Abu Hurairah (may Allah have mercy upon him) belonged to the Daws tribe. The Daws tribe lived in Tihamah situated in the cost of the Red Sea in South Arabia. He was introduced to Islam through the chief of his tribe, Al-Tufail ibn Amr who himself reverted after meeting Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in Makkah.
When al-Tufayl visited Makkah again, Abu Hurairah accompanied him and this was his first appearance of meeting our Beloved Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him). He spent several years in Tihamah and then in the 7th year of Hijrah, he arrived in Madinah with others of the Daws tribe. He had no wife nor child but was accompanied by his mother. Abu Hurairah throughout his life was courteous to his mother. For a long time, he prayed for her to become muslim but she adamantly refused and uttered several phrases which saddened him greatly. One day, he went to see our Beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) with tears in his eyes.
Our Beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) prayed for his mother. Abu Hurairah returned home and suddenly heard splashes of water. His mother said:
"Stay where you are, O Abu Hurairah." And after putting on her clothes, she said, "Enter!" As Abu Hurairah entered, she said "I testify that there is no god but Allah and I testify that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger."
Feelings of joy, excitement and gratefulness filled the chambers of Abu Hurairah’s heart. He ran to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to inform him of this great news.
Since then, whenever he wanted to leave home, he would stand at the door of her room and say:
“Peace be upon you, mother, and the mercy and blessings of God”
She would respond:
“And on you be peace, my son, and the mercy and blessings of God”
He would often say:
"May God have mercy on you as you cared for me when I was small,"
She would reply:
"May God have mercy on you as you delivered me from error when I was old."
Abu Hurairah was not into trade nor farming. He spent most of his time with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in the masjid, expeditions and journeys wanting to learn. He was not tired of listening nor looking at our Beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
Many companions were amazed due to his formidable memory of learning many hadiths and questioned him. Amongst them were Marwan ibn Al Hakam (may Allah have mercy upon him) who tested his memory and was found that he did forget not a single word.
After some time, Muslims were blessed with great wealth and Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) settled down and had a family. He met his wife Busrah bint Ghazwan as she took care of him and fed him when he returned from expeditions. His fortune did not change his personality nor forgotten about his past nor those who helped him.
He used to pray Qiyam al-Layl with his wife and child where they used to divide the time between them. He would initiate prayer, supplication and dhikr in one third of the night, his wife the second third, and his child the third part of the night.
When Omar ibn Khattab (may Allah have mercy upon him) was caliph, he appointed Abu Hurairah as governor of Bahrain. Umar ensured his governors lived simply. After some time, Abu Hurairah became rich in Bahrain by breeding horses and gifts he received. Umar demanded him to give it to the public to whom which Abu Hurairah obeyed. When Umar wanted him to be governor again, Abu Hurairah declined and when asked for the reason, he said:
"So that my honour would not be damaged, my wealth taken and my back beaten. I fear to judge without knowledge and speak without wisdom."
He died in 59 Al Hijri aged 78 and was buried in Al-Baqi, a cemetery in Madinah.
Lessons to learn from the life of Abu Hurairah (may Allah have mercy upon him)
He set his heart on attaining knowledge. He was perseverant in achieving his goal no matter how many years it took. When you have an aim in life, let it grow.
He had a gift of memorizing and used this skill to serve the ummah and allow people to learn after him. When you have a skill, do not preserve it for yourself, but use this skill to help others. Share what you learn.
Money did not change his personality and he used his money and time to seek knowledge and to help others.
He always encouraged other people to be kind and good to their parents. – Regardless of the religion of his mother, he did not give up on her, prayed for her and took care of her throughout his life.