Salman Al –Farsi (Salman the Persian) was born about 568 Christian Era in a town called Jiyye where the city of Isfahan in Iran now stands. This was part of the Persian Empire which along with the Roman Empire were the most advanced civilisations of this era. Salman’s birth name was Rozeba, his father was a governor and rich landlord so Salman being the only son had all the benefits and advantages in his upbringing.
The main religion was Zoroastrian which was the worship of the Sun and fire. Salman’s father managed to obtain a position of priest in one of the Fire-temples for him (Salman was 16 years old then) this could be used to advance into a government position.
Three years pasted and Salman felt that this religion did not fulfil his soul. One day his father who was very protective decided to send Salman on business to their country house, this was Salman’s first journey away from his father on his own. On the journey he stopped at a junction contemplating which road to take, as the sunset he noticed a building in the distance and decided to ask if he could stay the night. When Salman reached there he saw people worshipping differently so Salman asked who they were and found out that they were Christians from Syria. After learning about Christianity and questioning the Christian priest Salman the asked the priest to enter him into Christianity.
Because of this Salman was late returning home and his father was worried for his safety. When Salman’s father saw him he hugged Salman, breathed a sigh of relief and asked Salman why he was late. Salman explained his encounter and conversion to Christianity, his father tried to persuade Salman not to leave the religion of his forefathers, Salman refused so his father was angered by this. Salman was imprisoned, beaten and was deprived of food and water for many days. A servant of Salman’s house called Mehran helped Salman escape to the Christians who in turn sent Salman with a caravan to Damascus (Syria) for his safety.
On arriving in Damascus Salman (now 19 years old) was now poor and alone (his previous life of wealth and privilege behind him), but he was tall, broad, strong, well educated, a sharp mind and a good soul with the yearning for the truth. Salman stayed in Damascus 10 years and studied Christianity as a pupil of the Bishop. When his teacher was near his death Salman asked which teacher should he further his study with, he named a man in Mosul( IRAQ) and so Salman went to Mosul. After some time in Mosul when this teacher was near deathbed Salman asked the same question, the answer took him to Nasibin and then to Ammuria ( Turkey) a province of the Eastern Roman Byzantium Empire in those days.
In Ammuria, Salman still on his quest for the worship of god heard of a prophet in Arabia. Salman’s longing to find knowledge, truth and the true form of worship to God decided to travel to Mecca to see the man who claimed to be a prophet. He found a caravan leaving for Hijaz ( Arabia) and bartered all his wealth ( which was a few sheep) to be allowed to travel with them which they agreed. Salman travelled with this caravan from Ammuria (turkey) to Hijaz (Arabia) on foot while others travelled on camels or horses. At this point Salman was betrayed by the leader of the caravan who sold Salman as a slave to a Jew who was the highest bidder. Since Salman was well educated, tall, and muscular there was a lot of interest in purchasing a slave like him. This must have been the lowest point of Salman’s life, his hope of meeting the last prophet lost, he was now a slave a huge difference to the life of luxury he had in his father’s house.
After some time his Jewish master’s cousin bought Salman and took him to Medina. On entering Medina Salman’s heart was filled with hope again as one of the 3 conditions taught to him by the Christian scholars was that the last prophet will come to a city of palm trees with black rock (volcanic rock) around it, which Medina had. In Medina Salman was sold again to another Jew who worked him very hard. One day Salman was collecting dates up a palm tree when he heard his master talking to someone about a man claiming to be a prophet had come to Medina from Mecca, Salman nearly fell out of the tree on hearing this. Salman’s heart was racing; Allah Taala had rewarded Salman’s patience, determination, piety and the love of Allah to worship Him according to the true scriptures with an opportunity to meet Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
In the evening Salman saved some dates which he had earned and went to meet the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in Quba ( then it was outside Medina). When Salman saw the prophet, the Nur of Allah Taala (Allah Taala’s Light ) was radiating from his beautiful face, Salman’s heart was saying to him that is the last prophet of Allah Taala the best of mankind but his mind said to him that he had to be sure.
Salman greeted the Prophet Muhammad and asked him about Islam, after some time Salman gave the prophet (pbuh) dates as charity. The prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) accepted the dates and put them in front of his companions, but did not eat any himself. Then on the second occasion at Abu Ayub Ansari’s house in Medina, Salman gave dates as a gift to Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) from which the prophet (Pbuh) and his companions both ate, this was the second condition fulfilled that his Christian teacher had told him, which was that the last Prophet (pbuh) would not eat from charity but will from gifts.
The final condition was fulfilled when Salman met the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) at a funeral ( at baquee-ul-Gharad) of one of the companions. After the funeral Salman was circling around the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) who understood what Salman was doing so the Prophet lowered his shirt to show the seal of Prophet hood, a mark between his shoulders. On seeing the mark Salman kissed the seal of the prophet, Salman had found his qibla and became a Muslim. One qibla is the direction Muslims face when praying; the other qibla is the meaning or destiny of a person’s life. So for Salman the meaning of his life was to search for the true religion Islam and the understanding of the one and only true god Allah Taala. For his struggle Allah Taala rewarded Salman with the blessing of being in the company of the last prophet and thus became a companion ( Sahabah).
It was then that Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) changed his name to Salman from his birth name Rozeba and Salman would visit the Prophet (Pbuh) at every free moment. One day Salman and the other companions of the Prophet (Pbuh) were sitting in the company of the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), and the prophet (Pbuh) asked Salman how he came to be in Medina. Then Salman told his life story, on hearing this amazing journey the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) embraced Salman, kissed his forehead, rubbed his hands over his face and heart and made dua (Supplication) raised his hands up and prayed to Allah Taala, for Allah Taala to bless Salman and to send his mercy upon him. What an event this must have been for Salman, a lifetime of struggle, pain, suffering and slavery would have disappeared with the love and honour that the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) bestowed on him.
Salman was still a slave, so Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) told Salman to ask his master what he would require for his freedom. After initially refusing, his master asked for 300 palm trees to be planted in his land and 40 oz. of gold. On hearing this, the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) and his companions all put a joint effort in securing Salmans freedom. The Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) planted the first tree with his own hands. Now Salman could spend all his time in the company of the Prophet (Pbuh) and his companions.
The wisdom of Salman Al-Farsi is shown in the battle of the trenches, when the pagan army from Mecca came to attack the muslims in Medina. Salman advised that Medina was exposed only from one side and that the muslims should dig deep and wide trenches to stop the attacking army advancing, this tactic worked and after a short siege the pagan army retreated.
At the end of Salmans life the fourth Caliph Ali (RA) made Salman a governor of a large province in Iran but still he led a very simple life. After a short period Salman Al-Farsi died (may Allah taala grant him Jannat Al Firdous) his only possessions at this time were his prayer mat and a bowl.