Abu Sufyan Admits the Greatness of the Holy Prophet
According to Insānul Uyun, Seera-e Nabawiyya, Tarikh-e Tabari and Kāmil Ibn Athir, when the Caesar received the Holy Prophet's letter he became curious and ordered a man from the Hijaz to be found out and brought to him so that he might make investigations about Muhammad. By chance at that time Abu Sufyan and some other Qurayshites had gone to Syria for the purpose of trade. They were taken to Jerusalam and were presented at the Caesar's court. He asked them: "Who amongst you is most closely related to the man who claims to be the Prophet of Allah?" Abu Sufyan replied: "I am more closely related to him than all others". It was a fact because none of the Qurayshites in the caravan, except Abu Sufyan, was a descendant of Abd Munaf. Caesar said: "What is your relationship with Muhammad?" Abu Sufyan replied: "He is the son of my uncle". Caesar said: "Come nearer". After this he ordered the companions of Abu Sufyan to stand behind him. Then he turned to the interpreter and said: "Tell the companions of Abu Sufyan that I have made him sit before them so that I may question him about the man who claims to be the Prophet of Allah and I have made them sit behind him so that if he tells a lie they may not feel ashamed on account of looking him in the face and may contradict him. Abu Sufyan used to say later: "I swear by Allah that if I had not been afraid that if I told a lie those persons would contradict me, I would have told a lie. However, I felt ashamed and spoke the truth against my wish".
The following conversation took place between the Caesar and Abu Sufyan:
Caesar : To what sort of family does this proclaimer of prophethood belong?
Abu Sufyan: He belongs to a noble family.
Caesar: Did anyone amongst you make such a claim earlier?
Abu Sufyan: No.
Caesar : Did he ever tell a lie before he claimed to be a Prophet?
Abu Sufyan : No.
Caesar: Has there been any king among his ancestors?
Abu Sufyan: No.
Caesar: How is his wisdom, understanding and intelligence?
Abu Sufyan: We have not observed any defect in his wisdom, understanding and intelligence.
Caesar: What kind of people have embraced this religion -the nobles and aristocrats or the middle class and the poor?
Abu Sufyan: The middle class and the poor.
Caesar: Are his followers increasing or decreasing?
Abu Sufyan: They are increasing day after day.
Caesar: Does it so happen that someone of them may hate the religion of Islam and apostatize?
Abu Sufyan: No.
Caesar: Does Muhammad break promises?
Abu Sufyan: We have not seen any such thing from him so far.
We have since concluded a covenant with him and do not know how he will act in future (Abu Sufyan meant the 10-year's covenant concluded at Hudaybiya).
Caesar: Have you fought any battle against him so far?
Abu Sufyan : Yes.
Caesar: What was the result of your fighting?
Abu Sufyan: Sometimes we won and sometimes he was victorious. In the Battle of Badr he was successful against us, but I did not participate in that battle. A year later, (i.e. in the Battle of Uhud) we launched an attack on his city and split the bellies and cut off the ears and noses of the people.
Caesar: What does he order you to do?
Abu Sufyan: He orders us to worship Allah and not to associate anything with Him in the matter of authority .He forbids us to worship the idols which have been worshipped by our ancestors. He asks us to offer prayers, give alms, speak the truth, observe chastity, honor the promises and covenants and not to commit breach of trust".
The Caesar considered the investigation sufficient about the personality of the Holy Prophet. He, therefore, said to Abu Sufyan: I asked you about his ancestry and you replied that he comes from a noble family. All the Prophets of Allah are of noble birth in their tribes. I asked you whether someone from amongst you claimed to be a prophet earlier and you replied in the negative. Of course, if someone from amongst you had made such a claim it might be said that he was imitating what had been said earlier. Then I asked you whether he had been telling lies before he claimed to be a prophet and you yourself admitted that there had been no such thing and he had never lied to the people. I then concluded that there was no reason why a person who did not lie to the people should calumniate Allah. I asked you whether there had been any king among his ancestors and you replied in the negative. Of course, if there had been any king among his ancestors it might be said that he too had risen to regain kingship. Then I asked you whether the aristocrats and powerful persons or the poor had embraced his religion and you replied that they were the poor people. And the followers of the Prophets of God are always these poor people (i.e. the penniless and not those, who accumulate wealth by fair and foul means in the prevailing conditions, and oppose everyone, who aims at bringing about a revolution to reform the society).
The Caesar continued: "Thereafter I asked you whether the number of the followers of Muhammad was increasing or decreasing gradually and you replied that their number was increasing day after day. Faith in God and His true Prophets produces such results i.e. it attracts more adherents day after day till it attains perfection. I also asked you whether it so happened that someone from amongst the Muslims has shown hatred against Islam or has turned apostate and you said that there had been no such case. This is the case with faith, because when one's heart acquires relief and comfort by means of faith it does not feel sad. Then I asked you whether you had ever fought with him and you replied that battles had taken place between you and him, and in some of them you were successful whereas in others he was victorious. That is what happens to the Prophets of God. At times they get into difficulties but eventually their advancement and success is certain. Then I asked you what he ordered you to do and you replied that he ordered you to offer prayers, give alms, observe piety and chastity, honor your promises and not to commit breach of trust. You have admitted that he has never been dishonest, deceitful and unfaithful. This is how the Prophets of God behave. They are not dishonest, deceitful and unfaithful. In the light of these enquiries I am certain that he is the Prophet of God".
This was an example of how an enemy becomes helpless and humble before a sublime personality and cannot muster up his courage to tamper with the realities.
Exhortation of Imam Ali
Imam Ali says: "O people! Your behavior with people should be in such away that if you die and depart from the world others should mourn your death and weep on account of, your absence and in case you are alive and exist amongst the people, they should be enamored of you and love you" i.e. by means of good behavior and sociability based on good morals one can win the favor and affection of the people.
"It is only by means of goodness and decent behavior that one can attract the people to oneself and captivate their hearts".
Who could act better on this sublime moral precept of Imam Ali than his honorable son Imam Husayn and who could succeed like him in making the people love him during life and after martyrdom?
In the month of Muharram 61 A.H. an event took place in Iraq on the bank of the Euphrates and some highly magnanimous and virtuous persons were martyred. Most of the people in those days did not consider this event to be greater than other historical events. They perhaps imagined that after the passage of a few years this event would also be buried in the inner folds of history books and find its place along with hundreds of other old and forgotten historical events and none would remember it except as a story and an adventure. However, they were not aware that the personality of Husayn bin Ali would assume an immortal position. His rising would also be an eternal event of history and would not become old or get obliterated with the passage of time.
Perhaps most of the people in those days considered that the murderers of the Imam had succeeded in achieving their object and not only the event relating to these martyrs had been settled but none would be able to oppose Bani Umayya in future, and the name of Imam Ali and his descendants would no longer he mentioned in the history of Islam with glory and respect. It was also imagined that with the passage of time the wounds sustained by the friends of Ahlul Bayt owing to the martyrdom of the Imam and his honorable companions would heal up and this calamity would also be forgotten like many other historical tragedies. However, history proved later that most of the people were mistaken. They considered the event of Karbala as an ordinary political campaign and did not understand the sacred object which the Imam had in view in this rising, and were not acquainted with its spirit.
The difficulty which usually misleads the people is that they cannot differentiate between similar words and deeds although they may be quite different from each other. People have seen very often that some persons rise in the name of truth and also make sacrifices but eventually the step taken by them leaves no impression whatsoever, or some persons preach forcefully, support truth and side with the oppressed, and ask the people to remember Allah and the Day of Judgment, but neither the people nor history have recognized them as good and pious persons.
It is for the reason that very often the people consider the words and deeds of the godly persons also to be prompted by personal and material interest and do not pay heed to their Divine motives. They cannot differentiate between those who rise for the sake of Allah and those who are preoccupied with personal interests and carnal desires. However, it is a matter of great pleasure that if the people make mistakes history does not, and the passage of time eliminates the causes of misunderstanding. It is history which has recorded the sayings of Imam Ali as the best religious counsels, but has ignored and forgotten the lengthy and insipid lectures of may other caliphs. As an example of this we draw the attention of the readers to the counsels recorded by an Abbasid ruler named Mansur Dawāniqi for his son Mahdi Abbasi. Ibn Wazeh Ya'qubi has narrated it thus: "After the death of Abu Ja'far Mansur his son Mahdi read out his will before the people. The following is the will:
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
This is the will of the slave of Allah the Commander of the Faithful, for his son Muhammad Mahdi, the crown prince of the Muslims. The Commander of the Faithful has nominated him as his wasi and successor over all the Muslims, the Zimmis, the sanctuary of Allah and the public treasury. The land belongs to Allah and He makes its heir whoO Lord! Why have you given me so short a time?" Never! When the time of your death has come you will not be given any respite. And he also wants you (before you say): "O Lord! Send me back to the world. It is possible that I may perform good deeds". At that time your family will forsake you and only your deeds will be with you.
Then you will see what you have done with your hands and to what place you have gone with your feet, and what you have said with your tongue and how your limbs have assisted you in your actions; and what your eyes have seen and also what has entered your brain. Thereafter you will be fully rewarded for your good deeds and punished for the bad ones. Hence, you should always fear Allah and obey His orders. Ask Allah for His assistance in the matter of piety and seek His proximity by means of faith. Call your self to account and do not surrender yourself to passions and desires. Do not insist on doing bad deeds. None is more heavily burdened, more sinful, more afflicted and more mournful than you, because your sins have accumulated and your acts have been stored. As Allah has made you the guardian of your subjects so that you may arbitrate between them, even in respect of an atom, He will call you to account, and you will be punished for the misdeeds of your oppressive agents. Allah says: You will die and others too will die and then all of you will quarrel with one another in the presence of your Lord. It seems as if I can see that you have been detained before the Omnipotent Lord.
Your friends have deserted you. Your adherents have surrendered you to accountability and punishment. Your offences are lying at your door and your sins have involved you into difficulties. Fear has taken hold of you and weakness and helplessness have ruined you. Your logic has been spoiled and you have lost the remedy. The people have taken their rights from you and have avenged themselves. All this will happen on the day which will be very dreadful and hard. It will be a day on which the eyes will be dazzled, the hearts filled with anger will reach the throats and the oppressors will have neither a relative nor an intercessor who might hear their entreaties. What will then be your position on the day on which the people will quarrel with you and their rights will be demanded from you!
It will be the time when there will be no relatives to assist or support you. It will be the day on which all deeds will be rewarded; intercession will not be accepted; the balance of justice will be set up and final orders will be given.
Allah has said that on that day injustice will not be done to anyone and He will settle the accounts of all very soon. It is necessary for you to get ready for that day and endeavor to achieve deliverance. Free yourself from sins. Make the most of the opportunity available at present and fear the Day of Judgment. Keep the world away from you, for it is deceitful and will destroy you. You should keep your mind directed towards Allah and seek the fulfillment of your needs from Him. It is necessary that your justice is extensive and widespread. The people should be immune from injustice. Arbitrate between your subjects on the basis of equality and make efforts to please Allah. Select our friends and associates from amongst the pious persons. Give the Muslims their due share from their wealth. Give them without stint that to which they are entitled out of the revenue and the booty. Pay them their pension regularly and pay their monthly and annual dues immediately at the proper time. Develop the cities and regions by reducing the taxes. Reform the people by means of good behavior and sound policy.
The most important task for you is to protect your surroundings and guard the frontiers. You should dispatch the army immediately when necessary. Seek Allah's assistance in the path of jihad and for the defense of His religion and destruction of His enemies. It is Allah who grants victory to the Muslims and makes them free and contented with the religion. You should sacrifice your life, dignity and wealth in this path. Look after your army constantly and keep information about the military station of horsemen and the camps of the soldiers. You should know that refuge, movement, and power, are from Allah and you should depend on Him only, because it is He Who is sufficient for you, Who makes you independent and helps you, and His help and support is enough".
This is a specimen of the didactic sayings and writings of an Abbasid ruler. It is very expressive and eloquent from the point of view of phraseology and style. However, it cannot be counted among the religious sermons and celestial wisdom. In spite of all their wealth and power Bani Umayya and Bani Abbas could not compile a Nahjul Balāghah or a Sahifā Sajjādiya with the help of such insipid testaments and speeches, nor could they prepare a book like Tuhaful 'Uqul which is a collection of the sermons delivered by the Holy Prophet and the Imams.
On account of the special power and insight which history possesses to assess the personalities and their words it makes some sermons: speeches and letters ever lasting, whereas it ignores some other speeches which apparently resemble them but have no worth at all. This is the task that is performed by history with the passage of time and not by the contemporary persons who cannot usually make a correct assessment of the facts.