How did the polytheists despise the Muslims when the Persians defeated the Byzantines, which caused the chapter of ar-Rum to be sent down? How did Hz. Abu Bakr and Ubayy ibn Khalaf place a bet upon this chapter?

The Details of the Question
How did the polytheists despise the Muslims when the Persians defeated the Byzantines, which caused the chapter of ar-Rum to be sent down? How did Hz. Abu Bakr and Ubayy ibn Khalaf place a bet upon this chapter?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Eastern Rome and Persia (modern day Iran) were the two largest powers during the time in which the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was sent. In 613 AD, these two neighbors and rival countries entered into a bloody battle. Khusraw II ruled Iran and Heracles ruled the Eastern Roman Empire.

The Persian armies followed the Roman powers until they drove them into water and captured every holy city in Syria. During 614 AD, they invaded all of Palestine and Jerusalem. During this invasion, all churches and religious buildings were destroyed and ruined. The 26,000 Jews that joined ranks with the Persians killed more than 60,000 Christians. The palace of the Persian King was adorned with the skulls of the dead people which amounted to 30,000!

This hurricane of an invasion did not end here. It had swept into Egypt as well. In 616 AD, they reached Alexandria after having occupied the Nile River and invaded all of Anatolia; they had even come to the shores of the Bosporus. They were seen across Constantinople (Istanbul), the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. In this way, they had captured Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Anatolia.

In 616, the Eastern Roman Empire was ultimately destroyed.

The Romans were from among the People of the Book; in other words, they were Christians whereas the Persians were fire-worshippers who did not follow any holy books and did not believe in the afterlife.

When this news reached Mecca, the polytheists were happy while the Muslims were saddened. The polytheists used this incident as a means to disturb the Muslims,

“You and the Christians are the People of the Book. We and the Iranians are illiterate. Our Iranian brothers have prevailed over your Roman siblings. We would defeat you if we entered into battle with you.”

Thereupon, Allah sent down Surah ar-Room, which would be considered as one of our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) miracles, and relieved the Muslims from sadness:

“Alif Lam Mim. The Roman Empire has been defeated― In a land close by; but they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious. Within a few years. With Allah is the Decision, in the Past and in the Future: on that Day shall the Believers rejoice― With the help of Allah. He helps whom He will, and He is Exalted in Might, Most Merciful. (It is) the promise of Allah. Never does Allah depart from His promise: but most men understand not.” (Surah ar-Room: 30/1-6)

When these verses were revealed, the Roman Empire was in such devastation that its government had been dissolved due to the number of rebellions that took place; its army had been dispersed; and its treasury was emptied; Emperor Heracles was even planning to abandon Istanbul and escape to Carthage. In their drunken state of victory, the Persian commanders made the following demand: That the Emperor would give the Persians everything they wanted! This included a thousand loads of gold, a thousand loads of silver, a thousand loads of silk, a thousand horses, and a thousand women.

The Roman Empire accepted these burdensome and vile conditions and sent deputies to sign this agreement. When these deputies went to Persia, King Khusraw haughtily said,

“This is not enough! Emperor Heracles must come to me in chains and worship fire and the sun in place of his God.”

It was unfeasible to imagine that the Romans could revive within a couple of years and succeed again after such a great turmoil.

The above Quranic verses informed our Holy Prophet (PBUH) that the Romans would triumph again within a few years.

Hazrat Abu Bakr and Ubayy bin Khalaf

As soon as Hazrat Abu Bakr heard these verses from our Holy Prophet (PBUH), he recited them loudly on one side of Mecca. Afterwards, he said to the delighted polytheists,

“The Romans will certainly prevail over the Persians in a few years.”

The polytheists were puzzled. How could the aforementioned empire, which was in such a disastrous state and which had completely fallen from grace, revive and prevail over the Persians!?

Ubayy bin Khalaf was one of those who could not fathom the possibility of this situation; he said,

“You are lying. Come on; choose a time-frame so that I can bet against you.”

Hazrat Abu Bakr accepted. They betted ten camels and agreed on three years. Hazrat Abu Bakr came and informed our Holy Prophet (PBUH) about the situation. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) said,

“What is meant by bid’a (a few) in the verse is from three to nine.” Increase the number of camels and extend the length of time.”

Upon this, Hazrat Abu Bakr left and encountered Ubayy. Ubayy said,

“You must be regretful.”

Hazrat Abu Bakr said,

“No. Come on; let us increase the amount of our bet and extend the length of time. Let us say nine years and agree upon 100 camels.”

Ubayy accepted,

“Come on, let us do it”, he said.*

During the period in which Hazrat Abu Bakr was planning to leave Mecca, Ubayy bin Khalaf got a hold of him and said,

“I am worried that when I win the bet that you will not pay off the camels as you will be gone from Mecca. Show me a warrantor.”

Hazrat Abu Bakr showed his son Abdurrahman as his warrantor. When Ubayy bin Khalaf wanted to participate in the Battle of Uhud, Abdurrahman went to him and said,

“By Allah, I will not release you until you show me a warrantor.”

Ubayy bin Khalaf showed a warrantor and then set off to fight in the Battle of Uhud. Ubayy bin Khalaf died from a wound that he received from the strike of our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) sword.

Nine years after their defeat, the Romans greatly defeated the Persians with an unexpected and unsuspected attack. The Muslims were very happy upon hearing this whereas the polytheists were immensely upset.

Hazrat Abu Bakr took the hundred camels from Ubayy bin Khalaf’s warrantor and inheritors and brought them to our Holy Prophet (PBUH).

“Gave them away as charity”, ordered the Master of the Universe (PBUH).

Upon the realization of this incident, which was foretold in the Holy Quran and was considered as one of our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) miracles, some of the polytheists became Muslims. 1


* The divine decree that prohibited gambling had not been sent down to the Prophet yet.

1. Tirmidhi, Sunan, V. 12, p. 66-71; Tabari, Tarikh, V. 2, p. 141-142; M. Hamdi Yazır, Hak Dini Kur’an Dili, V. 5, p. 3795-3800.

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