During the caliphate of Hazrat Umar ibn Al-Khattāb (RadiAllahu Anhu), a Muslim army was sent against the Romans in the Qaysariyye district of Damascus. Abdullah bin Huzafe (RadiAllahu Anhu) was in that army. The Romans had taken him hostage. They took him to their king and said:
“This is a companion of Muhammed”.
After having Abdullah (RadiAllahu Anhu) locked up in confinement with no food or drink, he then sent to him a portion of wine and some pork. They watched him for three days. Abdullah (RadiAllahu Anhu) neither placed a hand on the wine nor the pork. They said to the King:
“He has lost much strength now. If you do not take him out of there, he will die”.
The King had him brought to him and asked him:
“What prevented you from eating and drinking?
Abdullah (RadiAllahu Anhu) answered:
“Actually necessity had made the eating of those things lawful for me, yet I did not want to make neither myself nor Islam a laughing stock in front of you”.
In response to this dignified attitude, the King said:
“What if you become a Christian and I give you half of my wealth, and if I make you a partner in all my kingdom and then I give my daughter to you in marriage?”
Abdullah (RadiAllahu Anhu) replied:
“Even if you give me all of your wealth and in fact all of the wealth of Arabia, I would never turn away from the religion of Muhammad (pbuh) for the blinking of an eye”.
The King said:
“In that case I will have you killed”.
To which Abdullah (RadiAllahu Anhu) replied:
“That is for you to decide”.
Abdullah (RadiAllahu Anhu) was then hung up on a crucifix. First of all the archers flung arrows at him but purposefully missed him in order to scare him. Then he was offered the chance to become Christian once more. That blessed Companion did not show even the slightest of tendencies. Upon this the King said:
“Either you become Christian or I will place you in a cauldron of boiling water”.
When he refused again, a boiling cauldron made of copper was brought forth. The King had one of the Muslim slaves brought to him. He offered that he become Christian. When the slave rejected this offer he was thrown into the cauldron. Abdullah (RadiAllahu Anhu) was watching. His skin instantly peeled away from his bones and came off.
The King again suggested to Abdullah (RadiAllahu Anhu) that he become Christian. When he refused once more, he ordered that he be thrown into the cauldron. Just as Abdullah (RadiAllahu Anhu) was about to be thrown into the cauldron, he began to cry. Thinking that he had changed his mind, the King had Abdullah (RadiAllahu Anhu) brought to him and offered that he become Christian once more. When he saw how violently Abdullah (RadiAllahu Anhu) refused, he asked in shock:
“Then why did you cry”?
Abdullah (RadiAllahu Anhu) gave this superb reply:
“Do not think that I cried out of fear of what you wished to do to me. No. I cried because I only have one life to give in the path of Allah. I said to myself: “You have only one life and it is about to be thrown into that cauldron. In just an instant you are going to die in Allah’s cause. Whereas how I wish I had had lives to the number of hairs on my body, so that all of these lives could be sacrificed in order to gain Allah’s pleasure”.
This awesome act displayed by Abdullah (RadiAllahu Anhu) due to his courage of faith and dignity impressed the King and he wished to let him go free.
“Kiss my head so that I may let you go”, he said
To this offer that could have no objection, Abdullah (RadiAllahu Anhu) replied with an offer of his own:
“Will you let all of the other Muslim slaves go free together with me?”
When the King replied that he would, Abdullah (RadiAllahu Anhu) said:
“In that case I will”.
Abdullah (RadiAllahu Anhu) says later:
“I said to myself: “What objection could there be to my kissing the head of one of Allah’s enemies in order to free my own life and the lives of the Muslim slaves? Kiss it and be free”.
That day 80 Muslim slaves were set free. When they returned to Hazrat Umar ibn Al-Khattāb (RadiAllahu Anhu), they told him what had happened. Hazrat Umar ibn Al-Khattāb (RadiAllahu Anhu) said:
“To kiss the head of Abdullah bin Huzafe (RadiAllahu Anhu) is a duty incumbent upon every Muslim! I will be the first to carry out this duty”. He thus got up and went to Abdullah and kissed his head.