Prophet Muhammad’s Letter to the Roman Emperor, Heraclius

   عن ابْنُ عَبَّاسٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي أَبُو سُفْيَانَ، مِنْ فِيهِ إِلَى فِيَّ قَالَ: ( انْطَلَقْتُ فِي الْمُدَّةِ الَّتِي كَانَتْ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ قَالَ ـ فَبَيْنَا أَنَا بِالشَّأْمِ إِذْ جِيءَ بِكِتَابٍ مِنَ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِلَى هِرَقْلَ قَالَ وَكَانَ دِحْيَةُ الْكَلْبِيُّ جَاءَ بِهِ فَدَفَعَهُ إِلَى عَظِيمِ بُصْرَى، فَدَفَعَهُ عَظِيمُ بُصْرَى إِلَى ـ هِرَقْلَ ـ قَالَ فَقَالَ هِرَقْلُ هَلْ هَا هُنَا أَحَدٌ مِنْ قَوْمِ هَذَا الرَّجُلِ الَّذِي يَزْعُمُ أَنَّهُ نَبِيٌّ فَقَالُوا نَعَمْ‏.‏ قَالَ فَدُعِيتُ فِي نَفَرٍ مِنْ قُرَيْشٍ فَدَخَلْنَا عَلَى هِرَقْلَ، فَأُجْلِسْنَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ.

 فَقَالَ أَيُّكُمْ أَقْرَبُ نَسَبًا مِنْ هَذَا الرَّجُلِ الَّذِي يَزْعُمُ أَنَّهُ نَبِيٌّ فَقَالَ أَبُو سُفْيَانَ فَقُلْتُ أَنَا‏.‏ فَأَجْلَسُونِي بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ، وَأَجْلَسُوا أَصْحَابِي خَلْفِي، ثُمَّ دَعَا بِتُرْجُمَانِهِ فَقَالَ قُلْ لَهُمْ إِنِّي سَائِلٌ هَذَا عَنْ هَذَا الرَّجُلِ الَّذِي يَزْعُمُ أَنَّهُ نَبِيٌّ، فَإِنْ كَذَبَنِي فَكَذِّبُوهُ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو سُفْيَانَ وَايْمُ اللَّهِ، لَوْلاَ أَنْ يُؤْثِرُوا عَلَىَّ الْكَذِبَ لَكَذَبْتُ‏.‏

  ثُمَّ قَالَ لِتُرْجُمَانِهِ سَلْهُ كَيْفَ حَسَبُهُ فِيكُمْ قَالَ قُلْتُ هُوَ فِينَا ذُو حَسَبٍ‏.‏ قَالَ فَهَلْ كَانَ مِنْ آبَائِهِ مَلِكٌ قَالَ قُلْتُ لاَ‏.‏ قَالَ فَهَلْ كُنْتُمْ تَتَّهِمُونَهُ بِالْكَذِبِ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَقُولَ مَا قَالَ قُلْتُ لاَ‏.‏ قَالَ أَيَتَّبِعُهُ أَشْرَافُ النَّاسِ أَمْ ضُعَفَاؤُهُمْ قَالَ قُلْتُ بَلْ ضُعَفَاؤُهُمْ‏.‏ قَالَ يَزِيدُونَ أَوْ يَنْقُصُونَ قَالَ قُلْتُ لاَ بَلْ يَزِيدُونَ‏.‏ قَالَ هَلْ يَرْتَدُّ أَحَدٌ مِنْهُمْ عَنْ دِينِهِ، بَعْدَ أَنْ يَدْخُلَ فِيهِ، سَخْطَةً لَهُ قَالَ قُلْتُ لاَ‏.‏ قَالَ فَهَلْ قَاتَلْتُمُوهُ قَالَ قُلْتُ نَعَمْ‏.‏ قَالَ فَكَيْفَ كَانَ قِتَالُكُمْ إِيَّاهُ قَالَ قُلْتُ تَكُونُ الْحَرْبُ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَهُ سِجَالاً، يُصِيبُ مِنَّا وَنُصِيبُ مِنْهُ‏.‏ قَالَ فَهَلْ يَغْدِرُ قَالَ قُلْتُ لاَ وَنَحْنُ مِنْهُ فِي هَذِهِ الْمُدَّةِ لاَ نَدْرِي مَا هُوَ صَانِعٌ فِيهَا‏.‏ قَالَ وَاللَّهِ مَا أَمْكَنَنِي مِنْ كَلِمَةٍ أُدْخِلُ فِيهَا شَيْئًا غَيْرَ هَذِهِ‏.‏ قَالَ فَهَلْ قَالَ هَذَا الْقَوْلَ أَحَدٌ قَبْلَهُ قُلْتُ لاَ‏.

‏ ثُمَّ قَالَ لِتُرْجُمَانِهِ قُلْ لَهُ إِنِّي سَأَلْتُكَ عَنْ حَسَبِهِ فِيكُمْ، فَزَعَمْتَ أَنَّهُ فِيكُمْ ذُو حَسَبٍ، وَكَذَلِكَ الرُّسُلُ تُبْعَثُ فِي أَحْسَابِ قَوْمِهَا، وَسَأَلْتُكَ هَلْ كَانَ فِي آبَائِهِ مَلِكٌ فَزَعَمْتَ أَنْ لاَ فَقُلْتُ لَوْ كَانَ مِنْ آبَائِهِ مَلِكٌ قُلْتُ رَجُلٌ يَطْلُبُ مُلْكَ آبَائِهِ، وَسَأَلْتُكَ عَنْ أَتْبَاعِهِ أَضُعَفَاؤُهُمْ أَمْ أَشْرَافُهُمْ فَقُلْتَ بَلْ ضُعَفَاؤُهُمْ، وَهُمْ أَتْبَاعُ الرُّسُلِ، وَسَأَلْتُكَ هَلْ كُنْتُمْ تَتَّهِمُونَهُ بِالْكَذِبِ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَقُولَ مَا قَالَ فَزَعَمْتَ أَنْ لاَ، فَعَرَفْتُ أَنَّهُ لَمْ يَكُنْ لِيَدَعَ الْكَذِبَ عَلَى النَّاسِ ثُمَّ يَذْهَبَ فَيَكْذِبَ عَلَى اللَّهِ، وَسَأَلْتُكَ هَلْ يَرْتَدُّ أَحَدٌ مِنْهُمْ عَنْ دِينِهِ بَعْدَ أَنْ يَدْخُلَ فِيهِ سَخْطَةً لَهُ فَزَعَمْتَ أَنْ لاَ، وَكَذَلِكَ الإِيمَانُ إِذَا خَالَطَ بَشَاشَةَ الْقُلُوبِ، وَسَأَلْتُكَ هَلْ يَزِيدُونَ أَمْ يَنْقُصُونَ فَزَعَمْتَ أَنَّهُمْ يَزِيدُونَ، وَكَذَلِكَ الإِيمَانُ حَتَّى يَتِمَّ، وَسَأَلْتُكَ هَلْ قَاتَلْتُمُوهُ فَزَعَمْتَ أَنَّكُمْ قَاتَلْتُمُوهُ فَتَكُونُ الْحَرْبُ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَهُ سِجَالاً، يَنَالُ مِنْكُمْ وَتَنَالُونَ مِنْهُ، وَكَذَلِكَ الرُّسُلُ تُبْتَلَى، ثُمَّ تَكُونُ لَهُمُ الْعَاقِبَةُ، وَسَأَلْتُكَ هَلْ يَغْدِرُ فَزَعَمْتَ أَنَّهُ لاَ يَغْدِرُ، وَكَذَلِكَ الرُّسُلُ لاَ تَغْدِرُ، وَسَأَلْتُكَ هَلْ قَالَ أَحَدٌ هَذَا الْقَوْلَ قَبْلَهُ فَزَعَمْتَ أَنْ لاَ، فَقُلْتُ لَوْ كَانَ قَالَ هَذَا الْقَوْلَ أَحَدٌ قَبْلَهُ قُلْتُ رَجُلٌ ائْتَمَّ بِقَوْلٍ قِيلَ قَبْلَهُ‏.

‏ قَالَ ثُمَّ قَالَ بِمَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ قَالَ قُلْتُ يَأْمُرُنَا بِالصَّلاَةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ وَالصِّلَةِ وَالْعَفَافِ‏.‏ قَالَ إِنْ يَكُ مَا تَقُولُ فِيهِ حَقًّا فَإِنَّهُ نَبِيٌّ، وَقَدْ كُنْتُ أَعْلَمُ أَنَّهُ خَارِجٌ، وَلَمْ أَكُ أَظُنُّهُ مِنْكُمْ، وَلَوْ أَنِّي أَعْلَمُ أَنِّي أَخْلُصُ إِلَيْهِ لأَحْبَبْتُ لِقَاءَهُ، وَلَوْ كُنْتُ عِنْدَهُ لَغَسَلْتُ عَنْ قَدَمَيْهِ، وَلَيَبْلُغَنَّ مُلْكُهُ مَا تَحْتَ قَدَمَىَّ‏.‏

 قَالَ ثُمَّ دَعَا بِكِتَابِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَرَأَهُ، فَإِذَا فِيهِ ‏”‏ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ مِنْ مُحَمَّدٍ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ، إِلَى هِرَقْلَ عَظِيمِ الرُّومِ، سَلاَمٌ عَلَى مَنِ اتَّبَعَ الْهُدَى، أَمَّا بَعْدُ، فَإِنِّي أَدْعُوكَ بِدِعَايَةِ الإِسْلاَمِ، أَسْلِمْ تَسْلَمْ، وَأَسْلِمْ يُؤْتِكَ اللَّهُ أَجْرَكَ مَرَّتَيْنِ، فَإِنْ تَوَلَّيْتَ فَإِنَّ عَلَيْكَ إِثْمَ الأَرِيسِيِّينَ، وَ‏{‏يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْا إِلَى كَلِمَةٍ سَوَاءٍ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَنْ لاَ نَعْبُدَ إِلاَّ اللَّهَ‏}‏ إِلَى قَوْلِهِ ‏{‏اشْهَدُوا بِأَنَّا مُسْلِمُونَ}‏‏”‏‏.‏ فَلَمَّا فَرَغَ مِنْ قِرَاءَةِ الْكِتَابِ ارْتَفَعَتِ الأَصْوَاتُ عِنْدَهُ، وَكَثُرَ اللَّغَطُ، وَأُمِرَ بِنَا فَأُخْرِجْنَا قَالَ فَقُلْتُ لأَصْحَابِي حِينَ خَرَجْنَا لَقَدْ أَمِرَ أَمْرُ ابْنِ أَبِي كَبْشَةَ، أَنَّهُ لَيَخَافُهُ مَلِكُ بَنِي الأَصْفَرِ فَمَا زِلْتُ مُوقِنًا بِأَمْرِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنَّهُ سَيَظْهَرُ حَتَّى أَدْخَلَ اللَّهُ عَلَىَّ الإِسْلاَمَ‏.

قَالَ الزُّهْرِيُّ فَدَعَا هِرَقْلُ عُظَمَاءَ الرُّومِ فَجَمَعَهُمْ فِي دَارٍ لَهُ فَقَالَ يَا مَعْشَرَ الرُّومِ، هَلْ لَكُمْ فِي الْفَلاَحِ وَالرَّشَدِ آخِرَ الأَبَدِ، وَأَنْ يَثْبُتَ لَكُمْ مُلْكُكُمْ قَالَ فَحَاصُوا حَيْصَةَ حُمُرِ الْوَحْشِ إِلَى الأَبْوَابِ، فَوَجَدُوهَا قَدْ غُلِقَتْ، فَقَالَ عَلَىَّ بِهِمْ‏.‏ فَدَعَا بِهِمْ فَقَالَ إِنِّي إِنَّمَا اخْتَبَرْتُ شِدَّتَكُمْ عَلَى دِينِكُمْ، فَقَدْ رَأَيْتُ مِنْكُمُ الَّذِي أَحْبَبْتُ‏.‏ فَسَجَدُوا لَهُ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ)‏.  رواه البخاري.

   Narrated Ibn Abbas -may Allah be pleased with them- said (English translation): “

Abu Sufyan narrated to me personally, saying: “I set out during the Truce that had been concluded between me and Prophet Muhammad.  While I was in Al-Sham (Levant), a letter sent by the Prophet (ﷺ) was brought to Heraclius.  Dihya Al-Kalbi had brought and given it to the governor of Busra, and the latter forwarded it to Heraclius.  Heraclius said: ‘Can you find anyone from the tribe of this man who claims to be a prophet?’ The people replied: ‘Yes.’

So I along with some men from of the tribe of Qureish were called, and we went to see Heraclius.  We went, and we were asked to sit in front of him.

Heraclius said: ‘Who amongst you is the nearest relative to the man who claims to be a prophet?’   I replied that I was [Abu Sufyan was the leader of Qureish and was the cousin of Prophet Muhammad].  So they made me sit in front of him and made my companions sit behind me. Then he called upon his translator and said (to him): ‘Tell them ( i.e. Abu Sufyan’s companions) that I am going to ask him (i.e. Abu Sufyan) regarding that man who claims to be a prophet. So, if he tells me a lie, they should contradict him.’  By Allah, had I not been afraid that my companions would consider me a liar, I would have told lies.

Heraclius then said to his translator: ‘Ask him: What is his (i.e. the Prophet’s) family status amongst you?’  I replied: ‘He belongs to a noble family amongst us.’  Heraclius said: ‘Was any of his ancestors a king?’  I replied: ‘No.’  He said: ‘Did you ever accuse him of telling lies before his saying what he has said?’  I replied: ‘No.’  He said: ‘Do the nobles follow him or the poor people?’  I replied: ‘It is the poor who followed him.’  He asked: ‘Is the number of his follower increasing or decreasing?’  I replied: ‘They are increasing.’  He asked: ‘Does anyone renounce his religion (i.e. Islam) after embracing it, being displeased with it?’  I replied: ‘No.’   He asked: ‘Did you fight him?’  I replied: ‘Yes.’  He asked: ‘How was your fighting with him?’  I replied: ‘The fighting between us was undecided and victory was shared by him and us by turns, sometimes he wins and sometimes we win.’   He asked: ‘Did he ever betray?’  I replied: ‘No, and now we are away from him in this truce and we do not know what he will do in it.   Abu Sufyan added: ‘By Allah, I was not able to insert in my speech a word (against him) except that.’ Heraclius asked: ‘Did anybody else (amongst you) ever claimed the same (i.e. Islam) before him?’  I replied: ‘No.

                   Then Heraclius told his translator to tell me (i.e. Abu Sufyan): ‘I asked you about his family status amongst you, and you told me that he comes from a noble family amongst you.  Verily, all Apostles come from the noblest family among their people.  Then I asked you whether any of his ancestors was a king, and you denied that.  Thereupon I thought that had one of his forefathers been a king, I would have said that he (i.e. Muhammad) was seeking to rule the kingdom of his forefathers.  Then I asked you regarding his followers, whether they were the noble or the poor among the people, and you said that they were only the poor (who follow him).  In fact, such are the followers of the Apostles.  Then I asked you whether you have ever accused him of telling lies before saying what he said, and your reply was in the negative.  Therefore, I knew that a man who did not tell a lie to people, could never tell a lie about God.  Then I asked you whether anyone of his followers had renounced his religion (i.e. Islam) after embracing it, being displeased with it, and you denied that.  And such is Faith when it mixes with the cheerfulness of the hearts.  Then I asked you whether his followers were increasing or decreasing.  You claimed that they were increasing.  That is the way of true faith till it is complete.  Then I asked you whether you had ever fought him, and you claimed that you had fought him and the battle between you and him was undecided and the victory was shared by you and him in turns; sometimes he wins and sometimes you do.  Such is the case with true Messengers; they are tested but the final victory is for them.  Then I asked you whether he had ever betrayed; you claimed that he had never betrayed; and indeed true Messengers never betray.  Then I asked you whether anyone had said this statement before him; and you denied that.  Thereupon I thought if somebody had said that statement before him, then I would have said that he was but a man copying some sayings said before him.’

Abu Sufyan said: “Heraclius then asked: ‘What does Muhammad order you to do?’  I replied: ‘’He orders us to pray to God, to pay charity, to keep good relationship with the Kith and kin, and to be chaste.’  Heraclius said: ‘If whatever you have said is true, then he is a true Prophet.  I have known that a true prophet was going to appear, but I never thought that he would be from amongst you.  If I were certain that I can reach him, I would like to meet him and if I were with him, I would wash his feet.  Surely, his kingdom will expand to what is under my feet.’

Then Heraclius asked for the letter of the Messenger of God (Muhammad) and read it wherein was written:

‘In the Name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.  This letter is from Muhammad, Messenger of God, to Heraclius, the sovereign of Byzantine

Peace be upon him who follows the Right Path.  Then, I call you to embrace Islam. Embrace Islam and you will attain salvation, embrace Islam and God will give you a double reward.  But if you reject this message, you will be responsible for the sins of all the people of your kingdom.  God says: {O the people of the Scripture, come to a word common to you and us that we worship None but God, that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides God. Then, if they turn away, say: “Bear witness that we are Muslims”} (3.64).’

When Heraclius finished reading the letter, people’s voices grew louder near him and there was a great hue and cry, and we were ordered to go out.”  Abu Sufyan added: “While coming out, I said to my companions: “The situation of Ibn Abi Kabsha (i.e. Muhammad) has become strong; even the king of Banu Al- Asfar is afraid of him.”  So I continued to believe that the Messenger of God (Muhammad) would be victorious, till God guided me to embrace Islam.”

Az-Zuhri said: “Heraclius then invited all the chiefs of the Byzantines and had them assembled in his house and said: ‘O group of Byzantines, do you wish to have a permanent success and guidance and that your kingdom should remain with you?’  Upon hearing that invitation, they rushed towards the gate like zebras, but they found them closed.  On seeing their reaction, Heraclius said: ‘Bring them back to me.’  He then addressed them and said: ‘I just wanted to test the strength of your adherence to your religion. Now I have observed of you that which I like.’ Then the people fell in prostration before him and became pleased with him.”  Related by Al-Bukhari with authentic narration.

 

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