Although, according to a tradition, nearly eight hundred years had elapsed since the mission of I’sa, the Uvlula’zm had not been sent to resuscitate dead hearts as had been done by the blessing of his Messianic breath, until the licentiousness, idolatry, and corruption of the people had reached their maximum. Everybody neglected the worship of God. In Arabia only idols were adored, and in Persia Satan alone was followed, so that the light of [Divine] knowledge was turned into darkness by transgression, and the times of prosperity were changed to the afflictions of misery. Then the breeze of mercy began to waft from the throne of grace, the dawn of felicity commenced to breathe from the orient of supremacy, the shining moon rose on the horizon of magnificence, and the world-conquering sun radiated in the east of [Divine] favour. It is not hidden and veiled to the intelligent that these parables and metaphors are used as figures of speech by eloquent authors. The profoundly learned are, however, certain that a luminary had projected a ray upon the upper and the nether world, by the blessing of whose advent the sun, moon, planets and their satellites were, from the convexity of the sphere of spheres to the centre of the globe, and from the space of the exalted throne to the surface of the amber-coloured stratum [i.e. the earth], called forth from the darkness of non-existence, and were blessed with the light of creation.
In fine, the chief of created beings, the mediator of existing creatures, and bestower of the essence of individuality, Muhammad the chosen—u. w. b. p—was born of Aminah, the daughter of A’bd Munâf Zohri, during the year of the elephant, at the end of the eighty-second of the Alexandrian era, and manifested his world-adorning countenance to the denizens of the earth. Concerning the place of his birth all agree, but there are differences of opinion as to the time thereof. The U’lâma who wrote chronicles unanimously state that he was born in the honourable city of Mekkah in one of the dwellings of the people of the Beni Hâshem, and that afterwards, when he inherited the house, he presented it to O’qail, the son of Abu Tâleb, whose sons sold it after their father’s death to Muhammad Bin Yusuf, brother of Hajjaj Thaqfi, and that blessed place became afterwards known by the name of the Sarâi of Muhammad Bin Yusuf. This last-mentioned individual placed the house in which his lordship [the prophet] was born within the so-called ‘white castle.’ After the fall of the dynasty of the Ommayyeds [Bani Ommayya], Jauzar, the mother of Harûn-ur-rashid, came on a pilgrimage, and having separated the house from the castle, built a mosque so that the pious might perform their five daily prayers in that blessed locality. But with reference to the birth of his lordship the emblem of distinction, many opinions are current. Some say this propitious event took place on the very day when the companions of the elephant were approaching, and the impending catastrophe was averted—as has been recorded in these pages—on account of his proximate birth, which was consequently a miracle. Other opinions are that he was born fifty-five or forty days, or two years and two days, and even thirty or forty years, after the just-mentioned calamity. Most probably, however, his lordship the apostle—u. w. b. p—was during that very year invested with the robe of existence by the clothier of destiny. There is, moreover, an uninterrupted tradition that his blessed birth took place during the month Rabi’ the first. It is related by Muhammad Bâqer that it happened ten days after the just-named month had elapsed, and by Muhammad Bin Hasan, that the eighth day of it had expired; namely on the seventh day of the year of the upper conjunction, agreeing with the twentieth Nisân and the seventeenth of Di-Mah, which day is in the Syriac language called Sarûsh. Others adduce the seventeenth or the twelfth of the above-mentioned month, but for further dates we refer the reader to the Rauzat-ul-ahbâb.
The following are some of the [miraculous] events of that night, which became to everybody as plain as daylight: The disappearance of the water from the lake Sadah; the overflowing of the river Samâvah, which is one of the watercourses of Syria, and had been dry during one thousand years. But possibly when the water of the lake Sadah was absorbed by the earth, it bubbled forth again in the Wâdi Samâvah, as Shekh Kamâl-ud-din, that model of piety—may his secret be sanctified—has said:
The Greek dug a mine in the country of Beran,
And again came out in the country of Khojand.
During that night also the palace of Naushirvân, the strength of which will be mentioned in the record of the Khalifate of Abu Ja’far Manssûr the Abbaside, so trembled that fourteen of its pinnacles fell to the ground. This event filled the mind of Kesra with terror and apprehension, which, however, he did not communicate to anyone, until at last he one day convoked his intimate friends and courtiers, and wished to do so, when all of a sudden news arrived from Estakhar that the fire of the chief temple of Persia, which had been burning for a thousand years, had become extinguished. Having searched their historical books for the meaning of this sign, they found that it portended ‘decline of power.’ At this information the smoke of amazement ascended into the receptacle of the brains of Naushirvân, and his dismay was much augmented. On that occasion the Mobed of Mobeds—i.e., the chief ecclesiastical dignitary of the Magi—represented that he had during that night seen fleet and obstinate camels in a dream, which were leading Arab horses until they had crossed the Tigris and dispersed in Persia. Naushirvân asked for the interpretation of this vision, and the Mobed replied that according to his opinion some catastrophe must have happened in Arabia. Kesra then despatched a courier to No’mân Munzer, who had been appointed by him governor of the country, and asked him to procure a learned man able to solve any questions that might be proposed to him on a certain subject. Accordingly No’mân sent a man called A’bd-ul-Masih, whose utterances were looked upon with great confidence by the Arabs. When this individual arrived, he was asked by Naushirvân whether he would be able to answer a question, and he replied that he would try to do so; but in case he should himself be unable, he would point out a man who could give information on that important affair. After the question had been stated to A’bd-ul-Masih, he rejoined that only Sattih, who lived in Syria, could answer this inquiry. Accordingly he was ordered by Naushirvân to depart to that country for the purpose of uplifting the veil of mystery from the countenance of the Kesra’s wishes, and arrived, after terminating his journey, at the dwelling of Sattih, whose bedside he approached, but found him in the agony of death, so that he received no answer to the numerous salutations and greetings sent by Naushirvân. Then A’bd-ul-Masih recited a few distichs to the effect that he had been sent by Naushirvân, but could not obtain a reply to solve various difficult queries. When Sattih had heard these verses of A’bd-ul-Masih he raised his head and said: ‘A’bd-ul-Masih has come to my bedside at a time when I am about to enter the grave, O A’bd-ul-Masih! The king of the Beni Sâsân—i.e., Naushirvân—has sent thee on account of the trembling of the palace, the decline of power, the extinction of the fires of Persia, and the dream of the Mobed of Mobeds!’ He further said: ‘As soon as Muhammad the elect—u. w. b. p—is sent, and the recital— i.e., reading of the Qurân—begins, the river Samavah will flow, and the lake Savah will become exsiccated; the fire of the chief temple of Persia will be extinguished, the dignity of the Persians, of the Syrians, and of Sattih will cease,i.e., the government of Persia will be destroyed, and Sattih, taking leave from the perishable, will hasten to the eternal abode. According to the fourteen pinnacles that fell from the Kesra’s palace, fourteen individuals of the Sasanians, some of whom will be females, shall be encircled with the garlands of royalty, and will hereafter undergo great sufferings and hardships.’ After uttering these words Sattih ceased to speak and his soul was severed from his body. A’bd-ul-Masih then returned from Syria with the above information to Naushirvân, who was greatly comforted thereby, and said: ‘I dreaded that some event or calamity would take place suddenly during my lifetime, but a long period must elapse whilst fourteen individuals of our dynasty are reigning.’ He said this not suspecting that within the space of four years the government of ten of them would terminate. But the last of the fourteen was King Yazdejerd, whose affairs will be discussed in the proper place during the Khalifate of O’mar.
Another event of the night of the [prophet’s] nativity was that it took place when the Qoraish were holding a festival in honour of one of their idols, in whose temple they had at that time assembled, and were engaged in eating and drinking. They found, however, that their god had fallen to the ground, and set him up again; but as he was, a short time afterwards, again found prostrate on his face, the idolaters were much dismayed, and erected him again. When they had done so the third time, a voice was heard from the cavity of that idol saying:
All the regions of the earth, in the east and west,
Respond to the nativity, whom its light strikes;
Idolatry decreases, and the hearts of all
The kings of the earth tremble for fear