Before the advent of Islam, there were in Arabia autonomous tribal chiefs. The people were used to the rule of their chiefs and obeyed them; and often paid them tributes and taxes. The well-known generous Hatim, of the tribe of Tai, was one of the tribal chiefs of Arabia (Yemen). His son, Adi, succeeded him after his death and the tribe submitted to his rule. He was taxing them to the extent of one-fourth of their income every year. His lordship coincided with the advent of Prophet Mohammed (saw). The Tai tribes were idol-worshipers, but himself was a Christian, but kept his beliefs secret from his people. The people, after being acquainted with the liberal teachings of Islam, felt themselves relieved from the burden of their lords who had hitherto imposed their rule upon the people. Owing to this fact, Adi, like other lords used to look upon Islam as the greatest danger for himself; and was harboring enmity against Prophet Mohammed (saw). But the die was cast. People were embracing Islam in increasingly large numbers; and the religion of Allah (SWT) was advancing day by day. He knew that the day was near when the Muslims would come looking for him also, and that would be the end of his lordship. He therefore, instructed his special steward, a slave, to always keep strong and light-footed camels ready near his camp and to remain watchful.
One day the slave came to him and said, "Make whatever arrangements you want to make as the Muslims are very close". Adi mounted his family on the camels and took whatever valuables and luggage he could take, and escaped to Damascus (Syria) where the people were of his religion. But in the confusion, he forgot to take his sister, Saffana with him; and she was left behind.
The Muslims defeated the tribe of Tai in the battle; and some were made captives. Muslims brought Saffana, the sister of Adi ibn Hatim to Medina along with other captives and related the story of Adi ibn Hatim's escapade to Prophet Mohammed (saw).
The prisoners were sheltered in a low walled compound near the Mosque. One day, Prophet Mohammed (saw), while going to the Mosque passed beside the enclosure. Saffana, intelligent and talkative as she was, moved from her place and said:
"My father is dead; my guardian is hiding; be generous to me, Allah will be generous to you".
Prophet Mohammed (saw): "Who is your guardian?"
"Adi, son of Hatim"
"The one who has run away from Allah (SWT) and His Prophet Mohammed (saw)?"
Saying these words Prophet Mohammed (saw) went away, Next day again she repeated the same words, heard the same reply. Her plea produced no result. The third day, having lost her hopes, Saffana decided to keep silent. But a young man walking behind Prophet Mohammed (saw) made signs to her to repeat her demand. She repeated the same words. Prophet Mohammed (saw) said, "Very well, I am waiting for some reliable man from your tribe. As soon as such a man is found I shall send you with him to your tribe. Inform me if you find such a person who has come to Medinah".
Saffana asked the people who was the young man walking behind Prophet Mohammed (saw) who had encouraged her to repeat her demand? They said he was Imam Ali (as).
After some time, Saffana informed Prophet Mohammed (saw) that some men of her tribe had come to Medinah. Prophet Mohammed (saw) gave her a new dress, some cash for meeting the expense of the journey and a camel to ride on. She went along with them to her brother, Adi ibn Hatim in Damascus (Syria).
When Saffana saw her brother, she reproached him and said, "You brought out your wife and children forgot me the memory of your father!" Adi ibn Hatim apologized to her. Then, as she was an intelligent woman, Adi ibn Hatim consulted her about his plan. He asked: "What do you advise me to do, since you have seen Prophet Mohammed (saw) from near? Should I join him or keep aloof from him?"
"I believe you should join him. If he is a Prophet of Allah (SWT) it will be a credit to your honor and nobleness. And if he is not a Prophet, and only wants to be a worldly ruler, then in a place (Medinah) which is not far from Yemen (your place), nobody will dare to dishonor you, because of the honor and respect you have among the people of Yemen. Either way, your honor is guaranteed".
The idea appealed to Adi ibn Hatim. He decided to go Medinah and to observe Prophet Mohammed's (saw) manners minutely. If he was a Prophet, he would follow him like other Muslims. But in case he was only a man with worldly ambitions of power and pelf, then he would cooperate with him to the extent of the common benefits of both.
He entered the Mosque of Medinah and saluted to Prophet Mohammed (saw). Prophet Mohammed (saw) accorded him due respect and took him to his house.
On their way a haggard woman caught hold of the garment of Prophet Mohammed (saw) and entered into a discussion with him. A long time passed; and Prophet Mohammed (saw) answered all her questions with kindness and patience.
Adi ibn Hatim said to himself, "This is the one sign from the character of this man that he is a Prophet. People having worldly ambitions do not have such a disposition and temperament of replying to a poor old woman with so much patience and kindness."
When they entered the house Adi ibn Hatim found his life most simple and unpretentious. There was only a quilt, which Prophet Mohammed (saw) used to sit upon, but now he spread it for Adi ibn Hatim to sit. Adi ibn Hatim insisted that Prophet Mohammed (saw) should sit upon the quilt; but he flatly refused. Ultimately, Adi ibn Hatim sat upon the quilt and Prophet Mohammed (saw) sat on the ground. Adi ibn Hatim said to himself, "This is the second sign of the character of this man, This is the character of the Prophets."
Prophet Mohammed (saw) turned to him and said, "But was not your religion Christianity?" Adi ibn Hatim said, "Yes, why?" Prophet Mohammed (saw) said, "Then why, and on what grounds, were you taking one-fourth of the income of your people? Is it not inadmissible in your religion?"
Adi ibn Hatim, who had kept his religion secret even from his closest relatives, was surprised to hear it from Prophet Mohammed (saw). He said to himself, "this is the third sign that this man is a Prophet".
Then Prophet Mohammed (saw) said: "You are looking at the present poverty and helplessness of the Muslims. You find that the Muslims today are living in distress. They are surrounded by crowds of enemies and have no security of their lives and properties. They have no power in their hands. By Allah (SWT), the time is not far when such a vast wealth will come to them that there will be no poor among them. By Allah (SWT), their enemies will be vanquished and there will exist such a perfect peace and order that a woman shall be able to travel from Iraq to Hijaz alone and nobody will trouble her. By Allah (SWT), the time is near when the white palaces of Babylonia will come under the hands of the Muslims".
Adi ibn Hatim embraced Islam (converts to Islam) with perfect Faith and Sincerity and remained faithful to the end of his life. He lived upon the years after Prophet Mohammed (saw). He always remembered the talks of Holy Prophet Mohammed (saw) in his first meeting with him, and the forecasts at that time, about the future of Muslims. He used to say, "By Allah (SWT), in my life-time I saw Muslim conquering the white palaces of Babylonia, and there is such a peace and order that a woman can travel from Iraq to Hijaz without anybody troubling her. By Allah (SWT), I am sure a day will come when there will be no poor among the Muslims".
(La Ilaha Ill Allah Muhammadur Rasool Allah, There is no god only Allah, Muhammad is the Rasool (Messenger) of Allah). These are the words that a person says to enter the fold of Islam. Shahadah, or declaration of faith, is a covenant that the person makes with Allah (SWT): that he/she will continue to obey Allah (SWT), and walk in the footsteps of our Prophet Mohammed (saw). It is the first step to complete obedience to the Lord of all.