In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Most Merciful. From: The Prophet of Allah To: Heraclius, the greatest of Romans "Peace be upon those who follow Divine Guidance. I therefore invite you to embrace Islam. Surrender to Allah and live in peace. Allah will doubly reward you, but if you turn away, the sin of the Ariseen will rest upon you." (The Prophet Muhammed's PBUH letter to Emporer Heraclius).
What was the "sin of the Ariseen"?
Ariseen has been interpreted to denote Arians or the follower of Arius (280-336 CE) who was the founder of a well-known Christian sect.
Imam Tahawi (d. 321 A.H. writes in Mushkil al-Athar: “Some of the knowledgeable scholars say that a sect among the courtiers of Heraclius, known as Ariseen, believed in monotheism and the created nature of Christ. They did not accept what the Christians say about the divinity of Christ. They relied upon the Gospels and acted on its commandments, but the Christians disputed their faith. If that be so, the sect could be called Araisiyan or Ariseen, as known to the scholars of Traditions.”
The doctrine of Arius which hovered for a long time between acceptance and rejection as the official creed of the Byzantine Empire, upheld the Unity of God and denied the co-substantiality of the Son with the father. In other words Arianism maintained a complete distinction between the Creator and the creature, emphasizing the inferiority of the latter. In short, Arius held that the characteristics of the One and Only God are solitude and eternity and He puts forth nothing on the earth from His own substance. God brought into being an independent substance as the instrument by which all things were created. This being is termed, according to Arius, as Wisdom, Son, Image, Word, etc. in the scripture. The Son is not truly God, but is only the so-called Word and Wisdom.
But Heraclius was himself faithful to the dogma of Arius which approached nearest to the Unity of God among the Christians. So how, by rejecting Islam, would Heraclius be guilty of the sin of the Ariseen?
I would draw attention to the dates: In 628 CE, Heraclius began a massacre of all Jews in Byzantium for siding with the Persians, even after signing a truce with them. Contemporary documents record that the priests were given instructions to grant forgiveness to the soldiers who executed entire families. In atonement for the violation of Heraclius oath, a fast was instituted, which the Copts still observe. Three months later the Prophet (pbuh) sent a letter to Heraclius inviting him to Islam, reminding him of the "sin of the Ariseen".
My understanding is that both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires explicitly rejected the doctrine of Arius following the Nicean creed: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_the_Great#Religious_policy In fact it was the followers of Arius in North Africa, specifically the Berber Monophysites persecuted by the Byzantines, who mass converted to Islam and assisted in the conquest of Egypt from Heraclius. Your question is a good one, but I'm not sure I can agree with the conclusion.
Heraclius was from North Africa, Emperor Maurice had appointed his father to the position of Exarch of Africa. He was neither an Arian nor a Monophysite, but he was sympathetic to the Monophysites. He tried to repair the schism in the Christian church by promoting a compromise doctrine called Monothelitism. Note that it is the Copts who fasted and continued to fast for his actions in 628CE.
Since Heraclius' views deviated from Orthodox Christianity in the direction of Arianism, what would have been the "sin of Arians"?
There are a couple of narrations of this letter- one mentions the al- arisiyyin and the other the al-akkarin- Le Gassick translates these as the peasants and the cultivators respectively in his translation of the section of Al-Bidayah by Ibn Kathir about the Sirah- and suggests they refer to the story of the wicked tenants in Matthew 21:33-46 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+21%3A33-46&version=NIV
This would certainly make more sense than some reference to Arianism
The Parable appears to be referring to those who reject the Prophets, peace be upon them all, when they are sent to them, hence Heraclius would have guilty of rejecting the Prophets. The phraseology doesn't suggest their sin would be erased but rather it would not fall upon him if he accepted the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.
>>>>>>@Irfan Dawoodiyya, So in your mind, what was the "sin of the Ariseen"?<<<<<<<
I'm saying that Islamic scholars seem to be speculating instead of having a real answer to this, and basing their speculations on what appears to be previous speculation. At best in this sort of situation, with your study of History, you will only come up with a theory. I kind of doubt an Armenian Historian would have real insight into the thinking of the Prophet of Islam when he sent a letter to someone.Obviously it is a reference to something, but if it is a physical sin, as in something they did as a group as you suggested above, or a theological sin is still at best going to be a theory.
Salam sir Rabbi Ben!
According to some Islamic scholars "Ariseen" are the Arianism الاريوسين who belived in Prophet Jesus pbuh only as a prophet not as God nor son of God and followed the teachings of "Arius" and as a result they faced much Persecution by the Roman that is why the Prophet PBUH warned them againt the sin of their Persecution.
Quran: Surat An-Nahl That they may bear their own
burdens in full on the Day of
Resurrection and some of the
burdens of those whom they
misguide without knowledge. Unquestionably, evil is that which they bear.
Of course the purpose of these questions would be, if one could find evidence historically that the Prophet (pbuh) disapproved of the actions of Heraclius against the Jews, or that Muslims and Jews collaborated in the conquest of the Holy Land, it would go a long way in disproving claims that the Prophet (pbuh) was anti-semitic, as some missionaries and others have claimed.
>>>>>> if one could find evidence historically that the Prophet (pbuh) disapproved of the actions of Heraclius against the Jews, or that Muslims and Jews collaborated in the conquest of the Holy Land, it would go a long way in disproving claims that the Prophet (pbuh) was anti-semitic, as some missionaries and others have claimed<<<<<<
One can find examples in other places so this wouldn't be necessary as proof of anti-sematism, (there being multiple other proofs already)unless someone is trying to use it as an argument to say Jerusalem belongs to the Jews and that Prophet Mohammad(PBUH) agreed with that assessment. Isn't the fact the Jews were allowed to live there evidence enough of this? I think the quote your giving from the Armenian scholar would be considered off base to muslim. The REMINDER of the relationship between Jews and Muslims would normally be pointed out by reminding of common herritage and History with negotiations to get someone to get on board in a war. The Armenian quote though implies that somehow the Hannifia didn't know their own History by saying the arabs were "INSTRUCTED" by the Jews. I think it is better to look at History and evidences and unless someone get's real proof of something, to just state they do not know, and this "sin" isn't clear what it was. Looking at History with a view to prove a theory will cause some desire to misrepresent facts.
So much speculation based on unreliable sources... What does this have to do with what awaits us all? What does this have to do with what GOD commands us to do in the Torah, the Injeel and the Quran? Is a question of how to earn forgivness not more important than speculation about things none of us can ever have an answer to? All of the sources mentioned in here are from human beings. GOD gave us different things to read and ponder... This is simply a diversion from the truth...
Will the answer than GOD knows best be acceptable or are you against the idea that we simply do not know certain things? (if the original statement is even supported by an original document written by the prophet and not simply a hadith)
Ben it could be that while he clearly saw a greater Father he remained bound within christology.
Arius and christians like him did not fully embrace Tawheed. While they no doubt saw the Father as the greater entity, there are still aspects of the one God that they incorrectly attribute to Christ. Such as divine wisdom or the ability to forgive sins and grant salvation. Both Islam and Judaism agree, no one, not even prophets, have these attributes, only God does
The Prophet of Islam may simply be asking for him to reject all christological development altogether and return to the prestine Tawheed natural to mankind
There are 2 YHWHs in the Tanakh. We see these in passages such as Genesis 19:24 or Amos 4:11. The rabbis interpreted this to mean the god of Israel has two faces, a young man and an old man. Where as christologists took the Father (YHWH) as one and Jesus as the second YHWH.