Interfaith · Islam

Turkey Restoring Tomb of Abyssinian Christian King, Who Sheltered Prophet Muhammad’s Companions

Have you ever heard of King Najashi, a Christian, of the Kingdom of Abyssinia (also known as Aksum)?

The Daily Sabah notes: “King Najashi, also known as Armah, was the ruler of the Kingdom of Aksum from 614-631. The Empire was a trading nation situated in modern-day Eritrea and Ethiopia, existing from approximately 100-940 AD… King Najashi gave shelter to early Muslims from Mecca who were seeking refuge from Quraysh persecution by traveling to Aksum, which was at time a Christian kingdom. In Islamic history, the journey is known as the first hijra.”

When the people of Quraysh intensified their harsh treatment of Prophet Muhammad and the first Muslim community, Muhammad ordered his people to migrate to Abyssinia, a Christian land. He called Abyssinia “the land of the just Christian king where no man is wronged.” When Islam was properly explained to King Najashi, he famously stated that the difference between Muslims and Christians was like a line in the sand.

This story is significant for several reasons. It reminds us that Prophet Muhammad was not averse to Christians. The Prophet did not judge King Najashi on the basis of his religious beliefs, but rather by his character and conduct. He was a Christian, but he was still worthy of admiration and respect based on his stance on equality and justice.

Shortly after the first hijra, in Medina, the Muslim community echoed the King of Abyssinia by extending equal rights to religious minorities such as the Jews and Pagans.

The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) is leading the restoration project. The tomb is located about 500 miles from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

And here is a YouTube video which depicts the encounter of the first Muslims and the Christians of Abyssinia:


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