Chapter 3: Yemen After Its Conversion To Islam

Governance Of Yemen

Jabir ibn ʿAbdullah al-Ansari reports that a companion named Muʿadh ibn Jabal was among the most generous of companions. In his eagerness to assist the Prophet (S) he built up a large debt. When his creditors started pushing him to pay, he hid away from them in his house for several days. The creditors eventually sought the Prophet’s (S) intervention so he (S) sent for both parties. The creditors pleaded, “O Messenger of Allah, please claim our dues from him.” The Prophet (S) responded to them, “Allah will shower His mercy on the person who is charitable towards him who writes off Muʿadh’s debt.” Consequently some of the creditors wrote off the debt, while others refused insisting the Prophet (S) claim their rights from him.

The Prophet then turned to Muʿadh and said, “O Muʿadh, be patient and settle your remaining debts with them (even if you have to lose all of your wealth). The Prophet (S) then took away all of Muʿadh’s wealth and handed it over to the creditors. After its distribution, it still only reached five-sevenths of what Muʿadh owed. The creditors turned again to the Prophet (S) demanding that he sell Muʿadh as a slave to them. The Prophet (S) refused and said, “Leave him alone now! You cannot lodge any further claim now.”

Having nothing left, Muʿadh then went to live with Banu Salama. Someone there said to him, “O Abu ʿAbd al-Rahman, why do you not ask the Prophet (S) for something now that you have become so poor?” Muʿadh refused to ask, staying there for a few more days until the Prophet (S) called for him. When the Prophet (S) called him, he dispatched him to Yemen to act as a governor and told him, “Perhaps Allah will redeem you for your losses.” Muʿadh remained there as a governor until the Prophet died1. Jabir also reports from Muʿadh that he said, “The Messenger of Allah (S) settled my debts with my creditors using what wealth I had and then he appointed me as a governor.”2

Ibn ʿAbbas narrates, “The Prophet (S) sent Muʿadh to Yemen and said, ‘Invite the people to testify that no one has the right to be worshipped except Allah and I am Allah’s apostle, and if they obey you, then teach them that Allah has enjoined on them five daily prayers; and if they obey you, then teach them that Allah has made it obligatory for them to pay the alms-tax from their property and that it has to be taken from the wealthy among them and given to the poor.”3

  • 1. Nishaburi, Hakim al-, Mustadrak, vol. 3, pp. 123 and 272.
  • 2. Sunan Ibn Majah, The Chapter on Rulings and Laws, hadith no. 2357.
  • 3. Sahih Bukhari, vol. 2, book 23, hadith no. 478 (see also book 24, hadith no. 537 and 573 for similar narrations).