The grandfather of Abd Yasoo who was a christian before accepting Islaam narrates that Rasullullah ﷺ sent a letter to the people of Najraan before Surah “Tawseen Sulaymaan” (Surah Naml) was revealed (the letter therefore does not begin with “Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem” because it was only after it the revelation of this Surah that Rasullullah ﷺ started including “Bismillahir-Rahmaanir- Raheem” in his letters as this Surah mentions Hadhrat Sulaymaan Alaihis Salaam did) The letter read:
I begin in the name if that Ilaah of Ibraheem Alaihis Salaam, Ishaaq Alaihis Salaam and Ya’coob Alaihis Salaam
From Muhammed the Nabi and Rasool of Allah
To the high priest and people of Najraan
Before you I praise the Ilaah of Ibraheem Alaihis Salaam, Ishaaq Alaihis Salaam and Ya’coob Alaihis Salaam
I call you from the worship of Allah’s slaves to the worship of Allah and from the friendship of Allah’s slaves to the friendship of Allah. Should you refuse (to accept Islam), you shall have to pay the Jizya and should you refuse even this, I shall have to declare war against you.
When the high priest read the letter, he was alarmed and grew extremely frightened. He immediately sent for a person from Najraan called Shurahbeel bin Wadaa’ah who hailed from Hamdaan tribe. Whenever any problem arose, he was summoned even before the heroes, leaders and high ranking people. The high priest handed over Rasullullah ﷺ’s letter to Shurahbeel, who read it. The high priest then asked,
“O Abu Maryam! What is your opinion?”
Shurahbeel said, “You know well that Allah promised Ibraheem Alaihis-Salaam prophethood in the progeny of his son Ismaa’eel Alaihis Salaam. It would come as no surprise if this is the very same person who has received the promised prophethood). I can offer no opinion in the matter of prophethood. Had the matter been a worldly one, I would have advised you and exerted myself to assist you. ” The high priest then bade Shurahbeel to step aside and be seated which he did.
The high priest then sent for a man called Abdullah Bin Shurahbeel who was also from Najraan and belonged to the Dhu Asbah branch of the Himyar tribe.
When the high priest read the letter to him and asked his opinion, his reply was similar to that of Shurahbeel. The high priest then bade Abdullah to step aside and be seated, which he did.
He then sent for a man called Jabbaar bin Faydh who was also from Najraan and belonged to the Banu Haarith bin Ka’b branch of the Banul Himaas tribe. When the high priest read the letter to him and asked his opinion, his reply was similar to that of Shurahbeel and Abdullah. He also took a seat when asked to do so. Once they had all agreed on the matter, the high priest called for the bells to be tolled, fires to be lit and flags to be raised in the churches. This was their practice whenever trouble brewed during the day. When there was trouble during the night, they would only toll the bells and light the fires in the churches.
Consequently, when the bells were tolled and the flags raised, all the people living on the top and bottom parts of the valley gathered. The valley was so long that it would take a speeding rider a complete day to pass and in it were seventy three villages comprising of one hundred and twenty thousand warriors.
When the high priest read the letter of Rasullullah ﷺ to them, everyone agreed that Shurahbeel bin Wadaa’ah from the Hamdaan tribe, Abdullah bin Shurahbeel from the Dhu Asbah tribe and Jabbaar bin Faydh from the Banu Haarith tribe should be sent to gather news about Rasullullah ﷺ. The delegation left and finally arrived in Medinah. Their they removed their traveling clothes and wore decorative long garments made in Yemen, which they had to drag along. They also wore gold rings. When they approached Rasullullah ﷺ and greeted him, he did not reply to their greeting. The entire day they sought an opportunity to speak to Rasullullah ﷺ but he refused to speak to them as long as they wore those clothes and gold rings.
They then looked for Hadhrat Uthmaan Bin Affan Radhiyallahu Anhu and Hadhrat Abdur Rahmaan Bin Auf Radhiyallahu Anhu who knew them and eventually found them sitting with a group if Mujahideen and Ansaar. They said, ” O Uthmaan! O Abdur Rahmaan! Your Nabi wrote a letter to us and we have arrived in response to the letter. However, when we came to him and greeted him, he did not reply to our greeting and although we searched all day for an opportunity to speak to him, we have been unable to do so. What is your opinion? Do you think we should return?”
Hadhrat Ali bin Abi Taalib Radhiyallahu Anhu was also in the gathering, so the two of them asked him, “What do you think of these people, O Abul Hasan?” Addressing Hadhrat Uthmaan Radhiyallahu Anhu and Hadhrat Abdurahmaan Ibn Auf Radhiyallahu Anhu, Hadhrat Ali Radhiyallahu Anhu said, ” I think that they should remove these clothes and these rings and wear their traveling clothes. Thereafter they should return to Rasullullah ﷺ. When they did this and again greeted Rasullullah ﷺ, he ﷺ replied to their greeting and said, ” I swear by the Being Who has sent me with the truth that Iblees was certainly with you when you came to me the first time”