He was one of the first eight people to accept Islam and was one of the ten who were assured of entering Paradise. He was one of the six people chosen by `Umar ibn al-Khattab to form the council of Shura to choose the Caliph after his death.
His name in pre-Islamic days was Abu `Amr, but when he accepted Islam, the noble Prophet, (peace and blessings be upon him), called him `Abdur-Rahman – the servant of the Beneficent Lord.
`Abdur-Rahman became a Muslim before the Prophet entered the house of al-Arqam. In fact it is said that he accepted Islam only two days after Abu Bakr as-Siddiq. `Abdur-Rahman did not escape the persecution, which the early Muslims suffered at the hands of Quraysh. He bore this persecution with steadfastness and remained firm along with them. When they were compelled to leave Makkah for Abyssinia because of the continuous and unbearable treatment meted out to them, `Abdur-Rahman also went. He returned to Makkah when he heard that conditions for the Muslims had improved, but when these rumors proved to be false, he left once again for Abyssinia on a second hijrah. At a later time, he made hijrah once again from Makkah to Madinah.
Soon after arriving in Madinah, the Prophet in his unique manner began pairing off the Muhajirin and the Ansar. This established a firm bond of brotherhood between them and was meant to strengthen social cohesion and ease the destitution of the Muhajirin. `Abdur-Rahman was linked by the Prophet to Sa`d ibn ar-Rabi’ah. Sa`d, in the spirit of generosity and magnanimity with which the Ansar greeted the Muhajirin, said to `Abdur-Rahman,
“My brother! Among the people of Madinah I have the most wealth. I have two orchards and two wives. See which of the two orchards you like and I shall vacate it for you, and which of my two wives is pleasing to you and I will divorce her for you.”
`Abdur-Rahman was surely embarrassed and said in reply, “May Allah bless you in your family and your wealth, but just show me where the market is..”
`Abdur-Rahman went to the market place and began trading with whatever little resources he had. He bought and sold and his profits grew rapidly. Soon he was well off and able to get married. He went to the noble Prophet with the scent of perfume lingering over him.
“Mahyarn, O `Abdur-Rahman!” exclaimed the Prophet – “mahyam” is a word of Yemeni origin, indicating pleasant surprise.
“I am now married,” replied `Abdur-Rahman. “And what did you give your wife as mahr?” asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). “The weight of a nuwat in gold,” said Abdur-Rahman in reply.
“You must have a wedding feast even if it is only with a single sheep. And may Allah bless you in your wealth,” said the Prophet with obvious pleasure and encouragement.
Thereafter `Abdur-Rahman grew so accustomed to business success that he said if he lifted a stone he expected to find gold or silver under it!
`Abdur-Rahman distinguished himself in both the battles of Badr and Uhud. At Uhud he remained firm throughout and suffered more than twenty wounds some of which were deep and severe. Even so, his physical Jihad was matched by his Jihad with his wealth.
Once the Prophet, (peace and blessings be upon him), was preparing to dispatch an expeditionary force. He summoned his companions and said,
“Contribute sadaqah for I want to dispatch an expedition.” `Abdur-Rahman went to his house and quickly returned. “O Messenger of Allah ,” he said, “I have four thousand (dinars). I give two thousand in charity to my Lord and two thousand I leave for my family.”
When the Prophet, (peace and blessings be upon him), passed away, `Abdur-Rahman took on the responsibility of looking after the needs of his family, the Mothers of the Believers. He would go with them wherever they wanted and he even performed Hajj with them to ensure that all their needs were met. This is a sign of the trust and confidence, which he enjoyed on the part of the Prophet’s family.