Narrated by 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas
Abu Sufyan bin Harb
informed me that Heraclius had sent a messenger to him while he had been
accompanying a caravan from Quraish. They were merchants doing business
in Sham (Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan), at the time when
Allah's Apostle had truce with Abu Sufyan and Quraish infidels. So Abu
Sufyan and his companions went to Heraclius at Ilya (Jerusalem).
Heraclius called them in the court and he had all the senior Roman
dignitaries around him. He called for his translator who, translating
Heraclius's question said to them, "Who amongst you is closely related
to that man who claims to be a Prophet?" Abu Sufyan replied, "I am the
nearest relative to him (amongst the group)."
Heraclius said, "Bring him (Abu Sufyan) close to me and make his
companions stand behind him." Abu Sufyan added, Heraclius told his
translator to tell my companions that he wanted to put some questions to
me regarding that man (The Prophet) and that if I told a lie they (my
companions) should contradict me." Abu Sufyan added, "By Allah! Had I
not been afraid of my companions labeling me a liar, I would not have
spoken the truth about the Prophet. The first question he asked me about
'What is his family status amongst you?'
I replied, 'He belongs to a good (noble) family amongst us.'
Heraclius further asked, 'Has anybody amongst you ever claimed the same
(i.e. to be a Prophet) before him?'
I replied, 'No.'
He said, 'Was anybody amongst his ancestors a king?'
I replied, 'No.'
Heraclius asked, 'Do the nobles or the poor follow him?'
I replied, 'It is the poor who follow him.'
He said, 'Are his followers increasing decreasing (day by day)?'
I replied, 'They are increasing.'
He then asked, 'Does anybody amongst those who embrace his religion
become displeased and renounce the religion afterwards?'
I replied, 'No.'
Heraclius said, 'Have you ever accused him of telling lies before his
claim (to be a Prophet)?'
I replied, 'No. '
Heraclius said, 'Does he break his promises?'
I replied, 'No. We are at truce with him but we do not know what he will
do in it.' I could not find opportunity to say anything against him
Heraclius asked, 'Have you ever had a war with him?'
I replied, 'Yes.'
Then he said, 'What was the outcome of the battles?'
I replied, 'Sometimes he was victorious and sometimes we.'
Heraclius said, 'What does he order you to do?'
I said, 'He tells us to worship Allah and Allah alone and not to worship
anything along with Him, and to renounce all that our ancestors had
said. He orders us to pray, to speak the truth, to be chaste and to keep
good relations with our Kith and kin.'
Heraclius asked the translator to convey to me the following, I asked
you about his family and your reply was that he belonged to a very noble
family. In fact all the Apostles come from noble families amongst their
respective peoples. I questioned you whether anybody else amongst you
claimed such a thing, your reply was in the negative. If the answer had
been in the affirmative, I would have thought that this man was
following the previous man's statement. Then I asked you whether anyone
of his ancestors was a king. Your reply was in the negative, and if it
had been in the affirmative, I would have thought that this man wanted
to take back his ancestral kingdom.
I further asked whether he was ever accused of telling lies before he
said what he said, and your reply was in the negative. So I wondered how
a person who does not tell a lie about others could ever tell a lie
about Allah. I, then asked you whether the rich people followed him or
the poor. You replied that it was the poor who followed him. And in fact
all the Apostle have been followed by this very class of people. Then I
asked you whether his followers were increasing or decreasing. You
replied that they were increasing, and in fact this is the way of true
faith, till it is complete in all respects. I further asked you whether
there was anybody, who, after embracing his religion, became displeased
and discarded his religion. Your reply was in the negative, and in fact
this is (the sign of) true faith, when its delight enters the hearts and
mixes with them completely. I asked you whether he had ever betrayed.
You replied in the negative and likewise the Apostles never betray. Then
I asked you what he ordered you to do. You replied that he ordered you
to worship Allah and Allah alone and not to worship any thing along with
Him and forbade you to worship idols and ordered you to pray, to speak
the truth and to be chaste. If what you have said is true, he will very
soon occupy this place underneath my feet and I knew it (from the
scriptures) that he was going to appear but I did not know that he would
be from you, and if I could reach him definitely, I would go
immediately to meet him and if I were with him, I would certainly wash
his feet.' Heraclius then asked for the letter addressed by Allah's
which was delivered by Dihya to the Governor of Busra, who forwarded it
to Heraclius to read. The contents of the letter were as follows: "In
the name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful (This letter is) from
Muhammad the slave of Allah and His Apostle to Heraclius the ruler of
Byzantine. Peace be upon him, who follows the right path. Furthermore I
invite you to Islam, and if you become a Muslim you will be safe, and
Allah will double your reward, and if you reject this invitation of
Islam you will be committing a sin by misguiding your Arisiyin
(peasants). (And I recite to you Allah's Statement:)
'O people of the scripture! Come to a word common to you and us that we
worship none but Allah and that we associate nothing in worship with
Him, and that none of us shall take others as Lords beside Allah. Then,
if they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are Muslims (those who have
surrendered to Allah).' (3:64).
Abu Sufyan then added, "When Heraclius had finished his speech and had
read the letter, there was a great hue and cry in the Royal Court. So we
were turned out of the court. I told my companions that the question of
Ibn-Abi-Kabsha) (the Prophet Muhammad) has become so prominent that
even the King of Bani Al-Asfar (Byzantine) is afraid of him. Then I
started to become sure that he (the Prophet) would be the conqueror in
the near future till I embraced Islam (i.e. Allah guided me to it)."
The sub narrator adds, "Ibn An-Natur was the Governor of llya'
(Jerusalem) and Heraclius was the head of the Christians of Sham. Ibn
An-Natur narrates that once while Heraclius was visiting ilya'
(Jerusalem), he got up in the morning with a sad mood. Some of his
priests asked him why he was in that mood? Heraclius was a foreteller
and an astrologer. He replied, 'At night when I looked at the stars, I
saw that the leader of those who practice circumcision had appeared
(become the conqueror). Who are they who practice circumcision?' The
people replied, 'Except the Jews nobody practices circumcision, so you
should not be afraid of them (Jews).
'Just Issue orders to kill every Jew present in the country.'
While they were discussing it, a messenger sent by the king of Ghassan
to convey the news of Allah's Apostle to Heraclius was brought in.
Having heard the news, he (Heraclius) ordered the people to go and see
whether the messenger of Ghassan was circumcised. The people, after
seeing him, told Heraclius that he was circumcised. Heraclius then asked
him about the Arabs. The messenger replied, 'Arabs also practice
(After hearing that) Heraclius remarked that sovereignty of the 'Arabs
had appeared. Heraclius then wrote a letter to his friend in Rome who
was as good as Heraclius in knowledge. Heraclius then left for Homs. (a
town in Syrian and stayed there till he received the reply of his letter
from his friend who agreed with him in his opinion about the emergence
of the Prophet and the fact that he was a Prophet. On that Heraclius
invited all the heads of the Byzantines to assemble in his palace at
Homs. When they assembled, he ordered that all the doors of his palace
be closed. Then he came out and said, 'O Byzantines! If success is your
desire and if you seek right guidance and want your empire to remain
then give a pledge of allegiance to this Prophet (i.e. embrace Islam).'
(On hearing the views of Heraclius) the people ran towards the gates of
the palace like onagers but found the doors closed. Heraclius realized
their hatred towards Islam and when he lost the hope of their embracing
Islam, he ordered that they should be brought back in audience.
(When they returned) he said, 'What already said was just to test the
strength of your conviction and I have seen it.' The people prostrated
before him and became pleased with him, and this was the end of
Heraclius's story (in connection with his faith).