Uwais al-Qarni

“a man who was unknown among the people but

well known among people of Paradise”

This story is not about a woman, but a story about a man who cared for his mother and the value that Islam gives to mothers. It is one of my favorite stories. Uwais was the only man who was mentioned by name by the Prophet without him having met him. Even Mohammed al Fatih, who was mentioned by the Prophet , was not mentioned by name, just by his victory. What did Uwais do that was so great? He took care of his mother. This is the story of Uwais.


One day, Umar ibn Khattab, Abu Bakar, Ali and other companions were sitting with the Prophet at the mosque when the Prophet said to them, “Tomorrow, a man will enter from this door to pray among you and he will be from the people of Paradise.”

Abu Huraira relates that the next day he hurried to Fajr prayer at the Mosque and lined up in the first row in hopes that he would be the man that the Prophet  was referring to the day before. There were many other Companions standing alongside him who also had the same idea. The Prophet  conducted Fajr prayer and sat down. The Companions were eager to know who this man of Paradise was, but it didn’t seem the Prophet was going to mention it. So they sat and waited for a while and some of them had to go, but others still waited. These included Abu Huraira, Abu Bakar, Ali, and Umar.

Just then walked in a man, who was so poor his clothes were dirty and torn. The Prophet immediately stood up and smiled from ear to ear and welcomed the man. The man asked the Prophet to pray for him. The Prophet  raised his hands in “duaa” and said, “Oh Allah please grant this man a position in the highest levels of Paradise, Al Ferdous, with me.” So then when the man left, Abu Huraira asked the Prophet ,”Was that him?!” “Yes,” replied the Prophet.

“But oh Messenger of Allah, he is nothing more than a poor slave, how can that be him?” asked Abu Huraira. “Oh Abu Huraira,” said the Prophet. “What can I do for him if his fate in this world is to be poor? His position on the Day of Judgment is that of a king. Abu Huraira, the ones that have the most value to Allah are those that are pure, starving, whose faces are dusty, who are not known on this Earth, but known in the skies. If they want to get married, no one would marry them. And if they get sick, the do not pass on the sickness to anyone (they are alone), and if they attend something their presence is not felt, and if they leave, no one notices, and when they die, no one attends their funeral. These people however, are not forgotten by Allah and they are held with so much value.”

“Oh Messenger of Allah, show me one of them,” said Abu Huraira.

“I will tell you about Uwais Al Qarni,” replied the Prophet. The Companions looked at each other, each trying to recall if they know a man named Uwais. They didn’t know that he was talking about a man that they will meet years after the Prophet has passed away.

“He is a man of medium height, head held high despite being poor with very dark skin. I can see him putting his right arm on his left arm and weeping as he reads Quran. He is wearing a cloak of poor wool,” said the Prophet , smiling as if he can see him as Angel Gabriel is describing him. “On his left shoulder, there is a white mark the size of a dirham that is the effect of an illness. He is unknown among the people but known in the skies. His biggest sign is the mother he deeply cares for. When he makes duaa, it is granted. He will come among the people on the Day of Judgment and as they are entering Paradise, he will be stopped. When he asks why, Allah will tell him he can bring whomever he wants into Paradise with him, as much as 200,000 people (the amount of two large tribes).”

“Ali and Umar, if you are ever to find this man, ask him to make “duaa” for you and ask Allah for your forgiveness,” said the Prophet.


Elsewhere in Yemen, a young boy is herding his sheep, the sun beating down on his shoulders where a white mark stands alone on his dark skin. He is frustrated from being poor and having to struggle and take care of his mother. His father died when he was a young child, leaving him the man of the house. When the boy was seventeen, his mother lost her vision, and his responsibilities toward her increased as he now had to help her move around.

One night, he was carrying a candle and helping his mother move around the house when the candlelight went out and they were left in darkness. He could not see a thing. Then his mother, who was used to finding her way in the darkness, started leading him.  This turn of events affected him deeply and he started to ponder on the weight of light and darkness.

The next day, the seventeen-year-old Uwais bumped into a Muslim man who was coming to Yemen to spread Islam. He stopped the man and asked him to tell him something from the Quran that his Prophet has said. So the man recites a verse from Surat Al Nur:

{…And he for whom Allah has not appointed light, for him there is no light} (Quran 24:40)

This really hit home for Uwais as he remembered what had happened the night before with his mother. “Tell me more about what your Prophet says,” said Uwais.

So the man, noticing that Uwais was poor, chose this Hadith. “What am I to this world and what is this world to me? The example of me and this world is that of a man who walks in the heat of the desert and sits under the shade of a tree for an hour, then walks away and leaves it.”

Uwais upon hearing this Hadith, immediately said his shahadah and became a Muslim at the age of 17. Then came the question, will he migrate to see the Prophet ? As much as Uwais wanted to, he couldn’t and wouldn’t leave his mother. Some people suggested that he let some neighbors take care of her while he was gone but he said that he was the one who should take care of her and turned down the opportunity to see the Prophet . This sacrifice for his mother and the way Uwais had devoted himself to his mother his whole life was the reason that he was mentioned by the Prophet . Also because of his deep faith and his lack of attachment to the material things in this world.

So when Ali bin Abu Talib left Yemen with a group of new Muslims to go back to Madinah, it was without the boy he bumped into on his way there. He had no idea that it the Uwais that the Prophet  had mentioned and the boy didn’t know it was Ali bin Abu Talib.

3 years later, the Prophet ﷺ passed away and years after that Abu Bakr also passed away. When Umar ibn AlKhattab became Khalifa, he would go around all the people during Hajj and call out, “UWAIS, UWAIS, Is there anyone here named Uwais?” He would go to the group that came from Yemen and ask them if a man named Uwais is among them. But no one had heard of this man. Umar realized it was just as the Prophet described to him, that he was a man who was unknown among the people.

Year after year, Umar would go around at Hajj and call out and ask for Uwais. One year during Hajj, he stood at Mount Arafat and asked all the people making Hajj to stand up. Then he told everyone to sit down except those from Yemen. From that group, he told them all to sit down except those from Murad and from that group, he told them all to sit down except those from Qarn. One man was left standing. “Are you a Qarni?” asked Umar ibn Al Khattab. The man replied in the affirmative. “Do you know Uwais?” “Yes, he is my nephew. But what would you want with him. He is but a poor, forgotten man,” replied the Yemeni man.

Umar started to weep. “This man is not just a poor, forgotten man. He is a man who will choose 200,000 people to come with him into heaven. Is he with you?”

“No, he is not,” replied the man.

“Is his mother living,” asked Umar.

“Yes,” replied the man.

“I know he will not ever leave her, as this is what the Prophet  said,” replied Umar.

Umar searched for Uwais for ten years. A year before the death of Umar, Uwais’s mother passed away. That year, Umar stood up at Mount Arafat again and said to the people of Yemen, “Is Uwais al Qarni among you?” A Yemeni man said, “He is that sheppard standing over there.” Umar became so excited and went to look for Ali. “Ali! Ali! We found him!” he called out.

Umar and Ali approached Owais and asked him, “Are you Uwais al Qarni?”

“Yes,” replied a surprised Owais. “Show me your shoulder,” replied Umar. Uwais showed them his shoulder and they were able to see the mark that the Prophet  mentioned. “Is your mother with you?” asked Umar. Uwais replied that his mother had passed away. “Ah, it is just as the Prophet  said it would be then,” said Umar.

Uwais actually did not know these men so he asked them who they were. “I am Umar ibn AlKhattab, the Khalifa, and this is Ali ibn Abu Talib, the man who came to Yemen to spread Islam,” said Umar.

“Yes! I remember him! But, how do you know me?” asked Uwais.

So Umar told Uwais the whole story about how the Prophet  had talked about him years ago and how Angel Gabriel had described him. They said how his signs were the mark on his shoulder, his care for his mother, and his lack of attachment to this world. He said how Prophet told them that he would take 200,000 people with him into Paradise. They told him how they had been looking for him for years.

Umar and Ali then asked Uwais to make “duaa” for them and ask forgiveness for him. “You are now my friend in this life and the next,” Umar said to Uwais. However, Uwais was not interested in the life of fame and ease that would come with being Umar’s friend, especially when people find out what the Prophet had said about him. He kindly refused, and asked to be left as he is.

Uwais said he was going to go to Kufa. “Would you like me to write to the leader of Kufa to await your arrival and look after you?” asked Umar.

“No thank you. I would like to go unknown as I came,” replied Uwais.

“Ok then at least let me give you some money to help you out,” said Umar in an effort to do at least something for Uwais. “No thank you, my wool coat has still not worn out and neither have my shoes. I have four dirhams that I have still not used. When I run out, I will figure out how to get more. I am content this way,” replied Uwais.

“Please stay with me,” said Umar. “Thank you Umar. But what I have is good for me and what you have is good for you and the Muslims,” said Uwais.

Uwais left Mecca. He participated in the battle at Azerbaijan and died during the battle. His death came about 2 years after the death of Umar ibn AlKhattab. Uwais was about 35 years old.


*This is one of my favorite stories. It is very importance to taking care of your mother and that the reward for it is more than you can imagine.

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