Our Prophet's
"And you are truly ˹a man˺ of outstanding character"
[Surah Al-Qalam 68:4]
Sword or the true message? The story of Najashi, the fearless ruler of Abyssinia.
By: Shaikh Zafar Ul Hasan Al Madani

Every divine book, previous to Qur’an, had a discussion about the noble manners of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and many rulers showed up the courage to accept Islam. The Abyssinian ruler Najashi was one such person who stood up against odds and embraced Islam. He had never met or heard the voice of the Prophet ﷺ but his acceptance of Islam was based upon his knowledge from previous holy books about the arrival of the Prophet ﷺ and when he identified him from the conversations between the sahabah and him, he did not hesitate to embrace the true message of Allah Almighty .

When the people of Makkah came to know about the migration of early converts, they were upset and decided not to spare them. They chose two pers as their delegation and sent them to Abyssinia. Amr bin Al’A’as and Abdullah ibn Abi Rabiya were sent to arrest the Muslims from Abyssinia and to bring them back. Amr bin al-A'as was not yet a Muslim and he was a very sharp orator and a smart analyst.

They were sent with the Makkan leather products as gifts for the ruler of Abyssinia to persuade the ruler to allow them to bring back the newly convert Muslims. Both men reached Abyssinia and took an appointment with the ruler, Najashi. They presented the gifts to the ruler. They sat on either sides of Najashi, which was a mark of honour for them

When the ruler asked them why they had come to Abyssinia, they accused the early Muslims of being fugitive slaves who had fled Makkah after committing crimes. Upon hearing this, Najashi ordered to look for those people and they were brought to the court. The migrants were shocked to see the two Makkah leaders sitting on either sides of Najashi.

An important lessons for Muslims who stay in a Non Muslim country

When the Muslims saw the scenario in the court of Najashi, they were scared. Jafar bin abi Talib (May Allah be pleased with him), one of the migrants, reassured them and took up the duty of presenting their case to the ruler. Jafar, began with ‘Assalamualaikum' to Ruler and the two delegates of Makkah grabbed the opportunity to score first.

They said, “This man is going against the culture of bowing you in your court.” It was a matter of immense courage not to bow before the ruler, as it is a form of shirk. Najashi asked Jafar (May Allah be pleased with him) why he did not bow to him.

He replied, “We Muslims do not bow to anyone except Allah.”

The Makkan duo did not give up and kept on instigating the ruler. He asked Jafar bin Abi Talib (May Allah be pleased with him) the reason for not bowing to the ruler. He replied without any hesitation, “O King! we were plunged in the depth of ignorance and barbarism; we adored idols, we lived in ignorance and immorality, we ate the flesh of dead animals, we committed all sorts of abomination and shameful deeds, broke the ties of kinship, disregarded every feeling of humanity, neglected the norms of hospitality and neighborhood. We knew no law but that of the strong.

Then Allah raised amongst us a man, of whose birth, truthfulness, honesty, and purity we were all aware- and he called us to the Oneness of Allah and taught us not to associate anything with Him.

“He forbade us the worship of idols and he enjoined us to speak the truth, to be faithful to our trusts, to be merciful and to regard the rights of the neighbors, kith and kin. He forbade us to slander chaste women, or to expropriate the property of orphans. He ordered us to flee from the vices and to abstain from evil, to offer prayers, to render alms, and to observe fasts.

“We have believed in him, we have accepted his teachings and his injunctions to worship Allah, and not to associate anything with Him, and we have followed what He has allowed, and stayed away from what He has prohibited. For this reason, our people have risen against us and have persecuted us in order to make us forsake the worship of Allah and return to the worship of idols and other abominations.

They have tortured and injured us, until finding no safety amongst them we have come to your country, and hope you will protect us from their oppression.”

The above courageous  address proves that if the Muslims protect Islamic values, Allah will help them in any situation. The duo delegation of Makkah saw that the ruler was getting impressed by the words of Muslims, so they hurried with new instigation saying, “Please do not get carried away by their words. Know that t beliefs about Jesus and his mother Mary are derogatory in nature. ”. Najashi was a follower of Christianity and the Makkan leaders found it appropriate to corner the Muslims with such allegations because of the sensitivity of Christian beliefs about the divinity of Jesus and his mother. Najashi asked Jafar (May Allah be pleased with him) to state his  views about it. He asked Jafar: “Do you have with you something of what your Prophet has brought from God? Please read it to me.”

Jafar said that Jesus was a word from Allah through Maryam and she was a chaste woman. He then, in his rich, melodious voice recited for him a portion of Surah Maryam from Verses 16 to 32.

"And make mention of Mary in the Scripture, when she had withdrawn from her people to a chamber looking East, (16)
And had chosen seclusion from them. Then We sent unto her Our Spirit and it assumed for her the likeness of a perfect man. (17)
She said: I seek refuge in the Beneficent One from thee, if thou art God-fearing. (The angel) said: I am only a messenger of your Lord, that I may bestow on you a faultless son. (19)
She said: How can I have a son when no mortal has touched me, neither have I been unchaste? (20)
He said: So (it will be). Thy Lord said: It is easy for Me. And (it will be) that We may make of him a Revelation for mankind and a mercy from Us, and it is a thing ordained. (21)
And she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a far place. (22)
And the pangs of childbirth drove her unto the trunk of the palm-tree. She said: Oh, would that I had died before this and had become a thing of naught, forgotten! (23)
Then (one) cried unto her from below her, saying: Grieve not! Your Lord hath placed a rivulet beneath you, (24)
And shake the trunk of the palm-tree toward thee, you will cause ripe dates to fall upon you. (25)
So eat and drink and be consoled. And if you meet any man, say: I have vowed a fast unto the Beneficent, and may not speak this day to any human. (26)
Then she brought him to her own folk, carrying him. They said: O Mary! You have come with an amazing thing. (27)
O sister of Aaron! Your father was not a wicked man nor was your mother a harlot. (28)
Then she pointed to him. They said: How can we talk to one who is in the cradle, a young boy? (29)
He spoke: I am the slave of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and hath appointed me a Prophet, (30)
And has made me blessed wheresoever I may be, and has enjoined upon me prayer and almsgiving so long as I remain alive, (31)
And (has made me) dutiful toward her who bore me, and has not made me arrogant, unblest. Such was Jesus, son of Mary: (this is) a statement of the truth concerning which they doubt. (34)
It befits not (the Majesty of) Allah that He should take unto Himself a son. Glory be to Him! When He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is. (35)
And lo! Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So serve Him. That is the right path."
Surah Mariyam 16-35)

The Islamic story of the birth of Jesus has been told to us in Quran.One day, Maryam saw a good looking man approaching her. It was Archangel Jibrael who had come from Allah. She feared his presence and sought refuge from Allah. The angel assured her not to worry and told her that he had been sent from Allah to give her the glad-tidings of a son. She wondered aloud how she could have a son when she was still unmarried. The Angel replied that when Allah decides a matter, He just has to command , ‘Be’ and it happens (in this case, pregnancy without any intervention of a male). The story ends up with the conclusion that Jesus was not the son of Allah nor Mary was the wife of God, but  Mary and Jesus were both humans.

The two Makkah leaders were happy to note that Jafar was speaking quite contrary to the normal Christian  beliefs while the Muslims sat down fearing the outcome of the court ruling. Authentic narrations say that Najashi wept while listening to the recitation of Jafar (May Allah be pleased with him). Even the senior scholars in his courts began weeping. And when he reached the verse, “Such was Jesus, a statement of the truth ” he told him to stop.

Najashi announces his Islam in his court

Najashi stood up for Allah’s words and  he picked up a small leaf and said: "Stop!Certainly this (Quran) and what Jesus had brought (Injeel) come out of one source (from Allah ) and it is exactly what is mentioned in our Torah and Injeel. He then addressed his court, “O my people! What else do you want? I do not find anything wrong in these verses and I  declare that he is the Messenger of Allah and he is the same prophet which Jesus has given the glad tidings of his arrival. I wish I had a chanceto go to the Prophet ﷺ and serve him by picking up his shoes and offering him water to perform ablution.” Najashi was preferring to be a servant of the Prophet ﷺ than to remain a king. Such was the impact of truthful and simple invitation of Islam.

Now it was the turn of the innocent Muslims in his court. Najashi allowed them to stay like the citizens of his country and not just refugees. He then turned to Jafar and his group and said: “You’re welcome; Your Prophet is welcome. I admit that he is the Apostle about whom Jesus had given glad tidings.. Live wherever you like in my country.” Then he turned to the Makkan delegates and said angrily: "I won’t hand them to you and I’ll defend them."

Then he ordered his courtier to dismiss the delegation and return their gifts to them. It is said that Umm Salamah (May Allah be pleased with her) was one of the Muhajirs and later married the Prophet ﷺ after her husband died. She recalled the incident and said, “It was the Prophet ﷺ who had allowed us to go to Abyssinia till things got  better in Makkah and so we migrated to Abyssinia.”

Thus Najashi was the first king who accepted Islam in his court and died as a Muslim few years later.