He was the type of thief who would raid caravans alone.
You had gangs/groups that would attack caravans; and then you had these lonely figures who would do their own thing; They don't need any gangs, they would just attack on their own. They have enough confidence in themselves to do it by themselves.
Rafi' bin Amr was one of these characters, who would go on his own; he is his own army, and he would go and raid caravans.
This (Rafi') was the best -guide- that the army of Islam could find at the time (in the context of this story).
Rafi' bin Amr was the best guide; for he knows his way around the path of the desert very well. — Because that's his job.
So the army of Islam hired Rafi' to take them around. So Rafi' spent time with this Muslim army. And Rafi' was quite impressed with what he saw.
And he narrates this following story himself:
I saw this man — who had this cloth on; Whenever he is riding, he would hold the cloth with a pin; and then whenever he sits down, he would take out that pin and take off the cloth. (Who he meant by that is Abu Bakr As-Siddiq r.a.)
So I went to him and said, "O you, the one with the pin (Abu Bakr). I can see on you some marks of intelligence. And I'm choosing you out of all of the people, coz I have a question for you".
Abu Bakr As-Siddiq says, "What do you want?"
Rafi' said, "I want you to teach me something, so I can be like you. BUT DON'T MAKE IT LONG because then I'm gonna forget."
Hhhh. I think he meets the profile of a thief. Not interested in a lot of education. Hhhh.
~Give me something brief and fast, I wanna be like you. But make it easy~
So Abu Bakr As-Siddiq made it as easy as he could.
Abu Bakr said, "Do you remember that your hand has five fingers?". Hhhh.
Rafi' said, "Yes, I do".
Abu Bakr said, "Then remember this:
- The first finger. أشهـد أن لا إله الا الله وأشهـد أن محمد رسـول الله
- The second finger. You pray five times a day.
- The third finger. You pay zakah if you have money.
- The fourth finger. You fast in the month of Ramadhan.
- The fifth finger. You make haj to the House of Allah.
Rafi' said, "Yes".
Abu Bakr said, "Then I will add something else: "Never assume a position of authority, even over two people"".
Rafi' said, "We have given all position of authority to you, the settlers".
[A little background information]: In Arabia, the Bedouins used to have this respect for the settlers/people-of-the-urban-towns; And they would give them the authority.
And thus Rafi' said, "We don't take authority. You know that. The authority is for you, the urban people".
So Abu Bakr As-Siddiq said, "A time will come, when they will be so many positions of authority, that it will reach you and it will even reach the people who are below you. And when you are a leader among people, and there is any oppression that goes on, you will be asked about it on the Day of Judgement".
And what Abu Bakr As-Siddiq said came true: The Muslim Khilafah grew so fast and it expanded with a swift speed, that there were so many post that needed to be filled. And it reached the people like Rafi', and the people who are lower than him.
Lessons from the conversation between Abu Bakr and Rafi' bin Amr At-Tha'i:
Speak to the poeple according to their level.
-This- is a thief. He didn't go to school. He has no education background. Don't give him Bukhari and tell him to memorize it; and don't tell him "you have to go on a syari'ah course for a few years and study 'ilm".
People have different capabilities.
Not everybody will become a great Sheikh and scholar. And not everybody will become an Imam.
Imagine if Abu Bakr As-Siddiq r.a. recite to this man Suratul Baqarah and told him to memorize it. He could barely remember the five fingers. That's it.
So with the gangsters and brothers from that background, take it easy with them.
Take it easy with them in your da'wah.
And Alhamdulillah. Some of these brothers turned out to be wonderful brothers when Allah guides them to the truth.
The spirit that they have is sometimes a spirit that you cannot find with the scholar. It happens that it's a rizq from Allah. I mean, Imam Ibn Hambal once he heard somebody speaking about Bishr Al-Hafi; People said, "Bishr Al-Hafi is not a scholar".
Bishr Al-Hafi wasn't a scholar in terms of memorizing a lot of Hadith; He's nothing to compare to Imam Ahmad Ibn Hambal. But what did Imam Ibn Hambal said? Imam Ibn Hambal said, "He (Bishr Al-Hafi) already has the fruit of knowledge. Which is: The Fear of Allah".
What does the ayah say? إنما يخشى الله من عباده العلماء
"The ones who have fear of Allah, the scholars". [Qur'an, 35:28]
So Allah s.w.t. is saying that the fruit of knowledge is The Fear of Allah.
There is no benefit in knowledge that's not make you fear Allah.
If you have all the knowledge in the world, but if you don't fear Allah 'Azza wa Jal, then it's worthless.
Imam Ahmad Ibn Hambal's saying, "This man already has the fruit of the knowledge. Therefore, really in this situation (knowledge is important, but) Bishr Al Hafi is a scholar in that sense. He has The Fear of Allah 'Azza wa Jal.
[Back to the point]: Rasulullah s.a.w. would speak to people differently. And the sahabah understood that. Now Rasulullah s.a.w., when he's speaking to Ibn 'Abbas (even though he was a child, but because he had a mind of a scholar) Rasulullah s.a.w. would speak to him on a very high level. While a Bedouin would come to Rasulullah s.a.w., he would give Bedouins very brief orders that are easy to remember.
So you have to have hikmah in da'wah. Speak to the people according to their abilities.
Abu Bakr As-Siddiq r.a. did not hold back anything. He said, "Don't be a leader".
And this is the first conversation he's having with the man. Abu Bakr doesn't even know him well.
—Don't be a leader—
Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, for some reason or another saw some things in this man that do not be fit position of authority, so he was very honest with that man. He told the man, "Don't be a leader".
So also when you see something wrong in your brother, correct them. It's fine. It's okay. Do it in a very nice way.
You can download the mp3 for this lecture here: [DOWNLOAD ME PLEASE] (3.06MB); Cropped from Imam Anwar Al-Awlaqi's lecture: Abu Bakr As-Siddiq - 04 (Jihad with The Messenger of Allah) ~ 05 (Life in Madinah)