Suraqa bin Malik

Suraqah bin Malik ( Arabic:سراقة بن مالك الكناني Suraqah ibn Malek alkenani) is a member of the Kenanah tribe which just like quraish belongs to the Adnani branch of Arabs (there are two branches of true Arabs or Arabs by blood, not just tongue who were Arabaized later after the arab Muslim expansion. Arabs by blood or true Arabs, also known as Arabs of the Arabian peninsula, or the native inhabitants of Arabian peninsula, are either adnani or qahtani. Suraqah's tribe is adnani) Suraqah pursued Muhammad when he was on his way to Medina for the Hijrah (migration). Muhammad had taken asylum inside the cave of Thawr outside Mecca. Abu Jahal and three of his accomplices who were tracking Muhammad and his companion Abu Bakr reached the mouth of the cave. Abu Bakr trembled with fear at the sound of the advancing steps of the pursuers but Muhammad assured him they were safe for Allah was with them.

The Quraish announced a reward of 100 camels for anyone who tracked Muhammad and Abu Bakr. Suraqa was enticed. Suraqa bin Malik was a clever and patient tracker who trailed people by their footprints on the sand, the excreta of the camels and horses. He asked his slave woman to saddle securely his agile mare and lead her well away from Mecca while he slipped out the back door of his house so that no one would know what he was about to do.

He easily tracked down the two-man caravan of Muhammad on its flight to Madinah, but as soon as he caught sight of the duo, his mare got stuck in the sand, and nothing could extricate her. The Prophet and Abu Bakr were visible within range of his arrow, but as he lifted his bow to shoot them, his hands became paralyzed. He cried out, ‘O Muhammad, pray for me in order that my mare could get out of this mess. I promise, I will retrace my steps and give up the pursuit.’

Muhammad prayed, and Suraqa's mare freed herself from the sand. Such was the size of the reward, however, that Suraqa went back on his word and resumed pursuit of the duo. As he approached Muhammad, the mare got stuck into the sand again. Suraqa again prayed: ‘O Prophet, if I was released again, I would surrender my arms and return to Mecca never to pursue you. I would dissuade even others from pursuing you.’

Muhammad prayed again, and the mare again freed herself. Suraqa then declared that Muhammad’s religion would prevail one day and requested Muhammad to hand him a written promise that he would be honoured whenever Muhammad became the head of the Islamic state. Abu Bakr wrote the promise at the behest of Muhammad on a bone and handed it over to Suraqa. Even as he began to return, Muhammad told him that he would one day wear the bangles of Khusrow of Persia. He asked in wonderment if Muhammad meant the bangles of Khusrow bin Hormuz, the Persian king. Muhammad nodded in acknowledgement.

Suraqa encountered several contingents of Quraish who were looking for Muhammad and persuaded them to get back to Mecca as he had found no trace of the pair on the route to Madinah. The only person whom he told of his encounter was Abu Jahl, who reproached him for his cowardice.

Within eight years of his migration to Madinah, Muhammad entered Mecca at the head of a vast army and declared general amnesty. Suraqa entered the court of Muhammad and declared shahadah. Suraqa always rued the day he pursued Muhammad for the mere earthly reward of 100 red camels. He was struck with profound grief the day Muhammad died but remembered the promise of Muhammad that he would one day receive the bangles of Khusrow of Persia.

Years passed. At one time Suraqa became ill and was dying. His house prepared for his death (643 CE/22 AH). All of a sudden Suraqa open his eyes and inquired what his family was doing. They told him that they are preparing for his burial because they dont think he will survive. He ordered them not to worry about him because he will not die. Family member were surprised and asked how he is so sure. He said that Prophet Muhammad assured him of Khusrow's bangles and had not get yet. Persia was conquered during the caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khattab. Umar received a missive from Saad bin Abi Waqqas, commander of the Islamic forces about the conquest of Persia. A fifth of the booty was sent to Umar in Madinah. It contained the famed crown of Khusrow studded with rubies, a gold belt studded with pearls and the gold bangles. Umar was looking at each of the items sent by the Commander of the forces. Suddenly Umar called Suraqa to him and put the crown on his head, helped him don the gold embroidered dress and gold bangles.

Suraqa felt uncomfortable in the royal outfit. He raised his hands towards the sky and prayed: ‘O my Lord, how could I put on something which your Prophet deserved far more than I? I smell the air of punishment in it."

He then turned towards Umar and asked him to distribute all those royal appendages among the Muslims.

(Narrated by Anwar al-Awlaki)

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