Hatib bin Abi Baltaa (r.a.)

Hatib became a Muslim before the Migration and migrated to Madinah. He took part in the Battle of Badr, which was the first battle with the polytheists. He received divine compliments. He fought heroically in the Battle of Uhud too. During the battle, he heard someone say, “The Messenger of Allah was killed.” He started to look for the Prophet at once. Finally, he found him. The face of the Prophet was wounded. He asked, “Who did it?” The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Utba bin Abi Waqqas.” Hatib asked him where Utba went. The Prophet pointed to the direction and he went there. He caught up with him and grabbed him. He cut off his head and brought it to the Prophet. The Prophet appreciated this heroic Companion and said, “May Allah be pleased with you!  May Allah be pleased with you!” [1]

Hatib, who was present in the Battle of Khandaq, the Pledge of Ridwan and the Treaty of Hudaybiyya, took part in all of the important battles with the Prophet.  

Hz. Hatib was loyal to the Prophet with great love. There was nothing he could not sacrifice for him. He obeyed every order of the Prophet unconditionally. He would volunteer before everybody else for any deed that the Messenger of Allah wanted to be done.    

In the 7th year of the Migration, the Prophet sent envoys to many kings to invite them to Islam. He wanted to send an envoy to Muqawqis, the king of Egypt too. He dictated a letter. Then, he asked the Companions: “O people! Who will take this letter to the king of Egypt, expecting its thawab from Allah?”

Hatib bin Abi Baltaa was there. He stood up at once and said, “O Messenger of Allah! I will.” The Prophet became very pleases when Hatib answered his call at once. He prayed for him as follows:

“O Hatib! May Allah make this duty sacred for you!”

Hatib took the letter, said goodbye to the Companions and went home. He made his preparations, said goodbye to his family and set off.

Hatib was a Companion that spoke well, explained issues very well and recited poems. He was going to use this talent to invite a king to Islam. On the way, he thought what he could tell the king and how to act.  

After a long and tiring journey, he arrived in Egypt. However, he could not find Muqawqis there. He went to Alexandria. He was accepted to the presence of the king without being kept waiting long. The king had the letter opened and read. The following was written in the letter:  

“Bismillahirrahmanirrahim! From Muhammad, the slave and Messenger of Allah to Muqawqis, the leader of Copts.

Peace be upon those who follow the right path! After this prayer, I invite you to Islam. Embrace Islam so that you will attain salvation. Embrace Islam so that Allah will reward you twice. If you refuse my invitation, may you be responsible for the sins of Copts! ‘Say: "O People of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah." If then they turn back, say ye: "Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to Allah´s Will)." (Aal-i Imran, 64)

When the letter was read, Muqawqis asked Hz. Hatib some questions. One of them was as follows:

“If he is a real prophet, why did he not damn his tribe that forced him to leave his hometown and to take refuge somewhere else?”

Hatib gave the following convincing answer:

“You accept that Hz. Isa (Jesus) is a prophet, don’t you? Since he is a real prophet, would it not have been more appropriate for him to pray to Allah to destroy his nation when they wanted to crucify him instead of being raised to the sky?”

Muqawqis could not help appreciating Hatib due to this answer. He said, “You come from a wise person who speaks properly.” Then, he continued asking,

“What does Muhammad invite people to do?”

“He invites them to worship only Allah, to perform five daily prayers, to perform fasting in the month of Ramadan, to make hajj, to keep one’s promise and not to eat carrion and not to drink blood.”

“Describe him to me.”

Hatib described the physical appearance of the Prophet a bit. When he finished his word, Muqawqis said, “There are some things that you did not tell us. There is a slight redness in his eyes and the seal of prophethood on his back. He rides a donkey and wears a mantle. His is protected by his paternal uncle and his cousins.” Hatib said, “Yes, they are his attributes.” He continued as follows:  

“I knew that a prophet would come after Jesus but I thought he would appear in Damascus. For, most of the previous prophets appeared in Damascus. In fact, I also saw in the books that the last prophet would emerge in Arabia, the land of hardness, scarcity and poverty. This time is just the time for the prophet whose characteristics are written in the book of Allah to emerge.

“We found his characteristics as follows in the books: ‘He will not be married two sisters at the same time. He accepts gifts but he does not accept sadaqah. He sits with poor people.’ Yes, that Prophet will dominate many countries. His friends will come here after him and conquer this land. I know them. However, people will not obey me if I follow your prophet. I will not leave my sultanate either. I will not mention even one word of this conversation to my people.”

Hz. Hatib felt very sorry that Muqawqis did not want to believe fearing that he would lose his sultanate though he knew that what he told him was true. Finally, he gave Muqawqis the following strong advice: “Before you, somebody on this land claimed that he was the great Lord and declared, ‘I am your majestic Lord.’ God Almighty punished that Pharaoh both in the world and the hereafter. Take lessons from others but do not be a lesson to be taken by others.” He gave some other advice too but he could not persuade Muqawqis. For, he was very keen on his sultanate.

Muqawqis entertained Hatib as he stayed there. He also wrote a letter to the Prophet. He sent many gifts to him. Among the gifts he sent was Mariya, who attained the honor of becoming a wife of the Prophet. 

After a long journey, Hatib arrived in Madinah. He presented the gifts to the Prophet. He told him about the conversation between Muqawqis and him. The Prophet stated the following about Muqawqis: “Bad man! He could not give up his sultanate. His sultanate will leave him.” [2]

Along with his great services to Islam, Hatib made a big mistake in the 10th year of the Migration. The Prophet was preparing a big army for the conquest of Makkah. However, he kept it a secret where the army would go. Hatib had relatives in Makkah. Due to his compassion and mercy toward them, he wrote a letter about the expedition of the Prophet and sent it to Makkah. However, the Prophet was informed about it through revelation. He called Hz. Ali and Zubayr bin Awwam and said to them, “Go quickly. When you arrive such and such a place, you will find a woman carrying a letter on an animal. Take the letter from her and bring it to me.”

Those Companions fulfilled the order and took the letter to the Messenger of Allah. Thereupon the Companions said, “O Messenger of Allah! Hatib betrayed Allah and His Messenger.” They wanted him to punish Hatib. Some of them even wanted him to be killed. The Prophet summoned Hatib. He showed him the letter and asked, “Do you recognize this letter?” He said, “Yes, I do.” The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) asked him why he did that. Hatib gave the following answer:

“O Messenger of Allah! Do not haste to decide about me. I am not a Qurayshi. I came from somewhere else and joined them. My family is among them now. The other Companions have relatives to protect their families and belongings in Makkah but I don’t. I did it so that I would make the notables of the Quraysh feel grateful to me and protect my family. I did not do it because I became an unbeliever or exited my religion. By Allah, I maintain my belief in Allah and His Messenger. I have not changed my religion. I have never had any doubts about Allah since the day I became a Muslim. I have never loved the polytheists since I left them. I know that my letter will not be of any use to them in the face of the penalty God Almighty will inflict upon them.”

After listening to him, the Prophet said to his Companions, “He has told you the truth. Do not say anything but good things about him.” He said to those who wanted him to be killed, “He took part in the Battle of Badr. How can you kill a person who took part in the Battle of Badr? How do you know? Allah probably said for those took part in the Battle of Badr, ‘Do whatever you wish. I have forgiven you.’” [3]

Soon, a verse related to that incident was sent down. God Almighty witnessed that Ha­tib was a believer and that he did not betray. [4]

After that, the Companions did not have any bad thoughts about Hatib. The scholars who included this incident in their books reported it in order to show his loyalty to Allah and His Messenger, not to accuse him.

Hz. Hatib was sent as an envoy to Egypt during the caliphate of Hz. Abu Bakr. He signed a treaty with Muqawqis. This treaty was valid until Egypt was conquered during the caliphate of Hz. Umar.   

Hatib died in Madinah during the caliphate of Hz. Uthman in 30 H. Hz. Uthman led his janazah prayer.

May Allah be pleased with them!

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[1]Mustadrak, 3: 300-301.
[2]Insanul-Uyun, 3: 295-300; Tabaqat, 1: 260; al-Bidaya, 4: 272.
[3]Musnad, 1: 79-80, 105; Insanul-Uyun, 3: 11-12.
[4]al-Mumtahina, 1-9.

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