According to the investigations and researches of the Arab historians, Salman
was born in or around the year 568 A.D., in a small town in Persia called Jiyye.
The modern city of Isfahan stands on the site of Jiyye. Incidentally, Salman was
not the name given to him at his birth.
His Persian name was Rozeba. Many years later when he became a Muslim, his
master, Mohammad Mustafa, the Messenger of Allah (May Allah bless him and his
Ahlul-Bayt), changed his name to Salman. During the years when he was at the
court of his master, Mohammad Mustafa, his friends sometimes, also addressed
him, as Abu Abdullah (the father of Abdullah).
Salman's father was a rich landlord and a powerful political figure in Jiyye and
the surrounding areas. He had much prosperity in the city, and vast estates in
the country, and he had numerous slaves and many herds of horse. Since Salman
was his only son he lavished all his love upon him.
Most Persians (Iranians) in those days were Magians or Zoroastrians (followers
of the Persian prophet Zoroaster). Salman was also taught the principles and
doctrines of Zoroastrianism. He was in his early teens when he grasped the
highly complex, sometimes esoteric doctrines and dogmas of the Persian national
belief and soon he knew as much as his own teachers and the priests of the
Zoroastrian fire temples of Jiyye did.
In those days in Persia, it was considered a great honor to be a priest in one
of the fire-temples. Service in a fire-temple provided the priests with status,
prestige and numerous perquisites. Since in Persian also, the priests could
reach high position in local and "national" governments, Salman's father managed
to get him appointed as a priest in the local fire-temple while he was only
sixteen years old.
For three years, Salman played priest in the fire-temple of Jiyye but then he
began to lost interest in his work. It had become too monotonous and wearisome
for him. The priests were men of limited vision and limited knowledge and they
were too dogmatic. If he posed any creedal question to them, they were, in most
cases, unable to answer him; or, they spoke in a language of allusions,
historical allegories and parallels.
One day in spring (circa 586 A.D.), Salman's father had some important business
to attend to at one of his country houses. But before he could go to the
country, some merchants arrived in Jiyye from the ancient city of Balkh and to
entertain them he had to stay in Jiyye itself. He, therefore, asked Salman to go
in his stead, and briefed him on what he had to do at the country house.
The following day Salman left Jiyye for his father's country estate. When Salman
had traveled a few miles from the city, he came upon a fork in the road, and
standing upon the brow of an eminence, he paused for a few minute to survey the
surroundings and to determine the direction of his destination.
The light was now rapidly advancing from the east, and was tinting the
landscape. Presently the sun rose and as Salman was still basking in the stream
of the rays of the rising sun a grey stone edifice, partly veiled in golden
mist, caught his eye. It was some distance from the road, and Salman decided to
find out what it was and to whom did it belong. He, therefore, went near it to
take a closer look at it.
Salman, propelled by his curiosity, entered the building to investigate. Inside,
people were conducting a religious service and a choir was singing a hymn in a
foreign language, which he did not understand. When the service was over, one
member of the congregation came to him, greeted him, and asked him who he was,
and what was the purpose of his visit.
Salman told him who he was, and explained that he wished to know who they were,
and what creed they professed. He was taken to the "high priest" who explained
to him that they were Christians from Syria and explained to him the Oneness of
God, the Day of Judgment, and the role of the Apostles, Messengers and Prophets
of God. Salman questioned the Christian priest regarding their beliefs and
eventually the priest initiated him into Christianity.
When Salman was late coming home, his father became very anxious. His father
sat, hacked with nameless fears and dark forebodings, in the court of his
palatial house, surrounded by his friends who were trying to comfort him.
Suddenly, Salman entered through the gate. His father threw his arms around him
and asked him where he had disappeared.
Salman proceeded to explain to his father that he had ridden past a church of
Christians and was with them all day long. His father then said that he hoped
that those people hadn't misled him and his religion and the religion of his
forefathers was the right one. Salman refuted his father by proclaiming that
their religion was better than Zoroastrianism.
Angered by this, his father threatened him with imprisonment and torture if
Salman did not swear that he had not and will not change his religion. Salman,
however, refused and was beaten and tortured, and was kept hungry and thirsty in
his prison day after day.
One of the servants of Salman's father was a young man called Mehran. He had
reared Salman from his infancy, and he loved him like his own son. Salman knew
that he could trust Mehran, and asked him one day if he could put him touch with
the Christian priest who might assist him in escaping to Syria.
Mehran was only too glad to give this service to his young master and he
arranged for his escape. After a few days Mehran came to see Salman and informed
him that a caravan was ready to leave for Syria. The following night Mehran
entered his cell, removed the shackles from his feet, gave him a new set of
clothes to wear, and led him quietly out of the house while everyone was sound
Outside the house, a horse was awaiting Salman. He thanked Mehran for his
invaluable help, bade him a silent and tearful farewell, and rode out of Jiyye.
Upon arrival in the church, Salman thanked his Christian friends for what they
were doing him. The priests gave special instructions to the leader of the
caravan regarding the welfare of Salman. The high priest then committed Salman
to the protection of God. The caravan left Jiyye the same night, and moving at a
brisk pace, put considerable distance between itself and the city before
The Years in the Wilderness
Nearly a month after its departure from Jiyye in Persia, the caravan arrived in
the ancient city of Damascus. Salman had come to the journey's end but quite
frequently; the end of one journey is the beginning of another. Salman too had a
new journey ahead of him but he knew that the new journey would be in the realm
Salman at this time was in the nineteenth year of his life. He was rangy and
muscular, and he had a powerful build. He was endowed with a highly retentive
memory, and a most penetrating intelligence. He had a critical and an analytic
mind that applied logic to every situation. In his physical characteristics and
his mental attributes he surpassed all the young men of his age and generation.
Just as he was tall, broad and robust beyond his years, he was also wise,
prudent, and sagacious and his experience.
Early in his life, he had cultivated a temperate personality. In Jiyye - his
hometown - he had riches, luxury, and high status - all within grasp. But he
spurned them all, and he did so not withstanding his extreme youth. Instead of
seeking power and pleasure, as other young men of his generation did, he made
the pursuit of Knowledge and Truth the "vocation" of his life. He was the
idealist par excellence.
After leaving Jiyye in Persia, Salman lived in four other cities. He lived for
ten years in Damascus, and then during the next twenty years, he lived in Mosul,
Nasibin and Ammuria. In each of these cities, he read, studied, observed, and he
assimilated all the religious knowledge that was extant. He also spent much time
in devotions in the hope of finding the gift of enlightenment and inner peace.
But his religious experience during this period was almost entirely subjective.
It arose out of and was identified by means of his awareness of his own mental
states and psychological processes. There were times when his interior world
became so vivid that he lost touch with the exterior world. This alarmed him.
One question that arose persistently in his mind was if it was right to turn
one's back upon the world and its problems, and to try to win felicity and inner
peace for one's owns self.
With the passage of time, the specter of doubt began to rear its head in
Salman's thoughts. He felt that Truth - the Ultimate Truth - was still hidden
from his, and this after an effort to find it that had spanned more than a
When Salman was tormented too much by these thoughts, and when he knew he had
come to and impasse, he turned to God, and prayed to Him to give him deliverance
from doubt and skepticism, and lead him to the destination which He had chosen
for him. Little did he know, the light of guidance that he wished and hoped to
see, was soon to appear on the horizon.
The last city, in which Salman lived, was Ammuria - a city in the eastern part
of Asia Minor - then a province of the Eastern Roman Empire or the Byzantium
Empire. It was in Ammuria that he heard, for the first time, vague reports of
the appearance, in Makkah in Arabia, of a new prophet. According to these
reports, this new prophet forbade the worship of idols and images and preached
the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty and Oneness of God.
It occurred to Salman that the Flame of Truth, which he was seeking, might be
the one burning in Makkah in Arabia. Suddenly, Makkah appeared to be beckoning
him to come. He, therefore, made up his mind to go to Makkah to meet the Arabian
prophet as soon as his circumstances would allow, and to interrogate him
personally on the problems, which had been perplexing him.
Toward late summer in that year, some travelers arrived in Ammuria from the
south. Salman's enquiries revealed that these travelers were horse traders from
a city called Yathrib in Arabia. They told him that after selling their horses,
they would return to Damascus to make connection with a caravan that was being
"assembled" there for the return journey to Yathrib. Salman met the leader of
these horse traders and requested him to allow him to travel with them to
Damascus, and thence to Yathrib. In return for his favor, he offered to pay him
his modest savings. The Leader of the horse traders agreed.
The journey was long and arduous. But Salman endured the travail with stoical
courage. While other travelers rode their camels or horses. Salman walked, a
feat of endurance that astonished them.
Eventually, Salman's carvan arrived in the oasis of Wadi-ul-Qura in the Hijaz,
and the leader of the caravan announced that they would halt there for three
days and three nights. In this time, Salman made plans for the last leg of his
journey from Yathrib to Makkah. What he did not know at this time was that
bitter disappointment was lying in wait for him "just around the corner." They
offered Salman for sale to the highest bidder among the Jews.
Salman protested that he was not a slave, and could not be sold or bought but he
could not produce any "witnesses" who would vouch that he was a free man. His
Jewish master made him a prisoner, and the caravan left for its destination
Salman attracted much attention in Wadi-ul-Qura due to his gigantic stature and
many showed an interest in buying him. One of the bidders, however, was a cousin
of Salman's master; He lived in Yathrib and visited Wadi-ul-Qura on business. He
became so insistent on buying Salman that his (Salman's) master agreed to sell
Before long, in Yathrib also, a competition began among the Jews to buy Salman.
His master did not want to sell him but he found one of the offers so attractive
that he accepted it, and sold him. The new master sold him again. Thus he passed
through many hands. Eventually, a rich Jew - one Uthman bin Ashhel - bought him.
Uthman and the other Jews had never seen a slave like Salman. They noted that he
didn't talk much but whenever he did, he spoke words of profound wisdom. His
judgment, they noted, was like the judgment of Solomon himself. His master
benefited, not only from his work but also from his advice and his opinions,
which he sought from him quite frequently. But he was a vicious and brutal
taskmaster, and made Salman work almost non-stop.
Salman's work was difficult and laborious but he did not allow his adverse
circumstances to extinguish the flame that the hope of meeting Mohammad (p.b.u.h.&
h.h.) had kindled in his breast. The hope of meeting Mohammad (p.b.u.h.& h.h.)
revived him each day, there was magic in the name of Muhammad (p.b.u.h.& h.h.)
that never failed to work. Whenever Salman had a rough day, he reminded himself
that he had a "rendezvous" with Mohammad (p.b.u.h.& h.h.), he bounced back.
One morning when Salman began his descent from the top of a tree, he noticed
that his master, who sat at its foot, was engaged in talking with a stranger.
From this stranger it was gathered that Mohammad (p.b.u.h.& h.h.) had come to
Yathrib and the Aus and Khazraj had taken an oath of loyalty to him. Immediately
upon hearing this Salman's mind constantly wondered how he could finally meet
Mohammad (may Allah bless him and his Ahlul-Bayt).
Salman's Meeting with Mohammad Mustafa (p.b.u.h.& h.h.) and his Induction into
One evening Uthman bin Ashhel was away from the oasis on some business, and
Salman availed of the opportunity to realize his wish, He put the ripe and fresh
dates which he had earned that day as his wages, in a bag, and went into the
city to find Mohammad (may Allah bless him and his family), and to have audience
Mohammad Mustafa (p.b.u.h.& h.h.) was living, at this time, in the house of
Hadhret Abu Ayub Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him), as his guest, each step
that Salman took toward his destination heightened his anticipation. And then
the great moment came. Salman the Persian was escorted into the presence of
Mohammad Mustafa (p.b.u.h.& h.h.), the beloved of God, and his (Salman's) own
unseen beloved. His heart was bounding inside his ribs like a bird fluttering in
a cage but he was making a supreme effort to steady himself. Suddenly, he was
arrested in mid-motion by the vision framed in the arch.
Mohammad Mustafa (may Allah bless him and his family) was seated in the
reception room of the house. A few companions sat in front of him. Salman's
first glance fell upon his face, and all at once he felt himself dazzled by a
thousand sparkling lights. He heard himself saying quietly: "By God, this cannot
be the face of a man who has ever told a lie. If there is any face that can be
the face of a messenger of God, that is the face of this man."
After the exchange of preliminary greeting, Salman stated the purpose of his
visit. Mohammad Mustafa (p.b.u.h.& h.h.) told Salman that the message that he
had brought, was called Islam, and he explained its meaning to him as total
surrender of a man, without reservation, to the Will and pleasure of Allah.
Salman could not wait long enough and begged Mohammad Mustafa (p.b.u.h.& h.h.)
to admit him to the company of those slaves of Allah who surrender themselves to
His Will and His pleasure.
Mohammad Mustafa, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and his family),
thereupon, inducted Salman the Persian into Islam. The first requirement for
Salman in this induction was to believe that God was One and had no partners or
associates, and that Mohammad was His Messenger. The doctrine of the Oneness of
God is called Tauheed, and it is the axis of Islam. The mission of Mohammad as
God's last messenger to mankind is called Risalet. The second requirement for
Salman was to declare his faith in Tauheed and in Risalet.
Salman had been enlisted into the service of Allah by His Own Messenger -
Mohammad Mustafa(p.b.u.h.& h.h.) - an honor and a distinction he was to remain
proud of all his life, At the same time, he was also admitted into the ranks of
his (Mohammad's) friends.
Induction into Islam was an appropriate occasion for change of Salman's name.
His Persian name was Rozeba. Mohammad Mustafa, the Messenger of Allah, changed
it to Salman. Salman loved his new name; he forgot his Persian name, and he is
known to history only by his Islamic name.
Then Mohammad Mustafa (may Allah bless him and his family) read, for Salman's
edification, some passages from Quran Majid - the book revealed to him by Heaven
- and he was carried away by its magisterial cadences. Those words, which he
heard, were "incandescent". And he sensed that they could not have been put
together anywhere but in Heaven itself.
After this momentous event, Salman came to see the Messenger of Allah as often
as he could, and each time, he brought, either a present for him or sadaqa
(charity) for his companions.
He brought only what he had earned as his wages.
It was inevitable that Salman would arouse the curiosity of the Muslims who had
seen him; just as earlier, he had, that of the Jews. Eventually, Mohammad
Mustafa (may Allah bless him and his Ahlul-Bayt) himself asked him to tell the
story of his life. Salman then recounted the saga of his life.
Mohammad Mustafa (may Allah bless him and his Ahlul-Bayt) embraced Salman,
kissed him on his forehead, rubbed his hand over his (Salman's) face, and over
his heart; prayed for him, and invoked Allah's mercy and His blessings upon him.
It was a poignant moment in the life of both of them.
Seemingly the long journey for Salman had ended. He had discovered the
fountainhead of Eternal Truths and Everlasting Bliss in Islam, and he has become
a personal friend of Mohammad Mustafa, the Messenger of Allah. However, his
status as a slave hung like a dark cloud over his life.
Mohammad Mustafa (may Allah bless him and his Ahlul-Bayt) who was a mercy for
all Creation, was aware of Salman's distress, and suggested to him one day to
ransom his freedom. Salman broached the subject to his master hoping that he
would agree to set him free for a ransom. But the latter who knew Salman had
become Muslim, refused to ransom him because he believed he would become a
soldier in Mohammad's army and fight against the Jews.
Eventually, however, after the expulsion of two of the three Jewish tribes of
Medina, after their betrayals at the Battle of Badr and the Battle of Uhud,
Uthman bin Ashhel become a little less unreasonable. Therefore, when Salman
broached the subject of paying ransom for his freedom once again, he (Uthman)
was willing to listen, and he was willing to negotiate the terms of his
emancipation with him.
Uthman specified to Salman the price of his freedom. Salman would have to plant
in Uthman's gardens, three hundred young date palms, and he would pay him 40 oz.
Salman presented these terms to Mohammad Mustafa (p.b.u.h.& h.h.). The latter,
thereupon, turned to his companions, and said to them: "Assist your brother."
All the companions rose to assist their brother. One of them brought thirty
saplings; another brought twenty; a third brought fifteen; a fourth ten, and so
on, until they had collected all three hundred as required by the Jew. The
Prophet then ordered the companions to dig the earth in which the saplings were
to be planted. When the ground was ready for planting, he himself came, and
planted the first tree with his own hands. Then the companions took charge of
the project, and planted the other trees. Every tree struck roots, and not one
out of the three hundred was lost.
Three hundred date palms were planted in the garden of Uthman bin Ashhel but
Salman still had to pay 40 oz. of gold to him. He was not free yet.
A few more weeks passed, and then one day Mohammad Mustafa (may Allah bless him
and his Ahlul-Bayt) sent for Salman. When the latter came into the Mosque, he
noticed that he was seated on the floor, and his companions sat around him. In
front of him there was a tray and in the tray there were some nuggets of gold.
The Messenger of Allah gave the gold to Salman and told him to take it and give
it to his master as the balance of his ransom.
Suddenly everything changed for Salman. The gulf between slavery and freedom had
appeared to him to be unfathomable and unbridgeable. But he had called Allah and
His Messenger for aid. They had responded, and with their aid, he had cleared
Islam and Freedom had extricated Salman from the vast wilderness of time which
his past had been until then, and from that moment, he became "future-oriented,"
as five years earlier, he had become "Islam-oriented."
After his emancipation from the slavery of a Jew, Salman the Persian became a
slave once again - voluntarily. This time he chose his own master, and they were
Allah and His Messenger, Mohammad Mustafa (p.b.u.h.& h.h.). This new "slavery"
became his greatest pride and his greatest pleasure.
The Battle of Ahzab or the Siege of Medina
Salman the Persian had just redeemed his freedom when Medina, the capital of
Islam, was threatened by an unprecedented peril. In early February 627, Mohammad
Mustafa (may Allah bless him and his Ahlul-Bayt), received intelligence that the
polytheists of Makkah had completed their preparations for the invasion of
Medina with a cavalry and infantry of ten thousand seasoned warriors of Arabia,
and also learned that their resolution was to obliterate Islam in one massive,
The Makkan generals might have captured Medina with their "hit-and-run" fighting
strategy but for the presence in that city of a "foreigner" - Salman the
Persian. He worked out strategy of his own, and his counter-strategy foiled the
Makkan strategy. He said to the Prophet that if a trench, too deep and too wide
for the horses to leap over, were dug on the exposed section of the perimeter of
the city, it would immobilize the enemy cavalry.
When the trench was being dug, one of Muhajireen who was watching Salman,
claimed him as a Muhajir (Immigrant from Makkah). "Salman is one of us,
Muhajireen," he said. But he was at once challenged by the Muslims of Medina
(the Ansar) when they heard this, and one of them said: "No. Salman is one of
A lively argument began between the two groups of Muslims - the Muhajireen and
the Ansar - each of them claiming that Salman belonged to their group, and not
to the other group.
Presently, the Apostle of Allah arrived on the scene, and he too heard the
argument of the Muhajireen and the Ansar. He was amused by the claims of the two
sides but he soon put an end to their argument by saying: "Salman is neither
Muhajir nor Ansar. He is one of us. He is one of the People of the House."
This is the greatest honor ever bestowed upon anyone by Mohammad Mustafa (p.b.u.h.&
h.h.), the Messenger of Allah. As recipient of revelations from Heaven, and as
its interpreter, he declared that Salman was a member of his house - the Family
of the Chosen one of Allah. No one else in the entire history of Islam has ever
been elevated to such high rank as Salman the Persian.
Hardly the last spiteful of earth had been cast out of the trench, when the
cavaliers of Makkah arrived, thundering across the desert - like a whirlwind.
But suddenly they were checked in their career by a strange new obstacle - the
The siege of Medina might have lasted a long time with unpredictable results but
it did not. One of the Makkan generals - Amr ibn Abd Wudd - lost patience with
this "static" or "un-Arab" mode of fighting, and he decided to change its
character by hurdling the trench, and by carrying a "dynamic" or an "Arab" war
into the camp of the Muslims. Amr ibn Abd Wudd and three of his staff officers,
therefore, went on an inspection of the trench and discovered a rocky projection
in it which the Muslims had been unable to cut and used it to jump the trench.
Once inside the perimeter of the city, he boldly advanced toward the encampment
of the Muslims, and challenged them to single combat in the classical tradition
of Arabian warfare. A duel between Amr ibn Abd Wud and Ali ibn Abi Talib(AS) was
fought, with Ali being victorious. As soon as Amr fell to the ground, the other
three knights who had accompanied him hastily retreated across the trench.
The death of Amr ibn Abd Wud was the deathblow to the morale and the
will-to-fight of the Makkan army. All its hopes for quick victory over the
Muslims had lain in him, and with his death, it began to fall apart.
The failure of the Siege of Medina in 627 was a most significant even in the
history of Islam and of Arabia. It meant that the infidels of Makkah could never
be able to mount another invasion of Medina - the fortress of Islam. The
successful defense of Medina made Islam "invulnerable." After the battle of
Ahzab, the initiative passed, finally and irreversibly, from the infidels of
Makkah to the Muslims of Medina, and Islam was able to move into a position of
dominance in the Peninsula.
The Death of Mohammad Mustafa (p.b.u.h.& h.h.), the
Blessed Messenger of Allah
Mohammad Mustafa (p.b.u.h.& h.h.) was the sun and moon of the world of Salman,
and with his death, it was plunged into darkness. Salman had known disaster and
tragedy in life but the loss of his friend, Mohammad Mustafa (p.b.u.h.& h.h.),
was the most staggering blow to him ever. It was a shock from which, he thought,
he might never recover. He felt as if he might lose his grip on life itself. He
was 65-years old when his master Mohammad Mustafa (p.b.u.h.& h.h.) died.
Next to Mohammad Mustafa, the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bles him and his
Ahlul-Bayt), his first cousin, Ali ibn Abi Talib(AS), was the focus of Salman's
live and devotion, The love of Mohammad and Ali was, for him, the perpetual and
unfailing touchstone of the faith of a Muslim. He loved and served Ali with the
same zeal as he had served Mohammad Mustafa (p.b.u.h.& h.h.).
In June 656, Ali ibn Abi Talib(AS) ascended the throne of the caliphate in
Medina as the successor of Mohammad Mustafa, The Messenger of Allah (may Allah
bless him and his Ahlul-Bayt). One of his first acts, upon taking charge of the
government of the Muslims, was to appoint Salman el-Farsi the governor of the
city and the districts of Madaen in Iraq.
At this time, Salman was quite advanced in years. But thanks to his
abstemiousness, and to the Spartan discipline he had imposed upon himself all
his life, he was in top physical and mental condition.
He left Medina on his 800 miles long journey to Madaen carrying online a "sajjada"
made of palm-leaf on which to say prayers, a bag containing crusts of barley
bread, a water bag made of goat skin, a cup and a pillow. These were all his
worldly possessions. However, by the time he arrived at his destination he had
given all these things away, except the "sajjada", because he saw others in need
of these items.
Unfortunately within a few weeks of his arrival Salman the Persian, the slave of
Allah, and the bosom friend of Mohammad Mustafa (p.b.u.h.& h.h.) and Ali ibn Abi
Talib (AS), died. He was 88 years old at his death, and was buried in Madaen.
May Allah be pleased with His loving salve, Salman el-Farsi, and may He
overwhelm his soul with His Bounty, Grace and Mercy.