Rafed English

The Story of Abraha

Abraha was a competent officer in Eryat's army who did not think much of his commander, and so he decided to wrest power from him, and with the aid of his subordinates rose against Eryat.

The Abyssinians got divided into two groups: one group supported Abraha, while the other favourcd Eryat, and got ready to fight. On the day of battle Abraha sent a message for Eryat, saying that it was futile for the Abyssinians to kill each other, and added: "As the dispute is between you and me, let the two of us have a man-to-man fight, and let the victor take the command of the army " Eryat w agreed and in the fight he was killed and Abraha took the reins of power in his hands. Negus, emperor of Abyssinia, was enraged on hearing that the second in command has killed his appointed supreme commander, and swore that he would not rest until he had trampled upon the soil of Yemen and pulled off the hairs of Abraha.

The report reached Abraha that the Emperor was greatly annoyed with him. He filled a box with the soil of Yemen and ordered the hair of his head be shaved off and sent it to the Emperor along with a number of gifts and presents. He sent an accompanying message that he was sorry that the Emperor had become annoyed with him whereas he remained his loyal servant. He added that two of the Emperor's officers had a fight and one overcame the other and that the honour of the Emperor was in no way involved. He appealed that in order to honour the Emperor's oath, he was sending both his hairs and Yemeni soil for. the Emperor to trample on. The emperor was so pleased at this cleverness that he confrrmed him in his appointment as commander in Yemen, and Abraha proceeded to impose Christianity upon the people. 68

He decided to spread Christianity in Yemen and uproot Judaism and every other faith in the land. Abraha's close associates told him that all his efforts were just confined to Yemen whereas the people of the Arabian peninsula were devoted to another place, namely the Kaaba in Mecca, owing to its age old standing and high prestige and that he should take steps in that direction. Incidentally Abraha had built a very fine church in the capital of Yemen and has adorned it with the most beautiful stones, including the stones remaining from the ancient palace of the Queen of Shiba. But when he noticed that his beautiful church had little attraction for the people against the simple stone structure in Mecca, he decided to do whatever possible to end the influence of the Ka'aba.

68. In any discussion with Christians who claim that Islam had been spread by means of the sword while Christianity was a religion of love and peace, or that Judaism had such and such advantages, they should be reminded of these historical facts and the extent to which force and sword had been employed in the spread of Christianity.

Adapted from the book: "Background of the Birth of Islam" by: "S. T. H. Khwarazmi"

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