Negus of Abyssinia

The first Muslim refugees sought safety in Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia), a land of Christian but where others were free to practise their religion. The ruler at that time was As-hamah. The kings of Abyssinia wore the title of Negus. His name meant ‘a gift’ and he was generous and a kind ruler. When the Muslims came, he asked about Islam and soon after became a Muslim. He kept his Islam secret to avoid an uprising.

He arranged the marriage of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam to Umme Habeebah radhiallahu anha, a widow with a child, in his court. She was one of those who had migrated to Abyssinia and her husband passed away there. Negus gave her a dowry of 400 dinaars (gold coins).He arranged for Umme Habeebah radhiallahu anha to join the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam in Madinah and requested her to give his greetings to him. A few years after the Negus became a Muslim, his people got to know. Negus got ships ready for the Muslims to leave in case he was killed. He wrote on a paper “I testify there is no God but Allah and Muhammad sallallahu alaihi wa sallam is His slave and Messenger.” He put the paper in his robe and went to meet his people. They said Eesa (Jesus) alaihis salaam was the son of God. Negus put his hand over the hidden paper and said “I testify that Jesus the son of Mary was no more than this,” meaning what was written on the paper. His people thought he’d agreed with them and were happy.

When the Muslims returned to Madinah, Negus gave them provisions, read the declaration of faith and told them to ask the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam to pray for his forgiveness. When the message was given to the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, he made wudhu and prayed thrice for Negus’ forgiveness. When Negus passed away, Jibraeel alaihis sallam told the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam who said that a pious man from Ethiopia had passed away. He led his funeral prayers with the Muslims in absentia. May Allah reward this great Muslim who helped in the early days of Islam.