The peaceful conditions following the Treaty naturally gave a boost to the missionary activities which kept on advancing day-by-day. Islam grew like an avalanche and showed the signs of assuming vast proportions. The Apostle then sent several letters to the rulers outside
When the Prophet (Peace be upon him) expressed his desire to send letters to the kings of the Arabs and non-Arabs, the companions advised him to affix his seal on the letter for the kings usually refuse to entertain the unsealed ones. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) accordingly stamped his letters to them with a silver seal on which was engraved:
Of the many letters sent by the Prophet (Peace be upon him), those written to Heraclius, the Emperor of Byzantine empire, Chosroes II, the Emperor of Iran, Negus, the king of Abyssinia and Muqauqis, the ruler of Egypt, are remarkably significant.
Dihya b. Khalifa al-kalbi, who was assigned to deliver the letter to Heraclius, got it forwarded to the Emperor through the ruler of Busra. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) wrote in this letter:
"In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, this letter is from Muhammad, the slave and Messenger of God, To Heraclius, the great King of
"After this, verily I call you to Islam. Embrace Islam that you may find peace, and God will give you a double reward. If you reject then on you shall rest the sin of your subjects and followers.
O people of the Book come to that, which is common between you and us; that we will serve none but Allah, nor associate aught with him, nor take others for lords besides God. But if you turn away, then say: bear witness that we are Muslims."
The letter sent to the Chosroes II with Abdullah bin Hudhafa read:
"In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. From Muhammad, the Messenger of God, to Kisra, the great King of
"Peace be upon him who follows the guidance, believes in Allah and His Prophet, bears witness that there is no God but Allah and that I am the Prophet of Allah for the entire humanity so that every man alive is warned of the awe of God. Embrace Islam that you may find peace; otherwise on you shall rest the sin of the Magis." (Al-Tabari, Vol. III, p. 90)
In the letter addressed to Negus, with 'Amr ibn Umayya Al-Damri the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had written that:
"In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. From Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, to Negus, the great King of Abyssinia.”
"Peace be upon him who follows the guidance."
"After this, Glory be to Allah besides whom there is no God, the Sovereign, the Holy, the Peace, the Faithful, the Protector. I bear witness that Jesus, the son of Mary, is the Spirit of God, and His Word that He cast unto Mary, the Virgin, the good, the pure, so that she conceived Jesus. God created him from His Spirit and His breathing as He created Adam by His hand and His breathing. I call you to God, the Unique, without any associate, and to His obedience and to follow me and to believe in that, which came to me, for I am the Messenger of God. I invite you and your men to the Great Lord. I have accomplished my task and my admonitions, so receive my advice. Peace be upon him who follows the Guidance."(Tabaqat Ibn S'ad, Vol. III, p. 15).
The Letter sent to Muqauqis, the chief of the Copts of Egypt, with Hatib ibn Abi Balta'a said:
"In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. From Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, to Muqauqis, the Chief of the Copts."
"Peace be upon him who follows the guidance. "
"After this, I call you to Islam that you may find peace, and God will give you a double reward. If you reject, then on you shall be the sin of your countrymen. O people of the Book, come to that which is common between you and us; that we will serve none but Allah, nor associate aught with him, nor take others for lords besides God. But if you turn away, then say: bear witness that we are Muslims." (Mawahib Landuniyah, Vol. III. Pp. 247-48)
WHO WERE THESE KINGS ?
We cannot appreciate the solemnity and significance of the memorable step taken by the Prophet (Peace be upon him) unless we realize who Heraclius, Chosroes, Negus and Muqauqis were, the extent of their dominion, prestige, splendour and might in the world during the seventh century. Anyone who is not well-aware with the political history at the time might have taken them as local rulers for so many of them are found in every country. But one who is mindful of the political state of the world in the seventh century and the power and splendor of the ambitious monarchs who had divided the world among themselves, would but arrive at one conclusion. That only a man sent by God on a mission could dare summon the imperious autocrats to put their trust in his Prophethood. Such a man should be devoid of the least doubt in the success of his sacred task, or of a speck of fear in his heart. He had to possess such a glowing conviction in the glory and majesty of God that the proudest sovereign was to him not any more than an illusory puppet going through the motions of regality. For all these reasons, it would be worthwhile to give a brief sketch of the monarchs to whom the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had sent his epistle.
The Byzantine Empire, then calling itself "New Rome", had along with its Iranian counterpart, kept a tight hand over the civilized world for several hundred years. Its emperors ruled in direct succession to the Roman Emperors over vast and populous lands in Europe, Asia and
Known as Khusro Parvez to the Arabs, he was the fourth son of Hormouz and the grandson of Chosroes I, Anushirvan the Just. Murder of Hormouz in 590 A.D. was succeeded by enthronement of Chosroes II, but after suffering a defeat at the hands of a rebel chief, Bahram, he had to solicit the protection of Maurice, the Byzantine Emperor. The fugitive prince was helped by Maurice with a powerful army which restored his kingdom after two fierce battles on the banks of Zab and the confines of Mada'in. While the majesty of the Persian Emperor was revived, Phocas, who promoted himself to the vacant purple, killed his adopted father, Maurice. Chosroes II decided to avenge the death of Maurice and invaded the Byzantine dominions in 604 A.D. Chosroes II continued to extend his triumphant march to Constantinople, even after the death of Phocas, rolling in the dust all the Byzantine provinces, Syria , Egypt and Asia Minor, in the rapid tide of his success. By 616 A.D. Chosroes II had reached the summit of his victorious campaign for he seemed to announce the approaching dissolution of the
He was the Prefect as well as Patriarch of Alexandria acting as the Governor of Egypt on behalf of the Byzantine Emperor. The Arab historians normally mentioned him by his title 'Muqauqis' but they hotly dispute his personal identity. Abu Salih who wrote in the sixth century after Hijrah (12 century A.D.) gives his name as Juraid b. Mina al Muqauqis (which is corruption of George, son of Mina). Ibn Khaldun says that the then Muqauqis was a Copt while al-Maqrizi asserts that he was a Roman. When the Persians conquered
REACTION OF THE MONARCHS
Heraclius, Negus and Muqauqis received the letter from the Apostle 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, he said, "even so shall God shatter his kingdom to pieces." (Tabari, Vol. III, pp. 90-91) Choroes II wrote to Badhan, who was his governor in
HERACLUIS AND ABU SUFYAN
Heraclius decided to satisfy himself about the contents of the Apostle's letter. He ordered to search for a man from
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 apostleship 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
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." 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.
WHO WERE THE ARISEEN?
Araisiyan or ariseen is the word used by the Apostle in his letter to Heraclius. No other letter written to any other Arab and non-Arab kingand 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 Manzoor 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
When he read the letter, Khusroe tore it up and ill-treated the envoy of the Prophet. Then he wrote to Badhan, who was his governor in
The Apostle 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
Al-Muqauqis did not accept Islam but treated the envoy with respect and honour and sent some gifts to the Prophet; these included two slave-girls, one of whom was Maria who gave birth to the Apostle's 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
The Negus received the envoy of the Prophet with great respect and showed him all the honour he deserved, and accepted Islam. He wrote a letter to the Prophet:
"In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Gracious. To Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, from Negus Al-Asham ibn Abjar. Peace upon you, O Prophet 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, 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, 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 hadith of Bukhari which says that the Prophet said his funeral prayer in absentia in Medinah when he died. The second letter of the Prophet was sent to his successor, who probably did not respond favourably.