Home » Uncategorized » A Third Refutation: “The Byzantine Christians: Antagonists or Antagonized?” [Part 3]

A Third Refutation: “The Byzantine Christians: Antagonists or Antagonized?” [Part 3]

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This third part article is a continuation in refuting the missionary blogger, Shamoun. In his third piece, he distorts, lies and misrepresents historical facts.

He begins by claiming that the letter Muhammed (p) send to Heraclius was “threatening” in nature. The report he shows in his article is cut and choose approach, leaving out important information. Here is the full Hadith:

“Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas: Abu Sufyan bin Harb informed me that Heraclius had sent a messenger to him while he had been accompanying a caravan from Quraish. They were merchants doing business in Sham (Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan), at the time when Allah’s Apostle had truce with Abu Sufyan and Quraish infidels. So Abu Sufyan and his companions went to Heraclius at Ilya (Jerusalem). Heraclius called them in the court and he had all the senior Roman dignitaries around him. He called for his translator who, translating Heraclius’s question said to them, “Who amongst you is closely related to that man who claims to be a Prophet?” Abu Sufyan replied, “I am the nearest relative to him (amongst the group).” Heraclius said, “Bring him (Abu Sufyan) close to me and make his companions stand behind him.” Abu Sufyan added, Heraclius told his translator to tell my companions that he wanted to put some questions to me regarding that man (The Prophet) and that if I told a lie they (my companions) should contradict me.” Abu Sufyan added, “By Allah! Had I not been afraid of my companions labeling me a liar, I would not have spoken the truth about the Prophet. The first question he asked me about him was: ‘What is his family status amongst you?’ I replied, ‘He belongs to a good (noble) family amongst us.’ Heraclius further asked, ‘Has anybody amongst you ever claimed the same (i.e. to be a Prophet) before him?’ I replied, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Was anybody amongst his ancestors a king?’ I replied, ‘No.’ Heraclius asked, ‘Do the nobles or the poor follow him?’ I replied, ‘It is the poor who follow him.’ He said, ‘Are his followers increasing decreasing (day by day)?’ I replied, ‘They are increasing.’ He then asked, ‘Does anybody amongst those who embrace his religion become displeased and renounce the religion afterwards?’ I replied, ‘No.’ Heraclius said, ‘Have you ever accused him of telling lies before his claim (to be a Prophet)?’ I replied, ‘No. ‘Heraclius said, ‘Does he break his promises?’ I replied, ‘No. We are at truce with him but we do not know what he will do in it.’ I could not find opportunity to say anything against him except that. Heraclius asked, ‘Have you ever had a war with him?’ I replied, ‘Yes.’ Then he said, ‘What was the outcome of the battles?’ I replied, ‘Sometimes he was victorious and sometimes we.’ Heraclius said, ‘What does he order you to do?’ I said, ‘He tells us to worship Allah and Allah alone and not to worship anything along with Him, and to renounce all that our ancestors had said. He orders us to pray, to speak the truth, to be chaste and to keep good relations with our Kith and kin.’ Heraclius asked the translator to convey to me the following, I asked you about his family and your reply was that he belonged to a very noble family. In fact all the Apostles come from noble families amongst their respective peoples. I questioned you whether anybody else amongst you claimed such a thing, your reply was in the negative. If the answer had been in the affirmative, I would have thought that this man was following the previous man’s statement. Then I asked you whether anyone of his ancestors was a king. Your reply was in the negative, and if it had been in the affirmative, I would have thought that this man wanted to take back his ancestral kingdom. I further asked whether he was ever accused of telling lies before he said what he said, and your reply was in the negative. So I wondered how a person who does not tell a lie about others could ever tell a lie about Allah. I, then asked you whether the rich people followed him or the poor. You replied that it was the poor who followed him. AND IN FACT ALL THE APOSTLE HAVE BEEN FOLLOWED BY THIS VERY CLASS OF PEOPLE. Then I asked you whether his followers were increasing or decreasing. You replied that they were increasing, and in fact this is the way of true faith, till it is complete in all respects. I further asked you whether there was anybody, who, after embracing his religion, became displeased and discarded his religion. Your reply was in the negative, and in fact this is (the sign of) true faith, when its delight enters the hearts and mixes with them completely. I asked you whether he had ever betrayed. You replied in the negative and likewise the Apostles never betray. Then I asked you what he ordered you to do. You replied that he ordered you to worship Allah and Allah alone and not to worship any thing along with Him and forbade you to worship idols and ordered you to pray, to speak the truth and to be chaste. If what you have said is true, he will very soon occupy this place underneath my feet and I knew it (from the scriptures) THAT HE WAS GOING TO APPEAR BUT I DID NOT KNOW THAT HE WOULD BE FROM YOU, AND IF I COULD REACH HIM DEFINITELY, I WOULD GO IMMEDIATELY TO MEET HIM AND IF I WERE WITH HIM, I WOULD CERTAINLY WASH HIS FEET.’ Heraclius then asked for the letter addressed by Allah’s Apostle which was delivered by Dihya to the Governor of Busra, who forwarded it to Heraclius to read. The contents of the letter were as follows: “In the name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful (This letter is) from Muhammad the slave of Allah and His Apostle to Heraclius the ruler of Byzantine. Peace be upon him, who follows the right path. Furthermore I invite you to Islam, and if you become a Muslim YOU WILL BE SAFE, and Allah will double your reward, and if you reject this invitation of Islam you will be committing a sin by misguiding your Arisiyin (peasants). (And I recite to you Allah’s Statement:) ‘O people of the scripture! Come to a word common to you and us that we worship none but Allah and that we associate nothing in worship with Him, and that none of us shall take others as Lords beside Allah. Then, if they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are Muslims (those who have surrendered to Allah).’ (3:64). Abu Sufyan then added, “When Heraclius had finished his speech and had read the letter, there was a great hue and cry in the Royal Court. So we were turned out of the court. I told my companions that the question of Ibn-Abi-Kabsha) (the Prophet Muhammad) has become so prominent that even the King of Bani Al-Asfar (Byzantine) is afraid of him. Then I started to become sure that he (the Prophet) would be the conqueror in the near future till I embraced Islam (i.e. Allah guided me to it).” The sub narrator adds, “Ibn An-Natur was the Governor of llya’ (Jerusalem) and Heraclius was the head of the Christians of Sham. Ibn An-Natur narrates that once while Heraclius was visiting ilya’ (Jerusalem), he got up in the morning with a sad mood. Some of his priests asked him why he was in that mood? Heraclius was a foreteller and an astrologer. He replied, ‘At night when I looked at the stars, I saw that the leader of those who practice circumcision had appeared (become the conqueror). Who are they who practice circumcision?’ The people replied, ‘Except the Jews nobody practices circumcision, so you should not be afraid of them (Jews). ‘Just Issue orders to kill every Jew present in the country.’ While they were discussing it, a messenger sent by the king of Ghassan to convey the news of Allah’s Apostle to Heraclius was brought in. Having heard the news, he (Heraclius) ordered the people to go and see whether the messenger of Ghassan was circumcised. The people, after seeing him, told Heraclius that he was circumcised. Heraclius then asked him about the Arabs. The messenger replied, ‘Arabs also practice circumcision.’ (After hearing that) Heraclius remarked that sovereignty of the ‘Arabs had appeared. Heraclius then wrote a letter to his friend in Rome who was as good as Heraclius in knowledge. Heraclius then left for Homs. A TOWN IN SYRIAN AND STAYED THERE TILL HE RECEIVED THE REPLY OF HIS LETTER FROM HIS FRIEND WHO AGREED WITH HIM IN HIS OPINION ABOUT THE EMERGENCE OF THE PROPHET AND THE FACT THAT HE WAS A PROPHET. On that Heraclius invited all the heads of the Byzantines to assemble in his palace at Homs. When they assembled, he ordered that all the doors of his palace be closed. Then he came out and said, ‘O Byzantines! If success is your desire and if you seek right guidance and want your empire to remain THEN GIVE A PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE TO THIS PROPHET (i.e. embrace Islam).’ (On hearing the views of Heraclius) the people ran towards the gates of the palace like onagers but found the doors closed. HERACLIUS REALIZED THEIR HATRED TOWARDS ISLAM AND WHEN HE LOST THE HOPE OF THEIR EMBRACING ISLAM, HE ORDERED THAT THEY SHOULD BE BROUGHT BACK IN AUDIENCE. (When they returned) he said, ‘What already said was just to test the strength of your conviction and I have seen it.’ The people prostrated before him and became pleased with him, and this was the end of Heraclius’s story (in connection with his faith). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 1, Number 6)

“You will be safe” has been understood by propagandists to mean that the Prophet threatened Heraclius. This interpretation is alien and against the very text we are reading. We find a number of facts in the above Hadith:

1. You will be safe: it was part of God’s Messengers/Prophets to bring people to the religion of truth. “Safe”, here is understood to mean that he will enter Heaven if he accepts Islam. If he rejects Islam, then God will throw him in hell for rejecting the truth after fully knowing that Islam is true. This is exactly what is said straight after “safe”, that it was referring to heaven and hell. It would be similar to Moses or Jesus bringing people to their path that God had ordained. Throughout history this language was used.

2. Heraclius was convinced that Prophet Muhammed was sent by God, so much so that he instructed his people to embrace Islam, he only gave up given that he lost all hope seeing the “HATRED” in them against the new religion.

3. Heraclius and his friend both agreed after Abu Sufyan left that Muhammed was a Prophet of God.

4. The letter was NOT threatening in any way or shape, given that he (Hiraclius) firmly believed in the Message Muhammed brought:

“Narrated `Abdullah bin `Abbas: Abu Sufyan told me that Heraclius said to him, “When I inquired you what he (i.e. Muhammad) ordered you, you replied that he ordered you to establish the prayer, to speak the truth, to be chaste, to keep promises and to pay back trusts.” THEN HERACLIUS ADDED, “THESE ARE REALLY THE QUALITIES OF A PROPHET.” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 3, Book 48, Hadith 846)

AND Heracluis let Muhammed’s envoy sent back safely. None of the envoys were touched. This shows that what the author claims in regards to the butchered up report, in actual reality backfires on his deceptive piece.

Shamoun then continues in his piece by quoting a weak, and rejected story. We showed from Part 1, article that quote is rejected by classical scholars given that Yahya b. Salama is deemed by them to be an unreliable person and thus his sayings are NOT accepted:

 

Al-Tabarani related, through Yahya b. Salama b. Kuhayl, from his father, from ‘Abd Allah b. Shaddad, from Dihya al-Kalbi, who said, “The Messenger of God sent me with a letter to Caesar, leader of the Byzantines.”
(The account continues) “Caesar was informed that there was a man at his gate claiming to be an envoy from the messenger of God. Caesar WAS DISTURBED AT THIS and ordered that the man be brought in. This was done; he had his bishops present with him.”…
“The letter was read to its end and Caesar ordered everyone out and sent for me. I went in and h asked me questions to which I answered. He then sent for his bishop, their most prominent figure, a man whose opinion and statements were influential, and when he read the letter, he said, ‘By God, he is the prophet Moses and Caesar foresaw and whom we have awaited!’ ‘What do you advise me?’ Caesar asked. The bishop replied, ‘As for myself, I believe and follow him.’ ‘I too know’, Caesar commented, ‘that he is genuine, but I can do nothing. If I did, my kingdom would be lost and the Byzantines would kill me.’”
On this subject, Muhammad b. Ishaq quoted Khalid b. Yasar as related that a Syrian elder said, “From what news he had heard of the Prophet, and having decided to leave Syria for Constantinople, Heraclius assembled the Byzantines and addressed them as follows, ‘Byzantines, I have certain issues I wish to present to you. Tell me what are your wishes regarding them.’
“They asked what they were and he went on, ‘You will know, by God, that this man is certainly a prophet who has been sent. We find him to have those qualities by which he has been described to us (before); let us proceed and follow him and thus find peace in this world and the next.’
“They replied, ‘But then we would be under the control of the Arabs; and we are more numerous, powerful and have a more extensive domain than they do!’
“He continued, ‘LET US PAY HIM THE jizya, THE POLL-TAX, EVERY YEAR. That will relieve PRESSURE ON ME FROM HIM and by what I give him I WILL BE SPARED POSSIBLE WARFARE.’
“They responded, ‘Why should we give to the despised and powerless Arabs tax money they would take from us, when we are the more numerous, have a powerful nation and a larger domain? No, by God, we’ll absolutely never do that!’
“‘Well then,’ Caesar suggested, ‘LET’S MAKE PEACE WITH HIM BY MY GIVING HIM SURIYYA while he leaves me the land of al-Sham.’ He explained that Suriyya consisted of Palestine, Jordan, Damascus and Hims, up to al-darb, while the lands beyond al-darb constituted al-Sham.
“They objected, ‘Why should we give him Syria when you know well that it is the very navel of al-Sham! We’ll never do that!’
“When they refused, he asked them, Do you think, by God, that you’ll have defeated him IF YOU DEFEND YOURSELVES FROM HIM in your towns?’
“He then rode away on his mule, eventually looking down upon al-darb and approaching the land of al-Sham. He then said, ‘Peace be upon you, land of Suriyya; this is my farewell greeting.’ He then hurriedly returned to Constantinople. But God knows best.” (Ibn Kathir, The Life of the Prophet Muhammad: Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya [Garnet Publishing, Reprinted 2005], volume III (3), page 362 – 363)

Tabarani quote is WEAK according to Ibn Kathir:

WEAK chain because of Yahya ibn Salama ibn Kuhayl as stated by Ibn Kathir in Tuhfa al-Talib page 164-165”

Further classical scholars who have criticised Yahya Ibn Salama:

“From Narration of Savban, throw Yahya ibn Salam ibn Khuhayl, and he is matruk”. (Ibn Arrak in “Tanziru sharia volume 1 page 382)

And:

“Abu Hatim and others say: ”Munkar al hadith”. Nasai said: “Matruk”. Abbas Duri narrated from Yahya: “NOTHING, OF HIS NARRATIONS ARE NOT TO BE RECORDED” (Dhahabi, Mizan #9527)

This man, Shamoun, has no shame that he would quote things that are NOT even accepted by our most eminent classical scholars.

So far everyone should be well aware that the author is a disingenuous and a deceptive writer willing to do anything to distort history to make the Islamic religion look negatively.

Shamoun then continues with his misrepresentation by claiming that the reason why the envoy of Muhammed was killed was due to the letter sent. However, the reports tell us that the letter was NOT EVEN READ. The Ghassan, Shurahbil who had ties to the Byzantines murdered a number of Muhammed’s messengers for merely being an envoy of the Prophet. This is reported in the following, Waqidi reports:

“THE RAID OF MU’TA
Al-Waqidi related to us saying: Rabi’a b. Uthman related to me from Umar b. al-Hakam, who said: The Messenger of God sent al-Harith b. Umayr al-Azdi, one of the Banu Lihb, to the King of Busra with a document. When he came down to Mu’ta, Shurahbil b. Amr al-Ghazzani confronted him and said, ‘Where are you going?’ He replied, ‘Al-Sham.’ He said, ‘Perhaps you are one of the messengers from the Messenger of God?’ He said, ‘Yes, I am a messenger from the Messenger of God.’ THEN SHURAHBIL COMMANDED THAT HE BE TIED WITH A ROPE, AND EXECUTED HIM. Only he was killed for the Messenger of God.” (The Life of Muhammad: Al-Waqidi’s Kitab Al-Maghazi [Translator Rizwi Faizer], page 372)

And Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir – Ibn Sa’d:

“THE SARIYYAH OF MUTAH WHICH IS NEAR AL-BALQA AND IT IS CLOSE TO DAMASCUS.
Then (occurred) the sariyyah of Mutah which is near al-Balqa, and al-Balqa is close to Damascus, in Jumada al-Ula in the eighth year from the hijrah of the Aposte of Allah. They (narrators) said: The Apostle of Allah sent al-Harith Ibn Umayr al-Azdi, a person from Banu Lihb to the Malik of Busra with an epistle. When he halted at Mutah SHURABBIL IBN AMR AL-GHASSANI INTERCEPTED HIM, AND KILLED HIM. No envoy of the Apostle of Allah, besides him, was ever killed. He (prophet) felt deeply grieved and called his people. …” (Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, by Ibn Sa’d, volume 2, page 158)

So for Shamoun to claim that the letter was threating and this was the reason for why they were killed is a lie. For these above reports tell us that the letter was NOT even read. They were merely killed for being an envoy of Muhammed. This was the reason which led to the battle of Mut’ah. For a fuller analysis of the battle of Mutah, please read the following article: “The Battle of Mut’ah

For a detailed article on Khalid Ibn Al-Walid who was sent forth to Ukaydir at Duma, read the following two articles: (Part 1, and Part 2.)

 

The Jizya is similar to the tax that everyone pays in the west. If you work, you are guaranteed to pay the government a certain percentage of your income in order for the government be able to function. Although Jizya was imposed on Ahl al-Kitab (people of previous scripture, Injeel, and Torah), similar tax was also levied on Muslims called Zakat. The Quran commands Muslims to treat non-Muslims well and kindness:

“God does not forbid you, with regard to those who do not fight you on account of your religion nor drive you out of your homes, TO TREAT THEM WITH GOODNESS AND TO BE JUST TO THEM; TRULY, GOD LOVES THOSE WHO ARE JUST. …” – Quran 60:8

There are also ample of sayings of the Prophet where he enjoys everyone to be good to non-Muslims (Dhimmis) and those who do not do good, will not smell paradise:

He who hurts a dhimmi (non-Muslim) hurts me, and he who hurts me annoys Allah. (Narrated by at-Tabarani in Al-aswat on good authority)

“Whoever hurts a dhimmi, I am his adversary, and I shall be an adversary to him on the Day of Resurrection.” (Narrated by Khatib on good authority)

Abu Dawud:

“One the Day of Resurrection I shall prove to be wrong anyone who oppresses a person from among the People of the covenant, or infringes on his right, or puts a responsibility on him which is beyond his strength, or takes something from him against his will.” (Narrated By Abu Dawud)

Tabarani:

“…The Messenger Of Allah (p) said: “Whoever gives a man a promise of security and kills him, I am innocent of the killer, EVEN IF THE ONE WHO WAS KILLED WAS A DISBELIEVER.” (Al-Mu’jam Al-Awsat Lil Tabarani, #4264 online Source)

The Prophet said:

Whoever hurts a dhimmi (non-Muslim), hurts me; and whoever hurts me, hurts Allah” (Bayhaqi, as-sunan al-Kubra, volume 5, page 205).

For now readers should know that this writer cannot focus on one certain point in history. When he fails in his subject he jumps around and tries to string things that are not connected to the original topic on Byzantines. Shamoun this times continues by claiming that the Prophet wanted to expel Jews/Christians because of their disbelief and he uses the following report:

‘Umar said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “We will let you remain there as long as Allah lets you remain there.”
2996. It is related that Abu Hurayra said, “While we were in the mosque, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came out and said, ‘Go to the Jews.’ We went out until we came to the Bayt al-Midras (where they studied). He said, ‘Become Muslim and you will be safe. Know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Messenger. I want to expel you from this land. Whoever of you has some property should sell it. However, the earth belongs to Allah and His Messenger.'” (Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 63. Chapters on the Jizya and Truces, online source)

 

What the writer conveniently leaves out on this incident is that the expulsion was in regards if they BROKE A TREATY. That is, if they broke a treaty after which they agreed then the guilty would no longer be allowed to live in the land. In fact the treaty was broken in the time of Umar Ibn Khattab as a result of the Jews and others attacking and killing Muslims, hence the guilty were expelled. For a detailed examination for the above report, please see the following two articles: “Did Jews get expelled from Arabia

And here is also a non-Muslim scholar’s detailed article on the report: “Holy Ground: Jews And Christians Expelled From Arabia

Another point that needs addressing is you will be “safe”, this is in regards to the hostile leaders of Khaibar who constantly attacked and murdered Muslims. Read the following on this: “The Battle of Khaybar

With the above in perspective, we see that Q.9:29 was revealed as shown in previous pieces (here and here), as a result of the Byzantine army marching forward aiming to overthrow the Muslim State. This article thoroughly showed the dishonesty and lies perpetuated by the aforementioned missionary who throughout his piece lied and deceptively left out important information to deceive readers.

The Jizya historically was a tax. Similar tax was also paid by Muslims. Everyone in the Western world pays tax. There is nothing unusual about this. This tax was used for the betterment of the society. A perfect example is of Umar Ibn Khattab fourteen hundred years ago where there was a poor Jew who couldn’t feed himself.

Umar was passing along a house when saw an old, Jewish blind man begging. Umar touched the old man and asked him, whether he was a Christian or a Jew, the man responded by saying that he was a Jew. The old blind man further said that he begged in the day so he could provide himself the daily needs, for his food and pay the Jizya.

“To which of the people of the Book do you belong? I am a Jew, responded the blind man. Umar took him by the hand, led him to his own house, gave him something from it (i.e., food) and then sent him to the keeper of the treasure with this message, ‘See to this man and his like, for we have not done right if we devour their youth and neglect their old age. THE RELIGIOUS TAX IS FOR THE POOR AND NEEDY. THE POOR ARE THE MUSLIMS; THIS MAN IS ONE OF THE NEEDY OF THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK (CHRISTIANS AND JEWS). HE FREED THE MAN FROM THE OBLIGATION TO PAY THE JIZYAH.“ (Kitab al-Kharaj, by Abu Yusuf Yaqub page 71)

This shows that Jizya was used for the society as a whole, be they Muslim or non-Muslim.

For further Similar quotes on this matter of Jizya, see the following article: “Social Conditions: Christians And Jews In Early Period of Islam

In conclusion, readers should stay well away from people who lie and misrepresent other people’s scripture. What sort of man of God would continuously lie and at the same time claim to follow God and Jesus? Should such a man be taken seriously? If he can lie on other people’s scripture, by distorting and deceptively/deliberately leaving important information out, how can any Christian take any of what he says as truthful?

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