We have narrated the way of Hanafiya in Part 1, and introduced the first and second Hunafa, Uthman bin Huwarith and Zayd bin Amr, in Part 2 and Part 3, respectively. Now, let’s turn to the last two Hunafa.
The first of these two is Waraqah bin Nawfal. He is well known. He is the cousin of Khadijah, the wife of the Prophet. He is well known because he was the one whom Khadijah brought Muhammad to meet when the latter was shaken upon receiving the first revelation. By then, he was an old man of about 80 years old.
Unlike Uthman bin Huwarith who had some political ambition and finally decided to embrace Trinity Christian to further his cause, or Zayd who decided not to follow any of the established religions during his time but would rather continue searching for the true Hanafiya religion, Waraqah became a scholar.
He decided to embrace Christianity, but not of trinitarian kind. It is said that he was an Ebionite Christian, the Christian sect that considered Jesus to be a man, not a God. He learnt the old scriptures and knew that the foretold prophet was forthcoming, and was hoping to meet him while he was still alive.
Also unlike Zayd bin Amr who went far and wide looking for an answer, and came back when the answer was to come from his own country, Waraqah remained in Makkah. He knew Muhammad personally, and respected the latter highly, and was elated when at last the Prophet he was waiting finally appeared.
Now, the story when Muhammad received his first revelation is well known, and need not be repeated here. Suffice to say that the experience had shaken him to the bones. While his beloved wife Khadijad tried her best to comfort him, his mind was still not at peace. So she brought him to her cousin, Waraqah bin Nawfal.
Listening to the story, Waraqah consoled his cousin’s husband, saying that he was not possessed by the Demon, but instead was visited by the Archangel, whom he called Namus, but we call Gabriel (Jibril). Being learned in the ancient scriptures, and knowing Muhammad personally, it quickly dawned upon him that this was the much awaited prophet. So, he told Muhammad as such.
But his consoling words were added with serious warning: “If only I am still alive by the time people would oppose and drive you out, then I would surely have defended you with all my might.”
Thus consoled that he was not losing his mind, Muhammad was shocked again to learn that his life was about to be stormy. Not long thereafter, the old Waraqah died. He died as Muslim.
Thus, unlike his colleagues, firstly Uthman who was a Hanif who died a Trinitarian Christian, and secondly Zayd who was a Hanif who died a Hanif, Waraqah was a Hanif who became an Ebionite Christian but died a Muslim.
The last Hanif was Ubaydillah bin Jahsh. He was the brother of Zaynab bint Jahsh, the cousin of the Prophet who later on became his wife as well. Ubaydillah was therefore the Prophet’s cousin as well. He was the younger companion of Waraqah, and probably followed the way of Waraqah before Muhammad became a prophet.
He became among the earlier converts. Waraqah probably told him to embrace the religion brought by Muhammad, which he did. He was married to Ramlah bint Abu Sufyan, more popularly known as Umm Habibah. Yes, the same Abu Sufyan who fought against Muhammad before he converted to Islam after the Prophet conquered Makkah.
After the persecution imposed upon the Muslims, Ubaydillah left Makkah and migrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia). This occurred in the fifth year of Prophethood. Somehow, after some years in Abyssinia, mingling with the Christians there, he got attracted to their Christianity and became a Christian.
It is said that one of the reasons for his conversion was because he wanted to continue drinking wine, but this is probably only a speculation. Allah guides whomever He wills. In any case, because of his conversion, he was forced to divorce his wife Umm Habibah, whom the Prophet married later on.
Since he was no longer a Muslim, he never came back either to Makkah, as some of his companions did before the migration to Madinah, or to Madinah, when the Migration that marked the turn of the event took place. Instead, he died in Abyssinia as a Christian. He was a Hanif who became Muslim but died a Christian.
Allah guides whoever He wills, and leads astray whoever He wills.