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The Unlettered Prophet (37)
Khalid Masud
(Tr. by:Nikhat Sattar)

The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah


Pride in Ignorance

This means the insistence of the Quraysh upon their wrong views merely to maintain a false sense of ego, contrary to truth and justice. There are several occasions at which these too were demonstrated.


1. As the news of arrival of the Muslims was received, without determining the reason for their arrival, and assuming that they had come to conquer Makkah, they took an oath not to let the Muslims enter Makkah. This was merely an emotional decision.

2. In spite of receiving news from various sources that the Muslims were sincere in their intention to offer ‘umrah, the Quraysh were not ready to change their stance and this caused a rift within their own ranks.

3.  In contradiction to international practices, the Quraysh did not even respect the ambassadors of Muslims, although had they done so, they would have increased the dignity of their own status and this would have resulted in better consequences for them.

4. They created unnecessary problems at the time of negotiating terms of the agreement merely for the sake of satisfying their ego. As became clear later, they were unable to gain any political gains through these terms.

5. The attitude they adopted in this clearly demonstrated to the world that they employed their unwarranted and ignorant ego when discharging their responsibilities related to the House of God. They were not concerned with respecting the Ka‘abah as much as they were with maintaining the upper hand in talks. This was the same point that the Prophet (sws) had been mentioning over the years. The Quraysh gave a practical example of this.


The Wisdom of the Agreement   

Surah Fath also described the wisdom that was evident within the agreement.


1. Delay in ‘Umrah

Referring to the dream of the Prophet (sws), Surah Fath says:  

Truly did Allah fulfill the vision for His Messenger. Ye shall enter the Sacred Mosque, if Allah wills, with minds secure, heads shaved, hair cut short, and without fear. For He knew what ye knew not, and He granted, besides this, a speedy victory. (48:27) 

This means that the opportunity to offer the ‘umrah would come. And it would come with such grandeur that Muslims would have no danger from anywhere and no concern of fighting or chaos. This was as if the ‘umrah had been postponed for one year in order to make it safe and protected for them.  In other words, if Muslims had insisted in offering ‘umrah in spite of the attitude of the Quraysh at that time, the latter would not have deterred from fighting according to their oath and the alleyways of Makkah would have become red with spilt blood. Even assuming that the Muslims had a chance to offer ‘umrah, it would have been under extremely dangerous circumstances and their attention would have been towards the intentions and actions of the enemy instead of towards worship. According to the agreement, there was a delay of the ‘umrah for one year, but as per the promise of God, it was made possible without shedding a single drop of blood and without any fear.  

2. Protection from Battle

Taking an oath for fighting and then agreeing upon truce had many points of wisdom which were disclosed by Surah Fath. It was said:

They are the ones who denied Revelation and hindered you from the Sacred Mosque and the sacrificial animals, detained from reaching their place of sacrifice. Had there not been believing men and believing women whom ye did not know that ye were trampling down and on whose account a crime would have accrued to you without [your] knowledge, [Allah would have allowed you to force your way, but He held back your hands] that He may admit to His Mercy whom He will. If they had been apart, We should certainly have punished the Unbelievers among them with a grievous Punishment. (48:25)

This verse includes three points of wisdom for not going to war:


1. In case a battle was fought within the boundaries of the Haram, a poisonous propaganda would have spread in the whole of Arabia that the followers of the new faith respected neither the Holy City nor the House of God. They wished to destroy the traditions of the Arabs. Such propaganda would have resulted in sowing the seeds of misunderstanding against Islam within Arabia and Muslims would have been forced to defend their character everywhere, as if they were criminals. By the Muslims adopting a path of truce instead of war, the Quraysh became the criminals. Every Arab accused the Quraysh of misusing their status to bar those who came for ‘umrah and animals from reaching the House of God. Hence, the comments made by Islam about the inability of the Quraysh leadership were correct. In contrast to this attitude of the Quraysh, the Muslims ensured that the Haram and the House of God were fully respected and thus, everyone became full of admiration for them.

2. Many men and women had accepted Islam in Makkah but full information about them had not reached the Muslims in Madinah. Had a war broken out in Makkah at this stage, the former would have suffered at the hands of their own brothers in their ignorance. God had wanted that Islam not be deprived of these loyal individuals. Some of these individuals were Abu Jandal, Abu Bathir ‘Utbah and Umm Kulthum bint ‘Uqbah.

3. There were many people in Makkah who had not accepted Islam, as such, but were very dissatisfied with the attitude of their leaders. Their hearts and minds had become convinced of the truth of Islam. God wanted not to waste such people and to take them within His fold of mercy. These were the people who came towards Islam rapidly in an environment of peace. Prominent names among the Quraysh include Khalid ibn Walid (rta), ‘Amr ibn al-‘As (rta) and Mu‘awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan (rta). They accepted Islam after the truce but before the victory of Makkah.

3. Clear Victory

The repercussions of the agreement did not become obvious to people immediately due to the provocative attitude of the Quraysh and emotions of the Muslims. This caused a sense of superiority in general among the Quraysh and despair and sadness within Muslims. Surah Fath cleared this up by saying:


Verily We have granted thee a manifest Victory. (48:1)


When, in the light of this prediction, people analyzed the terms of the agreement, they realized that in reality, it was the key to victory over Makkah. The various aspects of declaring it a clear victory are very evident:


1. For the Quraysh to have accepted truce for a decade was akin to them accepting that the Muslims possessed a clear strength in terms of warfare over them. They viewed the constant state of war to be harmful for themselves and had no hope for a solution to their problems through war. When the fact is kept in mind that the three battles fought to date - Badr, Uhud and Khandaq were all imposed upon Muslims by the Quraysh, this psychological change becomes very meaningful and demonstrates the latter’s sense of defeat. For any party to show signs of defeat is a first sign towards being conquered. In contrast, there were no such signs among the Muslims that could provide an argument for their weakness.

2. According to the agreement, the Quraysh accepted the right of Muslims upon the House of God, whereas until then, they had been depriving them of the pilgrimage by declaring them rebels of their traditions.

3. For as long as the Quraysh were ruling Makah, they were a power. The agreement shook this power to the extent that all tribes of Arabia recognized this and they also realized that they would need to be close to the Muslims and enhance their relationships and influence with them. With the establishment of communications in this environment of truce, the barriers of mistrust and hostility which the Quraysh had built were destroyed. As a result, Arabs had the opportunity to observe the social norms of Muslims, the beauty of the manner in which they dealt with matters and their purity and truthfulness. It was possible to assess the revolution which had been brought about within the lives of Muslims through Islam. Therefore, Islam spread very rapidly during this period of truce.

4. According to the truce, the Quraysh accepted Muslims as an equal political power in the country and gave them the right to form alliances with other tribes. Until then, those tribes used to accept the leadership of the Quraysh. Some of the tribes around Madinah had signed agreements of non partisanship with Muslims, but they were not ready to become allies openly. After the agreement, there was no barrier for those tribes to become formal allies of Muslims. Immediately following the agreement, the Banu Khuza‘ah signed an agreement of friendship with the Muslims and interactions with other tribes developed later. Banu Khuza‘ah’s enemy tribe, Banu Bakr sided with the Quraysh and entered the agreement by signing up with them. Both the tribes resided in valleys around Makkah.

5. The Quraysh could not take action upon signing of the agreement on ceasefire, but it became possible for Muslims to take action against those of their enemies who had been trying to harm them through conspiracies. Those conspirators had then to face the Muslims without support from the Quraysh. The first casualties in that action were the Jews of Khyber who had incited the Battle of Ahzab and who were planning to bring Ghatfan to invade Madinah. The Jews were defeated in the battle of Khaybar and this was an eye opener for other tribes who realized that they could not be safe while retaining hostilities with Muslims.


With such consequences of the agreement, it was not difficult to assess the fact that the ground would soon split from under the feet of the Quraysh. The power of the Muslims would increase exponentially soon and victory over Makkah would become a definite possibility. The Qur’an declared this agreement a clear victory because it was from the womb of this agreement that the victory over Makkah would emerge.


4. The Matter of going to Madinah without Permission from the Guardian

The specific condition within the agreement which caused much sorrow to the Muslims and gave the Quraysh a sense of superiority was the one which related to sending back to Makkah the Muslims who went to Madinah without permission from their guardians. The same condition did not hold for those who left Madinah and went to Makkah, as they would not be returned by the Quraysh. This difference created a sense of inequality between the two parties concerned.

By including this clause within the agreement, the Quraysh attempted to stop their people from accepting Islam. It was obvious that if a person could not gain protection in Madinah after becoming a Muslim, why would he entail himself with such a burden and become a Muslim in the first place? But what the Quraysh did not understand was that Islam is the name of an ideology and philosophy and no barriers can be placed upon the thinking of humankind. Those who became Muslims would be so, even while remaining within Makkah and they would also motivate others to accept their faith. Prior to this, there were so many from the Quraysh who had accepted Islam while bearing great difficulties and who had migrated later. This condition would also not benefit the Quraysh if such a person left Makkah, and instead of finding refuge in Madinah, would have obtained protection somewhere else or decided to make it his permanent home.

On the other hand, those who had made great sacrifices for their faith and migrated to Madinah had reached a dignified status. They were receiving glad tidings of a beautiful end result from God and His Prophet (sws). Why would any of them bring misfortune upon himself by foregoing Islam and taking protection under the falling wall of the Quraysh? This is the reason why there are many examples of people who became Muslims and left Makkah but there is not a single example of anyone leaving Madinah to find refuge in Makkah.

After the passage of some time, this condition became a headache for the Quraysh themselves. It so happened that a Muslim, Abu Basir ‘Utbah ibn Usayd (rta) from Makkah reached Madinah. His guardian sent a person from the Banu ‘Amir and a freed slave to Madinah to bring him back. The Prophet (sws) gave charge of Abu Basir to them. These people had just left the boundaries of Madinah when Abu Basir seized the sword of the person from Banu ‘Amir and killed his companion. That person went to the Prophet (sws) with a complaint. Abu Basir also came and said to the Prophet (sws) that the former had fulfilled his responsibility under the agreement and therefore, he was not answerable to God afterwards. It was now Abu Basir’s responsibility to take care of his faith and he would do as he saw best. Saying thus, Abu Basir left Madinah and made his home in the mountains at al-‘Ays, located on the national trade route. Whenever a caravan of the Quraysh would pass, he would attack it and obtain something for himself. His example became a light for other Muslims who joined him until, according to narratives, their number increased to 70. This became a real problem for the Quraysh. The latter sent a delegation to the Prophet (sws) to help in addressing the issue but the Prophet (sws) excused himself and said that those people were outside his jurisdiction and he could not influence them. When the Quraysh insisted, the Prophet (sws) suggested that the condition for their return be removed from the agreement. They would return to Madinah themselves and would not continue to pose a problem for the Quraysh. Thus, by mutual agreement, this clause was removed.

The question whether the clause applied to women also arose. After the agreement, when Umm Kulthum bint ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Mu‘it migrated to Madinah, her brothers ‘Ammarah and Walid came to Madinah to demand her return. The Prophet (sws) sent them back and told them that the agreement was valid only for men and not for women. The Quraysh insisted that it was valid for both. The words of the related clause of the agreement which are quoted in narratives include pronouns that are all for the masculine gender. Hence the Prophet’s stance was correct. God Himself gave a decision on this matter in Surah Mumtahinah and opened a way out in the middle. It was said that it was to be assessed whether women coming to Madinah had accepted Islam sincerely and had migrated only for the sake of their faith. If they were not able to prove their faith, they would be returned, but if they had become Muslims, returning them to their guardians was not legitimate. In such a situation, if they were already married, they could not remain married to disbelievers. They would be kept in Madinah and the dower (mahr) which their husbands had paid to them would be returned to them.

In such a manner did the clause that had developed a sense of superiority among the Quraysh create many problems for them and it was removed from the agreement at their own request.


(Translated by Nikhat Sattar)


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