Continuation from Safar edition
After a great deal of thought they evolved a plan of action. They sent the leading politician of the Arab world, ‘Amr bin Aas and ‘Abdullah bin Abi Rabee’ah with expensive gifts for Najashi, in order to persuade him to hand over the Muslim Migrants to their custody. Before meeting the ruler personally, they met the important advisers and ministers laden with gifts for them as well. This was to lay the ground for the final talks with Najashi, himself. They presented their viewpoint and arguments for help in persuading the ruler. The ministers assured them of full cooperation and help.
Finally, they presented themselves before Najashi, and after offering their gifts and respectful salutations, they proceeded to present their case. The refugee Muslims who were persecuted for their religious beliefs they called crazy rebels, who were sowing discord within families and tribes because of their ‘heretic’ views. Fathers were opposed to sons and brother was fighting brother. They were breaking away from the traditions and belief of their forefathers and were following some weird new faith. They had been allowed to live peacefully because of the generosity and liberal views of Najashi, but they were not be trusted. They could cause trouble in his country as well, since they did not believe in the Christian faith either. The best solution would be to hand them over to the Quraish, who knew best how to deal with them.
Najashi looked towards his courtiers for their opinion. They agreed with the viewpoint of the Quraish that this was an internal dispute and the political refugees should be handed over to the representatives of the Quraish. Najashi was a fair minded, far-sighted and frank man. So, he called for the leader of the refugees to present their case. The delegation chose Ja’far bin Abi Talib as their leader.
When the delegation reached the court of Najashi, they wished him and took their seats. ‘Amr bin ‘Aas immediately found fault with them, saying they were too arrogant; they should have followed the formal protocol of the court and prostrated themselves before the ruler. Najashi asked them why they had had not observed the decorum of the royal court. Ja’far replied that they believed that they should prostrate only before the creator and not before any of the Almighty’s creations. This would amount to worship of a being other than Allah.
Najashi replied that he heard that they adopted a strange new religion. Ja’far explained to him eloquently the tenets of Islam.
“Your Royal Highness, we were an uncivilized people who used to worship idols, eat dead carcasses, and have drinking orgies. Internal and tribal feuds were common with us and these could go on for a hundred years. We did not maintain good relations with our own kith and kin; we forgot that our neighbors had rights upon us. The law of the jungle prevailed and might was right. In short, we lived like animals. Then Allah sent a messenger to guide us to the right path. He was one of our own from the tribe and a family known to us. We all acknowledged that he was an exceptional man of integrity, honestly and modesty. He invited us to worship Allah, to always speak the truth and be honest in our dealings and keep our promises. He taught us what is lawful and to abstain from what is not lawful. He said the orphans, the poor, the distressed and women – all had rights in society, and it was wrong to usurp these rights. He taught us the values of chastity and virtue and asked us to abstain from slander and backbiting. He said we should remember Allah in prayer and fasting; we should pay our poor dues so that there could be equitable distribution of money. And soon it was as if we became a new people. Lawlessness, crime, debauchery and constant feuding – all were forgotten. The same people now became a caring community; each wanted for his brother what he wanted for himself.
The nation turned against us because of our virtuous behavior and started torturing us. But we were not ready to sink into that morass of evil again, and when persecution reached its peak, we decided to flee and come to you, as we had heard that your rule was just, and you were tolerant, sympathetic and hospitable to refugees.”
Najashi then answered that he had heard their prophet received revelations from his Allah, and that he would like to hear to some of these.
Ja’far took advantage of the opportunity to recite Surah Maryam in such a heartrending manner that Najashi started shaking, tears started coursing down his cheeks and his beard. The courtiers were speechless.
Finally, gaining control, Najashi said that it seemed these Ayat and those in the Bible had the same Divine origin. The people in his court were stunned and they thought to themselves that the same magic that Muhammad had used to bewitch and entrance people in Makkah was now working on their ruler as well. Najashi then told the emissaries of the Quraish that these were people of good character and found continue to live in Abyssiniah if they wished.
Further, he would continue to give every kind of protection necessary, and the delegation from Makkah could leave carrying back their gifts. If someone gave him even a mountain of gold in exchange for these righteous people, he would not surrender them. ‘Amr bin ‘Aas and ‘Abdullah bin Abi Rabee’ah felt really small after this open snub and started looking at each other. How would they face their leaders after the failure of their mission?
All their plotting came to nothing. They then left, but not for home; they could not give up so easily and started discussing alternative strategies to gain their ends.
Finally, ‘Amr came up with an idea. He said he would tell Najashi something that would really enrage him. He felt confident that this scheme could not fail. ‘Abdullah asked him what he would tell the king.
‘Amr said that the Muslims looked upon ‘Isa as a human being and the servant of Allah, but the Christians called him the son of God. This new revelation, they thought, would certainly change the attitude of Najashi. He said the whole court would be mesmerized by this new revelation.
After reaching Najashi’s court the next morning, they greeted him and plunged in with the information, they said they had forgotten to bring to his attention. These Muslims were so insolent that they refused to acknowledge ‘Isa as the son of God and claimed that he was an ordinary mortal and servant of Allah. They requested the king to call the Muslims and ask them their opinion about ‘Isa was.
The Muslims were summoned to the court and questioned about the status of ‘Isa. Ja’far replied that their prophet told them that he was the servant and Messenger of Allah; and he was also the spirit and word of Allah. Najashi was so happy to hear this complete answer that he beat his palm on the floor and exclaimed that what he had heard was exactly right and there was absolutely no difference between this statement and what ‘Isa has stated about himself. Then he told the migrant Muslims that they could live with peace and goodwill in his country; no one could dare to harm them in even the smallest degree. Then he returned to the representatives of the Quraish and said they could return to their country with their gifts; by the grace of Allah he and his people had enough and more.
The embarrassed delegates returned empty-handed; mission unfulfilled! Umm Salamah has written about this memorable first migration of the Muslims and described the greatness of Najashi in such a moving manner that it has become an integral and important part of Islamic history.
Umm Salamah narrates that their life in Abyssiniah was very peaceful and Najashi was very kind, but all the same they were homesick for Makkah. They continued longing for the time when peace would finally prevail so they could return to their beloved country. One day news reached that ‘Umar bin Khattab accepted Islam and that the conditions in Makkah had changed completely. It was said that because of the authority and influence of ‘Umar the persecution of Muslims came to an end. They were all so excited at this good news, writes Umm Salamah that they decided to set out for their homes. ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan also set out with them with his family. On reaching Makkah they realized it had been just a rumor and things were much worse than before. Muslims were the targets of worse crimes and persecution. But it was too late.
An accepted tradition states what had happened. The disbelievers heard the prophet (SAW) reciting Ayat from the Noble Qur’an and prostrated involuntarily at one Ayat with him. Like all rumors this too ballooned into news that the Quraish had converted to Islam. This was not so.
Weary of the constant problems they faced, they decided to leave for Abyssiniah again. It was at this time that the prophet (SAW) ordered staunch Muslims to migrate to Al-Madinah, (as they came to be called), had said they would look after their migrant brethren.
Abu Salamah’s with his family left on camels for Al-Madinah. When members of her family saw this, they caught the bridle of the camel and told him that he could go where he wanted but he would have to leave behind their daughter. They said it seemed like a joke – he was always off somewhere or the other, Abyssiniah, then Al-Madinah! He never seemed to give her a peaceful settled life.
Abu Salamah’s family heard this they were enraged. They came and took her sons away, saying she could not take them with her; they were their flesh and blood and they would bring them up. So, in a moment the whole family was split up in three different places. Abu Salamah left for Al-Madinah, his wife was left with her parents and the sons were with the grandparents. It was such a shock – this being torn apart from husband and sons – that she just could not stop weeping. Every day she used to visit the spot from where the husband and children had been torn away from her and weep for her loved ones. One day one of the members of her tribe passed that way and saw her grieving and asked her what happened. She told him about her plight. He then went and gave a piece of his mind to the elders of both families, rebuking them for their cruel behavior towards a noble and helpless lady. His emotional and blunt outburst made them realize how unjust they were, and they relented. They gave back her sons to her, and her family too gave her permission to proceed to Al-Madinah.