By Nilofar Ahmed
Oct. 14th, 2011
SOME time after the migration of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and his followers to Medina, the Makkans banned the entry of the believers in Makkah, even for the purposes of Haj or umrah. The Muslims yearned to visit the Ka’aba to perform the pilgrimage. After about six years, the Prophet and some 1,500 of his companions started out for Makkah on Ziqa’ad 1, 6 AH, (628 CE), with the intention of performing umrah. They put on the ihram, recited the intention and thus entered the state of consecration.
They did not carry any weapons but the Makkans came to know of their approach and decided to block their path, even if it meant having to go to war. The Prophet decided to avoid confrontation and bloodshed, and to take a very rough and circuitous route. The Muslims camped at Hudaibya, located on the border of Makkah. They decided to negotiate with the Makkans to allow them the peaceful practice of their religion. The Makkans sent small gangs to attack the believers so that they would be incited to start a war. Otherwise they wanted them to turn back.
The Prophet dealt with them with great patience and released the Makkans each time after arresting them. The Prophet sent Hazrat Usman as his envoy to the Makkans to convince them to send Suhail bin Umro to talk to him. After negotiations, the final pact, whose scribe was Hazrat Ali, was agreed upon and came to be known as the Sulah Hudaibya (the peace pact of Hudaibya).
Some of its clauses were as follows: there would be peace for 10 years in which both parties would refrain from fighting; when a believer came to Makkah and Taif for the purposes of pilgrimage or trade, his life would be protected; if any Qureshi passed through the Muslim territory of Medina, his life would also be protected. The most difficult point to accept was that of one-sided extradition, and which stated that if a Qureshi who had converted to Islam was to escape from his guardian and reach the Prophet in Medina, he would be forced to go back, but if a Muslim renounced his faith and escaped to Makkah, the Makkans would not be obliged to return him. Besides these points, it was also declared that both parties would remain true to the pact; that they would not commit treachery and remain neutral in their wars with other parties; that the Bedouin tribes would be free to make friends with whichever party they pleased; that sacrificial animals would be sacrificed in Hudaibyah and not brought to Makkah; that rights and duties of both parties would be equal. It was also agreed that Muslims would return to Madina without performing umrah that year; that they would be allowed to come back the next year to perform the pilgrimage and be allowed to remain in Makkah for three days; that they would carry only a traveller’s weapon, and not weapons of war; that the Makkans would leave the city for those three days; and that when the Muslims returned, they would not be allowed to take anyone along with them. In this pact, the Prophet, through his wisdom, was able to keep the higher, far-reaching goals in mind.
Some of his companions were outraged and found the accord degrading. They resisted coming out of ihram. The Prophet consulted his wife, Umme Salma. She advised him to go ahead and perform the acts needed to come out of the state of ihram himself. He followed her advice. As soon as his companions saw that, they followed suit. The Prophet was always true to his word. While still at Hudaibya, he encountered a difficult decision. Abu Jandal, a new convert, broke his fetters and came crying to him asking that he be rescued from the Makkans who were torturing him. Seeing his condition all the companions were enraged.
But the Prophet kept his word and offered him no help, except taking a promise from Abu Jandal’s father that he would not be tortured. On their return to Medina, Muslims met Abu Busair, another new convert who had escaped from Makkah. His relatives demanded his return and the Prophet complied. Abu Busair later managed to escape again, hid in a gorge near Badar and kept attacking the caravans of the Makkans going to Syria.
Many other converts joined him and made it impossible for the caravans to pass that way. Frustrated, the Makkans themselves approached the Prophet to cancel the clause of one-sided extradition. The converts were now able to join the believers in Medina. While on his way back from Hudaibya, the Prophet received the revelation of the first verses of Surah Al-Fatah, in which Allah declared this pact to be a victory (48: 1).
The companions later realised that the pact had had far-reaching, beneficial effects. That the Makkans signed an agreement with the Prophet showed that they had accepted him as the legitimate leader of a people and a state. Thus, through his wisdom, patience and farsightedness, the Prophet commanded respect, established his moral authority and brought about a peaceful settlement between people of different faiths through non-violence and sincere negotiations.
The writer is a scholar of the Quran and writes on its relevance to contemporary issues.
Source: The Dawn, Lahore