In the name of God, the Lord of Grace, the Ever-Merciful. From Muhammad, God’s Messenger to Heracules, the Byzantine ruler. Peace be to those who follow right guidance. I call on you to believe in Islam. Adopt Islam and you will be safe, and God will give you a double reward. If you decline, you shall bear responsibility for the Arians.” [Bukhari]
When we look at the Prophet’s letters to the various rulers, including the two most powerful leaders in the world, we can identify several features that are common to all of them:
1. The Prophet’s address is powerful and decisive, and it does not seek to appease anyone or to defer to any authority.
2. The Prophet puts his purpose in very clear terms: he wanted to deliver a message from God Almighty, and explained the consequences of the addressee’s response, particularly if it is a negative one. Specifically, he highlighted that a ruler who denies the people a chance to learn of God’s message bears responsibility for their continued unbelief.
3. The Prophet also made it clear that he was a Messenger to all mankind. He dispelled any thought that might be entertained by the addressee that he could be looking beyond the area assigned to him.
4. Everyone was addressed in the language they understood. When the Prophet spoke to Christian rulers, his address took into consideration the fact that they believed in God, even though their concept of Him was at variance with that of Islam.
5. The Prophet further explained that no one would be coerced or pressured into accepting Islam. Emperors, kings and rulers may try to force their populations to follow a certain line, but the Prophet made it clear that neither Jews nor Magians would be forced to accept Islam; they would only be required to pay a tax in return for being protected by the Islamic state.
“Muhammad: His Character and Conduct” – Muhammad Adil Salahi