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﴿ الم - غُلِبَتِ الرُّومُ - فِي أَدْنَى الْأَرْضِ وَهُم مِّن بَعْدِ غَلَبِهِمْ سَيَغْلِبُونَ

(Alif Lam Mim. The Romans have been defeated.) We have already discussed the separate letters which appear at the beginning of some Surahs in the beginning of our Tafsir of Surat Al-Baqarah. With regard to the Romans (Ar-Rum), they are the descendents of Al-`Iys bin Ishaq bin Ibrahim. They are the cousins of the Children of Isra'il, and are also known as Bani Al-Asfar. They used to followed the religion of the Greeks, who were descendents of Yafith bin Nuh, the cousins of the Turks. They used to worship the seven planets, and they prayed facing the direction of the North Pole. It is they who founded Damascus and built its temple in which there is a prayer niche facing north. The Romans followed this religion until approximately three hundred years after the time of the Messiah. The king who ruled Greater Syria along with the Fertile Crescent (semicircle of fertile land from Syrian Desert to Persian Gulf) was called Caesar. The first of them to enter the Christian religion was Constantine the son of Costas, whose mother was Maryam Al-Hilaniyyah Ash-Shadqaniyyah, from the land of Harran. She had become Christian before him, and she invited him to her religion. Before that he had been a philosopher, then he followed her. It was said that this was merely an outward show of belief. Then the Christians met with him. During his time they debated with `Abdullah bin Ariyus (Arius) and great differences arose which could not be reconciled. Then a gathering of three hundred and eighteen bishops reached an agreement, and presented their creed to Constantine. This is what they call the Great Trust, but in fact it is the Worst Betrayal. They presented to him their laws, i.e., books of rulings on what was lawful and prohibited, and other things that they needed. They changed the religion of the Messiah (peace be upon him), adding some things and taking some things away. They began praying towards the East, and changed the Sabbath (Saturday) rites to Sunday. They worshipped the cross, permitted eating of pigs, adopted innovated observances such as the festival of the cross, Mass, baptism, etc., Palm Sunday and other occasions. They appointed a pope, as their leader, and patriarchs, metropolitans, bishops, priests and deacons, and they invented monasticism. The king built churches and places of worship for them, and he founded the city which is named after him, Constantinople. It was said that during his time twelve thousand churches were built, three places of prayer in Bethlehem, and that his mother built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. These are the ones who followed the religion of the kings. Then after them came the Jacobites, followers of Ya`qub Al-Askaf, then the Nestorians, the followers of Nestorius. There are many groups and sects among them, as the Messenger of Allah said:

«إِنَّهُمْ افْتَرَقُوا عَلَى اثْنَتَيْنِ وَسَبْعِينَ فِرْقَة»

(They split into seventy two sects.) The point here is that they continued to follow Christianity. Every time one Caesar died, another succeeded him, until the last of them, Heraclius, came to power. He was a wise man, one of the most astute and intelligent of kings, who had deep insight and well-formed opinions. His was a great and glorious reign. He was opposed by Chosroes, the king of Persia and of regions such as Iraq, Khurasan, Ar-Riy and all the lands of the Persians. His name was Sabur Dhul-Aktaf, and his kingdom was greater than the kingdom of Caesar. He was the leader of the Persians and was as stubborn as the Persians who were Zoroastrian fire worshippers.

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