Abdullah ibn Hudhafah was one of the glorious companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He was known for his strong faith in God and His messenger. He was also among those who were willing to sacrifice their whole lives for the light of Islam to spread. Abdullah ibn Hudhafah was given the chance to meet two world potentates of his time, Khusraw Parvez, the King of Persia and Heraclius, the Byzantin emperor.
The story of his encounter with Khusraw Parvez took place in the sixth year of the hijrah when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) decided to send some of his Companions with letters to rulers outside the Arabian Peninsula inviting them to Islam, Which was a very hard mission to accomplish. To make known his plan Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) called his companions together and addressed them. He started by praising God and thanking Him. He then recited the Shahadah and went on:”I want to send some of you to the rulers of foreign lands but don’t dispute with me as the Israelites disputed with Jesus, the son of Mary. “O Prophet of God, we shall carry out whatever you wish,” they responded. “Send us wherever you desire.”
MEETING WITH THE PERSIAN KING
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) chose six of his companions to carry his letters to Arab and foreign rulers. One of these was Abdullah ibn Hudhafah. He was chosen to take the Prophet’s letter to Khusraw Parvez, the Persian king. Abdullah prepared himself and bade farewell to his wife and son. He set out, alone, and traversed mountains and valleys until he reached the land of the Persians. Abdullah asked for permission to enter into the king’s presence informing the guards of the letter he was carrying. Khusraw Parvez thereupon ordered his audience chamber to be made ready and summoned his prominent aides. When they had assembled he gave permission for Abdullah to enter.
He entered and saw the Persian beautifully dressed in delicate, flowing robes and wearing a great, neatly arranged turban. On the other hand Abdullah was wearing plain, coarse clothes of the Bedouin.
His head though was held high and his feet were firm. The honor of Islam burned fiercely in his breast and the power of faith strengthened his heart. When Khusraw Parvez saw him approaching he signaled to one of his men to take the letter from his hand. “No,” said Abdullah.The Prophet commanded me to hand over this letter to you directly and I shall not go against a command of the Messenger of God.”
“Let him come near to me,” Khusraw ordered his guards.
Abdullah proceeded and handed over the letter. Khusraw then called an Arab clerk and told him to open the letter in his presence and read its contents.
The clerk read: “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful. From Muhammad, the Messenger of God, to Khusraw the ruler of Persia. Peace on whoever follows the guidance . . .”
As soon as Khusraw heard this, he burst with anger, and he snatched the letter from the clerk’s hand and began tearing it to pieces without knowing what else it contained and shouted: “Does he dare to write to me like this, he who is my slave”? He was angry that the Prophet had not given him precedence in his letter. He then commanded Abdullah to be dismissed from his assembly.
Abdullah was taken away, not knowing what would happen to him. Would he be killed or would he be set free? But he did not want to wait to find out. He said, “By God, I don’t care what happens to me after the letter of the Prophet has been so badly treated.” He managed to get to his camel and rode off.
When Khusraw’s anger had subsided he commanded that Abdullah be brought before him. But Abdullah was nowhere to be found. They searched for him all the way to the Arabian Peninsula but found that he had gone ahead.
Back in Madinah, Abdullah told Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) how Khusraw had torn his letter to pieces and the Prophet’s only reply was, “May God tear up his kingdom”. After a short period, Badhan sent two men on behalf of Khusraw to bring Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to him. The Prophet smiled and said to them, “Go back to your mounts today and return tomorrow.”On the following day, they came to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and said to him, “Are you prepared to go with us to meet Khusraw?” “You shall not meet Khusraw after today,” replied the Prophet. “God has killed him and his son Shirwaih has taken his place on such a night and on such a month.”The two men stared in the face of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). They were completely dumbfounded.
“Do you know what you are saying?” they asked. “Shall we write about this to Badhan?””Yes,” replied the Prophet, “and say to him that my religion has informed me about what has happened to the kingdom of Khusraw and that if he should become Muslim, I would appoint him ruler over what he now controls”.
They went back to the Yemen and told Badhan what had happened.
Badhan said, “If what Muhammad has said is true, then he is a Prophet. If not then we shall see what happens to him.”
A short time passed and then Badhan received a letter from Shirwaih, in which he said, “I killed Khusraw because of his tyranny against our people. He regarded as lawful the killing of leaders, the capturing of their women and the expropriating of their wealth. When my letter reaches you, take the allegiance of whoever is with you on my behalf.”
As soon as Badhan read Shirwaih’s letter, he threw it aside and announced his entry into Islam. The Persians with him in the Yemen also embraced Islam.
MEETING WITH THE BYZANTINE EMPEROR
That’s the story of Abdullah ibn Hudhafah’s meeting with the Persian king. His meeting with the Byzantine emperor took place during the caliphate of Umar ibn alKhattab. It’s also an astonishing story.In the nineteenth year after the Hijrah, Umar dispatched an army to fight against the Byzantines. Abdullah ibn Hudhafah was among that army. News of the Muslim force reached the Byzantine emperior. He had heard of their sincerity of faith, and their willingness to sacrifice their lives in the way of God and His Prophet. He gave orders to his men to bring to him any Muslim captive they might take alive.
It was God’s will that Abdullah ibn Hudhafah should fall captive to the Byzantines and he was brought before the Emperor. The Emperor looked at Abdullah for a long time. Suddenly he said, “I shall make a proposal to you.”
“What is it?” asked Abdullah.
“I suggest that you become a Christian. If you do this, you will be set free and I shall grant you a safe refuge.”
Abdullah became furious and said: “Death is preferable to me a thousand times to what you ask me to do.”
“I see that you are a bold man. However, if you respond positively to what I propose to you, I will give you a share in my authority and swear you in as my aide.”
Abdullah smiled and said, “By God, if you give me all that you possess and all that the Arabs have in exchange for giving up the religion of Mohammed, I shall not do so.”
“Then I shall kill you.”
“Do what you want,” answered Abdullah.
The emperor then had him put on a cross and ordered his soldiers to throw spears at him, first near his hands and then near his feet, all the while telling him to accept Christianity or at least give up his religion. This he refused over and over again to do.
The emperor then had him taken down from the wooden cross. He called for a great pot to be brought. This was filled with oil, which was then heated under a fierce fire. He then had two other Muslim prisoners brought and had one of them thrown into the boiling oil. The prisoner’s flesh sizzled and soon his bones could be seen. The emperor turned to Abdullah and invited him to Christianity.
THE MOST TERRIBLE TEST
This was the most terrible test that Abdullah had to face up till now. But he remained firm and the emperor gave up trying. He then ordered that Abdullah too be thrown into the pot. As he was being taken away he began to shed tears. The emperor thought that he had at last been broken and had him brought back to him. He once more suggested that Abdullah become a Christian but to his astonishment, Abdullah refused.
“Damn you! Why did you weep then?” shouted the emperor.
“I cried,” said Abdullah, “because I said to myself ‘You will now be thrown into this pot and your soul will depart’. What I really desired then was to have as many souls as the number of hairs on my body and to have all of them thrown into this pot for the sake of God.”
The tyrant then said, “Will you kiss my head? I will then set you free?”
“And all the Muslim prisoners also?” asked Abdullah.
The emperor agreed to do this and Abdullah said to himself, “One of the enemies of God! I shall kiss his head and he shall set me and all other Muslim prisoners free. There can be no blame on me for doing this.” He then went up to the emperor and kissed his forehead. All the Muslim prisoners were released and handed over to Abdullah.
Abdullah ibn Hudhafah eventually came to Umar ibn alKhattab and told him what had happened.
Umar was greatly pleased and when he looked at the prisoners he said, “Every Muslim has a duty to kiss the head of Abdullah ibn Hudhafah and I shall start.”
Umar then got up and kissed the head of Abdullah ibn Hudhafah.