Their sacrifices were immense and their faith stunning.
The name of Ansaar never fails to evoke undertones of sacrifice, submission, and love of Allah The Most High and His Messenger and warm sentiments of appreciation in our hearts. There is much for us to learn from their lives. Is there something common between the Ansaar of Madeenah and us today? I suggest: There is something fundamental. Let us look at the story of the Ansaar and reflect on our commonality.
The Ansaar, literally the supporters, of Madeenah, were a gift of Allah to Islam. Their sacrifices were immense and their faith stunning. They believed in Islam as soon as they heard Mus’ab ibn 'Umayr recite the words of Allah to them, and finally invited the Messenger of Allah to move to their township.
Poor and war torn, Yathrib, the house of grief, was an apt name for what is now Madeenah. But Allah has distinguished its people with hearts that are pure and beautiful, and even today the generous manners of the people of Madeenah remind us of their hospitality to the Beloved Messenger of Allah. Inviting the Muslims to their land, and giving them protection, was tantamount to announcing war against all the Arabs, particularly the most influential of them, the Quraysh.
The Prophet's loving but so-far non-Muslim uncle, Abbaas, warned the Madeenans: "You should know what you are getting yourself into... you better not take my nephew from my protection and then abandon him." The Ansaar, of course, knew this well. Their faith-filled answer was: "Even of the Messenger of Allah leads us into the sea, we will follow him. We will not say what the children of Israel said to Mousa: 'fight you and your Lord, O Mousa, and we are sitting right here.'"
The Ansaar knew how to keep their word. They surprised any estimations of human sacrifice the world had known by how readily they embraced their penniless refugee brothers—the Muhajiroon—and shared with them all their wealth and property. When the rebellious tribe of Banu an-Nadheer was expelled from Madeenah without a battle, the Prophet of Allah distributed the spoils to the poor Muhajiroon. The Ansaar submitted to the decision with their characteristic faith.
The sacrifice of the Ansaar and their preference for their immigrant brothers at their own expense won them applause even from the Lord of seven heavens, and Allah, Said what means: "And [also for] those who were settled in al-Madeenah and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful." [Quran 59:9]
However, the strongest test of the Ansaar was yet to come. The conquest of Makkah brought a large number of Makkans and other Arab tribes into Islam. Among them were honorable chiefs and influential leaders who likely felt they had lost the battle against Islam even though they had embraced Islam. When the battle of Hunayn followed and more spoils of war were secured, the Prophet sought to attract and soften the hearts of these new-Muslims by giving them the majority of the spoils, while some went to the poor Muhajoroon, but nothing to the Ansaar.
The Ansaar were hurt. Did this mean that the Prophet was now going to forget them, now that has regained his own city, and was he going to turn his back to them? Why were they deprived of their share of the spoils? Rumors started to go around. Hassan ibn Thaabit, the poet of the Ansar, may Allah be pleased with him, recited lines of poetry that mean: "Go to the Prophet and say you are the best among all human beings. Why should you invite Sulaim tribe to take a share of war spoils although they are mere Muhajiroon while you deprived the Ansaar who gave shelter, support and help to Muhajiroon."
We will let Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri, an Ansaari, give the account, as reported by Ibn Is'haaq:
The leader of the Ansaar, Sa'd ibn 'Ubaadah, may Allah be pleased with him, went immediately to the Prophet and said, "O Messenger of Allah, this group of the Ansaar are displeased with what you did with the spoils of war. You have distributed war booty among your people, and have given generous portions to the Arab tribes, but you did not give the Ansaar anything." The Prophet asked him, "What is your opinion about it?" Sa'd answered with the same bluntness, "I am but one of my people."The Prophet asked him to gather the Ansaar.
The Ansaar were gathered, and no one else but them was allowed in the meeting. The Messenger of Allah said, "O Ansaar, I heard that an incident that happened recently made you feel ill at ease.... Now, did I not find you ignorant and guided you to the way of Allah? Did I not find you poor and Allah enriched you of His bounty? Did I not find you enemies and Allah joined your hearts together?"
They answered, "Indeed, Allah and His Prophet are far more generous and better."
The Prophet then said, "Don't you have anything to say, O Ansaar?" They answered, "There is nothing to be said but that Allah and His Prophet have the grace and bounty."
The Prophet then said, "By Allah, you could have said—and if you did, you would have been truthful and acknowledged—We believed in you at a time when all called you a liar. We supported you at a time when you were frustrated. We gave you our money at a time when you were poor and we even sheltered you at a time when you were homeless. O Ansaar, are you upset for a thing so trivial and worldly that I gave to some people so as to join their hearts to Islam and left you out of it, believing that your Islam sufficed you? Is it not enough for you that the rest of the people will go home with a sheep or a camel, whereas you will return with the Messenger of Allah? By Allah in Whose Hands is Muhammad's soul, you return with a better thing than they went home with. If not for the migration, I would rather have been one of the Ansaar. If the people moved in one way, and the Ansaar moved the other way, I would choose the way of the Ansaar. O Allah, do have mercy on the Ansaar, their children, and their children's children."
By the time the Prophet concluded his words, their beards were wet with tears, for the words of the beloved Prophet filled their hearts with tranquility and enriched their souls. All of them cried out, "It is enough for us to have the Messenger of Allah as our reward!"
This is precisely what is common between the Ansaar and us: "It is enough for us to have the Messenger of Allah as our reward! As Muslims, we are oppressed, suspected and harassed in the world; we have inherited none of the glorious riches or powerful empires of early Islam. We get no booty for being Muslims, no worldly glory, and no advantages. Still, we are to struggle in the path of Allah, sacrifice in His way, trusting that "He never fails His promise," while nothing is on our side... except Allah and His Messenger!