Abu Dhar is remembered for his strict piety and also his opposition to Muawiyah I during the caliph Uthman ibn Affan era. He is venerated by Shia Muslims as one of The Four Companions, early Muslims who were followers (Shi'a) of Ali (Ali ibn Abi Talib).
He was one of the Muhajirun. He was regarded by many, including Ali Shariati, as the first Islamic socialist or the first socialist altogether, having first been referred to as such by the Arab scholar Ahmad Rida in 1910.
Abu Dhar is credited by some scholars, like Muhammad Sharqawi and Sami Ayad Hanna, as a principal antecedent of Islamic socialism. He protested against the accumulation of wealth by the ruling class during ‘Uthmān's caliphate and urged the equitable redistribution of wealth.
Little is known of his life before his conversion to Islam. Abu Dhar is said to have been a serious young man, an ascetic and a monotheist even before he converted. He was born to the Ghifar clan, found to the western south of Medina. Abu Dhar was apparently typical of the early converts to Islam, described by Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri as "young men and weak people". They were a branch of the Banu Kinanah tribe. Quraysh clan of Muhammad was also a branch of the Banu Kinanah tribe.
Popular accounts of Abu Dhar say that his tribe lived by pillaging caravans, but that he preferred to live a poor but honest life as a shepherd. Having heard the supposition that a new prophet had arisen in Mecca, Abu Dhar and his brother travelled to Mecca to find the prophet. The young seeker converted instantly and rushed out to declare his new faith in front of the Kaaba, which at that time was a pagan temple. He was beaten for his religious belief. He did this three days in a row, after which the Prophet Muhammed told him to return to his clan, where he taught his people about Islam. He and his tribe then joined Muhammad after the Hijra, or migration to Medina in 622 CE.
This seems to be a simplified account of stories reported in these hadiths, 31:6049, 31:6048 and 31:6046.
According to the early Islamic historian Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Abu Dhar claimed to have been the fourth or fifth convert to Islam. However, Saad bin Abi Waqqas made the same claim. While the exact order of conversion may never be established, no one doubts that he was a very early convert.
He participated in the Battle of Badr. Muhammad's forces included Abu Bakr, Umar, Ali, Hamza, Mus`ab ibn `Umair, Az-Zubair bin Al-'Awwam, Ammar ibn Yasir, and Abu Dharr al-Ghifari. The Muslims also brought seventy camels and two horses, meaning that they either had to walk or fit three to four men per camel. However, many early Muslim sources indicate that no serious fighting was expected, and the future Caliph Uthman stayed behind to care for his sick wife Ruqayyah, the daughter of Muhammad. Salman the Persian also could not join the battle, as he was still not a free man.
During the Expedition of Ka’b ibn 'Umair al-Ghifari his son Umair al-Ghifari was killed. In this expedition Muhammad ordered an attackon the Banu Quda‘a tribe because Muhammad received intelligence that they had gathered a large number of men to attack the Muslim positions
In response Muhammad ordered the Third Expedition of Dhu Qarad to take revenge for the killing of the son of Abu Dhar Ghifari at al-Ghaba
Abu Dhar had begun his agitation in Medina after Uthman had given 500,000 dirhams to Marwan I, 300,000 to al-Harith b. al-Hakam, and 100,000 to the Medinan Zayd ibn Thabit from the khums of the booty seized in Ifriqiya in 27/647. He then quoted relevant Qur'anic passages threatening the horders (sic) of riches with hell-fire. Marwan complained to Uthman, who sent his servant Natil to warn Abu Dhar, but to no avail. Uthman displayed patience for some time until, in the presence of the caliph, Abu Dhar launched an angry verbal attack on Ka'ab al-Ahbar, who had backed Uthman's free use of public money. Uthman now chided Abu Dhar and sent him to Damascus.
There is a tradition that Muhammad predicted this sad end, saying, "May Allah have mercy upon Abu Dharr! Lonely will he live, lonely will he die and lonely will he be resurrected".
Many hadith, oral traditions, are traced to Abu Dhar. He is respected as an early and observant Muslim, and a man who was honest and direct to a fault. He was, according to the Sunni tradition, a rough, unlettered Beduin who held no high office, but who served the Muslim community, the Ummah, with everything he had to give.
During the caliphate of Uthman, he stayed in Damascus and witnessed Muslims deviating from Islam, going after worldly pleasures and desires.
He was saddened and repelled by this. So Uthman invited him to come to Madinah. where he was also hurt by people's pursuit of worldly goods and pleasures.
Abu Dhar then asked Uthman to go to al-Rabathah, a small village eastern Madinah. Uthman approved his request. Abu Dhar stayed there away from people, holding on to the traditions (sunnah) of Muhammad and his companions.
A man visited him once and when he found his house almost bare, he asked Abu Dhar: "Where are your possessions?"
Abu Dhar said: "We have a house yonder (meaning the Hereafter), to which we send the best of our possessions."
The man understood what Abu Dhar meant and said: "But you must have some possessions so long as you are in this abode."
"The owner of this abode will not leave us in it," replied Abu Dharr.
Also, when the Prince (Amir) of Syria sent Abu Dhar three hundred dinars to meet his needs, he returned the money saying, "Does not the Amir find a servant more deserving of it than I?"
Abu Dhar continued in his simple life, and dedicated himself to Allah only until he died, in 32 A.H.
Aba Dhar is considered one of the greatest and most loyal sahaba, along with Salman the Persian, Miqdad ibn Aswad, and Ammar ibn Yasir.
Imam Ali advanced to see him off. He said:
Abu Dhar, you've become very angry for Allah. The people are worried about their religion, and you are worried about your religion. So, leave what they are worried about in your hands and escape from them with what you're worried about. They're in need of what you've prevented them from. And you're in no need of what they've prevented you from. Tomorrow you'll know who will be the winner. Abu Dhar, nothing amuses you but the truth and nothing annoys you but the untruth.
Abu Dhar, his wife and his daughter went to al-Rabathah Desert. He was recalling our Master Muhammad's words: Abu Dhar, may Allah have mercy upon you. You'll live alone, die alone, rise from the dead alone and enter Paradise alone. Prophet Mohammad said about him " Aba Dhar is like Issa/Jesus of my nation in his "zohod" and "waraa"
There are two Shia shrines to Abu Dhar in Lebanon — in Sarepta and Meiss al-Jabal.
Muhammad is reported to have said, "Neither has the sky shaded one more truthful and honest than Abu Dhar nor has the earth had anyone walk over it like him. (In these matters) he is like Isa bin Maryam." (From Tirmidhi.)
Muhammad also said, "Abu Dhar walks on earth with the piety of Isa bin Maryam (Jesus son of Mary.)" (From Tirmidhi.)
During the Battle of Tabouk, Abu Dhar was left behind because his camel was ill or too weak. So he alighted from it and, placing the pack on his back, walked to the rest of the army. Muhammad saw him and exclaimed, "May Allah have Mercy on Abu Dhar!." He then said, "He spends his life all alone. Death will single him out and on the Day of Resurrection, he will stand up all alone!"Madelung, Wilferd -- Succession to Muhammad, Cambridge University Press, 1997
Watt, Montgomery -- Muhammad at Mecca, Oxford University Press, 1953
Watt, Montgomery -- Muhammad at Medina, Oxford University Press, 1956