THE SIXTH YEAR OF HEGIRA

In line with a dream he saw, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) invited the Believers to a journey to Kaabah for pilgrimage.[1] With a total of one-thousand-four-hundred[2] Companions who heeded the invitation, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) set out for Mecca, on the first Monday of Dhilqadah, on the sixth year of Hegira. As they were not going for battle, they only armed themselves with swords for self-protection. They also had around seventy camels for sacrifice.[3]

The Treaty of Hudaybiyah: The Key to All Victories and the Emotional Road Back to Kaabah

In line with a dream he saw, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) invited the Believers to a journey to Kaabah for pilgrimage.[1] With a total of one-thousand-four-hundred[2] Companions who heeded the invitation, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) set out for Mecca, on the first Monday of Dhilqadah, on the sixth year of Hegira. As they were not going for battle, they only armed themselves with swords for self-protection. They also had around seventy camels for sacrifice.[3]

Omar (r.a) asked the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) whether he was not concerned over a possible attack by Abu Sufyan and his men, suggesting therefore it might be better for them to carry more weapons than they had intended.

“I am not so sure”, replied the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). “I would not want to be armed when having intended for umrah.” (Waqidi, II, 573)

Upon reaching the miqat border of Dhulhulayfah, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) wore an ihram and made an intention to perform umrah. The Companions followed. They began shouting talbiyah aloud, reflecting their burning desire to unite with Kaabah as soon as possible. The spiritual excitement and rapture was taking the Believers closer to their destination at each step.

But an inexpressible anxiety took hold of the idolaters of Quraysh the moment they were informed of the approaching Muslims. In an emergency meeting, they decided not to allow Muslims passage no matter at what cost. A swiftly mobilized unit of two-hundred men under the commands of Khalid ibn Walid and Iqrimah departed Mecca to meet the Believers.

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and the Believers had by now reached Sariyyah, from where it was quite easy to descend into Mecca. But Qaswa, the camel on which the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) was astride, crouched there and then. All efforts by the Companions to get her moving proved fruitless. They began commenting that the camel had come to a halt.

“She has not come to a halt; nor does she have a habit of the kind”, stated the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). “She has only been stopped by He who has prevented her from entering Mecca!”

He then added, “By He, in whose Hand of Might my life resides, no matter how demanding the conditions Quraysh lay down, in the name of esteeming what Allah has prohibited in His Sanctuary, are, I will surely accept them!”

He then signaled for the camel to move; she virtually soared. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) then changed his direction away from Quraysh and descended near an almost dessicate well. This was the furthermost distant point of Hudaybiya from Mecca. The well was all but without water; the meager amount of water it had quickly dried up. The Companions complained to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) over the lack of water. The Prophet (pbuh) took an arrow out of his bag and told them to thrust it into the base of the well. Before long, with the will of the Almighty, the well began sprouting with water, continuing to flow generously up until the Companions decided to leave.

In the meantime, Budayl, the leader of the Huzaa Tribe, arrived with a few men. He spoke of the Meccan anxiety and their preparations for war. Despite the seeming apprehension of Quraysh, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) explained Budayl the reason underlying their visit in the following:

“We have not come to fight with anyone. Our purpose is to visit the House of Allah; to perform umrah. War has taken its toll on Quraysh…it has worn them out and caused much damage. Should they desire, we could make a treaty for a certain amount of time. That way they will step away from between me and others. Should I triumph over others, then, if Quraysh wishes, she may also enter the Islam that others enter. Should I fail, then Quraysh will have a breather. Should they desist from accepting this offer, then by Allah, I will fight for the sake of this Religion until my head is severed from my body. Surely, Allah will fulfill His promise.”

Budayl returned to Mecca and conveyed the words of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) to Quraysh, hearing which Urwa ibn Masud got up and stated, “The man is showing you the path of goodness. Accept his offer and send me to him to make a treaty!”

The notables of Quraysh agreed to send him. The Noble Prophet (pbuh) said similar words to Urwa. Throughout, with the corner of his eye, Urwa was inspecting the Companions while the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) spoke. When he returned, he animatedly recounted to the idolaters what he saw:

“Listen carefully to me, my fellow people. I swear to you that as an ambassador I have been in the presence of many kings in the past. I have stood facing the Khosrau, the Cesar and the Negus. But never have I seen anything like the devotion and respect the Muslims have for Muhammad! When he wants something, they all run to get it. If he takes wudu, they compete with each other for his water. When he speaks, they all go silent. Out of their respect for him, they lower their gazes and do not look inquisitively at his face, even for a moment. When a strand of hair falls from his head, they quickly take hold of it as keepsake. The man is making a sensible offer. Accept it!”[4]

After Urwah finished what he had to say, another man from the Kinanah tribe asked permission to go to the Noble Messenger, too. So he was sent. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh), upon seeing him, said, “Here comes a man from a tribe that appreciates camels spared for sacrifice for hajj and umrah. Release your sacrificial camels towards him so he can see!”

The man could not help but say, “It does not seem right to hinder them from visiting Kaabah!” (Bukhari, Shurut, 15; Ahmad, IV, 323-324)

Regardless of what the men told them, Quraysh deployed a cavalry unit to launch a raid against the Believers. Although the assailing idolaters were eventually taken prisoner by the Muslims, they were released by the Noble Messenger who wanted to make loud and clear his intention of having come only to offer umrah, not to shed blood.[5]

The Prophet’s (pbuh) tent was set at Hudaybiya, outside the Haram borders. Still, throughout his stay there, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) would go within the Haram borders to offer his salats.[6]After all, a salat offered in the vicinity of Kaabah is of greater worth than a hundred thousand others offered anywhere else.[7]

The Pledge of Ridvan: A Pledge that Pleased the Almighty

A few more ambassadors from Quraysh visited the Believers in the interim. But because a definite peace agreement could not be secured, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) sent Othman (r.a) to Mecca, to speak to the idolaters and put an end to the matter, telling him to:

“Go to Quraysh! Tell them that we have not come here to fight with anyone, that we have only come to visit the House of Allah, respecting and observing its sanctity, and that we will slaughter the sacrificial camels we have with us and return! Then invite them to Islam!” The Noble Messenger (pbuh), at the same time, commanded him to talk to each and every Muslim in Mecca, male and female, and herald them with the upcoming fath of Mecca, assure them that Allah, glory unto Him, was aiding His religion and that the day in which they will freely proclaim their faith in Mecca was near. (Ibn Sad, II, 97; Ibn, Qayyim, III, 290)

Compliant with the command of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), Othman (r.a) immediately went to Mecca and passed on the message to the idolaters. The idolaters were still adamant not to allow passage. Keeping Othman (r.a) under close surveillance, they told him he could circumambulate the Sacred House if he wished. Bu as would befit a devotee of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) of his caliber, he responded:

“I will not until the Messenger of Allah does. I will only visit the Sacred House behind him!” (Ahmad, IV, 324)

Othman (r.a) was detained by Quraysh for longer than expected; so much so that rumors that ‘Othman had been murdered’ took the Muslims ranks by storm, giving rise to a nervous tension between both sides. Weighing the likelihood that his ambassador may indeed have been murdered, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) gathered all the Companions, telling them, “It seems we will not be able leave without fighting the idolaters!” (Ibn Hisham, III, 364)

He then demanded a pledge from the entire Companions to die in the way of the Almighty if need be. Every single one of them gave a wholehearted pledge of allegieance. (Waqidi, II, 603)

The Believers promised to fight until death in the way of Allah, glory unto Him, by placing their hands above that of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). At the end of the pledge, holding his one hand with the other, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), said, “…and this is Othman’s pledge!” (Bukhari, Ashab’un-Nabi, 7)

The pledge given under a tree was known thereafter as the Pledge of Ridvan or of Hudaybiya. Bar a single hypocrite, every Companion gave his pledge that day; a pledge that had the Almighty pleased with them:

لَقَدْ رَضِيَ اللّٰهُ عَنِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذْ يُبَايِعُونَكَ تَحْتَ الشَّجَرَةِ
فَعَلِمَ مَا فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ فَأَنزَلَ السَّكِينَةَ عَلَيْهِمْ

“Certainly Allah was well pleased with the believers when they swore allegiance to you under the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down tranquillity on them and rewarded them with a near victory.” (al-Fath, 18)

Later on, while next to the honorable Hafsa (r.ha), the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) commented, “Allah willing, none of those who pledged under the tree shall enter Hellfire.”

Curious, Hafsa (r.ha) felt the urge to ask, “But how will that be, Messenger of Allah, when the Allah the Almighty states:

وَإِن مِّنكُمْ إِلَّا وَارِدُهَا

“And there is not one of you but shall come to it; this is an unavoidable decree of your Lord.” (Maryam, 71)

To that, the Noble Prophet (pbuh) responded by saying, “Allah the Almighty has also stated:

ثُمَّ نُنَجِّي الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوا وَّنَذَرُ الظَّالِمِينَ فِيهَا جِثِيًّا

“And We will deliver those who guarded (against evil), and We will leave the unjust therein on their knees.” (Maryam, 72)

Consequently, it became evident that the ayah implied, not an actual entrance into Hellfire, but passing it by while crossing the sirat. (Muslim, Fadail’us-Sahabah, 163)

Jabir (r.a) recounts:

“People were worn out by thirst on the Day of Hudaybiyah, so they came to the Messenger of Allah, who, at the time, had a water container made of leather in front of him. He had just taken wudu when people moved closer toward him.

‘What is bothering you?’ asked the Messenger of Allah.

‘We have no water left to drink and to take wudu except the little amount in front of us’, they explained.

The Prophet of Allah placed his hands inside the container. At the instant, water then began to spring forth from between his fingers; it was exactly like a jetting spring. We all drank and took wudu from it.”

“How many were there of you that day?” Jabir (r.a) was asked.

“Had we been a hundred-thousand, the water would still have been enough; but at the time, we were one-thousand-five-hundred all up.” (Bukhari, Manaqib, 25)

The Treaty of Hudaybiyah: A Brand New Phase in the Call

The idolaters were rattled once they became aware that the Believers had pledged to fight them until death if need be. Terrified from realizing that things were now beginning to get serious, they immediately decided to reach a deal of peace and sent Suhayl ibn Amr to negotiate on their behalf.

Seeing it was Suhayl that had come for the peace talks, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), alluding to the fact that Suhayl means ease in Arabic, commented, to the Believers “Matters have now gotten easy for you; it is Suhayl!” Thereupon the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) promoted a strategy of peace, in accordance with the Divine Command:

وَإِن جَنَحُواْ لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا

“And if they incline to peace, incline you also to it…” (al-Anfal, 61)

The idolaters had the first and foremost aim of preventing the Believers from umrah, at least for that year. In addition, they had come to lay down what on the outer seemed to be heavy terms. After a long and at times heated discussion, their terms were accepted.

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) conferred to Ali (r.a) the duty of putting the agreed terms on paper. Ali (r.a) was to begin writing the document with Bismilahirrahmanirrahim but Suhayl raised an objection. So instead, he wrote Bismikallahumme. That was not the last of Suhayl’s objections; he also protested against recording the name of the Prophet as ‘the Messenger of Allah’.

“Had we accepted you were the Messenger of Allah”, he complained, “would we be fighting you and preventing you from visiting Kaabah?”

Vexed as they were over the heavy terms of the treaty, the infuriated Companions had now reached boiling point. Ali (r.a) put his pen aside and exclaimed, “By Allah, I can never erase the term ‘Messenger of Allah’!”

“Now matter how much you deny, I am the Messenger of Allah”, the Prophet (pbuh) then declared to Suhayl. He then asked to be shown the exact place where the term ‘Messenger of Allah’ had been written, after which he proceeded to erase it himself with his finger, and asked his name to be written instead: Muhammad ibn Abdullah.

Owing to many underlying wisdoms, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) agreed to the terms laid down by Quraysh; some of which were as follows:

1. The treaty is to be valid for ten years.

2. The Muslims will not visit Kaabah at present and the visit will be postponed to the following year. The pilgrims who will arrive in Mecca the following year shall stay in Mecca for no more than three days, during which the locals, who are to make no contact with Muslims, will have evacuated Mecca.

3. A Meccan seeking asylum in Medina is to be returned, even if he be a Muslim; but a Medinan seeking asylum in Mecca shall not be handed over.

4. The other Arab tribes will be free to side with either the Muslims or Quraysh.

The terms had just been written down when Abu Jandal, the son of the Qurayshi ambassador Suhayl ibn Amr, made it next to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), dragging his shackle ridden feet. Openly a Muslim, Abu Jandal (r.a) had undergone vicious torment at the idolaters’ hands. Pouncing on a momentary opportunity, he was able to get away from the idolaters and make it next to the Believers. But Suhayl, striking his son in the face with a stick, interjected, telling the Muslims that Abu Jandal should be the first asylum seeker to be returned to the idolaters, lest they already wished to violate the terms of the treaty. Watching the events unfold in grief, the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) insisted Abu Jandal be exempted from the terms of the treaty and be left with the Muslims. Suhayl, with a heart of stone, however, was unyielding. As he was being handed back to the idolaters, Abu Jandal (r.a) sent out a heartfelt plea to the Believers, asking for help.

“Will you throw me back into the same fire?” he movingly asked, and it was more than enough to stir the emotions of the already grief-stricken Believers, reducing most of them to tears. It was then that the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) affectionately counseled Abu Jandal:

“Be patient a little while more, Abu Jandal; endure! Wait for its reward from Allah the Almighty! There is no doubt that Allah will provide a leeway and breadth for weak, helpless Muslims like you! We happen to have come to a peace treaty with these people and we have have given our word in the name of Allah to observe it. They, too, have given their word in the name of Allah. We cannot be disloyal to our word, for it will not be befitting!” (Ahmad, IV, 325; Ibn Hisham, III, 367)

But still, the Prophet of boundless compassion gave it another try.

“Just leave him with me”, he asked Suhayl, once again. Suhayl remained indifferent.

“Then at least take him under your protection”, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) then requested. Suhayl did not even accept that. Two other representatives of Quraysh, Huwaytib and Miqraz, worked around the doggedness of Suhayl and assured the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) they themselves, for his sake, would take Abu Jandal under their protection and safeguard him of all torment that would otherwise come his way. (Waqidi, II, 608; Balazuri, I, 220)

Thus, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) left somewhat assuaged.

Bursting with a torrent of iman in his heart, Omar (r.a), who could no longer put up with the obstinate and conceited attitude of the idolaters, could hardly be contained. In truth, the other Companions, except for Abu Bakr (r.a) perhaps, were no different. Omar (r.a) had even gone to the extent of speaking out against the approach of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), in hope of evading a treaty that on the surface seemed to be a certain defeat for the Believers. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh), however, reminded him that he was only acting in accordance with Divine Command:

“I am the Messenger of Allah”, he said, “I cannot rebel against Him. He is my Helper!” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 35; Muslim, Jihad, 90-97)

Just as Suhayl was exultantly returning to Mecca following the signing of the treaty with his son by his side, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) signaled for his Companions to, “Slaughter your sacrifices and have a haircut!”

Yet, none of the Companions made even the slightest move to fulfill the order. They were grieved and disillusioned amid events whose mystery they could not work out. The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) nonetheless repeated his command three times. Again, nobody moved. But this was not, in any way, a rebellion. It was simply a momentary pause, an optimistic anticipation that the treaty, whose ink had still not dried, might be annulled after all. It was a wait spurred by a heartburning yearning for Kaabah. Besides, these were the very same Companions who, just a day ago, had vowed a pledge of death in the presence of their beloved Prophet (pbuh), in the way of Allah, glory unto Him.

The indifference shown by the Companions was nevertheless enormously upsetting for the Noble Prophet (pbuh), who, in a dejected state, resigned inside the tent of his honorable wife Umm Salamah. After he told her of the situation, the prudent Umm Salamah solaced the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and said, “Slaughter your sacrifice, Messenger of Allah, without saying anything to your Companions, and have your haircut. After you do that, no matter how grief-stricken they are under a burden too heavy for them to carry, they will follow you…Please, excuse them!”

Stepping outside of the tent following this brief talk, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) went ahead and did as was discussed. It was then that the Companions realized that there was no turning back from the treaty and each of them followed the Prophet (pbuh) in his actions. They each slaughtered their sacrifices and had their haircuts. Umm Salamah (r.ha), who witnessed the situation, later on stated, “The Muslims leaped with such enthusiasm towards the sacrificial camels that I was scared there would be a stampede.” (Bukhari, Shurut, 15; Ahmad, IV, 326, 331; Waqidi, II, 613)

Once the Believers completed sacrificing the camels and had their haircut, Allah, glory unto Him, sent a gale that blew all their hairs towards the Haram. The Companions took that as a sign that their umrah had been accepted.[8] They then made their way back to Medina.

Afterwards, as the Companions began to fear a Divine wrath over their initial displeasure and indifference over not having grasped the underlying wisdom of the treaty, surah al-Fath was revealed:

إِنَّا فَتَحْنَا لَكَ فَتْحًا مُّبِينًا. لِيَغْفِرَ لَكَ اللّٰهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ
مِن ذَنبِكَ وَمَا تَأَخَّرَ وَيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكَ وَيَهْدِيَكَ
صِرَاطًا مُّسْتَقِيمًا. وَيَنصُرَكَ اللّٰهُ نَصْرًا عَزِيزًا

“Surely We have given to you a clear victory. That Allah may forgive your community their past faults and those to follow and complete His favor to you and keep you on a right way. And that Allah might help you with a mighty help.” (al-Fath, 1-3)

Mujammi ibn Jariyah (r.a) retells the fright the Companions experienced as al-Fath was being revealed:

“Everyone had disbanded towards their camels, in fright. They were asking each other what exactly was going on. ‘The Messenger of Allah has just received a Revelation’, some said. Soon, we returned, like the rest, to the Messenger of Allah, in fear. Once everybody had gathered, the Messenger of Allah recited al-Fath.” (Ibn Sad, II, 105)

Omar (r.a) has similarly stated, “From fearing the consequences of what I said that day to the Messenger of Allah, in order to have a good ending, I fasted continuously, gave lots of charity, offered supererogatory salats and freed many slaves.” (Ibn Sayyidinnas, II, 167)

Surah al-Fath was a sneak preview of the gates of victory that were beginning to open ajar for the Believers. It was not that long before the fruits hinted at by the surah would begin to be reaped. The neighboring tribes had dubbed the Believers’ journey ‘a trip without return’. Seeing the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions return unscathed, they rushed to him to apologize. Their condition is depicted by Allah, glory unto Him, as follows:

بَلْ ظَنَنتُمْ أَن لَّن يَنقَلِبَ الرَّسُولُ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِلَى أَهْلِيهِمْ أَبَدًا وَزُيِّنَ ذَلِكَ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ وَظَنَنتُمْ ظَنَّ السَّوْءِ وَكُنتُمْ قَوْمًا بُورًا. وَمَن لَّمْ يُؤْمِن بِاللّٰهِ وَرَسُولِهِ فَإِنَّا أَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَافِرِينَ سَعِيرًا

“Nay! You rather thought that the Messenger and the Believers would not return to their families ever, and that was made fairseeming to your hearts and you thought an evil thought and you were a people doomed to perish. And whoever does not believe in Allah and His Messenger, then surely We have prepared burning fire for the nonbelievers.” (al-Fath, 12-13)

On the surface, the terms of the treaty of Hudaybiyah were to the Muslims’ disadvantage. Only after the revelation of al-Fath did it become evident that what initially seemed to be a defeat and downfall would, in hindsight, prove to be an evident and lasting triumph. As pronounced in the ayah:

وَعَسَى أَن تَكْرَهُواْ شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ وَعَسَى أَن تُحِبُّواْ شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ وَاللّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ

“…and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and Allah knows, while you do not know.” (al-Baqara, 216)

The wisdoms behind this cloudy event, which the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) found difficult to explain at the outset, became completely manifest only after two years. The peace environment brought about by the treaty served as a means for numerous people to enter the fold of Islam; so many were they in number that in two years, they exceeded the entire number of pre-Hudaybiyah Muslims.

True, the Muslims were prevented from performing umrah that year and had to endure what could be considered as heavy terms for some time. But the gains that were to come in ht elong run were to be much greater. For the treaty meant that Islam was now officially recognized. They would now only have to wait just another year for a certain visit of Kaabah. Whoever wished to join the Muslims from the surrounding Arab tribes, now could. This only signaled the dwindling of Meccan influence and a breathing space for the Muslim call.

Another reason as to why the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) opted for peace was the significant number of people in Mecca who, for the obvious reasons, were practicing Islam in secret. Had a war broken out with the idolaters there and then, in all likelihood, they would have been exposed and consequently massacred.

As a result, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), a prophet of mercy, was sending out hidden signs to the would-be Muslims of both Mecca and the neighboring Arab tribes and warming them to Islam. It was not long before the rewards of this policy were collected.

A Clear Victory: An Ever Increasing Guidance

The idolaters, elated to have had the terms of Hudaybiyah accepted, had in actual fact unknowingly removed one by one the barriers preventing the Believers from extending the call and had placed them in a superior position with their own hands. That nearly none of the Companions were willing to acknowledge the terms of the treaty, thinking they were blatantly to their disadvantage, had cast a further drape in front of Qurayshi eyes, as they signed the treaty with greater enthusiasm, with an air of having won an enormous victory. However, the true nature of the treaty, concealed even to the Believers to begin with, only became manifest in time as the terms were put into practice.

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh), who very well knew right from the start the blessings the treaty had in store, was delicate in keeping to the terms of Hudaybiyah and in making the most of the opportunities provided once they arose. For instance, when a group of Meccan women came to Medina seeking protection, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) refused Qurayshi demands to hand them over on grounds that the relevant term of the treaty applied only to men. Allah, glory unto Him, had in fact commanded against their extradition:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا جَاءكُمُ الْمُؤْمِنَاتُ مُهَاجِرَاتٍ فَامْتَحِنُوهُنَّ اللّٰهُ أَعْلَمُ بِإِيمَانِهِنَّ فَإِنْ عَلِمْتُمُوهُنَّ مُؤْمِنَاتٍ فَلَا تَرْجِعُوهُنَّ إِلَى الْكُفَّارِ لَا هُنَّ حِلٌّ لَّهُمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحِلُّونَ لَهُنَّ وَآتُوهُم مَّا أَنفَقُوا وَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ أَن تَنكِحُوهُنَّ إِذَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ وَلَا تُمْسِكُوا بِعِصَمِ الْكَوَافِرِ وَاسْأَلُوا مَا أَنفَقْتُمْ وَلْيَسْأَلُوا مَا أَنفَقُوا ذَلِكُمْ حُكْمُ اللّٰهِ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَكُمْ وَاللّٰهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

“O you who believe! When believing women come unto you as fugitives, examine them. Allah is Best Aware of their faith. Then, if ye know them for true believers, send them not back unto the disbelievers. They are not lawful for them (the disbelievers), nor are they (the disbelievers) lawful for them. And give them (the disbelievers) that which they have spent (upon them). And it is no sin for you to marry such women when you have given them their dues. And hold not to the ties of disbelieving women; and ask for (the return of) that which you have spent; and let them (the disbelievers) ask for that which they have spent. That is the judgment of Allah. He judges between you. Allah is Knower, Wise.” (al-Mumtahinah, 10)[9]

Meanwhile, Abu Basir, a Meccan who had now accepted Islam, had come to Medina seeking protection. Compelled by the terms of the treaty, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had no other choice than to hand him over to the idolaters. Like the others, Abu Basir found it difficult at first to make sense with the move. Astonished, he even asked whether the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) wanted him to go back to worshipping idols. But as calm as ever, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) assured Abu Basir that they could not turn back on their word, counseling him to “…be patient, for Allah the Almighty will soon show you and others alike a way out.”

Abu Basir yielded to the will of the Prophet (pbuh). Putting the wellbeing of Muslims before himself, he surrendered to the idolaters. Still, he was now a dead man walking, for he knew the idolaters were taking him not to Mecca but to death. Knowing this, he put up a fierce resistance when the first opportunity presented itself. Of the two who were taking him, he killed Hunays and watched as the other one fleed. Abu Basir took the dead idolater’s clothes, belongings and sword and returned to the Prophet of Allah (pbuh).

“Take a fifth of these, Messenger of Allah”, he said.

‘If I do”, replied the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), “I will not have complied with the terms of the treaty. Your act and the belongings of the man you killed concern you.” (Waqidi, II, 626-627)

The idolater, who had fled, also wound up back in Medina asking for Abu Basir.

“You were true to your word when you handed me over to them, Messenger of Allah…but I had to save my life”, this time Abu Basir said.

Now, beginning to realize the wisdom behind the advice given him by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), Abu Basir left Medina and settled in a place called Is, on the shore between Mecca and Damascus. In a short amount of time, Is ended up becoming neutral zone that served as an asylum center for all the runaway Muslims.Very soon, the number of Muslims, including Abu Jandal who was also able to make a successful getaway, reached three-hundred, jeopardizing the vital Meccan trade route to Syria, causing much damage to Qurayshi trade. The idolaters were left with no other choice than to insist the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) cancel the relevant term of the treaty. They now demanded the Prophet (pbuh) accept Muslim refugees into Medina. Thus, a term that had initially appeared detrimental to Muslim benefit had now proved to be quite the opposite.[10]

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) thereupon sent a letter to the Muslim community of Is lead by Abu Basir. At the time, Abu Basir happened to be on his deathbed and actually breathed his last as he completed reading the letter. Abu Jandal had him buried where he died and had a mosque built right next to his grave, after which he lead his fellow Believers to Medina, to the Prophet of Allah (pbuh).[11]

The peace environment established through Hudaybiyah, a treaty the Almighty describes as a ‘clear victory’ (fathan mubinan) proved a turning point in the acceleration of the Islamic call.[12]

When the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) declared Hudaybiyah to be a major triumph, a Companion commented, “We have been prevented from circumambulating Kaabah, from offering our sacrifices inside the Haram, and moreover handed over two people seeking our protection…what sort of a victory could this be?”

The Noble Prophet (pbuh) overheard these comments, upon which he described the nature of the victory gained at Hudaybiyah:

“Indeed, this treaty is the greatest victory. The idolaters have agreed for you to come and go into their lands and see to your obligations and for you to be safe as you travel to and fro. Thus they will now see and learn from you the Islam they have detested until now. Allah will make you victorious and you will profitably return from where you enter, safe and sound…And that is the greatest victory of all!” (Halabi, II, 715)

Abu Bakr (r.a) struck a chord with his opinion on the treaty, when he said, “Islam has never seen a victory greater than that of Hudaybiyah. But being shortsighted and narrow-minded, many objected to it. People are haste in matters that are between Allah and His Messenger. But unlike them, Allah the Almighty is not haste and does not carry anything out until the right moment has arrived.” (Waqidi, II, 610; Halabi, II, 721)

The first positive result of the treaty was the rapid spread of Islam. Many previously blocked avenues were now wide open for the Call. Muslims were now able to come together with the idolaters and openly talk about and invite them to Islam. Even those who had kept their Muslim faith hidden until then could now fearlessly come out.[13]

Yet before, the two parties could not freely interact with one another, let alone travel freely to Mecca or Medina as they did following the treaty. Both the Believers and the idolaters now exercised the freedom to visit family and friends on either side. The Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) behavior, exemplary morals and conduct, as well as his miracles had now come out into the daylight of Qurayshi observation; and along with the corresponding advice eagerly given by the Believers, the idolaters were now finding themselves irrevocably leaning towards Islam. Besides, the Arabs of the desert were practically waiting for the Meccans to become Muslim to follow suit. It was during this period that Meccan notables of the likes of Amr ibn As, Khalid ibn Walid and Othman ibn Talha entered the fold of Islam.[14]

Muslim envoys enjoyed the freedom of visiting any region they wished and explained Islam at every opportunity. The number of Muslims significantly rose during this spell of peace.

Drawing from the relevant ahadith of the Noble Messenger (pbuh), Imam Zuhri evaluates the consequences of the Treaty of Hudaybiyah in the following words:

“Previously, Muslims and idolaters had come into blows whenever they encountered each other. With the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, warfare came to an end. A bond of trust was established between both sides. They were able to meet and fuse with each other, even aiding one another in various matters. In the meanwhile, whenever Islam was raised to someone, after giving it a brief thought, he would grasp the truth and become Muslim; such that the two year period between Hudaybiyah and the conquest of Mecca witnessed a greater number of people becoming Muslim than the entire nineteen year period of the call upto the treaty.”

To this, Ibn Hisham adds, “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had come to Hudaybiyah with one-thousand-four-hundred Believers. Two years later, he left for Mecca with ten-thousand, and according to another account, with another two-thousand that joined him on the way, making the number twelve-thousand. These statistics attest to the degree of accuracy of Zuhri’s remarks.” (Haythami, VI, 170; Ibn Hisham, III, 372)

[1].      Waqidi, II, 572.

[2].      Ibn Saad, II, 95. With the joining of Beduoin Arabs on the way, their number is believed to have risen to one-thousand five-hundred, even to one-thousand seven-hundred according to another source.

[3].      Ibn Saad, II, 95.

[4].      Thomas Carlyle feels obliged to confess this truth when he says, “No emperor fashioning a crown on his head has ever received the respect Muhammad received, a man who wore a mantel he patched with his own hands.”

[5].      Muslim, Jihad, 132, 133.

[6].      Waqidi, II, 614; Ahmad, IV, 326.

[7].      See, Ibn Majah, Iqamah, 195.

[8].      Ibn Saad, II, 104; Halabi, II, 713.

[9].      See, Bukhari, Shurut, 15; Waqidi, II, 631-632.

[10].     See, Bukhari, Shurut, 15; Ibn Hisham, III, 372.

[11].     See, Waqidi, II, 629.

[12].     See, al-Fath, 1.

[13].     See, Ibn Qayyim, III, 309-310.

[14].     See, Waqidi, II, 624.