The Holy Prophet's Letters to te Prince of the Ghassanians
By: Ayatullah Ja'far Subhani
Ghassanians were a family of the Qahtani tribe named Azd who had been living in Yemen for a long time, and their lands were irrigated by means of Ma'rib Dam. When the dam was destroyed they were compelled to leave that place and come to Syria. Their power and influence eclipsed that of the natives and eventually they established a State named Ghassaniyah. They ruled in that area under the suzerainty of the Roman Emperors and when Islam disbanded their organization, thirty two persons out of them had ruled over Golan, Yarmuk and Damascus.
Out of the six envoys who were sent to big countries to communicate the message of universal prophethood, the fifth was Shuja' bin Wahab, who proceeded to the State of Ghassaniyah to deliver the Prophet's letter to their ruler, Harith bin Abi Shamir at Ba'uzah. When the envoy reached the territory of Harith he came to know that the ruler was busy making preparations to receive Kaiser who was coming from Constantinople to Jerusalem on foot as a mark of thanksgiving for his gaining victory over his enemy, Iran.
In the circumstances Shuja' bin Wahab had to wait for some time before his meeting with the ruler could be fixed. In the meantime he developed friendship with the Hajib (the chief of ceremonies) and informed him of the attributes of the Prophet as well as about Islam. The impressive and penetrating words of the envoy brought about a peculiar change in the Hajib's thoughts, so much so that tears began to flow from his eyes and he said: "I have studied the Evangel very minutely and have read in it the attributes of the Prophet and I hereby express my faith in him. However, I am afraid of Harith lest he should kill me. And Harith, too, is afraid of the Kaiser and even if he believes your words, he will not be able to proclaim his faith, because he as well as the ancestors of this family have been the satellites of the Kaiser.
When Shuja' was received in audience by the ruler. he saw him sitting on a throne and wearing a crown. He delivered the Prophet's letter to him. It was as follows: "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
This is a letter from Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah to Harith bin Abi Shamir. Peace be upon the followers of truth and the guides and the true believers. O Harith! I invite you to the One Allah Who has no partner. If you embrace Islam your kingdom will continue to exist".
The words at the end of the letter which threatened the destruction of his kingdom in the event of his failing to express faith (in Allah and the Prophet) annoyed Harith and he said: "None can deprive me of my power. I must arrest this newly-risen Prophet". Then, in order to impress the envoy, he ordered that the army should march past before him so that the envoy of the Prophet might see his military power from near. By way of rendering supererogatory service he also wrote a letter to the Kaiser and informed him of his decision to arrest the Prophet of Islam. By chance, his letter was received by Kaiser at the time when Dihyah Kalbi, another envoy of the Prophet, was present in the court of Kaiser and the Roman Emperor was thinking about Islam. The Kaiser was displeased with the excessive zeal of the Ghassani Ruler and wrote to him in reply: "Give up your idea and see me in the city of Ailya."
However, in accordance with the maxim: "People follow the path of their rulers", the reply of Kaiser altered the attitude of Harith and hence he gave the envoy of the Prophet a robe of honour and, before he left for Madina, said to him: "Convey my greetings to the Prophet of Islam and tell him that I am one of his real followers". However, the Prophet did not attach any importance to his diplomatic reply and said: "In the near future his power will collapse". Harith died in the 8 A.H. i.e. one year after this event.[ Seerah-i Halabi, vol. Ill, p. 286; Tabaqat-i Ibn Sa'd, vol. I, p. 261]