The following is a chapter from the book 'The Da'wah to Islam' by Sheikh Ahmad Mahmoud which can be downloaded from http://www.khilafah.com/images/images/DawahToIslm.pdf
Did the Rasool (saw) accept the Najashi, who had embraced Islam, to rule by the law of kufr?
The one who carries Islam truthfully, and works with sincerity to re-establish it in ruling and life, whether as an individual or group, is not able to participate in any kufr rule, while claiming that he is working to destroy it. This is because participating in a kufr rule, which applies the systems and laws of kufr, is consolidation of the systems of kufr and not destruction of them. The proof that may be brought, to justify participation in a kufr rule, is nothing but self-deception, before deception to Allah (swt) and the believers. Especially when that proof is in conflict with the Shar’ee evidences, which are definite in meaning and authenticity.
It is indeed a severe test and a great sin, for the da’wah carrier to resort to taking a maslahah (interest), which his mind deduces, but the Shar’a did not consider, as an evidence to justify for himself his opposition to the text that is definite in meaning and authenticity. Or for him to resort to something not amounting to be a shubhat ad-daleel (semblance of an evidence), in order to justify participation in a kufr rule, which governs by other than what Allah (swt) has revealed; even though participation in kufr rule contradicts the evidences that are definite in meaning and authenticity. These evidences oblige ruling by what Allah (swt) has revealed and prohibit ruling by other than what Allah (swt) has revealed.
They take the story of an-Najashi - whose death the Messenger (saw) announced to the Sahabah the day he died and then prayed Salatul Janazah for him - as an evidence to justify participation in a kufr rule that rules by other than what Allah (swt) has revealed. They take the view that the Najashi had embraced Islam in the time of the Messenger (saw) and continued to rule by the system that he used to rule with before he had embraced Islam, even though it was a non-Islamic system. To prove this, they cite six ahadith, reported by al-Bukhari, relating to Najashi’s death and the prayer that was performed for him. Three of them have been narrated by Jaabir b. ‘Abdullah al-Ansari and the other three by Abu Hurayra. Even though these six evidences cannot stand up as an evidence to justify participation in a kufr rule that rules by kufr systems and laws. The following points will explain this matter.
1- When Bukhari reported these ahadith, he placed five of them under the heading ‘Bab mawt an-najashi’ (Chapter on the death of an-Najashi) and he reported the sixth in ‘bab al-janaaiz’ (Chapter of funeral prayers). All six ahadith are to do with the death of an-Najashi, the Messenger’s (saw) informing of the Sahabah about his death, that he was a pious man, and he was their brother, then he (saw) ordered them to ask Allah (swt) to forgive him, and to pray with him the funeral prayer for an-Najashi. These indicate that he was a Muslim.
2- Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalaani, in his book ‘Fathul Baari’ (commentary on the Sahih of Bukhari), commented on Bukhari’s report (on the incident) under the title ‘death of an-Najashi’ rather than his report on his conversion to Islam. He said; “There was confusion that al-Bukhari did not report about his (ie an-Najashi) conversion to Islam, which is its true place, and instead he reported his death. This was because the story related to his embrace of Islam was not proved to him, while it is explicit in his death. So he reported his death story to understand that he (an-Najashi) embraced Islam from the prayer of janazah on him.”
3- The wording of the ahadith reported by al-Bukhari indicates that the Messenger (saw) knew of Najashi’s death and his embracing of Islam on the day of his death via revelation. It also indicates that the Sahabah did not know of his embracing of Islam and his death, except when the Messenger (saw) informed them of it. Thus, in the hadith of Jaabir, he said; “The Messenger (saw) said when the Najashi died: ‘Today a pious man has died. So stand and pray for your brother Ashimah.’” In the hadith of Abu Hurayra, it mentioned that; “The Rasool of Allah (saw) informed them of the death of Najashi, the ruler of Habasha, on the day that he died.” This indicates that the Messenger (saw) came to know of the Najashi’s death and embracing of Islam via revelation on the day that he died. The Messenger’s (saw) saying to to the Sahabah, as narrated by Jaabir b. ‘Abdullah, that, “Today a pious man has died”, and, “So stand and pray for your brother Ashimah”, indicates that they had not known of his embracing Islam, because if they had known that before, there would have been no need for the Messenger (saw) to use such expressions ‘a pious man’, ‘your brother’. This is because he (saw) did not use such expressions when he used to call them to the funeral prayer when one of the Sahabah died.
4- These ahadith indicate that the Najashi had embraced Islam shortly before his death, but they did not explain when he embraced Islam. The wording indicates that the Messenger (saw) came to know of his death and embracing of Islam through revelation on the day he died, as mentioned before. There is not any authentic report that mentions that the Messenger (saw) was informed of his embracing of Islam at any other instance.
5- These six ahadith contain nothing to indicate that the Najashi, whose death the Messenger (saw) informed the Sahabah of, was the same Najashi who was the ruler of Habasha (Ethiopia) when the Muslims migrated to it. As well, there is nothing to indicate that he is the same Najashi to whom the Messenger (saw) sent a letter in which he invited him to Islam. This is because the word ‘Najashi’ is not a proper noun for a specific person. Rather it is a laqab (title) given to every ruler who ruled Habashah, as reported by an-Nawawi in the second volume of his book ‘Sharh Sahih Muslim’ and as reported by Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalaani in the third volume of his book ‘Al-Isaabah.’
6- In volume twelve of Sahih Muslim, An-Nawawi commented that the Najashi to whom the Messenger (saw) sent a letter inviting him to Islam at the end of the sixth year of the Hijrah, after his return from the expedition of Hudaybiyyah, was not the Najashi for whom the prophet (saw) prayed the Janazah. The text of the hadith is as follows; “Narrated by Anas that the Prophet (saw) wrote to the Kisra, Qaysar, Najashi and every tyrant, inviting them to Allah (swt). But he was not the Najashi for whom the Prophet (saw) made the (Janazah) prayer.”
From this hadith it becomes clear that the Najashi for whom the Prophet (saw) prayed is not the Najashi to whom the Muslims migrated, in order to live under his protection, and he is not the Najashi to whom the Messenger (saw) wrote a letter in the sixth year of the Hijrah inviting him to Islam. Rather he is the Najashi who came to power after the death of the Najashi to whom the Prophet (saw) sent a letter with ‘Amr b. Umayyah ad-Damri inviting him to Islam. He did not respond and did not embrace Islam, because if he had responded and embraced Islam, the Messenger (saw) would have informed the Sahabah of this and prayed for him, and Ja’far b. Abi Taalib and the immigrants would have known about his conversion. They returned to the Messenger (saw) in the seventh year, after the conquest of Makkah ie after the Messenger (saw) had sent the letter to the Najashi. If he had embraced Islam, then it would have been a cause for reverbation and celebration amongst the Muslims, especially after the conquest of Khaybar. The Messenger (saw) would then have informed them of his conversion, and not restricted his saying regarding the coming of Ja’far; “I do not know what gives me more joy; the conquest of Khaybar or the arrival of Ja’far.” [Sira of Ibn Hisham]. He should have added: ‘Or by the conversion of Najashi.’ But he did not mention Najashi in this hadith, even though the situation would have necessitated it, if he had responded to his (saw) da’wah and embraced Islam.
7- Those who took the opinion that the Najashi for whom the Messenger (saw) prayed the Janazah prayer is the same Najashi to whom the Muslims migrated and entered into his protection, and the same Najashi to whom the Messenger (saw) sent the letter inviting him to Islam at the end of the sixth year of the Hijrah; they mistakenly took this view, because the Najashi to whom the Muslims made hijrah was the one whom the Messenger (saw) commended, praised and described to those who wished to emigrate to him by saying: “He is a King, under whom no one is oppressed, and his land is a land of truth.” [Ibn Hisham]. This is because he gave the best protection for those who migrated to him from the Muslims, and gave them security, so they were able to worship Allah (swt) not fearing anyone. He also refused to hand them over to the two delegates of the Quraysh who demanded this, against the wishes of his patriachs. He prevented them from this, protected them, and told them both; “You are safe in my land and whoever abused you will be fined (punished).” It is also because of his comment on Ja’far’s answer, when he asked him about what the Messenger (saw) had brought; “Indeed this matter and what ‘Isa has brought emanate from the one lamp”, beside his comment on Ja’far’s answer on the second day, when he asked him about their view of ‘Isa, where he took a stick from the ground and said; “By Allah, Isa bin Maryam did not exceed what you said more than (the width of) this stick” [Sirah Ibn Hisham]. From all this, they thought that he had embraced Islam even though the Messenger (saw) had not announced his embracing it. Similarly, Umm Salamah, the wife of the Prophet (saw) who was one of the immigrants to Habashah, did not mention that he had embraced Islam, when she talked about him and about what happened to them in the land of Habashah, when she said; “When we arrived in the land of Habashah, we had the best neighbour; The Najashi. We felt safe in regards of our deen, worshipped Allah (swt) without being harmed and did not hear anything we might hate…” She also said; “By Allah, we were in such a state, until a man emerged in the Habashah who challenged his authority.” She said; “We did not ever know a sadness such as happened to us at that time, fearing that man might defeat the Najashi, and hence another man might come who does not recognise of our right, as the Najashi did.” She said; “After Allah gave victory to the Najashi against his enemy, and strengthened him in his land, by Allah, we never knew a delight as we had then.” “The Najashi returned (from the battlefield) when Allah destroyed his enemy and strengthened him in his land, and the affair of al-Habashah put in good order. So we remained in his neighbourhood, in the best home until we arrived to the Rasool of Allah (saw) while he was in Makkah.” [Sirah Ibn Hisham]. This hadith of Umm Salamah does not indicate that the Najashi embraced Islam.
This is from one angle. From another angle, it is as if those who say that the Najashi for whom the Messenger prayed is the same Najashi to whom the Messenger (saw) dispatched the Muhajireen, and the Najashi to whom a letter was sent inviting him to Islam; it is as if they are not familiar with the hadith of Anas b. Malik, which was reported by Muslim in his Sahih; “That the Prophet (saw) wrote to the Kisra, Qaysar, Najashi and every tyrant inviting them to Allah (swt). But he was not the Najashi for whom the Prophet (saw) made the (Janazah) prayer.”
As for the two letters mentioned by Muhammad Hamidullah in his book, ‘Political documents of the Prophetic Era.’ They state that the Najashi wrote a letter to the Messenger (saw) in which he states his conversion to Islam and his readiness to come to the Messenger (saw) if he orders him to do so; and that he has sent his son Arha b. al-Asham b. Abhar, and the letter was sent when the Messenger (saw) was in Makkah. As for the second letter, it was mentioned that the Najashi sent it with the Sahabah returning from Habashah whilst he (saw) was in Madinah.
There had been no mention of these two letters in the sound books of hadith. The author of, ‘Political documents of the Prophetic Era’, mentioned that he took these documents from the history books like Tabari, Qalqashandi, Ibn Kathir and others. He did not mention that he took any of them from the books of hadith. The books of history are not authentic, because they are not concerned with the transmission of the reports like the hadith books. They gather all the reports like the one who gathers wood at night, he does not know whether his hand is falling upon a branch or a snake. Hence, these two letters are of no value, not to mention their contradiction with the hadith of Anas as reported by Muslim, and the narration of Umm Salamah in her talk about Najashi, and the Muhajireen in Habashah, of whom the last was Ja’far, who did not mention that an-Najashi embraced Islam, though Ja’far returned to the Rasool (saw) in the seventh year, after the conquest of Khaybar, and after the Rasool (saw) sent the letters to the Kings and princes. Therefore, those two letters are not correct, and deducing them is not correct as well, so they are rejected. From all of this, it is clear the Najashi who embraced Islam, and on whom the Rasool (saw) made funeral prayer is not the same Najashi to whom the Muhajireen emigrated. He is also not the same Najashi to whom the Rasool (saw) sent a letter to, inviting him to Islam, between the end of the sixth year of Hijrah and the beginning of the seventh year, with Amru b. Umayyah ad-Damri. He is rather the Najashi who assumed the power in Habashah after the death of the Najashi to whom the Rasool (saw) sent the letter inviting him to Islam.
The Najashi who embraced Islam had taken power in the seventh year. This is because the Messenger (saw) had sent his messengers to the kings and rulers, including the Najashi, after his return from the expedition of Hudaybiyah. This was at the end of the sixth year of the Hijrah, in the month of the Zhul Qa’dah. This Najashi would have died in the seventh year, in which the Najashi who had embraced Islam assumed power, and he was the one for whom the Messenger (saw) prayed the Salatul Janazah, and whose death was before the conquest of Makkah in the eighth year of the Hijrah, as mentioned by al-Bayhaqi in his ‘Dalaa’il an-Nubuwwah’.
Hence the period of time between his assuming power, and conversion, and his death was a short time. He secretly embcraced Islam and no one knew of his conversion, not even the Messenger (saw). The Messenger (saw) was informed by revelation about his death and conversion, on the day that he died, as indicated by the wording of the six ahadith in Bukhari, which he reported about his death. The short period of time that he spent as a Muslim before he died did not enable him to know the rules of Islam. The Prophet’s (saw) lack of knowledge of this meant that he did not write to him about what he should do.
That is why this cannot be used as an evidence for those who permit participation in a kufr government, which rules by other than what Allah (swt) has revealed. Their argument is therefore invalidated.