It is the time of year to celebrate Eid Mubahila. But what is Eid Mubahila?
"If any one disputes in this matter with thee, now after (full) knowledge has come to you, say: "Come! let us gather together,- our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves: Then let us earnestly pray, and invoke the curse of Allah on those who lie! 3:61"
Eid Mubahila celebrates the famous event in the year 10 AH when a party of Christians led by the Bishop of Najran called Abdul Masih or Abu Harisa came to debate with the Prophet (saw) about the nature of the Prophet Jesus (as). They came after receiving a letter from the Prophet (saw) inviting them to be Muslims and meeting and debating amongst themselves about the contents of the letter and the appropriate response. When they first arrived, they were dressed for a show of wealth and superiority, but the Prophet (saw) waited for them to put on normal attire and then met them. The Holy Prophet (saw) told the Christians not to regard Jesus as divine, for he was a mortal man -- a prophet. The Christian delegation responded by asking who the father of Jesus was, as they believed that Jesus not having a mortal father proved his divinity. At this, the following verse of Qur’an was revealed:
“Verily, similitude of Jesus with God is as the similitude of Adam; He created him out of dust then said He unto him BE, and he became.”
The Christians did not accept this reasoning, so then the call of mubahila was made.
A mubahila was a meeting in which the two parties would challenge another and invoke God’s curse upon the liars. When the Prophet (saw) showed up the next day for the mubahila, he came with Lady Fatima (as), and Imams ‘Ali, Hassan and Husain (sa). On seeing this, the Bishop said to his delegation,
“By God, I see the faces which, if they pray to God for mountains to move from their places, the mountains will immediately move!
“O believers in the Jesus of Nazareth, I will tell you the truth that should ye fail to enter into some agreement with Muhammad and if these souls whom Muhammad has brought with him, curse you, ye will be wiped out of existence to the last day of the life of the earth !”
So the Christians backed out of the challenge and entered an agreement with the Muslims.
But why is this day an Eid day? We know that the event of the cloak is another famous example showing the identity, purity and important roles of the Ahlulbayt (as) but the date or dates of that happening are not marked on our calendars as an Eid, even though it is similar event in terms of recognition of the role and status of Ahlulbayt (as).
But the event of mubahila is special for an additional reason. It was on that occasion that even non-Muslims essentially acknowledged the holy status of the Prophet (saw) and Ahlulbayt (as). Although they did not change from calling themselves Christian, their response to the appearance of Ahlulbayt (as) at the challenge was one of recognition of the superior claim to Truth that the Prophet (saw) had. So here is an event in which the Christian scholars and leaders in Arabia had to acknowledge that the Prophet (saw) was what he claimed to be and publically gave witness to the holy status of the Ahlulbayt (as).
That can speak volumes through the centuries even to today. While we were not there to meet the Prophet (saw) and Ahlulbayt (sa) for ourselves, we can see the effect they had on even non-Muslims. The most learned and highest-ranking Christians of Najran were so moved and so completely unable to prove their creed against the challenge of pure Islam that they did not dare to complete the mubahila against Ahlulbayt (as). How powerful that is! In this event, we find a form of proof of Islam – of tawhid, of the true role of Jesus (as), of the prophethood of Muhammad (saw), and the status of Ahlulbayt (as). Today’s Christians and Muslims could draw nearer to each other through the message of this event alone, if only this Eid were marked in such a way that we shared that message with our Christian neighbors in a way they could hear it.
Eids are for all of humanity and not only for the Muslims, because they mark events that are important for all of us as we make our journey back to our Creator. Why not invoke the Eid of Mubahila as an occasion to reach out to the People of the Book as neighbors and invite them in a gentle way to learn a little about Islam, and at the same time take the interest to learn a little about them and do some kind deed that may speak even louder than anything you might say to them? What good is marking an Eid for an occasion such as this if it is not shared with those who may benefit, but instead is only marked by those who have already benefited? What would happen if Eid Mubahila were an occasion when Christians and Muslims came together to talk about Jesus (as)?