Hadith Hiraql

Ibn Natur1 says, Heraclius was a soothsayer who would look at the starts2. He said to them when they asked about it, ‘I have seen in the night [sky] when I looked at the stars that the king3 of the circumcised people has risen. Who circumcises in this era?’ They said, ‘None circumcise except the Jews.4 You should not worry about them. Write to the cities of your empire and they will kill whoever among the Jews are there’. While they we were on the issue, a man5 [sent by] the king of the Ghassan6, was brought to Heraclius who informed about the message of the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him). When Heraclius was informed of it, he said, ‘Go and check if he7 is circumcised or not’. They looked towards there and then informed that he was circumcised. He asked him about the About the Arabs. [The man] said, ‘They are circumcised.’ Heraclius said, ‘This is the king of this era who has arisen.’ Then Heraclius wrote8 to a colleague of his in Rome and he was his equal in knowledge. Heraclius headed towards Hims9. He did not move from there until a letter came from his colleague who confirmed the opinion of Heraclius that the Prophet (peace be upon him has emerged) has emerged and that he was, in fact, a Prophet. Heraclius permitted [an audience] for the dignitaries from Rome10 to his palace11. Then12 he gave the command for the doors and it was locked. Then he emerged13 and said, ‘People of Rome! Do you want success, honour and that your sovereignty remains? Then give allegiance to this man14’ They started fleeing towards the doors like wild donkeys flee but they found the doors were locked. When Heraclius saw their disgust and he became despondent of them believing, he said, ‘Bring them15 back to me. He said, ‘I uttered my statement a moment ago to test your resolve upon your religion which I have seen.’ They prostrated before him and were pleased with him. This is the last state of Heraclius16.

  • 1. He was the Byzantine governor of Jerusalem
  • 2. Alternative translation may be that ‘He was a soothsayer and he used to look at the stars’. In the first yanzuru is the sifat of hazza and in the latter hazza and yanzuru are two separate sifat of kana
  • 3. The narrations come in the form of malik (king) and mulk (kingdom)
  • 4. As far as the adviser knew.
  • 5. His name or identity is not known. Some have suggested that he was Adi b. Hatim who was still Christian at the time. Others have said, it was the sahabi Dihya Kalbi, the emissary of the Prophet who went to the governor of Basrah to request an audience with Heraclius. He was then forwarded to Heraclius. If it was Dihya Kabli, then him being circumcised is understandable. But if was Adi b. Hatim who was Christian at the time, the question arises as to why would he be circumcised. The answer may be the fact that circumcision was a common practice among the Arabs irrespective of religion. Some have suggested that Dihya Kalbi was sent with Adi b. Hatim.
  • 6. The people of Ghassan where Christian Arabs who resided between the border of Arabia and Syria. Their king was a vassal of the Byzantine emperor and appointed the governor of Basrah.  The king’s name was Harith b. Abi Shaymar
  • 7. The man who brought the message
  • 8. About his interpretation of events
  • 9. Presently called Homs. In pre-Islamic times it was called Emesa. This was the base of governance in Syria under Heraclius. It is only later that the capital would shift to Damascus under the Muslims.
  • 10. While the political capital of the Byzantine was in Constantinople, the papacy still resided in Rome. The intellectual and spiritual power for the west still emanated from there despite the presence of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
  • 11. Daskarah is a palace which has house around it.
  • 12. After the dignitaries arrived.
  • 13. In the balcony so that he is not attacked if the people turned on him.
  • 14. Meaning the Prophet (peace be upon him).
  • 15. The dignitaries
  • 16. There is some clarification to this point. It may mean that Heraclius continued in his state of disbelief or simply that this is the end to this event. Flavius Heraclius Augustus was born five years after the Prophet’s birth (575 CE) and passed during the Reign of the Khalifah Umar Faruq, 11 years after the Prophet’s demise (641). He was crowned emperor around about the same time when the Prophet declared Prophethood. This incident took place after Khaybar (6th Hijri) and before the conquest of Makkah (8th Hijri). Heraclius continued to interact with the Muslim albeit with negative consequences. He led an Army against the Muslims during Tabuk and sent an Army which fought the Muslim in Muta. Some suggest Heraclius secretly became Muslim, however, this seems unlikely. Firstly, there is the aggression against the Muslims. Secondly, there a narration where during the Tabuk expedition, Heraclius wrote to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that ‘I have accepted Islam’. The Prophet upon seeing the letter responded, ‘He lies, he is still on Christianity.’