Thawbān was the son of Yajdud. He originated from the family of “Sarāt”, a tribe which had settled between Mecca and Yemen. His pseudonym (nickname) was Abū ‘Abd Allāh. The Noble Prophet (S) had bought him and then set him free for the sake and good pleasure of Allah, the Almighty. He, however, preferred to stay with the Noble Prophet (S) and was in his service up to the end of his life.
He had always been overwhelmed by the Noble Prophet’s (S) character and personality. One day, when he came to see the Noble Prophet (S), his whole demeanor had changed. He looked extremely thin, pale and sorrowful. The Noble Prophet (S), considering his condition, asked him how he was feeling.
Thawbān replied, “I have no pain whatsoever, but I am terrified of the Day of Resurrection whenever I get separated from you. I fear that on that fateful day, I will get separated from you and not see you again. Even if I happen to be one of those people who enter paradise, your level and position in heaven will still be higher than mine, considering the positions of some prophets are higher than the positions of other prophets.”
At this very moment, the Archangel Gabriel (Jibrā’īl) descended from heaven and revealed this Quranic verse,
“And whoever obeys Allah and the Apostle, these are with those upon whom Allah has bestowed favors from among the prophets and the truthful and the martyrs and the good, and a goodly company are they.”1
Then, the Noble Prophet (S) addressed Thawbān, “I swear by Allah, He, in whose hands my life rests, that no one will enjoy safety on the Day of Resurrection, unless he loves me more than himself, his father, his mother, his wife, his children and more than all the people.”
‘Alī ibn Abī Tālib (‘a) always used to state, “I love the Noble Prophet more than I love wealth, my children, my father and my mother. I love him (S) more than sweet cold water is loved by one who is thirsty in the hot desert.”2
The reason why we all ought to love the Noble Prophet (S) more than anyone or anything is that he freed us from ignorance and useless idol-worship and was the best creation of Allah in all respects.