As the sixth year of the Hijra set in, the word of God said to the Prophet,
“Surely you will, God willing, enter the house of God safe.”
There was great joy in Medina. The Muhajirs (refugees) hoped to return home soon. But they wondered how. Will they have to go to war against Mecca? Or will the Quresh give in peacefully? The Prophet soon decided to pay a visit to Mecca. He made his wish known to the local people. Agents were also sent to friendly tribe to apprise them of his intentions. They were asked to accompany the Muslims to the Kaaba. He also made know the purpose of his visit. It was not war, he said, It was to make Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage. He wanted non-Muslims to go with him too. The idea was that his goodwill should be made clear to the Meccans.
The party proceeded as planned. The Prophet had 1400 companions, both Muhajirs and Ansars. There were also some non-Muslim tribesmen in the multitude accompanying him. Muslims had their swords sheathed as was the custom.
When the Quresh learnt that the Prophet was on his way, they sent an army to meet him. When he reached Usfan, he was told that the Meccan forces were not very far. The Prophet felt deeply grieved for the Meccans. He said,
“Wars have ruined them and yet they know not.”
The Prophet wanted to avoid war. He had come for a peaceful purpose. When he saw the Meccan army coming he started on a side-path that led to Mecca. When Meccans saw this, they feared the Prophet was marching to attack Mecca. They turned back so that they could reach Mecca before the Prophet would. They planned to give him battle there.
The Prophet stopped at Hudaibia. He said he would agree to any terms the Quresh gave, if conducive to peace and public welfare. The Quresh were also very uneasy. They knew that if they lost the battle this time, they would lose Mecca forever. They, therefore, sent agents to the Prophet to talk peace terms. The agents advised the Quresh to let Muslims in. Hulaish told them that his tribe would not stand in the way of Muhammad. Another agent, Urwah, also advised them to change their minds. He said,
“I have been to the courts of Iran, Rome and Abyssinia. I saw no king with the majesty of Muhammad.”
The Prophet also sent an agent to Mecca. The Quresh killed his camel and attacked him. At night some Meccan youth stoned the Muslim camp. They were taken prisoners. In the morning the Prophet set them all free. The Prophet next proposed to send Umar to speak to the Meccans. He said the Quresh were very angry with him and he had little mercy for them. The Prophet then sent Uthman. The Meccans permitted him to make the pilgrimage. He refused. He said, he would not if the Prophet could not. The Quresh answered that they would not let him that year. News reached Muslim camp that the Quresh had killed Uthman. There was great anger among them. The Prophet called them to assemble under a tree. There they took an oath on his hand to punish Meccans for the crime. This is called the Baiat-ul-Ridhwan. The Prophet put his right hand on his left and said it was Uthman’s hand.
After some time peace was made. The Quresh agreed to let the Prophet visit the Kaaba the following year. The Prophet agreed to go back that year. He agreed to send back to Mecca the Muslims who escaped from Mecca. He also agreed to return to the Quresh any Muslim who gave up Islam. Both parties agreed to end war for ten years. Both were free to have friendly relations with other tribes.
Medina was now a state. Islam was free. So were other religions in Arabia. The Prophet was the head of the State. Mecca had agreed to that much. The Treaty of Hudaibia was thus a great victory. But a greater one was yet to come.
The Jews of Khaiber began hostilities. Efforts to make peace with them failed. The Prophet took to the field with 1000 Muslims. The Jews had very strong forts. The Prophet gave Ali the flag of Islam. Ali fought with unusual courage. The Jews gave in. The Prophet let them stay there on easy terms. They agreed to give half the produce of the land to him. His agents would go every year to collect the share. Two lots were made. The agents would ask the Jews to choose their lot.
Relations with Jews were now completely normal. But some among them were very angry at heart. A Jewish lady once invited the Prophet and his companions to dinner. She had poisoned the food. The Prophet refused to eat. She admitted her crime. She was forgiven. But Muslim lost all faith in Jews and never trusted them any more. Relations between the Jews and Muslims have remained strained since.
On return to Medina, the Prophet sent embassies to Iran, Abyssinia, Rome, Egypt, Oman, Bahrin, Ghassan, Yamama and Yemen.
The Roman emperor read the Prophet’s letter with due deference. The Iranian emperor tore it to pieces. On hearing this, the Prophet said that God would treat his empire in the same manner. The Negus received the Embassy very respectfully. The King of Egypt sent to the Prophet costly presents. Yemen and Oman showed disrespect to the envoys. The Amir of Bahrin accepted Islam. The Amir of Yamama was very rude to the agent of the Prophet.
A year after the Hudaibia treaty, the Prophet as agreed set forth to Mecca. 10,000 Muslims accompanied him. They carried their swords in sheaths. The Meccans left the town. They did not like to come into contact with Muslims. The Prophet and his men performed the pilgrimage. The offered prayers in the Holy House. The Meccans watched them from hills. The Prophet returned to Madina after staying three days in Mecca.
A quiet change began to take place among the Quresh after Prophet’s visit to the Holy House. They knew they had been defeated. They saw that Islam was now in power. They also saw with their own eyes that Muslims were better men. The great Quresh commander Khalid bin Walid said,
“It is now clear to the wise that Muhammad is not a sorcerer. Nor is he a poet. His speech is the word of God. It is, therefore, the duty of all to obey him.”
Khalid joined Islam. He was soon followed by Amr Bin al-Aas and Uthman bin Talha.
Fifteen teachers sent by the Prophet to Zati Talh (Syria) were attacked by the tribes. Fourteen were killed. The Prophet’s ambassador to the emperor of Rome was intercepted by Shurahbil, the ruler of Ghassan, and was murdered. The Prophet sent a force to punish the killers. He enjoined on them fear of God and just treatment of Muslim comrades.
“Go to war in the name Allah and fight the enemy in Syria, your enemy and Allah’s enemy. You will meet in Syria people who remember God much in their houses of worship. Molest them not and have no quarrel with them. Molest no women nor children nor the old nor the blind. Neither cut down trees nor pull down houses.”
Three thousand Muslims faced an army of 100,000 enemy. Zaid bin Harith, the Muslim Commander, fell fighting. Jabar bin Abu Talib took the command. He too was killed. Abdullah bin Ravah followed next. He met the same fate. Then Khalid bin Walid took over. Muslims gave hard blows to the enemy but they were many and the Muslims were few. Khalid hid away a large section of the army at night. They marched up in the morning. The enemy thought Muslims made a quiet retreat from Mauta, the field of battle. Later a force was sent by the Prophet under Amr bin Alas. He was helped with another force under Abu Ubaida bin al-Jarrah. Abu Bakr and Omar were also serving under his command. The enemy force dispersed without giving battle. Many tribes joined Islam after this victory. The Arab volunteers who had helped the enemy walked over to the Muslims.