SHAFAQNA – Today Yemenis will mark the anniversary of their conversion to Islam. At such a time when Yemen faces a war of aggression and invasion, millions will remember how the sons of Hamdan came to submit to the Word of God by way of Islam’s First Imam, Islam’s first appointed Custodian, the very man the last prophet of God entrusted with his love, respect and bloodline: Imam Ali.
Yemen’s ties to Islam run deep in the highlands … Yemen’s ties to Islam and the oath given echo of the voice and the command of Imam Ali – may his name remains blessed for all eternity.
Following is an account of how Yemen came to Islam.
Acceptance of Islam by the people of the Hijaz and the security which the Prophet felt from the side of the Arab tribes enabled him to extend the influence of Islam to the neighbouring areas of Hijaz. For the first time, therefore, he deputed one of his wise companions named Mu’az bin Jabal to Yemen so that he might explain Islam to the people of that region.
While giving him detailed instructions the Prophet also said to Mu’az: “Avoid harsh treatment with the people, and inform them of Divine blessings which are meant for the true believers. When you face the people of the Scriptures in Yemen, and they enquire from you about the key to Paradise, you should tell them that it is the acknowledgment of the Oneness and Uniqueness of Allah”
It would appear that with all his knowledge of the Book and the Sunnah Mu’az did not give a satisfactory reply when he was asked about the rights of a husband over his wife. The Prophet, therefore, decided to send his distinguished disciple Ali to Yemen so that Islam might spread there under his continuous teachings, logical arguments, the strength of his hands, and his unparalleled bravery and moral heroism.
Furthermore, Khalid bin Walid had also been dispatched by the Prophet to Yemen sometime earlier than Ali so that he might remove the obstacles in the way of advancement of Islam, in that area. He did not, however, do anything in this behalf during that period. The Prophet, therefore, called Ali and said to him: “O Ali! I am sending you to Yemen so that you may invite its inhabitants to Islam and inform them about the Command of Allah as well as about the things, which are lawful, and which are unlawful. At the time of your return to Madina you should collect zakat from the people of Najran as well as the taxes which they are liable to pay and should deposit the same in the public treasury.
Ali replied to the Prophet most respectfully in these words: “I am a young man and have never arbitrated throughout my life and have never occupied the seat of justice”. The Prophet placed his hand on Ali’s chest and prayed for him in these words: “O Allah! Guide the heart of Ali and protect his tongue from errors”. Then he said: “O Ali! Do not quarrel with anyone and try to guide the people to the right path with logic and good behaviour. By Allah! If Allah guides someone to the right path through you, it is much better than that on which the sun shines”.
In the end the Prophet made four recommendations to Ali:
Make prayer and glorification of Allah your profession, because prayer is usually accepted.
Be thankful to Allah in all circumstances, because thankfulness increases blessings.
If you conclude an agreement with an individual or a group of persons, honour it.
Desist from cheating others, because the deceit of the evil-doers returns to themselves”.
During his stay in Yemen, Ali passed spellbound judgements, most of which are recorded in the books of history.
The Prophet did not content himself with guidance but he also wrote a letter to the people of Yemen inviting them to Islam, gave it to Ali and directed him to read it over to them.
Bara’ bin ‘Azib was Ali’s attendant in Yemen. He says that when Ali reached the border of Yemen, he arranged the ranks of the Muslim soldiers who were already stationed there under the command of Khalid bin Walid and offered the morning prayers in congregation. Then he invited the tribe of Hamdan, which was one of the biggest tribes of Yemen, to hear the message of the Prophet. First he praised Allah. Then he read out the Prophet’s message to them. The grandeur of the meeting, the sweetness of the narration and the greatness of the words of the Prophet impressed the people of Hamdan tribe so much that they embraced Islam within a day. Imam Ali wrote a letter to the Prophet informing him of the developments. The Prophet was greatly pleased to learn the good news. He thanked Allah and said: “May the tribe of Hamdan be blessed”.
The conversion of Hamdan tribe to Islam became the cause of other people of Yemen embracing Islam gradually.
 Seerah-i Ibn Hisham, vol. II, page 590.
 Sahih Bukhari, vol. V, page 163.
 Tarikh-i Kamil, vol. II, page 305; Biharul Anwar, vol. XXI, pp. 360 – 363.