Inviting Kings to Islam
Following the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), a rasul sent to entire humankind, began inviting all lands within reach, near and far, to Islam. Such was, after all, the Divine Command:
قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللّٰهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا
الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْض
“Say: “O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allah, to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth…” (al-Araf, 158)
يَا أَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ وَإِن لَّمْ
تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَهُ وَاللّٰهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ
“O Messenger! Deliver what bas been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message, and Allah will protect you from the people…” (al-Maida, 67)
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا كَافَّةً لِّلنَّاسِ بَشِيرًا وَنَذِيرًا
وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
“And We have not sent you but to all the men as a bearer of good news and as a warner, but most men do not know.” (Saba, 28)
The Prophet (pbuh) invited these people to Islam through written letters, the most famous of which are six or eight in number. Each letter of invitation was dispatched with a reputable Companion. When the Noble Messenger (pbuh) expressed his wish to have letters written to sovereigns, the Companions said:
“They will not read a letter, Messenger of Allah, unless it is sealed.” Thus, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had a silver ring made with ‘Allah–Rasul–Muhammad’ engraved on it in three vertical lines. He thereafter employed the ring as an official seal. Engraved on the ring was the appellation ‘Muhammadun Rasulullah’, though out of respect, Allah’s name had been inscribed above on the first line, followed in the middle by Rasul and then on the bottom line Muhammad.
Dihyat’ul-Kalbi (r.a) took the Prophet’s (pbuh) letter to Heraclius, the Byzantine Emperor. Returning from an emphatic victory against the Persians, Heraclius happened to be in Syria when the letter was eventually delivered to him. Upon receiving the letter, the Emperor was far from irritated, as was a common attitude of conceited kings. On the contrary, the letter aroused in him a deep interest and wanting to investigate further into the nature of this invitation, Heraclius commanded that the fellow townsman of the Prophet (pbuh) be brought to his presence, so that he could personally interrogate them.
Heading a group of Meccan merchants, Abu Sufyan, one of the then archenemies of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), just happened to be in Damascus at that time. The Treaty of Hudaybiya was still in effect. They were escorted by the Emperor’s men to royal presence. Heraclius, accompanied by his entourage, was at Ilia, in the vicinity of al-Aqsa, when the Meccans were delivered to him. Surrounded by Greek notables, the Emperor accepted the men in his presence and sent for a translator to act as a medium between him and the men of Quraysh.
“Who among you is of the closest kin to the man who says he is a prophet?” asked the Emperor via the translator.
“I am”, said Abu Sufyan.
“Bring him and his friends closer to me; but when I am speaking with him, let his friends remain a step behind him”, ordered Heraclius. Then turning again to his translator he added, “Tell his friends that I will ask certain question regarding that man. If he begins to speak lies, tell them to give us a signal.”
Indeed, Abu Sufyan did in fact confess, later down the track, “Had I not felt any embarrassment over how my friends would speak here and there about the lies I had spun, I would have surely lied about him!” What unfolded thereafter is recounted by Abu Sufyan himself:
“The first question the Emperor then posed was, ‘How is his lineage?’
‘His lineage among us is eminent indeed!’ I replied.
‘Was there another man before him who claimed to be a prophet?’
‘No’, I responded.
‘Was there a king among his ancestors?’
‘Those who follow him…are they from among the notables or the lower classes?’
‘They are from the lower classes’, I replied.
‘Are their numbers rising or dwindling?’ Heraclius then inquired.
‘They are on the rise…’ responded I.
‘Are there any people who, after accepting his religion, turn back out of dislike?’
‘Did you ever accuse him of lying before he made a claim to be prophet?’
‘Was there a time when he did not keep his promise?’
‘No, every promise he makes he keeps. But we have made a peace agreement with him in the time being. We do not know how he will act during this period’, I said. I could not find any other words to vilify him except for these!
‘Did you fight against him?’ then asked Heraclius.
‘Yes’, I responded.
‘What were the outcomes of these battles?’
‘On some occasions, he has defeated us; on others, we have defeated him!’
‘Well, then what does he command you with?’
‘He commands us to worship Allah and Allah only and not ascribe any partners to him and to abandon the idols of our forefathers. He enjoins us with salat, honesty, integrity and seeing to our relatives.’
The Emperor then said some things to his translator, who then translated his words:
“Tell him…I asked you of his lineage and you told me it was of the noblest of among you. Such are prophets. They are sent from among the noblest of their people.
I asked whether there was anybody else before him to have made this claim. You told me there was not. If there was, I could have perhaps said that he was imitating him.
I asked if a king had ever hailed from his ancestry and you told me there had not. Had there hailed a king, I would have said he is trying to reclaim his forefather’s dominion.
I asked whether you had ever seen him lie before he made this claim and you replied you had not. I myself know that a person who does not lie to humans can never lie on behalf of God!
I asked if his followers were mainly from the notables or from the lower class. You said they were from the lower class. It is them after all who follow prophets at the beginning.
Are they rising or dwindling, I asked; you said they were increasing. It is a characteristic of true religions for the number of their followers to continually rise.
I asked if there were people who turned away from his religion out of dislike after accepting it and you said there were not. That is what happens once faith spreads out its roots in the heart and becomes entrenched.
I asked if there was ever a time when he failed to keep his word; you said no. Such are prophets. They never turn back on their words.
I asked if you had ever fought against him. You said you did and that sometimes you lost and sometimes you won. At any case, prophets are like that. They undergo trials but victory finally belongs to them.
I asked you what he commanded you with. You said naught but to worship God without ascribing Him any partners, to abandon worshipping idols; and with salat, honesty and integrity.
If what you say is true, then that man will very soon reign sovereign ever over these lands on which I stand now. Besides, I knew of the coming of this Prophet, but little could I have guessed he would hail from among you. If I knew I could make it to his presence, I would undergo troubles of all kinds just to see him. If I were next to him, I would wash his feet.”
Heraclius then asked for the letter of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), delivered by Dihya (r.a) to the Governor of Busra, who then had it forwarded to the Emperor. It read:
“From Allah’s servant and Messenger Muhammad to Heraclius, the leader of the Romans,
Peace be unto those who follow guidance! I hereby invite you to Islam. Enter Islam, so that you are saved; and Allah will then double your reward! If you decline, then bear the sins of your peasants (who are your subjects).
قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْاْ إِلَى كَلَمَةٍ سَوَاء بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَلاَّ نَعْبُدَ إِلاَّ اللّٰهَ وَلاَ نُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَلاَ يَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُنَا بَعْضاً أَرْبَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللّٰهِ فَإِن تَوَلَّوْاْ فَقُولُواْ اشْهَدُواْ بِأَنَّا مُسْلِمُونَ
‘Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to an agreement between us and you: that we shall worship none but Allah, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside Allah. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him).’ (Al’i Imran, 64)
Abu Sufyan reports what unfolded next:
“After Heraclius finished what he had to say and the letter had been read, there erupted a tumultuous uproar; voices were raised from all corners. Thereupon, they took us outside. There, I said to my friends, ‘The reputation of Abu Kaabsha’s Son has gotten out of hand…even the King of Banu Asfar• (Heraclius) is afraid of him!’ It was at that moment that I developed an unswerving belief in his eventual triumph…and eventually Allah granted me guidance, too.”
Heraclius then invited all his nobles to royal presence. They all gathered in one of the palaces belonging to the Emperor.
“Byzantines…how would you like it if you received eternal salvation and sovereignty?” the Emperor said to them, implicitly inviting them to Islam. Then, like wild donkeys that have just been frightened, they all ran towards the exit doors, only to see they had all been closed. Realizing his statesmen remained aloof from accepting the call of Islam, Heraclius calmly called them back and turning back from his previous words, said:
“I was only testing your steadfastness and loyalty to Christianity…and I like what I see!” Reassured, the statesmen then bowed to him in appreciation. (Bukhari, Bad’ul-Wahy 1, 5-6, Iman, 37, Shahadat, 28, Jihad, 102; Muslim, Jihad, 74; Ahmad, I, 262)
Letting worldly considerations hold sway, Emperor Heraclius thus denied for himself the blessing of Islam, despite having examined and understood its truth. After having come so close to passing the threshold of an eternal bliss and dominion, he turned away.
It was Abdullah ibn Huzafah (r.a) who delivered a similar letter to the Persian Khosrau, whose reaction was a far cry from that of Heraclius. Fuming over seeing his name written below that of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), he madly tore the letter to pieces and threw abusive insults at the ambassador.
Abdullah (r.a) kept his composure and pronounced the following to the Khosrau and his statesmen:
“You, Persian people, are passing your numbered days without a Prophet, a Scripture and with control over a mere portion of the earth…You are living the life of a fleeting reverie! The part of earth over which you exercise no influence is indeed far greater.
Many kings have come before you, Khosrau, and ruled with a desire either for the world or the Hereafter. Those who desired the Hereafter also received their shares of the world. As for those who desired the world, they squandered their shares of the Hereafter. Belittle what we offer you as much as you want, but by Allah, wherever you may be, when what you belittle comes to get you, you will be enshrouded in fear and be unable to protect yourself!”
The Khosrau remained indifferent and arrogantly boasted of how sovereignty was his part and parcel and how defeat or the emergence of a rival could not cast fear into him. (Suhayli, VI, 589-590) He subsequently commanded his guards to take Abdullah (r.a) out of the palace.
Abdullah ibn Huzafah (r.a) wasted no time in mounting his ride and striding towards Medina, thinking to himself, “By Allah, I would not worry over what may befall me of the two paths (back to Medina or death), for I have done my duty of delivering the Prophet’s letter.” (Ahmad, I, 305; Ibn Sad, I, 260, IV, 189; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya, IV, 263-6; Hamidullah, al-Wasaiq, p. 140)
Coming to mind here is another account featuring Abdullah ibn Huzafah (r.a) that illustrates his enormous virtue and courage:
During the caliphate of Omar (r.a), Abdullah ibn Huzafah was part of a Muslim army sent to Syria, to the region of Kaysariyya, to combat the Byzantines, where he was taken prisoner. The Byzantine officials, considering him a prized prisoner, took him to the Emperor, telling he was “…a Companion of the Prophet!”
The Emperor had Abdullah (r.a) locked up in a house where he was deprived from food and water. Afterward, he sent the Companion some wine and pork. They observed Abdullah (r.a) for three days on end; but he laid his hands neither on the wine nor the pork.
“He has really begun to struggle now”, the men told the Emperor. “If you do not take him out, he will certainly die!”
The Emperor had Abdullah (r.a) brought to him.
“What is keeping you from eating and drinking what I have sent you?” he asked.
“Though necessity makes it permissible for me to eat and drink from what you have sent me”, replied the Companion, “I did not want to turn either myself or Islam into a laughing stock for you!”
Moved by his dignified stance, the Emperor offered Abdullah (r.a) the hand of his daughter and, what’s more, governorship, on the condition that he became Christian.
“Even if you were to give me your entire realm and the Arab lands in return for turning away from Muhammad’s (pbuh) religion just for duration of the blink of an eye,” Abdullah (r.a) responded, “I still would not!”
“Then I will have you killed!” threatened the Emperor.
“That is for you to decide!” said Abdullah (r.a).
The dignified Companion was subsequently hung on a crucifix. The bowmen shot at him but deliberately missed, compliant with the command they had been given, in order to give him a little scare. He was then, once more, given an ultimatum to renounce Islam but that noble Companion kept his head high.
“Either you become Christian”, the King shouted from afar, “or I will have you thrown in a boiling cauldron!” When Abdullah (r.a) refused, a copper cauldron was brought, filled with olive oil and water, which was then boiled. The Emperor had another Muslim captive brought, to whom he gave the same ultimatum as Abdullah (r.a). When he, too, refused, he was brutally thrown directly into the cauldron, in front of the gazing eyes of Abdullah (r.a). His body instantly disintegrated in the scorching boiling water, as he died the most noblest of deaths.
The Emperor repeated his ultimatum to Abdullah (r.a). Rejected once more, the Emperor then ordered for him to be also thrown into the cauldron. Right before being thrown, Abdullah (r.a) began to shed tears. Thinking he had a change of heart, the Emperor had the Companion brought to him. There, he repeated his ultimatum but was rejected with anger.
“Then why did you cry?” asked the Emperor, stunned, to which Abdullah ibn Huzafah gave a legendary reply.
“Don’t you think that I cried from the fear of what you were about to have done to me. I cried over having only one life to give in the way of Allah. I thought to myself, ‘Now you carry one life, which is about to be thrown into the cauldron, and you will die at the instant in the way of Allah. But I would have wanted to have as many lives as the number of hairs on my body and in the way of Allah, be subjected to the same torment over and over again.’”
The tremendous attitude shown by Abdullah (r.a) with the valor and honor of iman greatly affected the Emperor and he wanted to free him.
“Then kiss my forehead and I will let you go”, he said.
“Will you then release the other Muslim prisoners with me?” asked the Companion.
“Yes”, said the Emperor. “I will!”
Abdullah (r.a) later said “At that moment I thought what harm could there be in kissing the forehead of an enemy among the enemies of Allah, in return for saving both myself and the other Muslim captives?”
That day, eighty Muslim prisoners were released. They explained their ordeal to Caliph Omar (r.a) upon returning in Medina.
“Kissing Abdullah’s forehead is a duty upon all Muslims and I shall be the first person to fulfill that duty”, exclaimed Omar (r.a) and he got up and kissed Abdullah (r.a) on the forehead. (Ibn Athir, Usd’ul-Ghabah, III, 212-213; Dhahabi, Siyar, II, 14-15)
It was thus a Companion of the caliber of Abdullah ibn Huzafah (r.a) to have delivered the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) letter to the Khosrau of Persia; to have courageously lectured him in the royal court, surrounded by henchman waiting for a simple gesture from their Khosrau to execute him.
Hearing the Khosrau had torn his letter and shouted abuses, the Noble Prophet (pbuh) remarked, “May Allah tear his dominion apart!” (Bukhari, Ilim, 7; Ibn Athir, Usd’ul-Ghabah, III, 212)
The Prophet’s (pbuh) fateful miracle came true very soon afterwards, during the perioed of the Khulafa-i Rashidun, or the Righteous Caliphs, when the entire Persian realm came under Muslim control.
The Khosrau, still vexed, sent an edict to Bazan, the Governor of Yemen, asking him to bring the Prophet (pbuh) to him. For that reason, Bazan’s envoy arrived next to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and handed the Khosrau’s letter to him. After having the letter read to him, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) smiled. He then invited the ambassadors to Islam. The ambassadors asked the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) to at least write a reply to the Khosrau, if he did not wish to come with them. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh), through a Divine inspiration, then told them:
“Allah has set upon Khosrau his son Shirawayh. Shirawayh has killed him in such month, during such night and at such and such time past the night!”
The ambassadors were taken aback. “Should we write down what you said inform the Governor?” they asked.
“Yes”, replied the Messenger of Allah. “Inform the Governor with what you have heard and also tell him that my religion and sovereignty will reach beyond the dominion and kingdom of the Khosrau and stretch over the furthermost points where horses and camels tread. Also say to him: If he becomes Muslim, I shall grant him the lands under his governorship and make him king to his tribe of Abna (Persians living in Yemen)!”
When the words of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) were eventually conveyed to Bazan, he commented, “I swear this does not sound like the words of a king. I believe this man is a prophet like he says! Anyhow, let’s wait for the outcome of what he said regarding the Khosrau. If it turns out to be true, then he is a prophet sent to people by the Almighty. If it turns out be false then we will decide on the measure to take!”
“How did you find him?” Bazan then asked the ambassadors.
“We have never before seen a more majestic yet humble ruler afraid of nothing, despite having no guards around him; who moreover walks on foot like ordinary men! His friends do not raise their voices next to him and they speak in a soft tone…” they said and continued to give a report of what they saw.
They did not have to wait long for the arrival of the imperial letter declaring Shirawayh had killed his father. What’s more, the Khosrau’s time of death precisely matched the time given by the Noble Prophet (pbuh). Governor Bazan simply remarked, “This man is most certainly a prophet sent by Allah!” The Abna, people of Persian origin living in Yemen, followed their governor in accepting Islam. (Ibn Sad, I, 260; Abu Nuaym, Dalail, II, 349-350; Diyarbakri, II, 35-37)
The Negus of Abyssinia was by far the most hospitable in receiving the letter of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and its deliverer Amr ibn Umayyah (r.a). Together with an open invitation to Islam, the letter sent to the Negus also comprised concise information on Maryam and Isa –upon them peace-. Having more or less already learnt Islam from the Muslims who had previously immigrated to Abyssinia and having adopted an encouraging approach towards it right from the start, the Negus took wing to the horizons of iman after receiving the official letter of invitation to the truth. He declared his faith in the presence of Jafar (r.a), the elder son of Abu Talib, who was with him at the time. Then compliant with the wishes of the Noble Prophet (pbuh), he boarded the Muslim immigrants on two vessels and had them delivered to the other side of the Red Sea. He also sent a letter of his own to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), declaring he had become Muslim. It read:
“To Muhammad (pbuh), the Messenger of Allah, from the Negus,
Peace be upon you, Messenger of Allah, and so too the mercy and abundance of Allah. Allah, apart from Who there is no god, has guided me to Islam.
Messenger of Allah…! I have received your letter in which you mention the situation of Isa (a.s). By the Lord of the earth and theavens, Isa (a.s) said nothing more than what you mention regarding him. His invitation was, likewise, as you say. We have learnt the basics of Islam which you are obliged to communicate. We have accommodated your cousin (Jafar) and his friends who immigrated to our lands. I bear witness that you are indeed the Messenger of Allah. You are true to your word. You are right and confirmed.
I have sworn allegiance to you, Messenger of Allah, through your cousin, your representative. I have submitted to the Lord of the Worlds in front of him. I hereby send you my son Arha. On only my own soul do I exercise power; and if you want me to come to you, Messenger of Allah, I will do so at the instant. I bear witness that what you say is true. Peace be upon you, Messenger of Allah…” (Ibn Sad, I, 259; Ibn Qayyim, III, 689; Hamidullah, al-Wasaiq, p. 100, 104-105)
It was again during those days that the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), asked for a volunteer “…to deliver a letter to the Muqawqis of Alexandria, expecting its rewards from Allah” Khatib ibn Abi Baltaah (r.a) rose to his feet, at once, and volunteered to deliver the letter.
“May Allah make this mission holy for you”, prayed the Prophet of Allah (pbuh).
Khatib (r.a) took the letter to the Muqawqis of Alexandria. The letter read:
“In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate,
From Allah’s Servant and Messenger Muhammad, to Muqawqis, the Leader of the Copts,
Peace unto those who follow guidance and keep to the right path. I hereby invite you to Islam. Become Muslim and find peace so that Allah doubles your reward. If you do not accept this invitation, then you shall bear the sins of the Copts.
قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْاْ إِلَى كَلَمَةٍ سَوَاء بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَلاَّ نَعْبُدَ إِلاَّ اللّٰهَ وَلاَ نُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَلاَ يَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُنَا بَعْضاً أَرْبَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللّٰهِ فَإِن تَوَلَّوْاْ فَقُولُواْ اشْهَدُواْ بِأَنَّا مُسْلِمُونَ
‘Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to an agreement between us and you: that we shall worship none but Allah, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside Allah. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him).’ (Al-i Imran, 64)”
Once the Prophet’s (pbuh) letter had been read, the Muqawqis told Khatib (r.a) to approach him, gathering at the same time his prominent high priests. Khatib (r.a) recounts what happened afterwards:
“The Muqawqis told me he wanted to talk to me ask me certain things he wished to find out. ‘Certainly…Ask away’, I told him.
‘Is not your master a prophet?’ he asked.
‘Most certainly…he is the Messenger of Allah’, I responded.
‘If he really is the Messenger of Allah, then why did he not curse his people who forced him to migrate from his hometown and seek refuge elsewhere?’ he then inquired. To that I responded with a question of my own.
‘You would bear witness that Isa, son of Maryam, was a prophet of Allah, would you not? Now since he was, could he not have asked his Lord to destroy his people when they wished to execute him, instead of being lifted to the heavens?’
The Muqawqis was lost for words. After a brief silence, he told me to repeat what I had just said. I did. He went silent again.
‘You said well’, he then commented. ‘You are a wise man, who measures what he says; and from next to a wise man you come from!’ Encouraged, I then spoke the following.
‘There lived a man in these lands before you, who claimed to be the greatest lord. Then Allah the Almighty seized that pharaoh and punished him with the torment of both the world and the Hereafter. Take a lesson from those before you, so that you do not serve a lesson for others!’
‘We already have a religion’, he then remarked, ‘and we will not abandon that unless we are offered something better!’
‘Islam is definitely superior to the religion you are following now! We call you to Islam, to which Allah the Almighty has chosen as religion for mankind. Muhammad Mustafa (pbuh) invites not only you, but also the entire humankind. The most vulgar and brutal towards him were the folk of Quraysh. The most malicious towards him have been the Jews. The closest to him, on the other hand, have been the Christians. Just as Musa (a.s) heralded Isa (a.s), Isa (a.s) heralded Muhammad (pbuh). Our inviting you to the Quran is like you inviting the followers of the Torah to the Bible. Each one is obliged to follow the prophet of his time…and you happen to have made it to the time of Muhammad Mustafa (pbuh). We therefore do not distance you from the religion of Isa (a.s) when we invite you to Islam. Much the opposite, we call you to act in accordance with his prophethood.’
To that, the Muqawqis replied:
‘As far as I can see, the religion of this prophet neither commands abandoning the world nor prohibits the acquisition of those things which are accepted and desired. He seems to be neither a bewildered magician nor a liar who claims to receive news from the unknown. Much rather he carries signs of a prophet like having the unknown revealed to him and informing things before they ever happen. But still, I would like some more time to think.’
Later, he had the following written in response to the letter I had brought:
‘In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate,
To Muhammad ibn Abdullah, from the Muqawqis,
Peace unto you! I have read your letter and have understood that which you mention and invite me to. I knew another prophet would come but I had been expecting him from around Damascus. I have hosted your ambassador. I am hereby sending you two slave-girls regarded highly among the Copts and some clothes; and also a mule for you to ride on, as present. Peace unto you!’
The Muqawqis did nothing more; neither did he accept Islam. On my way out, he said, ‘Whatever happens, let not the Copts hear a word from you!’” (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya, IV, 266-267; Ibn Sad, I, 260-261; Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba, III, 530-531)
Evidently, the Muqawqis received the Prophet’s call amicably. He had been anticipating the arrival of the final prophet, yet had been expecting him from around the vicinity of Damascus. This supposition ended up veiling him from accepting the truth and subsequently the Muqawqis never became Muslim. But with Khatib (r.a), he sent a ride and two slave-girls, the honorable Mariyah and her sister Sirin.
During the return journey, Khatib (r.a) made sure to introduce the two sisters with Islam, heartening them to become Muslim; and as a result, they did. They understood the eternal truth even before stepping foot inside Medina.
Once Khatib (r.a) conveyed the words of the Muqawqis, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) remarked, “The wayward man could not forfeit his rule…but what he could not forfeit shall not remain with him.” (Ibn Sad, I, 260-261; Diyarbakri, II, 38)
The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) had Sirin wed to Hassan ibn Thabit (r.a), while he himself married Mariyah, who later gave birth to his son Ibrahim. This wedding, contracted through Divine Will, reaped a number of political benefits. This left a long-lasting imprint on the Egyptians and had a lot to do in their deserting the Byzantines in their wars against the Muslims that were to take place in later years, enabling the Believers to march to victory with more confidence.
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) gave the following advice to his Companions, exemplifying the ideal conduct towards relatives:
“You shall conquer Egypt, a land where they use a scale called qirat. I advise you to treat its people with kindness. Keep my will, for we are their kins, of both ancestry and marriage.” (Muslim, Fadail’us-Sahabah, 226-227)
As known, the lineage of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) reaches Ismail (a.s); and as Hajar, Ismail’s (a.s) mother, was from Egypt, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) regards Egyptians as his relatives. As for the marital kinship, that comes from the honorable Mariyah.
Harith, the chieftain of the Ghassanid Arabs of Syria, acted arrogantly towards the Prophet’s (pbuh) letter delivered by Shuja ibn Wahb (r.a). He even asked an official permission of the Emperor of Byzantine to march on the Muslims. But the request was rejected.
Hawza, the leader of Yamamah, also denied the prophetic invitation conveyed by Salit ibn Umayr (r.a). He died in the throes of his ignorance only a short while later.
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) gave important advices to each of his ambassadors prior to sending them. For instance, before having a letter delivered to the folk of Khimyar, he advised Iyash (r.a) with the following:
“If you arrive there at night, wait until morning to enter. Then take wudu in the best manner and offer two rakahs of salat. Pray to Allah for success and to be pleasantly received. Then prepare yourself, take my letter in your right hand and present it with your right hand to their right hand. If you do that, they shall accept you…”
Iyash (r.a) states, “I did exactly as the Messenger of Allah advised. They ended up becoming Muslim. The later events, too, unfolded in the exact manner he had foretold.” (Ibn Sad, I, 282-283)
These invites were the first steps Islam took towards embracing the entire world from Medina. Having come alive in the Arabian Peninsula, Islam continued to grow by the day. After all, the sturdy foundations of the triumphant walk were being laid by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) himself.
The Spell Cast on the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) by the Jews
It was during those days when the Jewish leaders made a proposal to the crafty magician Asam ibn Labid, on the surface a Muslim, yet carrying on his Jewish belief in secret.
“You are our most skillful magician”, they said. “Muhammad has cast a spell on our men and women and we can not do anything about it. You have seen what he has done to us; how he has defied our religion, killed and sent into exile many of our own. For all the damage he has caused us, we entrust you with the duty of punishing him by casting on him a spell!” They paid Asam ibn Labid three dinars of gold for the mission.
Ibn Labid set himself to the task immediately and began looking for ways of obtaining a few strands of the Noble Prophet’s (pbuh) hair. Somehow he did manage to get hold of what he was after. Tying certain kinds of knots on the hairs and blowing into them, he placed it in a dried shell of the flower of a date. He then placed it under a stepping stone inside the Zarwan Well. Right after the spell, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) fell ill. The light of his eyes faded away. The illness that ensued for days on end reduced his appetite and he was not able to eat and drink anything.
Allah, glory unto Him, informed his Prophet (pbuh) the identity of the person who had put a spell on him and the whereabouts of the knotted hairs. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) thus sent Ali and Ammar (r.huma) to the Zarwan Well. They both drew the water from inside, which had turned red, like henna, and completely emptied the well. Lifting the stepping stone inside, they found the knots underneath.
In the meantime, Jibril (a.s) brought the two suwar of al-Falaq and an-Nas. With the Prophet’s (pbuh) recital of each ayah, a knot of the spell became undone; and with the reciting of the very last ayah, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) felt an instant relief, like he had been freed from a rope. He regained his appetite. He subsequently had the Zarwan Well closed. As for Ibn Labid, neither did the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) summon him nor did he mention his crime and hold it against him. Not only did he not punish Ibn Labid, clearly guilty of attempting to take his life, he did not even hold a personal grudge against Ibn Labid’s tribesmen, the Jews of Banu Zurayq.
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) one day stated, “Abstain from the seven destroyers!”
“What are they, Messenger of Allah?” asked the Companions.
“Ascribing partners to Allah, casting spells, unjustly taking a life that Allah has declared untouchable, indulging in usury, usurping the possessions of an orphan, fleeing from the battlefield and charging chaste and innocent women with adultery…” (Bukhari, Wasaya, 23; Muslim, Iman, 145)
In another hadith, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) declares:
“Whoever ties a knot and blows in it, has cast a spell. Whoever has casted a spell has fallen into shirk.” (Nasai, Tahrim, 19)
“The salat of an arraf, who gives news of the whereabouts of a stolen and lost property, and who asks him something and confirms what he says, will not be accepted for forty days.” (Muslim, Salam, 125)
The Final Blow to Jewish Mischief: The Conquest of Khaybar (Safar-Rabiulawwal, 7 / June-July, 628)
The Jews of Khaybar had joined the hypocrites in taking the Treaty of Hudaybiyah at face value and assuming it to be a supposed reflection of the inner weakness of Muslims. Incited by the many exiled Jews who had taken refuge in their forts, a great fire of antagonism soon took Khaybar in its flames. The Jews promised to give half their yearly crops to the tribe of Ghatafan, provided they joined forces with them against the Believers. With Ghatafan more than ready and prepared to collaborate, they quickly thought of ways to put their forces into effect. Sending an army to Medina was the proposed scheme.
To curb Jewish hostility, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) sent Abdullah ibn Rawaha (r.a) to Khaybar to ensure peace. The Companion soon returned with an unwelcoming refusal. A battle had become inevitable and a march on Khaybar was now imminent. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) declared:
“Let only those who want jihad join us!” (Ibn Sad, II, 92, 106)
Medina, on another note, was located right between Mecca and Khaybar; and thus each time there was a war with Mecca, Khaybar always posed a potential threat from behind.
The Companions enthusiastically heeded the Blessed Prophet’s call. However, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) did not allow entry for those who were not present at Hudaybiyah. The Muslim army had suffered on more than an occasion, in the most delicate of times, from the betrayals of hypocrites, who had previously somehow managed to sneak in during previous campaigns with the sole incentive of acquiring spoils. The same people now desperately wanted to join, in hope of laying their hands on the dazzling riches of the Khaybar Jews. They were thus denied. Besides, that was the Will of the Allah, glory unto Him:
قُل لَّن تَتَّبِعُونَا
“…Say: You shall never tag along with us!” (al-Fath, 15)
The Muslim preparation for Khaybar cast anxiety over the remaining Jews in Medina, still bound to a treaty with the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). They had a hunch feeling that their fellow Jews of Khaybar were awaiting a similar loss that had previously befallen Qaynuqa, Nadir and Qurayza. In hope of perhaps weakening the Believers, every Jew in Medina who had a Muslim owing him money asked for an immediate payment. The below incident, together with attesting to this change of circumstance, also exemplifies the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) sensitivity in observing the rights of others:
Abu Shahm, a Jew, had Abdullah ibn Hadrad (r.a) owing him five dirhams for some barley he had sold. When Abu Shahm abruptly asked him to close his debt, Ibn Hadrad (r.a), urged him to give him “…a little more time. Allah willing, I will close my debt, for the Almighty has promised His Messenger the spoils of Khaybar. We are going to the richest town in the whole of Hijaz!”
These words only fueled the anger and jealousy of the Jew.
“Do you think the Jews of Khaybar are like the Arabs you have fought until now? I swear on the Torah that there are ten-thousand warriors there!”
“You enemy of Allah”, replied Ibn Hadrad (r.a), “you are forgetting you live under our protection. By Allah, I will take you to the Messenger of Allah!” He then took him by the arm and brought him to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
“Listen to what this Jew is saying, Messenger of Allah”, he then said, recounting to him the words of Abu Shahm. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) kept silent and did not say a word. They could only observe a slight movement of his lips but they were unable to make out what he said.
“He has committed injustice against me, Abu’l-Kasim”, complained the Jew. “He has not closed his debt!”
“Give him what is his due”, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) told Ibn Hadrad.
Ibn Hadrad spoke of his poverty and assured he would pay Abu Shahm off with the spoils of Khaybar. Still, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) repeated his command twice. Thereupon Ibn Hadrad (r.a) went to the bazaar. When he returned, he had taken the clothes of his back and enshrouded himself in his imamah.
“I will sell you my clothes”, he said to the Jew, who agreed to buy them for four dirhams with which he was able to close off his debt. (Ahmad, III, 423; Waqidi, II, 634-635)
As the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was leading the army of Companions towards Khaybar, he was seeking refuge in the Almighty, like always, with the following prayer:
“Allah, the Lord of the seven heavens and what is under, the seven earths and what is inside, of the devils and whom they lead astray, the winds and what they hurl! We ask from You the good of this town, its dwellers and what is inside of it! And we seek refuge in You from the evils of this town, its dwellers and what is inside of it!” (Ibn Hisham, III, 379; Waqidi, II, 642)
On the way, the Companions began to shout takbir, in the form of ‘Allah-u Akbar Allah-u Akbar; La ilaha ill-Allah-u w-Allahu Akbar!’ The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then urged them to “Have mercy on yourselves, for you are not addressing one who is deaf; nor is your collocutor absent! You are addressing One who Sees and Hears you, and is with you wherever you may be. The One who you pray, is closer to each of you than the neck of his mount!” (Bukhari, Daawat, 50, 67; Muslim, Dhikr, 44)
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) arrived at Khaybar at night and waited until daybreak, appropriate to his custom of never launching an onslaught at night and always waiting until morning, to strike. Come morning, the Jews left their forts with their shovels and picks, to work at their fields as usual. But seeing the Muslim army encamped right in front of their forts, they ran back inside, screaming, “It is Muhammad…Muhammad and his army!”
Thereupon the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) said, “Allah-u Akbar…Destroyed is Khaybar! When we descend on their land, awful shall then be the morning of those who were warned!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 38; Ibn Hisham, III, 380)
The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) set up his camp right at Raji, between Ghatafan and Khaybar, thereby cutting the access of the two allies with one another and preventing their planned, mutual aid. In fact, when Ghatafan did make an attempt to help the Jews compliant with their requests, they had no other choice than to return, in fright, seeing their path had been cut by the Believers. Forced to battle the Muslims all on their own, the Jews of Khaybar, on the other hand, retreated into their forts.
Someone during the siege had spread rumors among the Jews to incite them to take arms against the Muslims, as indicated by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) :
“A devil came to the Jews and said, ‘Muhammad is fighting you only to take possession of your wealth!’ Call out to them, ‘Say La ilaha ill-Allah and therewith protect your wealth and blood…as to your trial in the Hereafter that is upto Allah!’”
The Jews were called out to in that fashion but their response was, “By the Torah of Musa which we have with us, neither will we do what you want us to do, nor will we leave our religion!” (Waqidi, II, 653)
The siege lasted for days. The Believers had almost run out of supplies. The Battle was becoming really severe. Muslims were giving many casualties, while many others were carrying heavy wounds. Regardless, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had only calling people to Allah, glory unto Him, in mind. An incident during the siege of Khaybar, which goes to show that the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) never saw anyone unimportant when it came to calling them to Islam, saw the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) explain Islam, at length, to a slave herding some sheep belonging to a Jew near the forts, eventually guiding him to the light of truth. Such was how it all unfolded:
Yasar, who used to earn his living through shepherding of a herd of sheep belonging to a Jew, came across the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) one morning while herding outside the walls of the fort. After some talking, Yasar decided to become Muslim and changed his name to Aslam on the Prophet’s (pbuh) recommendation. He then asked the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) as to what to do with the sheep entrusted in his care.
“Turn them back and chase them!” advised the Noble Messenger (pbuh). “Have no doubt…they shall all return to their owner.”
Aslam then grabbed a handful of pebbles from the ground and flung them towards the sheep, shouting, “Go on; return to your owners…By Allah, we are parting ways forever!”
The sheep meekly turned back in unison and entered the fort, as if someone had been guiding them along. Aslam then joined the rest of the Muslims in their battle beneath the walls of the fort.
Taking active part in the battle the instant he became Muslim, Aslam (r.a) was martyred a short while later. His corpse was subsequently brought to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), who, staring at the deceased Aslam for a while with a group of Companions around him, suddenly turned his face towards another direction. When asked for the reason, he explained:
“He is now with his two wives of the lovely-eyed houris!” (Ibn Hisham, III, 398; Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba, I, 38-39)
At a stage when the Battle had really begun to test the Believers’ forbearance, as they were becoming overwhelmed with fatigue from having all their onslaughts repelled, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) announced:
“Tomorrow, I shall give my flag to someone through whose hands Allah will grant the fall of Khaybar. He loves Allah and His Messenger and Allah and His Messenger love him…”
The Companions present at the battle spent the night wondering and speculating who would end up with the Prophet’s (pbuh) flag. With the break of day, they all rushed next to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) in hope of being the one to have attained the love of Allah, glory unto Him, and His Messenger. So lively was their enthusiasm that Omar (r.a) later confessed, “I have never wished to be commander more than I did that day. I kept on trying to make myself noticed hoping the Messenger of Allah would call me!”
To give the flag, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) ultimately sent for Ali (r.a), who, carrying an illness of the eye at the time, had to be carried to the Prophet’s (pbuh) presence; he could not even see in front of him. Seeing Ali (r.a) struggling to see, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) breathed into his eyes and with the permission of the Almighty, ‘the Lion of Allah’ was healed. The Noble Messenger (pbuh) then donned him in armor and handing the flag to him, said:
“Advance now, Ali…and do not look left or right until Allah grants you the fath!”
Ali (r.a) pressed forward instantly and then stopped. He then asked, without looking behind, “What shall I fight them for, Messenger of Allah?”
“Fight them until they bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger. If they accept, unless they commit what the religion forbids, they will have protected their wealth and blood from you, and their true accounts will remain for Allah to settle. Approach them slowly and calmly. First, invite them to Islam. A single person guided through your call is better for you than to be given red camels!” (Bukhari, Ashab’un-Nabi, 9; Muslim, Fadail’us-Sahabah, 32-34; Haythami, VI, 151)
The Jews’ most famed warriors were all slain that day. Khaybar fell, with all its eight forts, two of which surrendered without fighting. What the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) previously foretold came true. The Jews had ninety-three casualties in total, compared to the fifteen Muslim martyrs.
Abu Hurayrah (r.a) explains:
“We were with the Messenger of Allah at the Khaybar Campaign. Regarding one who used to say he was a Muslim, the Messenger of Allah said, ‘He is in Hellfire’. When the battle eventually broke out, that man fought valiantly and received a heavy wound. Some Companions informed the Messenger of Allah, saying, ‘the man who you just declared to be in Hellfire has fought courageously and died!’ The Messenger of Allah, again, said, ‘He has gone to Hell!’
Some Muslims were in the verge of falling into doubt following the response. And then, a short while later, they told the Messenger of Allah that the man had not yet died after all but is lying with a fatal wound. At night, the man could no longer bear the pain and pushing his body against the sharp edge of the sword, committed suicide. The Messenger of Allah was made aware of the situation.
‘Allah-u Akbar…! I bear witness that I am a servant and messenger of Allah’, he said. He then commanded Bilal (r.a) to announce, ‘Only Muslims will enter Paradise. This much is certain that Allah strengthens this religion with a sinner, too.’” (Bukhari, Jihad, 182, Maghazi, 38; Qadar, 5; Muslim, Iman, 178)
Following the victory at Khaybar, the Jews wished to remain working on their lands in return for giving half the produce. So, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) did not send all the Jews into exile. On the condition that he could expel them when he saw fit, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) accepted the Jews’ offer of working on these fertile lands and receiving half of the entire harvest. These Jews remained on the land until the caliphate of Omar (r.a).
Abdullah ibn Rawaha (r.a) was assigned to go to Khaybar each year to estimate and collect half the harvest from the Jews as agreed. So irritated the Jews soon became with the diligence and precision of Ibn Rawaha (r.a) in estimating the crops, that they even offered to bribe him to be shown a little lenience.
“For all that you have done, you are, by Allah, the most despicable to me among the entire creation of Allah. Still, that does not prevent me from being just towards you. What you offer me is a bribe; and indulging in bribery is impermissible. We do not touch that!” Ibn Rawaha (r.a) pronounced.
“‘It is with such justice”, replied the Jews in admiration, “that the skies and earth remain in order!” (Muwatta, Musaqat, 2)
Sensitivity towards the Rights of Others
The spoils of Khaybar were distributed among those present at Hudaybiyah, irrespective of whether they were at Khaybar or not, as Allah, glory unto Him, had promised the riches of Khaybar to Muslims present at Hudaybiyah through the 20th ayah of surah al-Fath.
Omar ibn Khattab (r.a) explains the following:
“It was on the day of the Battle of Khaybar. A group from the Companions of the Messenger of Allah came and began announcing those who had been martyred. Then walking past another casualty, they said, ‘so and so has also been martyred.’
‘No!’ intervened the Messenger of Allah. ‘I saw him in Hellfire in a mantle he had unjustly seized from the spoils!’” (Muslim, Iman, 182)
Despite being one of the highest ranks attainable which compensates for the majority of the sins a person may bear, even martyrdom cannot atone for intruding on the rights of other human beings by usurping common property. Informing that the Companion announced as a martyr would be punished in Hellfire for a mantle he had seized without right, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) thereby taught his ummah that usurping common property and intruding on the rights of others is an unforgivable offense.
There was a black slave by the name of Midam, presented as gift by Rifaa ibn Zayd, who used to see to the service of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). He was struck and killed by a strayed arrow while unloading the baggage of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh). The Believers naturally rejoiced Midam’s death; after all he looked to be martyred. They were told otherwise by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh):
“No, it is not what you think. By Allah, in whose Hand of Might my life resides, a rug he seized on the day of Khaybar before the spoils were distributed is going up in flames on him as we speak!”
The Believers were terrified. A man came to the Noble Messenger (pbuh) and handing him one or two shoe laces, said, in embarrassment:
“I had seized these, Messenger of Allah, for my shoes, before the spoils were distributed…”
“Then one or two shoelaces of Hellfire for you…” responded the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). (Bukhari, Ayman, 33; Muslim, Iman, 183)
On the day Khaybar fell, a man came to the Blessed Messenger (pbuh) and claimed to have made “…a profit greater than what the dwellers of this valley could never imagine.”
“Is that so? What did you make?” asked the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
‘I just kept on buying and selling without break, until I was able to make a profit of three-hundred uqiyya!”
“Should I tell you of the best of profits?” then ask the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
“Yes, Messenger of Allah, do tell…”
“A salat of two rakahs right after the obligatory (fard) salat…!” (Abu Dawud, Jihad, 168/2785)
Upon receiving the commodities and date fields of Khaybar that fell to their lot, the Muhajirun were able to improve their conditions financially, owing to which the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) returned to the Ansar the date fields and trees they had previously either given or lent for use to the Muhajirun.
The Arrival of Daws in Medina
Meanwhile, a group from the tribe of Daws came to Medina. Their leader Tufayl ibn Amr had already come to Mecca during the nascent years of Islam and had accepted Islam after speaking with the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). Then receiving permission from the Prophet (pbuh) to return to his people, he had begun inviting them to Islam. Abu Hurayrah (r.a) was the first to respond to his call. The number of Muslims gradually increased thereafter, reaching seventy to eighty households, all of whom migrated to Medina during the Battle of Khaybar. Proceeding straight to Khaybar from there, they joined the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) in battle.
Abu Hurayrah (r.a) became really impatient during the journey, anxious and raring to meet the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) as soon as possible. He was reciting the below verse of a poem on the way:
“O the night of journey! I am tired of your length and hassle…But it is you saving me from the land of disbelief and denial!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 75; Waqidi, II, 636)
By the time Abu Hurayrah (r.a) arrived at long last to Khaybar with the rest of his tribesmen of Daws, Khaybar had already fallen. When the Noble Prophet (pbuh) saw him, he asked where he was from.
“Daws”, replied Abu Hurayrah (r.a), whereupon the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) stated, “I have seen only goodness in whoever I have come across from Daws!” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 46/3838)
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) allocated a share of the spoils of Khaybar to the natives of Daws.
The Return of the Immigrants of Abyssinia
As Khaybar was falling, a group of sixteen Companions headed by Jafar (r.a) were returning from Abyssinia to Medina. Upon finding out that the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was at Khaybar, the immigrants immediately proceeded there, and were soon united with him.
“You resemble me so much in appearance and behavior”, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) first commented upon seeing Jafar. He then added, “I do not know as to what is supposed to make me happier: the fall of Khaybar or the return of Jafar!” (Ibn Hisham, III, 414)
Jafar (r.a) was inexpressibly delighted to receive the precious compliments of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), and like an innocent child, he ecstatically started turning, on one foot, around the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) until losing control.
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) did not forbid Jafar (r.a) from doing this. Some tariqah, or Sufi orders, later took this as an affirmation (sunnat’ut-taqriri) of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and as a precedent for wajd or the state of ecstasy.
Arriving alongside the immigrants was also the Ashari Tribe of Yemen. Among them was Abu Musa al-Ashari (r.a) who states:
“While in Yemen, we, the Asharis, had been informed that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had appeared, upon which, together with fifty-two or fifty-three others from our tribe, we set out to immigrate next to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). As the weather took a turn for the worse and became unfavorable on the way, our ship dropped us off at land of the Abyssinian Negus. There, along with his friends, we met Jafar (r.a) who said to us, ‘The Messenger of Allah sent us to this land and ordered us to remain here for a while. I suggest you also stay with us!’
And later, we eventually boarded a ship and returned all together to Medina. We were united with the Messenger of Allah just as Khaybar had fallen. So the Messenger of Allah gave us a share of the spoils of Khaybar, too.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 38; Muslim, Fadail’us-Sahabah, 169)
The Jews’ Plot to Poison the Blessed Prophet
The Jews had still not given up their treachery despite the humane treatment they were receiving from the Muslims. They plotted, in secret, to murder the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). As vivid as the consequences of their recent crimes still were, they were now attempting to once again betray a Prophet who, instead of sending them to exile like he had done with some other Jewish tribes, had already forgiven them once before for attempting to execute a similar murder plan. Incredibly, they were breaching their pact yet again.
To execute this sinister plot, Zaynab, a daughter of a Jewish notable by the name of Harith, invited the Blessed Prophet, along with some of his Companions, to a feast of roasted lamb, which she thoroughly contaminated with poison from beforehand. Knowing the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was especially fond of the shoulder meat of the lamb, she even added extra poison there. But the instant the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) took a morsel of the meat, he took it out, and warned his Companions, “The meat tells me it is poisoned… Do not eat from it!” Bishr ibn Bara (r.a) had however already taken a piece of the meat, immediately after seeing the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) begin to eat and had swallowed the morsel by the time the Prophet (pbuh) gave the warning. The others had still not touched the food.
Before too long, the malicious women was caught and brought to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
“Was it you that poisoned this lamb?” he asked her.
“How did you find out it had been poisoned?” she asked.
“The shoulder blades in front of me informed me”, answered the Noble Messenger (pbuh).
“Yes, it was me who poisoned the lamb”, she then said, admitting to her crime.
When asked by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) as to her motive for doing so, she explained, “You killed my father, my uncle and my husband. There is nothing left you have not done to my people. So I thought to myself, ‘If he is really a prophet, then my plot will be brought to his awareness by the Almighty and the poison will do him no harm; but if he is a liar and simply a ruler, he will die from this poison and we will be able to avenge those deaths and rid ourselves from him!’”
“Allah has not given you the power to do that”, stated the Blessed Prophet (pbuh).
While coming clean with her plot, deeply affected by what she had witnessed, the woman became a Muslim and voicing her remorse, asked to be forgiven. The Prophet (pbuh), sent as a mercy to the worlds, forgave her for her attempted assassination plot. But as Bishr ibn Bara (r.a) died a short while later from the poison, his relatives asked for qisas or retribution. Harith’s daughter was therefore made to consume the same poison.
In order to rid his body of the effects of the poison, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had some blood extracted from between his shoulder blades. (Bukhari, Jizya, 7; Muslim, Salam, 45; Ibn Hisham, III, 390; Waqidi, II, 678-679; Haythami, VI, 153)
Three years later, before breathing his last, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have diagnosed the effects of this poison as the cause of his passing away. (Hakim, III, 242/4966)
The Mutah Issue
Also prohibited around the same time as the Battle of Khaybar was the practice of contracting temporary marriage known as mutah, regarding which no prohibition had been revealed until then.
Ali (r.a) narrates that “During the Battle of Khaybar, the Messenger of Allah prohibited marrying women under mutah and eating the meat of domesticated donkeys.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 38; Nikah, 31; Dhabaih, 28; Hiyal, 3; Muslim, Nikah, 29-32; Muwatta, Nikah, 41; Nasai, Nikah, 71)
Mutah, a practice which has its roots in the Age of Ignorance, is a type of marriage where the woman is hired for a temporary period of time in return for some payment. A mutah marriage is terminated once the designated term comes to an end. Right of inheritance, allowance and a waiting period after divorce, common to normal marriages, do not exist in a mutah marriage. It was therefore prohibited following Khaybar through numerous ahadith in regard. One of those is, “Now Allah, the Glorious, has prohibited it until the Day of Judgment. Whosoever is wed to a woman under mutah ought to set her free and not take anything back from what has been given to her as payment!” (Muslim, Nikah, 21; Ibn Majah, Nikah, 44; Darimi, Nikah, 16; Ahmad, III, 406)
On the return from the Tabuk Campaign, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had decided to take a break near Saniyyat’ul-Wada. There, he saw a few women crying and asked them what they were shedding tears over. Someone explained on their behalf that they were “..women wed under mutah.” Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) declared, “Mutah has been annulled by the Islam’s rulings on marriage, divorce, the wait (after divorce) and inheritance!” (Ibn Balban, VI, 178; Darakutni, III, 259)
Thus a woman wed under mutah is not a wife, and according to the consensus of Muslim scholars, mutah is tantamount to fornication.
Ibn Abbas (r.a) explains the following:
“Before Islam, there was mutah. Upon arriving at a foreign place, a person would, under mutah, marry a local woman for the duration of the presumed time of his stay there. The woman would thereby keep an eye on his belongings and see to his various chores. This continued up until the Revelation, ‘…And who guard their private parts. Except before their mates or those whom their right hands possess, for they surely are not blameable.’ (al-Muminun, 5-6). All other relations, except for the two specified, are thus impermissible.” (Tirmidhi, Nikah, 29/1122)
The devastating social consequences of mutah include:
a) The damage exacted on children born to such temporary marriages, who, like children born from extra-marital affairs, are made to grow up without fathers, and thus without adequate care and nurturing.
b) As genealogical borders become blurry and offsprings unknown, it is probable that, down the track, a woman might enter a relation with her son, born from a man with whom he had once contracted a mutah. The same applies to the man; he might end up being together with his daughter, grand daughter and niece; or simpler said, someone eternally forbidden for him to marry. This is no doubt one of the greatest dangers of mutah, as attested to by many like tragedies throughout history.
c) In most cases, it is impossible to distribute the inheritance of someone who has contracted mutah, simply because both the numbers and the identities of the persons’ inheritors remain unknown.
The dangers that come with mutah are indeed menacing. It is the same as laying waste to progeny. A woman, on the other hand, made to contract a mutah enters a spiritual downfall as the feeling of being leased is something tremendously demoralizing. Mutah is therefore a major blow struck at the core of a woman’s virtue. Could a person ever stomach seeing his daughter or mother contract a mutah in spite of all its disgust? That would suffice on its own to expose the depravity of mutah.
The Return from Khaybar
Following the Fall of Khaybar, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) sent an envoy to the Fadak area, standing at a two days distance away from Medina, and had the area incorporated to the Muslim dominion without a shed of blood.
Lastly, Wadi’il-Qura, a small Jewish settlement located on the road to Medina, was also taken after siege lasting a single day. Like the locals of Khaybar, they too were left to work on their land in return for half their harvest.
As for the Jews of Tayma, they agreed to pay the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) jizyah, in return for which they were allowed to remain in their settlement. Both of these Jewish tribes had previously made a pact with Khaybar to march on Medina.
The fath of Khaybar and the surrounding area paved the Muslim way for the imminent fath of Mecca. The defeats of Banu Qaynuqa, Banu Nadir, Banu Qurayza and finally the Jews of Khaybar had intimidated the tribes of the peninsula, leaving not a shadow of a doubt in their minds over the ultimate triumph of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). It was alarming, for the tribes mentioned were the richest and most powerful of all Jews in entire Arabia and their exploits in warfare were legendary. They owned impenetrable forts and an abundant amount of date fields and exercised a power great enough to protect the entire Arabs, should they have chosen to seek refuge in them. But now it had become all too clear how their supposed courage and might withered away when besieged by the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) and how they were made to humbly accept insufferable burdens. The breeze was now blowing the Believers’ way.
In the aftermath of Khaybar, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) married the honorable Safiyya, who was widowed after her husband was slain in the battle. She had married her husband, a notable among the Jews of Khaybar, only a few days prior to the siege of Khaybar. On her wedding night, she saw a dream in which a moon, rising from Medina, came and fell in her lap. She explained her dream to her husband who becoming infuriated, exclaimed, “You want to become the wife of Muhammad, the King of Hijaz, don’t you?” before she forcefully slapped Safiyya, leaving her with a black eye, a bruise she was still carrying when she encountered the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) a few days later. She explained to the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) her ordeal when he inquired how she had gotten the bruise. He, in turn, gave her an explanation of Islam and said, “We are not going to force you if you happen to decide to remain in your religion! If you accept Allah and His Messenger then I shall accept you as wife. But if you chose to remain a Jew, then I will set you free and you can return to your tribe!”
Safiyya (r.ha) chose Islam, becoming ‘the mother of Believers’. (Waqidi, II, 674, 707; Ibn Sad, VIII, 123; Ahmad, III, 138)
The Noble Prophet’s (pbuh) marriage to Safiyya, the daughter of Huyay, engendered closeness with the Jews of Khaybar, and by reducing enmity, enabled the development of friendlier relations. In this respect, Safiyya (r.ha) remained close with the Jews, to the point of even drawing complaints, virtually becoming their representative in the Prophet’s house.
Once, a female servant of Safiyya (r.ha) came to Omar (r.a), during his time as Caliph, and complained of how “…Safiyya was still very much fond of Saturday’s and continued his contact with Jews.” Caliph Omar (r.a) thereupon sent someone to investigate the situation. Safiyya (r.ha) provided an explanation.
“Regarding Saturday”, she said, “I do not like that day ever since Allah gave me Friday in its place. And as for your question regarding the Jews, I have relatives among them, whom I see to and visit.” (Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah, IV, 347)
Safiyya (r.ha) then asked her servant why she had made such an accusation. “I followed the shaytan”, she confessed. Safiyya’s (r.ha) response to that was of a brilliance that reflected the degree she had embraced the morals of Islam.
“You can go; I have set you free”, she said, releasing her female servant who had tried to slander her with a false accusation. (Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah, IV, 347)
Umrat’ul-Qada (Dhilqada, 7 / March, 629)
Performed to compensate the attempted umrah of a year ago which, thwarted by the idolaters, could not be carried out, this umrah has thus come to be known as umrat’ul-qada, that is the compensatory umrah.
A year had now passed since Hudaybiyah and the time had come to perform the umrah as agreed upon in the Treaty of Hudaybiyah. As they entered the month of Dhilqada in the seventh year of Hegira, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) ordered each person present at Hudaybiyah to begin preparing for umrah. He extended the command equally to other Muslims. Arabs from neighboring areas who happened to be in Medina at the time stated that they “…neither had food for the trip nor anyone to feed them!”
The Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) then asked the Muslims of Medina to give charity, for the sake of Allah, glory unto Him, for those in need and see to what needs they may have, cautioning them that pulling their helping hands away from them would mean their ultimate destruction. The Believers, however, were facing similar problems of their own.
“What can we give as charity, Messenger of Allah, when we are unable to find anything?” they said.
“Whatever you have”, replied the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), “even if it be half a date…” (Waqidi, II, 731-732)
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) eventually set out from Medina along with two-thousand Companions, as well as around a hundred horses and, just in case, military equipment such as helmets, armors and spears. Some Companions reminded the Noble Messenger (pbuh) of the condition laid down by Quraysh which prevented them from arming themselves except for the bare minimum considered acceptable for a traveler.
“We are not going to enter the Haram with those weapons; still, better we have them nearby in case of an attack”, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) explained. With two-hundred Companions, he then had the weapons sent to Batn-i Yajaj, at a distance of three miles from Mecca. (Waqidi, II, 733-734)
On they way, the pilgrims had a stopover at Abwa. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had been granted permission by Allah, glory unto Him, to visit his mother’s grave. During the visit, he mended the grave with his hands and shed a few tears of grief. Finding difficulty in holding back their tears, the Believers also cried. Asked a few moments later as to the reason behind his tears, the Noble Prophet (pbuh) said, “…for I remembered my mother’s mercy and compassion for me.” (Ibn Sad, I, 116-117)
In line with the terms of Hudaybiyah, the idolaters evacuated Mecca for three days and retreated to the nearby mountains, leaving the town at the Muslims’ dispense. Stirred from seeing Kaabah for the first time in seven years, the Believers enthusiastically began chanting, at once, the talbiyah.
According to the report of Ibn Abbas (r.a), the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was met with and greeted by small children from the Muttalib Clan upon entering Mecca. He subsequently placed one of the children at the front of his saddle and another behind and rode into the town.
In order to show the idolaters there was no truth behind their rumors that the Muslims had fallen weak from the fever of Medina, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) commanded them to walk quickly and with a touch of flamboyance.
“May Allah have mercy on he who makes himself appear brawny to the idolaters!” he prayed. (Ibn Hisham, III, 424-425)
The Muslims who had at arrived in Mecca after traveling, under those conditions, a distance of over four-hundred kilometers from Medina, were indeed feeling the strain of the journey; yet they fully lived up to the Prophet’s (pbuh) command and performed their umrah with dignity, exuding a intimidating might. They even ran flamboyantly during the first three ashwat, or laps, of the circumambulation, between where the two green poles stand today.
The idolaters, meanwhile, were curiously inspecting the Muslims. Had they been able to observe a glimpse of fatigue and slackness in the Muslims, they could have had other thoughts. Seeing with their own eyes the vivacity and exuberance of the Muslims, they could do little to hide their astonishment:
“Are these the people you say have fallen weak from fever? They are livelier and more animated than us!” they exclaimed. (Muslim, Hajj, 240)
The touching harmony of the adhan called out by Bilal Habashi from the roof of Kaabah that day, while stirring Muslim hearts, added to the bewilderment of the onlooking idolaters.
While the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was circumambulating Kaabah with his Companions, Abdullah ibn Rawaha (r.a) began reciting a poem.
“How long will you continue reciting that poem in the presence of the Prophet and in the Haram of Allah?” Omar (r.a) reproached. But the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) himself intervened.
“Do not prevent him! By Allah in whose Hand of Might my life resides, his words are more damaging for Quraysh than flying arrows! Continue, Ibn Rawaha!” he said, before telling Abdullah to say:
“Say, there is no god and noone to be worshipped other than Allah. He is the One. He is the One who shall realize His promise. He is the One who gives strength to His soldiers. Only He is the One who routs the united tribes!”
The rest of the Companions repeated the words of Abdullah ibn Rawaha (r.a). (Waqidi, II, 736; Ibn Sad, II, 122-123)
A graceful look of calmness was visible on the Muslims’ faces when they eventually returned to Medina after their three-day Kaabah visit. The first Kaabah visit had now taken place and the dream the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) saw a year ago was realized in exactitude; a reality to which Allah, glory unto Him, gives mention in the Holy Quran, by alluding to the recent victory at Khaybar and heralding a soon-to-be triumph in Mecca:
لَقَدْ صَدَقَ اللّٰهُ رَسُولَهُ الرُّؤْيَا بِالْحَقِّ لَتَدْخُلُنَّ الْمَسْجِدَ الْحَرَامَ إِن شَاء اللّٰهُ آمِنِينَ مُحَلِّقِينَ رُؤُوسَكُمْ وَمُقَصِّرِينَ لَا تَخَافُونَ فَعَلِمَ مَا لَمْ تَعْلَمُوا فَجَعَلَ مِن دُونِ ذَلِكَ فَتْحًا قَرِيبًا. هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَى وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَكَفَى بِاللّٰهِ شَهِيدًا
“Certainly Allah had shown to His Messenger the vision with truth: you shall most certainly enter the Sacred Mosque, if Allah pleases, in security, (some) having their heads shaved and (others) having their hair cut, you shall not fear, but He knows what you do not know, so He brought about a near victory before that. He it is Who sent His Messenger with the guidance and the true religion that He may make it prevail over all the religions; and Allah is enough for a witness.” (al-Fath, 27-28)
The umrat’ul-qada left a profound impression on the Meccans and its impact soon saw the likes of Khalid ibn Walid, the future captorof Syria, Amr ibn As, the future captor of Egypt and Othman ibn Talha join the ranks of Islam.
As the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was departing from Mecca, Umamah (r.ha), the daughter of Hamza (r.a), ran after him, pleading to be taken to Medina with him. Ali (r.a) took her by the hand and brought her to his wife Fatimah (r.ha), asking her to mind the child. But when they returned to Medina, a minor disagreement arose between Ali, Zayd and Jafar (r.huma), who each wanted to be the one to take care of her.
“She is my cousin!” stated Ali (r.a).
“She is my cousin, too, and on top of that I am married to her maternal aunt!” declared Jafar (r.a).
“Well, she is my brother’s daughter!” then said Zayd, reminding them of how the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had made he and Hamza (r.a) brothers.
The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) decided it would be best for Umamah to stay with her maternal aunt, pronouncing, “A maternal aunt is like a mother!” Then turning towards Ali (r.a), the Noble Messenger (pbuh) said:
“You are from me, I am from you!”
And to Jafar (r.a), “You look so like me in appearance and conduct”, he said.
“You”, he then said to Zayd (r.a), “are both our brother and friend!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 43, Umrah, 3; Muslim, Jihad, 90)
Ali (r.a) explains, “Zayd became so elated when he heard the complements of the Messenger of Allah that he began spinning around the Prophet, on one foot. Then Jafar followed Zayd, behind him, in the same manner; and out of joy, I, too, started skipping on one foot behind Jafar.”(Ahmad, I, 108; Waqidi, II, 739
. See, Bukhari, Ilm, 7; Muslim, Libâs, 57, 58; Ibn Saad, I, 258.
. For the name Abu Kaabshah used for the Blessed Prophet r, refer to v. 1, p. 164.***???
. • Banu Asfar, literally the Children of the Blond, was what the Arabs would sometimes refer to the Byzantines as.
. An emperor of Byzantine was referred to as Caesar, a ruler of Persia as Khosrau, a king of Abyssinia as Negus, a sovereign of Egypt as Pharaoh; likewise, a governor of Alexandria was known as Muqawqis, a king of India as Batlimus and a king of Yemen as Tubba. These are general appellations not to be confused with particular names. (Ibn Kathir, al–Bidayah, XI, 228)
. As has been beautifully expressed in the proverb: One who fails to take lessons from history will be a lesson for posterity.
. Ibn Saad, VIII, 212.
. Ibn Hisham, I, 4.
. Ibn Saad, I, 261.
. Ibn Saad, I, 262.
. See, Ibn Saad, II, 197; Bukhari, Tıbb, 47, 49; Muslim, Salâm, 43; Nasai, Tahrîm, 20; Ahmad, IV, 367, VI, 57; Aynî, XXI, 282.
. A kahin, or a soothsayer, is a person who claims knowledge of future happenings. Although from one perspective an arraf is also a kahin, the term is reserved for a person who gives information on stolen or lost property. There is also a munajjim, or an astrologer, who, too, is a kahin, with the difference that a he claims knowledge of future events by observing stars.
. See, Waqidi, II, 530-531, 566, 640; Ibn Saad, II, 92.
. This is a prayer the Blessed Prophet r used to always say right before entering a given settlement, when he saw the settlement from a distance. (Hakim, I, 614/1634)
. Ibn Hisham, III, 398.
. Ibn Hisham, III, 397-398; Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah, I, 38-39.
. In allusion to the event, Sayyid Sayfullah says,
“Praise not the bad for a loaf of bread, for that is ignorance, bleak,
Destroy your Khaybar like self, for that is courage at its peak…”
. Muslim, Musaqat, 5; Abu Dawud, Kharaj, 23-24/3007.
. Waqidi, II, 684.
. Ibn Qayyim, III, 359.
. Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah, II, 226.
. Ibn Saad, IV, 328.
. Ibn Saad, I, 353.
. Ahmad, I, 108; Ibn Saad, IV, 35.
. The sama, or whirling, that begins after reaching an ecstatic state during the Mevlevi dhikr takes its inspiration from this very incident.
. For a detailed exposition of the mutah issue, see İbrâhim Cânan, Nâmus Fitnesi Mut’a, İstanbul, 1993.
. See, Ibn Hisham, III, 391; Waqidi, II, 707, 711.
. See, Waqidi, II, 729-731; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, IV, 234.
. Ibn Saad, VIII, 121-126.
. Bukhari, Umrah, 13; Libâs, 99.
. Bukhari, Hajj, 55; Muslim, Hajj, 240; Ahmad, I, 305-306.