The Golden Chain

3. Salman al-Farsi

Salman al-Farsi (may God be pleased with him) is the third Master in the Naqshbandi Golden Chain. He led a remarkable life and is known in English as ‘Salman The Persian’, which was the name given to him by the Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings be upon him).

He was born in 568 A.D. in a town near Isfahan in Persia, to a prominent Zoroastrian family. Although he was one of the priests of the fire-temple of Jiyye, one day on passing a Christian church, he became attracted to that religion, later travelling to Syria to learn more from the Christian anchorite priests there. From them, he learned about the Prophet Muhammad and so he continued his travels to meet the Prophet, but on the way, he was captured and sold into slavery. His master took him to Medina, where he eventually met the Prophet.

Salman had been told of three proofs that would confirm that he had met the Prophet, and after confirming the first two, the Prophet removed his shirt to show the mark of Prophethood on his back, before Salman could even ask for this proof. Salman immediately took Islam and became one of the foremost Companions of the Prophet. The Prophet enabled his release from slavery by planting three hundred palm trees with his own hands and giving gold to Salman’s owner.

When the Quraysh sent a large army to overcome the emerging Muslim community in Medina, the Muslims faced the problem of how to defend themselves against this vastly superior force. Salman suggested to the Prophet a technique that he’d seen in Persia, of digging a trench around part of the city. The Prophet participated in digging the trench, when he saw in the sparks from hitting a large rock, the extent of the spread of Islam in the future. The Prophet and Salman played prominent roles in the ensuing battle, known as the Battle of the Trench, in which the Muslims repelled the Quraysh, forming a pivotal point in the history of Islam.

After the Prophet’s death, Salman accompanied Saad ibn Abi Waqqas during the conquest of Iraq and later they made a miraculous crossing of the Tigris River with the Muslim army to conquer Persia. He was then appointed the first governor of the Sassanid capital, being in command of 30,000 troops. Yet, he remained humble, giving his Governor’s wage to the poor, whilst earning his living from weaving palm-leaf and dried grass into household objects. He did not own a house but instead rested under the shade of trees. He had one coat which he wore and on which he slept.

During the Battle of the Trench, the Muslims argued over which group Salman belonged to – the immigrants or inhabitants of Medina. The Prophet intervened saying, “Salman is neither Muhajir nor Ansar. He is one of us – he is of the People of the House”.

The Prophet made a bond of brotherhood between Salman and Abu Darda al-Ansari. Salman once advised Adu Darda, “Your Lord has a right over you, your soul has a right over you, and your family has a right over you. “ Abu Darda related this to the Prophet, who said, “Salman has spoken the truth”.

Salman al-Farsi passed away in 654 A.D. and is buried in Al-Madain, near Baghdad.

 

Extracts from ‘The Naqshbandi Sufi Way – History and Guidebook of the Saints of the Golden Chain’ by Mawlana Shaykh Hisham.