riyada in arabic means "training" or "discipline". It was used by the arabs in relation to horse taming. Sufis refer to their discipline as "riyadat an-nafs": disciplining the soul / training the ego. Today, the word riyada has come to mean "sports". There is an Arabic proverb that says: "The purpose of sports (riyada) is not to win cups, but to discipline the soul". This blog is here to help me discipline my soul and train my body.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Early Inscriptions from the Sahaba

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Inscriptions from Mount Sal`, Medina. This is where the Prophet placed most of the Muslim army during the Battle of the Trench (al-Khandaq). (The inscriptions however, if their dating is correct, are from two years before the battle).

There's two sets of inscriptions, large ones on the right, which were written later, and smaller ones on the left. The large inscriptions on the right are cut off and we can only read words or phrases like "Wise" and "Bakr" and "Umar son of.." The ones on the left say the following:

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You can see that "Talib" and "Muadh" and "Sulayman" are spelled in the archaic style of Arabic writing that has changed after the arabic script evolved in Abbasid times. This way of spelling did not change for many words in the Qur'an (such as rahman and others), because the Muslims did not want to add anything to the Qur'an, not even a new letter for the sake of spelling. But it has evolved in all non-Qur'anic words, and we now spell "Talib" and "Muadh" differently. Even "Sulayman" is now spelled differently- in non-Quranic texts- than how it is spelled in the Qur'an and in this inscription.

Some feet below this rock there are other inscriptions such as:

"May God accept Umar!
May God treat Umar with forgiveness!"


"May God make Umar of the people of Paradise..."

Professor Hamidullah is of the opinion that it may be the handwriting of `Umar himself as `Umar was known for his calligraphic skills.

George Miles asserts that these inscriptions are from 1st century of Hijra but associating them to `Umar's own hand is a bit tenuous.

However, Safadi dates this inscription to c. 4 AH (or c. 625 CE).


I tried looking up some of these names. Disregarding the ones I know like Muhammad ibn Abdallah (pbuh), Ali ibn Abi Talib (r.a) or Sa'd ibn Muadh, I only found two:

Umarah son of Hazm:

One day when they were digging the Ditch before the Battle of the Trench the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) fell asleep from sheer exhaustion, and Abu Bakr and Umar stood guard over him keeping the labourers away so that he could sleep in peace. Zayd b. Thabit, who was just sixteen and preparing for his first experience of battle, also fell asleep. Umarah b. Hazm played a practical joke on him, stealing his clothes and tools, and hiding them. Thus Zayd earned the nickname Abu Ruqad ("the Sleepy One").

M[uslim] son of Awsajah: Fought with al-Husayn in Karbala at the age of 70!


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