The Prophet's Biography - nabi muhammad 24

The Prophet's Biography - nabi muhammad



Ethiopia is an ancient country in the eastern part of Africa lying along the coast of the Red Sea which came to be known as Abyssinia since the distant past. Its boundaries, as they existed in the seventh century, are not easy to define now. The kingdom of Abyssinia was also one of the oldest in the world. The Jewish sources denote that the queen Sheba belonged to Abyssinia and her progeny by Solomon ever ruled the country. The Jews started migrating to the country from the sixth century B.C. after the destruction of Solomon's Temple but Christianity became the dominant faith of the people by the fourth century. When the Jewish monarch of Yemen persecuted the Christians of his land, Emperor Justin I wrote to the Negus of Abyssinia to help the Christians. Negus of Abyssinia is said to have complied by sending an army which captured Yemen in 525 A.D. and retained the hold of Abyssinia over it for about fifty years.

Abraha was the viceroy of Abyssinian King in Yemen who led an army to destroy the House of God in Makkah whence came off the memorable event of 'Am al-fil or the year of the elephant. The capital of Abyssinia was at Axum. Being a sovereign state, it was neither dependent nor a tributary to any alien power. Of course, as a Christian country, it had friendly relations with Byzantium which was then regarded as the protector of Christendom. The Byzantine Emperor respected the independence of Abyssinia for Justinian had sent his Ambassador by the name of Julian, to the count of Axum.

De lacy O'Leary writes in the "Arabia before Muhammed" that "from 522 to the rise of Islam, the Abyssinians controlled the southern end of the Red Sea including trade with Africa, perhaps that with India as well. The official title of the King of Abyssinia was Nagusa Nagasht or King of Kings of Ethiopia. But, the name of the King to whom the Prophet sent his letter inviting him to embrace Islam has been variously mentioned in different sources. However, we have before us two kings of Abyssinia. One of these is the king during whose reign the Muslim migrated from Makkah to Abyssinia under the leadership J'afar b. Abi Talib, in the fifth year of the Prophet messengership of Muhammed (r). But it is highly improbable that the Prophet (r) wrote any letter to Negus at that time. The circumstances prevailing with the Prophet (r) at Makkah then were unfavorable for addressing such a letter to any ruler. And in any case, it was neither an appropriate time for inviting any noble or king from a foreign land to accept Islam nor did he send any such letter, according to the Traditions, to any foreign dignitary. All that the Traditions suggest is that the Prophet (r) had requested the then Negus to afford protection to the Muslims in his country for they were being severely persecuted by the Quraysh.

Similarly, the writings of Ibn Hisham and others imply that the Negus had admitted the truth of divine revelation and accepted that Jesus was a Prophet (r) and word of God cast by Him unto Mary, the mother of Jesus. In so far as the Negus to whom the Prophet (r) had sent his letter is concerned, he was, according to Ibn Kathir, the King who succeeded the Negus who had been given asylum to J'afar b. Abi Talib. Ibn Kathir maintains that the letter inviting him to accept Islam was written to the Negus before the conquest of Makkah along with other monarchs. 'Ibn Kathir's view appears to be preferable for this second Negus accepted Islam, and of whose death the Prophet (r) informed the Muslims and prayed for his salvation. Waqidi and some other biographers of the Prophet (r) have stated that the Prophet (r) had prayed for the Negus after a return from Tabuk in Rajab 09, A.H. (Saheeh Muslim, Vol. V, p. 166)

The consequential circumstances of the event suggest that Waqidi is correct in holding this view and in its dating.



Heraclius, Negus and Muqauqis received the letter from the Prophet (r) with all due respect that each gave a courteous reply. Negus and Muqauqis showed the highest regard to the envoys. Chosroes II was indignant, he tore the letter into pieces, saying, "My slave dares to write me thus!" When his reply was conveyed to the Prophet (r), he said, "even so shall God shatter his kingdom to pieces." (At-Tabari, Vol. III, pp. 90-91)

Choroes II wrote to Badhan, who was his governor in Yemen, to get the Prophet sent to him in Ctesiphon. Badhan deputed Babwayh to tell the Prophet (r) what Choroes II had written to him and that he had come to take him to the King. But when Babwayh came to Medinah, the Prophet (r) told him. "God has given Sherveh power his father and he has killed Choroes II."



Heraclius decided to satisfy himself about the contents of the Prophet's (r) letter. He ordered to search for a man from Arabia who could tell him about the Prophet (r). Abu Sufyan happened to be there on a business trip and so he was summoned before him. The questions raised by Heraclius on this occasion showed that he had a deep insight into the scriptures and the teachings of the Prophet (r) of yore and he knew how and when God sends them and the way they are usually treated by their people. Abu Sufyan, too, acted like a true Arab for he considered it below his dignity to tell the Emperor anything but truth. The conversation between Heraclius and Abu Sufyan is significant enough to be quoted here at full length.

Heraclius: Tell me about his lineage.

Abu Sufyan: He comes of the best lineage.

Heraclius: Did anybody before him make the claim he does?

Abu Sufyan: No.

Heraclius: Had there been any king in his family?

Abu Sufyan: No.

Heraclius: Who have followed him? Are they the poor and the weak or the nobles?

Abu Sufyan: They are all poor and weak.

Heraclius: Are his followers increasing or deserting him?

Abu Sufyan: Their numbers are growing.

Heraclius: Do those who enter his religion despise and leave him?

Abu Sufyan: No.

Heraclius: Did you find him telling lies before he made the claim?

Abu Sufyan: No.

Heraclius: Did he ever break the word given by him?

Abu Sufyan: Not as yet, but we will see what he does in the future.

Heraclius: Did you ever fight against him?

Abu Sufyan: Yes.

Heraclius: What was the result?

Abu Sufyan: The fortunes have varied, sometimes in our favor, sometimes in his.

Heraclius: What is it that he teaches?

Abu Sufyan: He asks to worship One God, and not associate ought with Him. To offer prayers, be virtuous to speak the truth, and be kind to the kinsmen.

Heraclius then asked the interpreter to tell Abu Sufyan: "I asked you about his lineage and you replied that it was the noblest among you. Prophets always come from the best lineage.

I asked you if any man in his family had made a similar claim and your reply was 'No.' If anybody had made a claim to Prophethood in his family, I would have thought that he was imitating him.

Then I asked if there had been a king in his family, and you said 'No.' Had it been so, I would have surmised that he was trying to recover his lost kingdom.

And I inquired if you knew him to be untruthful before making the claim, and you said 'No.' I know that it is not possible for a man to be truthful to the people but to mince the truth in regard to God.

Then I asked you if his followers were drawn from the people of rank and distinction or they were the poor and the weak, and you replied that they were humble and meek. Prophets are always followed by the humble and poor in the beginning.

And I asked if his followers were increasing and you said that they were gaining in numbers. Faith is always like that for it goes on increasing until it is triumphant.

Then I asked if anybody had turned away from him and rejected his faith and your reply was 'No'. The faith once settled in the heart never leaves it.

And then I asked if he ever broke his word and you said 'No.' Prophets never break their promises. Then I asked about his teachings and you told me that he asked you to worship One God, not to associate ought with Him; bade you to turn away from the idols and to speak the truth; and to be virtuous and to glorify the Lord.

Now, if you have told me the truth about him he will conquer the ground that is beneath my feet. I knew that a Prophet was about to be born but I had never thought he would come from Arabia. If it had been possible I would have called upon him, and if I had been with him, I would have washed his feet."

Heraclius summoned his chiefs and courtiers and got the doors of his chamber closed upon them. Then, turning he said, "Ye Chiefs of Rome! If you desire safety and guidance so that your kingdom shall be firmly established, then you follow the Arabian Prophet (r)." Whereupon they all started off but found the doors closed. When Heraclius saw them getting sore, he was despaired of their conversion, so he ordered to bring them back. He said, "What I had said before was to test your constancy and faith and I am now satisfied of your firmness and devotion." The courtiers lowered their heads and were pleased to hear him speaking thus. Heraclius lost the golden opportunity as he preferred his kingdom over the eternal truth. As a consequence, he lost even his kingdom after a few years during the time of Caliph 'Umar.




Araisiyan or Ariseen is the word used by the Prophet (r) in his letter to Heraclius. No other letter written to any other Arab and non-Arab king and potentate contains the word whose significance is disputed by the scholars of Traditions and lexicographers. According to one version it is the plural of Arisi which means the servants and the peasants. Ibn Mandthoor makes it out as a synonym for cultivators in the Lisan-ul-Arab and cites Th'alab as the authority for holding this view. He also quotes Ibn al-'Arabi in his support while at the same time cites a quotation from Abu 'Ubayda to show that the word also means the chief or the elder who is obeyed or whose orders are carried out.

Now the question arises that if ariseen means peasants, it should have been employed to denote the subjects of Chosroes rather than the population of Byzantine Empire. The class of cultivators was by far more numerous under the Persian Empire and formed the chief source of its revenues. Ibn Manzoor has cited Azhari who says, "the people of Iraq who followed the religion of Chosroes were peasants and countrymen. The Romans were artisans and craftsmen and, therefore, they had nicknamed the Magis as Ariseen which meant that they were peasants. Arabs also used to call the Persians as fallaheen or the peasants.'

Ariseen has also been interpreted to denote Arians or the follower of Arius (280-336) who was the founder of a well-known Christian sect. The doctrine of Arius which hovered for a long time between acceptance and rejection as the official creed of the Byzantine Empire, upheld the Unity of God and denied the co-substantiality of the Son with the father.



When he read the letter, Khusroe tore it up and ill-treated the envoy of the Prophet (r). Then he wrote to Badhan, who was his governor in Yemen, to get the Prophet sent to him in Ctesiphon. Badhan deputed Babwayh to tell the Prophet (r) what Chosroes II had written to him and that he had come to take him to the King. But when Babwayh came to Medinah, the Prophet (r) told him, "God has given Sherveh power over his father and he has killed Chosroes II."

The prophecy of the Prophet (r) came true exactly in the way foretold by him. Chosroes' son Qubaz had by then deposed his father and seized the throne under the title of Sherveh. Chosroes II was murdered in March 628 A.D. and with him ended the glory of four hundred years old house of Sasanids. Sherveh enjoyed only six months of the fruits of his crime, and in the space of four years the regal title was transferred to ten sovereigns, in quick succession, until, the exhausted monarchy was assumed by Yazdagird III. He was the last Persian Emperor for he was soon to flee for his life before the advancing might of the Muslims. And thus was realized the Prophet's prophecy within eight years of his pronouncement.

The Prophet (r) had also said: "No more Chosroes after Chosroes dies." This portion of the prediction also came to pass with the fall of Yazdagird III.

In a few years the whole of Iran lay at the feet of the Muslims. The bulk of the population adopted Islam and there were born in Iran men with such lambent flame of intellect that proved true, word by word, what the Prophet (r) had once remarked: "If knowledge were to be found in pleiads, some of the sons of Persia would attain it."


Al-Muqauqis did not accept Islam but treated the envoy with respect and honour and sent some gifts to the Prophet (r), these included two slave-girls, one of whom was Maria who gave birth to the Prophet's (r) son Ibrahim, and a white mule which came to be known as Daldal. Al-Muqauqis kept the letter in an ivory box, which is still preserved and can be seen in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, Turkey.



The Negus received the envoy of the Prophet (r) with great respect and showed him all the honour he deserved, and accepted Islam. He wrote a letter to the Prophet (r):

I begin with the Name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Gracious.

To Muhammed, the Messenger of Allah (r), from Negus Al-Asham ibn Abjar. Peace upon you, O Prophet (r) of Allah, and Mercy and Blessing from Allah, beside Whom there is no God, Who has guided me to Islam. I received your letter, O Messenger of Allah (r), in which you mention the matter of Jesus and, by the Lord of Heaven and Earth, he is not one scrap more than you say. We know that with which you were sent to us and we have entertained your nephew and his companions. I testify that you are Allah's Messenger, true and confirming those before you. I have given my allegiance to you and to your nephew and I have surrendered myself through him to the Lord of the Worlds. I have sent to you my son, Arha. I have control only over myself and if you wish me to come to you, O Messenger of Allah (r), I will do so. I bear witness that what you say is true. Peace upon you, O Messenger of Allah.

The King seemed to have accepted Islam in his individual capacity but he could not convert other people of his country this is confirmed by a hadeeth of Al-Bukhaari which says that the Prophet said his funeral prayer in absentia in Madinah when he died. The second letter of the Prophet (r) was sent to his successor, who probably did not respond favorably.

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Section : The Biography of the Prophet muhammad
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Date : 4/5/2010
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