27.2 Proclaiming Islam to the Rulers of the Words:
the Magus, Cyrus, Hercules, Chosroes
One day Mohamed went out to his Companions and said,
"Allah has sent me out of mercy to all peoples. So do not differ about me as the disciples have differed about Jesus, son of Maryam."
His Companions said,
"How did the disciples differ, Messenger of Allah?"
"He called them to what I am calling you to. He who was sent on a nearby mission accepted and submitted. He who was sent on a far-off mission hated it and tarried behind."
Then he told his Companions that he was sending them with letters to Heracles, the Roman Emperor, to Chosroes of Persia, to Cyrus of Egypt, to AI-Harith, the Ghassanid king of Al-Hira and to Al-Harith, the Himyarite king of Yemen, as well as the Negus of Abyssinia, calling them to Islam.
His Companions accepted these missions and the Prophet had a silver seal made for him with the inscription,
"Mohamed, the Messenger of Allah."
Each sovereign was called to the worship of Allah alone and the rejection of all else and informed that in Islam (which means in Arabic submission to Allah) he would find salvation and reminded that he was responsible for those he ruled. Each answered according to his nature and knowledge of true religion.
The Negus of Abyssinia answered Mohamed's letter warmly and graciously for he already knew much about Islam from the Muslims who had emigrated to Abyssinia in the days of persecution. Mohamed sent him another letter, asking him to allow the Muslims who had emigrated to Abyssinia to return to their homeland, and they were permitted to return with Jafar ibn Abi Talib at their head.
Cyrus, the head of the Copts of Egypt, answered Mohamed's letter in friendly words, saying that he had known that a prophet was to appear and had been looking towards AI-Sham where prophets had appeared in olden times. He feared the Copts of Egypt would not accept this new message, and he feared for his position among them if he accepted it personally. He sent Mohamed many presents, among them two sisters, Maria and Serene, and also a white mule, which was something novel to the Arabs.
When Hercules, the Roman Emperor, received Mohamed's letter, he did not question Mohamed's messenger about him, but sought out the Arabs in his land. He found a delegation that had come for commercial purposes and was headed by Abu Sufyan, Mohamed's implacable enemy.
Hercules brought this delegation before him, seated them amid his nobles and asked them,
"Which of you is the most closely connected to him?"
Abu Sufyan, whose daughter Mohamed had married when she was forsaken and in need in Abyssinia. answered,
"I am the most closely related to him."
Hercules, observant and judicious, said,
"Come forward and let the rest of the delegation stand behind you."
Then he told the rest of the delegation,
"If he tells me a lie, raise your hand."
After careful questioning of Abu Sufyan, Hercules said,
"I asked you about his descent, and you said he was of noble birth; so are prophets, they are chosen from the best among their people. I asked you if any of you had said what he says before, and you said no one had. Had you said others had spoken such words before, I would have said he was emulating others. I asked you if any of his fathers were kings and you said none of his fathers were kings. If you had said his fathers were kings, I would have said he had come to claim the throne of his fathers. I asked you if you knew him to be a liar, and you said he had never told lies before. So I say, if he does not tell lies about men, he would not tell lies about God. I asked you if the leaders of his people follow him and you said that only the weak, women, and children do. So are prophets always followed by the weak. I asked you if his followers were increasing or diminishing, and you said they were increasing in numbers. I asked you if any of them wanted to defect from his religion after entering into it, and you said no. Such is the greatness of faith; none can forsake it after feeling its power. I asked you if he betrayed and you said he did not. Such are prophets, they do not betray. I asked you if you have fought against him, and you said yes, war has been waged between you for years. You have injured him, and he has injured you. Such are prophets, they are always opposed. I asked you what he commands you, and you said he commands you to worship Allah alone and forbids you to worship idols and that he commands for you prayers, charity works, and purity. If what you have told me is the truth, then he will possess this land where I put my feet now and if he were here, I would have hastened to meet him and I would have washed his feet."
When Hercules read Mohamed's letter to his court, a stormy moment of confusion and outrage followed. Abu Sufyan and his delegation were asked to leave the court. Hercules sent Mohamed a most cordial reply, so that some historians believe that he entered into Islam while others state that he did not, but that he would have if he had not met great opposition inside his own court.
The reaction of the Persian emperor was very different when he read Mohamed's letter, calling him to Islam. He had just been defeated by the Roman emperor and in a very bad humor. He tore up the letter and ordered his agent, the king of Yemen, to go and bring him the head of that man in the Hijaz.
When Mohamed heard of how his letter had been received by the Persian emperor he said,
“May Allah tear his kingdom apart!”
A few days later the emperor died and was succeeded by another and yet another in a matter of months. The Persian throne was rent apart by strife, one prince ascending the throne only to be overthrown and beheaded by his successor. Hundreds were assassinated or beheaded and the Persian Empire continued weak and torn by strife until the Muslims conquered Persia and its dominions during the caliphate of Umar ibn Al-Khattab.
When the emissaries of Badhan, the king of Yemen and agent of the Persian emperor, went to Mohamed, he informed them that their emperor was dead and asked them to return with a message to Badhan. Mohamed invited Badhan to enter into Islam and be his agent over Yemen, Badhan accepted and Yemen became one of the lands of Islam.
When the Ghassanid king, who was the vassal of Hercules, informed him that he had received a letter from a man who alleged to be a prophet and asked permission to cross the border with an army to fight him, Hercules answered that he had received a similar letter and that the Ghassanid king would do far better to come and attend the victory celebrations of Hercules in Jerusalem.