the Prophet, peace be on him, returned to Madinah from the
Farewell Pilgrimage in the tenth year after the Hijrah, he
fell ill, News of his illness spread rapidly throughout the
Arabian peninsula. Sincere Muslims everywhere were greatly
saddened by the news but for others it was a time to disclose
hidden hopes and ambitions and reveal their real attitudes
to Islam and the noble Prophet.
al-Yamamah, Musaylamah the Imposter renounced Islam. So too
did Tulayhah al-Asadi in the land of the Asad. And in the
Yemen, al-Aswad al-Ansi also became an apostate. More than
that, these three imposters claimed that they were prophets
sent to their respective peoples just as Muhammad the son
of Abdullah was sent to the Quraysh.
al-Ansi was a soothsayer who practised magic arts. But he
was no minor magician or fortuneteller who dabbled in his
evil arts in obscurity. He was powerful and influential and
possessed a strange power of speech that mesmerized the hearts
of his listeners and captivated the minds of the masses with
his false claims. With his wealth and power he managed to
attract not just the masses but people of status as well.
When he appeared before people he normally wore a mask in
order to surround himself with an air of mystery, awe and
the Yemen at that time, a section of the people who had much
prestige and influence were the "Abna". They were the scions
of Persian fathers who ruled Yemen as part of the Sasanian
Empire. Their mothers were local Arabs. Fayruz al-Daylami
was one of these Yemeni Abna.
the time of the appearance of Islam, the most powerful of
the Abna was Badhan who ruled Yemen on behalf of the Chosroes
of Persia. When Badban became convinced of the truth of the
Prophet Muhammad and the Divine nature of his mission he renounced
his allegiance to the Chosroes and accepted Islam. His people
followed him in tiffs. The Prophet confirmed him in his dominion
and he ruled the Yemen until his death shortly before the
appearance of al-Aswad al-Ansi.
tribe, the Banu Mudh-hij, were the first to respond positively
to his claims to prophethood. With this tribal force he mounted
a raid on San'a. He killed the governor, Shahr the son of
Badhan and took his wife to himself. From San'a he raided
other regions. Through his swift and startling strikes, a
vast region from Hadramawt to at-Taif and from al-Ahsa to
Aden came under his influence.
helped al-Aswad in deceiving the people and drawing them to
him was his guile and cunning which knew no bounds. To his
followers he alleged that an angel visited him, disclosed
revelations to him and gave him intelligence of people and
their affairs. What allowed him to appear to bear out these
claims were the spies he employed and despatched everywhere,
to bring him news of people and their circumstances, their
secrets and their problems, their hopes and their fears.
were brought back in secrecy to him and when he met anyone,
especially those in need, he could give the impression that
he had prior knowledge of their needs and problems. In this
way he astonished people and confounded their thoughts. He
acquired a large following and his mission spread like wildfire.
news of al-Aswad's apostasy and his activities throughout
the Yemen reached the Prophet, peace be on him, he despatched
about ten of Iris companions with letters to those of his
companions in the Yemen whom he felt he could trust. He urged
them to confront the blind fitnah with faith and resolve,
and he ordered them to get rid of al-Aswad by any means possible.
who received the Prophet's missives set about to carry out
his orders implicitly. In the forefront of these was Fayruz
ad-Daylami and those of the Abna who were with him. Let us
leave Fayruz to relate his extraordinary story:
and those of the Abna who were with me never for one moment
had any doubt about the religion of God. No belief in the
enemy of God entered the heart of any one of us. (In fact)
we waited for opportunities to get hold of al-Aswad and eliminate
him by any means.
we received the letters of the Messenger of God, may God bless
him and grant him peace, we felt strengthened in our mutual
resolve and each one determined to do what he could
of his considerable success, pride and vanity took hold of
al-Aswad al-Ansi. He bragged to the commander of his army,
Qays ibn Abd Yaghuth, saying how powerful he was. His attitude
and relationship towards his commander changed so much so
that Qays felt that he was not safe from Iris violence and
cousin, Dadhawayh, and I went to Qays and informed him of
what the Prophet, peace and blessings be on him, had told
us and we invited him to "make lunch" out of the man (al-Aswad)
before he could "make supper" out of him. He was receptive
to our proposal and regarded us as a Godsend. He disclosed
to us some of the secrets of al-Aswad.
three of us vowed to confront the apostate from within (his
castle) while our other brothers would confront him from without.
We were all of the view that our cousin Dadha, whom al-Aswad
had taken to himself after the killing of her husband, should
join us. We went to al-Aswad's castle and met her. I said
cousin, you know what harm and evil this man has visited upon
you and us. He has killed your husband and dishonored the
women of your people. He has massacred their husbands and
wrested political authority from their hands.
is a letter from the Messenger of God, may God bless him and
grant him peace, to us in particular and to the people of
Yemen in general in which he asks us to put an end to this
fitnah. Would you help us in this matter?' 'On what can I
help you? she asked. 'On his expulsion...' I said. 'Rather
on his assassination,' she suggested. 'By God, I had nothing
else in mind,' I said, 'but I was afraid to suggest this to
you.' 'By Him Who has sent Muhammad with the Truth as a bringer
or' good tidings and as a warner, I have not doubted in my
religion for a moment. God has not created a man more detestable
to me than the devil (al-Aswad). By God, from the time I saw
him, I have only known him to be a corrupt and sinful person
who does not promote any truth and does not stop from committing
any abominable deed.' "How can we go about eliminating him?'
is well-guarded and protected. There is not a place in his
castle which is not surrounded by guards. There is one broken
down and abandoned room though which opens out into open land.
In the evening during the first third of the night, go there.
You will find inside weapons and a light. You will find me
waiting for you...' she said.
getting through to a room in a castle such as this is no easy
task. Someone might pass and alert the guards and that will
be the end of us' I said. 'You are not far from the truth.
But I have a suggestion.' 'What is it?' I asked.
a man tomorrow whom you trust as one of the workers. I shall
tell him to make an opening in the room from the inside so
that it should be easy to enter.' 'That's a brilliant suggestion
you have,' I said.
then left her and told the two others what we had decided
and they gave their blessings to the plan. We left straightaway
to get ourselves prepared. We informed a select group of believers
who were assisting us to prepare themselves and gave them
the password (to signal the time they could storm the castle).
The time was to be dawn of the following day.
night fell and the appointed time came, I went with my two
companions to the opening in the room and uncovered it. We
entered the room and put on the lamp. We found the weapons
and proceeded to the apartment of God's enemy. There was our
cousin standing at his door. She pointed out where he was
and we entered. He was asleep and snoring. I plunged the blade
in his neck and he bellowed like a bull being slaughtered.
When the guards heard this, they ran quickly to his apartment
and asked: 'What is this?'
worry. You can go. The prophet of God is receiving revelation,'
she said, and they left. We stayed in the castle until the
break of dawn. Then I stood on a wall of the castle and shouted:
Akbar! Allahu Akbar!' and went on with the adhan until I reached':
'Ashhadu anna Muhammadur Rasulullah ! (Then I added) 'Wa ashhadu
anna al Aswad al-Ansi kadh-dhab ! I testify that al-Aswad
is an imposter.'
was the password, Muslims then converged on
castle from every direction. The guards took fright
they heard the adhan and were confronted by the
shouting Allahu Akbar.
sunrise, the mission was accomplished. When it was full light,
we sent a letter to the Messenger of God giving him the good
news of the death of God's enemy.
the messengers reached Madinah they found that the Prophet,
may the blessings of God be on him, had passed away that very
night. They learned however that Revelation had been communicated
to the Prophet informing him of the death of al-Aswad al-Ansi
the night it took place."
later, the Khalifah Umar ibn al-Khattab wrote to Fayruz ad-Daylami,
may God be pleased with them both, saying:
have heard that you are busy eating white bread and honey
(meaning no doubt that he was leading an easy life). When
this my letter reaches you, come to me with the blessings
of God so that you may campaign in the path of God."
did as he was commanded. He went to Madinah and sought an
audience with Umar. Umar granted him permission. Evidently
there was a crowd waiting to see Umar and a Quraysh youth
pushed Fayruz. Fayruz raised his hand and hit the Quraysh
youth on the nose.
youth went to Umar who asked: "Who did that to you?"
He is at the door," said the youth. Fayruz entered and Umar
asked: "What is this, O Fayruz?"
Amir al-Muminin," said Fayruz. "You wrote to me. You didn't
write to him. You gave me permission to enter and you didn't
give him permission. He wanted to enter in my turn before
me. Then I did what you have been told."
pronounced Umar in judgment, meaning that Fayruz had to receive
the same blow from the youth in retaliation. "Must it be so?"
asked Fayruz. "It must be so," insisted Umar.
then got down on his knees and the youth stood up to exact
his retaliation. Umar said to him then: "Wait a moment, young
man, so that I can tell you something which I heard from the
Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace. I
heard the Messenger of God say one evening: 'This night, al-Aswad
al-Ansi the Imposter has been killed. The righteous servant
Fayruz ad-Daylami has killed him' Umar then asked the youth:
you see yourself taking retribution on him after you have
heard this from the Messenger of God?" "I forgive him," said
the youth, "after you have told me this from the Prophet."
"Do you think," said Fayruz to Umar, "that my escape from
what I have done is a confession to him and that his forgiveness
is not given under duress?" "Yes," replied Umar and Fayruz
then declared: "I testily to you that my sword, my horse and
thirty thousand of my money is a gift to him."
forgiveness has paid off, O brother Quraysh and you have become
rich," said Umar no doubt impressed by the sense of remorse
and the spontaneous generosity of Fayruz, the righteous.