By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
"Say, ‘O People of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you: that we will worship no one but Allah, and that we will not ascribe any partner to Him, and that we will not take each other as lords besides Allah.’ But if they turn away, say, ‘Be witnesses that we are Muslims (those who submit to none except God Almighty).’ – Holy Qur’an 3:64)
"Islam” is Arabic for peace, harmony, healthy way of life, and submission to none but the Almighty Creator and His commandments for the welfare of the human race in the transient life of the mortal world and salvation in the Hereafter.
Its equivalent in ancient Syriac and Aramaic is "Shlama” which in Hebrew became "Shalom”, and in Sanskrit "Shanti”.
"Islam” was the common theme of the message of monotheism entrusted by God to His Messengers since the dawn of creation until it became the proper name for the universal mission of the Last and Greatest Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), who was prophesied by all prophets of the past to their nations.
With the advent of the Seal of Divine Messengers in the full limelight of history, the learned scholars of the People of the Book (Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sabeans, and others) recognized him, but ethnic, tribal, and sectarian prejudices prevented their followers from acknowledging his mission.
Unfortunately, many of the Israelites whose forefathers had migrated to Arabia for the very purpose of awaiting the Last Prophet among the Ishmaelite Arabs, ganged up with the pagans of Mecca who had long deviated from the monotheistic creed of Prophet Abraham, to try to kill him and imposed armed battles upon him.
God Almighty, however, protected Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) through the selfless efforts of his immediately family, the Ahl al-Bayt, especially his valiant cousin and ward, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), who volunteered to sleep on his bed on the crucial Night of Migration to Medina, and later on the different battlefields single-handedly defeated the Arab and Israelite warlords to make Islam supreme.
Thus, in 8 AH, following the peaceful surrender of Mecca, the hitherto bastion of polytheism, to the Prophet who magnanimously granted general amnesty to his avowed enemies without seeking the least vengeance for the horrible crimes they had committed against him including the brutal killing of his beloved uncle, Hamza, Islam entered a new phase.
Several Arab tribes, as well as Jews and Christians, approached the Prophet to discuss the dynamics of faith, and many of them embraced the truth of Islam.
Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), as commanded by God, wrote letters and sent emissaries to the leaders of various religions and the political rulers of his time, including the Roman Emperor Heraclius and Iran’s Sassanid Emperor, Khosrow Pervez, inviting them to the universal creed of Islam. Among the recipients of the Prophet’s letters was the Archbishop of the Christian land of Najran, situated between Yemen and Hijaz.
On receiving the letter, the archbishop consulted with his flock, and one of the Christian prelates said: Remember, traditions have come down to us from our forefathers of God Almighty’s raising of a great Prophet from among the offspring of Prophet Abraham’s firstborn son, Ishmael, so let us send a delegation to Medina to find out the teachings of Islam and whether this person is the awaited Prophet whose coming Jesus has prophesized.
In 9 AH, in the month of Zil-Hijjah, following the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, a high level Christian delegation of Najran arrived in Medina. The Christian priests who were adorned in all their finery including silken robes and gold-plated headgears and staffs, were struck by the simplicity of the attire of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), who made arrangements for their stay, and even provided them a part of the principal mosque (Masjid an-Nabi) for holding their own rituals and forms of worship.
For three days a lively debate went on, with the Prophet presenting to them the most logical and rational proofs of the Glory of the One and Only Creator, Who cannot have human traits to be in need of sons or children. He explained in the most convincing manner the mission of Prophet Jesus; how he used to cure lepers and the blind; and how by the commandment of God he performed other miracles, including fashioning of a bird out of clay and breathing life into it.
The Christian priests, however, remained stubborn. They stuck to the weird concept of trinity but were unable to provide any reasonable proofs. They said, if Jesus is the servant and creature of God, as you say, who is his father? A created human being should have a father. In response, the Prophet recited the following Ayahs the Holy Qur’an:
"Indeed the case of Jesus with God is like the case of Adam: He created him from dust then said to him, "Be”, and he was.”
"This is the truth from your Lord so do not be among the doubters.” (3:59, 60)
He explained that Adam was created from clay without any parents, so if lack of father is a sign of divinity, then he should be considered more superior and more meritorious than Jesus, who after all had a mother.
The Christian priests, however, refused to accept the logical remarks of the Prophet and insisted on their claims without any justified reason by casting doubts on the righteousness and truthfulness of the divine religion of Islam.
At this point, Archangel Gabriel descended with revelation from God, and the Prophet recited to the Christians the fresh commandment from ethereal heaven:
"Should anyone argue with you concerning him after the knowledge that has come to you, say: Come let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, our souls and your souls, then let us invoke and call down Allah’s curse upon the liars.” (Holy Qur’an 3:61)
It was a novel challenge of invoking Divine curse or malediction (Mubahela) upon the liars, and the Christian priests of Najran accepted it on the assumption that they were on the right path and that God would answer their prayers.
That night the two sides prepared for a showdown to invoke Divine curse on the morrow – the Christians through elaborate rituals to their trinity and the Prophet with a simple prayer of thanksgiving to the Omnipresent Lord. He covered himself with a cloak and was joined in it by his two little grandsons, Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS), his daughter Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA) and his son-in-law, Imam Ali (AS). He supplicated: "O Lord! These are my Ahl al-Bayt, my dearest and nearest ones; grant them (the certificate of) purity.”
Archangel Gabriel promptly descended, giving tidings that God has created everything for the sake of this blessed group, and conveyed the following Ayah:
"Indeed Allah desires to keep away all impurity from you Ahl al-Bayt and preserve you pristinely pure.” (Holy Qur’an 33:33)
Thus, when the 24th of Zilhijja dawned and the Christian priests assembled at the appointed place outside Medina with their flock, they were amazed to see the Prophet entering the field in a calm and composed manner, without any of his companions and without any of the wives he had married in middle age as social necessities. He was accompanied only by his immediate family members: daughter Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA), her husband Imam Ali (AS), and the couple’s two young sons, Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS).
The awestruck Christians realized the truth. They were beholding such radiant visages that would instantly bring down the wrath of God if this blessed group of five were to raise their hands to heaven. They wisely withdrew the challenge and made peace, thereby proving to posterity the folly of opposing the Ahl al-Bayt.
The Day of Mubahela thus left a lasting impression on the minds of mankind of the inseparable link between the Prophet’s progeny and the Book of God. It is indeed a glorious event in history that manifested the status of the Ahl al-Bayt, for whom love, affection, obedience, and leadership is obligatory for all Muslims.
The anniversary of Mubahela is also an opportunity for present day Christians to contemplate on rational facts instead of blindly adhering to the weird and irrational concept of Trinity – coined by the Hellenized Jew, Paul – which is surely displeasing to Jesus (peace upon him).