The Sahabah Series: The Abu Hurairah
One day I was carrying a kitten in my sleeve and the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace, saw me and he said, ‘What is this?’
‘A kitten,’ I said.
And he said, ‘O Abu Hurairah!’, ‘O Father of the Kitten!’
He came to Madina and embraced Islam the year of Khaybar, a battle in which he fought. This was in 7H.
Although he only spent a relatively short time with the Messenger, upon him be peace, he grew very close to him. It was said of him that ‘he turned wherever the Messenger turned’. It has been related that the Messenger, upon him be peace, once said, ‘whoever lays out his cloth until I finish my discourse will never forget anything that they hear from me’. Abu Hurairah laid out his cloth and it is said that he laid out his ‘rida’, shawl and then he, upon him be peace, delivered his discourse. Abu Hurairah said, ‘by Allah, I never ever forget anything that I heard from him.’ Because of his prolific memory he gained the respect of the Companions and became an important teacher. More than 800 companions and followers related hadith from him. Although he related 5874 hadith and is known to be the most prolific narrator of hadith, he said, ‘I only narrated half of the traditions that I knew.’
The poorer members of the Community including migrants from other parts of the world had a special place in the mosque called the Suffa. They were called the Ahl al-Suffa, People of the Bench, and many of them had no possessions but the clothes on their back. Abu Hurairah was the most prominent of the Ahl al-Suffa. The Messenger, upon him be peace, used to send any charity that he received and shared with them gifts that had been given. Abu Hurairah related how he used to lie on the ground or tie a stone to his stomach due to the intense hunger. On one occasion, he waited outside the mosque and when Abu Bakr went by, he asked him about a verse of Qurân in the hope that he would notice his state and offer him something to eat. However, he answered the question and went on. Then he did the same with ‘Umar ibn al-Khattâb, who did the same as Abu Bakr. Then he waited for the Messenger, upon whom be peace, who invited him in to his house to see if there were any gifts of food. He felt fortunate as the Messenger, upon him be peace, had been given a cup of milk. To Abu Hurairah’s dismay, he was ordered to invite all the Ahl al-Suffa and then to pour out for each one of them. At this, he despaired of getting any milk because they were so numerous and the person pouring the milk is always the last to drink. To his surprise when everyone had drunk, the cup was still full. He drank his fill and when he had finished, the Messenger, upon him be peace, said ‘drink!’ Abu Hurairah obeyed. When he had drank until he could drink no more, the Messenger, upon him be peace, smiled and again said, ‘drink!’ Despite being sated, he drank. After he had finished, the Messenger smiled again and said, ‘drink!’ To this Abu Hurairah, said ‘O Messenger of Allah, there is no way I can drink any more.’ He realised that the Messenger, upon him be peace, was teaching him not to doubt the blessings of his Lord.
Among his daily practices was to seek forgiveness 12000 times in the day and 12000 at night. He would keep count using a string with a thousand knots tied into it.
He said that he witnessed three great tragedies; the death of the Messenger, upon him be peace, the murder of ‘Uthmân and the disappearance of the mizwad. When asked what the mizwad was, he explained that on one of the Messenger’s excursions he, upon him be peace, asked if anyone had any food. Someone said he had a mizwad, a small bag for keeping provisions. In it were some dates. The Messenger, called for them to be brought to him. He, upon him be peace, supplicated upon them and distributed them to everyone present. Abu Hurairah said that he ate from his portion during the life of the Messenger, upon him be peace, and throughout the reigns of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthmân.
‘Umar appointed him as ruler over Bahrain but after a short time, he decided he did not want to be involved in politics or ruling, resigned and went into recluse. He returned to Madina where he died in the year 57, 58 or 59 H, aged 78 years old.
(Sources: Ibn Hajr al-Asqalâni, al-Isâba fî Tamyîz al-Sahâba and Muhammad al-Jardâni al-Dimyâti, al-Jawâhir al-lu’luwiyya)
 Related by al-Hâkim, see al-Isâbah of Ibn Hajr.
 Related by al-Baihaqi and Qadi ‘Iyad in his Shifa.