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The Story of Ka’b Bin Malik from Ghazwa Tabuk

by | May 9, 2016

Narrated ‘Abdullah ibn Kab bin Malik that Kab bin Malik said,

“I did not remain behind Allah’s Apostle in any Ghazwa that he fought except the Ghazwa of Tabuk. I failed to participate in the Ghazwa of Badr, but Allah did not admonish anyone who had not participated. Allah’s Apostle had gone out searching for the caravan of Quraish till Allah made them (i.e., the Muslims) and their enemy meet without any appointment. I witnessed Al-‘Aqaba (pledge) night with Allah’s Apostle when we pledged for Islam, and I would not exchange it for the Badr battle, although the Badr battle is more popular amongst the people than it (i.e., Al-‘Aqaba pledge).”

Kab bin Malik has Never been Such a Wealthier

As for my news (in this battle of Tabuk), I had never been stronger or wealthier than I was when I remained behind the Prophet in that Ghazwa. By Allah, never had I two she-camels before, but I had then at the time of this Ghazwa. Whenever Allah’s Apostle wanted to make a Ghazwa, he hid his intention by referring to different Ghazwa until it was the time of that Ghazwa (of Tabuk).

The Ghazwa, which Allah’s Apostle fought in severe heat, faced a long journey, desert, and a significant number of the enemy. So the Prophet announced to the Muslims clearly (their destination) so that they might get prepared for their Ghazwa. So he informed them apparently of the destination he was going to. Allah’s Apostle had many Muslims with him, which one cannot name in a book, namely, a register.” Ka’b added, “Any man who intended to be absent would think that the matter would remain hidden unless Allah revealed it through Divine Revelation.”


So Allah’s Apostle fought that Ghazwa at the time when the fruits had ripened, and the shade looked pleasant. Allah’s Apostle and his companions prepared for the battle, and I started to go out to get myself ready along with them, but I returned without doing anything. I would say to myself, ‘I can do that.’ So I kept delaying it until the people got ready and Allah’s Apostle and the Muslims, along with him, departed. I had not prepared anything for my departure, and I said, I will prepare myself (for departure) one or two days after him and then join them.’ In the Morning following their departure, I went out to get myself ready but returned having done nothing. Then again, the following day, I went out to get ready but returned without doing anything.

Such was the case with me till they hurried away, and the battle was missed (by me). Even then, I intended to depart to take them over. I wish I had done so! But it was not my luck. So, after the departure of Allah’s Apostle, whenever I went out and walked amongst the people (i.e., the remaining individuals), it grieved me that I could see none around me. Still, one accused of hypocrisy or one of those weak men whom Allah had excused.


Allah’s Apostle did not remember me till he reached Tabuk. So while sitting amongst the people in Tabuk, he said, ‘What did Kab Bin Malik do?’ A man from Banu Salama said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Kab Bin Malik has been stopped by his two Burda (i.e., garments) and looking at his flanks with pride.’ Then Mu’adh bin Jabal said, ‘What a bad thing you have said! By Allah! O Allah’s Apostle! We know nothing about him but good.’ Allah’s Apostle kept silent.”

Kab bin Malik added,

When I heard that he (i.e., the Prophet ) was returning to Medina. I got dipped in my concern and began to think of false excuses, saying, ‘How can I avoid his anger tomorrow?’ And I took the advice of a wise family member in this matter. When he heard that Allah’s Apostle had come near, all the evil false excuses were abandoned in my mind, and I knew well that I could never come out of this problem by forging a false statement. Then I decided firmly to speak the truth.”

So Allah’s Apostle arrived in the Morning, and whenever he returned from a journey., he used to visit the Mosque first and offer a two-Rakat prayer therein and then sit for the people. So when he had done all that (this time), those who had failed to join the battle (of Tabuk) came and started offering (false) excuses and taking oaths before him. They were over eighty men; Allah’s Apostle accepted their reasons, took their pledge of allegiance, asked for Allah’s Forgiveness, and left the secrets of their hearts, Allah to judge.

Telling The Truth

Then I came to him, and when I greeted him, he smiled a smile of an angry person and said, ‘Come on.’ So I came walking till I sat before him. He told me, ‘What stopped you from joining us? Had you not purchased an animal for carrying you?’ I answered, “Yes, O Allah’s Apostle! But by Allah, if I were sitting before any person among the people of the world other than you, I would have avoided his anger with an excuse.

By Allah, He bestowed me with the power to speak fluently and eloquently. But by Allah, I knew well that if today I tell you a lie to seek your favor, Allah would surely make you angry with me shortly, but if I tell you the truth, though you will get mad because of it, I hope for Allah’s Forgiveness. Really, by Allah, there was no excuse for me. By Allah, I had never been stronger or wealthier than I was when I remained behind you.’

Then Allah’s Apostle said,

‘As regards this man, he has surely told the truth. So get up till Allah decides your case.’ I got up, and many men of Banu Salama followed me and said to me.

‘By Allah, we never witnessed you doing any sin before this. Surely, you failed to offer an excuse to Allah’s Apostle as the others who did not join him have offered. The prayer of Allah’s Apostle to Allah to forgive you would have been sufficient for you.’ By Allah, they continued blaming me so much that I intended to return (to the Prophet) and accuse myself of having told a lie, but I said to them,

‘Is anybody else who has met the same fate as I?’

They replied, ‘Yes, there are two men who have said the same thing as you have, and to both of them was given the same order as given to you.’ I said, ‘Who are they?’

They replied, Murara bin Ar-Rabi Al-Amri and Hilal bin Umaiya Al-Waqifi.’ By that, they mentioned two pious men who had attended the Ghazwa (Battle) of Badr and in whom there was an example for me. So I did not change my mind when they mentioned them to me.

Admonition to Tal

Allah’s Apostle forbade Muslims to talk to us, three persons above out of all those who remained behind in that Ghazwa. So we kept away from the people, and they changed their attitude towards us till the very land (where I lived) appeared strange to me as if I did not know it.

We remained in that condition for fifty nights. As regards my two fellows, they remained in their houses and kept on weeping. Still, I was the youngest and firmest of them, so I used to go out and witness the prayers along with the Muslims and roam about in the markets. Still, none would talk to me, and I would come to Allah’s Apostle and greet him while he was sitting In his gathering after the prayer, and I would wonder whether the Prophet did move his lips in return to my greetings or not. Then I would offer my prayer near to him and look at him stealthily. When I was busy with my prayer, he would turn his face towards me, but he would turn his face away from me when I turned my face to him.

Harsh Attitude of People

When this harsh attitude of the people lasted long, I walked till I scaled the wall of the garden of Abu Qatada, who was my cousin and dearest person to me, and I offered my greetings to him. By Allah, he did not return my greetings. I said, ‘O Abu Qatada! I beseech you by Allah! Do you know that I love Allah and His Apostle?’ He kept quiet. I asked him again, beseeching him by Allah, but he remained silent. Then I asked him again in the Name of Allah. He said, “Allah and His Apostle know it better.’ My eyes flowed with tears, and I returned and jumped over the wall.”

Kab Bin Malik added, “While I was walking in the market of Medina, suddenly I saw a Nabati (i.e., a Christian farmer) from the Nabatis of Sham who came to sell his grains in Medina, saying, ‘Who will lead me to Kab bin Malik?’ The people began to point (me) out for him till he came to me and handed me a letter from the king of Ghassan as follows:

“To proceed, I have been informed that your friend (i.e., the Prophet ) has treated you harshly. Allah does not let you live where you feel inferior, and your right is lost. So join us, and we will console you.”

When I read it, I said, ‘This is also a test.’ Then I took the letter to the oven and made a fire by burning it.

After Forty Nights

When forty out of the fifty nights elapsed, behold! The messenger of Allah’s Apostle came to me and said,

 “Allah’s Apostle orders you to keep away from your wife,’ I said, ‘Should I divorce her, or else? What should I do?’ He said, ‘No, only keep aloof from her and do not cohabit with her.’ The Prophet sent the same message to my two fellows. Then I said to my wife. ‘Go to your parents and remain with them till Allah gives His Verdict in this matter.”

Kab Bin Malik added, 

“The wife of Hilal bin Umaiya came to Apostle and said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Hilal bin Umaiya is a helpless older man with no servant to attend to him. Do you dislike that I should serve him? “

He said, ‘

“No (you can serve him), but he should not come near you.’ She said, ‘By Allah, he has no desire for anything. By Allah, he has never ceased weeping till his case began until this day of his.”

That some of my family members said to me, 

“‘ O” Kab Bin Malik, Will you also ask Allah’s Apostle to permit your wife (to serve you) as he has allowed the wife of Hilal bin Umaiya to serve him?’ I said, ‘By Allah, I will not ask the permission of Allah’s Apostle regarding her, for I do not know What Allah’s Apostle would say if I asked him to permit her (to serve me). At the same time, I am a young man.”

Then I remained in that state for ten more nights until fifty nights were completed, starting when Allah’s Apostle prohibited the people from talking to us.

50th Morning

When I had offered the Fajr prayer on the 50th Morning on the roof of one of our houses, and while I was sitting in the condition Allah described (in the Qur’an), i.e., my very soul seemed straitened to me. Even the earth seemed narrow to me for all its spaciousness; there I heard the voice of one who had ascended the mountain of Sala’ calling with his loudest voice, ‘O Kab bin Malik! Be happy (by receiving good tidings).’ I fell in prostration before Allah, realizing that relief had come.

Acceptance of your repentance

Allah’s Apostle announced our repentance by Allah when he offered the Fajr prayer. The people then went out to congratulate us. Some bringers of good tidings went out to my two fellows, and a horseman came to me in haste, and a man of Banu Aslam came running and ascended the mountain, and his voice was swifter than the horse. When he (i.e., the man) whose voice I had heard came to me conveying the good tidings, I took off my garments and dressed him with them; and by Allah, I owned no other garments than them on that day. Then I borrowed two garments, wore them, and went to Allah’s Apostle.

The people started receiving me in batches, congratulating me on Allah’s Acceptance of my repentance, saying, 

We congratulate you on Allah’s Acceptance of your repentance.” 

Kab further said, “

“When I entered the Mosque, I saw Allah’s Apostle sitting with the people around him. Talha bin Ubaidullah swiftly came to me, shook hands, and congratulated me. By Allah, none of the Muhajirin (i.e., Emigrants) got up for me except him (i.e., Talha), and I will never forget this for Talha.”

Kab added, “When I greeted Allah’s Apostle, he, his face being bright with joy, said, “Be happy with the best day that you have got ever since your mother delivered you.”

 Kab added, “I said to the Prophet, ‘

“Is this forgiveness from you or Allah?’ He said, ‘No, it is from Allah.’ Whenever Allah’s Apostle became happy, his face would shine as if it were a piece of the moon, and we all knew that characteristic of him.”

When I sat before him, I said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Because of the acceptance of my repentance, I will give up all my wealth as alms for the Sake of Allah and His Apostle. Allah’s Apostle said, ‘Keep some of your wealth, as it will be better for you.’ I said, ‘So I will keep my share from Khaibar with me,’ and added, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Allah has saved me from telling the truth, so it is a part of my repentance not to tell but the truth as long as I am alive.

I do not know anyone of the Muslims whom Allah has helped tells the truth more than me by Allah. Since I have mentioned that truth to Allah’s Apostle till today, I have never intended to tell a lie. I hope Allah will also save me (from telling lies) for the rest of my life.

Allah Revelation on this Event:

So Allah revealed to His Apostle the Verse:

لَّقَد تَّابَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَى ٱلنَّبِىِّ وَٱلْمُهَٰجِرِينَ وَٱلْأَنصَارِ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱتَّبَعُوهُ فِى سَاعَةِ ٱلْعُسْرَةِ مِنۢ بَعْدِ مَا كَادَ يَزِيغُ قُلُوبُ فَرِيقٍ مِّنْهُمْ ثُمَّ تَابَ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ بِهِمْ رَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“Allah has already forgiven the Prophet and the Muhajireen and the Ansar who followed him in the hour of difficulty after the hearts of a party of them had almost inclined [to doubt], and then He forgave them. Indeed, He was to them Kind and Merciful.

وَعَلَى ٱلثَّلَٰثَةِ ٱلَّذِينَ خُلِّفُوا۟ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا ضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ ٱلْأَرْضُ بِمَا رَحُبَتْ وَضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ أَنفُسُهُمْ وَظَنُّوٓا۟ أَن لَّا مَلْجَأَ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ إِلَّآ إِلَيْهِ ثُمَّ تَابَ عَلَيْهِمْ لِيَتُوبُوٓا۟ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ هُوَ ٱلتَّوَّابُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ

And [He also forgave] the three who were left behind [and regretted their error] to the point that the earth closed in on them despite its vastness and their souls confined [i.e., anguished] them and they were sure that there is no refuge from Allāh except in Him. Then He turned to them so they could repent. Indeed, Allāh is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَكُونُوا۟ مَعَ ٱلصَّٰدِقِينَ

O you who have believed, fear Allah, and be with those who are faithful.”

[At-Tawbah: 117-119]

Allah, Allah has never bestowed upon me, apart from His guiding me to Islam, a Greater blessing than the fact that I did not tell a lie to Allah’s Apostle. It would have caused me to perish as those who have said a lie perished, for Allah described those who told lies with the worst description He ever attributed to anybody else.

سَيَحْلِفُونَ بِٱللَّهِ لَكُمْ إِذَا ٱنقَلَبْتُمْ إِلَيْهِمْ لِتُعْرِضُوا۟ عَنْهُمْ ۖ فَأَعْرِضُوا۟ عَنْهُمْ ۖ إِنَّهُمْ رِجْسٌ ۖ وَمَأْوَىٰهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ جَزَآءًۢ بِمَا كَانُوا۟ يَكْسِبُونَ

“They will swear by Allāh to you when you return to them that you will leave them alone. So leave them alone; indeed, they are evil; and their refuge is Hell as recompense for what they had been earning.

يَحْلِفُونَ لَكُمْ لِتَرْضَوْا۟ عَنْهُمْ ۖ فَإِن تَرْضَوْا۟ عَنْهُمْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يَرْضَىٰ عَنِ ٱلْقَوْمِ ٱلْفَٰسِقِينَ

They swear to you so that you might be satisfied with them. But if you should be satisfied with them – indeed, Allāh is not satisfied with a defiantly disobedient people.”

[At-Tawbah: 95-96]

Ka`b added,

وَعَلَى ٱلثَّلَٰثَةِ ٱلَّذِينَ خُلِّفُوا۟ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا ضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ ٱلْأَرْضُ بِمَا رَحُبَتْ وَضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ أَنفُسُهُمْ وَظَنُّوٓا۟ أَن لَّا مَلْجَأَ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ إِلَّآ إِلَيْهِ ثُمَّ تَابَ عَلَيْهِمْ لِيَتُوبُوٓا۟ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ هُوَ ٱلتَّوَّابُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ

“And [He also forgave] the three who were left behind [and regretted their error] to the point that the earth closed in on them despite its vastness and their souls confined [i.e., anguished] them and they were sure that there is no refuge from Allāh except in Him. Then He turned to them so they could repent. Indeed, Allāh is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.”

[At-Tawbah: 118]

What Allah said does not discuss our failure to take part in the battle, but the postponement of making a decision by the Prophet about our case, in contrast to the case of those who had taken an oath before him, and he excused them by accepting their excuses.

This is an authentic Hadith collected in the Two Sahihs (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

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