[Surah Al-Qalam 68:4]
There is an incident mentioned in the books of Seerah (The Biography of the Prophet). When the hostility of the Makkans grew worse, the Prophet ﷺ permitted a batch of Muslims to migrate to Abyssinia. The title of the ruler of Abyssinia was Najjashi. He was well-known as a kind person and followed Christianity. The first batch of Muslims had around 70 people which included prominent Companions of the Prophet, Jaffer at Tayyar and Uthman ibn Affan (May Allah be pleased with them) as well.
The angry pagan Makkans pursued the Immigrants in Abyssinia
When the people of Makkah came to know about the migration, their anger knew no bounds. They could not bear that the Muslims were safe and sound and were doing well. They wanted to bring the Muslims back. They appointed a delegation to approach Najjashi and ask him to hand over the immigrants to them. Amr bin Al Aas, who was not a Muslim at that time, was appointed as a spokesman by the Makkan Quraish. In those days, the leather waterskins were scarce. So, the Makkans collected a large number of leather waterskins and Indian spices as gifts for the court of Abyssinia.
Were Muslims anti-Christ? The debate in the court of Najjashi
Upon meeting Najjashi, they gifted him with all the things they had brought. Then they said, “Some of our slaves have fled from their masters after rebelling. They have invented a new way of worship, so we request you to arrest them and hand them over to us.”
Najjashi was a wise king, so he called upon all the immigrant Muslims in his court. Jaffer (May Allah be pleased with him) was asked to speak on the behalf of the Muslims. Najjashi asked them if they were ‘runaway slaves’. Jaffer denied the Makkan accusation. Najashi asked the matter of dispute.
“We were people who worshipped stones and idols and lived a sinful life. We drank alcohol and killed our daughters (at birth). Then Allah sent His Messenger ﷺ to improve our lives. He is a man amongst us and invited us to a pure way of worship and belief. So we became Muslims. These people forbade us, carried brutal and cruel punishments on us to make us renounce our religion. When their atrocities became unbearable, our Prophet ﷺ permitted us to migrate here for safety.”
Setting Christians against Muslims
This was completely different from what the Makkans had portrayed, so Najjashi asked the Muslims what they would like to do. They requested him to allow them to stay in his country. He permitted it. It was then that Amr bin al-Aas tried his last gamble: “Your majesty, they claim that your religion has also deviated. Ask them about Jesus. They say Jesus is not the son of God but His Messenger.”
Najjashi asked Jaffer (May Allah be pleased with him) about the status of Jesus in their religion. The court was full of Christian religious scholars. He recited verses from Surah Maryam, which explains in detail about the honorable position of Maryam and Isa. The people who listened to the verses were all in tears including Najjashi. Amr ibn Al Aas thought that Najjashi was weeping, as Muslims had insulted Jesus. But he was wrong. Najjashi picked up a small leaf and said:
“This man has spoken the truth about Jesus and there is no difference between his version and the version in Injeel.”
Najjashi returned all the gifts to the Makkans and permitted the Muslims to stay in his land for as long as they wished. .
The Makkans returned empty handed and Najjashi embraced Islam along with his people. It is said that he sent a delegation who met with the Prophet ﷺ . The Qur’an says in Surah Saff that Jesus had informed his followers about the advent of a Prophet whose name would be Ahmed. A few years later the Prophet ﷺ received the news of the death of Najjashi ( through revelation), so he gathered his Companions and offered Salatul Janazah (Janazah Prayer) in the absence of the dead body.