‘Abd Allāh belonged to the Tribe of “Muzaynah” and lived in Mecca. He was orphaned in early childhood, and, hence, grew up under the care of his uncle. As a result of strenuous effort and active struggle, he acquired a lot of wealth, consisting of camels, herds of sheep and slaves. Following in the footsteps of his uncle, ‘Abd Allāh Muznī had initially been an idol-worshipper.
But after realizing that the idols were nothing but soulless statues, he got disgusted with idol-worshiping and developed interest in Islam. However, out of respect for his uncle, he could not openly declare his interest publicly. He kept hoping that one day his uncle would convert to Islam and pave the way for him to convert to Islam, too.
After the conquest of Mecca, ‘Abd Allāh Muznī hoped that like the other polytheists, his uncle, too, would eventually convert to Islam. But ‘Abd Allāh’s uncle did not convert to Islam. On the contrary, he intended to remain an infidel.
‘Abd Allāh, whose name at that time was, in accordance the custom of the idol-worshippers, ‘Abd al-‘Uzzā1, could not continue in the state of disbelief and infidelity anymore and finally lost his patience.
He gathered courage and said, “O Uncle! I have been waiting for you to become a Muslim so that I, too, might find it easy to become a Muslim. Since you persist in your idol worship, I can no longer continue with you in this state of ignorance and infidelity. Therefore, give me permission to convert to the religion of Islam.” Upon hearing this, ‘Abd al-‘Uzzā’s uncle flew into a rage and said, “I will never give you such permission.” ‘Abd al-‘Uzzā said, “I have decided to convert to Islam no matter what it costs.” His uncle warned him angrily, “If you become a Muslim, I will confiscate all your wealth; I will seize all your camels, herds of sheep, slaves and clothes.”
‘Abd al-‘Uzzā said, “I, voluntarily, give you whatever I own.” After saying this, he immediately removed his clothes and threw them in front of his uncle. Then, with words that showed inner peace and joy, enthusiasm in the worship of Truth.
‘Abd al-‘Uzzā said, “All these things are yours. Property and worldly wealth mean a lot to you, but they are worthless for me. In my opinion, they cannot be compared to real success and everlasting life in the hereafter.” Having said this, ‘Abd al-‘Uzzā went to see his mother empty-handed, without any clothes on his body and told her, “I have decided to become a Muslim. I need a piece of cloth just enough to cover my body with.”
His mother brought a length of linen cloth sufficient for a garment. ‘Abd al-‘Uzzā tore the piece of cloth into two parts to cover his body. With spiritual joy, he left for Medina. His horse was unshod with nothing to eat or drink but the grass of the desert and the water which had settled in its sandy potholes, but overflowing with the love for Islam and the Noble Prophet (S), ‘Abd al-‘Uzzā did not worry about any of these encumbrances at all. Driven by his intense love for Islam he crossed all the hills and deserts with speed and haste until he reached Medina.
The Noble Prophet (S) and his companions had just finished the Morning Prayers when this youth, who was in search of Truth, entered the Mosque. He went in front of the Noble Prophet (S) and greeted him respectfully.
His unfamiliar face, disturbed state and unbecoming clothes attracted the attention of everyone in the Mosque. The Noble Prophet (S) asked affectionately, “Who are you?” The youth said, “My name is ‘Abd al-‘Uzzā. I have come from Mecca with the desire to embrace Islam. My uncle has confiscated all my property, even my clothes, because of my intentions.”
‘Abd al-‘Uzzā recited the the profession of the faith [shihādah] and became a Muslim.
The Noble Prophet (S) smiled and said, “From today onwards, your name shall be ‘Abd Allāh.” Because he had even denounced his clothes in the way of Allah, he became popularly known as ‘Abd Allāh Dhū al-Bajādayn (viz. ‘Abd Allāh of two pieces of cloth).
The Noble Prophet (S) ordered him, “Build your house next to mine and become one of my neighbors.”
‘Abd Allāh quickly learnt the principles of Islam because of his keen interest in the religion. He always recited the Noble Qur’an and the prayers aloud in the Mosque. ‘Umar intended to stop ‘Abd Allāh from doing this.
The Noble Prophet (S), who knew that ‘Abd Allāh was doing this as a result of his deep love for Allah, restrained him, “Do not stop him from reciting the Glorious Qur’an and his prayers aloud because he has migrated for the sake of Allah and his Prophet (S).”
What did this youth, who had denounced everything, actually desire? The answer is that he desired only one thing, in spite of having many material needs, and that was martyrdom, dying in the way of Allah the Most High.
The war of Uhud was fought in 3 AH and the Muslim army prepared for the confrontation. ‘Abd Allāh went to see the Noble Prophet (S) and said, “O Prophet (S) of Allah! I request you to ask Allah to grant me the honor of martyrdom by being killed in the way of truth.” The Noble Prophet (S) stated, “Bring the bark of a tree.” ‘Abd Allāh hurried to find the bark of a tree and brought it to Allah’s Prophet (S). The Noble Prophet (S) scribbled something on the bark: “Allah has forbidden the unbelievers from shedding the blood of the Muslims.”
‘Abd Allāh thought his wish had been refused and got worried and said, “O Prophet of Allah! I had requested for something other than what you have written!” The Noble Prophet (S) said, “You will be considered a martyr even if you die of a headache because you have migrated in the way of Allah.”
When the Muslim army reached the area of Tabūk, ‘Abd Allāh got a headache and died. He was buried in Tabūk.2
Yes, ‘Abd Allāh struggled very hard in the way of religion. He did so with a heart full of spiritual faith and love. He denounced the world and all that was in it in order to attain everlasting success and glory.