The Islamic Openings

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  • The Islamic Openings



       Cyprus was opened in the year 28 A.H. by Mu'awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan during the caliphate of 'Uthman ibn 'Affan. Some said it was in the year 23 or 33.

    Another narration stated that it was opened in the year 33 because its people violated their treaty, so the Muslims invaded it. In this year, when Mu'awiyah invaded it, he was accompanied by many Companions such as Abu Dhar Al-Ghaffari, 'Ubadah ibn Al-Samit and his wife Umm Hiram ibn Malhan, Abul Darda' and Shaddad ibn Aus.

    Mu'awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan had asked 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab several times to allow him to invade the Mediterranean and cross it to Cyprus. He told him the Byzantine lands were not far from Horns. "There is a place in Horns from which can be heard the barking of the Byzantine dogs and the crowing of their chickens."

    'Umar ibn Al-Khattab wrote to 'Amr ibn Al­'As, "Describe to me this sea and the conditions facing the one who wants to cross it." 'Amr wrote, "I saw a huge creature embarked by a minor creature. Nothing surrounds you except the sky and the water. If the sea is calm, the hearts are agitated and if it runs high the minds are anxious. Certainty in it becomes more uncertain and doubt is aroused. People in the sea are like worms clinging to a stick. If it tilts they are drowned and if they survive they are delighted."

    When 'Umar read the message, he wrote to Mu'awiyah "I swear by Him Who sent Muhammad with the Truth, I will never launch a Muslim in it. I had some information that the sea of Al-Sham overlooks the longest and vastest piece of land and every day and night it asks Allah to drown the land. How, then, am I to let the armies embark on this dangerous creature? By Allah, one Muslim is more precious to me than the treasures of Rome. Don't you ever disobey me, for you know how `Ala' was punished by me." (Al-Ala' ibn Al-Hadrami was the governor of Bahrain and asked 'Umar to allow him to open part of Persia through Bahrain. 'Umar forbade him due to his fears and worries about the Muslims. However, 'Ala' disobeyed and headed with his army to Persia, where the Persians burned his ships and besieged him. He was about to be ruined but for the help of Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas and 'Utbah ibn Ghazwan, the ruler of Basra. They reinforced him with some armies that defeated the Persians and saved Al-'Ala' and his company from Bahrain. 'Umar was furious with him, dismissed him from office and punished him.)

    The Byzantine king wrote to the Commander of the Faithful, 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab, trying to befriend him and his wife, Umm Kulthum bint `Ali ibn Abi Talib. Umm Kulthum sent some perfumes and a feminine gift to the king's wife with the messenger. The messenger delivered it to the king' s wife, who prepared a gift in return to Umm Kulthum, including a precious necklace.

    When the messenger returned, 'Umar took what was with him and announced, "Gather for prayers," and the Muslims gathered. 'Umar told them about gifts exchanged between the two ladies.

    Some said, "She (the caliph's wife) deserves it in exchange for her present, and the wife of the Byzantine king is not under a treaty to flatter or bribe you."

    Others said, "We used to give presents in order to benefit."

    However, 'Umar said, "But the messenger is the messenger of the Muslims and the mail is theirs and the Muslims will not be content." So 'Umar ordered the present of the Byzantine lady to be given to the treasury and gave Umm Kulthum a compensation for the gift she sent.

    When it was the caliphate of `Uthman ibn 'Affan, his cousin Mu'awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan wrote to him asking for permission to invade by sea. He repeated the demand several times and his persistence forced 'Uthman to answer him, "Do not choose the people yourself and do not force them. Give them the freedom to choose. He who willingly chooses to raid, mobilize him, and support him."

    Mu'awiyah did what 'Uthman commanded. He charged `Abdullah ibn Qais Al-Jasi, one of the Ansar of Banu Fazara to lead the army. The Muslims set out from Al-Sham to Cyprus. From Egypt, 'Abdullah ibn Sa'd ibn Abi Sarh set out also, and they joined forces. The people of Cyprus entered into a covenant with them to pay an annual jizyah of seven thousand dinars. They were to pay the same amount to the Byzantines, and the Muslims did not forbid them from that commitment. The Muslims were not obliged to defend them against their enemies that were behind them. The people of Cyprus were obliged to inform them about the advance or plans of their Byzantine enemy, and the Muslims were to attack the Byzantines by land.

    Jubair ibn Nufair said, "When Cyprus was opened and the captives were seized, I looked at Abul Darda' (the Prophet ~ called him the wise man of this nation) and found he was crying. I asked him, "Why do you cry on such a day on which Allah has granted victory and honor to Islam and to the Muslims?" The wise man of the nation put his hand on Jubair's shoulder and said, "How trivial the creatures become to Allah when they ignore His orders! This nation was a mighty and great nation that had power, but they violated the orders of Allah, and thus they were degraded to the conditions you see. Allah imposed captivity on them and whenever Allah imposes such a fate as captivity on any people, this means that He did not care about them."

    In this battle, Umm Hiram bint Malhan, the wife of 'Ubadah ibn Al-Samit died when her mule threw her off its back in Cyprus and her neck was broken. She died to fulfill what the Prophet ~ told her about being among the first to invade by the sea and that she would be a martyr.

    'Abdullah ibn Qais Al-Jasi remained in charge of the navy and had about fifty battles and invasions between Shatiyah and Sa'ifah by land and sea. None of his army drowned or failed, for he used to pay to Allah to secure his army and Allah the Almighty answered his plea.

    When Allah destined to hurt his body, He let him go in a boat, and `Abdullah landed in a harbor in the Byzantine lands. There were some poor people begging at the harbor, and' Abdullah gave generously to them. A woman returned to the town and said, '" Abdullah ibn Qais is in the harbor." The citizens hurried and attacked him, killing him and injuring the sailor accompanying him, who survived till his fellows came and he informed them of the misfortune.



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