30. Rum

Syed Abu-Ala' Maududi's Chapter Introductions to the Quran


The Sura takes its name Ar-Rum from the second verse in which the words ghulibat-ir-Rum have occurred. Period of Revelation The period of the revelation of this Sura is determined absolutely by the historical event that has been mentioned at the outset. It says: "The Romans have been vanquished in the neighbouring land."In those days the Byzantine occupied territorie's adjacent to Arabia were Jordan Syria and Palestine and in these territories the Romans were completely overpowered by the Iranians in 615 A. D. Therefore it can be said with absolute certainty that this Sura was sent down in the same year and this was the year in which the migration to Habash took place.

Historical Background

The prediction made in the initial verses of this Sura is one of the most outstanding evidences of the Quran's being the Word of Allah and the Holy Prophet Muhammad's being a true Messenger of Allah. Let us have a look at the historical background relevant to the verses. Eight years before the Holy Prophet's advent as a Prophet the Byzantine Emperor Maurice was overthrown by Phocus who captured the throne and became king. Phocus first got the Emperor's five sons executed in front of him and then got the Emperor also killed and hung their heads in a thoroughfare in Constantinople. A few days after this he had the empress and her three danghters also put to death. The event provided Khusrau Parvez the Sassanid king of Iran; a good moral excuse to attack Byzantium. For Emperor Maurice had been his benefactor; with his help he had got the throne of Iran. Therefore he declared that he would avenge his godfather's and his children's murder upon Phocus the usurper. So he started war against Byzantium in 603 A. D. and within a few years putting the Phocus armies to rout in succession he reached Edessa (modern Urfa) in Asia Minor on the one hand and Aleppo and Antioch in Syria on the other. When the Byzantine ministers saw that Phocus could not save the country they sought the African governor's help who sent his son Heraclius to Constantinople with a strong fleet. Phocus was immediately deposed and Heraclius made emperor. He treated Phocus as he had treated Maurice. This happened in 610 A. D. the year the Holy Prophet was appointed to Prophethood. The moral excuse for which Khusrau Parvez had started the war was no more valid after the deposition and death of Phocus. Had the object of his war really been to avenge the murder of his ally on Phocus for his cruelty he would have come to terms with the new Emperor after the death of Phocus. But he continued the war and gave it the colour of a crusade between Zoroastrianism and Christianity. The sympathies of the Christian sects (i. e. Nestorians and Jacobians etc.) which had been excommunicated by the Roman ecclesiastical authority and tyrannized for years also went with the Magian (Zoroastrian) invaders and the Jews also joined hands with them; so much so that the number of the Jews who enlisted in Khusrau's army rose up to 26 000. Heraclius could not stop this storm. The very first news that he received from the East after asccnding the throne was that of the Iranian occupation of Antioch. After this Damascus fell in 613 A. D. Then in 614 A.D. the Iranians occupying Jerusalem played havoc with the Christian world. Ninety thousand Christians were massacred and the Holy Sepulchre was desecrated. The Original Cross on which according to the Christian belief Jesus had died was seized and carried to Mada'in. The chief priest Zacharia was taken prisoner and all the important churches of the city were destroyed. How puffed up was Khusrau Parvez at this victory can be judged from the letter that he wrote to Heraclius from Jerusalem. He wrote: "From Khusrau the greatest of all gods the master of the whole world : To Heraclius his most wretched and most stupid servant: 'You say that you have trust in your Lord. why didn't then your Lord save Jerusalem from me?'" Within a year after this victory the Iranian armies over-ran Jordan Palestine and the whole of the Sinai Peninsula and reached the frontiers of Egypt. In those very days another conflict of a far greater historical consequence was going on in Makkah. The believers in One God under the leadership of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah's peace be upon him) were fighting for their existence against the followers of shirkunder the command of the chiefs of the Quraish and the conflict had reached such a stage that in 615 A. D. a substantial number of the Muslims had to leave their homes and take refuge with the Christian kingdom of Habash which was an ally of the Byzantine Empire. In those days the Sassanid victor