Muslims at The Treaty of Hudaybiyya

The Kaaba in Mecca is the most sacred pilgrimage site for the Muslims all around the world. It was built by Prophets Abraham and his son, Ismail with the intention of being a place of worship to the One God-Allah, but over time it was converted into the biggest center of idolatory by the Meccans who were now its custodians. There were 360 different idols of various gods placed in the Kaaba. Every year the tribes of Arabia converged in Mecca to worship these deities.

The First Pilgrimage to Mecca:
By ancient Arab custom, everyone was free to visit the Kaaba – unarmed. The Muslims of Medina, also desired to make an annual visit to Kaaba in Mecca, which was also their Qibla-i.e, they had to offer their prayers facing in the direction of Kaaba. Therefore, in Zilqa'ada of the sixth year after the Migration, their Prophet declared that he would visit Mecca to perform Umra or the Lesser Pilgrimage. They had taken camels and other animals for sacrifice but no weapons except their swords.

When the pilgrims reached the outskirts of Mecca, the Prophet was informed that Meccans would not allow him to enter the city. They halted near a well in a place called Hudaybiyya in the north of Mecca. The Prophet sent a message to the Quraysh that he wished only to make the customary seven tawaafs of the Kaaba, sacrifice the animals, and then return to Medina, with his followers, to which the Quraysh did not agree.

Umar Disobeys The Prophet:
Eventually, the Prophet Muhammad ordered Umar bin al-Khattab to go to Mecca to explain to the idolaters the purpose of their visit and also to assure the Meccans that the Muslims had no intention to fight anyone, and that after performing the rites of Umrah they would leave Mecca immediately.

But Umar refused to go saying that there was no one in Mecca to protect him and he suggested to send Uthman bin Affan to Mecca. Umar was unwilling to take the risk but there was no risk involved for him because he was not one of those Muslims who were stained with Meccan blood. Like Umar himself, Uthman also was not stained with any Meccan blood.

The Meccans welcomed Uthman and told him that they would allow only him to perform the Umra and Muhammad and the other Muslims will not be allowed into the city. Later, Muslims got the news that Meccans had arrested Uthman. It was even rumored that they had killed him.

The Pledge of Ridhwan:
When the rumors of Uthman's execution reached the Prophet, he asked the Muslims to renew their pledge of fealty to him. All Muslims pledged their obedience to the Messenger of Allah. This is known as the Pledge of Ridhwan and the Muslims who gave it, are called the Companions of the Tree, because the Prophet of Islam stood under a tree as they filed past him renewing their oath of allegiance to him.

This resolution by Muslims resulted in a change of attitude on the part of the Quraysh, who now not only released Uthman but also sent Suhayl bin Amr, to the Muslim camp to finalize a treaty with the Prophet of Islam. Suhayl was known to be a skillful but a flexible negotiator. Suhayl arrived in Hudaybiyya and started negotiations with Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah.

The Treaty of Hudaybiyya:
After long discussions and debate they succeeded in reaching this agreement, the more important clauses of which were:

1. Muhammad and his followers would return to Medina without performing Umra pilgrimage of the current year.
2. There would be peace between the Muslims and the Quraysh for a period of ten years from the date of the signing of the treaty.
3. If any Meccan accepts Islam and seeks refuge with the Muslims in Medina, Muslims would extradite him to Mecca. But if a Muslim, fleeing from Medina, seeks refuge with the pagans in Mecca, Mecca would not extradite him.
4. All the tribes of Arabia would be free to enter into accords with any party – the Muslims or the Quraysh.
5. The Muslims would visit Mecca to perform the pilgrimage in the following year for only three days.

An Interesting Incident:
When the Treaty of Hudaybiyya was being indited, an incident took place which throws a revealing sidelight upon the character of the various protagonists engaged in drafting its terms.

Dictating to Ali, the Prophet said: "Write, In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Beneficent." Suhayl at once raised objection, and said, "Do not write this. Instead, write, ‘In Thy name O Allah.'" The Prophet complied with this demand.

The Prophet next asked Ali to write: "This is a treaty of peace between Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah and the Quraysh..." Suhayl again objected, and said: "If we had acknowledged you a messenger of Allah, why would we be fighting against you? Therefore, do not write the words, ‘the Messenger of Allah,' and write only Muhammad the son of Abdullah."

The Prophet was agreed to comply with this demand also but Ali had already written the words, "Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah," and he refused to delete them. He said to his master: "This high rank has been bestowed upon you by Allah Himself, and I shall never delete the words ‘Messenger of Allah' with my hand." Thereupon, the Prophet took the pen in his own hand, and struck off the words which were objectionable to the Meccans.

Meccans Sense Victory:
The Treaty of Hudaybiyya was signed on two copies, one for each party. The original was retained by Mohammed while the duplicate was handed to Suhayl. In Mecca the leaders of the Quraysh hailed the Treaty of Hudaybiyya as a triumph of their diplomacy. They assumed that Muhammad had at last been defeated, and that the treaty was a formal declaration of surrender. But as evident from the events which followed it, the Treaty of Hudaybiyya was one of the greatest triumphs of Islam.

Umar Revolts Against Muhammad:
Many of the Muslims were disappointed at the outcome of Hudaybiyya, having anticipated a triumphant entry into Mecca. Umar ibn al-Khattab, as usual, voiced his indignation and considered its terms dishonorable, and he was so much distressed by them that he turned to Abu Bakr for answers to his questions. Umar asked him that whether Muhammad is or isn't the Messenger of Allah and that are we Muslims or not. Abu Bakr replied in affirmative to both questions, then Umar asked so why they are surrendering to the unbelievers? Abu Bakr replied that they must not meddle in this matter and leave it to the Messenger of Allah.

But Umar went to see the Prophet himself and repeated his queries to him to which Muhammad replied "I am the Messenger of Allah, and I do whatever He commands me to do.'"

But it appears that Umar was not satisfied even with the answers of the Prophet himself to his questions. The terms of the Treaty of Hudaybiyya had generated grave doubts in his mind. He declared later that never before had he such doubts concerning Muhammad's truthfulness, and if he had found merely a hundred like-minded men, he would have resigned from the umma of Islam. Umar went to see what the other Muslims felt and found them much in the same frame of mind as he.

This means that Umar was assailed by doubts from time to time about the truthfulness of Muhammad and his prophetic mission which he repressed each time. But at the Treaty of Hudaybiyya, his chronic doubts erupted with such terrific force that he could not suppress them. Haunted by his doubts, he actually considered leaving the fraternity of Islam itself but could not find anyone in the camp who would give him moral support in his ideas.

The traditional Sunni line has been that in showing defiance and insolence to Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, Umar was prompted by his love of Islam. According to them, he loved Islam so much that he was carried away. Earlier, he had refused to obey the Prophet's order to carry a message to the Quraysh in Mecca. That refusal, probably, was also prompted by the same love.

Those people who attribute Umar's misbehaviour to his love for Islam, are suggesting that he loved Islam more than Muhammad himself did! Also, he was suggesting that Muhammad was wrong in seeking peace with the Quraysh, and that it was his duty to correct Muhammad. Only a day or so earlier, Umar had taken an oath to obey the Messenger of Allah through thick and thin.

After the departure of the Meccan emissaries, the Prophet Muhammad ordered the Muslims to shave their heads and to offer their animals as sacrifice, as rites of Umra. But he was shocked to notice that many of them were in a rebellious mood and did not want to obey his commands. Umar's public defiance of the Apostle of Allah had encouraged his followers to do the same.

The Treaty of Hudaybiyya - A Manifest Victory:
His mission accomplished, Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, left Hudaybiyya with the pilgrims, to return to Medina. Then the following revelation came from Heaven:

Verily we have granted thee a manifest victory (Chapter 48; verse 1)

When the Messenger of Allah promulgated this latest revelation called "Victory," Umar bin al-Khattab came to see him, and asked: "Is this what you call a Manifest Victory?" "Yes," said the Messenger of Allah, "by Him in Whose hands is my life, this is the Manifest Victory."

The Outcome of The Treaty:
The Treaty of Hudaybiyya was a product of inspired statesmanship and political genius of the highest order. It brought immense advantages to Islam.Those Muslims who were in Mecca, concealed their faith for fear of persecution. But after the Treaty of Hudaybiyya, they began to practice Islam publicly. Muslims could propogate Islam for the first time which led to the conversion of many of them, and Islam began to spread rapidly.The Prophet traveled to Hudaybiyya with 1400 men. Two years later, when the Meccans broke the truce, he marched against them with an army of 10,000. Also, many Arab tribes, though still heathen, wanted to enter into treaty relations with the Muslims and now they could make alliances with the Muslims.

The Treaty of Hudaybiyya is the best answer to those critics who allege that Islam was spread with the power of the sword. The non-muslim Arabs were strongly influenced by the Qurayshite propaganda that Muhammad lusted for war and now they could see that Muhammad returned to Medina without bloodshed even though he had an army with him which had defeated the Quraysh twice – in 624 and 627.

The Treaty of Hudaybiyya also points up the aversion of Qur’an for war. Before the treaty, the Muslims had won the two battles of
Badr and Khandaq yet, the Holy Qur'an didn't call either of them a manifest victory. In the sight of Qur’an, the Treaty of Hudaybiyya alone was the Manifest Victory.

Umar bin al-Khattab had bridled at the third clause of the Treaty since it was not reciprocal; but it was precisely this clause that put the Quraysh on the defensive almost immediately, and they came begging to the Prophet to repeal it. Eighteen months after the signing of the Treaty of Hudaybiyya, Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, marched into Mecca, as a conqueror, and he was accompanied by ten thousand believers. The conquest of Mecca was a direct result of this Treaty.

Two important principles of Islam can be seen in their application in the Treaty of Hudaybiyya,

1. War must be avoided at all costs unless it is absolutely inevitable. Solution of all problems must be sought and found through peaceful means, without compromising with the principles of Islam.

2. A Messenger of Allah does not have to follow the opinions or wishes of his followers. Though a majority of the companions of Muhammad opposed the signing of the Treaty of Hudaybiyya, he ignored their opposition, and went ahead and signed it. From beginning to end, he was guided only by the commandments of Allah, enshrined in His Book:

So judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the truth that hath come to thee... (Chapter 5; verse 51)