Stories of the Sahabah

Hakim ibn Hazm

History has recorded that he is the only person who was born inside the Kabah itself. Together with a group of friends, his mother had gone inside this ancient House of God to inspect it. On that particular day it was open because of a festive occasion. She was pregnant and labor pains suddenly gripped her. She was unable to leave the Kabah. A leather mat was brought to her and she gave birth on it. The child was named Hakim. His father was Hazm who was the son of Khuwaylid. Hakim was therefore the nephew of the Lady Khadijah.

Hakim grew up in a wealthy and noble family which enjoyed a high status in Makkan society. He was also an intelligent and well-mannered person who was well respected by his people. He was held in such esteem that he was given the responsibility of the rifadah which involved giving assistance to the needy and those who had lost their property during the season of pilgrimage. He took this responsibility seriously and would even help needy pilgrims from his own resources.

Hakim was a very close friend of the Prophet (pbuh), before his call to Prophethood. He was five years older than the Prophet, and they used spend much time talking together enjoying hours of pleasant companionship. Mohammed (pbuh) in his turn felt great affection for Hakim. They became even closer when the Prophet married Hakim's aunt, Khadijah.

What is truly amazing is that in spite of the close friendship between Hakim and the Prophet, Hakim did not become a Muslim until the conquest of Makkah, more than twenty years after the start of the Prophets mission! One would have thought that someone like Hakim whom God had blessed with a sound intellect and who was so well-disposed to the Prophet, would have been among the first to believe in him and follow his guidance. But that was not to be. As soon as he finally accepted Islam and tasted the sweetness of iman (faith), he felt deep regret for every moment of his life as a denier of God's religion and of His Prophet.

Hakim's son once saw him weeping and asked: "Why are you weeping, my father?" "Many things cause me to weep, my dear son. The most grievous is the length of time it took for me to become a Muslim. Acceptance of Islam would have given me so many opportunities to do good which I missed even if I were to have spent the earth in gold. My life was spared at the battle of Badr and Uhud. After Uhud, I said to myself, I would not help any Quraysh against Mohammed (pbuh), and I would not leave Makkah. Then, when I wanted to accept Islam I would look at others among the Quraysh. Men of power and maturity who were attached to the ideas and practices of old, and I would fall in line with them... How I wish I had not done so. Nothing has destroyed us except the blind following of our forefathers and elders. Why should I not weep, my son?"

The Prophet himself was puzzled. A man of sagacity and understanding like Hakim ibn Hazm, how could Islam remain hidden from him? For a long time, the Prophet had dearly hoped that he and others like him would become Muslims. On the night before the liberation of Makkah, he (pbuh), said to his companions: "There are four persons in Makkah whom I consider to be above having any dealing with shirk and I would dearly like them to accept Islam." "Who are they?" asked the companions. "Attab ibn Usayd, Jubayr ibn Mutim, Hakim ibn Hazm and Suhayl ibn Amr," said the Prophet. By the grace of God, they all became Muslims.

When the prophet (pbuh) entered Mecca, he ordered his herald to proclaim: "Whoever declares that there is no god but Allah alone, that He has no partner and that Mohammed is His servant and His messenger, he is safe ... whoever sits at the Kaba and lays down his weapons, he is safe. Whoever enters the house of Abu Sufyan or Hakim ibn Hazm is safe. By proclaiming these houses as places of sanctuary the prophet wisely accorded recognition to both Abu Sufyan and Hakim, weakening any thought they might have of resisting and making it easier for them to be more favorably disposed to him and his mission.

Hakim embraced Islam wholeheartedly. He vowed to himself that he would atone and that whatever he had spent in opposing the Prophet, he would spend the same amounts in the cause of Islam.

He owned an important and historic building in Makkah, where the Quraysh held their conferences during the days of Jahiliyyah. Here the Quraysh leaders would gather to plot against the Prophet.

Hakim decided to get rid of it and cut himself off from its past associations. He sold the building for one hundred thousand dirhams. A Quraysh youth said to him: "You have sold something of great historical value and pride to the Quraysh, uncle."

"Come now, my son," replied Hakim. "All vain pride and glory has now gone and all that remains of value is taqwa - consciousness of God. I have only sold the building in order to acquire a house in Paradise. I swear to you that I have given the proceeds from it to be spent in the path of God Almighty."

When Hakim performed Hajj he took with him one hundred fine camels and sacrificed them all in order to achieve nearness to God. In the following Hajj, he stood on Arafat. With him were one hundred slaves. To each he gave a pendant of silver on which was engraved: "Free for the sake of God Almighty from Hakim ibn Hazm." On a third Hajj, he took with him a thousand sheep and sacrificed them all to feed the poor.

Hakim was generous in his spending for the sake of God, but he still liked to have much. After the battle of Hunayn, he asked the Prophet for some of the booty. He then asked for more and the Prophet gave him more. Hakim ended up with a large share of the booty. But the Prophet (pbuh) told him: "O Hakim! This wealth is indeed sweet and attractive. Whoever takes it and is satisfied will be blessed by it and whoever takes out of greed will not be blessed. He would be like someone who eats and is not satisfied. The upper hand is better than the lower hand (it is better to give than to receive)."

The kind words had a deep effect on Hakim. Mortified, he said to the Prophet: "O Messenger of God! By Him who has sent you with the truth, I shall not ask anyone after you for anything."

During the caliphate of Abu Bakr, Hakim was calved several times to collect his stipend from the Bayt al-mal but he refused to take any money. He did the same during the caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khattab whereupon Umar addressed the Muslims: "I testify to you, O Muslims, that I have called Hakim to collect his stipend but he refuses."
Hakim remained faithful to his word. He did not take anything from anyone until he passed away. From the Prophet, he had learned the great truth that contentment is riches beyond compare.


The Islamic Bulletin
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August 1998
Jumaada Awal 1419
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