The Prophet’s ﷺ Plans to spread the Message of Islam beyond Arabia

Late in the sixth year A.H., on his return from Hudaibiyah, the Prophetﷺ decided to send messages to the kings beyond Arabia calling them to Islam. In order to authenticate the credentials of his messengers, a silver seal was made in which were engraved the words: “Muhammadﷺ the Messenger of Allâh”

Messengers were chosen on the basis of their experience and knowledge, and sent on their responsibilities in Muharram in the year 7 A.H., a few days before heading for Khaibar.

(1) Letter to Abyssinia (Ethiopia)

Negus, king of Abyssinia (Ethiopia), whose name was Ashamah bin Al-Abjar, received the Prophet’sﷺ message, dispatched by Amr bin Umaiyah Ad-Damri , which At-Tabari referred to either late in the sixth year or early in the seventh year A.H. Deep scrutiny into the letter shows that it was not the one sent after the Hudaibiyah event. Wording of the letter rather indicates that it was sent to that king when Ja’far and his companions emigrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) during the Makkan period. One of its sentences read: “I have dispatched my cousin, Ja’far with a group of Muslims, to you. Do be generous towards them and do not oppress them.” Al-Baihaqi. on the authority of Ibn Ishaq, gave the following narration of the Prophet’sﷺ letter sent to Negus.

[1] Sahih Al-Bukhart 2/872-873. (2) Rahmatul-lil-‘Alamin 1/171.

Dr. Hameedullah (Paris), a reliable verifier, has presented a version of the above letter disclosed only a short time ago and identical to Ibn Al-Qaiyim’s narration. Dr. Hameedullah exerted painstaking effort and used all means of modern technology to verify the text of the letter, which reads as follows: “In the Name of Allâh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. From Muhammadﷺ, the Messenger of Allâh, to Negus, king of Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Peace be upon him who follows true guidance. To proceed: I praise Allâh, there is no God but He, the Sovereign, the Holy. the Source of peace, the Giver of peace, the Guardian of faith, the Preserver of safety. I bear witness that Jesus, the son of Mary, is the spirit of Allâh and His Word which He cast into Mary, the virgin, the good, the pure, so that she conceived Jesus. So, she conceived him from Allâh’s spirit and breathing as He created Adam by His Hand. I call you to Allâh Alone with no associate and to His obedience and to follow me, and to believe in that which

came to me, for I am the Messenger of Allâh. I invite you and your men to Allâh, the Glorious, the All-Mighty. I hereby bear witness that I have communicated my message and advice. I invite you to listen and accept my advice. Peace be upon him who follows true guidance.

When ‘Amr bin Umaiyah Ad-Damri delivered the letter to Negus, the latter took the parchment and placed it on his eye, descended to the floor, confessed his faith in Islam and wrote the following reply to the Prophetﷺ “In the Name of Allâh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. From Negus Ashamah to Muhammadﷺ, the Messenger of Allah, Peace be upon you. O Prophet of Allâhl And mercy and blessing from Allâh beside Whom there is no God. I have received your letter in which you have mentioned about Jesus, and by the Lord of heaven and earth, Jesus is not more than what you say. We fully acknowledge that with which you have been sent to us and we have entertained your cousin and his companions. I bear witness that you are the Messenger of Allâh, true and confirming (those who have gone before you), I pledge to you through your cousin and surrender myself through him to the Lord of the worlds. The Prophet ﷺasked Negus to send Ja’far and his companions – the emigrants to Abyssinia (Ethiopia). back home. They came back to see the Prophetﷺ in Khaibar. Negus later died in Rajab 9 AH., shortly after the Invasion of Tabuk. The Prophet ﷺannounced his death and observed prayer in absentia for him.

(2)Letter to the King of Egypt, called Muqawqis

The Prophet ﷺ wrote to Juraij bin Matta, called Muqawqis, the King of Egypt and Alexandria . Hatib bin Abi Balta’ah who was chosen to communicate the message, requested a meeting with Muqawqis before conveying the contents of the letter. He addressed Egypt’s ruler saying: “There used to be someone before you who had acquired the status of the supreme lord, so Allâh punished him and made an example of him in the Hereafter and in this life; therefore, take warning and never set a bad example to others.” Muqawqis answered: “We are in no position to give up our religion except for a better one.” Hatib resumed: “We invite you to embrace Islam, which will suffice you all what you may lose. Our Prophetﷺ has called people to profess this Faith, the Quraish and the Jews stood against him as bitter enemies, whereas Christians stood closest to his Call. Upon my life, Moses’ news about Jesus is identical to the latter’s good tidings about the advent of Muhammadﷺ; likewise, this invitation of ours to you to embrace Islam is similar to your invitation to the People of Torah to accept the New Testament. Once a Prophet rises in a nation, he is eligible for positive response; hence you are subject to the same Divine Law. Bear in mind that we have not come to advice against you from the

religion of Jesus but rather requesting you to adhere to its principles.” Muqawqis meditated over the contents of the letter deeply and said: “I have come to the conviction that this Prophet proposes nothing repulsive: he is neither a straying magician nor a lying soothsayer. He bears the true manifest seeds of Prophethood, and so I will consider the affair deeply.” He took the parchment and ordered that it be kept in an ivory casket. He called a scribe to write the following reply in Arabic: “In the Name of Allâh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. From Muqawqis to Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah, Peace be upon you. I have read your letter and understood its contents, and what you are calling for. I already know that the coming of a Prophet is still due, but I used to believe he would be born in Syria. I am sending you as presents two maids, who come from noble Coptic families; clothing and a steed for riding on. Peace be upon you.” It is noteworthy that Muqawqis did not avail himself of this priceless opportunity and he did not embrace Islam. The presents were accepted: Mariyah, Radiallahu anhoo stayed with the Nabi Pakﷺ and gave birth to his son Ibrahim; the other, Sirin. was given to Hassan bin Thabit Al-Ansari Radiallahu anhoo. The steed’s name was Duldul.

(3)Letter to Chosroes, Emperor of Persia

Abdullah bin Hudhafah As-Sahmi Radiallahu anhoo was chosen to carry the letter. He carried it to the governor of Bahrain, but we do not know as yet if the latter dispatched it to Chosroes by one of his men or chose ‘Abdullah himself. The proud king was filled into anger by the style of the letter as the name of the Prophet ﷺ had been put above his own name. He tore the letter into shreds and forthwith dictated a command to his governor in Yemen to send a couple of troopers to arrest the Prophetﷺ and bring him to his presence. The governor, Badhan by name, immediately sent two men to Madinah for the purpose. As soon as the men reached Madinah, the Prophetﷺ was informed by a Divine Revelation that Pervez, the emperor of Persia, had been murdered by his son. The Prophet disclosed to them the news and they were stunned. He added asking them to tell their new king that Islam would prevail everywhere and exceed the kingdom of Chosroes himself. They hurried back to Badhan and communicated to him what they heard. Meanwhile, Sherweh, the new king sent a letter to Badhan confirming the news and ordering him to stop any procedures as regards the Prophetﷺ mention till further notice. Badhan, together with the Persians in Yemen, went into the folds of Islam, and gladly signified his adhesion to the Prophetﷺ.

(4)The Envoy to Caesar, King of Rome

Dihyah bin Khalifah Al-Kalbi Radiallahu anhoo was ordered to hand over the letter to the governor of Busra, who would in turn, send it to Caesar. Incidentally, Abu Sufyan bin Harb, who by that time had not embraced Islam, was summoned to the court and Heraclius asked him many questions about Nabi Pakﷺ and the religion which he preached. The testimony which this open enemy of the Prophetﷺ gave regarding the personal excellence of the Prophet’sﷺ character and the good that Islam was doing the human race, left Heraclius wonder-struck. Al-Bukhari, on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas Radiallahu anhoo narrated that Heraclius sent for Abu Sufyan and his companions, who happened to be trading in Ash-Sham (Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan). he came to Iliya’ (Baitul-Maqdis). That was during the truce that had been concluded between the polytheists of Quraish and Allâh’s Messenger ﷺ Heraclius, seated among his chiefs of staff,

asked, “Who amongst you is the nearest relative to the man who claims to be a Prophetﷺ?” Abu Sufyan said: “I replied: ‘I am the nearest relative to him from amongst the group.’ 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 (ie. Abu Sufyan’s companions) that I am going to ask him (i.e.. Abu Sufyan) regarding that men who claims to be a Prophetﷺ. So if he tells a lie, they should contradict him (instantly).’ By Allâh had I not been afraid that my companions would consider me a liar, I would have told lies,” Abu Sufyan later said. Abu Sufyan’s testimony went as follows: “Muhammadﷺ descends from a noble family. No one of his family happened to assume kingship. His followers are those considered weak, with numbers ever growing. He neither tells lies nor betrays others, we fight him and he fights us but with alternate victory. He bids people to worship Allâh Alone with no associate, and abandon our fathers’ beliefs. He orders us to observe prayer, honesty, and abstinence: and to maintain strong family ties.” “Heraclius, on hearing this testimony, turned to his translator ordering him to communicate to us his impression which revealed full confidence in the truthfulness of Muhammad’sﷺ Prophethood: ‘I fully realize that Prophets come from noble families; he does not have any previous example of Prophethood. Since none of his ancestors was a king, we cannot then claim that he is a man trying to reclaim his father’s kingdom. So long as he does not tell lies regarding people, he is for the more reason, immune to telling lies as regards Allâh. Concerning his followers being those considered weak with numbers ever growing, that is the case with Faith until it is complete. I have understood that no instance of apostasy has as yet appeared among his followers, and this points to the bliss of Faith that finds its place in the human heart. Betrayal, as I see, is alien to him because real Prophets hold themselves from betrayal. You said he orders worship of Allâh with no associates, observance of prayer, honesty and abstinence, and prohibition of paganism, if this is true, he will soon rule the place beneath my feet. I have already known that a Prophet must arise but it has

The Prophet’s Plans to spread the Message of Islam beyond Arabia never occurred to me that he will be an Arab from among you. If I was sure. I would be faithful to him: I might hope to meet him, and if I were with him. I would wash his feet. Heraclius then requested that the Prophet’s ﷺletter be read. The observations of the emperor and finally the definite and clear-cut exposition of the Islamic message could not but create a tense atmosphere amongst the clergy present at the court. They were ordered to leave.” Abu Sufyan said. “While coming out, I said to my companions, The matter of Ibn Abi Kabshah (i.e., Muhammad ﷺhas become so prominent that even the king of Banu Al-Asfar (i.e. the Romans) is afraid of him.’ So I continued to believe that Allâh’s Messenger would be victorious, till Allâh made me embrace Islam.” The king did not embrace Islam for it was differently ordained. However, the Muslim envoy was returned to Madinah with the felicitations of the emperor. On his way back to Madinah, Dihyah Al-Kalbi was intercepted by people from the Judham tribe in Husma, who looted the presents sent to the Prophet ﷺ a Zaid bin Harithah at the head of five hundred men was dispatched to that spot, he inflicted heavy losses on those people and captured 1000 camels. 5000 of their cattle and a hundred women and boys. One of the chiefs of Judham who had embraced Islam, filed a complaint with the Prophetﷺ , who gave a positive response to the former’s protest, and ordered that all the spoils and captives be returned. Most of the authors about the battles of the Prophetﷺ say that this event occurred before Al-Hudaibiyah, but it is an obvious mistake since he sent the letter to Heraclius after Al-Hudaibiyah. This is why Ibn Al-Qaiyim said. “It was after Al-Hudaibiyah without a doubt.”

(5)Letter to Mundhir bin Sawa, Governor of Bahrain

The Prophet dispatched Al-‘Ala’ bin Al-Hadrami to the

governor of Bahrain, carrying a letter inviting him to embrace Islam In reply. Al-Mundhir bin Sawa wrote the following letter: “Allâh’s Messenger! I read your letter, which you wrote to the people of Bahrain extending to them an invitation to Islam. Islam appealed to some of them and they entered the fold of Islam, while others did not find it appealing. In my country, there live Magians and Jews, and therefore you may inform me of the treatment to be extended to them.”

The Prophet ﷺwrote the following letter in reply to his: “In the Name of Allâh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. From Muhammad,ﷺ Messenger of Allâh, to Mundhir bin Sawa. Peace be on you! I praise Allâh with no associate, and I bear witness that Muhammadﷺ is Messenger. Thereafter, I remind you of Allâh the Mighty and the Glorious. Whoever accepts admonition, does it for his own good. Whoever follows my messengers and acts in accordance with their guidance, he in fact accepts my advice. My messengers have highly praised your behavior. You shall continue in your present office. Give the new Muslims full chance to preach their religion. I accept your recommendation regarding the people of Bahrain, and I pardon the offences of the offenders; therefore, you may also forgive them. Of the people of Bahrain whoever wants to go on in their Jewish or Magian faith, should be made to pay Jizyah (head tax).”(!]

(6)Letter to Haudhah bin ‘Ali, Governor of Yamamah

The envoy chosen was Sulait bin ‘Amr Al-‘Amiri Radiallahu anhoo who after communicating his message, carried back the following reply to the Prophetﷺ “The Faith, to which you invite me, is very good. I am a famous orator and poet, the Arabs highly respect me and I hold a position among them. If you include me in your government, I am prepared to follow you.” The governor then bestowed a reward on Sulait Radiallahu anhoo and presented him with clothes made of Hajar fabric. Of course, he put all those presents before the Prophetﷺ

The Prophetﷺ did not accept Haudhah’s demand. He usually turned down such authoritative tone, and would say that the whole matter was in the Hand of Allâh, Who gave His land to whoever He desired. Gabriel AlaihisSalam later came with the Revelation that Haudhah had died. The Prophet ﷺ in the context of his comment on this news, said:

“As for Yamamah, from it will come a liar claiming prophethood after me, but he shall be killed.” When someone asked who would kill him, he replied: “You and your companions.” And it occurred as he said.

(7)Letter to Al-Harith bin Abi Shimr Al-Ghassani, King of Damascus

” Shuja’ bin Wahb Radiallahu anhoo had the honor of taking the letter to Harith,

who upon hearing the letter read in his audience, was madly infuriated and uttered: “Who dares to dispose me of my country, I’ll fight him (the Prophet ﷺ),” and arrogantly rejec-ed the Prophet’sﷺ invitation to the fold of Islam.”

(8) Letter to the King of Oman, Jaifer, and his Brother ‘Abd bin Al-Julandai

‘Amr bin Al-‘Ashe, Radiallahu anhoo who was chosen to carry the letter, narrated the following story that happened before he was admitted into the audience of Jaifer: “When I arrived in Oman I contacted ‘Abd, who was known to be more mild-tempered than his brother, the following dialogue took place between him and me: ‘Amr: I am the messenger of Allâh’s Prophetﷺ coming to see both, you and your brother. , ‘Abd: You have to see my brother and read to him the letter you are carrying. He is my senior in both age and kingship. Incidentally, what is the purpose of your mission? ‘Amr: We invite to believe in Allâh Alone with no associate, to discard any other deities and testify to the Messengership of Muhammadﷺ

Abd: O ‘Amr! You come from a noble family, but first of all, tell me what was your father’s attitude concerning this Faith? You know, we used to follow his steps. ‘Amr: Death overtook him before believing in Muhammad’sﷺ mission; I wish now he had embraced Islam and had faith in it before his death. I myself had adopted the same attitude until Allâh guided me towards Islam. ‘Abd: When did you embrace Islam? ‘Amr: When I was in the court of the Negus, who also entered Islam. ‘Abd: What was the reaction of his people? ‘Amr: They approved of him and followed his steps. ‘Abd: The bishops and monks also? ‘Amr: They did the same. ‘Abd: Beware ‘Amr of lying, for this soon disgraces a person than any other thing. ‘Amr: I never tell lies; moreover, our religion never allows it. ‘Abd: Has Heraclius been informed that the Negus accepted Islam? ‘Amr: Yes, of course. ‘Abd: How did you happen to know that? ‘Amr: The Negus used to pay land tax to Heraclius, but when the former embraced Islam, he swore he would discontinue that tax. When this news reached Heraclius, his brother Al-Yannaq advised him to take action against Negus but he refused and added that he himself would do the same if he were not greedy of his kingship. ‘Abd: What does your Prophet ﷺorder you to do? ‘Amr: He orders us to obey Allâh the All-Mighty and the AllGlorious, to be pious and maintain good ties with family kin: he forbids aggression, adultery, disobedience, wine, idolatry and devotion to the cross. ‘Abd: Fair words and fair beliefs are those you are calling for. I wish my brother would follow me to believe in Muhammadﷺ and

profess his religion, but my brother is too greedy of his kingship to become a subordinate, ‘Amr: Should your brother surrender himself to Islam, the Prophet ﷺ would give him authority over his people and take alms tax from the wealthy people to be given to the needy. ‘Abd: That is fair behavior. But what is this alms tax you have mentioned? ‘Amr: It is a Divine commandment that alms tax be taken from the well-to-do people who have surplus wealth and be distributed to the poor

‘Abd: I doubt if this can work among our people.” ‘Amr stayed for some days to be admitted into Jaifer’s court until he was finally granted this permit

. He said: “He asked me to hand him the letter to read it. After that he asked me how the Quraish had reacted and I answered: ‘They had followed him, some out of their own freewill and others overpowered by military fighting. Now, people have chosen Islam in preference to other creeds, and have realized through their mental insight that they had been straying in darkness. None, except you, is now out of the domain of Islam, so I advise you to embrace Islam so that you can provide security to yourself and your country.’ Here, he asked me to call on him the following day. The following day he showed some unwillingness in receiving me but his brother, ‘Abd, interceded and I was given the chance to see him again, but this time he addressed me in a threatening arrogant tone. However, after a private talk with his brother and reconsidering the whole situation, both brothers embraced Islam and proved to be true to Islam that had begun to make its way into this new area. The context of this story reveals that this letter was sent at a much later date than the others, most likely after the conquest of Makkah.

Through these letters, the Prophet ﷺ managed to communicate his Message to most of the kings at that time: some believed, while others remained obstinate and persisted in their disbelief. However, the idea of embracing Islam, and the advent of a new Prophet preoccupied all of them.

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