There are many outstanding Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who come to mind throughout Islamic history. Some are huge in stature, and others are humble, yet highly respectable or brilliant in some way. Julaybib was a beloved companion of Prophet Muhammad however, not a likely figure to make it in the ranks of celebrated heroes of Islam.
His life and deeds were not sung nor recounted with reverence as they should be but with the meager facts available one sees hope for humble souls through his life.
Julaybib was not tall, or handsome, he was not known to be a gallant warrior on the battlefield before the advent of Islam. His personal attributes appeared so contrary to the normal heroes of old.
Julaybib was an orphan, deformed and extremely short. He was brutally rejected by society because the people were more concerned with his physical appearance and status than integrity.
His story is significant and many lessons can be learnt from it. It shows us a lot about how a human being can be devalued based on superficial things. His life is an example and hope for souls filled with despondency because they do not measure up to the norms set by society. His story touches the hearts of many even today.
Julaybib was an orphan from Madinah and acquired his name before embracing Islam. His name means "small grown" in Arabic which denoted his physical appearance. He was extremely short and could be compared to a dwarf when considering today's definition. It is also noted that he was even described as "damim" in Arabic which means deformed, unattractive or of repulsive appearance. In addition to his physical appearance, another important factor in his mistreatment had to do with his lineage. Lineage was an essential part in the Arab society he lived in, just as it is still important today in many cases. One's lineage determined his or her status in the society. His physical appearance, and unknown lineage, made people shun and spurn him. He was an outcast which caused him much public humiliation and disgrace.
Facing such disdainful treatment, Julaybib was apparently a lonely soul yearning for love and compassion. As he was carrying the burden of prejudice on his shoulder from the time he was born, companionship, love and compassion became alien to him.
There were often times, a question as to whether this man would even taste any compassion or respect in his life. The question cleared with his acceptance of the Prophet Muhammad's message of Islam.
He became a devoted servant of Almighty Allah and beloved companion of Prophet Muhammad. He gained respect and affection from Prophet Muhammad, for his sincerity, integrity and strong Islamic belief. Julaybib earned the honor he yearned and became one of the most valued companions of the Prophet. Prophet Muhammad cared deeply for this soul. He was sensitive of Julaybib's needs, and this is evident from the hadith where the Prophet approached a man from the Ansar (Madinah Muslims who helped the Makkans when they emigrated to Madinah), seeking the hand of his beautiful daughter in marriage on behalf of Julaybib. The Islamic scholar, Imam Ahmad, has recorded this incidents in Julaybib life as follows:
The Prophet went to a man of the Ansar and said:"Give me your daughter for marriage."The man answered excitedly, "Yes, O Messenger of Allah , it would be an honor and a blessing."For which the Prophet said, "I do not want her for myself."The Ansari man asked, "Then for whom, O Messenger of Allah?"And the Prophet answered, "For Julaybib."When the Ansari man heard this, he was shocked and said, "O Messenger of Allah, let me consult her mother." So he went to the girl's mother (his wife) and told her, "The Messenger of Allah is proposing marriage for your daughter."The wife of the Ansari seemed overjoyed and said, "Yes, it would be a pleasure."The Ansari explained to his wife that the Prophet was not proposing to marry their daughter for himself but he is proposing on behalf of Julaybib.His wife was almost shaken and immediately responded, "What! Julaybib? No, by Allah, we will not marry her to him."
When the Ansari prepared to leave to meet the Messenger of Allah and mentioned to him his mother's disapproval, his daughter, a pious Muslim, asked her father, "Who is asking for my hand?"
Her mother told her that the Prophet was asking her hand on behalf Julaybib.
Their daughter instantly asked them, "Are you refusing to follow the command of the Messenger of Allah? Follow his command, for I will not come to any harm."
The following is illustrated in the book Companions of the Prophet by Abdul Wahid Hamid:
Hearing her daughter's word, the Mother's heart being filled with remorse said: "Stop my daughter, don't say another word indeed I have erred I repent and I repent a thousand times over for as of this moment their is no one who I would prefer for you than Julaybib."
The following day the marriage was in place, Uthman and Ali, two of the Prophet's Companions, presented Julaybib a gift of money to help arrange the wedding reception, and to purchase necessary accommodation.
So the Prophet married the beautiful daughter of the Ansari to Julaybib who was once rejected by the whole society. The attitude of the daughter of the Ansari was that of a true believer.
The daughter's attitude shows her confidence of a Muslim woman who could not be influenced by the whims of the society. Unlike the parent's of today's world who are more concerned about status and money, her parents' reaction to her approval explains how Islam does not pressure a woman nor does it disregard her right to choose her husband.
Islam gave the happiness Julaybib deserved and he lived happily together with his beautiful wife until he was martyred.
The following hadith is another proof that Julaybib was indeed dearly loved and valued by Prophet Muhammad:
...After a battle, the Prophet asked his Companions:
"Is anyone missing amongst you?"
They said: "So and so and so."
He asked them again: "Is there anyone missing amongst you?"
They answered: "So and so and so."
He asked them for the third time: "Is there anyone missing amongst you?"
They said: "No."
Thereupon the Prophet said:
"But I see that Julaybib is missing."
The Companions searched for him amongst those who had been killed and found him by the side of seven enemies whom he had killed. He had been killed. The Prophet came there and stood by his body and said:
"He killed seven people. Then his opponents killed him. He is mine and I am his."
He then placed him upon his hands and there was none else to lift him but the Prophet Muhammad. Then the grave was dug for him and he was placed in it. ( SahihMuslim)
The man whose life was filled with despair and struggles won the hearts and admiration of many through his pure intentions, traits, and love for Islam and the Prophet. It is really amazing to note how this man of small stature managed to hold a sword and kill his opponent. He was able to accomplish much chivalry through the Prophet's encouragement.
There are so many lessons to be learnt from Julaybib's life. His story is a reflection of Islam. Islam ended his desolate world of disparagement.