Abu Sufyan and Heraclius - Dreams and Questions
Arabian Knights - Volume 1

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Kaan Ya Makaan, Fee Qadeem Al-Zamaan…
There was a Place, in Times of Old…

Where the Roman (Byzantine) Emperor Heraclius awoke heavy eyed and depressed. Those around the emperor quickly noticed his low spirits, but it was only the priests who were bold enough to inquire after the emperor's dark mood.

Heraclius, an accomplished astrologer, replied to their solicitous questions by saying heavily, “Last night, as I gazed at the stars, I saw that the king of those who practice circumcision has arrived. Who of our people practices circumcision?”

“No one, except the Israelites,” the priests said, “Do not fear them. Simply write to the governors of your cities and have them kill all the Israelites within their walls.”

As the men discussed this horrific and bloody plan, a messenger sent by the king of Ghassan arrived. After listening distractedly to the message, Heraclius ordered his men to check the messenger to see if he had been circumcised. The emperor’s men hurriedly obeyed. When they returned, they informed the emperor that the messenger had indeed been circumcised.

Setting aside his murderous plans, Heraclius questioned the discomfited messenger further about the Arabs, “Do they, too, practice circumcision?”

The bewildered messenger replied that they did.

“Then the king of that nation has arrived,” the emperor declared in a quiet voice.

That very day, Heraclius sat down and wrote a long letter to a friend in Rumia (Rome) who was his equal in both skill and learning. He then sent the letter on its way via the fastest of his messengers and resignedly prepared himself for a long wait.

Day after day, the Emperor grew more impatient and his moods grew darker as he waited for a reply. When he finally received the long-awaited letter, Heraclius eagerly opened it and found that his friend agreed with him about the emergence of the leader of the Arabs, and that he was a prophet sent by God.

Without delay, Heraclius gathered his most influential courtiers together in the audience room of his palace and had the doors locked and guarded. Then he stood and addressed them in a firm voice, “O' Roman (Byzantine) People, do you wish for success and wisdom, and that your wealth and power should endure? Then swear allegiance to this new prophet of God!”

No sooner did the emperor finish speaking than the people in the room cried out and fled in a panic towards the doors, only to find them securely locked and heavily guarded.

Heraclius looked upon their horror, and he despaired of them ever believing him or following this new prophet of God. So he ordered his impassive guards to drive the people back towards him, which they speedily did.

“I said what I did,” Heraclius said soothingly to his frightened nobles, “Only to test you, and your convictions. Now, I know the strength of your convictions.”

Reassured by Heraclius' words, the relieved people knelt before their sad and disappointed Emperor.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Sometime later in Al-Shaam, a caravan of Arabian merchants, including a man named Abu Sufyan, were busily going about their business when they were approached by a messenger from Heraclius, the ruler of the Roman (Byzantine) Empire. The messenger told the surprised men that they had been summoned to speak to the emperor and must accompany him.

The Arabian merchants felt terribly apprehensive as they were swiftly escorted to the palace and brought before the emperor. Heraclius sat, surrounded by his most powerful courtiers, and stared at the men standing uncomfortably before him. Using an interpreter, the emperor finally began speaking to his guests.

“Which of you is the most closely related to this man who claims he is a prophet?” Heraclius asked as he examined the faces of the Arabian merchants.

Fearing the consequences of his words but unwilling to lie, Abu Sufyan quietly replied, “I am.”

“Bring him closer,” the emperor instructed his guards. “And allow his companions to stand behind him.”

Once Abu Sufyan stood directly before him, the emperor again addressed his translator, “Tell his companions that I will ask him about this man who claims he is a prophet and, if he lies they must tell me he is lying.”

Embarrassed by the emperor's instructions to his companions, Abu Sufyan decided not to lie even if the truth cost him his life, and he sincerely feared that it would.

“Of what standing, amongst you, is the family of the man who claims he is a prophet?” Heraclius asked as he stared unblinkingly at Abu Sufyan.

“His family is an honorable one, with a good name,” Abu Sufyan said, not at all disturbed by the emperor’s intent gaze.

“Have any of your people ever claimed what he has claimed?” the emperor asked in a quieter voice.

“No,” replied Abu Sufyan, deciding to keep his answers simple.

“Were any of his ancestors kings?” the emperor continued.

“No,” replied Abu Sufyan again.

“Who believes in, and has followed this man?” Heraclius pressed Abu Sufyan, “The weak or the powerful?”

“The weak,” replied Abu Sufyan, hoping this would count against his famous relative.

“Are his followers increasing in number or decreasing in number?” the emperor queried.

“Increasing,” Abu Sufyan reluctantly admitted.

“Do any of them quit his faith out of anger for what it entails?” continued the emperor, tilting his head and weighing Abu Sufyan’s words carefully.

“No,” replied Abu Sufyan calmly.

“Did anyone ever accuse him of lying before he claimed he was a prophet?” Heraclius demanded.

“No,” Abu Sufyan said.

“Is he untrustworthy?” the emperor demanded, “Is he a betrayer?”

“No,” replied Abu Sufyan and he watched as the emperor’s face become pensive and thoughtful. In the hopes of saying something at least a little bit negative, Abu Sufyan quickly volunteered, “There is currently a truce between us but we do not know what he will do with it.”

“Have you fought him?” the emperor asked, sounding surprised.

“Yes,” Abu Sufyan declared proudly.

“How did the battles go?” Heraclius said as he leaned forward and resumed staring at the merchant before him.

“It has been a stalemate. We injure them and they injure us,” Abu Sufyan murmured abashedly.

“What has he instructed you to do?” the emperor prompted.

“He told us we must worship only God, and to abandon the idols our forebears have always worshipped, and he told us we must pray and be truthful and chaste, and to acknowledge and care for our relatives,” Abu Sufyan enumerated briefly.

There followed a moment of deep silence, during which Heraclius seemed lost in thought. The emperor eventually roused himself and again addressed Abu Sufyan through his interpreter.

“I asked you about his family and you tell me he is of a good family, thus it always is with prophets, they are chosen from amongst the good and honorable families of their people.” Heraclius explained, “I asked you if anyone else had claimed what he claimed and you told me: no. I said to myself that if anyone else had claimed what he had, then he was just an imitator of no consequence. I asked you if any of his ancestors was a king and you told me: no. I told myself that if one of his ancestors was a king, then he is merely a man trying to regain his ancestor's throne.”

“I asked you if anyone had accused him of lying before he claimed he was a prophet, and you told me: no. I know that a person who would not lie to, or about people would certainly not lie about God,” Heraclius continued, speaking almost to himself, “I asked you if the weak or the powerful follow him and you told me: the weak. It is always the weak who first follow the prophets. I asked you if his followers increase in number or decrease, and you told me they increase. It is always thus with faith, the number of believers increase until it is complete.”

“I asked you if anyone quits his faith out of anger and you told me: no. It is always thus with faith once it enters a heart, it gladdens it and mixes with it.” Heraclius further clarified, “I asked you if he was a betrayer and you told me: no. Thus it is with prophets, they never betray. I asked you what he instructed you to do, and you told me he instructed you to worship only God and to forsake worshipping idols, and that he tells you to pray and be truthful and chaste.”

“If what you say is true,” Heraclius said as he stood and looked directly into Abu Sufyan’s eyes, “Then he will come to be master of the very land upon which my feet rest. I knew that he was to be sent by God soon, but I did not think he would be of your people. If I knew I could reach him now, then I would go to him, and if I were in his presence then I would gladly wash his feet.”

The emperor then sent for a message he had received from the very man he had been quizzing Abu Sufyan about. While Heraclius read the message aloud to his court, there was complete silence.

As his last ringing word died away, voices rose on every side, arguments broke out and the pampered courtiers began shouting at one another. Not wishing for outsiders to witness the chaos, Heraclius had the men from the Arabian caravan dismissed while he tended to his divided court.

Once they were all standing safely outside the palace gates, Abu Sufyan turned to his companions and said wonderingly, “The matter of Muhammad has become such that the king of Bani Al-Asfar (the Sons of the Yellow i.e. the Romans/Byzantines) fears him.”

Shaking their heads in wonder, the Arabian merchants returned to their business while the Emperor and his courtiers argued all day and deep into the night.

*Written by © 2011. Care to read or leave Comments?

Notes:
  1. Names, Translations and Aliases:
    • Muhammad : خاتم الأنبياء الرسول محمد صلى الله عليه و سلم
    • Abu Sufyan: أبو سفيان بن حرب
    • Heraclius (Latin: Flavius Heraclius Augustus, Greek: Φλάβιος Ἡράκλειος): هرقل.
  2. After some debate, it was decided this story should appear under "Arabian Knights" because none of the people in the story were Muslims (at least, they weren't at the time these events occurred).

Sources:
  1. Al-Bukhari, M. (2004 AD, 1424 H). صحيح البخاري [Sahih Al-Bukhari]. Beirut: Al-Maktaba Al-Assrya. Page 793-795.
  2. Az-Zubaidi, Zain-ud-Din (1994 AD). مختصر صحيح البخاري [Summarized Sahih Al-Bukhari (M. Khan, Trans.)]. Riyadh: Maktaba Dar-us-Salam. Page 53-58.
  3. Ibrahim, M., Al-Mowla, M., Al-Bajawi, A. (2011 AD, 1432 H). قصص العرب [Stories of the Arabs]. Beirut: Al-Maktaba Al-Assrya. Volume 1. Page 134-137.
  4. Langer, William L. (1980 AD). An Encyclopedia of World History. 5th Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company Boston. Page 140.
  5. Wikipedia contributors. "Heraclius". Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 15 June 2011.

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Gabriela
July 16, 2013 - 04:50
Subject: sZGQsghjsYvI

Whoever edits and pubieshls these articles really knows what they're doing.

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