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The Story of Mubahala

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On the 24th of Dhil Hijja, nine years after the Noble Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (s), migrated to the city of Medina, his eminence received the command to engage in the act of Mubahala with the Christians of Najran, through which it would be revealed who was making false claims about their religion. Allah revealed the following verse, commanding His Prophet to engage in Mubahala:

﴿فَمَنْ حَآجَّكَ فِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْاْ نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءنَا وَأَبْنَاءكُمْ وَنِسَاءنَا وَنِسَاءكُمْ وَأَنفُسَنَا وأَنفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ نَبْتَهِلْ فَنَجْعَل لَّعْنَةَ اللّهِ عَلَى الْكَاذِبِينَ

Should anyone argue with you concerning him, after the knowledge that has come to you, say, ‘Come! Let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, our souls and your souls, then let us pray earnestly, and call down Allah’s curse upon the liars.’

The Purpose of Mubahala

Nevertheless, the point of such a command was not just for two groups of people to gather and curse one another. Rather, the true purpose of it was for the invocation and cursing to act as proof of two pivotal truths:

  1. The mission and message of the Noble Prophet and the teachings of Islam as the final divine religion
  2. The status of the Ahlul Bait as those whose prayers would be accepted and position is most high

To further elaborate on the first point, the ritual of Mubahala acted as the final arrow when logic and inference no longer worked. For this reason, in order to prove the rightfulness of Islam and reject the claims of the Christians, the Messenger of Allah was ordered to participate in this activity along with his loved ones, whose presence would further display his eminence’s confidence in the truth he was defending. In other words, since there is no denying the perils and risks of such an initiative, the act and the presence of his family become more profound. After all, if his eminence does not find an answer to his prayer and no trace of God’s punishment appears in his opponents, the result will only be a scandal for him as a petitioner.


The Debate Between the Prophet and the Christians of Najran

After receiving the letter of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his family), the Christians of Najran sent a representative to Medina to ask the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) questions regarding his claims in relation with their beliefs. Since they considered Jesus (peace be upon him) to be the son of God and believed in the “Trinity” – and by doing so, equated their monotheism with polytheism.

One of their questions was, “What do you say about the Messiah?”[1] The Noble Prophet said: I bear witness to the Oneness of God, that Jesus Christ is God’s servant and like other human beings, he is subject to the general laws of the world of possibility and the laws of man. They said: If Jesus Christ is God’s servant and creation, who is his father?[2] Is it possible for a created human not to have a father? In response to this, Allah revealed a verse that if they protest to you about Jesus Christ, you should answer them by saying:

“Indeed the case of Jesus with Allah is like the case of Adam: He created him from dust, then said to him, ‘Be,’ and he was.”[3]

Mubahala Determines the Truthful

Although the Christians no longer had an argument to refute the verse, they could not bring themselves to accept Islam and the words of the Noble Prophet. As a result, they ordered their men to participate in the Mubahala with confidence if they should see Prophet Muhammad attend with a crowd and amidst commotion and noise, as it would mean that by this, he wanted to spread terror and fear in the hearts of his opponents and that there is no truth to his message and claims. But if they see him coming with the closest members of his family and his young children, they will know that he is truly the Prophet of God and should avoid Mubahala with him.

Thus, on the morning of the appointed day, the Noble Prophet came along with his son-in-law and cousin Ali, his daughter Fatima, and his two grandsons, Hassan and Hussain. Upon seeing this, Abu Haritha, the head of the Christian convoy, asked about the identity of those in the Prophet’s company. He was told:

“The man walking in front of Muhammad is his cousin, his daughter’s husband, and the most beloved person to him. Those two children are the sons he had with Muhammad’s daughter. And that woman is his daughter and his dearest family.”

Mubahala Is About to Commence

In order to commence the ritual, the Noble Prophet sat on his knees while Sayyid and Aqib, two of the leaders of the Najran Christians, brought their sons along with them. It has been reported that Abu Haritha further commented that “Muhammad has sat the way prophets before him sat for the act of Mubahala.” After saying this, he decided to leave the scene, explaining, “If Muhammad’s claims were false, he would not have come with his most beloved family members. If he should proceed in doing Mubahala with us, there will not be a single Christian left on this planet by the end of the year.”

He then approached the Noble Messenger and said:

“I beg you to refrain from doing Mubahala with us. If you wish to make peace with us, let the conditions be something within our ability.”

Therefore, his eminence reconciled with them upon the condition that they annually pay forty hilla, each equivalent to forty dirhams. In addition, if a war should occur between the Muslims and Yemen, the Christians should aid the first with thirty armors, thirty spears, and thirsty horses, which the Prophet would personally guarantee their return.

The Aftermath of Mubahala

In the aftermath of this historical event, the Noble Prophet has stated, “I swear by the God in whose hands is my life, that the annihilation of the Christians of Najran was eminent. And had they engaged in Mubahala with me, they would be turned into pigs and monkeys. Verily, this entire area would turn into fire for them which they would burn. Allah would destroy the people of Najran such that even birds would no longer sit upon their trees, and they would all perish by the end of the year.”[4]

It has also been reported that after the Christians returned to Najaran, Sayyid and Aqib finally came to the Noble Prophet with gifts in hand and accepted Islam as their religion.[5]

[1] Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 21, page 286

[2] Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 21, page 344

[3] Surah Aal Imran: 59

“إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَىٰ عِندَ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ آدَمَ ۖ خَلَقَهُ مِن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ”

[4] al-Qommi, Muntaha al-Amal, vol. 1, pages 182-186

[5] Tabarsi, Majma’ al-Bayan, vol. 2, page 310;

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