Surah 30. Ar-Rum

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Period of Revelation

This Surah was revealed in 615 A. D., the year when the Romans were completely overpowered by the Persians, during the time of the Prophet's residence at Makkah. This was the same year in which the Prophet gave permission to the oppressed Muslims to migrate to Habsha.

Major Issues, Divine Laws and Guidance:
  1. The Roman's (Christian's) defeat at the hands of Persians (pagans) was considered by Makkans a sign of the Muslim's defeat at the hands of Arab unbelievers.
  2. Prophecy of the Roman's victory against Persians and the Muslims victory against the disbelievers.
  3. Allah has originated the creation and He will resurrect the dead for final judgement.
  4. Creation of Man, his Consort, Heaven, Earth, Language, Colors, Sleep, Quest for work, Lightening, Rain and Growth of vegetation are all signs from Allah.
  5. Wrongdoers are those who are lead by their own appetite without real knowledge.
  6. True Faith Vs. Sects and shirk.
  7. Commandment to give relatives their due and take care of the poor and travellers in need.
  8. Mischief in the land is due to Man's own misdeeds.
  9. Allah told the Prophet: "O Prophet! You can not make the dead hear you."
Condition of Human Society at that time

The prediction made in the initial verses of this Surah is one of the most outstanding evidences of the Qur'an being the Word of Allah. Research Scholar Abul A'la Maududi narrated the historical background relevant to this Surah as follows:

"Eight years before the Prophet's advent as a Prophet, the Byzantine Emperor Maurice was overthrown by Phocus, who captured the throne and became king. Phocus first had the Emperor's five sons executed in front of him, and then had the Emperor killed and hung their heads in a thoroughfare in Constantinople. A few days after this, he had the empress and her three daughters also put to death. The event provided Khusrau Parvez, the Sassani king of Persia; a good moral excuse to attack Byzantine. Emperor Maurice had been his benefactor; with his help he had got the throne of Persia. Therefore, he declared that he would avenge his godfather's and his children's murder upon Phocus, the usurper. So, he started a war against the Byzantines in 603 A. D. and within a few years, putting the Phocus armies to rout in succession, he reached Edessa (modern, Urfa) in Asia Minor, on the one front, and Aleppo and Antioch in Syria, on the other. When the Byzantine ministers saw that Phocus could not save the country, they sought the African governor's help, who sent his son, Hercules, to Constantinople with a strong fleet. Phocus was immediately deposed and Hercules was made emperor. He treated Phocus as he had treated Maurice. This happened in 610 A. D., the year the Prophet was appointed to the Prophethood.

The moral excuse for which Khusrau Parvez had started the war was no more valid after the deposition and death of Phocus. Had the object of his war really been to avenge the murder of his ally on Phocus for his cruelty, he would have come to terms with the new Emperor after the death of Phocus. But he continued the war, and gave it the color of a crusade between Zoroastrianism and Christianity. The sympathies of the Christian sects (i. e. Nestorians and Jacobians, etc.) which had been excommunicated by the Roman ecclesiastical authority and tyrannized for years also went with the Magian (Zoroastrian) invaders, and the Jews also joined hands with them; so much so that the number of Jews who enlisted in Khusrau's army rose to 26,000.

Hercules could not stop this storm. The very first news that he received from the East after ascending the throne was that of the Persian's occupation of Antioch. After this, Damascus fell in 613 A. D. Then in 614 A.D., the Persians occupying Jerusalem, played havoc with the Christian world. Ninety thousand Christians were massacred and the Holy Sepulchre was desecrated. The Original Cross on which, according to Christian beliefs, Jesus had died, was seized and carried to Mada'in. The chief priest Zacharia was taken prisoner and all the important churches of the city were destroyed. How puffed up was Khusrau Parvez at this victory can be judged from the letter that he wrote to Hercules from Jerusalem. He wrote: "From Khusrau, the greatest of all gods, the master of the whole world : To Hercules, his most wretched and most stupid servant: 'You say that you have trust in your Lord. Why didn't then your Lord save Jerusalem from me?"

Within a year after this victory, the Persian armies overran Jordan, Palestine and the whole of the Sinai Peninsula and reached the frontiers of Egypt. In those very days, another conflict of a far greater historical consequence was going on in Makkah. The believers in One God, under the leadership of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah's peace be upon him), were fighting for their existence against the followers of shirk under the command of the chiefs of the Qureysh, and the conflict had reached such a stage that in 615 A. D., a substantial number of the Muslims had to leave their homes and take refuge with the Christian kingdom of Habash, which was an ally of the Byzantine Empire. In those days the Sassani victories against Byzantine were the talk of the town, and the pagans of Makkah were delighted and were taunting the Muslims to the effect: "Look the fire worshippers of Persia are winning victories and the Christian believers in Revelation and Prophethood are being routed everywhere. Likewise, we, the idol worshippers of Arabia, will exterminate you and your religion."

These were the conditions when this Surah of the Qur'an was sent down, and in it a prediction was made, saying: "The Romans have been vanquished in the neighboring land and within a few years after their defeat, they shall be victorious. And it will be the day when the believers will rejoice in the victory granted by Allah." It contained not one but two predictions: First, the Romans shall be Victorious; and second, the Muslims also shall win a victory at the same time. Apparently, there was not a remote chance of the fulfillment of the either prediction in the next few years. On the one hand, there were a handful of the Muslims, who were being beaten and tortured in Makkah, and even till eight years after this prediction there appeared no chance of their victory and domination. On the contrary, the Romans were losing more and more ground every next day. By 619 A. D. the whole of Egypt had passed into Sassani hands and the Magian armies had reached as far as Tripoli. In Asia Minor they beat and pushed back the Romans to Bosporus, and in 617 A. D. they captured Chalcedony (modern, Kadikoy) just opposite Constantinople. The Emperor sent an envoy to Khusrau, praying that he was ready to have peace on any terms, but he replied, "I shall not give protection to the emperor until he is brought in chains before me and gives up obedience to his crucified god and adopts submission to the fire god." At last, the Emperor became so depressed by defeat that he decided to leave Constantinople and shift to Carthage (modern, Tunis). In short, as the British historian Gibbon says, even seven to eight years after this prediction of the Qur'an, the conditions were such that no one could even imagine that the Byzantine Empire would ever gain an upper hand over Persia, not to speak of gaining domination. No one could hope that the Empire, under the circumstances, would even survive.

When these verses of the Qur'an were sent down, the disbelievers of Makkah made great fun of them, and Ubayy bin Khalaf bet Sayyiduna Abu Bakr ten camels that the Romans would not be victorious within three years. When the Prophet came to know of the bet, he said, "The Qur'an has used the words bid-i-sinin, and the word bid in Arabic applies to a number up to ten. Therefore, make the bet for ten years and increase the number of camels to a hundred." So, Sayyiduna Abu Bakr spoke to Ubayy again and bet a hundred camels for ten years.

In 622 A. D., when the Prophet migrated to Madinah, the Emperor Hercules set off quietly for Trabzon from Constantinople via the Black Sea and started preparations to attack Persia from rear. For this he asked the Church for money, and Pope Sergius lent him the Church collections on interest, in a bid to save Christianity from Zoroastrianism. Hercules started his counter attack in 623 A. D. from Armenia. Next year, in 624 A. D., he entered Azerbaijan and destroyed Clorumia, the birthplace of Zoroaster, and ravaged the principal fire temple of Persia. Great are the powers of Allah, this was the very year when the Muslims achieved a decisive victory at Badr for the first time against the mushrikin. Thus, both the predictions made in Surah Rum were fulfilled simultaneously within the stipulated period of ten years.

The Byzantine forces continued to press the Persians hard and in the decisive battle at Nineveh, (627 A.D.) they dealt them the hardest blow. They captured the royal residence of Dast-Gerd, and then pressing forward, reached right opposite to Ctesiphon, which was the capital of Persia in those days. In 628 A. D., in an internal revolt, Khusrau Parvez was imprisoned and 18 of his sons were executed in front of him and a few days later, he himself died in prison. This was the year when the peace treaty of Hudeybiyah was concluded, which the Qur'an has termed as "the supreme victory", and in this very year Khusrau's son, Qubad II, gave up all the occupied Roman territories, restored the True Cross and made peace with Byzantine. In 628 A. D., the Emperor himself went to Jerusalem to instal the " Cross" in its place, and in the same year the Prophet entered Makkah for the first time after the Hijrah to perform the Umra-tul-Q'adah.

After this, no one could have any doubt about the truth of the prophecy of the Qur'an, with the result that most of the Arab polytheists accepted Islam. The heirs of Ubayy bin Khalaf lost their bet and had to give a hundred camels to Sayyiduna Abu Bakr Siddiq. He took them before the Prophet, who ordered that they be given away in charity, because the bet had been made at a time when gambling had not yet been forbidden by the Shari'ah; now it was forbidden. Therefore, the bet was allowed to be accepted from the belligerent disbelievers, but instruction given that it should be given away in charity and should not be brought in personal use".

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