The Prophet Forgives the Traitor
The Apostle of God told the Muslim community that he was going to Mecca and ordered them to prepare for the journey. He said: 'O God, keep the spies and news from the Quraysh so that we can surprise them in their lands.' Hatib ibn Balta'ah wrote a letter to the people of Mecca informing them that the Apostle of God was coming to them and gave the letter to a woman whose name was Sarah with ten Dinars for her to take the letter to the people of Mecca.
Sarah was the servant of Abu Amr ibn Sayfi ibn Hisham. She had come to the Apostle of God from Mecca to Medina. The Apostle of God had said to her: 'Have you come as a Muslim?' She said: 'No.'
He said: 'Have you come as an emigrant?' She said: 'No.'
He said: 'What have you come for?'
She said: 'You have been my family and patrons. But my patrons have gone and I am in dire need. So I have come to you so that you may give to me and clothe me and provide a mount for me.'
He said: 'Where do you stand amongst the young Polytheists?' She had been a singer, who used to sing for the fighters of Quraysh to boost their morale, during their battles with the Prophet.
She said: 'They have not asked me for anything else since the battle of Badr.' So the Apostle of God urged the Bani Abdul-Muttalib to clothe her and provide her with a mount and with funds which they did. While the Apostle of God was preparing to conquer Mecca, Hatib came to her and gave her the letter and ordered her to take it by a little known route. When Sarah left with the letter, Gabriel descended upon the Apostle of God and told him of this.
The Apostle of God summoned Imam Ali and said to him:
'One of my companions has written a letter to the people of Mecca telling them of our plans. I have already asked God to hide our news from them. The letter is with a woman who has
taken it by a different road. So take your sword and catch up with her and take the letter from her. Then let her go and return to me with it. Then he summoned al-Zubeir and said to him: 'Go with Ali ibn Abi Talib on this errand.' So they went and when they caught up with her al-Zubeir said to her: 'Where is the letter you have with you?' But she denied it and swore an oath and wept.
Al-Zubeir said turning to Imam Ali: 'I do not see that she has a letter with her O Abu al-Hasan, so let us return to the Apostle of God and inform him of her innocence.'
Imam Ali said: 'The Apostle of God informs me that she has a letter with her and orders me to take it from her and you tell me that she has no letter with her!'
Then he drew his sword and stepped towards her and said:
'By God you will either produce the letter or I will strike your neck with this sword.' When she saw this earnestness she said: 'If I must do this then at least turn your face away from me O Son of Abu Talib.' So he turned his face from her and she opened her veil and took out the letter from her hair. Then Imam Ali took it and went with it to the Apostle of God.
The affair of Hatib being as it was warranted that public opinion be turned against him so that others who were considering acting in a similar manner would be prevented. Perhaps for this reason we see that the Apostle of God ordered that congregational prayers be held and then he ascended the pulpit and took the letter in his hand and said: 'O people, I have asked God to keep information about us from the Quraysh, but a man from amongst you has written to the people of Mecca and told them of our news. So let the owner of the letter rise or revelation will expose him.'
No-one rose so he repeated it and then Hatib ibn Abi Balta'ah rose and said: 'O Apostle of God, I wrote the letter but I have not become a hypocrite after my Islam nor have I become a doubter after my certainty.' The Apostle of God said: 'Then what made you write the letter?'
Hatib said seeking an excuse: 'O Apostle of God, I have a family in Mecca but I do not have a tribe that will defend my family, so I wanted to have influence with the people there so that God might defend my family and property. All of the Muhajirin have a tribe there to defend their families and wealth.'
So the Apostle of God excused him and forgave him and said to his companions: 'Do not say anything but kind words to him.' One of the companions said: 'O Apostle of God, let me strike the neck of this hypocrite. He has betrayed God and His Apostle.' The Apostle of God said: 'Leave him.' And he stopped him from attacking Hatib.
Then God revealed the following verses about Hatib:
O ye who believe, do not take my enemy and your enemy as allies offering them your lovef until the verse: eOf no profit to you will be your relatives and your children on the Day of Resurrection: He will judge between you, and God sees well all that you do. 143
[Hatib was forgiven despite his treacherous behaviour, betraying some of the most sensitive secrets at times of war, thus blatantly undermining national security . . .]
143 The Holy Qur'an: The Woman Examined (60): 1-3. He said: 'O Abbas, who are they?!'
Adopted from the book : "The Prophet Muhammad; a Mercy to the World" by : "Ayatullah Muhammad Sadiq al-Shirazi"
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