Event of Mubahala: Mubahala with the Najrani Christians
A detailed account of the Event of Mubahala (Mubahila) that took place in Medina on the 24th of the Islamic month of Dhu’l Hijja. Islamic sources claim that the Event of Mubahala took place during a meeting between the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a Christian delegation from Najran (modern-day Yemen) in the month of Dhu’l-Hijja, 10 AH. The Prophet (PBUH) invited the Christians to discuss theology, and in particular, the place of the Prophet Jesus in Islam, based on a verse from the Quran.
Verily the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created him from earth, then He said to him BE, and he was; This is the truth from thy Lord, so be thou not of those who are in doubt
; And whoso disputeth with thee after what has come to thee of knowledge, say, ‘Come, let us call our sons and your sons, and our women and your women, and ourselves and yourselves: then we will imprecate and put God’s curse on those who lie.
— Quran, 3:59–61
The initial attempt was to formally call the Najrani Christians to Islam and to recognize Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as a divine prophet and His last messenger. The subject of Jesus’ (pbuh) divinity came up in talks on the parallels and differences between various religions. The Christians unanimously agreed to call a Mubahala (prayer curse) regarding their reluctance since they refused to embrace the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) teachings about Christ (pbuh) and refused to deny their beliefs.
Before the Event of Mubahala
A very unusual event took place in Medina on the 24th day of the 12th lunar month, Dhul Hijjah, in the ninth year following the migration. This event would later become known as the Eid of Mubahilah/ Mubahala. What is the purpose of this Event of Mubahala?
Well, in order to better comprehend the Event of Mubahala, we must comprehend and appreciate that through the one hundred and twenty-four thousand prophets and messengers, the emissaries of God, whom he sent for the guidance of all humanity, starting with Prophet Adam and concluding with the final prophet, the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him and his family, God had one set of teachings which all of humanity were to accept, and this was Islam, the belief in one God.
Of course, the message is much more comprehensive than this, and the realities of fasting, prayer, and other forms of worship have evolved over time. However, the central message of the lessons that God had revealed to the prophets was one that could be applied to all people. When we examine the lives of these great prophets of God and their adherents, we discover that, regrettably, messages were corrupted over time, teachings were lost, and things were added to and taken away from religion. And each time, after humanity had forgotten the previous prophets’ teachings, God would send new prophets, messengers, and imams—divinely chosen leaders—to bring people back onto the right road.
This is the same as it was during the time of Islam. We are aware that in the annals of prophethood, Prophet Isa A.S. (Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him) was the last prophet to exist before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him and his family. He only ever advocated for faith in the one true God. He was against the Trinity. He objected to being referred to as God. He denied any claim to divinity made about him. And yet, regrettably, we are aware through studying history that the prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, encountered numerous individuals who would make claims about him both before and after his ascension into the heavens.
And as we all know, he will eventually return to Earth. People have been attributing false things to the Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, ever since… That is below his station. We examine this Mubahilah occurrence in the context of the desecration of divine messengers. Six hundred years had gone since Prophet Jesus departed this world, as we previously stated. The Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him and his family, was then raised up by God as a leader for humanity and a restorer of earlier messages that had been lost.
The Prophet started his mission during this time period, whether it be the first 13 years in Makkah or the subsequent 10 to 11 years in the city of Medina. He was busy spreading this religion, the same religion guided by his forefathers, but teaching the new mission and the new message of the Qur’an to the polytheists of Makkah, to those who may have previously been followers of Christianity or Judaism, who lived in Makkah and also in the city of Madina.
Finally, we understand that Madina had a very distinct personality when the Prophet arrived there. People of the Jewish tradition were there around him in addition to those who had invited him and were prepared to hear and accept his final message. Christians also lived in several of the Arabian Peninsula’s various regions at that time. So the prophet also wanted to introduce these people to the Ahl ul-Kitab, or people of the book, as they are known in the Qur’an.
Letters sent by Prophet (pbuh) for the invitation to Islam
The prophet’s job was to inform them that he is the succeeding messenger, that the Qur’an is the last testament, and that the revelations provided to the prophets like Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, peace be upon them, came from God. But all of these books would eventually be replaced by the Qur’an. In this context, the Event of Mubahala started to take shape.
His scribes were given the assignment—or other people were appointed, rather—to travel throughout the regions, not only the Arabian Peninsula but to many other of the far-off regions, to introduce Islam to the multiple rulers, to the kings, to the heads of state. Historians could say that during the Prophet’s lifetime and during his appointment to prophethood—those twenty-three years—he wrote close to two hundred and twenty-five letters.
And if they did, God would reward them, and He would give them a sufficient reward. But were they to decline the Prophet’s invitation? Were they to reject the Qur’anic message? Would they reject this ultimate form of Islam, which calls for submitting to God? They would be equally responsible for the sin of the people in their domain, area, or nation for rejecting Islam, in addition to their own sin of rejecting a message of God. This would be a tremendously heavy burden to bear.
Therefore, the prophet was communicating a very severe issue through the more than 200 letters he wrote to all of these different messengers, nobles, and leaders of the many parts of the Earth at the time.
Letter sent to the Christians of Najran
The ninth year following the Hijrah marks the end of the prophet’s life and the development of the Event of Mubahala. We are aware that the prophet would pass away in a year or two after this occurrence. And in one of the hundreds of letters he had written—or rather, one of the specific letters he had dictated—he addressed to the Christians of Najran.
If you look at the Map, Najran is located in what is now Yemen, in the southern portion of the Arabian Peninsula. And there was a sizable Christian population in this neighborhood, in this area. The Prophet wrote to them and invited their religious leaders—priests, bishops, and experts of religion—to learn about the Qur’an and the Prophet’s message and, ideally, to embrace it and spread the word about this new prophet to their people.
Christians of Najran’s interest and their delegation
Now, according to historians, the letter was sent to the Christians of Najran, who read it but desired to examine Islam deeply. Therefore, rather than just adopting or rejecting religion—the religion of Islam, that is—blindly, they made the decision to organize a delegation made up of some of the community’s leading scholars, elite religious figures, and other Christians in their circle. Aqib, Sayed, and Abu Harith, three individuals who met with the Prophet in what we can call the very first interfaith discussion and the discourse across civilizations before this was a regular occurrence as you see in the world now, are leading them on their journey to Medina.
It was the Prophet’s custom, or sunnah, to engage in discussion and dialogue with those who had differing views from his own, particularly when it came to matters of religious theology. He called them, and they agreed to talk when he extended the invitation. As soon as they had their caravan prepared, they set out for Medina, the Prophet’s hometown, from Yemen.
Their question about Jesus, Trinity, and God
They might have agreed with much of what the Prophet said because, as is well known, many other religions share much of Islam’s theology as they all originate from the same source. The status of the Prophet Isa, also known as the Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, was the one issue they had that they were unable to resolve. They were unable to accept this until they learned how the Muslims saw the Prophet Jesus. These were persons who held to the doctrine of the Trinity, which emerged at least hundreds of years after the ascension of the prophet Jesus. Furthermore, they found it impossible to understand that Jesus was not the Son of God or God. How is that possible? They engaged in several rational, or what they would consider logical, debates with the prophet in a variety of ways.
Discussion held with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
The Prophet attempted to explain to them throughout this discussion that Prophet Jesus was simply a highly pious man. He was a divine prophet who had been chosen by God to deliver a message. He was not deserving of the title of God. He was incompatible with the Trinity. Unfortunately, many Christians were unable to budge from their believe in the Trinity, which holds that there are three individuals in the Godhead: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
In reality, the Prophet answered him in a way that was based on the third chapter of Surah Al-Imran, verse 59. Allah informed us of this, and the Prophet informed the Christians of it by addressing them as follows:
“Inna mathala ‘Isa ‘inda Allah, ka mathali Adama. Khalaqahu min turabin, thumma qaala lahu: Kun! Fayakun” (3:59).
The prophet was instructed by Allah to inform these Christians that they should not believe that Jesus is God or the son of God because he had no earthly or heavenly father and was instead conceived by the Virgin Mary, peace be upon her.
Allah then instructed the Christians via the Prophet to apply the following logic: If you believe that Jesus can be God, what about Adam’s example?
Example of Adam (A.S.)
God says that Adam and Jesus were both formed by him out of dust and dirt, with the command “Be,” and they both came into existence. As a result, the Prophet asked them what they thought of Prophet Adam if they believed that Jesus was God or the son of God because he had no biological father. He didn’t have a father or a mother. Once more, this reasoning was unsuccessful for them. They remained uninterested in listening.
The Prophet explained his arguments, but they refused to accept them, insisting that they would continue to believe in the Trinity and that they could not understand the Prophet’s rationale. And once more, this discussion went on and on for a number of days and appeared to be going in circles.
Finally, God reveals to the prophet verse number 60 of Surat Al-Imran, Chapter three, in which God informs the Prophet:
“Al-Haqqu Min Rabbika, fala takun min al-mumtarin”(3:60).
That: ‘the truth is from your Lord, then do not be of those who doubt’.
Demonstrating to these Christians once more that there is no possibility for them to question that the truth is coming from God. Unfortunately, the truth is a very difficult pill to swallow, as we can see from the state of the world today. People dislike being told the truth. Even if they can accept the truth in their hearts, they don’t like to submit to it. People frequently don’t want to acknowledge the truth about themselves due to hidden agendas.
They were at a deadlock at this point in their debate, their dialogue among civilizations, their religious discourse, and their interfaith communication. Both sides claimed to be correct, and there was a standoff.
The proper path was claimed to be taken by both parties. Christians who, regrettably, have veered toward trinitarianism think they were headed in the right direction. Muslims who adhere strictly to Tawhid, or monotheism, believe they are on the correct track. How would you resolve this conundrum?
Solution of the Dilemma: Mubahala
How would you resolve this conundrum? is a constant query that we continually ask. And the Prophet would provide the solution based on the Arab culture of the time and the Qur’anic verse that would be revealed to the Messenger of Allah in Surah Al-Imran verse number 61 in chapter number three.
And that event was known as Mubahilah (Event of Mubahala), which we can translate to mean “mutual imprecation,” which means that both parties who asserted their rightness, their adherence to the truth, and their adherence to God’s word would pray to God and ask Him to send His damnation, His curse, and His destruction upon the group of liars. In the end, this was what had to be done to put an end to the obstacle they were facing.
Mubahala: A well-known tradition of Prophets
And once more, this was something that was widely known in the region at the time. Therefore, when it was suggested in the Qur’an, the Christians had no trouble accepting this open invitation to contrast their own views with those of the Muslims and to let Allah judge and render a decision. As a result, the Prophet came to the conclusion that the only option was to petition God and ask Him to intervene. In verse 61 of Surat Al-Imran, Allah provides the Prophet with the following instruction:
“Faman haajjaka fihi, min ba’di ma ja’aka min al-‘ilm, fa qul ta’alu nada’u abna’ana wa abna’akum, wa nisa’ana wa nisa’akum, wa anfusana wa anfusakum, thumma nabtahil fanaj’al la’nat Allahi ‘ala al-kadhibeen” (3:61).
‘After the true knowledge has come to you. Whoever still disputes with you about him, about Prophet Jesus, say in challenging them. Come then, let us summon our sons and your sons and our women and your women and ourselves and yourselves. And then let us pray and invoke God’s curse upon those who lie’.
Meeting outside Medina for Mubahala
They agreed to meet the following day outside of the city of Medina, in the desert plains, and that they would come together and invoke God as the verse of the Qur’an states, praying to God that may He send His damnation, his curses, and His retribution. With the revelation of this verse and the realization that the Christians on one side and the Muslims on the other had to invoke God to deal with this, to adjudicate, to pass judgment on those who lied,
Would those Christians who affirm the Trinity and the divine character of Jesus come out on top? Or perhaps it would be the Muslims with their adherence to monotheism, their conviction that there is only one God and that He cannot be equated with others, and their recognition of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, as God’s last emissary?
Arrival of Prophet Muhammad, Fatima Az Zahra, Imam Ali, Iman Hassan and Hussain (PBUT)
The Mubahilah’s morning did indeed arrive. And the Christians had traveled to that vacant field outside of Medina as had been decided. As instructed by the Qur’anic scripture, the prophet started to assemble some people around him that morning. God is urging the Prophet to call his children as well as the children of the Christian community, as well as his wife and the women of the Christian community, as well as himself and the other members of the Christian community. The objective was thus this. It intended to gather these individuals, after which they would pray for God to exact justice on the liars.
Brothers and sisters, remember that the Prophet is in Medina. He has many companions—hundreds of thousands. At this moment, he has a number of marriages. If not thousands, but at least hundreds of individuals, he has thousands of people he could bring with him to this field. He may bring tens with him. He was able to bring excellent company. He may bring many people who are respected by the contemporary Muslim society. But who he brings?
The vast majority of Muslims who have commented on this verse of the Qur’an agree that it is quite apparent that the prophet visited Imam Ali’s, peace be upon him, home on the morning of the Mubahilah. He asked Imam Ali’s company at this occasion. He then grasped the small boy’s hand, who was then about six, seven, or eight years old and was known as Imam Hasan, peace be upon him. He chose Imam Husayn, who was roughly a year and a half or a year younger than Imam Hasan, his older brother. Imam Hussayn was being held by him in his arms.
In order to start this Event of Mubahala, he then asked his daughter Fatima az-Zahra, peace be upon her, to go with her husband and the rest of the family to the outskirts of Medina.
The invitation to this gathering did not include any companions. The Prophet’s wives weren’t asked to attend this gathering at all. No one else was given an invitation to this Event of Mubahala, not even the Prophet’s father-in-law or the Prophet’s father-in-laws; the Prophet himself was the fifth person.
According to historians, when the Christians saw the Prophet walking toward this field while holding the young Hasan’s hand and holding Husayn in his hands, as well as the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali and the Prophet’s daughter Fatima az-Zahra, peace be upon them all, Abu Haritha reportedly questioned who was approaching them because he apparently had no idea who this Hasan and Husayn are, peace be upon them. Fatima az-Zahra, peace be upon her, was a figure he had never encountered. Additionally, he was informed by these individuals that the man walking in front of him is his cousin and son-in-law. And the folks the Prophet loved the most.
His two grandkids , one he is holding in his hand and the other, whose hand he is holding, along with his cherished daughter Fatima az-Zahra, peace be upon her.
Facing each other in the Desert
According to historians, the Prophet then sat down on his knees, walked over to the field, where the Christians were seated across from him, and sat on the soil in the desert near Medina. He sat and spoke, or he patiently awaited their words. Then it is revealed that Sayed and the Aqib invited their sons to participate in this Mubahilah as well. Abu Harith is reported as stating:
‘I swear to God that the Prophet and his family, they sat like prophets used to sit for Mubahilah’
which is to say, they were aware that there was a historical precedence for prophets in the past to employ this tactic and that this was not going to be a regular action. This was doing what the earlier messengers of Allah had done.
Where are you going, Sayed asks Abu Harith as he turns to face the group at this point in the story. “For the Mubahilah, we are present. We are here to confront the Prophet—or the man they refer to as the Prophet—in his claims. We’re here to challenge the Koran. To refute Islam, we are here. We are here to protect our Christian identities and the conviction that Jesus is the son of God.
Christians concern about the truthfulness of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
In response, Abu Harith claims that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would not have dared to approach the Mubahilah in the manner that he has if he were not correct. If he had only brought his friends, as some accounts claim, they would have been prepared to participate in the imprecation, the Mubahilah, but because he had brought his family, Abu Harith was concerned. And he warned Sayed that there would never again be a single Christian on the planet if we took part in this Mubahilah against the person who they claimed to be the Prophet of God.
This will result in the overall demise of Christianity. Another tradition claims that one of these three said that we see faces and light emanating from such faces, and that if they asked a mountain to get up and leave its position, the mountain would do so out of respect for these five people and out of humility.
The Abandonment of Mubahala by Christians
These Christians are now aware that they were playing with fire and that these folks attending the Mubahilah gathering were not your average attendees. So, according to a historian, Abu Harith approaches the Prophet and requests that they forgo performing the Mubahilah. “We hereby submit that we do not wish to proceed with this. We don’t want to alter our convictions. We continue to adhere to Christianity. But let’s reach a logical conclusion where we can continue to be Christians. We value you. We wish to keep on our current course but avoid participating in the Event of Mubahala.” What was the Prophet’s response?
The signing of the Peace Agreement
According to historians, the Prophet established a peace contract with these Christians and set forth a number of requirements for them to abide by. Like Muslims pay Zakat and Khums, these people had to pay a set amount of tax each year. Remember that this was not a one-sided agreement; rather, the Prophet told them that in exchange for the taxes they would pay and the donations they would make, the Muslim community would send its army to defend the Christian community against any attacks. As a result, they had obligations to the Islamic government as well.
“Your churches, your monasteries, and your people will all be protected by us. All that we ask in exchange is a tax.”
“This tax aids in the nation’s development. It aids in advancing the state. Even if you do not convert to Islam, reject me, and reject the Qur’an, we will still be there to defend you as Christians. That’s all right, but at least we coexist peacefully.” The Prophet had this peace contract set up, the historians continue, and the Najran delegation, which included Christians, signed it and took their copy with them. And we can say that everything turned out well for them.
They agreed to this agreement with the Prophet and acknowledged the accuracy of his claim to be a divine messenger. They understood that this was a legitimate religion, but at that time they simply lacked the capacity and willingness to surrender completely, accept Islam, follow the Qur’an, and become members of the community of believers, as thousands of companions had done before them.
Finally, verse 62 of chapter three of Surah Al-Imran is read to the Prophet, in which Allah instructs him as follows:
“Inna hadha lahu al-qasas ul-haqq, wa ma min ilahin illa Allah, wa inna Allaha lahu al-Aziz al-Hakim” (3:62).
‘This is indeed the true narrative, and there is no deity, there is no God except the one true God and truly God is all glorious with irresistible might the all wise’.
This is the Event of Mubahala in brief. Why is it referred to as the Eid of Mubahilah? Some people can assert that there are only two Eids celebrated in Islam, Eid ul Adha and Eid ul Fitr, or perhaps three if Jum’ah is included. However, we are aware through studying Islam’s past that we can expand the festival of Eid to a variety of different occasions. Thus, the Muslim community celebrates Eid on the 18th of Dhul Hijjah, also known as the Day of Ghadeer.
The day of the 24th of Dhul Hijjah, Mubahilah, is an Eid for the Muslim community since it was on this day, nine years after the Hijra, that the Prophet demonstrated to the world that Muslims and Christians may come together and engage in discussion. He did this by debating with Christians.
We can carry it out amicably. We are free to communicate with one another with open hearts, to share our religious convictions and practices, and to embrace or reject the teachings that God has made known as we see fit. Thus, today is an Eid day, a day of celebration, and a day of festivities.
What is a useful lesson that we may apply from the Event of Mubahala, to wrap things up? This incident occurred more than 14 centuries ago. What can you and I do right now to truly enjoy the Event of Mubahala and what can we learn from it? Well, there are certainly numerous lessons that we can all think back on.
We should be aware that there is place for dialogue inside Islam, we would suggest, as one of the lessons. People of different religions and, dare we say, of no religion can have a debate. Islam as a religion, the Qur’an as a book, and Prophet Muhammad as the last prophet of God—may God grant him and his family peace and happiness. We are aware that each of these comes from Allah or God.
And we acknowledge that the teachings of Islam are the last and final ones; no prophet will come after the last Prophet of Islam, and no book will replace the Qur’an. Although we emphasize that there should only be one religion that comes from God, we do not support religious plurality. We reject the idea that there are different routes to God in this day and age that can coexist alongside one another.
However, we acknowledge that as Muslims, we have a duty to engage with others, and even if they disagree with our beliefs, that is OK and fine. They may continue with their beliefs at any time. Perhaps one day they will come to accept Islam. In the end, even if it doesn’t, God will still condemn them for what they understood about the truth on the Day of Judgment. In the same way that you and I will be evaluated by Allah based on what we understood about the truth and how we communicated it to others—more specifically, to those in our society—we will also be held accountable.
This was the full Story of the Event of Mubahala/ Eid e Mubahala/ Mubahila. We hope you learned something valuable from the Event of Mubahala. Read more Islamic Blogs or Follow us on social media for daily Islamic reminders.