Quraysh Boycotts Banu Hashims

The Isolation Of Banu Hashim:
After spending three years in fruitless campaigning against Islam which had generated much bitterness and hostility against the Muslims, the Meccans decided in desperation to take steps against Abu Talib, who in their opinion, was the real protector of the blasphemy. After all it was Abu Talib who was protecting Muhammad and Islam so consistently and tenaciously.

In the past, the Quraysh had made many attempts to isolate Muhammad from his clan but Abu Talib did not let the Quraysh isolate Muhammad. Not only he was himself protecting his nephew, he had also rallied the whole clan of Banu Hashim behind him. The leaders of the Quraysh found themselves powerless before them.

After long deliberation and debate, the Quraysh agreed to take sterner measures, and decided to isolate and ostracize not only Muhammad but all his protectors as well, including the clan of Banu Hashim. A few days before the beginning of the 7th year- A.D.616, the leaders of the various clans of Quraysh met in a solemn conclave in the "town hall" of Mecca, and there, by consensus,

they drafted and signed a document which stipulated that unless the clan of Banu Hashim surrendered Muhammad to them, it would be subjected to an economic and social boycott designed to starve them. They pledged themselves not to buy anything from, nor to sell anything to, the members of the Banu Hashim, and they placed intermarriage with them under proscription.

This covenant was sent to the other tribes for ratification after which it was solemnly suspended on the wall of the Kaaba. Abu Talib could clearly sense the changing conditions. The atmosphere in Mecca had become so explosive that Banu Hashim found itself in great peril. Abu Talib realized that it would not be prudent to live in the city where any moment, the enemy could set fire to their houses. In the interests of the security of the clan, he, therefore, decided to leave Mecca, and to seek safety for it in a ravine near Mecca which later came to be known as Sh'ib Abu Talib. The ravine had some natural defenses, and it was in any case safer to live in it than to live in their houses in the city which were highly vulnerable to attack.

The Hardships of the Seige:
At the beginning of the siege, Ali was 16 years old, and he was charged with the difficult and dangerous duty of bringing food and water for the whole clan. He discharged this duty at great risk to his life and brought water and grain whenever he could find any. For one goatskin of water, he had to pay one piece of gold, and he considered himself lucky if he succeeded in bringing it to the ravine.

Abu Talib himself didn't sleep at nights. He spent the whole night shifting Muhammad out of one bed and putting him in another. He knew his enemies were tenacious, treacherous, vicious and vindictive. If one of them crept into the ravine with the intention of killing Muhammad, he would most probably, kill one of the sons of Abu Talib, who was ever ready to sacrifice his sons for Muhammad.
Going hungry and thirsty was a norm in the ravine. When water was available, mothers boiled dead leaves in it to comfort their crying children. The cry of hungry children could be heard outside the ravine, and Abu Jahl and the Umayyads gloated over their "triumph" in making the children of Banu Hashim cry for water and food.

Helpers of Banu Hashim:
For the besieged clans, water was the gift of life, and the two clans received it from Khadija. She gave Ali the pieces of gold with which he bought water. Few friends of Banu Hashim in Mecca, Hisham ibn Amr al-Aamiri, Abul Bukhtari, Hakim ibn Hizam, the nephew of Khadija brought food and water for them as often as they could, but eventually the Quraysh caught them, barred the access to the ravine and refused to let them pass, confiscated the provisions and the camels.

Hisham bin Amr al-Aamiri, Hakim bin Hizam, and Abul Bukhtari, were not Muslims but they did not want to see any child or even a slave of Banu Hashim perish from hunger, and they risked their own lives time and again in bringing food and water to the Sh'ib Abu Talib.

No Help From Muslims of Mecca:
It should be pointed out here that the hatred and anger of the Umayyad clan of Quraysh was directed not against the Muslims but against the clan of Banu Hashim, Islam and Muhammad who was safe and comfortable in the fortress which Abu Talib and the Banu Hashim had built for him.

Also there were many Muslims in Mecca who did not belong to the clan of Banu Hashim and who never stayed at Sh'ib Abu Talib with the Banu Hashim.

Some of them were rich, powerful and influential, and all of them claimed that they loved their Prophet; but not one of them ever came to see him much less bring any aid to him, during the three years of siege. They enjoyed the comfort and security of their homes in the city for three years while their Prophet, Muhammad, lived on the edge of a sword, surrounded by enemies.

The boycott of the Quraysh had failed to produce the intended result. The members of Banu Hashim were defiant, and their morale was high. The siege of Banu Hashim was raised three years later in A.D. 619, and the clan returned to the city. Ten years had passed since Muhammad, may Allah bless him and his Ahlul-Bait, had first proclaimed his mission. During these three years, the vast fortunes of Khadija and Abu Talib had run out. If the leaders of the Quraysh abandoned the siege, it was not because there was any change of heart on their part. They abandoned the siege because there were other forces at work against it.