Towards the close of the ninth year of Hijra, embassies from all parts of Arabia came uninterruptedly to the Holy Prophet at Medina, to profess Islam and to declare the adherence of their tribes to Prophet Muhammad. (Mention is made in the Holy Qur'an as below about this in Sura An-Nasr (Succor, Divine support)
When there comes the help of Allah and the victory, And you see men entering the religion of Allah in companies, Then celebrate the praise of your Lord, and ask His forgiveness; surely He is oft-returning (to mercy). 110:1-3
Until now, the Christians of Najran (a city in the province of Yemen) had kept themselves aloof. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W) sent a letter, inviting them to embrace Islam. In response to that letter the Christians counseled among themselves the course of their action and did ultimately send a representative deputation of fourteen members to Medina to study the facts pertaining to Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W) and his mission. Three Christian scholars, viz. Abdul Maseeh Aaquib, Saiyed and Abdul Haris, headed the deputation.
When these deputies reached Medina, they changed their clothes, which they had worn on the journey, dressed themselves in silken garments, put rings of gold on their fingers, and went to the mosque to greet the Holy Prophet. All of them greeted the Prophet traditionally, but the Apostle of God did not respond and turned his face away from them. They left the mosque and approached Osman and Abdul Rahman Ibn Auf, complaining "your Apostle wrote to us and invited us, but when we went to see him and wished him, he neither reciprocated our wishes nor replied to us. Now what do you advise us to do? Should we go back or wait for another opportunity?" Osman and Abdul Rehman could not comprehend the situation. At last they took the disputes to Ali, who advised them to remove the clothes of silk and the rings of gold that they were wearing and to put on their priestly robes. The Holy Prophet would then willingly see them. Thereupon the Christian delegates changed into humble garments and presented themselves to the Apostle who then responded to their salutations and said, "By the Lord who has appointed me His Messenger, when they first came to me they were accompanied by Satan".
Thereafter the Apostle preached to them and requested them to accept Islam. They asked, "What is your opinion about Jesus Christ?" The Apostle said, "You may rest today in this city and after being refreshed you will receive the replies to all your questions from me." The Apostle was awaiting a revelation in this matter, and the next day the verses of the Holy Qur'an Sura No.3 (Al-e-Imraan) verses 59-60 were revealed to him to show the true position of Jesus Christ.
Surely the likeness of Jesus is with Allah as the likeness of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him 'Be', and he was. (This is) the truth from your Lord, so be not of the disputers. 3:59-60
When they reappeared before the Holy Prophet, The Holy Prophet recited the above verses before the visiting Christians explaining that Christ was a Prophet like Adam and like Adam, created from dust and therefore could not be the son of God. After this, the Holy Prophet invited them to embrace Islam. The Christians remained obstinate and refused to be convinced by anything. Thereupon the following verse No. 61 from Sura No.3 was revealed:
But whoever disputes with you in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then say: Come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and ourselves and yourselves, then let us be earnest in prayer, and invoke the curse of Allah on the liars. 3:61
Now the Holy Prophet reproduced the Quranic verse before the deputation of the Christians and declared the challenge of 'Mubahala'. The term 'Mubahala' is derived from its Arabic root 'Bahlah' meaning 'curse'. Thus the word 'Mubahala' literally means cursing each other. The Christians consulted each other and ultimately announced their acceptance of the challenge.
Early next morning the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) sent Salman al Farsi ( May Allah be well pleased with him ) to the open place, fixed outside the city for the historic event, to erect a small shelter for himself and those he intended to take along with him for the contest. However, it was on the morning of 24th Zilhajj that the Holy Prophet emerged at the appointed time and place, from his sacred abode with Imam Hussain in his arms and holding Imam Hasan's hand and Janab-e-Fatima followed by Hazrat Ali (styled as the Holy Panjetan). The Holy Prophet then directed them to utter "Ameen" when he prayed to God.
No sooner had the sacred caravan of the Holy Prophet appeared to the sight of the opposing group of the Christians of Najran then they were awestruck and spellbound. Abdul Haris lbne Alqama, the greatest scholar among them, addressed his people:
"Verily I see a divine light on the face of our combatants; I am beholding such faces among them as can make the mountains move from their spots if they pray to God. So beware! Never try to contest with them, otherwise you will perish and the entire nation of Christians will succumb to extinction!"
Thereupon the Holy Prophet reiterated, "By God! Had the Christians of Najran contested with us, they would have been transformed into monkeys and swans. Fire would have rained over them from the sky and they would have been doomed."
When the Christians refrained from 'Mubahala', the Holy Prophet put before them two alternatives: either to embrace Islam or to be prepared to come to terms. But the Christians would not agree till the matter was finally decided by an offer of treaty from their side. Thus a peace treaty was signed on the terms that the Christians of Najran would thereby be committed to pay the Holy Prophet an annual tribute consisting of two thousand costumes-worth: forty thousand Dinars, thirty horses, thirty camels, thirty armors and thirty spears. (Meraj-un-Nabuwat)
Authentic Proofs are quoted below regarding the Ayat of the Holy Qur'an-Sura 3-verse 61 as given on page 73 Imam Fakhruddin Razi writes in his Tafseer-e-Kabeer (volume 2): "When this verse was revealed to the Holy Prophet, the Christians of Najran accepted the challenge of 'Mubahala' and the Holy Prophet took along with him Imam Hussain, Imam Hasan, Janab-e-Fatima and Hazrat Ali to the field of Mubahala."
To quote Allama Zamakhshari in his 'Tafseer-e-Kashshaf'. "There can be no more authentic and stronger evidence for the integrity of Ashab-e-Kisa, i.e., Hazrat Ali, Janab-e-Fatima, Imam Hasan and Imam Hussain than this Qur'anic verse. For in compliance with the order of God the Holy Prophet summoned his Ahl-ul-Bait, took Hussain in his arms, and grasped Imam Hasan's hand in his own, asked Janab-e-Fatima to follow him and Hazrat Ali to follow her. This proved that the Holy Ahl-ul-Bait were those to whom the Qur'anic verse was directed."
It is related by Soad Ibne Waqas that: "When this verse was revealed, the Holy Prophet sent for Hazrat Ali, Janab-e-Fatima, Imam Hasan and Imam Hussain and prayed to God thus: "O My God! These are the very Ahl-ul-Bait of mine!" (Sahih Muslim. Vol. 1, Sahih Tirmizi.)
Abdullah Ibne Umar quotes the Holy Prophet to have commented:
"Had there been any soul on the whole earth better than Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Hussain, God would have commanded me to take them along with me to 'Mubahala'. But as they were superior in dignity and respect to all human beings, God confined His Choice on them only for participation in 'Mubahala'". (Tasfeer-e-Baizavi)
According to some versions it is stated that on the morning of 24th Zilhajj, a large number of people thronged the door of the Holy Prophet, every one anticipating his chance to be selected for the team of 'Mubahala'. But when the Holy Prophet emerged out of his house accompanied by his 'Ahl-ul-Bait'. They were all stunned.
The event of the Mubahala is important for the following reasons:
01. It proved to be a silencing lesson for all the Christians of Arabia who no longer dared any competition with the Holy Prophet (S.A.W).
02. The invitation of 'Mubahala' was directed by God, and it was in compliance with His Command that the Holy Prophet took his Ahl-ul-Bait along with him to the field of 'Mubahala'. This serves to generalize how affairs pertaining to Apostleship and the religion of God are determined by the Will of God; allowing no margin of interference from the common people (Ummat). The matter of Hazrat Ali's succession followed by eleven Imams to the office of religious leadership should be viewed in this perspective.
03. The indispensability of Hazrat Ali, Janab-e-Fatima, Imam Hasan and Imam Hussain in following the precepts of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) could no longer be disputed.
04. That notwithstanding their childhood, Imam Hasan and Imam Hussain did nevertheless, serve as the active partners of the Holy Prophet in the field of 'Mubahala'. This yields the conclusion that age is no criteria for the greatness of the infallibles (Masoom). They are born adorned with virtues and knowledge.
05. That the Holy Prophet's act of having preferred a few obviously elevates their status above all others.
As Islam had emerged triumphantly against Christianity on the occasion of 'Mubahala', this day assumes the significance of an Eid day in Islamic history.
Why was Imam Ali included?
The Almighty commanded His Messenger to say to the delegation of Najran: "Come! We will summon our Sons and your Sons, our women and your women; and ourselves and yourselves...."
In compliance with this command, the Prophet brought with him, Al-Hasan and Al-Hussain, because they were the sons of his daughter Fatima, and for this they are his sons. He brought Fatima with him because she represents the women from the members of his House. But why did he bring with him Imam Ali who was neither from the sons nor from the women?
Imam Ali has no place in the verse unless he is included in the word "ourselves."
Bringing Imam Ali with him indicates that the Messenger of God considered Imam Ali an extension of his personality. By considering him so, he elevated him above all the Muslims.
The Messenger said on many occasions: "Ali is from me and I am from him."
Hubshi Ibn Janadah reported that he heard the Messenger of God, saying:
"Ali is from me and I am from him, and no one represents me but Ali."