Musaylama bin Habeeb was a man who belonged to the tribe of Bani Hanifa, which was a very strong tribe from the area of Najd. His entire tribe came and embraced Islam in Medina in 9AH. When Musaylama left the gathering he told the people “If Muhammad makes me a successor after him, only then will I believe in him as a prophet.” Unknown to him at the time, the Prophet (saws) was standing right behind him. He picked up a stick and told Musaylama “If you were to ask me for this stick in my hand I would not share it with you”.
Most of the tribe returned to Yamamah, but one of the chiefs named Nahar al-Rajjal stayed behind in Medina, memorised the entire Quran and spent time with the Prophet (saws) and the companions (ra).
A year later, in 10AH, Musaylama wrote a letter to the Prophet (saws) saying:
“From Musalama the Messenger of Allah to Muhammad the Messenger of Allah. Salutations to you. I have been given a share with you in this matter. Half the earth belongs to us and half to the Quraysh, but the Quraysh are people who transgress.”
Upon receiving this letter, the Prophet (saws) asked the messenger who delivered it if he believed in what had been written. The messenger replied in the affirmative and the Prophet (saws) said that if it wasn’t for the etiquette of not harming messengers, he would have been killed.
The Prophet (saws) replied to Musaylama saying:
“In the name of Allah. From Muhammad the Messenger of Allah to Musaylama the Liar (al-Kaddhab). Salutations to whoever follows guidance. Lo! The earth belongs to Allah. He gives it to whoever he wishes from His servants. And there Hereafter is for the virtuous.”
This is how Musaylama earned the title which he will be forever remembered, Musaylama the Liar or Musaylama al-Kaddhab.
The Prophet (saws) sent Habib ibn Umm Ummara (ra), who was the son of a woman who fought very bravely at the Battle of Uhud and was honoured by the Prophet (saws). When Musaylama received the letter he asked Habib if he thought Muhammad (saws) was a Messenger of Allah and he replied in the affirmative. He then asked if he believed Musaylama was a Messenger of Allah and Habib replied saying “I cannot hear you.” Musaylama had him tied down lying flat on the ground and repeated these questions and Habib replied with the same replies. Musaylama then cut off one limb. He repeated the questions again and Habib replied in the same way as before. Musaylama then cut off another limb. This continued until Habib (ra) was martyred in the cause of Allah.
The Prophet (saws) sent Nahar al-Rajjal to deal with the problem of Musaylama as he was also from Bani Hanifa, but he was convinced to join Musaylama’s side once he was promised half of everything Musaylama owned. This was a big tribulation for the Muslims because he was a man who had memorised the entire Quran and had spent time with the best of creation.
Musaylama would ask Nahar what the Prophet (saws) used to do and he would try to emulate the Prophet (saws). For instance, Nahar told Musaylama that the Prophet (saws) used to chew a small piece of a date and place it in the newborn’s mouth. When Musaylama emulated this all the children ended up having no teeth! He also tried to copy the Prophet (saws) in spitting in a bitter well to make it sweet, but his saliva ended up ruining the well’s taste even further! He made alcohol lawful and had strange rulings such as a father having to remain celibate after having a son unless that son died.
His revelation was also a bit funny, for example:
The elephant. What is the elephant? And what would have you know what the elephant is? It has a scraggly tail, and a very long trunk
Before he had accepted Islam, Amr ibn al-Aas (ra) once visited Musaylama and the latter asked him what had been revealed to his friend (i.e. the Prophet Muhammad (saws)). Amr ibn al-Aas (ra) read to him Surat al-Asr:
By time, verily mankind is in loss. Except those who believe and do good, and join together in truth and join together in patience. (Quran 103)
So Musaylama thought for a while and then said that something similar had also been revealed to him:
O Wabr (a small furry mammal known as a hyrax), O Wabr! You are only two ears and a chest, and the rest of you is digging and burrowing.
He said “What do you think, oh Amr?” Amr ibn al-Aas (ra) said to him “By Allah! You know that I know you are lying!” Musaylama meant to produce something that would match the Quran but it was not even convincing to an idol worshipper!