Rana Rais Khan reflects on a Dawah technique that won over the heart of the Negus, the King of Abyssinia, and can still be used today
Allah (swt) states: “Has there come to you the story of Musa? When His Lord called him in the sacred valley of Tuwa, ‘Go to Firaun; verily, he has transgressed all bounds (in crimes, sins, polytheism, disbelief). And say to him: ‘Would you purify yourself (from the sin of disbelief by becoming a believer)?'” (An-Naziat 79:15-18)
The above verse introduces an intriguing aspect of Dawah (invitation to Islam). Allah (swt) commands His messengers to convey the message of truth to the leaders of nations, regardless of how evil they are. They were not instructed to organize a gathering for them to attend, but diligently initiate a dialogue. This strategy teaches us to present Islamic material, including the Quran and Seerah of the Prophet (sa), whenever we find the chance. Weddings, childbirth, job promotion or house warming parties are opportunities to present others with Dawah based gifts.
Truth is nurtured in the open with no fears or double standards and has a pure life of its own. More significantly, Allah (swt) the Dispenser of all affairs supports it. Thus, a Daa’ee does not need to use clandestine or hushed up policies to convey His message. Secondly, a Daa’ee’s message remains constant. He does not condition it to the external environment to impress a few for short-term profits, while concealing facts that may otherwise anger those in power. A beautiful example remains with Jafar Ibn Abi Talib (rta) when Negus, the Christian King of Abyssiniah, granted Muslims political asylum during the first migration in the history of Islam. This enraged the disbelievers of Makkah who decided to send the leading politicians of the Arab world Amr Ibn Al-Aas and Abdullah Ibn Abi Rabeeah with expensive gifts for the king. The two attempted to poison the kind-hearted king’s mind with tales about the Muslims. Being a far-sighted and just ruler, Negus allowed the Muslims to present their case, before he made his decision.
Jafar (rta) was chosen as the Muslim ambassador. When his delegation reached the court, they greeted the king and sat down. Amr Ibn Al-Aas quickly observed, how they arrogantly refused to prostrate before Negus as was protocol. Upon inquiring, Jafar (rta) explained that Muslims were only to bow before Allah (swt), and prostrating before any of His creations would amount to its worship. Then, he eloquently explained the tenets of Islam and how, they transformed them into a humane and caring community.
Negus asked him about the revelations their Prophet received from Allah (swt). Jafar (rta) took advantage of the opportunity and recited Surat Maryam in such a heartrending manner that it left Negus in tears and his courtiers speechless. The king confirmed that it seemed that these verses and those in the Bible were of the same Divine origin. Negus then turned to the emissaries of Quraish and declared that the refugees were people of sound character and could continue to live in Abyssinia for as long as they pleased.
As Amr saw his plot becoming futile, he made one last malicious attempt by requesting the king to demand Islam’s point of view about Isa (as). Jafar (rta) stated the truth only. Prophet Muhammad (sa) had told them that Isa (as) was the servant and messenger of Allah (swt), and he was also the spirit and Word of Allah (swt). Negus was so delighted to hear this complete answer that he beat his palm on the floor and returned all of Amr’s gifts and refused to hand over the Muslims. Jafar (rta) believed in the truth and hence uttered it with conviction, in spite of a potential threatening situation. Such is the miracle of truth.