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[IV]-The first Hijrah
'The Quraysh were even more annoyed when they saw that the Muslims were safe and secure in Abyssinia. They sent Abdullah ibn Abi Rabi'ah and Amr ibn al-As ibn Wa'il there bearing gifts collected for the Negus and his generals. The choicest goods of Makkah were used to try to influence the Abyssinians in their favour. The delegation won over the generals who were pleased with their gifts and they were able to speak to the king. They told him, 'Some of our foolish fellows have taken refuge in your majesty's dominions. They have abandoned the religion of their people, but have not entered your religion. They have brought an invented religion which neither we nor you know. The nobles of our people - their fathers, uncles and clans - have sent us to ask you to return them to us. They are closest to them and know them best.'

The generals added, 'They are speaking the truth, O King. Hand them over to them.'

However, the Negus became angry and refused to accept what they said. He would not surrender anyone who had taken refuge with him in his realm. He swore by Allah and summoned the Muslims. He also summoned his bishops. He said to the Muslims, 'What is it that you have abandoned the religion of your people for, yet not entered into my religion nor any other religion?'


 Ja'far ibn Abi Talib defines Islam

Ja'far ibn Abi Talib, the cousin of the Messenger of Allah, rose to explain:

O King! we were a people of ignorance who worshipped idols, ate dead animals, committed abominations, broke off ties of kinship, treated our neighbours badly, and the strong among us abused the weak. We were like that until Allah sent a Messenger to us. We knew his noble birth, his honesty, trustworthiness and decency. He called us to proclaim the oneness of Allah and to worship Him and to renounce the stones and idols which we and our fathers were worshipping. He commanded us to speak the truth, to be faithful, to maintain ties of kinship, to be good to neighbours and to refrain from crimes and bloodshed. He has forbidden us abominations, lies, taking property from orphans and slandering chaste women. He has commanded us to worship Allah alone and not to associate anything with Him and to pray, give zakat and fast.

He enumerated the other commands of Islam. Then he continued:

So we have affirmed him and believed in him and have followed him in whatever he brought from Allah. We worship Allah alone and do not associate anything with Him. We consider unlawful what he has told us is unlawful and lawful what he has told us is lawful. For this reason alone our people have attacked us, tortured us and forced us from our religion. They intend to make us revert to the worship of idols instead of praising Allah Almighty. They want us to consider lawful the evil actions which we used to consider lawful.

When they tortured us and hemmed us in, and came between us and our religion, we left for your kingdom, choosing you because we needed your protection. We hoped that we would be treated fairly while we were with you, O King!

The Negus listened to all of this patiently. Then he Asked, 'Do you have with you anything your companion brought from Allah'

'Yes,' said Ja'far

'Then recite it to me.'

Ja'far recited the beginning of Surah Maryam. The Negus wept until his beard was wet and the bishops wept until their books were damp with their tears.


 The Qurayshi mission fails

Then the Negus said, 'This and what Isa brought have come from the same source.'

He turned to the deputation of Quraysh, saying, 'Go! By Allah, I will never hand them over to you.'

The next morning Amr ibn al-As went to the Negus with a shrewd plan. 'O King, they say terrible things about Isa son of Maryam!'

The King turned to the Muslims and said, 'What do you say about Isa ibn Maryam?'

'We say about him what our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) brought,' Ja'far ibn Abi Talib replied. 'That he was the servant of Allah, His Messenger, His Spirit and His word which He cast to the blessed Virgin Maryam .

The Negus took a stick from the ground and said, 'By Allah, Isa ibn Maryam did not add to what you have said by so much as the length of this stick!'

He treated the Muslims with honour and gave them security. The two Qurayshi messengers had to leave in disgrace.


 Umar ibn al-Khattab accepts Islam

Allah then supported the Muslims by the acceptance of Islam by Umar ibn al-Khattab al-'Adawi al-Qurashi. He was an imposing man, broad-shouldered, tall and brave. The Messenger of Allah wanted him to become a Muslim and prayed for him to be guided that way.

His sister, Fatimah bint al-Khattab had become a Muslim together with her husband, Sa'id ibn Zayd. They were concealing their Islam from Umar because of his violent nature. They knew he was against Islam and the Muslims. Khabbab ibn al-Aratt used to come to Fatimah to read the Qur'an to her.

One day Umar went out angrily swinging his sword to find the Messenger of Allah who was with his Companions. He had heard that they were in a house at Safa. On his way he met Nu'aym ibn Abdullah, who belonged to Umar's people the Banu Adi, and who was already a Muslim.

'Where are you going, Umar?' he asked.

'I am going to find Muhammad,' he replied, 'He has divided the Quraysh, mocked their traditions, criticised their religion and abused their gods. I am going to kill him.'

'You deceive yourself, Umar,' Nu'aym retorted. 'Shouldn't you go back to your own family and put their affairs in order first!'

'What do you mean, my family!'

'By Allah, your brother-in-law and cousin Sa'id ibn Zayd and your sister Fatimah bint al-Khattab have become Muslims and are following Muhammad in his religion. You had better deal with them first.'

Umar returned to his sister and brother-in-law. Khabbab ibn al-Aratt was with them, holding a page from Surah Ta Ha which he was reading to them. When they heard Umar's footsteps, Khabbab hid in a small room in the house while Fatimah took the page and concealed it beneath her clothing. While he was approaching the house, Umar had heard Khabbab reciting, so he demanded, 'What is this gibberish!'

'Nothing,' they answered. 'What did you hear!'

'By Allah! He shouted angrily, 'I have heard that you are following Muhammad in his religion!'

Umar then started to attack his brother-in-law Sa'id ibn Zayd. His sister Fatimah rose to hold him back from her husband but he hit her and wounded her.

When he did that, his sister and brother-in-law told him, 'Yes, we have become Muslims and we believe in Allah and His Messenger, so do what you think best.'

When Umar saw blood on his sister, he regretted what he had done. He even admired her courage. 'Show me that page I heard Khabbab reading,' he said. 'Let me see what Muhammad has brought.'

Umar was one among a few Quraysh who could read and write, but when she heard what he wanted, his sister answered, 'We are afraid to give it to you.'

'Do not be afraid, he said and he promised not to destroy it.

When she heard that, she longed for Umar to become a Muslim. She said to him, 'Brother, you are unclean from your idol worship and only the purified may touch it.'

Umar got up and washed and then she gave him the page bearing the passage from Surah Ta Ha. After reading only a few lines, he exclaimed, 'How noble and sublime are these words!'

When Khabbab heard that, he came out from hiding to say, Umar! By Allah, I hope that Allah has singled you out by the prayer of His Prophet. I heard him say last night, "O Allah, strengthen Islam with Abul-Hakam ibn Hisham (Abu Jahl) or Umar ibn al-Khattab!" Come to God! Come to God, O Umar!'

At that Umar said, 'Khabbab, guide me to Muhammad so that I can go to him and become a Muslim.'

'He is in a house at Safa,' Khabbab said, 'with some of his Companions.'

Umar put on his sword and went to find the Messenger of Allah. He knocked on the door. When they heard his voice, one of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah got up and looked through a crack in the door. He saw Umar wearing his sword. In alarm, he returned to report, 'Messenger of Allah, it is Umar ibn al-Khattab with his sword on!'

Hamzah ibn Abdul-Muttalib said, 'Let him in. If his intentions are peaceful, we will treat him well. If not, we will kill him with his own sword.'

The Messenger of Allah said, 'Let him in,' and rose to meet Umar as he reached the middle of the room. He seized his cloak and dragged him along violently, saying, 'What has brought you here, Ibn al-Khattab! By Allah, I do not think that you will stop until Allah sends down a calamity upon you.'

'Messenger of Allah,' Umar replied, 'I have come to you to tell you that I believe in Allah and His Messenger and what has come from Allah.'

The Messenger of Allah said, 'Allahu Akbar' so loudly that the Companions in the house knew that Umar had become a Muslim.

The Muslims' confidence increased when Umar became a Muslim as it had when Hamzah before him had become a Muslim.

News that Umar was a Muslim quickly spread among the Quraysh. They were very annoyed. They took up their swords against him but Umar fought back. The Quraysh valued their lives too much to pick quarrels with him so they decided to leave him alone.