Abu Sufyan And Hercules.
Al-Bukhari, on the authority of Ibn Abbas, narrated that Hercules sent for Abu Sufyan and his companions, who happened to be trading in Jerusalem. That was during the time of the truce that had been concluded between the polytheists of Quraysh and the Messenger of Allah (SAW). Hercules, seated amongst his chiefs of staff, asked, “Who amongst you is the nearest relative to the man who claims to be a Prophet (SAW)?” Abu Sufyan replied: “I am the nearest relative to him from amongst the group.” So they made me sit in front of him and made my companions sit behind me. Then he called upon his translator and said to him. “Tell them (i.e. Abu Sufyan’s companions) that I am going to ask him (i.e. Abu Sufyan) regarding that man who claims to be a Prophet. So if he tells a lie, they should contradict him (instantly)’.
Abu Sufyan, an ardent enemy of the Prophet (SAW) commented: “By Allah, had I not been afraid that my companions would consider me a liar, I would have told lies.”
Abu Sufyan’s testimony went as follows: “Muhammed descends from a noble family. No one of his family happened to assume kingship. His followers are those deemed to be among the weak, with their numbers ever growing. He neither tells lies nor betrays others. We fight him and he fights us but with alternate victories. He bids people to worship Allah Alone with no polytheism and to abandon our fathers’ beliefs. He orders us to observe prayer, honesty, abstinence and maintain strong family ties.”
Hercules, on hearing this testimony, turned to his translator bidding him to communicate to us his following impression which reveals full conviction in the truthfulness of Muhammad’s Prophet hood: “I fully realize that Prophets come from noble families; he does not affect any previous example of Prophet hood. Since none of his ancestors was a monarch, we cannot then allege that he is a man trying to reclaim his father’s monarchy. So long as he does not tell lies to people, he is immune to telling lies as regards Allah. Concerning his followers being those deemed weak with numbers ever growing, it is something that goes in agreement with questions of faith until it later assumes full dimensions geographically and demographically. I have understood that no instance of apostasy has as yet appear among his followers and this point to the bliss of faith that finds its abode in the human heart. Betrayal, as I see, is alien to him because a real Prophet hold betrayal in abhorrence. Bidding worship of Allah with no associates, observance of prayer, honesty and abstinence and prohibition of paganism are traits bound to subject to him all my possessions. I have already known that a Prophet must arise but it has never occurred to me that he will be an Arab from among you. If I was sure I would be faithful to him, I might hope to meet him, and if I were with him, I would wash his feet.”
Hercules then requested that the Prophet’s (SAW) letter be read. The observation of the emperor and finally the definite and clear-cut exposition of the Islamic message could not but create a tense atmosphere amongst the clergy present at the court. Abu Sufyan and his companions were ordered to go out.
Abu Sufyan said, “While coming out, I said to my companions, “The matter of Ibn Abi Kabshah (meaning Muhammed – has become so prominent that even the king of Banu Al-Asfar (i.e. the Romans) is afraid of him.’ So I continued to believe that Allah’s Messenger would be victorious, until Allah made me embrace Islam.” The king did not embrace Islam – for it was differently ordained. However, the Muslim envoy was sent back to Medina with the felicitations of the emperor.