It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn Abbas who learnt the tradition personally from Abu Safyan. The latter said: I went out (on a mercantile venture) during the period (of truce) between me and the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam). While I was in Syria, the letter of the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) was handed over to Hiraql (Ceasar), the Emperor of Rome (who was on a visit to Jerusalem at that time). The letter was brought by Dihya Kalbi who delivered it to the governor of Busra The governor passed it on to Hiraql, (On receiving the letter), he said: Is there anyone from the people of this man who thinks that he is a prophet. People said: Yes. So, I was called along with a few others from the Quraish. We were admitted to Hiraql and he seated usbefore him. He asked: Which of you has closer kinship with the man who thinks that he is a prophet? Abu Sufyan said: I. So they seated me in front of him and stated my companions behind me. Then, he called his interpreter and said to him: Tell them that I am going to ask this fellow (i. e. Abu Sufyan) about the man who thinks that he is a prophet. It he tells me a lie, then refute him.
Abu Sufyan told (the narrator): By God, if there was not the fear that falsehood would be imputed to me I would have lied. (Then) Hiraqi said to his interpreter: Inquire from him about his ancestry, I said: He is of good ancestry among us. He asked: Has there been a king among his ancestors? I said: No. He asked: Did you accuse him of falsehood before he proclaimed his prophethood? I said: No. He asked: Who are his follower people of high status or low status? I said: (They are) of low status. He asked: Are they increasing in number or decreasing? I said. No. they are rather increasing. He asked: Does anyone give up his religion, being dissatisfied with it, after having embraced it? I said: No. He asked: Have you been at war with him? I said: Yes. He asked: How did you fare in that war? I said: The war between us and him has been wavering like a bucket, up at one turn and down at the other (i. e. the victory has been shared between us and him by turns). Sometimes he suffered loss at our hands and sometimes we suffered loss at his (hand). He asked: Has he (ever) violated his covenant? I said: No. but we have recently concluded a peace treaty with him for a petiod and we do not know what he is going to do about it. (Abu Sufyin said on oath that he could not interpolate in this dialogue anything from himself more than these words ) He asked: Did anyone make the proclamation (Of prophethood) before him? I said: No. He (now) said to his interpreter: Tell him, I asked him about his ancestry and he had replied that he had the best ancestry. This is the case with Prophets; they are the descendants of the noblest among their people (Addressing Abu Sufyan), he continued: I asked you if there had been a king among his ancestors. You said that there had been none. If there had been a king among his ancestors, I would have said that he was a man demanding his ancestral kingdom. I asked you about his followers whether they were people of high or low status, and you said that they were of rather low status. Such are the followers of the Prophets. I asked you whether you used to accuse him of falsehood before he proclaimed his prophethood, and you said that you did not.
So I have understood that when he did not allow himself to tell a lie about the poeple, he would never go to the length of forging a falsehood about Allaah. I asked you whether anyone renounced his religion being dissatisfied with it after he had embraced it, and you replied in the negative. Faith is like this when it enters the depth of the heart (it perpetuates them). I asked you whether his followers were increasing or decreasing. You said they were increasing. Faith is like this until it reaches its consummation. I asked you whether you had been at war with him, and you replied that you had been and that the victory between you and him had been shared by turns, sometimes he suffering loss at your hand and sometimes you suffering lost at his. This is how the Prophets are tried before the final victory its theirs. I asked you whether he (ever) violated his covenant, and you said that he did not. This is how the Prophets behave. They never violate (their covenants). I asked you whether anyone before him had proclaimed the same thing, and you replied in the negative. I said: If anyone had made the same proclamation before, I would have thought that he was a man following what had been proclaimed before. (Then) he asked: What does he enjoin upon you? I said: He exhorts us to offer Salat, to pay Zakat, to show due regard to kinship and to practise chastity. He said: It what you have told about him is true, he is certainly a Prophet. I knew that he was to appear but I did not think that he would be from among you. If I knew that I would be able to reach him. I would love to meet him; and it I had been with him. I would have washed his feet (out of reverence). His dominion would certainly extend to this place which is under my feet. Then he called for the letter of the Messenger of Allaah (may pface be upon him) and read it. The letter ran as follows:" In the name of Allaah, Most Gracious and Most Merciful. From Muhammad, the Messenger of Allaah, to Hiraql, the Emperor of the Romans. sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam who follows the guidance. After this, I extend to you the invitation to accept Islam. Embrace Islam and you will be safe. Accept Islam, God will give you double the reward. And if you turn away, upon you will be the sin of your subjects." O People of the Book, come to the word that is common between us that we should worship none other than Allaah, should not ascribe any partner to Him and some of us should not take their fellows as Lords other than Allaah. If they turn away, you should say that we testify to our being Muslims [iii. 64]."
When he hid finished the reading of the letter, noise and confused clamour was raise around him, and he ordered us to leave. Accordingly, we left. (Addressing my companions) while we were coming out (of the place). I said: Ibn Abu Kabsha (referring sarcastically to the Prophet) has come to wield a great power. Lo! (even) the king of the Romans is afraid of him. I continued to believe that the authority of the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) would triumph until God imbued me with (the spirit of) Islam.