In this part, we will see how Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) agreed to adjourn his minor pilgrimage and return to Medina in order to avoid fighting against Quraysh and any likely bloodshed despite his Companions’ pressures and the black history of Quraysh with him as well as their persistent injustice towards him as well as Muslims.
Al-Hudaybiyah Peace Agreement
Quraysh (the people of Mecca) assembled forces to fight Prophet Muhammad and Muslims in order to keep them away from the holy sanctuary when they came to know that Prophet Muhammad and Muslims were going to make a minor pilgrimage.
The polytheists of Mecca had killed and persecuted Muslims in Mecca. Each Muslim had been either killed, seriously harmed, expelled or dispossessed of his property. Those polytheists had also disbelieved, abused and tried to assassinate Prophet Muhammad in Mecca. Therefore, he had to migrate to Medina along with his Companions.
To avoid fighting against Quraysh, Prophet Muhammad took a rugged way through Thanyat Al-Murar. When he approached Al-Hudaybiyah, his she-camel, called “Al-Qaswa’”, knelt down. The Companions then wondered: “Did Al-Qaswa’ balk?” In reply, Prophet Muhammad said: “Al-Qaswa’ did not balk. This is not one of its manners. But, it was locked up by what locked the elephant up.” Then, he said: “By the One in Whose Hand my soul rests, should they ask me for a plan where they glorify the sacred rites of God, I will surely give it up to them.” Then, he scolded it. And so it jumped. Thereupon, he turned away from Mecca and kept walking until he stopped at Al-Hudaybiyah.
Prophet Muhammad sent `Uthman ibn `Affan to tell Quraysh that Prophet Muhammad and Muslims did not come for fighting but for making a minor pilgrimage given that Muslims were wearing the pilgrimage garments.
However, Quraysh confined `Uthman at Mecca. Then, Prophet Muhammad feared for him and decided to fight Quraysh to release him. Then, Quraysh dispatched `Urwah ibn Mas`ud Al-Thaqafi to negotiate a peace agreement with Prophet Muhammad.
Prophet Muhammad let `Urwah know that he and Muslims only wanted to make a minor pilgrimage. In principle, he agreed to conclude a peace agreement with Quraysh to avoid fighting.
Then, Quraysh dispatched Suhayl ibn `Amr to conclude this agreement with Prophet Muhammad. Upon seeing Suhayl, Prophet Muhammad rejoiced: “Indeed, your matter has been facilitated for you. The people (Quraysh) wanted peace when they sent this man.”
Though the peace agreement terms proposed by Quraysh were unfair, wrongful, unjust, prejudiced and biased against Muslims, Prophet Muhammad agreed to them to avoid fighting against Quraysh.
It is reported that when the two parties reached an agreement, Prophet Muhammad called `Ali ibn Abi Talib and dictated: “Write down: In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” Then, Suhayl objected: “As for the Merciful, I do not know who he is. But, instead, write down: ‘In your name, O Lord,’ as you used to do.’” Muslims then objected: “By God, we will write only ‘In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.’” Then, Prophet Muhammad instructed: “Write down: in your name, O Lord.” Then, Prophet Muhammad dictated: “Write down: this is what Muhammad, the Messenger of God, agreed to.” Once again, Suhayl objected: “By God, if we know that you are the Messenger of God, we will not keep you away from the holy sanctuary. Instead, write down: ‘Muhammad ibn `Abdullah.’” Then, Prophet Muhammad replied: “I am the Messenger of God even though you disbelieve in me. Write down: ‘Muhammad ibn `Abdullah.’”
The agreement included the following terms:
• Those who want to enter into a covenant with Quraysh shall be allowed to do. Those who are not from Quraysh and want to enter into a covenant with Muhammad shall be allowed to do.
• War shall be prevented for a period of 10 (ten) years.
• Muslims shall return (to Medina) this year, provided that they shall enter Mecca for making a minor pilgrimage the next year.
• The two parties shall not assault any tribe or each other, whatever the reasons may be.
• Muslims shall repatriate the Qurayshi persons who come to them as Muslims without their guardians’ permission. However, Quraysh shall not return the Muslims who return to it.
When Prophet Muhammad finished writing down the agreement, he said to his Companions: “Get up and slaughter sacrifices and then shave off your hair.” However, no one of them got up though Prophet Muhammad repeated the above statement thrice.
When nobody of them got up, he himself got up without speaking to anyone of them. He slaughtered a camel and summoned his barber. When Muslims saw that, they got up and slaughtered sacrifices. They shaved the hair of one another. However, they were about to kill one another out of grief.
It is noteworthy that Prophet Muhammad was keen on avoiding bloodshed in spite of such mishaps which threatened Al-Hudaybiyah Peace Agreement. While the two parties were concluding the agreement, a new Muslim, called Abu Jandal ibn Suhayl ibn `Amr, came dragging his fetters along. He came out of Mecca and threw himself away among Muslims.
Suhayl said: “O Muhammad, this man is the first one that I ask you to return to me.” Prophet Muhammad then said: “We have yet to conclude the agreement.” Suhayl replied: “By God, I will never conclude a peace agreement with you.”
Though Prophet Muhammad insisted on exempting Abu Jandal from the agreement terms, he had to agree to hand him over to Suhayl to conclude the agreement successfully and avoid bloodshed.
Thereupon, Abu Jandal called out: “O Muslim community, will you return me to the polytheistic people so that they will tempt me out of my religion?” Then, Prophet Muhammad consoled: “O Aba Jandal, keep patient and wait for the reward. Surely, God will bring relief and find a way out for you and the weak people with you.” Ultimately, Abu Jandal was handed over to Quraysh.
After the conclusion of the peace agreement, eighty Meccan polytheists tried to attack and take the Muslim camp aback, but Muslims managed to capture them. Prophet Muhammad forgave them. Again, other thirty polytheists from Quraysh made another attempt to attack Muslims, but they were also captured and then also released by Prophet Muhammad. Once again, seventy polytheists tried to provoke Muslims into fighting, but Muslims captured them and for the third time Prophet Muhammad forgave them though some of them abused him. Then, the following verse was revealed:
And it is He who withheld their hands from you and your hands from them within [the area of] Makkah after He caused you to overcome them. (Al-Fath 48:24)
Prophet Muhammad insisted on honoring the agreement despite the enormous pressures exerted by his Companions. Most Companions were dissatisfied with most of the agreement terms.
For example, Ali objected to erasing “the Messenger of God” to which Suhayl ibn `Amr objected. Then, Prophet Muhammad said to him: “Show me where it is!” When he showed him its place, Prophet Muhammad erased it by himself and agreed to replacing it with “Ibn `Abdullah”.
Again, Muslims were angry with the term providing that Muslims should have returned the Muslims escaping from Quraysh to Medina. When they objected to that, Prophet Muhammad replied: “Indeed, he who goes to them is rather taken away by God. He who comes to us from them will have relief and a way out from God.”
`Umar ibn Al-Khattab reports that, upon the conclusion of the above agreement, he went to Prophet Muhammad while being very angry and protested: “Are you not truly the Prophet of God?” Prophet Muhammad replied in the affirmative. Then, he complained: “Why should we cause our religion to be lowly?” Prophet Muhammad replied: “Surely, I am the Messenger of God. I cannot disobey him. Surely, He will give me a victory.” `Umar wondered: “Did you not say to us that we would come to and circumambulate the holy sanctuary?” Prophet Muhammad answered: “Yes, I did. But, did I tell you that you would come to it this year?” `Umar said: “No.” Prophet Muhammad then affirmed: “Surely, you will come to and circumambulate it.”
Then, `Umar went to Abu Bakr and said to him what he said to Prophet Muhammad. Then, Abu Bakr said: “Surely, he is the Messenger of God. He cannot disobey him. Surely, He will give him a victory. So, hold firm to his leather stirrup. By God, he is on the right path.”
`Umar regretted: “I kept fasting, giving alms and emancipating slaves as a atonement for what I did, out of fear of the words I said on this day, hoping that they were good ones.”
1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)
2- As-Sirah An-Nabawiyah, by Ibn Ishaq