The most important event of the period was the Treaty of Hudaibiya in the sixth year of Hijra. While the Muslims in general did not comprehend the implications of this apparently humiliating treaty, the Prophet (S.A.W) had foreseen its great benefits and the soundness of his strategy…..
But before dealing with this event it would be worthwhile to assess the political situation at the time and the position of parties in the field.
The Jews exiled for treason and revolt had established themselves in Khyber, Taima and Wadiul Qura and Medina was now wedge in between two hostile fronts which had marshaled a vast force against Medina in the Battle of the Ditch. Now the problem facing the Prophet(S.A.W), before settling scores with the Quraish which had become inevitable, was that if he marched towards Makkah, the Jews of Khyber and Bani Ghatfan would attack Medina, if he turned towards Khyber, the Quraish might do the same from the opposite side. Yet the latter course alone was left for the Prophet(S.A.W) to curb and contain the hostile elements and then to make a final assault on the enemy stronghold of Makkah. Besides, the time was opportune. The leadership of the Quraish was in confusion and their fighting strength was crushed in the three Battles of Badr, Uhad and the Ditch, in which they had lost most of their top warriors, while their economy was badly shattered and most of their Jewish adherents were subdues. Although they were making a show of strength they had lost their power of resistance, while around Medina were clans which were supporters of the Prophet(S.A.W) whose tactical measures had further strengthened them. The Muslims had been refuses for the last six years; they longed to return home. Simultaneously, they wanted to establish their right of reviving the mission of Abraham which they had taken upon themselves and to pray in the House of God built by him. So they restlessly looked forward to the opportunity of entering the Kabaah. Then it was revealed to the Prophet(S.A.W) in a dream to go for Hajj and he began immediate preparations to perform Umrah in the prohibited month. Fourteen hundred people voluntarily accompanied him. He appointed Nomaila ibn Abdullah Laisi as his deputy to look after the administration in Medina, leaving with him and adequate number of Muslims to guard the city. He also took with him 70 camels for sacrifices and marched towards Makkah unarmed.
Dilemma for Quraish
The Quraish now faced a dilemma, for if they attacked the Prophet’s party they would be violating the sanctity of the prohibited month, especially when the Prophet(S.A.W) had declared his peaceful intentions and was unarmed and the presence of sacrificial animals with the party further confirmed the peaceful nature of the march. And if they made no resistance it would be said that they became afraid of the Prophet’s strength and had given him way due to this fear and at this crucial time their chief Abu Sufian was out of Makkah on tour. The Prophet’s foresight had given him assurance that the Quraish had no other alternative than to come to terms. Nevertheless, they began preparations for war and collected their allied clans together with a force of Ahabish clans and immediately peace moves were set on foot. The first to make the move was the chief of Khuza’a clan, Budail bin Warqa, who came to the Prophet with his other companions. The Prophet explained to him his objective which was not hostile while the Quraish who were militant would be themselves at a loss in case of battle. Thus there could be no harm if a temporary peace pact was concluded. On his return Budail explained to the Quraish that hasty action was not wise and the Prophet who was coming with peaceful intentions should not be resisted. The people of Makkah listened to him and sent the leader of Ahabish, Hulais bin Alqama, to negotiate with the Prophet and when Hulais saw the herd of sacrificial animals moving about he was much impressed and on his return frankly told the Quraish that it was not proper to resist those who were coming on pilgrimage and wished to withdraw his clan. He was, however, satisfied by the assurance that they had no intentions to fight but only wanted favourable terms of peace. Then the Quraish sent Urwa bin Masud Saqafi who told the Prophet that he would not gain anything if he destroyed his own community, for these homeless people whom he had collected around him would soon disperse leaving him alone. Because of this impertinence, Hazrath Abu Bakr became very angry and rebuked him. In the customary familiar manner of the Arabs, Urwa frequently carried his hand towards the Prophet’s beard and each time Hazrath Moghira bin Sh’aba turned it away with the point of his sword. The Prophet(S.A.W) again explained his viewpoint to Urwa who returned so much impressed that he told the Quraish that they could not succeed against the Prophet as the devotion and love of his people for him was such as was not found even in the courts of the greatest of monarchs. To move further the negotiations the Prophet sent Kharash bin Umayya to the Quraish but in the confused state of the leadership of the Quraish, some people killed the camel on which Kharash was mounted and Kharash himself saved his life with difficulty. Then Hazrath Usman was sent and a party of the patrolling Quraish clashed with the Muslims but they were arrested and brought before the Prophet who set them free. Hazrath Usman was detained by the Quraish and when his return was delayed a rumour spread that he had been killed. The Prophet(S.A.W) then summoned his men and accepted their pledge that they would not return without fighting the enemy. When the news reached the Quraish they immediately released Hazrath Usman, as in fact the Quraish themselves were not prepared to fight.
The Peace Pact
Then the Quraish sent Mikraz bin Hafs but the Prophet (S.A.W) did not talk to him saying that he was a treacherous man. Then the Quraish sent Suhail bin Amr and the Prophet(S.A.W) saw that they were really ready to conclude peace pact and after some negotiations on certain terms Hazrath Ali was asked to write the draft of the treaty but the situation was so tense that passions were roused at every step. The Prophet(S.A.W) ordered to begin it with “Bismillahir- Rahman-ir-Rahim” but Suhail objected that they did not know what is Rahman and Rahim and the draft should begin with the customary “Bi-ismika Allahumma”. The Prophet (S.A.W) agreed and then dictated that the agreement was concluded between Muhammad(S.A.W), the Prophet of God, and Suhail bin Amr to which Suhail again objected and said that if they had acknowledged him as the Prophet of the God, they would not have taken arms against him. The Prophet(S.A.W) conceded this too and although Hazrat Ali had already written Muhammad the Prophet of God and did not want to scrape out these words the Prophet(S.A.W) himself took the document and erased the words in place of which Muhammad bin Abdullah(S.A.W) was written. The companions of the Prophet(S.A.W) were enraged at the hostility of Suhail but out of respect for the Prophet(S.A.W) they kept silent.
Terms of the Pact
The following terms were settled and written in this momentous document:
1) There will be no war between the parties for two years and they will live at peace.
2) Muslims should return this year and come for pilgrimage of the Kaabah next year keeping their swords sheathed and stay for just three days in Makkah.
3) Arab tribes will be free to conclude alliances with any of the contracting parties.
4) Trade caravans of the Quraish passing through Medina will not be attacked.
5) If anyone from the Quraish goes to Medina without the consent of the party he would be returned but a Muslim coming to Makkah from Medina will not be returned.
The last item was humiliating to the Muslims. It was partial towards the Quraish and this upset the Muslims so much so that when after the signing of the treaty the Prophet(S.A.W) told them to shave their heads, sacrifice the camels, no one moved. When his third call remained unresponded he became dejected and complained to Hazrat Umm-e-Salma of the indifference of his people. She explained to him that the people were dissatisfied with the terms of the treaty and so he should himself offer the sacrifice and others would follow. The Prophet(S.A.W) did and the Muslims complied in anger, irritated and perturbed. The general feelings of the Muslims were represented by Hazrat Umar who frankly asked the Prophet(S.A.W):
“O Prophet of God: are you not a Prophet?’
Prophet(S.A.W): “Surely, why not?”
Hazrat Umar: “Are we not Muslims?”
Prophet(S.A.W) : “Why not?”
Hazrat Umar: “Are these people not unbelievers?”
Prophet(S.A.W): “Certainly, they are.”
Hazrat Umar: “Then why should we contract with them as inferiors.
Prophet(S.A.W): “I am a servant of God and His Prophet(S.A.W). I cannot disobey His orders. Otherwise he will deprive me of His help.”
Hazrat Umar was not quite satisfied with this conversation but he obediently put his signature as a witness on the document, thereby indicating that the Prophet’s wishes were above his personal feelings.
First Crucial Test
While the treaty was not yet signed, Abu Jandal, son of the Quraish representative Suhail, came in chains; he had been badly beaten. He appealed to the Prophet(S.A.W) and the Muslims that he should not be returned to Makkah to suffer oppression at the hands of non-Muslim. Suhail at once rose and said that he was the first man who had to be returned under the treaty. The Prophet(S.A.W) pleaded that since the treaty had not yet been signed this man might be exempted, but Suhail insisted that there would be no treaty unless Abu Jandal was returned. The Prophet appealed that for his sake he might be allowed to remain. But even this appeal had no effect and the Prophet had to concede the demand on which Abu Jandal appeald to the Muslims and said that they were handing him over to the non-Muslims. This must have greatly moved the Muslims but the Prophet conclusively said that having agreed to the treaty he could not go against it and so Abu Jandal should have patience and God would find some way out for him.
Another victim to the stringent provision of the treaty was Abu Bakr Utbha bin Usaid who somehow fled from Makkah and reached Medina. The Quraish sent a deputation of two to bring him back and the Prophet(S.A.W) in compliance with the treaty sent him back advising him to be patient and wait for the help but on the way he killed one of his guards and again came to Medina. Abu Busir said to the Prophet(S.A.W), “You have complied with the terms of the treaty and handed me over to the non-Muslims, but I could not endanger my faith under the oppressions of the Quraish and so I took the action on my own and no responsibility rests on you. God has saved me”. The Prophet(S.A.W) significantly remarked “If this man gathers some men around him he will start war”. Abu Busir feared that he might be sent back again to Makkah and so he quietly left Medina and went over to Ais in the coastal area. Abu Jandal also joined him there and after that whoever fled from Makkah also took refuge there. In due course a group of 70 persons collected there and began to plunder the trade caravans of the Quraish. They were not a party to the treaty nor were they citizens of Medina, so nothing could be done to stop them and the Quraish were so harassed by the activities that this stringent clause was removed from the treaty. Later, the Prophet called these men to Medina and the path was cleared for migration of new converts from Makkah to Medina.
One important issue arose when Umm-e-Kulsum, daughter of Makkan chief, migrated to Medina and her two brothers, Amara and Walid, followed to secure her return. But since the wording of the treaty was such that it did not apply specifically a woman the Prophet refused to return her and the Quraish had to comply.
Great Benefits of the Treaty
While the Muslims in general did not comprehend the implications of this apparently humiliating treaty, the Prophet (S.A.W) had foreseen its great benefits and the soundness of his strategy. Some of the immediate benefits which resulted from this treaty were that in the first place it opened the avenue of amicable contacts between the peoples of Makkah and Medina. Traffic was opened between the two cities and men separated for long from their family began to meet freely with one another. Matters were discussed and the misunderstandings which the people of Makkah had about the Prophet and the Muslims came forward and were cleared. Muslims answered their questions and explained the spiritual, moral, intellectual and material progress they had made while the call of truth and the Islamic ideology became a subject of conversation in every home and Islam spread to rapidly that the number of people who joined the ranks of Muslims in the two years following the Treaty of Hudaibiya was more than the number who had accepted Islam in the course of the last twenty years preceding it. It was this treaty which brought men of the caliber of Khalid and Amr ibn-ul-Aas to the fold of Islam. Secondly, relieved from the worries of wars Muslims found time to devote their energies to the constructive work of moral and intellectual reform and strengthen the administration. It also opened ways for conveying the message of Islam to other countries. Thirdly, the state being at peace with Makkah could attend to the hostile front of Khyber which was subdued very soon after the peace of Hudaibiya. Fourthly, the Arab clans were now free to enter into alliance with Medina or Makkah and this brought many new elements in support of Medina to which the Quraish could not object and just at this moment Banu Khaza’a clan entered into an alliance with the Muslim state. And lastly, only a year later Muslims could enter Makkah without any fear. Thus to conclude such a peace which brought such bitter enemies as the Quraish on the path of amity was the wisest stroke of the Prophet’s policy. Just after conclusion of this treaty, while the Prophet was on his way to Medina Sura Fatha was revealed which reviewed past events, gave its prophecy of future victories and applied solace to their tense feelings.
Strength of the Quraish Disrupted
On the other hand, the Quraish who had presumed that the treaty gave them the upper hand were greatly perturbed with its actual consequences which greatly expanded the circle of Muslim adherents within Makkah disrupting the collective strength of the Quraish. The incident of Abu Bakr and Abu Jandal who had formed a group of 70 men and were obstructing the trade caravans of the Quraish has already been related. Then Banu Bakr and Banu Khaza’a clans who had suspended their longstanding feuds to unite in opposition to Islam now renewed their mutual hostility and when Banu Khaza’a after the peace of Hudaibiya allied themselves with the Muslims and Banu Bakr went over to the Quraish the latter at first killed a man of Banu Khaza’a and then attacked them with full force, committing all sorts of atrocities even to the extent of attacking them inside the Kaabah and killing them while they were engaged in prayers. The Quraish gave them full support and thus committed the folly of going against the treaty. On behalf of Banu Khaza’a Amr bin Sulaim appealed to the Prophet and then a deputation under Budail bin Warqa waited on the Prophet and apprised him of all the details. Now under the treaty, the Prophet had to help Banu Khaza’a and he sent a challenge to the Quraish putting before them three alternatives, viz., to pay blood money for those killed or to give up support to Banu Kanana or lastly to announce annulment of the treaty of Hudaibiya. The Quraish having lost their balance of mind agreed to the last alternative and the treaty was declared null and void. But realising its grave consequences frantic efforts began from the side of the Quraish to renew the treaty. The first person to make a move was Abu Sufian who rushed to Medina and tried in every way to placate the Muslims but received such a rebuff that he returned home disappointed.