “Who are they, O Allah’s Apostle?” The Prophet did not reply till I repeated my question thrice. At that time Salman al-Farisi was with us. Allah’s Apostle put his hand on Salman, saying: “If faith were at ath-Thurayya (the Pleiades, very distant stars), even then some men from these people (i.e. Salman’s folk) would attain it.”

Abu Juhayfa relates: The Prophet made a bond of brotherhood between Salman and Abu Darda al-Ansari . Salman paid a visit to Abu Darda’ and found Um Darda’ (his wife) dressed in shabby clothes. He asked her why she was in that state. She said, “Your brother Abu Darda’ is not interested in the luxuries of this world.” In the meantime Abu Darda’ came and prepared a meal for Salman. Salman requested Abu Darda’ to eat with him, but Abu Darda’ said, “I am fasting.” Salman said, “I am not going to eat unless you eat.” So Abu Darda’ ate with Salman. When it was night and a part of the night has passed, Abu Darda’ got up (to offer the night prayer), but Salman told him to sleep and Abu Darda slept. After some time Abu Darda’ again got up but Salman told him to sleep. When it was the last hours of the night, Salman told him to get up then, and both of them offered the prayer. Salman told Abu Darda’, “Your Lord has a right on you, your soul has a right on you, and your family has a right on you. Abu Darda’ came to the Prophet and narrated the whole story. The Prophet said, “Salman has spoken the truth.”

He passed away in 33 A.H. during the reign of cUthman . He passed his Secret on to Abu Bakr’s grandson, Imam Abu Abdur Rahman Qassim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr as-Siddiq.

Burial Place & Location

Mosque of Salman al-Farisi in Madina Munawwara

Masjid Salman al-Farisi (Arabic: مسجد سلمان الفارسي) is part of a group of mosques known as al-Masajid al-Sab’a (Arabic: المساجد السبعة) or The Seven Mosques, located north-west of the Haram.

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