We now approach the most important event of the sixth year after the Hijra, which was pregnant with tremendous possibilities, and opened the way for the final triumph of Islam throughout Arabia. The Holy Prophet, and those who had emigrated with him, had not since seen their native city, or worshipped at the Holy House, or performed the Umra, which from childhood they had regarded as an essential part of their social and religious life. Since the change of the Qibla from Jerusalem to Mecca, the attention of the Holy Prophet and the Muslims had been concentrated on Mecca. They longed to revisit the scenes of their childhood and to perform the circuits of the Kaaba. It so happened that about this time the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, saw in a vision that he was performing the circuits of the Kaaba in the company of his followers. One of the four sacred months was approaching during which all fighting and conflict was, by established Arab custom, laid aside. The Holy Prophet communicated his vision to the Muslims and every one longed for its realization. It foretold nothing of fighting or contest; the entrance was to be quiet and unopposed. If the Holy Prophet and the Muslims approached at this time the Kaaba in the peaceful garb of pilgrims, Quraish would be bound by every pledge of national faith to leave them unmolested. On the other hand, should Quraish oppose their entrance, the blame would rest with them; and even so, the strength of the pilgrim band would secure its safety. So soon as this was resolved Emigrants and Ansar responded eagerly to the call, and made haste to prepare themselves for the journey. The Arab tribes around Medina who had entered into friendly relations with the Holy Prophet were also summoned, but few responded to the call.
When the arrangements for the journey were completed, the Holy Prophet mounted his camel, Qaswa, and led the cavalcade of 1,500 pilgrims to Dhul Haleefah, distant six miles from Medina and the first stage on the road to Mecca. Here a halt was made and the Holy Prophet directed that all of them should assume the pilgrims garb and called out the Talbeeh (Here am I, O Lord! Here am I!). The sacrificial animals, seventy camels, were then set apart, ornaments were hung about their necks and a mark was affixed on their right sides. The Holy Prophet dispatched a scout, Busr bin Sufyan of Khuzaa, to proceed to Mecca and return with intelligence regarding the attitude of Quraish. A troop of twenty horse under the command of Abbad bin Bishr was directed to march in advance of the main body to give notice of danger. The pilgrims moved forward by ordinary stages. They carried no arms but such as are permitted by custom to a traveller, namely a sheathed sword, a bow and well-filled quiver. On this journey the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, was accompanied by his wife, Um Salama.
Tidings of the Holy Prophets approach soon reached Mecca; and, notwithstanding the pious object and unwarlike attitude of the pilgrims, Quraish were greatly excited. Joined by the surrounding tribes, they were quickly under arms, and took up ground on the Medina road, resolved to perish rather than permit the Muslims to enter. A body of 200 horse, under Khalid and Ikramah bin Abu Jahl, was pushed forward in advance.
The Muslims had nearly reached Osfan, the second stage from Mecca, when the scout returned with the intelligence that Quraish were encamped at Dhu Towa, clothed in panthers skins. Their wives and little ones were with them, and they had sworn to die rather than let the Muslims pass. Shortly after the Meccan cavalry came in sight, and the Muslim horse went forward to hold them in check. Further advance on the high road was now impossible, so the Holy Prophet called a halt and, having procured a guide, turned to the right by a route safe from the enemies horses and after a fatiguing march through devious and rugged pathways reached Hudaibiyya, an open space on the verge of the sacred territory encircling Mecca. Here his camel stopped and, planting her forelegs firmly on the ground, refused to stir another step. She is weary, said the people as they urged her forward. Nay, observed the Holy Prophet, Qaswa is not weary, but the same hand restrained her as aforetime held back the Elephant - alluding to the invasion of Abraha. By the Lord, he continued, no request of Quraish this day, for the honour of the Holy House, shall be denied by me. He then urged his camel forward and it obeyed his gesture. He directed her to the extreme end of the open space and there alighted near some wells. It was, however, found that they were choked with sand and there was little or no water in them. The Holy Prophet took an arrow from his quiver and asked one of his followers to descend with it into a well and scrape away the obstructing sand. Abundance of water soon accumulated. The same night there was plentiful rain and all anxiety with regard to the supply of water was removed. On this the Holy Prophet observed that some of his followers had welcomed the morning with strengthened faith, and that others had rendered their faith doubtful. He who had said that God had sent down rain, by His grace and mercy, had adhered firmly to the reality of faith, but he who said that rain had descended under the influence of such and such a planet affirmed his belief in the planet but denied God. He thus instilled into the minds of his followers the verity that though there was a system of cause and effect behind all phenomena, yet faith in the Unity of God demanded that a believer should overlook the intervening causes and sources and fix his attention upon God Who is the Cause of all causes.
The road from Hudaibiyya led by a circuitous route to Mecca. Quraish no sooner learned that the pilgrims had taken this direction, than they fell back on the city for its defence, and began sending deputations to ascertain the real intentions of the Muslims. Hudaibiyya being only nine miles distant, the communications were rapid and frequent. Budail bin Warqa, a chief of Khuzaa, a neighbouring tribe, with a party of his people, was the first to arrive. He acquainted the Holy Prophet with the excited state of Quraish, and their resolve not to let the Muslims enter the city at any cost. The Holy Prophet explained: We have not come to fight. Our only purpose is to perform Umra. I regret that Quraish still entertain warlike designs. I am even ready that they should stop fighting with me and leave me free to deal with the others. If I am wiped out, Quraish will have no further worry about me, but if God bestows upon me victory over them and my faith becomes supreme, the Meccans should have no hesitation in accepting me. However, if they do not agree and insist upon continuation of war, then by Him in Whose hands is my life, I shall not withdraw from this contest till I lay down my life in this cause, or God bestows victory upon me. Budail was deeply moved by the Holy Prophets words, and said that if he was granted some time, he would go back to Mecca and try to bring about an agreement. The Holy Prophet agreed and Budail and his party returned to Mecca.
Arriving in Mecca Budail told Quraish that he had met the Holy Prophet who had made a suggestion, which he would like to mention to them. On this some of the unduly excited and irresponsible of Quraish declared that they were not prepared to listen to anything from that person; but the serious-minded of them wished to hear what Budail had to say. After listening to him, Urwah bin Masood, an influential chief of Thaqeef, who happened to be in Mecca, stood up and after obtaining the affirmation of Quraish that they had full trust in him, said, In my opinion, Muhammad has made a good suggestion and I think you should accept it. If you will let me, I would go to him and try to carry the matter further.
Having been encouraged by Quraish, Urwah came to the Holy Prophet, who repeated to him what he had told Budail. Urwah was in principle in agreement, but as an emissary of Quraish, he replied to the Holy Prophet, Muhammad, if it comes to fighting and you destroy your own people, you will be the first among the Arabs to perpetrate such a grave wrong, but if Quraish overcome you all those who are with you will soon desert you. At this, Abu Bakr started up and warmly resented the imputation. Urwah, not heeding him, became still more earnest in his speech and, according to the familiar Badawi custom, stretched forth his hand to take hold of the Holy Prophets beard. Back! cried a bystander, striking his arm. Hold thy hands from off the Prophet of God. Who is this? asked Urwah, surprised at the interposition of a red-haired ungainly youth whom he could not identify as he was wearing a helmet. It is thy nephews son, Mughira bin Shubah. O ungrateful one, he exclaimed, it is but as yesterday that I redeemed thy life. These and other scenes at the interview struck Urwah with a deep sense of reverence and devotion of the Muslims towards the Holy Prophet; and this he endeavoured to impress upon Quraish when he carried back to them a message resembling that taken by Budail. But Quraish were firm. Whatever his intentions, the Prophet should not approach the city with any show of force, and thus humble them in the eyes of all Arabia. Tell him, they said, that this year he must go back; but in the year following he may come, and having entered Mecca perform Umra. Urwah told them, I have travelled much and have had the opportunity of being present before Caesar, Chosroes and Najashi, but I have not observed any one of them being accorded such honour and respect as I have witnessed the followers of Muhammad according him. My advice is that his suggestion is just and fair and you should accept it.
Having heard Urwahs discourse, Halees bin Alqamah, a chief of Bani Kananah, offered to go and try to find a way of settlement. When the Holy Prophet saw him approaching from a distance, he said to his Companions, The person who is now coming to us belongs to a tribe who are impressed by a display of sacrificial animals. So collect your sacrificial animals and bring them forward so that he should realize for what purpose we have come. Accordingly they drove their animals with shouts of God is Great and brought them in front of the Quraish emissary. Witnessing this spectacle, he exclaimed Glory be to God, these people are pilgrims and they cannot be prevented from performing the circuits of the Kaaba. So he returned to Quraish and told them that he had seen the sacrificial animals of the Muslims, which had convinced him that their only purpose was to perform Umra, and they should not be obstructed in the performance of this rite. But Quraish refused to listen to him, saying, Thou art a simple Arab of the desert, and knowest not the devices of other men. Halees was enraged at this slight and swore that, if they continued to oppose the advance of Muhammad, he would retire with all his men. The threat alarmed Quraish. Have patience for a little while, they said, until we can make such terms as are needful for our security.
In the meantime, the Holy Prophet felt that some intelligent person should be sent to Quraish who might put the Muslims point of view to them wisely and sympathetically. For this purpose he chose Kharash bin Umayya of Khuzaa and provided him with one of his own camels. When he arrived in Mecca the younger section of Quraish were much excited and Ikramah bin Abu Jahl attacked his camel and wounded it, and even threatened his life. But the older section intervened and he returned to the Islamic camp. Not content with this demonstration, a party of about fifty men was dispatched by Quraish to Hudaibiyya with instructions to watch around the Islamic camp and to take advantage of any opportunity of inflicting damage upon the Muslims. The Muslims were, however, on the alert and the whole party of Quraish was taken captive. But the Holy Prophet directed that they should be released so that the pending negotiations should not be disrupted. This incident is referred to in the Holy Quran as follows: He it is Who held back their hands from you and held back your hands from them in the Valley of Mecca, after He had granted you victory over them (48:25).
Thereafter the Holy Prophet thought of sending someone who belonged to Mecca and was connected with a respectable family of Quraish. He desired Umar to go as his emissary. Umar excused himself on account of the personal enmity of Quraish towards him, and also on the ground that he had no influential relative in the city who could shield him from danger. He submitted that Uthman, who belonged to one of the most powerful families in Mecca, would be a fitter envoy. Uthman consented and the Holy Prophet provided him with a written statement addressed to the leaders of Quraish in which he explained his purpose and assured Quraish that they only intended to perform Umra in peace, and having offered their sacrifices they would return to Medina. He also instructed Uthman to try to make contact with the poor Muslims in Mecca and to reassure them that God would soon open some way for them and that they should continue steadfast.
On entering the city, Uthman received the protection of a cousin, and went straightway to Abu Sufyan and the other chiefs. We come, he told them, to visit the Holy House, and to honour it, and to perform worship there. We have brought sacrificial animals with us and after slaying them we shall depart in peace. In confirmation he produced the writing that the Holy Prophet had furnished him, which was inspected with keen interest by the chiefs, but they adhered to their resolve that the Muslims should not enter Mecca that year. When Uthman sought to persuade them, they told him that he could, if he chose, visit the Kaaba and perform the circuits, but that they had sworn that this year the Muslims could not enter the precincts of their city. Uthman declined their offer to him and started to make ready to return to the Muslim camp. A section of Quraish, thinking that they might thereby obtain better terms, detained Uthman and his companions in Mecca. As his return was delayed, a rumour spread among the Muslims that the Meccans had murdered Uthman. Anxiety and alarm overspread the camp. The Holy Prophet himself began to suspect treachery; taking his stand -under the shade of an acacia tree, and surrounded by the whole body of the pilgrims, he required a pledge from them of faithful service, and that they would stand by Uthman to the death. Everyone rushed forward enthusiastically to take the pledge. When all had taken the solemn oath, striking each one the palm of his hand on that of the Holy Prophet, he himself struck his own right hand upon his left, observing, This is the hand of Uthman; for if he had been here, he would not have lagged behind anyone in making this holy bargain, but he is at the time occupied with the work of God and His Messenger. This pledge is known as the Covenant of the Pleasure of God. It is mentioned in the Holy Quran in the words: Allah was indeed well pleased with the believers when they swore allegiance to thee under the Tree, and He appreciated the surge of faith in their hearts and sent down tranquillity on them, and rewarded them with a victory near at hand (48:19).
When Quraish learnt of this pledge, they became apprehensive and not only let Uthman and his companions depart, but determined to come to terms with the Muslims on condition that they should return to Medina on this occasion and perform Umra freely next year. On the other side, as the Holy Prophet had from the beginning been determined that he would not deny any request of Quraish for the honour of the Holy House, the prospects of an agreement began to be hopeful.
After some further interchange of messages Quraish deputed Suhail bin Amr, one of their leading chiefs, and other representatives with power to conclude a treaty of peace. When the Holy Prophet saw Suhail, he observed, There comes Suhail; now, if God so wills, the affair would be resolved. (The root of the word Suhail is sahl, meaning easy.) When Suhail arrived with his companions, he said, We are ready to come to a settlement. The Holy Prophet, peace be on him, said that he too was ready and summoned Ali to act as the scribe of the treaty, the purport of which was understood between the two sides, and the details of which would be put into shape during the writing of it. When Ali arrived, the Holy Prophet started dictating, and told him to write, In the name of Allah, Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim, to which Suhail immediately demurred, saying, We have no knowledge of Rahman; begin as is the Arab custom with: In Thy name, O Allah. The Muslims were excited and insisted that the opening words should be as the Holy Prophet had dictated, but he told them there was no harm in adopting the suggestion of Suhail. The dictation proceeded: These are the conditions of peace between Muhammad the Messenger of God and..., Stop again, interposed Suhail. If thou art what thou sayest, we would not have taken up arms against thee. Write, as the custom is, thine own name and thy fathers name. Write, then, continued the Holy Prophet, between Muhammad son of Abdullah, and Suhail son of Amr, whereupon Ali protested that having already inscribed the words Messenger of Allah, he felt it would be a sacrilege to rub out those words. The Holy Prophet thereupon himself rubbed out those words and the writing preceded as Suhail had desired. The terms of the treaty were: War shall be suspended between Quraish and the Muslims for ten years. Whosoever wisheth to join Muhammad, or enter into treaty with him, shall have liberty to do so; and likewise, whosoever wisheth to join Quraish, or enter into treaty with them. If a man from among Quraish goeth over to Muhammad without the permission of his guardian, he shall be sent back to his guardian; but should any of the followers of Muhammad return to Quraish, they shall not be sent back. Muhammad shall retire this year without entering the City. In the coming year, Muhammad may visit Mecca, he and his followers, for three days, during which Quraish shall retire and leave the City to them. But they may not enter it with any weapons, save those of the traveller, namely, to each a sheathed sword.
While the treaty was being inscribed Suhails son, Abu Jandal, wearing handcuffs and chains and bearing marks of injuries all over his body, staggered into the Muslim camp and told the Muslims that he had embraced Islam and was being kept in durance and tortured, as they could see from his chains and injuries. He begged that he should not be returned to Quraish as he would not be able to survive further torment. On his side Suhail demanded that he should be handed over into his custody. The Holy Prophet was deeply moved by the condition of Abu Jandal and pleaded with Suhail to let Abu Jandal remain with the Muslims, but despite the repeated pleas of the Holy Prophet, Suhail was adamant and his claim was admitted. As he was dragged away, the Holy Prophet said to Abu Jandal, Have patience and put thy trust in the Lord. He will work out for thee, and for others likeminded with thee, a way of deliverance. We are unable to help thee, as we have entered into an agreement with the Meccans, and we cannot go against our word.
The Muslims were much agitated over this incident and Umar, being unable to restrain himself, approached the Holy Prophet and inquired, Are you not the Messenger of Allah? To which he replied, Certainly. Then Umar asked, Are we not based upon truth, and our enemies on falsehood? To which the Holy Prophet replied, That is so. Then why should we submit to such humiliation in the matter of our faith? The Holy Prophet pointed out, Umar, I am the Messenger of Allah, and know what He desires. I cannot go against it, and He alone is my Helper. Umar was still not satisfied and asked: Did you not tell us that we would perform the circuit of the House? To which the Holy Prophet rejoined, Indeed I did, but did I also say that it would happen this very year? Umar confessed that such had not been the case, on which the Holy Prophet counselled him, Then wait; you will, God willing, certainly enter Mecca and perform the circuit of the Kaaba. Still excited, Umar approached Abu Bakr and had a similar exchange with him. Abu Bakr admonished him, Umar, hold yourself in check, and do not let your grip on the stirrup of the Messenger of Allah be loosened, for by God, he to whom we have sworn allegiance is certainly true. Umar subsequently confessed that, in his momentary excitement, he said all this to the Holy Prophet and to Abu Bakr, but was soon overtaken by remorse and sought to wash out this stain of weakness through prayer, and fasts and almsgiving and the freeing of slaves.
The inscribing of the treaty was completed and it was attested, on behalf of the Muslims, by Abu Bakr, Uthman, Abdul Rahman bin Auf, Sad bin Abi Waqqas, and Abu Obadiah. A copy was handed to Suhail bin Amr who returned with it to Mecca. The original was retained by the Holy Prophet.
After Suhail had departed, the Holy Prophet directed his Companions to slaughter their sacrificial animals, to have their heads shaved or close-cropped, and to prepare for the return journey to Medina. They were very gloomy over what they considered were the humiliating terms of the treaty and in their perplexity they paid no attention to the Holy Prophets direction, though he repeated it two or three times, as if they had not even heard him. The Holy Prophet took their inaction to heart and retreated into his tent. Um Salama, who had witnessed all this from inside the tent, and who noticed the signs of concern on his countenance, submitted, Messenger of Allah, do not be grieved. Your Companions are not disobedient, but are overborne by sorrow at the unequal terms of the treaty. I would venture to suggest that you need say nothing to them, but should slaughter your sacrificial animals and have your head shaved, so that, following your example, your Companions may do likewise. The Holy Prophet approved of the suggestion and, emerging from his tent, proceeded to put it into effect. As the Muslims saw him thus occupied, they were jolted out of their mental lethargy and immediately started following his example which, thus, proved much more effective than his words.
These rites having been performed and the stay of the Muslims at Hudaibiyya having extended to nearly twenty days, the Holy Prophet directed the start of the march back to Medina. When the cavalcade arrived at Karal Ghamim, near Osfan, and had made camp for the night and settled down, the Holy Prophet summoned them and told them that a Sura had been revealed to him which was dearer to him than all else in the world. This Sura (48:2-4 and 28) comprised the tidings:
Surely, We have granted thee a clear victory, so that Allah may open the way to cover up all thy shortcomings, past and future, and that He may complete His favour unto thee, and may guide thee along the right path for success. Surely, Allah will help thee with a mighty help .... Allah has in truth completely fulfilled for His Messenger the vision that He had vouchsafed him, namely, that you will surely enter the Sacred Mosque, if Allah so wills, in security, with your heads shaven or close-cropped and having no fear.
Umar and the Companions of the Holy Prophet were still much perplexed. Umar has related: During the course of the journey on the return from Hudaibiyya, I approached the Holy Prophet and accosted him, but he did not respond. I tried three times, but he remained silent. I was much grieved over his silence and admonished myself that the Holy Prophets silence was an indication that I had ruined my soul. I withdrew myself from my fellows and was overcome by the fear that I might be condemned by God Almighty through some revelation vouchsafed to the Holy Prophet. While I was thus perplexed I heard someone call: The Holy Prophet summons Umar bin Khattab. I imagined that my fear was about to be confirmed, and I hastened to the Holy Prophet and, having greeted him, sat down next to him. He told me that a Sura had just been revealed to him, which was dearer to him than everything else in the world, and he then recited some verses of Sura Fateh. I submitted, Messenger of Allah, is this treaty truly the victory of Islam? He responded, Most certainly this is a victory for us.
On learning that some of the Companions were wondering whether their apparent frustration at Hudaibiyya was indeed a victory, the Holy Prophet admonished them, If you will reflect, this Truce is indeed a great victory for us. Quraish, who were committed to hostilities against us, have agreed to put an end to them and have made a covenant of peace with us. They have promised to open the gates of Mecca to us next year. We are returning in peace and security, safeguarded against the mischief of the Meccans and breathing the fragrance of further victories. Thus, this is a great victory. Have you forgotten Uhud and Ahzab when Quraish invaded you, and the earth, despite its vast expanse, was straitened for you, and your eyes became distracted, and your hearts rose up to your throats? Today the same Quraish have made a treaty of peace with you. Upon this the Companions submitted, Messenger of Allah, we now understand and realize the truth. Our vision is limited, and we do not see as far as you are able to see. We now realize that this treaty is indeed a great victory for us. Thereafter, the Holy Prophet and his company returned safely to Medina. Sir William Muirs appraisal of the Treaty of Hudaibiyya is expressed thus (Life of Muhammad, p. 360):
The people, led by the Vision to anticipate an unopposed visit to the Kaaba, were crestfallen at the abortive result of their long journey. But, in truth, a great step had been gained by Muhammad. His political status, as an equal and independent Power, was acknowledged by the Treaty: The ten years truce would afford opportunity and time for the new religion to expand, and to force its claims upon the conviction of Quraish; while conquest, material as well as spiritual, might be pursued on every other side. The stipulation that no one under the protection of a guardian should leave Quraish without his guardians consent, though unpopular at Medina, was in accordance with the principles of Arabian society; and the Prophet had sufficient confidence in the loyalty of his own people and the superior attraction of Islam, to fear no ill effect from the counter clause that none should be delivered up who might desert his standard. Above all, it was a great and manifest success that free permission was conceded to visit Mecca in the following year, and for three days occupy the city undisturbed.
A short while after some Muslim women managed to escape from Mecca and arrived in Medina. The first of these was Um Kulthum, daughter of a pagan chief, Uqbah bin Abi Mueet, who had perished at Badr. On her mothers side she was closely related to Uthman bin Affan. She had the courage and endurance to travel from Mecca to Medina on foot, and on arrival at Medina she presented herself before the Holy Prophet and announced her acceptance of Islam. She was soon followed by her two brothers who claimed that she be handed over to them. They urged that though the words of the treaty specifically mentioned that every male (rajul) from among Quraish who might go over to the Holy Prophet must be returned to them, the purport of the treaty was general and applied to both men and women. In opposition to them Um Kulthum relied both on the language of the treaty and on the consideration that women were weak and occupied a subordinate position to men and that therefore returning a woman who had embraced Islam to Quraish would amount to imposing spiritual death upon her. She therefore urged that the exemption of women from the operation of the treaty was not only in accord with its language, but was reasonable, just and necessary. The Holy Prophet pronounced in favour of Um Kulthum and rejected the claim of her brothers. In this context, it must be remembered that Suhail bin Amr, envoy of Quraish at Hudaibiyya, had minutely scrutinized every word of the treaty before he agreed to it. Indeed, the terms of the treaty were expressed in the language proposed by him. The literal translation of this particular clause of the treaty, as reported by Bokhari, is: No one of our men, though he may belong to thy faith, shall come to thee, but that thou shalt be bound to return him to us. It is thus clear that this clause of the treaty was specifically confined to men. This is easily understandable, as neither side contemplated that a woman would have the opportunity and the courage and the endurance to escape from Mecca to Medina and declare herself a Muslim. Another very strong factor in support of the position adopted by the Holy Prophet was that Quraish at no time raised the objection that in refusing to return women back to the custody of Quraish the Holy Prophet had been guilty of a breach of the terms of the treaty. Besides, it is a well-recognised principle that a party making a claim under a treaty or engagement must establish its claim beyond doubt.
Some time later a young man, Abu Baseer Utbah bin Usyad Thaqafi, who was a resident of Mecca and was a confederate of Banu Zuhrah, embraced Islam and having escaped from Mecca arrived in Medina. Quraish sent after him two emissaries to Medina with the request that he should be returned to them. The Holy Prophet sent for Abu Baseer and told him to go back to Mecca. Abu Baseer urged that he was a Muslim, that he would be persecuted in Mecca and that Quraish would seek to force him to renounce Islam. The Holy Prophet said to him, We are under compulsion by virtue of the treaty that we have entered into, that we cannot permit you to remain with us. If you will be steadfast, seeking the pleasure of Allah, He will open some way for you. But we must conform to the terms of the treaty and you must go back to Mecca. Abu Baseer, with great reluctance, started for Mecca with the emissaries of Quraish, terrified that he would be severely tormented by Quraish in order to force him to renounce Islam. When the party arrived at Dhul Haleefah, a few miles from Medina, he found an opportunity of doing away with the principal emissary of Quraish, and would have disposed of the other one also, but he escaped and arrived back at Medina ahead of Abu Baseer. He went straight to the mosque, where the Holy Prophet then was, and, in a terrified voice, blurted out, My companion has been killed and I too am in danger of my life. The Holy Prophet sought to comfort him, and in the meantime Abu Baseer also arrived and submitted, Messenger of Allah, you returned me to Quraish and thus fulfilled your obligation, but God has delivered me from them and you are no longer responsible for me. Upon this the Holy Prophet exclaimed, Woe unto his mother, he is likely to set ablaze the flames of war. Would that there were someone to restrain him. From these words Abu Baseer realized that the Holy Prophet would, in any event, send him back to Mecca. So he slipped away quietly, and instead of returning to Mecca took up his position at Siefal Bahr, by the sea-shore on the caravan route to Syria. When this became known in Mecca, Abu Jandal and other young men who were convinced of the truth of Islam but dared not profess it openly in Mecca, gradually managed to slip out of Mecca and joined Abu Baseer, who was soon surrounded by more than seventy followers, all desperate as himself. They were now on their own and were not subject to the authority either of Quraish or of the Holy Prophet. They began to waylay every caravan from Mecca and spared no one. This confronted Quraish with a difficult and dangerous situation. They were at length so harassed by the activities of this group that they solicited the interference of the Holy Prophet, and, on condition that their activities were restrained, waived their right to have them delivered up as deserters. The Holy Prophet acceded to their request and wrote to Abu Baseer and Abu Jandal that as Quraish had voluntarily waived the relevant clause of the treaty, they should now go to Medina. When the Holy Prophets emissary arrived in Siefal Bahr, Abu Baseer, who had been ill, was in extremity. He received the Holy Prophets letter with great reverence and breathed his last while holding it in his hand. Abu Jandal and the rest of the group buried Abu Baseer in Siefal Bahr and then made their sorrowful way to Medina. It is worthy of observation that if Abu Baseer, on leaving Mecca, had not gone to Medina at all and had proceeded to Siefal Bahr, as he eventually did, Quraish could not have requested the Holy Prophet to direct him to return to Mecca, as his case would not have fallen within the terms of the Truce.
The Truce of Hudaibiyya was one of the most outstanding events in the life of the Holy Prophet. With it was terminated the struggle between him and Quraish, which had extended over nineteen years, and had, after the Migration, assumed the character of an armed conflict. By virtue of the Truce, peace had at last been established, at least between Quraish and the Holy Prophet, and the major difficulty in the way of peaceful propagation of Islam had been removed. Thereafter, Islam began to spread rapidly in the greater part of Arabia. Some estimate of the rate of this progress might be made on the basis of the number of Muslims who were present with the Holy Prophet at Hudaibiyya, which was just short of 1,500, and the number that accompanied him two years later on the occasion of the Fall of Mecca, which was 10,000. This is eloquent testimony that the attraction and superiority of Islam lie in its spiritual power and not in armed conflict. The extreme anxiety of the Holy Prophet to secure a truce at Hudaibiyya and his acceptance of the obviously unequal terms of the treaty confirm his own commitment to peace and orderliness and his aversion to armed conflict.
The Holy Prophet, peace be on him, had now been largely set free to devote the greater part of his attention to the discharge of his major responsibility, which was to convey the universal message of Islam as widely as possible. He was commanded, O Messenger, proclaim widely that which has been sent down to thee from thy Lord; for if thou do it not, thou wilt not have conveyed His Message at all. Allah will safeguard thee against harm by the people (5:68). This obligation was not confined to the Holy Prophet himself, but was laid upon the whole body of believers; as would appear from: You are the best people for you have been raised for the benefit of mankind; it is your duty to enjoin good, forbid evil and have firm faith in Allah (3:111); and: Let there be from among you a party whose business it should be to invite to goodness, to enjoin equity and to forbid evil. It is they who shall prosper (3:105). This obligation has to be discharged prudently and wisely, as is said: Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and contend with them on the basis of that which is best (16:126). There is to be no compulsion whatever: There shall be no compulsion in religion, for guidance and error have been clearly distinguished (2:257), and: Proclaim: This is the truth from your Lord; then let him who will, believe, and let him who will, disbelieve (18:30).
The Divine Message that was committed to the Holy Prophet is meant for the whole of mankind: Proclaim, O Prophet: O mankind, verily I am Allahs Messenger to you all. To Him belongs the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth (7:159).
Bokhari relates that the Holy Prophet said: I have been bestowed five bounties, which distinguish me from previous Prophets. I have been helped with far-reaching prestige; the whole earth has been sanctified for me as a place of worship; the spoils of war have been made lawful for me; I have been permitted to intercede for people; all previous Prophets were raised for their respective people, and I have been raised for the whole of mankind.
The law of Islam is universal, permanent and irrevocable; as is said: This day have I perfected your religion for your benefit, and have completed My favour unto you, and have chosen for you Islam as your faith (5:4). It is narrated by Bokhari that on one occasion, some Jews said to Umar, with reference to this verse, Had this verse been revealed to us, we would have appointed the day of its revelation as a festival. Umar replied, God Himself has appointed that day as a festival for us, for this verse was revealed to the Holy Prophet on the day of pilgrimage at Arafat, the following day being the Festival of Sacrifice. Muslim has related that the Holy Prophet said, I am the last Prophet and my mosque is the last mosque, meaning, that there would be no Prophet after him who might abrogate his Prophethood, nor would there be set up any place of worship, in which a new form of worship might be instituted.
As the Truce of Hudaibiyya had procured some respite for the Holy Prophet, therefore, soon after his return to Medina, he decided to address invitations to the rulers of countries in the proximity of Arabia in all directions to accept Islam. When he mentioned this project to his Companions and sought their counsel, he was advised that temporal rulers took no account of any communication addressed to them unless it bore the seal of the person sending the communication. Thereupon, the Holy Prophet had a silver signet prepared, bearing the words Muhammad, Messenger of Allah so arranged that Allah was at the top, Messenger in the middle and Muhammad last. This signet was thereafter worn by the Holy Prophet till his death; it was then worn by Abu Bakr during the period of his Khilafat, and after him by Umar, and after him by Uthman, the Second and Third Successors of the Holy Prophet. It slipped off the finger of Uthman when he was sitting on the edge of a well called Arees and could not be recovered despite the utmost efforts to do so.
The Holy Prophets invitations were sent to Heraclius, the Byzantine Emperor, the Iranian Emperor, the Viceroy of Egypt, the Chief of Yamamah, the Emperor of Abyssinia, the Governor of Ghassan, the Viceroy of Yemen and the Governor of Bahrain. They were not all dispatched at one time, but were spread over a period of a few weeks. The very first one was addressed to Heraclius.
Ever since the Holy Prophet had received the Divine Call the Byzantine and Persian empires had been waging with each other a ceaseless deadly warfare. Until the year 621, unvarying success attended the Persians arms. Syria, Egypt, and Asia Minor were overrun. Constantinople itself was threatened. At last Heraclius, the Byzantine Emperor, took matters seriously in hand and, shortly after the Holy Prophets Migration from Mecca to Medina, started driving the invaders from their fastnesses in Asia Minor. During the three years in which Heraclius was retrieving the fortunes of the empire, the Holy Prophet was engaged in his struggle with Quraish. Then came the critical siege of Constantinople by the Persians, which preceded by little more than half a year the siege of Medina by Quraish and their allies. In 627, in his third campaign, Heraclius followed up his previous success, and at the close of the year achieved the decisive victory of Nineveh. In this action the forces of Persia were irretrievably broken. This event coincided with the Truce of Hudaibiyya. During the autumn, Heraclius, in fulfilment of his vow for the outstanding success, which had just crowned his arms, performed on foot a pilgrimage from Emesa (Hims) to Jerusalem. Soon after his arrival there, his courtiers noticed one morning that the Emperor appeared to be seriously perturbed. On enquiry, he disclosed that the cause of his perturbation was that the previous night his study of the planets had revealed that a mighty king had arisen among the circumcised. He asked which were the people who practised circumcision, and was told that it was a custom of the Jews, but that the Jews, as the Emperor was aware, were not strong enough to pose any serious threat to the empire. About that time, the Governor of Ghassan sent intimation to Heraclius that an Arab of the name of Muhammad had claimed prophethood and that his influence was spreading, on which he directed an inquiry whether the Arabs practised circumcision; and on being told that they did, he exclaimed, Then he must be the king of those people. A short while thereafter the Holy Prophets letter addressed to Heraclius reached him.
The text of the Holy Prophets letter was: In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful. From Muhammad bin Abdullah, Messenger of Allah, to Heraclius, the Chief of Byzantium. Peace be on him who follows the guidance. I invite you to the acceptance of Islam. Be a Muslim and enter into the security of Allah. Be a Muslim and Allah will reward you doubly. If you turn away, you will bear the responsibility for your subjects. People of the Book! Let us agree upon one matter, which is the same for you and for us, namely, that we worship none save Allah, and that we associate no partner with Him; and that some of us take not others for lords beside Allah. Then, if they turn away, say to them, Bear ye witness that we have submitted wholly to Allah.
The Holy Prophet committed this letter to Dihya Kalbi and instructed him to convey it to the Byzantine Emperor through the intermediary of the Governor of Ghassan. When Dihya, through this means, arrived in Jerusalem with the letter, he had to present it to the Emperors nephew for its submission to the Emperor. When the nephew presented the letter to the Emperor, he directed him to open it and read it out to him, but as soon as he opened it and deciphered it first line he was upset and suggested that the letter should be turned down as the writer had been guilty of disrespect towards the Emperor as he had put his own name ahead of the Emperors name in the letter and instead of describing him as the Emperor of Byzantium, he has merely called him Chief of Byzantium. Heraclius waived aside his nephews criticisms, and, taking the letter, directed that the bearer of the letter should be treated as a royal guest during the time that the letter was under his consideration. The Emperor also gave orders that search should be made for any compatriot of the writer of the letter who might be available and to arrange to present him before the Emperor. Bokhari has narrated on the authority of Ibn Abbas the following account in Abu Sufyans words of what transpired as that of the Emperors direction: I had then gone to Syria with a few companions on a commercial errand. The time was after the Truce of Hudaibiyya. The Emperors men searched for us and, taking us to Jerusalem, presented us before the Emperor, who was holding court wearing his crown and surrounded by his courtiers. He directed his interpreter to enquire from us which of us was most closely related to the claimant of prophethood. I submitted that I was his closest relative in that he was my cousin. The Emperor asked me to step forward and directed that my companions should stand behind me, and told the interpreter to warn my companions that he desired to put some questions to me concerning the person who claimed to be a prophet and that if I made any misstatement in answer to his questions, they should point this out to him. Thereafter, he asked me the following questions:
Emperor: What is the status of this claimant among his people?
Abu Sufyan: He belongs to a noble family among us.
Emperor: Has anyone among you made such a claim previously?
Abu Sufyan: No.
Emperor: Had you ever known him to tell a lie before he made his claim?
Abu Sufyan: No.
Emperor: Was there among his ancestors anyone who was a king?
Abu Sufyan: No.
Emperor: Are those who follow him from among your leading people, or are they weak and humble?
Abu Sufyan: They are weak and humble.
Emperor: Is their number increasing or diminishing?
Abu Sufyan: They are increasing.
Emperor: Has any of his followers reviled from his faith in disgust?
Abu Sufyan: No.
Emperor: Has he ever broken his pledge?
Abu Sufyan: No, but we have recently concluded an agreement with him concerning which we have some apprehension what it might lead to.
Emperor: Has there been any fighting between him and you?
Abu Sufyan: Yes.
Emperor: With what result?
Abu Sufyan: It has been like the ascending and descending of bucket in a well. Sometimes he wins, and sometimes we win.
Emperor: What does he teach?
Abu Sufyan: He tells us to believe that God is One and that we should not associate anyone with Him. He forbids us to worship as our ancestors used to worship. He directs us to perform Salat, give alms, shun vice, fulfil covenants and not to commit breach of trust.
Abu Sufyan has related that after this dialogue the Emperor explained to him, through the interpreter, the purpose of each of his questions and the conclusion that he had drawn from his answers, which was in each case in favour of the claimant. The Emperor added, I knew that a Prophet was about to be raised, but I did not imagine that he would be raised among you Arabs. If what you have told me is true, I consider that the time is not far when this man will obtain dominion over the soil, which is under my feet. Were it possible for me, I would have gone to meet him, and if I had had this opportunity, I would have drawn comfort from washing his feet.
Abu Sufyan has related that the Emperor then directed that the letter sent by the claimant to him should be read out. At the end of the reading comments were made from every direction and voices began to be raised, but that he and his companions did not know what was being said. They were directed to leave, and when they had come out, Abu Sufyan, addressing his companions, said to them, It seems to me that the star of Muhammad is in the ascendant inasmuch as the Byzantine Emperor seems to be afraid of him.
Not long after, another letter couched in similar terms reached the court of Heraclius. It was addressed to Harith VII, prince of Bani Ghassan, who forwarded it to the Emperor, with an address from himself, soliciting permission to chastise the audacious writer. But Heraclius forbade the expedition and desired the attendance of Harith at Jerusalem.
Another letter of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, was addressed to Chosroes Parvez bin Hormuz, Emperor of Iran, of the well-known Sassanid dynasty. Iran had long-standing relations with Arabia. Bahrain, in the east of Arabia, and Yemen in the west, were both part of the dominions of the Chosroes, and were administered by his governors. Another factor that engaged the interest of the Chosroes in the affairs of Arabia was that there were Jewish tribes who had been settled in Medina, Khaibar, Wadil Qura etc. These Jewish tribes were opposed to the Byzantines on account of the hostility of the latter towards, and persecution of, Jews, but they had friendly relations with Iran. In the time of the Holy Prophet Jewish leaders often visited Iran and endeavoured, as far as they could, to set the Chosroes against the Holy Prophet.
The Holy Prophets letter addressed to the Chosroes was carried by a devoted Companion of his, Abdullah bin Hudhaifa Sahmi, who was directed to approach first the Governor of Bahrain, Mundhar bin Sawi, and convey the letter to Chosroes through his mediation. This letter was also sealed like the one addressed to the Byzantine Emperor, and the text of it was: In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful. From Muhammad, Messenger of Allah, to Chosroes, Chief of Iran. Peace be on him who follows the guidance, believes in Allah and His Messenger and bears witness that there is no one worthy of worship save Allah, the One, without associate, and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger. I invite you to the Call of Allah, as I am the Messenger of Allah to the whole of mankind, so that I may warn every living person and so that the truth may become clear and the judgment of God may overtake the disbelievers. I call upon you to accept Islam and thus make yourself secure. If you turn away, you will bear the responsibility for your subjects also.
Abdullah bin Hudhaifa has related that when, on receiving permission, he presented the Holy Prophets letter to the Chosroes, he directed his interpreter to read it out to him. On hearing it read out the Chosroes was outraged and, snatching the letter from the hand of the interpreter, tore it into bits, exclaiming, How dare a subject of mine address me in such words! When the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, received the report of this incident, he observed, As regards these [meaning the Iranians], they will be broken to bits, and as regards those [meaning the Byzantines], they will be granted respite. This pronouncement of the Holy Prophet was literally fulfilled regarding the empire of the Chosroes within a few years, but the empire of Byzantium, despite the loss of its eastern provinces, continued for centuries.
The Chosroes did not confine his wrath against the Holy Prophet to tearing his letter to bits, but directed his Governor of Yemen, Badhan, to dispatch two strong emissaries to the Hedjaz who should apprehend this claimant of prophethood and produce him before the Chosroes. Accordingly Badhan selected one of his secretaries, Banweh, for this purpose, and dispatched him to Medina, accompanied by a mounted guard, with a letter addressed to the Holy Prophet requiring him to accompany the two emissaries who would produce him before the Chosroes. When they arrived in Medina, they presented Badhans letter to the Holy Prophet and counselled him to accompany them as directed in the letter, failing which the mighty Chosroes would ruin his country and his people. The Holy Prophet smiled, and then invited them, in a brief address, to embrace Islam and told them that they should stop for the night and that he would give his reply to the letter the next day. On their presenting themselves the next day, he told them, Convey to your master that my Master has slain his master last night.
Banweh and his companion returned to Yemen and conveyed the message of the Holy Prophet to Badhan, who, on hearing it, exclaimed, If what he says comes about, he would indeed be a Prophet of God. Not long after Badhan received a dispatch from Sherweh, son of Chosroes Parvez, which contained the intimation that Sherweh had slain his father in the public interest on account of his tyranny and his merciless killing of the nobles of the empire. Badhan was instructed to obtain the allegiance of the people of Yemen to Sherweh, and was told that the directions sent by his father concerning an Arab personage were cancelled. On receipt of the dispatch, Badhan involuntarily exclaimed, Muhammads words have been proved true; it seems that he is a true Prophet of God and I believe in him. He immediately wrote to the Holy Prophet conveying to him his adhesion to Islam.
The Holy Prophets letter addressed to Muqauqis, the Viceroy of Egypt, subordinate to the Emperor of Byzantine, whose personal name was Juraij bin Meena, and who, like the people of Egypt, was a Copt and was of the Christian faith, was dispatched by the hand of Hatab bin Abi Baltah, who was a distinguished Companion of the Holy Prophet, and who had fought in the battle of Badr. The text of the letter was: In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful, From Muhammad, Servant of Allah and His Messenger, to Muqauqis, Chief of the Copts. Peace be on him who follows the guidance. I invite you to the acceptance of the Call of Allah. Embrace Islam and be secure; Allah will reward you doubly. If you turn away, you will bear the responsibility of the Copts also. People of the Book! Let us agree upon one matter, which is the same for you and for us, namely, that we worship Allah, and that we associate no partner with Him, and that some of us take not others for lords beside Allah. Then, if they turn away, say to them: Bear ye witness that we have submitted wholly to Allah (seep. 216).
When Hatab arrived in Alexandria and was granted access to Muqauqis and presented the Holy Prophets letter to him, he read it and, addressing Hatab, said in a tone of raillery: If your master is truly a Prophet of God, then why did he not supplicate God that He might make me subordinate to him? Hatab replied that Jesus also had not made such a supplication, and added, I advise you to take this letter seriously as in this country of yours there has been one who claimed that he was the lord and ruler of the world, but God seized him in such manner that he became an example for all subsequent generations. So I would beg you sincerely to take a lesson from what has happened to others and not to be the one to become a lesson for others. Muqauqis then adopted a serious tone and said, We have already a faith, which we cannot discard unless we find a faith superior to it. Hatab rejoined, Islam is a faith which relieves its followers from the need of any other faith; but it does not require you to discard faith in Jesus. Islam teaches faith in all the Prophets. As Moses had prophesied about the coming of Jesus, in the same way Jesus had prophesied about the advent of the Holy Prophet.
In a later interview, when several high dignitaries of the church were also present, Muqauqis said to Hatab, I have heard that your Prophet was expelled from his home. Why did he not on that occasion supplicate that his enemies might be destroyed? Hatab replied, The Holy Prophet was only compelled to leave his home, but Jesus was apprehended by the Jews and they attempted to put an end to him on the cross, yet he was not able to bring about the destruction of his enemies through supplication. Muqauqis observed, You certainly are an intelligent person and have been chosen as an envoy by a wise man. I have reflected on what you have told me about your Prophet and I find that he has not taught anything ill nor forbidden anything good. He then placed the Holy Prophets letter in a small ivory box, sealed it and committed it to the custody of one of his female servants. He then sent for a scribe who knew Arabic and dictated the following letter: In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful. To Muhammad bin Abdullah, from Muqauqis Chief of the Copts. Peace be on you. I have read your letter and have understood its contents, and that to which you have called me. I am aware that a Prophet is yet to arise; but I am of the opinion that he will appear in Syria. I have done honour to your envoy and I am sending you with him two damsels of high status among the Copts, and raiment and a mule for you to ride upon. Peace be with you. He committed the letter to Hatab who conveyed it to the Holy Prophet.
Of the two damsels sent by Muqauqis, one was named Mary and the other was named Sireen. They were sisters. By the time they arrived in Medina they had embraced Islam under the instruction of Hatab. The Holy Prophet himself married Mary and gave her sister Sireen in marriage to the well-known Arab poet Hassan bin Thabet. From Mary a son was born to the Holy Prophet who was named Ibrahim. The mule was white and was named Duldul. The Holy Prophet rode it often. He was riding it during the battle of Hunain.
One very interesting particular concerning the letter addressed by the Holy Prophet to Muqauqis is that after the passage of centuries the original of the letter was discovered in 1858 by Monsieur Etienne Barthelemy, member of a French expedition, in a monastery in Egypt and is now carefully preserved in Constantinople. Several photographs of the letter have since been published. The first one was published in the well-known Egyptian newspaper Al-Hilal in November 1904; it is also reproduced at page 364 of Professor Margoliouths book, Muhammad and the Rise of Islam, and also at page 198 of an Egyptian publication, The Political History of Islam, by Dr. Hassan bin Ibrahim, Professor of History in the Islamic University of Cairo. Several non-Muslim scholars have confirmed that this is the original letter, which the Holy Prophet had addressed to Muqauqis, Viceroy of Egypt. The text of this letter is in exact accord with the text mentioned in Islamic books of history and in compilations of hadith.
The Holy Prophet also addressed a letter to Ashama, Negus of Abyssinia, who was already a great admirer of the Holy Prophet and held him in great honour and who had extended great kindness to the Muslims who had, under the Holy Prophets direction, migrated to his country and were settled there. This letter was committed by the Holy Prophet to Amr bin Umayya Dhamri. Its text was as follows: In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful. From Muhammad, Messenger of Allah, to the Negus, King of Abyssinia. Peace be on you. I praise Allah beside Whom there is no other worthy of worship, the King, the Most Holy, the Source of Peace, the Bestower of Security, the Protector. I bear witness that Jesus son of Mary was raised by the Word of Allah, which He sent to Mary. I call you to Allah, the One without associate, and to co-operation with me in obedience to Him and to following me, and to believing in that which has been revealed to me, for I am the Messenger of Allah and call you and your people to Allah, the Exalted. I have conveyed my message to you and have called you out of sincerity to the truth. Then respond to my sincere call. I have already sent my cousin Jafar and a party of Muslims to your country. Peace be on him who follows the guidance.
When this letter was presented to the Negus he raised it to his eyes and, descending from his throne, announced, I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. He then called for a small ivory box and placed the letter in it, saying, So long as this letter is preserved under the care of our dynasty, the people of Abyssinia will continue to derive blessings from it.
The Negus sent the following reply to the Holy Prophet: In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful. To Muhammad, Messenger of Allah, from the Negus Ashama. Peace be on you, Messenger of Allah, and His mercy and His blessings. Allah, beside Whom there is no one worthy of worship, is He Who has guided me to Islam. Messenger of Allah, your letter has reached me. By the Lord of heaven and earth, Jesus, peace be on him, is not any more than you have mentioned, even by a particle. I have recognized that with which you have been sent to us. I bear witness that you are a true Messenger of Allah whose truth has been testified to. I make my pledge at the hand of your cousin and embrace Islam for the sake of Allah, Lord of the worlds. Peace be on you and the mercy of Allah and His blessings.
This was the Negus who died in the ninth year of Hijra and for whom, on learning of his death, the Holy Prophet led a funeral service proclaiming that a righteous brother in Islam, the Negus of Abyssinia, had died and that his Muslim brethren should supplicate for the salvation of his soul. The Holy Prophet addressed a letter to his successor also, but he did not respond to his call and died a Christian.
The Holy Prophet had also sent a private letter to the Negus Ashama at the same time as the letter, the text of which has been set out above. In his private letter he had asked the Negus to perform his nikah with Um Habeebah, daughter of Abu Sufyan, who had been married to Ubaidullah bin Jahsh, cousin of the Holy Prophet, who had died in Abyssinia. He also requested the Negus that arrangements might be made for the return of Jafar and his companions to Medina. The Negus complied with both requests of the Holy Prophet.
The Holy Prophet addressed another letter to Haudha bin Ali, Chief of Bani Haneefa, a Christian tribe, in Yamaniah. The letter was carried by Saleet bin Amr Qarshi who was very hospitably entertained by Haudha, was presented with change of raiment and provisions for his journey home. He was given a letter containing the following message to the Holy Prophet: Excellent and beautiful is the revelation to which you invite me. The Arabs revere my dignity. Grant unto me, after you, a share in the rule, and I will follow you. When the Holy Prophet read the letter, he observed, Rule belongs to God; had this man asked of me but an unripe date, as his share in the land, I would not have given it to him. Haudha died in the following year.