Ka'b was the son of Malik, a great poet of the tribe of Khazraj of Madinah, composer of heroic poems during the wars between the city's two famous tribes, al-Aws and al-Khazraj, which were frequent before the advent of Islam. Ka'b inherited this talent from his father and became known for it.
Ka'b was among those who hastened to embrace Islam in Madinah. He was among the forty who gathered for salatul-Jumuah for the first time, before even the Prophet, Sallallahu alayhe wasallam, made Hijrah. He was also among the seventy-three men who travelled from Madinah to Makkah to pledge allegiance to the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam.
Ka'b was not only famous for his eloquence in poetry, but also he and his household were known for their knowledge, and their narration of hadeeth. He narrated eighty ahadeeth from the Prophet himself, sallallahu alayhe wasallam, as did his children and his wife Khayrah. He was considered among the most knowledgeable of his people. His son Abdurrahman was one of the Muftis in Madinah after the sahabah.
Ka'b participated in all the battles with the Prophet except two. The first was the battle of Badr. He was not alone in staying behind for many did not anticipate any fighting, because the original purpose of the expedition was to get back the goods that the pagan Makkans had confiscated from the Muslims. But his failure to join in the second battle, the battle of Tabuk, was another story. He says: ?some men from Banu Salamah reproached me for not bringing an excuse to the Prophet so that he would ask forgiveness for Me. 'Is there anyone who is experiencing the same thing as I?' I asked. 'Yes, two men who said the same as you did, and so they too are told to wait.' They mentioned two pious men who witnessed Badr, so I found consolation in that." The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wasallam, forbade any Muslim to talk to Ka'b and the two others. "As for the two men," said Ka'b, "they stayed in their houses, crying and supplicating, and as for me, being a young tough man, I would go for salah with the Muslims and roam the market streets, and nobody would talk to me. Allah had sent revelation concerning the three companions who missed the battle: "Allah had forgiven the Prophet, the Muhajireen, and the Ansar who followed him in the time of distress, after the hearts of a party of them had nearly deviated, but He accepted their repentance.
This story reveals the deep faith of Ka'b who was truthful to his deen, and though he did stumble once, he did not sway from the straight path. He preferred to stay among the Muslims in spite of the harsh punishment, over the comforting life the Christian Ghassanids were offering him. (Alia Amer)