The treaty of Hudaibiyah is undoubtedly an excellent example of the Prophet’s (sa) wisdom and patience, which people even like Umar (rta) could not comprehend until its fruits were ripe within the next two years. Patience, in fact, is our best friend in all situations and it has been proven time and again.
Six years had passed since the emigration of the Prophet (saw) and his companions from Makkah to Madinah. During this whole period they were barred from going to Makkah and fulfilling their religious duty. This was indeed a great injustice by the Quraish and every Muslim felt its pain.
It was at that time, when Muslims had very strong desire to visit the Kabah and perform pilgrimage; Muhammad (saw) informed them of his vision of visiting Makkah for performing the Umrah. One can easily imagine how joyous the Muslims must have been to know this.
However, their jubilation was to be very short-lived. Quraish mobilized an army, including a cavalry force of two hundred, to prevent the Muslims’ religious march to Makkah. Muslims had to encamp at a place called Hudaibiyah and negotiate with the Quraish. After a few rounds of talks, following treaty was signed:
- The Muslims shall return this time and come back next year, but they shall not stay in Makkah for more than three days.
- They shall not come back armed but can bring with them swords only sheathed in scabbards and kept in bags.
- War activities shall be suspended for ten years, during which both parties will live in full security.
- If anyone from Quraish goes over to Muhammad (saw) without his guardian’s permission, he should be sent back to Quraish, but should any of Muhammad’s (saw) followers return to Quraish, he shall not be sent back.
- All the tribes of Arabia would be free to enter into treaty with any party – the Muslims or the Quraish.
Apparently, the treaty was in favour of the Quraish and most of the Muslims were critical of its terms. Even such a great man as Umar (rta) lost his patience and went to Muhammad (saw) and complained to him with anger and resentment, but could not alter the Prophet’s (saw) determination..The Prophet’s (saw) said that he was the servant of Allah (swt) and His Prophet and that he would not deviate from the divine commandment nor entertain any doubt of divine support.
On their way home between Makkah and Madinah, Surah “Al Fath” was revealed to the Prophet (saw) and he recited it to his companions. “Verily, We have given you a manifest victory. That Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and the future, and complete His favour on you, and guide you on the straight path.” (Al-Fath 48:1-2)
History has shown that this pact was the product of profound political wisdom and farsightedness and that it brought about consequences of great advantage to Islam and indeed to Arabia as a whole. It was the first time that Quraish acknowledged that Muhammad (saw) was an equal rather than a mere rebel and runaway tribesman. It was the first time that Makkah acknowledged the Islamic state that was rising in Arabia.
Furthermore, the peace of the following years gave Muslims the security they needed on their southern flank without fear of an invasion from Quraish.
Islam spread after this treaty more widely and quickly than it had ever spread before. While those who accompanied Muhammad (saw) to Hudaibiyah counted one thousand and four hundred, those who accompanied him on his conquest of Makkah two years later counted well over ten thousand. Indeed, the treaty even made it possible two months later for Muhammad (saw) to begin to address himself to the kings and chiefs of foreign states and invite them to join Islam.
Events succeeded one another very rapidly, all of which confirmed Muhammad’s (saw) judgment and wisdom. Abu Basir (rta) became a Muslim and escaped from Makkah to Madinah. Obviously, the provisions of the treaty applied to him and demanded his return to the Quraish, for he had not obtained the permission of his master. Two messengers came to the Prophet (saw) with a letter from Makkah. The Prophet (saw) asked Abu Basir (rta) to return as they had covenanted with the Quraish to honour the Treaty of Hudaibiyah. Abu Basir (rta) objected to the Prophet (saw) that the unbelievers would force him to apostatize. The Prophet (saw), however, repeated the same judgment to him. Abu Basir (rta) had, therefore, to give himself up to the two messengers.
On their way back, Abu Basir (rta) killed one of the messengers. The other quickly ran toward Madinah and reported the incident to Prophet (saw). Soon, Abu Basir (rta) arrived and said to Muhammad (saw): “O Prophet of Allah! You have fulfilled your duty under the treaty and Allah has relieved you of your obligation. But I was not willing to allow myself to be persecuted or forced to abjure my religion.” The Prophet (saw) did not hide his admiration for him and wished that he had many companions. Later on, Abu Basir (rta) went to Al Is on the sea coast, on the road which the Quraish followed to Sham. When his story reached Makkah, the Muslims still residing there were elated, and about seventy of them ran away to Al Is to follow him as their chief.
Abu Basir (rta) and his companions began to cut off the trade route on their own initiative, killing any unbeliever they caught and seizing any camels belonging to Quraish. Only then did it dawn on the Quraish what a loss they had incurred by insisting on keeping the Muslims in forced residence in Makkah. In the consequent negotiation, the Quraish relinquished the privilege that the Muslims of Quraish who escape without the approval of their masters be returned to Quraish.
Relations between Quraish and Muhammad (saw) became quite peaceful and settled after the Treaty of Hudaibiyah. The Quraish embarked on enlarging trade, hoping to recapture the losses which had resulted from the war with the Muslims in which the road to Sham was cut. As for Muhammad (saw), he embarked on a wider policy of mission, seeking to bring his message to all men in all corners of the earth and to lay down the foundations for the happiness and success of the Muslims throughout the Arabian Peninsula.
Adapted from “The Life of Muhammad (saw) by Muhammad Husayn Haykal and Sealed Nectar by Safiur-Rahman Mubarakpuri”