In this second piece I am going to be addressing and refuting some of the claims made by “answeringIslamblog”, author Sam Shamoun. He claims throughout this second piece that Byzantine’s were attacked for no reason. For this he claims that the news which reached Muhammed (p) that the Byzantines marched forward southwards to attack the Muslims community was based on hearsay, which had no truth to it, as he claims.
A number of reports tell us that a large army of the Byzantine’s was waiting to fight against the Muslims:
“I never remained behind Allah’s Messenger from any expedition which he undertook except the Battle of Tabuk and that of the Battle of Badr. So far as the Battle of Badr is concerned, nobody was blamed for remaining behind as Allah’s Messenger and the Muslims (did not set out for attack but for waylaying) the caravan of the Quraish, but it was Allah Who made them confront their enemies without their intention (to do so). I had the honour to be with Allah’s Messenger on the night of ‘Aqaba when we pledged our allegiance to Islam and it was more dear to me than my participation in the Battle of Badr, although Badr was more popular amongst people as compared with that (Tabuk). And this is my story of remaining back from Allah’s Messenger on the occasion of the Battle of TABUK. Never did I possess means enough and (my circumstances) more favourable than at the occasion of this expedition. And, by Allah, I had never before this expedition simultaneously in my possession two rides. Allah’s Messenger set out for this expedition in extremely hot season; the journey was long and the land (which he and his army had to cover) was waterless and HE HAD TO CONFRONT A LARGE ARMY, so he informed the Muslims about the actual situation (they had to face), so that they should adequately equip themselves for this expedition, and he also told them the destination where he intended to go. …” (Sahih Muslim Book 37, Hadith 6670)
“Abdullah bin Ka’b, who served as the guide of Ka’b bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) when he became blind, narrated: I heard Ka’b bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) narrating the story of his remaining behind instead of joining Messenger of Allah when he left for the battle of Tabuk. Ka’b said: “I accompanied Messenger of Allah in every expedition which he undertook excepting the battle of Tabuk and the battle of Badr. As for the battle of Badr, nobody was blamed for remaining behind as Messenger of Allah and the Muslims, when they set out, had in mind only to intercept the caravan of the Quraish. Allah made them confront their enemies unexpectedly. I had the honour of being with Messenger of Allah on the night of ‘Aqabah when we pledged our allegiance to Islam and it was dearer to me than participating in the battle of Badr, although Badr was more well-known among the people than that. And this is the account of my staying behind from the battle of TABUK. I never had better means and more favourable circumstances than at the time of this expedition. And by Allah, I had never before possessed two riding-camels as I did during the time of this expedition. Whenever Messenger of Allah decided to go on a campaign, he would not disclose his real destination till the last moment (of departure). But on this expedition, he set out in extremely hot weather; the journey was long and the terrain was waterless desert; and HE HAD TO FACE A STRONG ARMY, so he informed the Muslims about the actual position so that they should make full preparation for the campaign.” (Riyad as-Salihin Book 1, Hadith 21)
The fact that the Byzantines wanted to attack the Muslim community is well ATTESTED by all major scholars of the past.
Ali ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi (d. 1075 AD), states the following:
“… The Banu ‘Amr ibn ‘Awf built a mosque at Quba’ and sent for the Messenger of Allah, to come to them. He went there and prayed in that mosque. Their brothers from the Banu Ghunm ibn ‘Awf envied them resentfully and said: ‘Let us built a mosque and send for the Messenger of Allah, to pray in it as he prayed in the mosque of our brothers, and let Abu ‘Amir al-Rahib (the monk) also pray in it when he comes back from Syria‘. This Abu ‘Amir had embraced Christianity and became a monk in the pre-Islamic period. But when the Messenger of Allah, moved to Medina, Abu ‘Amir rejected the religion of Islam and showed enmity toward it. The Prophet, called him then Abu ‘Amir al-Fasiq (the corrupt)… ABU AMIR LEFT FOR SYRIA AND THEN SENT A LETTER TO THE HYPOCRITES in which he wrote: ‘PREPARE YOURSELVES AND MAKE READY WHATEVER YOU CAN OF FORCE AND WEAPONS. Built a Mosque for me, for I AM GOING TO THE CAESAR TO REQUEST HIM TO SEND WITH ME BYZANTINE SOLDIERS SO THAT I DRIVE OUT MUHAMMAD AND HIS COMPANIONS‘. And so, they built for him a mosque by the Quba’ mosque. Those who built this mosque were 12 men: Khidham ibn Khalid (this mosque of opposition was an extension of his house), Tha’labah ibn Hatib, Mu’attib ibn Qushayr, Abu Habibah ibn al-Az’ar, ‘Abbad ibn Hunayf, Jariyah ibn ‘Amir, his two sons Majma’ and Zayd, Nabtal ibn Harith, Bahzaj ibn ‘Uthman, Bijad ibn ‘Uthman and Wadi’ah ibn Thabit. When they finished building this mosque, they went to the Messenger of Allah, and said: ‘We have built a mosque for the sick and the needy and also for use in rainy and wintry nights, and we would like you to come and pray in it’.” (Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi, online source)
Abu l-Fidaʾ Ismail Ibn Umar Ibn Kathir (1301-1373 AD), also mentions that Abu Amir got the backing of Heraclius to launch an attack on the Muslim community:
“Masjid Ad-Dirar and Masjid At-Taqwa
The reason behind revealing these honorable Ayat is that before the Messenger of Allah migrated to Al-Madinah, there was a man from Al-Khazraj called “Abu `Amir Ar-Rahib (the Monk).” This man embraced Christianity before Islam and read the Scriptures. During the time of Jahiliyyah, Abu Amir was known for being a worshipper and being a notable person among Al-Khazraj. When the Messenger of Allah arrived at Al-Madinah after the Hijrah, the Muslims gathered around him and the word of Islam was triumphant on the day of Badr, causing Abu `Amir, the cursed one, to choke on his own saliva and announce his enmity to Islam. He fled from Al-Madinah to the idolators of Quraysh in Makkah to support them in the WAR AGAINST THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH. The Quraysh united their forces and the bedouins who joined them for the battle of Uhud, during which Allah tested the Muslims, but the good end is always for the pious and righteous people. The rebellious Abu Amir dug many holes in the ground between the two camps, into one of which the Messenger fell, injuring his face and breaking one of his right lower teeth. He also sustained a head injury. Before the fighting started, Abu Amir approached his people among the Ansar and tried to convince them to support and agree with him. When they recognized him, they said, “May Allah never burden an eye by seeing you, O Fasiq one, O enemy of Allah!” They cursed him and he went back declaring, “By Allah! Evil has touched my people after I left.” The Messenger of Allah called Abu Amir to Allah and recited the Qur’an to him before his flight to Makkah, but he refused to embrace Islam and REBELLED. The Messenger invoked Allah that Abu Amir die as an outcast in an alien land, and his invocation came true. After the battle of Uhud was finished, ABU AMIR realized that the Messenger’s call was still rising and gaining momentum, so HE WENT TO HERACLIUS, THE EMPEROR OF ROME, ASKING FOR HIS AID AGAINST THE PROPHET. HERACLIUS GAVE HIM PROMISES AND ABU AMIR REMAINED WITH HIM. He also wrote to several of his people in Al-Madinah, who embraced hypocrisy, promising and insinuating to them THAT HE WILL LEAD AN ARMY TO FIGHT THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH TO DEFEAT HIM AND HIS CALL. He ordered them to establish a stronghold where he could send his emissaries and to serve as an outpost when he joins them later on. These hypocrites built a Masjid next to the Masjid in Quba’, and they finished building it BEFORE the Messenger went to TABUK. They went to the Messenger inviting him to pray in their Masjid so that it would be a proof that the Messenger approved of their Masjid.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, online source)
Similarly, Tafsir al-Jalalayn affirms the Masjid al-Dirar incident:
“And, among them, those who have chosen a mosque — these were twelve men from among the hypocrites — by way of HARM, to cause distress for those of the mosque of Quba’, and disbelief, since they built it on the orders of the monk ABU ‘AMIR, as a sanctuary for him, so that whoever comes from his side may stay there: HE HAD GONE TO THE BYZANTINE EMPEROR (QAYSAR) TO BRING TROOPS TO FIGHT AGAINST THE PROPHET (s), and to cause division among the believers, who pray in the mosque of Quba’, by having some of these pray in their [the hypocrites’] mosque, and as an outpost, an observation post, for those who waged war against God and His Messenger before, that is, before it was built — meaning the above-mentioned Abu ‘Amir — they will swear: ‘We desired nothing, by building it, but, to do, good’, by way of kindness towards the poor in times of [heavy] rain or [extreme] heat and in order to provide [a place of worship] for the Muslims; and God bears witness that they are truly liars, in this [claim of theirs]. They had asked the Prophet (s) to perform prayers in it, and so the following was revealed…” (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, online source)
These above quotes quite CLEARLY tell us that the war was waged against the Muslims by the Byzantines, long before the expedition of Tabuk was under taken. Therefore showing that the Byzantine’s intentions all along was to attack and murder Muslims, 1400 years ago.
If as the author claims, that the sole reason was to attack and force the Byzantine’s to become Muslim, why did Muhammed stay there few days and left leaving the Christian King Yuhanna have full authority over his territory?:
“We accompanied the Prophet in the Ghazwa of Tabuk and the king of ‘Aila presented a white mule and a cloak as a gift to the Prophet. And the Prophet wrote to him a PEACE TREATY ALLOWING HIM TO KEEP AUTHORITY OVER HIS COUNTRY.” (Sahih al-Bukhari vol. 4, Book 53, Hadith 387)
This above Hadith clearly debunks the claims made by the set author. Shamoun continues:
“…it was Muhammad who sent a threatening letter to the Ghassanite king, thereby prompting him to react in anger. Now picture what Muhammad or even Muslims today would do if a Christian leader sent a letter threatening to come and kill them if they did not embrace his faith or submit themselves to his rule and conditions.”
This is based on a lie and misrepresentation of a letter. Nowhere in the letter did Muhammed threaten the Byzantine King. If he is truthful, why didn’t he show this supposed “threat”? It was part of the Prophets of God to warn mankind. To bring them to the path God wanted. If Moses at his time told Pharaoh to come to his path and accept his message, is that a threat? Or if Jesus told the Jews of his day to accept his as his Prophet/Messiah, is that a threat? These are nothing but silly claims. Before the letter even reaching the Byzantine King, his men murdered Muhammed’s envoy, which led to the battle of Mutah: “The Battle Of Mu’tah (Mutah)”
Shamoun then tries to quote weak and unhistorical story:
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), pp. 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 are the following:
“From Narration of Savban, throw Yahya ibn Salam ibn Khuhayl, and he is matruk”. (Ibn Arrak in “Tanziru sharia volume 1 page 382)
“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)
In short this quote “answeringIslamblog” is showing is actually a lie which is rejected by classical scholars. Not only is Yahya weak as a narrator, scholars have warned and stated that NOTHING of him is to be recorded or accepted.
In conclusion, we once again have seen readers that this blogger Shamoun writing on answeringIslamblog, is nothing but a boldfaced liar who distorts history to go/agree in line with his fascistic world-view. He quotes things which are lies and rejected by respected scholars.
Ali ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi (d. 1075 AD), Ibn Kathir and Jalalayn all quite clearly tell us that the Byzantine’s with Abu Amir before Tabuk expedition attempted to murder Prophet Muhammed. This and the news about the march led to Tabuk expedition.