there was sent a Prophet.
Not only to show it,
preach it, and teach it, but to be it:
(We have only sent you
as a mercy to the worlds.)1
In him mercy talked, mercy walked, mercy lived on the earth at one
That time began on Monday, the ninth of Rabi‘ I, in Makkah
Al-Mukarramah [Makkah, the Honored]. This mercy was born of the noblest and
purest lineage, from the best family among the Arabs whose pedigree is traced
back to Isma‘il
(Ishmael r2), son of Ibrahim (Abraham r), the father of all the
Prophets (peace and blessings of Allah3 be upon them).
Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdul-Mutalib bin
Hashim bin ‘Abd-Manaf bin Qusai bin Kilab bin Murrah bin Ka‘b bin Luaiy bin
Ghalib bin Fahr bin Malik bin An-Nadr bin Kinanah bin Khuzaimah bin Mudrikah
bin Ilyas bin Mudar bin Nizar bin Ma‘d bin ‘Adnan, and ‘Adnan is from the
children of Isma‘il, son of Ibrahim (peace and blessings of Allah be upon them
With Prophet Muhammad r came the birth of the
light that guides to the way of peace, mercy, and happiness.
has come to you from Allah a light and a plain Book wherewith Allah guides
those who seek His Good Pleasure to the ways of peace, and He brings them out
of darkness by His Will unto light, and guides them to a Straight Path.)4
It is not possible to gather all the rays of this light in
hands for humanity to read; but this book will try to draw closer to this most nobly-mannered
to his Message and mercy, begging help and support only from Allah U5.
Turning the pages of his noble, faith-filled, and
faith-building life, and hearing the depiction given by a close eyewitness, Ja‘far bin Abu
Talib t6, to the Christian Emperor of Abyssinia
(Ethiopia), nothing better can introduce the Prophet of Mercy r and the greatest aspect
of this mercy, the bringing of humanity from darkness into light.
The light that shines from within through worshiping Allah Alone
and being Muslim7.
The light of the three Heavenly Messages – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam8 – calling to the
one true religion. One light sent by the One God.
We will sail backwards to hear Ja‘far’s words narrating the
defeat of evil by the rebirth of good that Prophet Muhammad r makes happen in souls, and
live with the first Muslims in the critical moment after they embraced Islam.
A group of persecuted Muslims left for Abyssinia where they
sought asylum with its fair Christian king, who never wronged any of his
subjects, just as the Prophet r had depicted him. The
Quraish could not tolerate the prospect of a haven for the Muslims in Abyssinia, so they dispatched two sturdy envoys to demand
their extradition on the grounds that they had abandoned the religion of their
forefathers, and that their leader was preaching a religion different from
theirs and that of the king.
The Negus summoned the Muslims to his royal court and asked:
The Negus: What is this religion for which you have parted
with your people, and you entered into neither my religion nor the religion of
any of these nations?
Ja‘far bin Abu Talib: O king! We were ignorant people
who worshiped idols, ate dead meat, committed obscenities, severed the ties of
the womb (kinship), ill-treated the neighbors, and allowed the strong among us to
devour the weak.
We remained so until Allah sent us a Messenger from among
ourselves. We know his descent, his truthfulness, his honesty, and his chastity.
He invited us to Allah, to believe in His Oneness and worship Him Alone,
and cast off the stones and idols that our forefathers and we used to worship
besides Him. He ordered us to speak the truth, render back the trust, join the
ties of the womb, treat the neighbors kindly, and refrain from bloodshed and things
He forbade us from immoralities, making forged statements,
devouring the property of orphans, and calumniating chaste women. He ordered us
to worship Allah Alone, associating nothing with Him, and to offer Salah9, pay Zakah10, and fast (Ramadan) [Ja‘far recounted to
him the precepts of Islam].
We trusted him, believed him, and followed that with which
he came. We worshiped Allah, Alone, and associated nothing with Him. We
considered forbidden that which he declared forbidden to us and we considered
permissible that which he declared permissible for us. But, our people
transgressed against us.
They tortured us and tempted us away from our religion, to turn
us from the worship of Allah back to the worship of idols, and to make us deem
as lawful the abominations that (in the past) we used to deem lawful.
When they oppressed us, wronged us, tyrannized us, and came
between our religion and us, we immigrated to your country. We chose you over
others and sought your protection, and hope not to be treated unjustly under
you, O king.
The Negus: Do you have any of what (the revelations) he
brought from Allah?
Ja‘far bin Abu Talib: Yes.
The Negus: Recite it to me.
Ja‘far recited to him the beginning of Surat Maryam (Mary: 19). On hearing the
recited Ayat (Qur’anic verses), the Negus cried until his tears wet his beard,
and the bishops of his realm cried
until their tears wet their books.
The Negus: This, by Allah, and what Musa (Moses r) came with emanate from the same lamp (source). Go, by Allah, I will
never hand them over to you.
Yet, ‘Amr bin Al-‘As, one of the two envoys, swore to come
the next day and censure them before the Negus, and tell him that they claim
that ‘Isa (Jesus r)
was no more than a Servant of Allah.
‘Amr bin Al-‘As: O king! They say about ‘Isa, son of Maryam, a grave saying. Send for them and ask them about what they say
The Negus: What do you say about ‘Isa, son of Maryam?
Ja‘far bin Abu Talib: We say about him what our Prophet r told us: that he is the Servant of Allah, His
Messenger, His soul (created by Him) and His Word (“Be!” – and he was), which He bestowed on Maryam, the virgin,
The Negus struck the ground with his hand, picked from it a
straw and said:
The Negus: ‘Isa, son of Maryam, does not exceed what you
have said about this straw.11
Welcome to you and to the one from whom you came. I testify
that he is the Messenger of Allah. He is the one (whose description) we find in
the Gospel, and the Messenger whose coming was heralded by ‘Isa, son of Maryam.
Stay wherever you please. By Allah, were it not for holding
sovereignty, I would have gone to him to be the one who carries his
shoes and serves his ablution.12
punishment – I afflict with it whom I will, but My mercy embraces all things. I
will decree it for those who fear (Me) and give Zakah and those who believe in
Our Ayat.13 Those who
follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find written in what
they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and
forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and
prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles
which were upon them. They, who have believed in him, honored him, supported
him, and followed the light that has been sent down with him – it is they who
will be successful. Say
(O Muhammad), “O mankind, indeed I am the Messenger of Allah to you all, (from
Him) to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is no god
except Him; He gives life and causes death.” So believe in Allah and His
Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, who believes in Allah and His Words, and
follow him that you may be guided.)14
1 Translated meanings of Al-Anbiya’ 21: 107.
May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
3 The Name indicative and all-inclusive of every
Divine Name and Attribute of Absolute Perfection: the One God, the Maker, the
Almighty, the All-Merciful, etc.; in Arabic it means: The One exclusively
worthy of deification and worship.
4 Translated meanings of Al-Ma’idah 5: 15-16.
5 Glorified and
Exalted be He.
6 May Allah be pleased with him.
7 It means submitting oneself to Allah Alone.
Bilal Philips defines “Islam” and “Muslims” as: “Islam” means submission or
surrender of one’s will to Allah, the only true God worthy of worship; anyone
who does this is termed a “Muslim”. The word also implies “peace”, which is the
natural consequence of total submission to the Will of Allah.
Literally: submission and resignation to Allah Alone.
9 Salah (Prayer), the second Pillar of Islam, is a fixed obligatory form of
worship performed five times a day at prescribed times. Salah consists
of Rak‘ahs (singular: Rak‘ah). Rak‘ah represents a unit of
Salah and consists of one standing while reciting the Qur’an (Surat Al-Fatihah in
every Rak‘ah and a portion of the Qur’an), one bowing,
and two prostrations with a sitting in between for testifying to the Oneness of
Allah and supplication.
10 Zakah (purifying,
wealth-increasing obligatory charity) means both
“Purification” and “Growth.” It purifies the soul and increases wealth.
11 This dialogue is excerpted from a long Hadith
narrated by Umm Salamah about the emigration of a group of persecuted Muslims
to Abyssinia. Reported in Musnad Ahmad, Book
of Ahlul Bait (the Household of the Prophet r), Hadith no.
1649; a similar version of the Hadith is also reported by Ahmad (21460) and Ibn
Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawiyyah: The Quraish Dispatching of Envoys to Abyssinia for the Extradition of Emigrants, vol. 1, Al-Maktabah Al-Qaiyamah.
12 Narrated by ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud: Musnad Ahmad,
Book of Al-Mukthrin min As-Sahabh (Companions
who narrated more than one thousand Hadiths), Hadith no. 4168; a similar
version of the Hadith is also reported by Abu Dawud (2790).
13 Proofs, evidence, lessons, signs, revelations.
14 Translated meanings of Al-A‘raf 7: 156-158.