Those who have studied history books of Islam or biography of the holy prophet (pbuh) rarely find any relation between the various narrations. Unfortunately, chronological sequence of Islamic events has been presented in the form of separate cycles.
Why the holy prophet (pbuh) instead of south went to north, to face the Romans in Muteh war? If the problem was just to take part in the war, then is it right to consider the event without understanding the preliminaries and the first results of those wars in the frame of expedition or fighting?
Note the following points:
Ibn Jarir-e Tabari narrated the reports of Muteh War: Ibn Ishaq says about Muteh: Upon returning from Kheibar, the holy prophet (pbuh) stayed in Medina for two months of Rabi-ul Aval and Rabi-ul Sani then in Jamadi-ul Aval he sent a group to Sham with Zeid ibn Hareseh as their commander.
Alwaqidi, writer of "Al-Maqazi" has referred to the main reason for dispatching the army to Muteh, which at that time was a place between the newly established Islamic government and the government of Byzantine Rome.
Waqidi states: Rabiah ibn Usman told me about Umar ibn al-Hakam and said: The prophet sent Haris ibn Umair al-Azdi and then Ahad ibn Lahab with letters to the King of Bosra. When Haris ibn Umair al-Azdi arrived in Muteh, Shorahbil ibn Amro al-Qusani met him and asked: "where are you going?" He replied: "to Sham." Again asked: "You must surely be Muhammad's envoy?" He said: "Yes I'm Messenger of God's envoy." After hearing this, Shorahbil tied him and cut his head off. When the holy prophet (pbuh) heard the news he became sad, and informing the citizens of Medina about Haris's death, he mourned for him. People rushed out of Medina and camped in "Joraf".
The reason for this war is quite clear, an answer to the murder of the prophet's envoy to the king of Bosra; murder of Haris was an apparent violation of the agreed values and conventions. The holy prophet (pbuh) decided to react to this murder by military action because Islamic government does not tolerate violation of rules and conventions, and fights to save its sovereignty and grandeur.
But the War of Tabuk, in which the prophet (pbuh) leading an army moved to the north of Arabian Peninsula to the borders of Rome, in 9th year A.H., was not an spontaneous aimless action, but unfortunately historians have introduced it as a unplanned war.
Waqidi in "Al-Maqazi" says: "Citizens of Anbat (citizens of Jordan) used to enter Medina with flour and oil during the Age of Ignorance (Jahiliyah). After emergence of Islam, as Anbat people frequently came to Medina, Muslims gathered information about Sham from them. A person arrived to Medina and informed that a large group of Heraclius's forces had come to Sham, and he had stored provisions for one year, and allied with tribes of Lakhm, Jozam, Qosan and Ameleh. His army had advanced to Bolqa and camped there. Heraclius himself stayed in Homs. But the true story was not as it was narrated. Muslim had no enemy more dangerous than Romans, because the merchants dealing with them had seen their number, weaponry and military equipments.
The holy prophet (pbuh) traveled a long journey to Tabuk in a severely hot weather, and ordered people to prepare for war. He sent ambassadors to different tribes and Mecca, and called them to prepare for the war. The prophet sent a letter to Aslam Boraideh ibn al-Hasib and ordered him to announce it to his people. He sent Abu Rahm al-Qafari to his people to ask them prepare for war. Abu Waqid al-Laisi and Abu Jaad al-Zomari went out with their peoples. The prophet (pbuh) sent Rafea ibn Makis and Jondab ibn Makis to Johaynah; Naeem ibn Masud to Ashjaa tribe; Badil ibn Varqa, Amru ibn Salem and Boshr ibn Sofyan to Banikaab ibn Amru tribe; and some of Abbas ibn Mardas's men to Bani Salim tribe. The prophet encouraged Muslims to participate in war and Jihad and pay charity, and they gathered lots of charity.
It doesn't matter if the army of Heraclius was real, or, as writer of Al-Maqazi believes, just to creating fear, but undoubtedly the Romans anyway had sent a threat message for Muslims. And this message was indicative of such events as murder of the prophet's envoy and the next war of Muteh, in which many famous Muslims like Jafar ibn Abitaleb, Zeid ibn Haris and Abdullah ibn Ravahe martyred. This war took place in Jamadi-ul Aval of the 8th year after Hijrah, while Tabuk war happened in Rajab, 9 A.H., that is about 13 months later.
We see that many of the historians consider no relation between Tabuk and Muteh wars and the prophet's letter to Heraclius, while the letter was sent during his life and at the time of Tabuk war, and then the two armies did not face each other, yet the prophet (pbuh) stayed in Tabuk for twenty nights. During this period of time the prophet (pbuh) and Heraclius had indirect dialogues, and the two groups interchanged some mutual letters and messages, and the prophet (pbuh) returned to Medina after fulfilling his political goal.
Ibn Kasir said: " Ishaq Ibn Issa quoted Yahya ibn Salim quoting from Abdullah ibn Usman ibn Khasim that Saeed ibn Abi Rashid narrated: "The name of the prophet's representative to Heraclius was Tanukhi.
I asked: don't you tell us anything about the content of the prophet's message to Heraclius? He said: yes! The prophet (pbuh) arrived in Tabuk and sent Dahiya Kalbi to Heraclius. Upon receiving the prophet's letter, Heraclius summoned the priests and his commanders, and then after closing the door said: This man came from where you know. Muhammad has sent a message to me and asked three things: to follow his religion, or surrender our country or to fight with him. You saw that they want to take all I have, so we have to either obey him or give them whatever we have. The priests and commander said: give us freedom to choose between being Christian or a slave of an Arab from Hijaz.
Heraclius thought that in this case they will lose Rome. He said:
"I told you about the problem to be aware. Then he called a Christian Arab and told him: find an eloquent Arab to write answer to the letter. The man introduced me. Heraclius gave me a letter and said: Give this to the prophet, and listen to him carefully, notice if you see the characteristics, he has written to me, in his own behaviors, and see if he mentions "night" when reading my letter? And also check if he has prophethood mark and seal on his shoulder? I took the letter and traveled to Tabuk. I found the prophet sitting among his companions; I asked: where is your leader? They pointed to him. I went to him and sat in front of him. I gave him the letter. He asked: whose representative you are? I said I'm Tanukhi. He said: Do you believe in Abraham and the true Islam? I said: I come from among a people like whom I follow a religion and will not convert from it until I go back to them. He smiled and said: You don't guide the people you love, but God guides whom He wants, and He is aware of the guided. Oh Tanukhi! I wrote a letter to Khosrow Parviz; he tore the letter off, and God destroyed his kingdom. I wrote a letter to your boss Heraclius, and he received it with respect, so all kings will be afraid of him as long as there is a virtue in man's social life. Since then this quotation became a common proverb among Arabs. I told myself that this is one of the characteristics Heraclius reminded me about. I took an arrow, and wrote it on my sword. The prophet read the letter till he reached to where Heraclius had written: Oh Muhammad! You invite me to a paradise as wide as the sky and the earth, so where does the Hell locate then? Upon reading this question, the prophet (pbuh) said: "Where is the day when night falls?" it was another sign Heraclius had told me to note. I took an arrow and wrote it on my sword cover. Then after reading Heraclius's letter the prophet said: you are right, you are Heraclius's envoy. And continued: Oh man! Now we are in an expedition and have nothing deserving to your position as an envoy to present you. One of his companions said: Oh Messenger of Allah! Let me give a gift to this man. The prophet agreed, and the man gave me a cloak. When Tanukhi, the Qusani man, was leaving the prophet (pbuh) called him: "Oh man! Come take a look at the prophethood mark that Heraclius told you and you forgot". The man went back and checked the mark on the prophet's shoulder, and he was surprised with prophet's words.
The prophet's peace treaty with the king of Illeh, citizens of Jarbaa and Azrokh before returning from Tabuk:
Ibn Ishaq says: When the prophet (pbuh) moved to Tabuk, Yahna ibn Raubah king of Illah came to him, and concluded a peace treaty with him and committed to pay Jaziyeh (tribute). Citizens of Jabaa and Azrokh also welcomed the prophet and paid Jaziyeh as well. The prophet (pbuh) wrote a text for Yahna ibn Raubah and people of Illah:
In the name of God the beneficent the merciful
This is a safety letter from God and Muhammad, His messenger, for Yahna ibn Raubah and people of Illah, to secure their ships and caravans in sea and desert. They and whoever from people of Sham or Yemen, that accompanies them, will be under God and His messenger's protection. No one is allowed to stop them using sea or desert; and each of them who commits a crime his possessions and wealth will not stop his punishment, and in this case his wealth will belong to he who achieves it.
The holy prophet (pbuh) gave a cloak and a letter to the people of Illeh as security sign, later on Abulabbas Abdullah ibn Muhammad bought the cloak 300 Dinars.
Yunis ibn Bakir quoting from ibn Ishaq later on adds something to it which has been written by Jahim ibn al-Salt and Shorahbil ibn Hassanah with the prophet's permission.
Ibn Jarir Tabari has narrated many details of the dialogues between Dahiya Kalbi, prophet's envoy, and the Roman bishops:
When Dahiya Kalbi returned with the prophet's letter Heraclius told him: Iswear by God's name that the man who sent you is a messenger of God, he is the one we've been waiting for, and his arrival been promised by our religious book; but I'm afraid roman people revolt against me and kill me, otherwise I would surely follow him. Go to Bishop Saghatir and give him the letter, he is surely more popular among people than me and they will listen to him. Dahiya Kalbi went to the bishop. The bishop told him: I swear by God's name we know the prophet with good characteristics and heard his name from our religious book. Then he removed his black cloak took his cane and went to Roman people in church. He addressed the crowd and said: Oh people! This man has come to us with Muhammad's letter; he summons us to God. I witness that there is no God except for Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger, upon hearing such things, people attacked and murdered him at last. When Dahiya went to Heraclius and informed him of the accident, Heraclius said: I told you that we are afraid of Roman people, I swear by God that Saghatir was a great competent bishop.
Tabary quoting from Yahya ibn Salameh ibn Kahil, who quoted his father and Abdulah ibn Shaddad, about Dahiya Kalbi said: "The messenger of God (pbuh) sent me with a letter to Caesar. I said let the ambassador of God enter. Caesar came and they informed him that a man standing at the door claims that he is sent by the prophet. Caesar scared and ordered: Let him in. They led me toward him. His commanders were round him. I gave him the letter. The letter was written "in the name of God the beneficent the merciful", from Muhammad, messenger of God to Caesar, King of Rome. As the king read this sentence his nephew became angry and said: "do not read the letter today, but Caesar did not stop, and continued reading it for himself. Then he ordered them to leave him, and received me. He asked and I answered. Then he sent the letter to the bishop. After reading the letter the bishop said: I swear by God that he is the one promised by Jesus and Moses both, and we were waiting for him. Caesar told the Bishop: what do you order then? He replied: I confirm him, and follow him. The Caesar said: I know that he is so, but I can't obey him, for if I do so I will lose my kingdom and life as well.
Muhammad ibn Ishaq quoted Khalid ibn Yasar, told by an old man from Sham: Heraclius received the prophet's letter at the time when he decided to move through Sham to Byzantine. He gathered the Romans and said: Oh people! Today I'll inform you of some affairs, and want to know your opinions. They asked: what affairs? He said: I swear by God that you know Muhammad (pbuh) is a messenger of God, and we know him with good characteristics. If we follow him, we will have the afterlife. The people said: shall we follow Arabs' command? We obey Arabs while we have much more men, grater kingdom and the most abundant country? No, we will never do such a thing. He said: I will give him the land of Syria for peace. Syria included today Palestine, Jordan, Damascus, Homs and Dorab. From Dorab on it was Sham. But when they found out that Syria is the capital of Sham they prevented him to do that. He said: I swear to God if we give this city you'll see that we have won. Then he mounted his horse and moved to near Dorab. He entered Sham and said: Hi, land of Syria I bid farewell to you, and then he galloped away.
Muhammad's (pbuh) letter to Heraclius was not the only one of the type, but after Hudaybiyeh Peace through to his death time, he sent several letters to neighboring countries, among which we can refer to the letter to Khosrow Parviz king of Iran (Persia) which was received in a quite different way than that sent to Romans.
Ibn Jarir Tabari narrated: The messenger of Allah (pbuh) sent Abdulah ibn Hazafeh ibn Qeis ibn Uday ibn Saad ibn Sahm with a letter to the Khosrow Parviz. In the name of God the Beneficent, the Merciful: from Muhammad son of Abdullah to Khosrow Parviz the King of Persia. Peace be upon him, he who follows the right path and believes in God and His messenger. I witness that there is no God except for Allah, and He has no partner, and I am his servant and messenger. I invite you to worship God; for I am His messenger to all human beings to threaten all creatures. Accept Islam to be safe, and if you reject, thon you bear the sins of persecuting Arians. On receiving the letter, Khosrow Parviz tore the letter in fury, and said it is written by someone inferior than me.
Khosrow wrote a letter to Bazan, governor of Yemen and ordered him: send two men to this Hejazi man (the prophet). He sent his champion, Babuyeh who was a careful Iranian writer, with Kharkhasrah. He sent a letter to the prophet and ordered him to go with the two men to Khosrow Parviz. Bazan told Babuyeh: enter this man's land, talk to him, and bring his news for me. Babuyeh and Kharkhasrah entered Taef. They met some men from Quraysh there, and asked about the prophet. They said: He is in Medina. Babuyeh entered Medina and went to talk to the prophet (pbuh). He said: the King of Iran Khosrow Parviz has written a letter to Bazan, governor of Yemen, and ordered to send someone to you. He sent me to take you with myself. If you do so it is good for you, and he will write a letter to the king and ask for your safety; but if you reject he will kill you and your people, and destroy your country. The prophet told them: go now and come back tomorrow. God revealed to the prophet that Shiruyeh, Khosrow's son, had dominated him and killed him now. Waqidi says: Shiruyeh killed his father at 13 Jamadi ul-aval 7 A.H. The prophet called them and informed them of the accident. They said: do you understand what you say? We will take revenge of you. Shall we write this news from you and inform our governor? The prophet said: yes tell your governor that I told you this news, and tell him that my religion and power is more than Khosrow Parviz's. Tell Bazan if he surrenders, he will have all he has and his land and I'll forgive him. They went to their governor Bazan and informed him of the news. Bazan said: I swear by God Himself this man is His messenger and the prophet.
- A war between the Muslims and the army of East Roman Empire, happened in 629 A.C. near a village named Muteh.
- An ancient town in Syria. It is located 180 klms far from Damascus near Syria and Jordan and the occupied Palestine border.
- A province of Jordan Kingdom.
- A town in Saudi Arabia Kingdom known as the northern gate of Arabia.
- When the prophet was migrating to Medina, he reached to a place named "Qamim", there Boraidah and about eighty people joined Islam and said their evening prayer with the prophet (pbuh).
- A town in Suhaj province of Egypt.
- One of the ancient towns and ports of Palestine and an important center on the junction of trade roads of Iraq, Egypt, Sham and Arabia at primary centuries of Islam.
- An old castle in ancient town of Botraa, located on the road of Bosra to the Red Sea and one mile north of Azrokh. This castle like Azrokh committed to pay tax to the prophet in 9 A.H. During Crusades Salah ul-Din camped in this castle.
- A southern village of Jordan.