Khalid ibn Zayd ibn Kulayb of the Banu Najjar was a great and close companion of our beloved Messenger (saw). He is better known as Abu Ayyub (father of Ayyub) al-Ansari. Out of all the Ansar (Madinah Companions) he had a special place in the heart of the Prophet (saw).
When the Prophet (saw) arrived in Madinah after the hijrah from Makkah, he was greeted in Madinah by welcoming crowds. The Ansar of Madinah loved the Prophet (saw) deeply and they were in awe of the Prophet (saw) as he arrived on his camel. They wanted to give him the most hospitable treatment possible. The Prophet (saw) first arrived in the settlement of Quba, on the outskirts of Madinah. He stayed there for a few days. The first thing he did in Quba was construct a masjid which the Qur’an describes as being,
Masjid built on the foundations of taqwa (piety)
Surah at-Tawbah, Ayah 108
As the Prophet (saw) entered Madinah on his camel, the chieftains and leaders of Madinah stood along both sides of the path each wishing to have the honor of hosting the Prophet (saw) at his house. One after the other, each chieftain said, “Stay with my, O Rasulallah! Leave the camel and come to my house!” To this, the Prophet (saw) said, The camel is under command.” The people did not know that the camel was following orders from Allah (swt). The camel continued on her path with all eyes and hearts on her. When it would pass a house, its owner would feel sad and disappointed that the Prophet (saw) wouldn’t be staying with them. Finally, the camel stopped in front of the house of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (ra).
Abu Ayyub (ra) was ecstatic and filled with joy when he saw the camel stop in front of his house. He at once went out to greet the Prophet (saw) and took his baggage in his arms. To Abu Ayyub (ra), the Prophet’s (saw) baggage seemed like the most precious belongings in the whole world. Abu Ayyub’s (ra) house had two stories. To make space for the Prophet (saw) he emptied the upper floor of his house so that the Prophet (saw) could stay there, however our beloved Messenger (saw) preferred to stay on the lower level. Once night came, the Prophet (saw) fell asleep and Abu Ayyub (ra) went upstairs. Upon closing the door, he turned to his wife and said, “Woe to us! What have we done? The messenger of Allah is below and we are higher than he! Can we walk on top of the messenger of Allah? Do we come between him and the Revelation (Wahy)? If so, we are doomed.” Abu Ayyub (ra) and his wife became very concerned and moved to the side of the upper floor which was not on top of the Prophet (saw).
The following morning, Abu Ayyub (ra) said to the Prophet (saw), “By Allah, we did not sleep a wink last night, neither myself nor Umm Ayyub.” “Why not, Abu Ayyub?” asked the Prophet (saw). Abu Ayyub (ra) explained how terrible they felt being above while the Prophet was below them and how they might have interrupted the Revelation. “Don’t worry, Abu Ayyub, I prefer the lower level because of the many people who come to visit me.” the Prophet (saw) said. So, Abu Ayyub (ra) reluctantly agreed, that is until a jar of water spilled on the upper level that night. Umm Ayyub and Abu Ayyub (ra) cleaned the water with the 1 blanket they had since they didn’t have any towels. They were very worried that the water might seep through the floor and land on the Prophet (saw). In the morning, Abu Ayyub (ra) went to the Prophet (saw) and narrated the incident and said, “I do not like to be above you.” To this, the Prophet (saw) finally agreed and they swapped floors. The Prophet (saw) stayed with Abu Ayyub (ra) for almost 7 months until his masjid and house were complete. The masjid was being constructed at the site where the camel stopped, which happened to be in front of Abu Ayyub’s (ra) house. Hence, he became Abu Ayyub’s (ra) neighbor! May Allah (swt) allow us to be neighbors with the Prophet (saw) in Jannah! Ameen.
This is just a small glimpse into the life of the hospitable and respectful Abu Ayyub (ra). He was also a fantastic warrior who participated in various military campaigns. The last and most significant campaign he participated in was the siege of Constantinople, which is modern day Istanbul, Turkey. At the time of the siege, he was close to 80 years old. He didn’t let age get the best of him however. During one of the battles in the siege, he fell very ill and had to withdraw from the battle. The commander Yazid, asked him, “Do you need anything Abu Ayyub?” He said,
“Convey my salaams to the Muslim armies and say to them: “Abu Ayyub urges you to penetrate deeply into the territory of the enemy as far as you can go, that you should carry him with you and that you should bury him under your feet at the walls of Constantinople.”
After uttering these last statements, he breathed his last. The Muslim army had completed the task of the Abu Ayyub (ra) and penetrated as far as they could. Just as he wished, he was buried at the walls of Constantinople.