The Byzantine Christians: Antagonists or Antagonized? Pt. 3

Continuing from where we previously left off, we are going to quote some additional Islamic references proving that it was Muhammad who had the audacity to send threatening letters to certain Christian tribes and rulers, including the Byzantine Emperor, threatening to attack them if they did not submit to his demands. These sources provide further evidence that the Byzantine ruler had no intention of attacking the Muslims, but sought to find a peaceful resolution in order to prevent Muhammad from carrying out his threat of violence:

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas… 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).” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 1, Number 6

This next quote is from the renowned Muslim historian and commentator Al-Tabari, even though much of what he writes is simply mythical and clearly embellished:

According to Ibn Humayd – Salamah – Muhammad b. Ishaq – Khalid b. Yasar – a very old Syrian, who said: When Heraclius was about to leave the land of Syria for Constantinople because of the report he received about the Messenger of God, he assembled the Romans and said: “People of the Romans, I shall present certain matters to you. Consider what I have decided.” “What are they?” they asked. He said: “You know, by God, that this man is a prophet who has been sent [sic]. We find him in our book [sic]. We know him by the description whereby he has been described to us. Let us follow him, that our life in this world and the next may be secure.” They said, “Shall we be under the hands of the Arabs, when we are mankind’s greatest kingdom, most numerous nation, and best land?” He said, “Then let me give him TRIBUTE453 each year, SO THAT I CAN AVERT HIS VEHEMENCE FROM ME AND FIND REST FROM HIS WARFARE BY MEANS OF MONEY THAT I GIVE HIM.” They said, “Shall we concede to the Arabs [our own] HUMILIATION AND ABASEMENT BY A TAX THAT THEY TAKE FROM US when we are mankind’s most numerous nation, greatest kingdom, and most impregnable land? By God, we will never do it!” He said, “Then let me make peace with him on condition that I give him the land of Syria and that he leave me with the land of al-Sha’m.”… They said to him: “Shall we give him the land of Syria, when you know that it is the navel of al-Sha’m? By God, we will never do it!” They having refused, he said, “By God, you shall see that, if you hold back from him, you will be defeated in your own city.”…

453. Arabic jizyah, later the technical term for the poll tax paid by members of protected minorities, here is used in the general sense of tribute… (The History of al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, translated by Michael Fishbein [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany 1997], Volume VIII (8), pp. 106-107; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

Pay careful attention to what is stated here. Heraclius’ willingness to pay tribute or Jizyah in order to avoid any warfare with Muhammad presupposes that Muhammad had threatened him and his empire with violence and bloodshed if the Byzantine emperor refused to submit to Islam. Further notice how the people realized that paying such tribute was a sign of their humiliation and abasement, providing clear evidence that it was Muhammad who antagonized and harassed his enemies not the other way around.

And, as mentioned previously, another Christian group that Muhammad threatened and harassed was the Ghassanites, a tribe that had ties with the Byzantine Empire:

In this year the Messenger of God sent out messengers. He sent out six persons in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, three of them setting out together: Hatib b. Abi Balta‘ah of Lakhm, a confederate of the Banu Asad b. ‘Abd al-Uzza, to al-Muqawqis; Shuja‘ b. Wahb of the Banu Asad b. Khuzaymah, a confederate of Harb b. Umayyah and veteran of Badr, to al-Harith b. Abi Shimr al-Ghassani; and Dihyah b. Khalifah al-Kalbi to Caesar…

According to Ibn Ishaq: The Messenger of God sent Shuja‘ b. Wahb, a member of the Banu Asad b. Khuzaymah, to al-Mundhir b. al-Harith b. Abi Shimr al-Ghassani, the ruler of Damascus.

According to Muhammad b. ‘Umar al-Waqidi: He wrote to him via Shuja‘:

Peace be with whoever follows the right guidance and believes in it. I call you to believe in God alone, Who has no partner, AND YOUR KINGDOM SHALL REMAIN YOURS.

Shuja‘ b. Wahb brought the letter to him, and he read it to them. Al-Mundhir said: “Who can wrest my kingdom from me? It is I who will go against him!” The Prophet said, “His kingdom has perished.” (Al-Tabari, pp. 98, 107-108; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)


423… The mission was to the ruler of the Banu Ghassan, an Arab tribal kingdom with its capital at Busra (Bostra) in Syria. The Ghassanids were Monophysite Christians and ruled as a client state of the Byzantine Empire… (Ibid., p. 98)

When the Messenger of Allah reached Tabuk, Yuhanna Ibn Ru’ba governor of Ayla came and made a treaty with him and paid him the Jizyah. The people of Jarba’ and Adhrah also came and paid the Jizyah.

Another example of Muhammad’s interest in the north is the expedition that set out for Syria and was defeated by Byzantine troops and their Arab allies at Mu’tah in Jordan during the month of Jumada I, A.H. 8 (August-September 629). Al-Tabari’s account, which relies almost entirely on Ibn Ishaq, says nothing about the causes of the expedition. Al-Waqidi (W, II, 755) indicates that the immediate occasion was the killing by Shurahbil b. ‘Amr al-Ghassani (the Banu Ghassan were allies of the Byzantines) of a messenger whom Muhammad had sent to the ruler of Busra in Syria. Thus, although the motive for this mission remains a mystery, the immediate motive for the expedition was retaliation… (Al-Tabari, Volume 8, p. xviii)

With the foregoing in perspective, what do the readers think the Muslim reaction would be to a person that would dare bring such a letter that threatened their lives and lands? And however we may view this today, would anyone be surprised over the fact that the Ghassanite ruler killed Muhammad’s messenger for bringing such a letter (assuming, of course, that these Islamic tales are recounting actual historical events)?

Wouldn’t Muhammad and his followers have done the same if not worse, seeing how Muhammad even ordered and approved the murder of women solely for lampooning him?

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Abbas: A blind man had a slave-mother who used to abuse the Prophet and disparage him. He forbade her but she did not stop. He rebuked her but she did not give up her habit. One night she began to slander the Prophet and abuse him. So he took a dagger, placed it on her belly, pressed it, and killed her. A child who came between her legs was smeared with the blood that was there. When the morning came, the Prophet was informed about it.

He assembled the people and said: I adjure by Allah the man who has done this action and I adjure him by my right to him that he should stand up. Jumping over the necks of the people and trembling the man stood up.

He sat before the Prophet and said: Apostle of Allah! I am her master; she used to abuse you and disparage you. I forbade her, but she did not stop, and I rebuked her, but she did not abandon her habit. I have two sons like pearls from her, and she was my companion. Last night she began to abuse and disparage you. So I took a dagger, put it on her belly and pressed it till I killed her.

Thereupon the Prophet said: Oh be witness, no retaliation is payable for her blood.

Grade: SAHIH (Al-Albani) (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4348; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Narrated Ali ibn AbuTalib: A Jewess used to abuse the Prophet and disparage him. A man strangled her till she died. The Apostle of Allah declared that no recompense was payable for her blood. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4349 – see also; bold emphasis ours)

Unfortunately, these weren’t the only Christians that Muhammad harassed. In this next example one of Muhammad’s murdering bandits snuck up on and seized an unsuspecting Christian ruler that was hunting wild cows, and ended up murdering his brother:

Khalid Ibn Al-Walid Goes forth to Ukaydir at Duma

The Messenger of Allah sent Khalid Ibn Al-Walid to Ukaydir at Duma. Ukaydir Ibn ‘Abdul-Malik was a Christian. The Messenger of Allah told Khalid that he would find him hunting wild cows. When Khalid went forth, he found Ukaydir and his brother hunting wild cows as the Messenger of Allah told him. Khalid and his companions seized Ukaydir and killed his brother. Ukaydir was wearing a gown of brocade covered with gold. Khalid stripped him of this and sent it to the Messenger of Allah. Then Khlid [sic] brought Ukaydir to the Prophet who spared his life and made peace with him on condition that he paid the Jizyah. (Ibn Kathir, The Battles of the Prophet, p. 196; underline emphasis ours)

Even the Christians from Najran, who came to Muhammad in Medina to test his claims to prophethood, knew that they were not safe from Muhammad’s lust for dominance and control:

(… say (unto him): Come! We will summon our sons and your sons…) [3:61]. Abu Sa‘d informed us> ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad al-Zimjari> Ahmad ibn Ja‘far ibn Malik> ‘Abd Allah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal> his father> Husayn> Hammad ibn Salamah> Yunus> al-Hasan who said: “The two monks of Najran came to see the Prophet and he invited them to surrender to Allah. One of them said: ‘We have surrendered to Allah before you’. He said: ‘You lie! Three things prevent you from surrendering to Allah: your prostration before the cross, your claim that Allah has a son and your consumption of wine’. They said: ‘What do you say about Jesus?’ The Prophet did not answer. But then this verse was revealed (This (which) We recite unto thee is a revelation and a wise reminder… Lo! the likeness of Jesus with Allah is as the likeness of Adam) up to Allah’s saying (… say (unto him): Come! We will summon our sons and your sons…). Then the Messenger of Allah challenged them to summon Allah’s curse upon the one who is lying amongst them (Mula‘anah). The Messenger of Allah went and brought al-Hasan, al-Husayn, Fatimah and all his family and children. When the two Christians left, one of them said to the other: ‘Consent to pay the Jizyah and do not agree to summon Allah’s curse on the liar’. They went back and said: ‘We agree to pay the Jizyah and abstain from summoning Allah’s curse on the liar’ ”. ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Hasan al-Hafiz informed us among that which he gave us permission to narrate from him> Abu Hafs ‘Umar ibn Ahmad al-Wa‘iz> ‘Abd Allah ibn Sulayman ibn al-Ash‘ath> Yahya ibn Hatim al-‘Askari> Bishr ibn Mihran> Muhammad ibn Dinar> Dawud ibn Abi Hind> al-Sha‘bi> Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah who said: “The delegation of the people of Najran came to see the prophet. The deputy chief and the master spoke with the Prophet and he invited them to surrender to Allah. They said: ‘We have surrendered to Him before you’. He said: ‘You lie! And if you wish I will inform you about that which prevents you from surrendering to Allah’. (‘Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab al-Nuzul; bold and underline emphasis ours)

“… When they went to see the Prophet, who had set out with al-Hasan, al-Husayn, Fātima and ‘Alī, he said to them [the Najrān delegation], ‘When I supplicate, you say ‘Amen’; but they refrained from this mutual imprecation and made peace with the Prophet on the condition that they pay the jizya, as reported by Abū Nu‘aym…” (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The following source gives us an idea why these Christians consented to pay the Jizyah, as opposed to agreeing to invoke God to curse and damn him to hell:

“… As a group, therefore they give their answer to the prophet: ‘O Muammad, we will make peace (salaha III) 46 with you lest you (sing.) attack (ghaza) us and frighten us and dissuade us from our religion.’47 The Christians make terms with the prophet of Islam by offering to pay him a thousand suits of clothes in the month of Safar and a thousand suits in Rajab, plus 30 iron coats of mail.48 In response the prophet accepts these terms and settles with the Christians.” (Gordon Nickels, “We Will Make Peace With You”: The Christians in Najran in Muqatil’s Tafsir, p. 9; bold and underline emphasis ours)

47 Tafsir Muqatil ibn Sulayman, Vol. I, 282.

48 Tafsir Muqatil ibn Sulayman, Vol. I, 282. (Ibid.)

These Christians clearly saw that even at that early stage in Medina Muhammad had already planned in his heart to attack and subjugate all the Jews and Christians he could get his hands on, long before he ever composed Q. 9:29!

Not only did Muhammad antagonize Christians he also harassed and threatened the Jews, especially when he saw that he couldn’t convince them to convert to his religion. Muslim sources admit that in the beginning Muhammad first tried to win the Jews by following some of their practices. After realizing that they wouldn’t believe in him he turned against them and threatened them.

For instance, al-Tabari candidly admits that Muhammad changed the prayer direction from Jerusalem to Mecca due to the Jews making fun of him.

According to Yunus b. ‘Abd al-A‘la – Ibn Wahb – Ibn Zayd: The Prophet turned towards Jerusalem for sixteen months, and then it reached his ears that the Jews were saying, “By God, Muhammad and his companions did not know where their Qiblah was until we directed them.” This displeased the Prophet and he raised his face toward Heaven, and God said, “We have seen the turning of your face to Heaven.” (The History of Al-Tabari: The Foundation of the Community, translated by M. V. McDonald, annotated by W. Montgomery Watt [Published in 1987], Volume VII (7), p. 25; bold emphasis ours)

Like the Christians, the Jews knew that Muhammad was a charlatan who hadn’t received any commission from the one true God of Abraham to speak on his behalf.

Another source states that Muhammad told the Jews to convert otherwise he would have them expelled from their land:

VI: Expelling the Jews from the Arabian peninsula

‘Umar said that the Prophet said, “We will let you remain in that 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 came out and said, ‘Go to the Jews.’ We went out until we came to the house of al-Midras. 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; capital and underline emphasis ours)

In light of this, does anyone really blame the pagan Arabs, Jews or the Christians for wanting to rid themselves of such a tyrant?

Finally, the following narratives give us an idea as to why Muhammad imposed Jizyah upon the Jews and Christians, instead of simply forcing them to convert or massacring them altogether:

Narrated Juwairiya bin Qudama At-Tamimi: We said to Umar bin Al-Khattab, “O chief of the believers! Advise us.” He said, “I advise you to fulfill Allah’s Dhimma (financial obligation) (made with the Dhimmi) as it is the Dhimma of your Prophet and the source of the livelihood of your dependents (i.e., the taxes from the Dhimmi). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 53, Number 388:

And here is another English version of the same hadith:

III: Instructions in regard to the people who have a covenant (dhimma) with the Messenger of Allah

Dhimma is the covenant and ill means kinship (9:8,10).

2991. It is related that Juwayriya ibn Qudama at-Tamimi said, “I heard ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab. We had said to him, ‘Instruct us, Amir al-Mu’minin!’ He said, ‘I instruct you to fulfil the contract of the dhimma of Allah. It is the dhimma of the Messenger of Allah and provision for your dependants [as a result of the jizya].'” (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 62. Book of Khumus:

Muhammad found it more expedient to let the Jews and Christians remain in their respective faiths, since that would result in the Muslims living rather comfortably from all the revenue that would come in from the subjugation of the very people that the Quran acknowledges had been given divinely inspired Scriptures to guide them!

With that said, we can see now that the real reason why Muhammad didn’t force Jews and Christians to convert is because he needed their money to keep his community alive and prosperous.

The foregoing should sufficiently put to rest the boldfaced lie that Q. 9:29 was composed by Muhammad to permit his men to defend themselves against the threat of the Byzantine Christians who were supposedly marching forth to attack the Muslims. The fact is that Muhammad came up with Q. 9:29 in order to incite his men to go forth and attack Jews and Christians solely because he deemed them to be disbelievers since he could not get them to embrace him as God’s prophet to them.

The fact is that the Jews and Christians knew better than to follow a false prophet and an antichrist. Yet unfortunately for them (and for us living today), this led to their subjugation and degradation. However, it is better to be enslaved and humiliated for the cause of the Lord Jesus than to embrace an antichrist, and then suffer eternal separation from God’s beloved Son who loves us more than we can imagine.

We are now ready to proceed to the addendum

4 thoughts on “The Byzantine Christians: Antagonists or Antagonized? Pt. 3

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