By: Maulana Habibur Rahman Uthmani
Ex-Rector: Darul Uloom, Deoband
Translated by: Hifzur Rahman Qasmi
Letter from the Roman Emperor
In this perspective, it is suitable to recount a yet another historical event which further illustrates our previous claim and also helps us to learn as to what the Islamic scholars have stated in this regard. Moreover, it also sheds lights on the real cause behind the progress of Islam which was well known not only to Muslims, but also to non-Muslims.
In the fourth century of Hijra, the Christian emperor of Constantine wrote a letter in poetic form of eloquent and effective Arabic to the Abbasside caliph. After mentioning his great achievements and victories on Islamic regions, the emperor had warned the Caliph in the letter. The first verse goes as:
Woe is (destined), o people of Baghdad, for you
Get ready to run away
As your country is weak and unsteady
Pleased you are with Dailami as Caliph
But slave of Dailami’s slaves, in fact, you became
Disgraced and humiliated, go back to Hejaz
Vacate Rom, the land of respectful people
The last verse of the poem goes thus:
We overcame you when your powerful persons oppressed the weaker section
You indeed committed hugely evil acts
Your judges openly sold their judgments
As the son of Yaqub (Yusuf) was sold for a few dirham
The following lines are also to be found in the last couplet:
I will soon conquer lands from east to west
The faith of Holy Cross shall be spread as a turban is (spread)
These few couplets well illustrate the ego, pride and thoughts of the Christian emperor. Reply to the letter was written by the then renowned and reliable scholar Fafal Marwadhi. The reply was as remarkable and unexpected in terms of eloquence, beauty of language, spontaneity, rationality of answers, natural allegations and deduction of results that the Christian emperor was left wonder struck. In utter amazement, he asked, “Who has written the reply?” Fafal Marwadhi had responded in the decisive and objective manner. But I do not intend to quote the letter here. Some of the points are, however, quoted here to support the claim:
The Christian said, while he is actually not a follower of Christ
A stone-hearted person cannot do the act of a kind person
That means to say that a true Christian is the one who perfectly follows Jesus Christ who was not only utterly kind and passionate, but also brought a very kind set of injunctions for His Ummah. Why can such a cruel and stone-hearted person be called the follower of Christ?
An ignorant Trinitarian cannot be a true Christian
Who believes in Christ (as God) above from the attributes of Adam
The ruler who is pure and true adherent to Christ
Can never be break his promises and get inclined to tyranny
The method of reply clearly reveals the crushing response that the letter supplied for each point in the poem. The poem and the reply were truly capable to have been quoted in full and thoroughly compared point-wise. But it would get lengthier and the main theme will slip out of the discussion. That’s why all of the points and their rejoinders are not mentioned here. If it is sometimes desired, both the poems, rather the third poem which was written by Ibn Hazam in reply to the second poem also will be penned down. (In reply to the poisonous poem consisting of sixty nine verses, the poem Ibn Hazm Zahiri composed is of two fold in length consisting of one hundred thirty five verses. Quoting both the poems, the author of Al-Bidaya wan Nihaya writes that no one composed any poem in the period of the Christian emperor. (see vol. 11, pp. 252-274.) But this opinion is not true, as Allamah Qifal Kabir Al-Shashi Al-Marwazi composed the poem right in that period. The eloquence and flow of the poem had left the emperor wonder struck, as writes Maulana Habibur Rahman Uthmani.)
But the most difficult and stinking objection the Christian emperor had put forth, and while writing the same, he did not even know what result it would bear, became a proof against himself, though he was not convinced of Islam by heart. In reply to the objection Qifal says:
You ruled us due to the tyranny of our judges, as you said
And because of them selling their judgements for dirhams
But this very point establishes the truth of our faith
“We acted as tyrant, so another tyrant person was pointed over us.”
After looking into these questions and answers, it becomes amply clear that the foundation of Islam’s progress was based on the merit of its injunctions and truthfulness and sincerity of Muslims. The Roman emperor clearly admits that as long as Muslims remained on their actual situations, they continued to dominate. But Muslims got defeated when they adopted the path of tyranny and committed misdeeds brushing aside the path of truthfulness, sincerity, honesty and justice.
It was possible that the events would have been falsified and their bad deeds could have differently been interpreted to remove the objection, but nothing happened as such. The Muslims spokesperson did not take over hostility. He says that it is the clear sign for Islam to be a true religion. When they oppressed and left the path of truth, the victory and the Divine assistance left them as well. Other nations overcame them. They got disgraced and the country after country slipped from their control. These two stories have been mentioned here just to show the other side of the coin. Now reverting back, we will come to our original theme.
Foundation of the Kairouan city in Africa
Thousands of Berber accepts Islam
(It should be noted that two different cities were founded in Africa at that time, both named Kairouan; one was habilitated by Mu’awiya ibn Judaih, another by Uqba ibn Nafye Fahri. But the city known with this name is that founded by Uqba. The city founded by Mu’awiya, though first to be habilitated, is now known as Qarn. Mu’jamul Buldan, Yaqut Hamwi.)
Kairouan is the city in the West Africa which has marked a memorial of Islamic glory and dignity for being the capital of Africa and the seat of the African governor for a long period of time. No city was bigger than this for long time in the West Africa. It was founded in 50th year after Hijra by the blessed Companions of the Prophet (saws). (Al-Kamil Fit Tarikh: vol. 3, p. 230, Tarikh Tabri: vol. 6, p. 134) It was for this reason that the city was considered to be holy and sacred. Its soil gave birth to thousands of great Ulama and also buried them in its chest providing them a comfortable abode till dooms day. This city is considered to be great and holy, as it has been a home to the reign of Islam, its founders were holy and blessed and it has been residence of the governor. The same way, it will always be remembered for the story behind its foundation, as it establishes the truth of Islam and reveals the characteristics, merits and popularity of the blessed Companions. This was the blessed time when thousands of people, who had deviated from the truth and indulged in idol worship instead of worshiping only one deity, fell down altogether in prostration. They, by reciting “I have, indeed, turned my face straight towards the One who created the heavens and the earth, and I am not one of those who associate partners with Allah” (Surah al-An’am: v. 79) devoted themselves to the Islamic faith.