The King of Yemen
and the Last Prophet (s)
The incredible story of the King who sent a letter to
our Prophet (s) a thousand years before his birth, seeking his intercession!
account is narrated in Al Mustazarf, Hajjatullah `alal-Alamīn’
and in Tārīkh ibne
Asākir and translated from an article by Abū Nūr Mohammad Bashīr.
Once the King of Yemen, Tab’a Awwal Hamirī, about 2,500 years
ago, went on tour of his country and those surrounding it. He was a
very rich King indeed. In his entourage he had 12,000 `ulama, physicians and
learned men in addition to his army of 114,000 soldiers. Wherever they went,
the procession of these men and soldiers which marched in much pomp and ceremony
that people lined the roadside to watch them, gathered
wherever they went and welcomed them.
When the entourage reached the
outskirts of Makkah, no one came to see them or welcome them to the town. This
greatly surprised the King. He asked his Chief Minister, “Wherever we have gone
people have gathered in droves to see and welcome us. But not
here. What is the reason?”
The Chief Minister replied, “Your
Highness! There is a House in this town. It is called Baitullāh. The people of this town and its Khādim have a great respect for it. Our entourage has
no comparison to it. People in large numbers from places near and far come for
Pilgrimage to this House. In this town no one will heed you or give you any
importance. They respect the holy House more than kings.”
Hearing this, the King was furious.
In his anger, he swore and declared, “I will raze this House to the ground and
have the people of this town killed.” No sooner had the King uttered these
words that blood began spurting from his mouth, nose and eyes. The blood was so foul smelling that his companions moved away from him
and no one would come near him. He called upon his Physicians and doctors for
treatment, but no one could help or treat him any way. His condition got worse.
He could not sleep at night and kept on tossing and turning. He wanted to get
treated by any means and at any cost.
Amongst his entourage there was a physician
who was a God-fearing scholar as well. He came to the King, inspected him, took
his pulse and said, “O King! Your illness is spiritual. Medicines will not work
on you. Did you intend to do anything bad or evil, your Highness? If you did,
He will pardon you and relieve you of your misery and illness if He wishes
should you repent.”
Taking the Physician’s advice, the
King immediately changed his evil plans to destroy the Ka’ba
and to kill the people of Makkah. No sooner had he repented that the foul
smelling blood stopped spurting from his mouth, nose, and eyes. He was
completely cured. He was very happy for his recovery. He ordered a silk ghīlāf for the Ka’ba to
be made and a gift of 7 gold sovereigns and 7 pieces of silk clothing for each
of the residents of Makkah.
Having recovered, the King of Yemen
then continued with his tour. His entourage next arrived in Medina
al-munawwara. The `ulama in his group had studied the Books
that had been revealed to the Prophets who had come before them. They
took the soil of Medina and smelled
it and looked at the features of the place. The signs of the place where the
last Prophet of Allah (s) would make his Hijra to, as
indicated in these Books, were all present here. These `ulama were overjoyed
and made a commitment to stay put in this town. They wished to live in Medina
and stated that if they were fortunate, one day they would meet the Prophet
(s). But if they didn’t, the dust from the Holy Prophet’s (s) sandals would
land on their graves. This at least, they thought, would bring blessings and be
The King, having
heard the `ulama and Counsellors, agreed to build four
hundred homes for them as well as a big house for our Prophet (s). He
left instructions that when the Prophet (s) came to Medina, he
should stay in comfort in that house. He also left enough money to provide for
the needs of the four hundred `ulama for a long time. The King then dictated a
letter to his Chief scholar and requested him to present it to Prophet (s) when
he came to Medina. He further
requested of him that should he die before meeting the Prophet (s), the letter
be treasured and passed on to his children and their descendants and presented
to the Prophet (s) whenever he came to the town. Having made these
arrangements, the King left for Yemen.
The letter was passed down from the
Chief Alim to his descendants. After more than 1,000 years, the number of
children from the four hundred `ulama had increased greatly and
comprised a large percentage of the inhabitants of Medina.
The letter after this long time came to be in the hands of Hazrat
Abū Aiyūb Ansārī (ra), who had
given it to his chief slave, Abū Laila, for safe-keeping.
When he people of Medina
heard that Prophet Muhammad (s) was coming to Medina
from Makkah on his Hijra, they started making
preparations to welcome him. The inhabitants decorated their houses and cleaned
the streets. Each of them wanted Prophet (s) to be welcomed into and grace his
house. The Prophet (s), to overcome this problem, came up with a proposal that
he would let loose the reins of his camel. He would stay at the house outside
which the camel would come to a halt and sit down.
The camel was let loose. It went
down the streets and stopped outside the house which the King of Yemen had
built for Prophet Muhammad (s). Prophet (s) and the people came to this house. Abū Laila was then asked to
bring the letter which he had for safe-keeping. Abū
Laila appeared before Prophet (s) with the letter
which had been passed down from generation to generation over a thousand years
from King Tab’a Awwal Hamirī.
Prophet Muhammad (s), seeing Abū Laila approaching him,
asked him, “Are you Abū Laila?”
Abū Laila was stunned,
having his name mentioned by the Holy Prophet (s). He was surprised that the Holy
Prophet (s) had just arrived from Makkah but knew his name. Prophet Muhammad
(s) then said, “I am Muhammad Rasūl Allah (s). I
will have the King of Yemen’s letter that you have for me.” Prophet Muhammad
(s) then looked at the letter and said, “Congratulations to my pious servant Tab’a Awwal Hamirī.”
The letter from King Hamirī stated, “O Prophet of Allah, I pledge my faith
in you and in the Book that will be revealed to you and I follow the path of
your religion. If I am fortunate to see you, it will be with great pleasure.
However, if this is not possible, I would request that you intercede for me and
not to forget me on the Day of Judgment. I believe in your Prophethood. I seek
your ba`yat (pledge of allegiance) in advance
of your arrival. I swear that there is only one Allah and Muhammad (s) is his
true Prophet.” (Mīzānul Adyān)
mention of the Prophet
Muhammad (s), dhikr and gatherings in a majlis have been held in the past and
will continue in the future. The fortunate have been able to receive the
blessings of such gatherings (fā’id).
This article shows the Prophet (s) had knowledge of the past as well as of the
It is worth noting that the King had
made Prophet (s) a wasīla and looked
forward to intercession from the Prophet (s) on the Day of Judgment and the
Prophet (s) congratulated him for his faith.
We also learn that to decorate
houses and celebrate his birth is the Sunnah of the Sahabas
and to have processions, decorate houses and streets as we do today is not a bid’a.