|Prior to entering Islam, Dihya bin Khalifa had a special place in his heart for the Messenger of Allah, presenting him with a gift each time he came to visit him.|
There is not enough information about the post hijra life of Dihya bin Khalifa (r.a.), who is originally from Southern Arabia and later made a home for himself around the region of Damascus as member of the Kalb tribe. What is known however is that he was among the young muslims of the city of Medina. Prior to entering Islam, Dihya bin Khalifa had a special place in his heart for the Messenger of Allah, presenting him with a gift each time he came to visit him. And each time the Messenger of Allah would say, “If you truly want me to be happy, then enter Islam and save yourself from the fire,” calling him to Islam.
Finally Dihya (r.a.) arrived to see the Messenger of Allah after the Battle of Badar with thoughts of becoming a Muslim. In order to display his reverence to him, the Messenger of Allah took off his cloak, extending it to him in order for him to sit on it. And Dihya kissed the cloak and placed it on his forehead. He then said his shahada and revealed that he was Muslim. From that point on, Dihya remained by the Prophet’s side during all important events, even being appointed as the commander of a unit. The most important event which would etch the name of Dihya into Islamic history would be his appointment as the invited ambassador of the Messenger of Allah. Following the signing of the Hudaiybiya Peace Treaty, the Messenger of Allah decided to send letters of invitation to Islam to all of the tribes on the Arabian Peninsula and neighbouring nations.
|Later he asked, “Did Masih Isa pray?” and the emperor answered “yes.” “Then I call upon you to have belief in Allah, to whom Masih Isa prayed.|
In line with this initiative, Dihya bin Khalifa al Kalbi (r.a.) was given the duty of visiting Heraclius, the Byzantine Emperor. This responsibility was carried out in the 7th year of Hijra, during the month of Muharram (May of 628). Dihya’s main duty was to present a letter to the Busra Governor of the Byzantine Empire in order to be delivered to Heraclius. However, as the emperor happened to be in Palestine at the time, he seized the chance to personally stand before the leader. In sources of sirah, it is indicated that Abu Sufyan, who happened to be in Gaza for trade, was also present during this meeting upon the request of the emperor. According to Muhammad Hamidullah, the original letter sent by the Messenger of Allah to Heraclius remains with us today.
The letter translated as such:
“In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, most merciful!
From the servant and messenger of Allah, Muhammad, to the king of the Romans, Heraclius:
May the salutations of Allah be upon the person who follows the path of truth! I am calling upon you to accept my invitation to Islam. If you follow the religion of Islam you will be in a complete state of well-being, and Allah will double your rewards and good deeds. However, if you turn away from this, then the sins of your villagers (the group under your command) will be upon you as well. “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).”
|Following the signing of the Hudaiybiya Peace Treaty, the Messenger of Allah decided to send letters of invitation to Islam to all of the tribes on the Arabian Peninsula and neighbouring nations.|
After the king listened to what was written in the letter, he called to his presence Abu Sufyan, who was in the region to conduct trade. He asked him many questions regarding our Prophet. At that time, Abu Sufyan was not a Muslim. However he answered all of the emperors questions accurately: “He calls upon us to worship Allah alone, associating no partners with Him; he forbids us to worship idols as our forefathers did. He orders us to pray, be righteous, help the poor, avoid what is prohibited, honor a pact, not betray an entrustment and to visit one’s relatives.” Abu Sufyan later made the following confession on this matter: “By God, had I not been scared of lying about Prophet Muhammad and the lies being spread, I would have perhaps lied.” After each response he received regarding his questions about Muhammad, Heraclius would say, “This is what prophets are like.” He had believed with certainty that the person sending the letter was the last prophet. Upon seeing that Heraclius had really warmed up to Islam though his words, Dihya tul Kalbi (r.a.) became very hopeful, he called upon him to become Muslim once again. “The person who sent me to you is more righteous than you are. Listen to my words with with humility. Accept the advice being given. If you do this, then you will understand the advice that is being given. If you do not accept the advice, then you will not have any mercy.” Later he asked, “Did Masih Isa pray?” and the emperor answered “yes.” “Then I call upon you to have belief in Allah, to whom Masih Isa prayed. I then call you upon Allah who created the heavens and maintained them long before Isa was born. I call upon you an illiterate prophet who was heralded by Prophet Moses and then by Prophet Jesus. If you know something of this matter and want to attain happiness in this world and the next, then remember them. Otherwise, the happiness of the afterlife will slip out of your hands. You will be left in the darkness of shirk (associating partners with Allah) and denial. Know that the will of Allah, your Creator, destroys tyrants and dictators and turns them into blessings.”
|Heraclius believed that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) was the righteous prophet; however, because he was afraid of the kingdom slipping out of his hands, he could not make himself profess his own belief.|
Heraclius believed that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) was the righteous prophet; however, because he was afraid of the kingdom slipping out of his hands, he could not make himself profess his own belief. He expressed these sentiments in the following words: “May Allah grant you with what is good. May he bless you with his mercy. I know well that the person whose company you are coming from is a prophet who has been sent by Allah. In fact we were awaiting his arrival. We had found his name and attributes in our books. However, I am fearful of my life before the Romans. If I were sure of my peoples, then I would take on all sorts of difficulties and become a subject to him and serve him. What you should do now is visit Patriarch Dagatir. He is of the elders of the Christian scholars. Call him on to Islam as well.” Our Prophet (s.a.w.) had actually written a letter to Patriarch Dagatir. Upon the advice of the King, Diyha (r.a.) went to visit him in a haste. He presented him with the letter of invitation by the Prophet of Islam. In his letter, the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) had invited him to enter the religion of Islam by saying: “Peace be upon to those who believe. Surely, Jesus, the son of Mary, is the pure and clean word which Allah has cast into Maryam (Mary). I believe in Allah, all that is revealed by Allah, Ibrahim (Abraham), Ismail (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Ya’qub (Jacob) and that which has been revealed to their grandchildren, what was given to Moses and Jesus and all that was given to all prophets by their Lord. We do not differentiate any of those from one another. We believe that they are all prophets. We are among the believers who follow the commands of Allah. Peace upon those who follow the righteous path.”
|Dagatir, who was a great scholar, had learned that a final prophet would arrive from the books he had in his possession, and he had read about his attributes.|
Dagatir, who was a great scholar, had learned that a final prophet would arrive from the books he had in his possession, and he had read about his attributes. As soon as he read the letter, he said, “I swear by Allah that your master is the prophet sent by Allah. We knew his name and his attributes,” and believed (in the message) without any hesitation. Following this conversation, the head patriarch retreated into his home and secluded himself there. Dihya (r.a.) would made sure he wasn’t alone, and visited him frequently. That Sunday, the head patriarch didn’t partake in the service at the church. In the meantime, the people had heard about the transformation that the head patriarch had experienced.
Fiery and bigoted Romans had surrounded his home, yelling with anger and asking for their patriarch to address them. However, Dagatir was no longer their clergymen. He had become a member of Prophet Muhammad’s ummah and he was conducting perhaps one of his last talks and meetings with one of Prophet Muhammad’s (p.b.u.h.) closest companions, Dihya tul Kalbi (r.a.). Meanwhile, Dagatir wrote a letter to the Messenger of Allah and entrusted it to to Dihya, which said: “Take this letter and go to our master. Convey my greetings to him and inform him that I bear witness that there is no deity save Allah and that Muhammad is his Messenger. I have believed in him, acknowledged him and am his subject. But as you can see, these men are denying this. Relay exactly all of that which you see to our master.” After Dagatir sent Dihya (r.a.) on his way, he faced the people with his white garb and his cane. He didn’t have the slightest bit of fear. He knew that he could be killed or martyred. However it no longer bore any significance, because he had become one of the followers of the Prophet of Islam. He addressed the people in the following fashion: “Oh Roman congregation! A letter come to us from Prophet Muhammad. He calls us to believe in the one true God. I bear witness that there is not god save Allah. And Muhammad is his servant and messenger.” The people become angered by what they heart and headed towards him, attacking him and gruesomely trying to kill him. Then Dihya (r.a.) returned to the king once again. He informed him of what had happened. The King said, “Had I not said to you that we fear for our lives before them? I swear that Dagatir was a more respected man before them than I am.” He sent Dihya (r.a.) back after giving him many gifts.
|“Oh Roman congregation! A letter come to us from Prophet Muhammad. He calls us to believe in the one true God. I bear witness that there is not god save Allah. And Muhammad is his servant and messenger.”|
While returning to Medina, Dihya al-Kalbi (r.a.) was attacked by looters while passing through the land of the Juzam tribe in the region of Hisma. The attackers took from him everything that he was carrying with him. Dihya (r.a.) returned to Medina empty handed. He quicky headed to face the Messenger of Allah. He narrated everything that had transpired from beginning to end. He presented him with the letter from the Roman king. Our Prophet read the letter and then said the following: “He will remain on the throne for a while longer. As long as my letter remains with them, their kingdom will continue.” The King had also understood that the continuity of his kingdom was dependent upon his possession of the letter. He then wrapped the letter written by the Messenger of Allah in a silk cloth and hid it in a funnel. His will was that the letter be protected and hidden from those who succeeded him. And this was what indeed happened. When the letter was lost, so was the kingdom.
|The King had also understood that the continuity of his kingdom was dependent upon his possession of the letter. He then wrapped the letter written by the Messenger of Allah in a silk cloth and hid it in a funnel. His will was that the letter be protected and hidden from those who succeeded him. And this was what indeed happened. When the letter was lost, so was the kingdom.|
The invitation delegation which Dihya bin Khalifa (r.a.) headed had been ransacked on their return route and it was one of the Muslims in the area that had run to the aid of Dihya, helping retrieve his possessions. Upon returning to Medina, when the situation had been explained to Prophet Muhammad, he dispatched a military unit under the command of Zayd bin Harith (r.a.) against the people of Juzam, seeking to punish those who had attacked his ambassador.
In books of Sirah, when mentioning the different methods of revelation, it is narrated that one of the ways in which the angel of revelation, Jibrail (Gabriel) (a.s.) would take on the personna of Dihya (r.a.) and many of the companions of the Prophet would believe that he was in fact Dihya (r.a.). And one day, Jibrail (r.a.) came to Masjid al-Nabawi in the personification of Dihya (r.a.) to visit the Messenger of Allah. At that very moment in time, Hasan and Hussein (peace be upon them both), who were both children at the time, were playing in the masjid. They thought that Jibrail (a.s.) was Dihya(r.a.) and they began running towards him, putting their hands in his pockets in search of something.
The Messenger of Allah said, “Oh my brother Jibrail! Don’t think that my grandchildren are shameless. They thought that you were Dihya. Whenever Dihya came, he would bear gifts. And they would recieve his gifts. He has gotten them used to this [practice].” There is not much recorded information about Dihya’s life, prior to his conversion to Islam or after. However, sources indicate that he took part in an expedition to Syria and that he served as a commander in the Battle of Yarmuq, settling in the Mizza region of Damascus following the conquest of Syria, where he died. Sources do not allude to the date of his death; however, it is indicated that he lived until the era of Muawiyah. It is possible to ascertain from this that he died around the year 50 Hijri (670 A.D.) in the city of Damascus.