The first Muslim refugees sought safety in Abyssinia, a land of Christian but where others were free to practise their religion. The ruler at that time was As-hamah. The kings of Abyssinia wore the title of Negus. His name meant ‘a gift’ and he was generous and a kind ruler. When the Muslims came, he asked about Islam and soon after became a Muslim. He kept his Islam secret to avoid an uprising.
A few years after the Negus became a Muslim, his people got to know. Negus got ships ready for the Muslims to leave in case he was killed. He wrote on a paper “I testify there is no God but Allah and Muhammad sallallahu alaihi wa sallam is His slave and Messenger.” He put the paper in his robe and went to meet his people. They said Eesa ( also called as Jesus) was the son of God. Negus put his hand over the hidden paper and said “I testify that Jesus the son of Mary was no more than this,” meaning what was written on the paper. His people thought he’d agreed with them and were happy.
When the Muslims returned to Madinah, Negus gave them provisions, read the declaration of faith and told them to ask the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam to pray for his forgiveness. When the message was given to the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, he made wudhu and prayed thrice for Negus’ forgiveness. It was one day in the month of Rajab in the 9th year of the Migration.The Messenger of God was together with many Companions.
Meanwhile he said, “Today, one of your righteous brothers died. Stand up and perform his janazah prayer.”[Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, ]
The Companions got ready immediately and performed the janazah prayer of “their righteous brother” behind the Messenger of God.
After the prayers, the Messenger of God said, “We asked mercy of God from God for your brother Ashama, the Negus.”[sahih Muslim ]
Thereupon, the Companions learned that “their righteous brother” was Ashama, the Negus of Abyssinia