The Value of serving a Mother – Heart Touching Story of Hadhrat Owais Qarni

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This story is about a man who cared for his mother and the value that Islam gives to mothers. It is one of my favorite stories. Owais Qarni (rahimahullah) was the only man who was mentioned by name by the Prophet ﷺ without him having met him. Even Mohammed al Fatih, who was mentioned by the Prophet ﷺ, was not mentioned by name, just by his victory. What did Owais do that was so great? He took care of his mother. This is the story of Owais Qarni (rahimahullah).

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One day, Umar ibn Khattab, Abu Bakr, Ali and other companions (radhiyallahu anhum) were sitting with the Prophet ﷺ at the mosque when the Prophet ﷺ said to them, “Tomorrow, a man will enter from this door to pray among you and he will be from the people of Paradise.”

Abu Huraira (radhiyallahu anhu) relates that the next day he hurried to Fajr prayer at the Mosque and lined up in the first row in hopes that he would be the man that the Prophet ﷺ was referring to the day before. There were many other Companions standing alongside him who also had the same idea. The Prophet ﷺ conducted Fajr prayer and sat down. The Companions were eager to know who this man of Paradise was, but it didn’t seem the Prophet ﷺ was going to mention it. So they sat and waited for a while and some of them had to go, but others still waited. These included Abu Huraira, Abu Bakr, Ali, and Umar (radhiyallahu anhum).

Just then walked in a man, who was so poor his clothes were dirty and torn. The Prophet ﷺ immediately stood up and smiled from ear to ear and welcomed the man. The man asked the Prophet ﷺ to pray for him. The Prophet ﷺ raised his hands in duaa and said, “Oh Allah please grant this man a position in the highest levels of Paradise, Al Ferdous, with me.” So then when the man left, Abu Huraira (radhiyallahu anhu) asked the Prophet ﷺ,”Was that him?!” “Yes,” replied the Prophet ﷺ.

“But oh Messenger of Allah, he is nothing more than a poor slave, how can that be him?” asked Abu Huraira (radhiyallahu anhu). “Oh Abu Huraira,” said the Prophet ﷺ. “What can I do for him if his fate in this world is to be poor? His position on the Day of Judgment is that of a king. Abu Huraira, the ones that have the most value to Allah are those that are pure, starving, whose faces are dusty, who are not known on this Earth, but known in the skies. If they want to get married, no one would marry them. And if they get sick, the do not pass on the sickness to anyone (they are alone), and if they attend something their presence is not felt, and if they leave, no one notices, and when they die, no one attends their funeral. These people however, are not forgotten by Allah and they are held with so much value.

“Oh Messenger of Allah, show me one of them,” said Abu Huraira (radhiyallahu anhu).

I will tell you about Owais Al Qarni,” replied the Prophet ﷺ. The Companions looked at each other, each trying to recall if they know a man named Owais. They didn’t know that he was talking about a man that they will meet years after the Prophet ﷺ has passed away.

He is a man of medium height, head held high despite being poor with very dark skin. I can see him putting his right arm on his left arm and weeping as he reads Quran. He is wearing a cloak of poor wool,” said the Prophet ﷺ, smiling as if he can see him as Angel Gabriel is describing him. “On his left shoulder, there is a white mark the size of a dirham that is the effect of an illness. He is unknown among the people but known in the skies. His biggest sign is the mother he deeply cares for. When he makes duaa, it is granted. He will come among the people on the Day of Judgment and as they are entering Paradise, he will be stopped. When he asks why, Allah will tell him he can bring whomever he wants into Paradise with him, as much as 200,000 people (the amount of two large tribes).

Ali and Umar, if you are ever to find this man, ask him to make duaa for you and ask Allah for your forgiveness,” said the Prophet ﷺ.

.            .            .            .            .            .            .            .            .            .            .

Elsewhere in Yemen, a young boy is herding his sheep, the sun beating down on his shoulders where a white mark stands alone on his dark skin. He is frustrated from being poor and having to struggle and take care of his mother. His father died when he was a young child, leaving him the man of the house. When the boy was seventeen, his mother lost her vision, and his responsibilities toward her increased as he now had to help her move around.

One night, he was carrying a candle and helping his mother move around the house when the candlelight went out and they were left in darkness. He could not see a thing. Then his mother, who was used to finding her way in the darkness, started leadinghim.  This turn of events affected him deeply and he started to ponder on the weight of light and darkness.

The next day, the seventeen-year-old Owais bumped into a Muslim man who was coming to Yemen to spread Islam. He stopped the man and asked him to tell him something from the Qur’an that his Prophet ﷺ has said. So the man recites a verse from Surat Al Nur:

{…And he for whom Allah has not appointed light, for him there is no light} (Quran 24:40)

This really hit home for Owais as he remembered what had happened the night before with his mother. “Tell me more about what your Prophet ﷺ says,” said Owais.

So the man, noticing that Owais was poor, chose this Hadith. “What am I to this world and what is this world to me? The example of me and this world is that of a man who walks in the heat of the desert and sits under the shade of a tree for an hour, then walks away and leaves it.

Owais (rahimahullah) upon hearing this Hadith, immediately said his shahadah and became a Muslim at the age of 17. Then came the question, will he migrate to see the Prophet ﷺ? As much as Owais (rahimahullah) wanted to, he couldn’t and wouldn’t leave his mother. Some people suggested that he let some neighbors take care of her while he was gone but he said that he was the one who should take care of her and turned down the opportunity to see the Prophet ﷺ. This sacrifice for his mother and the way Owais (rahimahullah) had devoted himself to his mother his whole life was the reason that he was mentioned by the Prophet ﷺ. Also because of his deep faith and his lack of attachment to the material things in this world.

So when Ali bin Abi Talib (radhiyallahu anhu) left Yemen with a group of new Muslims to go back to Madinah, it was without the boy he bumped into on his way there. He had no idea that it the Owais (rahimahullah) that the Prophet ﷺ had mentioned and the boy didn’t know it was Ali bin Abu Talib (radhiyallahu anhu).

3 years later, the Prophet ﷺ passed away and years after that Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu) also passed away. When Umar ibn Al Khattab (radhiyallahu anhu) became Khalifa, he would go around all the people during Hajj and call out, “OWAIS, OWAIS, Is there anyone here named Owais??” He would go to the group that came from Yemen and ask them if a man named Owais (rahimahullah) is among them. But no one had heard of this man. Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) realized it was just as the Prophet ﷺ described to him, that he was a man who was unknown among the people.

Year after year, Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) would go around at Hajj and call out and ask for Owais (rahimahullah). One year during Hajj, he stood at Mount Arafat and asked all the people making Hajj to stand up. Then he told everyone to sit down except those from Yemen. From that group, he told them all to sit down except those from Murad and from that group, he told them all to sit down except those from Qarn. One man was left standing. “Are you a Qarni?” asked Umar ibn Al Khattab (radhiyallahu anhu). The man replied in the affirmative. “Do you know Owais?” “Yes, he is my nephew. But what would you want with him. He is but a poor, forgotten man,” replied the Yemeni man.

Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) started to weep. “This man is not just a poor, forgotten man. He is a man who will choose 200,000 people to come with him into heaven. Is he with you?”

“No, he is not,” replied the man.

“Is his mother living,” asked Umar (radhiyallahu anhu).

“Yes,” replied the man.

“I know he will not ever leave her, as this is what the Prophet ﷺ said,” replied Umar (radhiyallahu anhu).

Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) searched for Owais (rahimahullah) for ten years. A year before the death of Umar(radhiyallahu anhu), Owais’s (rahimahullah) mother passed away. That year, Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) stood up at Mount Arafat again and said to the people of Yemen, “Is Owais al Qarni among you?” A Yemeni man said, “He is that shepherd standing over there.” Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) became so excited and went to look for Ali (radhiyallahu anhu). “Ali! Ali! We found him!” he called out.

Umar and Ali (radhiyallahu anhum) approached Owais and asked him, “Are you Owais al Qarni?”

“Yes,” replied a surprised Owais (rahimahullah). “Show me your shoulder,” replied Umar (radhiyallahu anhu). Owais (rahimahullah) showed them his shoulder and they were able to see the mark that the Prophet ﷺ mentioned. “Is your mother with you?” asked Umar (radhiyallahu anhu). Owais replied that his mother had passed away. “Ah, it is just as the Prophet ﷺ said it would be then,” said Umar (radhiyallahu anhu).

Owais (rahimahullah) actually did not know these men so he asked them who they were. “I am Umar ibn Al Khattab, the Khalifa, and this is Ali ibn Abu Talib, the man who came to Yemen to spread Islam,” said Umar(radhiyallahu anhu).

“Yes! I remember him! But, how do you know me?” asked Owais (rahimahullah).

So Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) told Owais the whole story about how the Prophet ﷺ had talked about him years ago and how Angel Gabriel had described him. They said how his signs were the mark on his shoulder, his care for his mother, and his lack of attachment to this world. He said how Prophet ﷺ told them that he would take 200,000 people with him into Paradise. They told him how they had been looking for him for years.

Umar and Ali (radhiyallahu anhum) then asked Owais to make duaa for them and ask forgiveness for him. “You are now my friend in this life and the next,” Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) said to Owais (rahimahullah). However, Owais (rahimahullah) was not interested in the life of fame and ease that would come with being Umar’s (radhiyallahu anhu) friend, especially when people find out what the Prophet ﷺ had said about him. He kindly refused, and asked to be left as he is.

Owais (rahimahullah) said he was going to go to Kufa. “Would you like me to write to the leader of Kufa to await your arrival and look after you?” asked Umar (radhiyallahu anhu).

“No thank you. I would like to go unknown as I came,” replied Owais.

“Ok then at least let me give you some money to help you out,” said Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) in an effort to do at least something for Owais (rahimahullah). “No thank you, my wool coat has still not worn out and neither have my shoes. I have four dirhams that I have still not used. When I run out, I will figure out how to get more. I am content this way,” replied Owais (rahimahullah).

“Please stay with me,” said Umar (radhiyallahu anhu). “Thank you Umar. But what I have is good for me and what you have is good for you and the Muslims,” said Owais (rahimahullah).

Owais left Makkah. He participated in the battle at Azerbaijan and died during the battle. His death came about 2 years after the death of Umar ibn Al Khattab (radhiyallahu anhu). Owais (rahimahullah) was about 35 years old.

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*This is one of my favorite stories. There are two things to learn here. One is the importance of taking care of your mother and that the reward for it is more than you can imagine. Once a companion asked the Prophet ﷺ whom he should befriend. The Prophet ﷺ replied, “Your mother.” The Companion then asked, “Who after her?” “Your mother,” replied the Prophet ﷺ. Then Companion then asked, “Then who should I befriend?” “Your mother,” replied the Prophet ﷺ. “Then whom after that?” asked the Companion. Your father,” replied the Prophet ﷺ. So much importance is placed on the mother-not just taking care of her and feeding her and clothing her. Befriend her. Your parents should be your friends. Bir Al Waleedain, your obligation to your parents, is not just a material obligation like putting a roof over their heads and making a phone call every week. Its being their friend and having them be a part of your life, especially in their old age. People say that Islam oppresses women, but how can anyone say that when they see a person like Owais, who will take 200,000 with him to heaven, just for sacrificing his friendship with the Prophet ﷺ to take care of his mother and for devoting his whole life to her. If you were in the same position, what would you choose?

Which leads me to the second lesson. Sacrifice. When you sacrifice something for Allah or leave something for the sake of Allah, Allah will reward you with something unbelievably greater than it. Owais (rahimahullah) didn’t get to be a Companion of the Prophet ﷺ because he chose to care for his mother, so Owais was given the honor of being his Companion in Paradise! This also goes for you in even the smallest things.

*Imagine how Owais (rahimahullah) must have felt to hear what the Prophet ﷺ had said about him!

*This story is also a reminder that our wealth, clothes and status are not an indication to how we are viewed by Allah. The story in the beginning of the man in the mosque was the Prophet’s ﷺ way of showing that to the Companions.

*Owais (rahimahullah) is going to take 200,000 people with him to Paradise! Even a martyr only gets 70,000.

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