After signing the treaty of Hudaibiyyah with the Quraish of Makkah Mukarramah, in the 6th year after hijrah, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) wrote letters to the different kings and rulers inviting them to Islam. One of these kings to whom Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) sent a letter was Heraclius, the Roman Emperor. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) sent Sayyiduna Dihyah Kalbi (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) to deliver this letter to him.

When Heraclius received this letter, he was quite intrigued by it as he had not read such a letter before, and he was curious to find out more about Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). He therefore instructed his people to find someone who hailed from the same place as Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) so that he may question him and get more information regarding Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).

It so happened that at that time Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), who had not yet accepted Islam, was with a trade caravan in Ghazzah, which was part of the Roman territory. Hence, they were summoned and brought him before Heraclius, who was in Jerusalem. 

Heraclius was seated with a crown on his head in a large gathering comprising of nobles and priests when the Makkan group had arrived. As they came in, Heraclius enquired as to who from amongst them enjoyed the closest family relation with Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied that he was the closest in relation to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).

Thus, he instructed Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) to stand in front of the members of his caravan with his back towards them. Heraclius then said to the caravan, “I am going to ask this man (Abu Sufyaan [radhiyallahu ‘anhu]) about this person (i.e. Rasulullah [sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam]). If he does not speak the truth then belie him.” When relating this story later on, Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) himself mentioned, “By Allah! Had it not been for the embarrassment of them relating (to the people later on) that I had lied (in the court of Heraclius), I would have certainly spoken lies regarding him (i.e. Rasulullah [sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam]).”

Heraclius then proceeded to ask Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) various questions together with explaining the conclusions at which he had arrived, based on the answers that Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) had given.

Among the questions which Heraclius asked and the conclusions which he drew from the answers of Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) were:

1. “What is the status of his lineage among you?” Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, “He is a person of noble lineage.” Heraclius said, “That is the condition of messengers; they are sent from the noble lineages of their nation.”

2. “Has anyone from amongst you ever proclaimed the same thing (i.e. nubuwwah) before him?” When Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied in the negative, Heraclius mentioned, “If anyone had proclaimed this message before him, I could have said that he is a man who is following someone who came before.”

3. “Was any of his forefathers a king?” Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) again replied in the negative. Heraclius explained, “If any of his forefathers was a king, I would have said that he is a man who is seeking the kingdom of his forefather.”

4. “Do the prominent people follow him or the weak among them?” Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, “The weak people.” Heraclius said, “It is generally the weak who (initially) follow the Ambiyaa (‘alaihimus salaam).”

5. “Are his followers increasing or decreasing?” Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, “They are increasing.” Heraclius said, “That is exactly the condition of imaan, until it reaches completion (i.e. the people who believe will always be on the increase).”

6. “Does anyone leave Islam on account of being displeased with his religion?” When Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied in the negative, Heraclius explained, “That is the condition of imaan when its sweetness enters the hearts.”

7. “Would you suspect him of lying before he proclaimed this message?” Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, “No.” Heraclius commented, “I realized that he would not leave out speaking lies regarding people and then go about lying regarding Allah Ta‘ala (because although lying about people is very detestable, it is not as bad as lying about Allah Ta‘ala).”

8. “Does he go against his word?” Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, “No. However, we (currently) have a treaty with him and we do not know what he will do in it (i.e. whether he will uphold it or break it).” When Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) narrated this incident later on, he explained that this was the only statement which he could add in order to try and taint the reputation of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Heraclius commented on this, “This is how messengers are; they do not go against their word.”

9. “Have you fought against him?” Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, “Yes.” So how was (the outcome of) the fight between you? Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, “The war between us is an equal contest; (sometimes) he gets the upper hand and (sometimes) we get the upper hand.” Heraclius said, “That is the condition of the messengers; they are (initially) put through tests, but the end result is theirs.”

10. “What does he command you (to do)?” Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, “He says, ‘Worship Allah Ta‘ala Alone and do not ascribe anything to Him (as a partner).’ And he commands us to carry out salaah, zakaah, to be truthful, to be chaste and to join family ties.”

Heraclius said, “If what you are saying is true, then he will soon rule the place beneath these two feet of mine. I knew very well that he will emerge, however, I did not think that he would be from among you (i.e. the Arabs). If I had hope of reaching him (without being killed by my people), I would try my best to meet him. And if I had been in his presence, I would have washed his feet.”

Thereafter Heraclius called for the letter of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and read it out. When he completed it, those seated there started to raise their voices and there was a loud commotion. Thus, Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) and his group were dismissed from the gathering. When they left the court of Heraclius, Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) said his people, “The matter of the son of Abu Kabshah (one of the forefathers of Rasulullah [sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam]) has grown (to such an extent) that the king of the Banu Asfar (i.e. the Romans) fears him.”

Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) explained that from that time he was convinced that Islam will prevail, until eventually the day came when he accepted Islam. On the other hand, Heraclius did not accept Islam despite being convinced, due the fear of losing his position and being killed by his people.

(Saheeh Bukhaari #7, Saheeh Muslim #4607 and Fat-hul Baari)


1. Such were the impeccable qualities and noble ways of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), that even his enemies were forced to acknowledge his nobility and admit to his greatness. Despite Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) trying very hard to discredit him and taint his reputation, he only managed to slip in one statement which did not even hold any weight.

2. Although Heraclius was certain that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is the true Nabi of Allah Ta‘ala, he did not accept Islam due to the fear of his people stripping him of his position and killing him. Concern for position and pleasing others (although it may involve displeasing Allah Ta‘ala) are so detrimental that they became the means of Heraclius being deprived of eternal salvation and being doomed forever.

3. Imaan is not about merely knowing the truth, rather it is to wholeheartedly believe in the truth and submit to it. Like Heraclius, there were many others, such as Abu Taalib, who knew very well that Islam is the true religion, yet they did not believe in it, due to other factors.

4. Speaking lies is such an evil trait that it is abhorred and detested by all religious denominations. Hence, despite being a disbeliever at that time and despite Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) being his arch enemy, Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) resisted from lying about him.