BISMILLAH IR RAHMAN IR RAHEEM
HERACLIUS, EMPEROR OF ROME
Adapted for Children from an Authentic Hadith* and the Seerah
The Mosque of the Internet
WITH A QUIZ
Copyrighted 2000 by The Mosque of the Internet
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Many years before the birth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, praise and veneration be upon him, there lived in Mecca a very great chief. His name was Hashim, and Prophet Muhammad, praise and veneration be upon him, was his great, great grandson.
Hashim was the chief of the tribe of Koraysh and was very well known and respected for his upright character. He loved his fellow tribesmen and sort ways in which he could ease their harsh life. Caravan journeys across the hot and dangerous desert were a necessity to the existence of the Koraysh, however, they were often attacked, robbed and killed, and this grieved 13213k109n Hashim.
It was because of these dangers that Hashim visited and struck alliances with neighboring tribes and tribes along the all important southern trade routes to Yemen, and also the northern trade routes to part of the Roman Empire which was, in those days, called Al Shams. Today, we know Al Shams as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine.
Now that he had accomplished this important task caravans were able to move freely about the country without fear of attack. It was indeed a very great achievement; no other chieftain had been able to secure such successful, peaceful treaties.
Hashim and the Emperor of Rome became friends and it was through this friendship that the Koraysh became exempt from the payment of trade taxes to the Roman Empire. Even though Hashim did not accompany many of the caravans to Angoria, now Ankara, the Emperor of Rome himself would go out to welcome the caravan and show the Koraysh great hospitality just to hear news of his friend.
Many years had passed and both Hashim and his friend, the Emperor of Rome were dead and new chieftains and emperors succeeded them, however, the memory of Hashim remained as did the alliance with Rome. At the time of this story our beloved Prophet, praise and veneration by upon him, had started preaching and migrated to Yathrib, which we call Medina, with his companions. The Muslims hoped that the Koraysh would leave them alone to worship Allah now they had left Mecca, but this was not to be their persecution continued and several battles had already been fought.
Abu Sufyan had become the most prominent chieftain of the Koraysh and was, at that time, one of the Prophet's fiercest opponents. There was nothing he would not do to rid Arabia of the Prophet, praise and veneration be upon him.
The current Emperor of Rome was called Heraclius. Now Heraclius was not only the Emperor of Rome but also a prominent Christian leader. Even in that remote part of the world, Heraclius had heard the news that a prophet had appeared in Mecca, and more recently received a letter from him which aroused his curiosity still further.
When Heraclius learned that a Koraysh caravan had reached his empire he thought that it would be an excellent opportunity to learn first hand about the man people called a prophet. With this in mind he sent a messenger to the Koraysh caravan requesting their presence in his court. Now the leader of the caravan was none other than the Abu Sufyan!
When Abu Sufyan and his companions arrived, Heraclius had them ushered into is court where he had assembled all of his most senior Roman senators. Heraclius spoke "Who amongst you is closely related to the man who claims to be a prophet?" he asked. Abu Sufyan replied "I am his nearest relative." Heraclius asked him to step forward and for the others to step back then told him that there were several questions he wished to ask concerning the Prophet. Then, addressing Abu Sufyan's companions Heraclius said "If he says something that is not true, you must speak up."
Now honor and respect were essential characteristics of Arab chieftains, to loose either in front of his companions would be unthinkable. Abu Sufyan was heard to say in later years "By Allah, had I not been afraid that my companions would label me as a liar, I would not have spoken the truth about the Prophet, praise and peace be upon him."
Heraclius began, "What is the status of his family?" Abu Sufyan replied, "He belongs to one of our good and noble families." Has anyone else amongst you ever claimed what he claims before you?" asked Heraclius. "No" replied Abu Sufyan. "Tell me, was anyone amongst his ancestors a king?" inquired Heraclius. Abu Sufyan answered "No. "Is it the nobility or the poor who follow him?" continued Heraclius. Abu Sufyan replied "It is the poor who follow him." "Tell me" asked Heraclius, "are his followers increasing or decreasing". Abu Sufyan replied "They are increasing." Next, Heraclius asked "Has anyone amongst those who embrace his religion ever become displeased and renounced the religion afterward?" Abu Sufyan replied "No." "Has anyone ever betrayed him?" asked Heraclius. "No" replied Abu Sufyan. At this point Heraclius inquired, "Before his claim to be a prophet, did you ever accuse him of telling lies?" Reluctantly Abu Sufyan replied "No." Then Heraclius asked "Has he been known to break his promise?" Abu Sufyan felt uncomfortable and replied "No. We have a truce with him, but we do not know the outcome." The interview continued, Heraclius asked, "Have you ever been to war with him?" "Yes," replied Abu Sufyan, "and what was the outcome?" Abu Sufyan replied, "Sometimes he was victorious and at other times we were." In conclusion Heraclius asked "What does he order you to do?" Abu Sufyan replied " He tells us to worship Allah and Allah alone, and not to worship anything except Him. He tells us to renounce all that our ancestors said. He tells us to pray, speak the truth, to be chaste and to have a good relationship with our family and relatives."
Heraclius explained why he had asked all these questions saying, "You told me that he came from a noble family, the fact is that all prophets are descended from noble families. I asked if anyone else amongst you had claimed the prophethood, but you replied no one had. If your answer had been otherwise, I would have assumed that this man was just following someone else's claim. I proceeded to ask you whether anyone of his ancestors had been a king. Your reply was that they had not. If this had been the case I would have been inclined to think that he wanted to reclaim his ancestral kingdom. I then asked you if he had ever been accused of lies before his claim. You replied that he had not, therefore, I wondered how a person who did not lie about others would ever tell a lie about Allah. I asked you whether it was the nobility or the poor who followed him and you answered it was the poor; this is the case of all prophets. I was interested to know if his followers were increasing or decreasing and you told me they were increasing; this is the circumstance of true belief. You told me that no one who embraces Islam ever becomes displeased with it and renounced their religion; this is the case when belief enters the heart and consumes it. As for betrayal, you told me no one had ever betrayed him. I asked you what he orders you to do. You replied that he orders you to worship Allah alone and not to worship anything or anyone with Him, to pray, tell the truth and to be chaste. If what you say is true, it will not be long until he conquers this empire. From my scriptures I was certain that a prophet would soon appear, but I did not know he would be from your race. If it were possible for me to meet him I would, without hesitation, wash his feet."
Before Abu Sufyan's arrival a letter addressed to Heraclius arrived from the Messenger of Allah via the Governor of Basra. Heraclius called for it and read the letter allowed:
"In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Most Merciful
From Muhammad, the worshipper of Allah and His Messenger.
To Heraclius the ruler of the Byzantines.
Peace be upon whosoever follows the Right Path.
I invite you to Islam.
If you become a Muslim you will be safe,
and Allah will double your reward.
If you reject this invitation to Islam
you will be committing a sin
by misguiding your people."
Then the Prophet, praise and veneration be upon him, quoted a verse from the Koran in his letter which reads:
"Say: 'People of the Book,
let us come to a common word between us
and you that we will worship none except Allah,
that we will associate none with Him,
and that none of us take others for lords besides Allah.'
If they turn away, say:
'Bear witness that we are Muslims.'"
Chapter 3 verse 64
The audience was suddenly brought to an abrupt end. The senators could no longer contain themselves, they were outraged and Abu Sufyan and his companions were told to leave the court.
As they left, Abu Sufyan turned to his companions in contempt saying, "The son of Abi Kabsha has become so prominent that even the Emperor of the Byzantines is afraid of him!" His reference to the Prophet, praise and veneration be upon him, as being the son of Abi Kabsha was to mock him. Abi Kabsha and Halima were his foster parents, his real father was Abdullah.
In another story we learn that one morning during his visit to Jerusalem, Heraclius awoke feeling very perplexed. It was so noticeable that his clergy could not help but notice and asked what was the matter. Heraclius, who was an astrologer and a seer replied, "When I gazed at the stars last night I saw that the leader of those who practice circumcision had appeared. Who practices circumcision?" The clergy replied, "No one practices circumcision except the Jews, and there is no need to fear them. Have every Jew in the country killed!"
As they discussed the matter, a messenger from King Ghassan conveying news of the Messenger of Allah, praise and veneration be upon him, arrived. Heraclius listened then ordered the messenger to be taken away to see whether or not he was circumcised. When he learned that he was he asked the messenger whether the Arabs practiced circumcision and was told that they did.
Heraclius felt something of great consequence had occurred in Arabia and as such wrote to his friend in Rome who was also knowledgeable of the scriptures then left for Homs, which is a town in Syria.
After a month or two Heraclius received a reply to his letter. His friend was in agreement and confirmed his opinion that a prophet had indeed emerged in Arabia.
Heraclius summoned all his senators and dignitaries to his palace and gave orders that all the doors in the palace were to be locked as soon as they had assembled. The assembly waited for Heraclius to enter and no sooner than he entered he announced, "Byzantines, if you desire to be successful and if you seek right guidance and want your empire to remain then pledge your allegiance to this Prophet!"
Pandemonium broke out and everyone rushed to the doors and tried to leave. Heraclius realized that they had no love for Islam, and lost hope of their embracing Islam, so he ordered them to be brought back into the courtroom and said, "What I said was just to test the strength of your loyalty, and I have seen it." The assembly cried out, "Hail Caesar" and were pleased with him.
*Don't forget to read the hadiths as the Prophet, praise and veneration be upon him, told them in the references of Bukhari and also the seerah which is available in the Mosque of the Internet's Free Islamic College at www.mosque.com
Who established safe trade routes to Yemen and Al Shams?
Name two of the countries that were once called Al Shams
What was the name of the Emperor of Rome?
What was the name of the Koraysh chieftain?
Why did the Emperor of Rome ask the Koraysh to come to his court?
Was the Koraysh chieftain afraid to lie?
What was the reply to the Emperor's question "What does he order you to do?"
Name two of the things the Emperor said at the end of the audience?
Who sent the Emperor a letter?
10.What was the reward mentioned in the letter?
11.Where the senators happy?
12.What happened to the Koraysh chieftain and his companions at the end of the audience?
13. In the next part of the story, which city was the Emperor visiting?
14. What made the Emperor so perplexed?
15. Why did the Emperor write to his friend?
16. What was the name of the town in which he received a reply to his letter?
17. What did the Emperor order his servants to do after everyone had assembled?
18. What was the reaction of the people?
19. What did the Emperor tell his people when they reassembled?
20. In the end, were the people happy with Emperor?
QUIZ TIME ANSWERS
You could have answered, Syria, Jordan, Palestine or Lebanon.
He wanted to know more about the Prophet, praise and peace be upon him.
Yes, because he was afraid that he would loose his honor and the respect of his companions.
Abu Sufyan replied: He tells us to renounce all that our ancestors said. He tells us to pray, speak the truth, to be chaste and to have a good relationship with our family and relatives.
He said: "If what you say is true, it will not be long until he conquers this empire. From my scriptures I knew a prophet would soon appear, but I did not know he would be from your race. If it were possible for me to meet him I would, without hesitation, wash his feet."
Prophet Muhammad, praise and veneration be upon him.
10. He would receive a double reward if he embraced Islam.
12. They had to leave in a hurry.
14. When he gazed at the stars that night he saw that the leader of those who practice circumcision had appeared.
15. He wrote to him for confirmation.
17. He ordered that all the doors be locked.
18. They did not like what Heraclius said and ran to the doors to get away.
19. He was only testing their loyalty.
If you remembered to say the prayer on the Prophet, praise and veneration be upon him, when his name was mentioned in English you can add an extra point, but if you said it in Arabic you can add three extra points.
1 - 5 Well, it was a long story, why not read it again and try the quiz again?
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