Our Prophet's
"And you are truly ˹a man˺ of outstanding character"
[Surah Al-Qalam 68:4]
The Early Jews who Recognised the Signs of Prophethood of Muhammad ﷺ
By: Shaikh Zafar Ul Hasan Al Madani

Zaid ibn Sa’ana was a prominent Jewish scholar, who lived in Madinah during the time of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ . He said: I have read a lot of our religious scriptures. When the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ arrived in Madinah, I found all of the signs of his prophethood that were mentioned in our books in him except two, and those two signs prevented me from accepting Islam. Those two (signs) were connected with good Akhlaq (character). They were; gentle temperament and tolerance during anger. A remarkable control over anger, no matter how much someone tried to incite him. The second was gentle temperament and tolerance while facing ignorants. I tried my best to confirm these two characteristics by viewing and observing him. One day I got a chance.

I informed him that there was a village where everyone had accepted Islam in one day. I told him that if he gave me food that I could distribute amongst them,  they would not leave Islam (and remain steadfast on Islam). The Prophet (Peace be upon him) sent his men to arrange for grains and dates. But it did not materialize. Then I offered, ‘If you wish I can buy on your behalf from so and so but you have to give me a fix date of returning my money’. The deal was struck and the grains and dates were distributed.

I went to him three (or) four days before my due date. He had gone to offer prayer for a dead person. Once they completed it, the Prophet (peace be upon him) stood under a tree. I went there and took my shawl and tried to strangle him saying, “Give me my dues and I know that you and your ancestors of Banu Hashim have a bad reputation of delaying people’s dues.” I was trying to be rude. Umar bin alKhattab (May Allah be pleased with him) was also there. He got angry and shouted at me for misbehaving. He picked his sword. I increased my level of rudeness and saw more anger on the face of Umar, but there was a calm expression on the face of  Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and he was not upset at all. Meanwhile Umar came and pushed me away and I fell down and it was then when I saw the expression on face of the Prophet (peace be upon him) changing into anger.

He rushed to Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) and scolded him. Then the Prophet (SAW) helped me to get up. Instead of reacting towards me, the Prophet (peace be upon him) took Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) to task by telling him that it was wrong of him to push me. He said: “Umar! (May Allah be pleased with him) You should have told me that I should pay his money in time or  you should have told this man to give me some respite.”  Then, he directed Umar to take  me to someone to ask him to pay my dues and to also add some more payment or some extra dates.

Reluctantly, Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) went along me and I was given my due plus extra dates. I asked him why extra dates were given to me. He replied, “This is as a compensation that our Prophet has ordered me to give you; for the push and the fright that I instilled in your heart by showing you my sword when you were demanding your dues.”

I got up and recited the shahada and embraced Islam instantly. Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) was stunned and asked me who I was and what was the purpose of all this. I told him that I was Zaid ibn Sa’ana and recounted the entire  incident and reasons for my behaviour; (only) so (that) I could confirm the gentle temperament and tolerance of the Prophet (peace be upon him) during anger and dealing with ignorants. I did not want to wait for long, so I  purposely orchestrated the entire incident. Now my quest has been completed. He is indeed the Prophet mentioned in my books.

Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) took me to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and narrated the whole incident. I apologised to him for my (rude) behaviour and I informed him of my conclusion that his anger would never dominate him and that was an essential sign of prophethood. Then I returned the money to him as I was amongst the richest scholars of our people. I then donated half of my wealth for the cause of Islam.”

Zaid ibn Sa’ana then accompanied Prophet  in the battle of Tabuk and died in the battle, May Allah be pleased with him.