It was the habit of the Prophet, peace be on him, that if someone did him a good turn, he loved to repay that person
with something more excellent. He wanted to do something for me too in return for my service to him. So one day he came up to me and said: ‘O Rabee’ah ibn Ka’b.’ ‘Labbayk ya rasulullah wa Sadaik – At your command, O Messenger of God and may God grant you happiness,’ I responded. ‘Ask of me anything and I will give it to you.’ ..I thought a little and then said: ‘Give me some time, O Messenger of God, to think about what I should ask of you. Then I will let you know.’ He agreed.
At that time, I was a young man and poor. I had neither family, nor wealth, nor place of abode. I used to shelter in the Suffah of the mosque with other poor Muslims like myself. People used to call us the “guests of Islam”. Whenever any Muslim brought so mething in charity to the Prophet, he would send it all to us. And if someone gave him a gift he would take some of it and leave the rest for us.
So, it occurred to me to ask the Prophet for some worldly good that would save me from poverty and make me like others who had wealth, wife and children. Soon, however, I said: ‘May you perish Rabee’ah. The world is temporary and will pass away. You have your share of sustenance in it which God has guaranteed and which must come to you. The Prophet, peace be on him, has a place with his Lord and no request would be refused him. Request him therefore, to ask Allah to grant you something of the bounty of the hereafter.’
I felt pleased and satisfied with this thought. I went to the Prophet and he asked: ‘What do you say, O Rabee’ah?’ ‘O Messenger of God,’ I said, ‘I ask you to beseech God most High on my behalf to make me your companion in Paradise.’
‘Who has advised you thus?’ asked the Prophet.
‘No by God,’ I said, ‘No one has advise me. But when you told me ‘Ask of me anything and I will give to you,’ I thought of asking you for something of the goodness of this world. But before long, I was guided to choose what is permanent and lasting agains t what is temporary and perishable. And so I have asked you to beseech God on my behalf that I may be your companion in Paradise.’
The Prophet remained silent for a long while and then asked: ‘Any other request besides that, Rabi’ah?’ ‘No, O Messenger of God, Nothing can match what I have asked you.’ ‘Then, in that case, assist me for your sake by performing much prostration to God.’
So I began to exert myself in worship in order to attain the good fortune of being with the Prophet in Paradise just as I had the good fortune of being in his service and being his companion in this world.