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Story 108: In The Audience Of Rustam

With an immense army and equipped with heavy ammunition, Rustam Farukhzad entered “Qadissiah” so as to crush the Muslims who had inflicted a heavy defeat on lranians before. The Muslims had advanced up to the environs of Qadissiah under the commandership of s’ad Ibn Waqas who had appointed a group of soldiers to precede the army under the title of "vanguard." The head of this group was a man named Zuhrah Ibn Abdullah.

After a night passed in Qadissiah, Rustam sat astride his horse to watch the enemy's position closely. Riding on the horse to a hill-top where it looked down upon the Muslim camp, he stopped a moment observing their situation. It was evident that neither the number nor the ammunition of the Muslims was anything to cause the fear. But, however, he was inspired that fighting against those people would not be a favourable issue.

The same night, he invited Zuhrah Ibn Abdullah and proposed him to make peace, but on condition that the army of enemy would receive an amount of money and return to the place where they came from.

With pride and arrogance which was specific to him, he said: "You were our neighbour and we did good towards you, You were enjoying our donation and we were defending you when you were in danger. The history is a witness of whatever l say."

When Rustam came to this point. Zuhrah said: "Whatever you mentioned about the past is correct, but you must realize that the time has changed. We are not those people who are after the world and its objects. We have neglected the worldly objects and are following those of the hereafter. Previously, we were such as you said until the day when Allah raised upon us His Prophet (S). He (S) called us to obey the One God, we embraced his religion. The Almighty Allah revealed to his Prophet (S) that if his disciples remain in a firm faith in what has been revealed to him (S), Allah will grant them the sovereignty over the other people and nations. Whoever adheres to this religion will become dearer, whoever infringes it, will become despised and helpless."

Rustam said: "Is it possible to explain some more about your religion?"

"There are two pillars and principles constituting the religion. The testimony of the Unity, Oneness of the Almighty Allah and the testimony of the Prophethood of Muhammad (S) and the Divine origin of his message."

"There is nothing wrong with this, it is good, and what more?"

"The emancipation of Allah's servants from the slavery of the human beings who are their fellow-creatures."

“This is also good, and what else?”

"People all were born from one father and one mother, all are the descendants of Adam and Eve, and they are brothers and sisters."

“That is also very good! Well, if we accept all these things, will you return back?”

"Yes, I swear by Allah, we will never set a foot in your territory unless for doing business or essential affairs of the kind. We do not have any other intention than what I have mentioned."

"You are telling the truth, but there is a problem in these affairs! Since the era of Ardashir, we, Iranians, adopted a tradition which became vogue and customary among us which is incompatible with your religion. In fact, as a rule, the inferior walks of society such as farmers and workers have no right to change their professions and engage in another job. If they or their children are supposed to have the right to change their professions or social class and rise to the rank of aristocrats, they will overstep the bounds and try to pick a quarrel with the members of superiors, the grandees and nobles. Therefore, it would be better that a farmer's child knows that he should be a farmer and not more and a blacksmith's child also knows that he has no other choice but to be a blacksmith and so on...."

"But we need the betterment of the people and for the people. We cannot differentiate among the classes like your belief. We are convinced to obey the Orders of the Almighty Allah about those inferior classes. As I said, according to our belief, all the people are created from the same father and mother and are equal and are brothers. We always stick to our duties to behave in a polite manner with others and if we are obliged to our duties well, and if they do not, it would not harm us. Fulfilling one's duty procures the immunity."

After completing his words, Zuhrah Ibn Abdullah left him. Rustam gathered the chiefs of his army and repeated the words of this Muslim person to them. But they didn't consider it. Rustam sent a message to S’ad Ibn Waqas to send an official representative for negotiation with him. S'ad wanted to appoint a delegation for this responsibility but Rab'i Ibn Amer, who was present in this assembly, did not deem it advisable and said: "The Iranians have a peculiar mentality. If a delegation is sent to them, they will consider it as their importance and will guess that we have given more attention to them and have sent a delegation. Therefore, it will suffice that you choose only one man as our representative and send him." Rab'i was chosen for this responsibility.

On the other side, Rustam was informed of the representative of S'ad Ibn Waqas. He deliberated the matter with his chancellors how to debate with the representative of the Muslims. They unanimously agreed that they should not pay attention to him, and they should pretend that they do not care for Muslims and the Muslims are nothing in front of them.

In order to manifest the Iranian glory and ostentation, Rustam ordered for a golden throne to be placed and he settled down on it. Magnificent carpets were spread, and brocaded pillows were placed. The representative of Muslims', mounted on a horse, sheathed the sword in a used scabbard and spear tied with a strap of leather, arrived. At a glance, he understood that these ornaments and protocol were aimed to impress him.

In return, to make them realize that the Muslims do not take care of this glory and these kinds of ostentation, but they are after other objectives, he whipped his horse without any hesitation and entered the pavilion of Rustam while riding on his horse.

The officials asked him to alight from the horse, but he refused and went riding on the horse near the throne of Rustom and dismounted. He pierced one of the brocaded pillows with his spear and tied up the bridle of his horse in it, intentionally putting on an old rag of horsecloth on his shoulder as a cloak. He was asked to submit his arms and then to approach Rustam. But he refused and said: "I do not deliver my arms; you had demanded us for a representative, and I have come in this style. If you are not content, I will return."

Rustam said: "Let him come as he wishes."

With equanimity and a particular dignity, while taking small steps, making use of his spear as a walking stick and tearing intentionally the carpets, Rab’i Ibn Amer came close to the throne of Rustam. Before sitting he removed the carpet and sat down on the ground. They asked him: "Why did you not sit on the carpet?"

He replied: "We are not pleased to sit on these trimmings."

The especial translator of Rustam asked him: "What have you come for?"

He said in reply: "The Almighty Allah has sent us and appointed us to liberate His creatures from the difficulties and misfortunes, save the people submitted to the oppression, despotism and the other religions and bring them under the aegis of Islamic equity. We present the religion of the Almighty Allah based on these principles to the other nations. If they embrace it, they will live happily and fortunately under the shadow of this religion. And if they oppose to it, we will fight them, either we will be killed and enter the paradise or we will gain victory over the enemy."

"Well, I understood what you say. Now it is possible to postpone your decision so that we will think over it and see what decision we can make."

"There is no objection, how many days do you require, one or two days?"

"One or two days is not sufficient; we must write the letter to our heads and superiors; they will consult together and make a decision."

Rab’i, who had understood their plan and knew that the question was to procrastinate the case, said in reply: "According to the tradition narrated from our Prophet (S) and practised by our leaders, a deferment more than three-days is not permissible in such circumstances. I will give you a three-day grace period so that you may choose one of these three options: Either to embrace Islam, in this case we will go back where we came from; thus your territory will be returned to you with all its riches because we have not coveted your territory and wealth, or to accept to pay head-tax "Jizyah ", or to be ready for war."

“It seems that you yourself are the commander-in-chief, making the resolution in this respect.”

“No, I am one of the ordinary men, but Muslims are like the organs of a body; they are all one, if the smallest among them gives patronage to someone, it is as if all of them have given him shelter; all the Muslims respect their promises and pacts.”

After this interview, Rustam, who had been strongly impressed, conferred with the chiefs of his army about the Muslim affairs and asked them: "Now what do you think about them? Have you ever heard in your life a statement more exalted, indisputable and clarified than that of this man? At present, what is your opinion?"

"It is impossible that we adhere to the religion of this dog! Didn't you see how an old worn-out garment he had put on?"

"It is none of your business with his garment? Look at the thought and the words. Consider the action and manner."

But Rustam's remarks did not make them persuaded. They were so steeped in pride that they could not realize the clear evidence. Rustam found that no one was of his opinion and thought in his manner.

After a series of negotiation with the Muslim delegation as well as consultation with the chiefs of his army, he did not find a solution. He was prepared for combat and subjected to such a heavy defeat that the history has recorded little of the sort. He lost his own life for the sake of pig-headedness of the others.1

  • 1. Al-Kamil Ibn al-Athir, v. 2, p. 319, 321. The events of 14th H.