The greatest genocide which the Muslim Ummah has most probably witnessed was the invasion of the Muslim lands by the Tartar army in the 7th century. During the invasion of Baghdad (the capital of the Muslim empire) alone, in the year 656 A.H., 1.8 million Muslims were massacred. (For more details regarding the invasion of the Tartars, listen to this lecture.)
Although the Tartars were extremely averse to the Muslims and their faith, the divine system of Allah Ta‘ala is such that Islam began penetrating the hearts of the offspring of Genghis Khan, the one who began this genocide. After Genghis Khan had died, his empire was divided into four denominations in different parts of his kingdom. The conversion of the leaders in the other regions began much quicker in comparison to the middle kingdom. Muslims were harassed and oppressed in the middle kingdom of the Tartars for a lengthy period. It was only when Tughluq Teemoor Khan, who ruled from 748 A.H. until 764 A.H., accepted Islam that Islam spread in this kingdom.
The amazing incident behind the conversion of Tughluq Teemoor is as follows:
Shaikh Jamaaluddeen (rahimahullah) from Bukhaara was traveling with a group of people when they accidentally trespassed into the game reserve of the Tartar prince, Tughluq Teemoor Khan. Tughluq was extremely angry and ordered for them to be tied and brought to him. When they were bound and brought before him, and he asked them why they trespassed in his land, the Shaikh pleaded that they were strangers and did not realize that they had trespassed. When Tughluq learnt that they were Persians, he remarked that a dog was worth more than a Persian. Shaikh Jamaaluddeen (rahimahullah) replied, “Yes, if we did not have imaan, we would indeed be worse than the dogs.”
In another narration, it is mentioned that Tughluq pointed to his hunting dog and asked the Shaikh, “Are you better or is this dog better?” Shaikh Jamaaluddeen (rahimahullah) calmly replied, “If I pass away with imaan, I will be better than the dog. If not, the dog will be better than me.”
The heart of Tughluq was struck by this reply and he ordered that the Shaikh be brought before him on his return from hunting. When Tughluq returned, he took Shaikh Jamaaluddeen (rahimahullah) aside and asked him what he meant by imaan. The Shaikh explained the Deen of Islam to him with such sincerity and zeal that his heart which had been hard as stone melted like wax. The prince was convinced of the truth of Islam and his wrong belief, but said, “If I announce my Islam now, I will not be able to lead my people to Islam. Wait a little, until I am in possession of the (entire) kingdom of my forefathers (which was split at that time), and then come to me again.”
In the meanwhile, Shaikh Jamaaluddeen (rahimahullah) returned home and fell extremely ill. Before passing away, he said to his son, Shaikh Rasheeduddeen (rahimahullah), “Tughluq Teemoor will one day become a great king. Go to him, greet him on my behalf and fearlessly remind him of the promise he made to me.”
Many years later, when Tughluq Teemoor managed to unite the kingdoms and was holding power, Shaikh Rasheeduddeen (rahimahullah) went to him to remind him of the promise he had made to his father. However, despite his efforts, he was unable to get an audience with Tughluq Teemoor. Eventually, early one morning, he called out the azaan near the tent of Tughluq Teemoor. The ruler was upset over his sleep being disturbed and thus ordered that the troublemaker be brought to him. When Shaikh Rasheeduddeen (rahimahullah) was brought to him, he reminded Tughluq of his father’s message, to which the ruler said, “Ever since I ascended the throne, I remembered the promise, but the person to whom I made the promise never arrived. Now you are welcome.” He thus recited the shahaadah and accepted Islam.
They then decided that they should discuss with the leaders individually and invite them to Islam. The first one with whom a discussion was held was a leader named Ameer Toolik. When Tughluq Teemoor asked him, “Will you embrace Islam?”, Ameer Toolik burst into tears and said: “I became a Muslim three years ago at the hands of some pious men from Kaashgar, but I did not openly declare it out of fear for you.” Tughluq stood up and embraced him.
In this manner they discussed with the other princes and leaders one by one. All of them embraced Islam with the exception of one leader, named Jaraas. This leader made a condition that he would only accept Islam if Shaikh Rasheeduddeen (rahimahullah) overpowers his servant in wrestling. This servant was exceptionally tall and so strong that he could carry a two-year-old camel! The Shaikh accepted the challenge saying: “If I do not overpower him, I will not ask you to become a Muslim. If it is Allah Ta‘ala’s wish that the Mongols become honoured with Islam, He will certainly give me sufficient power to overcome this man.” Tughluq Teemoor and those who had already accepted Islam tried to dissuade Shaikh Rasheeduddeen (rahimahullah), but he was determined.
Finally, a large crowd assembled to witness this historic wrestle. When the servant was brought in, the Shaikh looked very small and weak in front of him. However, as they advanced towards each other, Shaikh Rasheeduddeen (rahimahullah) struck him in the chest causing him to fall senseless. After regaining his consciousness, the servant came and fell at the feet of the Shaikh reciting the shahaadah. The audience raised their voices in applause, and on that day 160 000 Tartars embraced Islam.
(Taareekh-e-Da’wat wa ‘Azeemat vol. 1, pg. 322-333, The Preaching of Islam pg. 235 and Taareekh-e-Ummat-e-Muslimah vol. 4, pg. 540)
1. Shaikh Jamaaluddeen (rahimahullah) did not only have the outer appearance of imaan, but rather possessed the reality and inner qualities of imaan as well. Hence, his imaan had such strength and power that a single statement of his had struck the heart of a staunch enemy and convinced him about Islam. This then became the means of a large portion of the Tartars, who had mercilessly killed millions of Muslims and wreaked havoc in the world, coming into the fold of Islam. Those very people who had once striven to extinguish the light of Islam were now carrying the torch of Islam. A single sincere statement of a person of real imaan achieved that which huge armies had failed to accomplish.
2. When the help of Allah Ta‘ala is with a person, no force or might can overpower him. Hence, despite Shaikh Rasheeduddeen (rahimahullah) being much weaker than the mighty and powerful servant, he was able to overpower him.
3. In various verses of the Quraan Majeed, the promise of Allah Ta‘ala’s divine support has been linked to imaan. However, for imaan to draw the divine support of Allah Ta‘ala, it must be true imaan, infused with the reality of imaan. This was the imaan of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum), on account of which 313 ill-equipped individuals overcame one thousand men who were armed to the teeth.