Samarkand is a great country located in North Asia. It has green mountains, hills and forests that you can never imagine. Samarkand is a city filled with gold and silver, silk, porcelain and natural resources. People of Samarkand used to worship idols they made of jewelry. They placed these gods in a temple in the mountains. The temple was specifically made for senior monks, and there were a lot of small temples in the center of Samarkand.
In that era, Muslims were ruled by a Caliph who was an example because of his good manners, piety and fear of God. He had many of the attributes of his grandfather, the second caliph Al-Farooq ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah bless him. He governed a huge country which never had been ruled by anyone, not even by the Persian Chosroes, Roman Caesars or Hakan. His kingdom extended from China to the Atlantic Ocean. His wife Fatima, the daughter of Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik and also the sister of Caliph Sulaiman, was the most honorable woman of her time as seven males of her relatives had been rulers. He was the Caliph ‘Umar ibn Abdul Aziz.
The Islamic army was under a commander who was very seasoned and merciful. His name was Qutaybah ibn Muslim. When the Islamic army led by him reached the outskirts of Samarkand, he ordered it to go to the mountain behind the city because he didn’t want the people of Samarkand to see them. The Muslim army attacked the city. The battalions behind the mountains attacked as if they were a hurricane. They reached the centre of Samarkand without resistance. The monks had fled to the great temple in the mountains and hid in their homes. People of Samarkand didn’t go out of their home for fear of the Muslims, but for Muslims, the situation was stable.
Slowly the people of Samarkand began to come out of their homes to fetch water and food. They started sending their young children to perform these tasks and the Muslims didn’t trouble them. Instead, the Muslim helped them to fetch the food and water. The children entered their homes with happiness. This situation began to spread feelings of trust and tranquility in the hearts of the people of Samarkand. As a result, people returned to their shops, farms and properties after some time. They found them intact – same as they had left, nothing more or less. The normal life returned between Muslims and people of Samarkand. They found that Muslims are faithful in their business and dealings; they did not lie or cheat. This impression rose when two persons quarreled. One of them was from the people of Samarkand, and the other was a Muslim. They went to the judge who favoured the man from Samarkand.
The news reached the runway monks in the mountain temple. They said if this was their judgment, then they must have a fair ruler. They ordered their men to go to the ruler of the Muslims and tell him what happened.
A young man went out. When he arrived at Damascus, he was full of fear. He saw a large palace. He told himself that this is the palace of their leader, but he saw people enter and exit without being stopped by a guard or soldier. He encouraged himself to enter this palace. It turned out to be the “Umayyad Mosque.” It was studded with precious gems, ornaments and majestic minarets. People knelt down in this wonderful place. He saw Muslims praying together and was surprised to see how those people were sitting and how they lined up quickly.
He stood up after the prayer and asked a Muslim about the palace of the ruler: “Where is your leader?” That Muslim told him he was the man who led the prayer. Didn’t you see him? He said: no. The Muslim told him: “Did you pray with us?” He said: “What is prayer?” The Muslim said: It is worshipping the Almighty Allah alone and becoming obedient to Him without any partner. The Muslim asked him: “Are you not a Muslim?” He said: no. The Muslim smiled and asked him: “What is your religion?” He said: “the religion of the priests of Samarkand”. The Muslim asked: “What is their religion?” He said: “They worship idols.” The Muslim told him: We are Muslims. We worship God only.
He described the caliph’s home to him. The man went to that place and found an old clay house and an old man who was mending the wall. His clothes were full of mud. He went back to the mosque and told that Muslim that was making fun of him. “I asked you about your leader’s place and you sent me to a poor man mending his wall,” he said.
The young Muslim came with the stranger to that house and told him, “this is the Emir who is mending his wall.” The stranger said, “don’t make fun of me.” The Muslim swore by Allah and said, “This is our leader”. The stranger from Samarkand remembered the priests and how they were so proud that they did not easily talk to their people.
While the stranger still stood surprised, a woman came with her son and asked the Caliph to increase her share of grant from the treasury because she had many children. Suddenly, the son of the woman hit the Caliph’s son and hurt him. They fought over a small toy. The Caliph’s wife hurried towards her son and carried him away, shouting at the woman. The Caliph bandaged his son’s head, and went out to the woman and calmed her down and took the toy from his own son and gave it to the woman’s son. Then he told her to go to the Treasurer and say that he can increase her money.
The Caliph’s wife said, “her son hit your son and then you raise her money”. The Caliph told her, “you frightened her, and the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said that whoever frightens a Muslim Allah will frighten him on the Day of Resurrection.” He then went to complete the repair of his wall.
The young man from Samarkand was surprised at what he saw. He dared and moved forward to ‘Umar ibn Abdul Aziz and said: You are the Emir of the Muslims?. The Caliph Omar answered, “Yes, and what’s your business?” The young man replied, “I have a complaint about Qutaybah ibn Muslim.”
The young man completed his story: Samarkand priests sent me and they told me that it’s from your traditions that when you conquer any country, you make them choose one from three things: invite them to Islam, ask them to pay tribute and in the event of their refusal of both the choices you give them the choice of war. The Caliph said: Yes, this is our custom, and every country has the right to choose among the three. The young man said, “Is it in your custom to start the assault by surprise?” The Caliph said: “It is not our custom to do so and Allah Almighty has ordered us not to do so, and our Prophet forbade us from being unjust.” The young man said, “Qutaybah ibn Muslim did not do what you say and his army attacked us by surprise.”
When the Caliph heard that Qutaybah did not make any suffer offer and it was not his habit to listen to only one side. He decided to write to the governor of Samarkand. He wrote a few lines, and ordered the young man to take it to the governor of Samarkand who will remove the injustice which has taken place there.
The young man returned from Damascus to Samarkand wondering about what a paper can do in front of the swords of Qutaybah ibn Muslim! When he arrived at Samarkand, he gave the paper to the priests who told him in return: take it to the Governor to do what’s written in it. The young man went to the governor and gave him the letter. The governor was surprised noticing the seal on the letter. He read the letter which contained the following: “To the governor of Samarkand, peace and mercy of God be upon you. Appoint a judge between the priests of Samarkand and Qutaybah ibn Muslim… put yourself in the place of Qutaiba.”
The Caliph didn’t want to distract Qutaiba from his duties and defence activity. The Governor could not do anything except obey what was written in the letter. He appointed a judge quickly. The judge selected a day to meet in the mosque and ordered the priests to be present during the meeting. He ordered the people as well to come in the presence of Qutaybah ibn Muslim. The judge did not like to hear the case in the absence of Qutayba who was at the time a very strong commander. He was the head of the most powerful army in the world at the time. Qutaybah had reached China continuing his conquests. But the judge ordered him to return, and he did return after two days.
When the priests knew that Qutaybah has returned, they became very fearful. Qutaybah entered the mosque and put his sword and took off his shoes. The judge told him to sit next to his opponent. The priest stood up and said: Qutaybah ibn Muslim entered our country without warning us. He didn’t give us warning nor gave us the options of invitation to Islam or payment of tribute or war. Instead, he attacked us without warning. The judge turned to the commander Qutaybah ibn Muslim and asked him, “what do you say about this complaint.” Qutaiba said: “war is a trick. This country is a great obstacle to us and all those who were like it did not resist to pay tribute and did not want to enter Islam, and had we fought them, they would have killed more of us than we would have killed from them.” He continued, “And by the help of Allah and surprise, we defended Muslims from great harm and the history is witness to what I say. And all the countries beyond them became easy to conquer. Yes, we surprised them but rescued them and let they know about Islam.” The judge said: “Qutaybah! Did you invite them to Islam, tribute or war?” Qutaybah replied, “no, we surprised them for what I told you before.” The judge said: “Qutaybah, you confessed and by this the court’s duty ends. Qutaybah, Allah supports this nation only by religion and by avoiding treachery, and setting up justice. We were out of our homes for jihad for Allah’s sake. We didn’t go out to conquor lands and occupy countries unjustly.”
Then the judge issued his ruling: “I rule that all armies of Muslims in this country should get out of this country and give it back to its people and give them the opportunity to prepare for war, and then make them choose between Islam, tribute or war. If they chose war then we will fight. Muslims will get out of Samarkand without anything just as they entered and deliver the city to its people, and that is the application of the law of Almighty Allah and the Sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him”.
After this, Muslims started to leave the city. The judge came out in front of the priests. The priests did not believe what they were seeing. The people of Samarkand kept watching Muslims until they all went out of their city.
The young priest said, “what they did proves that their religion is the right. I witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger.” Now all the priests pronounced that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger and entered Islam.This is the story of the greatest court in the history. It made people of Samarkand satisfied with the rule of Islam and, as a result, people entered Islam in hordes. (References: Stories from the history, the story of Samarkand court by Sheikh Tantawi and Islam and international law by Sheikh Wahbeh al-Zuhili)