29. Exciting Happenings

But amazing things happened after that. Many tribes joined the truce; some joined Quraish and some joined the Muslims. And so, there was peace. People could now travel safely; they could meet Muslims and see what Islam was really like. This allowed the Prophet (s) to send messengers to kings of distant lands inviting them to Islam. A messenger was sent first to the King of Abyssinia, and when the message was read to him, he stepped down from his throne and put the letter to his eyes and said the shahada out loud. Remember when before he only kept it hidden in his heart?  Suddenly, Amr bin al-Aas entered upon the King with many expensive gifts. Amr had a plan that he had explained to the unbelievers of Quraish. He suggested they go and live with the King of Abyssinia until it was clear who would win, Muhammad or his enemies.  When he saw the messenger of Muhammad (s) leaving court, he asked his friend the King to allow him to kill the Muslim messenger. The King became extremely angry, “You want me to hand over the messenger of a man upon whom the Great Angel descends, for you to kill?” he shouted. Amr was frightened by his anger so he asked, “Is it really so?” “Oh Amr, said the King, “obey me and follow him for he comes with the truth.” And so Amr said his shahada to the king.

The Muslims in Abyssinia were informed of the truce by the messenger and asked to come back. And so, they excitedly prepared to return home. 

Prophet Muhammad (s) sent a messenger to the King of Persia, who tore the letter arrogantly. Another messenger was sent to the king of the Byzantines in Sham and the King of Alexandria in Egypt. Both kings were Christian and realized that this was the prophet that had read about in their books. But they were afraid they would lose their kingship, so they sent expensive gifts instead. A Messenger was sent to the King of the tribe of Ghassan, and his doorkeeper became Muslim but he did not. He, too, sent gifts. 

Now that there was a truce with Quraish, the Muslims needed to reach some agreement with the Jews of Khaybar, who had been the cause of much trouble. First, they had taken in Bani Nadeer; then they had helped them round up all the tribes to fight the Muslims in Medina. Prophet Muhammad (s) sent them a letter calling them to Islam.  He asked them by Allah Who fed their ancestors mann and salwa, and Who made the sea solid for them and saved them from Pharaoh, to tell him truthfully if it was mentioned in their book that they should believe in him. If not, then he would not force them to believe; the right way was clear and the wrong way was clear, and they were free to choose.

The Khaybar Jews did not admit to our beloved Prophet that he was mentioned in their book, they did not accept Islam, and they insisted on fighting the Muslims. So the Muslims laid siege to Khaybar, and surrounded their forts. Again they were called to Islam, as the the Muslims took over fort after fort. When the Muslims won, the Jews of Khaybar offered the Muslims half their crops every year, if they would be allowed to remain in their homes and tend to their land. The Muslims agreed. Even after this settlement was reached, a woman from Khaybar offered the Messenger (s) a poisoned roasted sheep. The Prophet (s) took a bite and spit it out saying, “This meat tells me it’s poisoned.” But it was too late, for one of the companions had already eaten from it and died. 

Ja’far and the Muslims of Abyssinia arrived in Medina, and not finding the Prophet (s) there, they followed him to Khaybar. The Prophet (s) was overjoyed to see them – especially Ja’far. They had been gone for fifteen years! Prophet Muhammad said, “I don’t know which to celebrate, the conquest of Khaybar or the return of Ja’far.”

The next year, as promised, the Muslims in large numbers set out for umra. The excitement was great. For many, it had been seven years since they had seen the Kaba or Mecca. The Muslims stayed in Mecca for the three days that were agreed upon. The people of Quraish avoided them by staying in the mountains. There were rumors that the Prophet (s) and the Muslims were weakened by Yathrib’s fever and by war; so Quraish watched the Muslims perform tawaf with interest. Prophet Muhammad (s) and the companions were almost running as they performed the first rounds of tawaf around the Kaba. The unbelievers were impressed by their numbers and strength.

Khaled bin al-Waleed tells us his story, “When the Muslims came to Mecca to do their umra. We all took to the mountains. The Muslims had won. It was clear that soon Arabs and non-Arabs would be accepting Islam. I wondered where I could escape to. Even the King of Abyssinia had accepted Islam. My brother al-Waleed, who was a Muslim, wished to see me but I wasn’t home, so he left me a letter. In the letter, he mentioned that Muhammad (s) had asked about me, and why it was taking me so long to come to Islam. Prophet Muhmmad (s) asked about me? After all I did! Something about that softened my heart. I knew I had to go to him. I needed a friend to go with me. I approached two of my friends and both turned me down. The third was Uthman bin Math’oun. He, too, felt it was time to declare his Islam. We set out for Medina. On our way we met Amr bin al-Aas. We found out that he, also, was going to announce his Islam.

As soon as we arrived in Medina, I put on my best clothes. My brother hurried me saying, ‘Quick, the Messenger (s) heard of your arrival and is expecting you.’ From a distance I could see him (s) smiling at me. I greeted him saying, ‘I bear witness there is no God but Allah and that you are the Messenger of God’. He continued to smile at me, saying, ‘Come here.’ I came closer. He said, ‘I thank Allah for guiding you. I knew you to be intelligent and I hoped that would bring you to Islam.’ I said, ‘Pray for me that Allah will forgive me all the times I fought you and blocked Islam.’ He reassured me, ‘Islam erases what was before it.’ Then my two friends said their shahada and were told the same.”

Khalid bin al-Waleed wanted to do something for Islam, and his chance came soon. The Prophet (s) had sent a messenger to the King of Busra. The Byzantines captured and killed the messenger. When one country kills the messenger of another, that means they have declared war against them. The Prophet (s) prepared an army of 3000 men to fight the Byzantines. The Prophet (s) said, “Zaid bin Haritha is the leader, and if he is killed then Ja’far bin Abi Talib, and if he is killed then Abdullah bin Rawaha, and if he is killed then let the Muslims agree upon a man to lead them.” The army set forth to Mu’tah. 

Those three men were close to Prophet Muhammad’s heart. Zaid, as you will recall, was the child the Prophet (s) had adopted and called Zaid ibn Muhammad. Even after Allah commanded that he be called by his father’s name, Zaid bin Haritha, people still referred to him as The Love of the Messenger of Allah. Ja’far was the Prophet’s cousin. The Messenger (s) said to him, “You resemble me the most in looks and character.” And do you remember when the Muslims still lived in Mecca and the Prophet (s) was looking for a new home for them; and he met with 12 people from Yathrib, now called Medina, at a place called Aqaba?  Abdullah bin Rawaha was present with the first 12 Ansar who came to Aqaba to meet the Prophet (s) and with the 73 Ansar the following year.

When the Muslims arrived at Mu’tah, they found out that the Byzantines had prepared two armies of 100,000 each! That means the Muslims were outnumbered almost 1 to 67! They thought about sending word to the Prophet (s) for reinforcements, but that would take time and they remembered how in Badr they were outnumbered, too. 

Back in Medina, our beloved Prophet (s) called out to the people, “Gather for Prayer!” People quickly came to the masjid. Then with tears in his eyes he said, “Shall I tell you what happened to your army?”