By Prof. Muhammad S. Khan
By the seventh year of Hijra, Islam was introduced throughout Arabian Peninsula. Now it was ripe time that it spills around to non Arab nations, governors, Emperors and Kings are invited to taste its bless.
Hudabia Accord almost settled issues with Qureshite, Holy Prophet (saw) engaged himself to his real duty ordained by Allāh Almighty to spread message of peace and tranquility in the world around:
[21:108] “And We have not sent thee but as a mercy for all peoples.”
Prophet’s message bore glad tidings and hope for distressed and hopeless humanity:
[34:29] “And We have not sent thee but as a bearer of glad tidings and a Warner for all mankind, but most men know not.”
Holy Prophet (saw) started calling people of all nations to their only Creator and Sustainer:
[7:159] “Say, ‘O mankind, truly I am a Messenger to you all from Allāh to Whom belongs the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no god but He. He gives life and He causes death. So believe in Allāh and His Messenger, the Ummi Prophet, who believes in Allāh and His words; and follow him that you may be rightly guided.’”
Preparation of invitation letters
Holy Prophet (saw) decided to write letters inviting heads of states around Arabia to Islam. Under the advise of companions acquainted with the norms and customs observed in different courts, a silver seal was made with engravings: “Allāh” at top line , “Rasul” in middle, “Muhammad” in third line.
Ali Ibn Abdul Mutlib was principal scriber of the letters; others sharing this honor were: `Uthman ibn `Affan, `Amr ibn Al-`As, Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, Shurahbil ibn Hasanah, `Abdullah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Sarh, Al-Mughirah ibn Shu’bah, Ma’adh ibn Jabal, Zayd ibn Thabit, Hanzalah ibn Al-Rabi`, Ubay ibn Ka’b, Juhaym ibn Al-Salt, and Husayn Al-Numayri.”
The contents of the first batch of six letters were almost the same. Following is the English rendering of the text of one written to Heraclius, the Roman Emperor:
“In the name of Allāh, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
This letter is from Muhammad the slave of Allāh and his Apostle to Heraclius, the ruler of the Byzantines.
Peace be upon him who follows the right path. Furthermore, I invite you to Islam and if you become a Muslim you will be safe, and Allāh will double your reward, and if you reject this invitation to Islam you will be committing a sin by misguiding your subjects, I communicate to you Allāh’s statement:
“O People of the Scriptures! Come to a word common to you and us that we worship none but Allāh and that we associate nothing in worship with Him, and that none of us shall take others as Lords beside Allāh. Then if they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are Muslims.”
The letters were entrusted to prominent companions, acquainted with norms of respective courts:
|Names of envoys||To whom addressed|
|Dihyah ibn Khalifah al-Kalbi (ra)||Heraclius: Emperor of Byzantines Roman Empire|
|‘Abdullah bin Hudhafah (ra)||Chosroes II: Emperor of Persian Empire|
|‘Amr bin Umayyah (ra)||Negus: Emperor of Abyssinia|
|Hatib’ bin Abi Baitah (ra)||Macaques: Ruler of Egypt|
|Shuja bin Wahab al-Asadi (ra)||Harith Bin Abi Shmir: Governor of Ghassan|
|Sleet Bin Omro Qarshi||Hauza Bin Ali: Ruler of Yamamah|
Of the recipients, few used their own honest judgment to respond according to the status of the writer, while others under influence of Qureshite and Jewish propaganda, were nasty in replying.
Heraclius: He received Prophet’s envoy with due respect. When an interpreter read the letter to him, he inquired if there was any caravan from Arabia in the town, since he wanted more information regarding the writer. By chance Abū Sufyan heading a caravan was in the town.
He was interrogated by Heraclius, which is recorded in books of history as follow:
Heraclius: “What is the status of this man in your nation?”
Abū Sufyan: “He belongs to a high status respected noble family.”
Heraclius: “Does anybody from his family have ever claimed like him before?”
Abū Sufyan: “No.”
Heraclius: “Did you ever have heard him telling a lie?”
Abū Sufyan: “No.”
Heraclius: “Were his forefather’s kings?”
Abū Sufyan: “No.”
Heraclius: “Who are believer in him, men of high status or poor and weak?”
Abū Sufyan: “Poor and weak people.”
Heraclius: “His believers are increasing or decreasing?”
Abū Sufyan: “Increasing.”
Heraclius: “Did any of his followers ever left him saying his religion bad?”
Abū Sufyan: “No.”
Heraclius: “Did he ever break his promise?”
Abū Sufyan: “No, however, currently we are having a treaty with him. That so far is holding good; we do not know about future.”
Heraclius: “Did you ever have a war with him?”
Abū Sufyan: “Yes.”
Heraclius: “What was result?”
Abū Sufyan: “Wars are like buckets on a water wheal, victory and defeat alternated between us?”
Heraclius: “What does he teaches?”
Abū Sufyan: “He teaches to worship one God; forbids worshiping others beside Him. He teaches to pray, give alms to poor and abstain from bad things, fulfill our promises. He forbids cheating in our trusts.”
Commenting at Abū’s statements Heraclius concluded: “It appears to me, his claim of being Prophet is true. However, I was half expecting him to appear in our time, and I never expected him to be an Arab. If what he says is correct, then his kingdom one day will spread over our lands.”
Chosroes: The Magianin (fire-worshipper) Persia king, under the influence of anti Muslim propaganda, got infuriated when the contents of Prophet’s letter was read to him, he tore Prophet’s letter saying, “How dare my slave to write me in such tone!” He turned away the Muslim envoy insolently.
When Holy Prophet (saw) knew of his insolence declared: “ So shall Allāh shatter his kingdom to pieces.”
Moreover, infuriated Chosroes wrote to Badhan, his governor in Yemen: “Arrest the Arabian prophet, and send him to Ctesiphon, immediately.” Badhan deputed two men to communicate the orders to the prophet. They insisted Prophet to accompany them immediately; threatening otherwise Chosroes would destroy Arabia along with its inhabitants. Holy Prophet (saw) told the envoys to wait until next morning. Next morning Holy Prophet (saw) called them and told: “Go and tell your master (the governor), that my Allāh Almighty has killed his god (Chosroes) last night.”
When the envoys communicated Holy Prophet’s reply to the governor, he declared: “If it happens as this man says, then he surely is a prophet of God.”
In few days, the governor received a message from Persia bearing a new seal. When he opened it was from new Emperor Shareware saying: “To preserve integrity of my country, I have killed my father, because his atrocities and wrong doings were disrupting the unity of the country apart. Take oath of allegiance from the people of your country on my name. My father’s orders regarding Arab man are cancelled.”
On receipt of this message, the governor of Yemen Badhan readily converted to Islam.
Macaques: Christian governor of Egypt received the letter with all due respects. He had short discussion with Muslim envoy Hatib’ bin Abi Baitah. Then declared: “I gather this Prophet did not teach anything evil, nor forbids from anything good, nor he is a sorcerer or soothsayer. His prophecies have come true.”He sent for an ivory box to secure prophet’s for safekeeping. Macaques sent for an Arabic scribe and dictated a courteous response, expressing highest regards to the Holy Prophet (saw). He sent gifts for Holy Prophet, including two girls from a respected family, some clothes and a mule for Holy Prophet (saw) to ride.
Negus the Christian Abyssinian king showed great respect to Prophet’s letter. Holding it to eyes, descended from his thrown declaring: “I bear witness that Muhammad is Allāh’s Messenger.” He secured the letter in an ivory box saying, “I firmly believe that Abyssinians will be blessed until this letter remains preserved in my house.” What he said proved true for over a thousand years, the kingdom of Negus remained inviolate, while all other kingdoms around, were dismembered in due course of time.
Al Mundhir Taimi, the chief of Bahrain received Prophet’s letter with reverence. He felt honored, he and several of his courtiers were converted to Islam. He wrote to Prophet requesting for his prayers and guidance how to treat non-Muslims in his jurisdiction. The Prophet wrote back to advise him:
- Arrange to teach Muslims the ways and practices of Islam.
- Give equal rights to your subjects; protect their lives and property equally.
- Do not allow your subjects to wed more than four wives.
- Take tax from Jews and Magians (fire worshippers), do not make any other demand from them.
- Give four dirham, and cloths to wear regularly to the poor who does not have means to sustain themselves, per month,
Harith Bin Abi Shamir: Roman Governor of Ghassan (Syria) was discourteous to Prophet’s envoy. He insolently threw away Prophet’s letter saying: “Who has the power to snatch my country from me? I myself will fight this claimer of prophet hood.” He ordered his army to prepare to invade Medina. When Heraclius came to knew his intentions, he was advised to calm down.
Hauza Bin Ali of Yamamah was an insolent and haughty ruler. He mocked Muslim envoy, demanded his share from the kingdom of the Prophet. When Prophet (saw) was told of his remarks, he said: “Messenger ship is from Allāh, it cannot be shared or divided. If he asks it from me, I am not at all prepared to give him even a single unripe date.” When Hauza died Holy Prophet (saw) remarked: “Shortly after my demise, a false prophet will arise from Yamamah. He will soon be killed.” According to Prophet’s prediction, Musalmah kazzab proclaimed himself a prophet, and was killed during Abū Bakr’s (rz) khalafat.
In addition to the above six letters, several were written to rulers and chieftains of smaller domains at different times. Except few of the addresses, most of them were converted to Islam.