The Truce of Hudeybiya and the Conquest of Mecca
Al-Azhar Magazine – December 1973
The conquest of Mecca in the 8th year after the Prophet’s migration to Medina decided the fate of whom of the Arabia, and opened its doors to Islam. The Truce of Hudeybiya, concluded between the Prophet and the people of Mecca in the 6th year of Hijrah, paved the way to this historic conquest. In this crucial period through which the Arab and Muslim nations are passing, let us have a glance on these two great historical events.
In the 6th year of Hijrah, the Prophet informed his companions that he was going to Mecca to Perform ‘Umrah’, and they accompanied him, bearing with them their sacrifice. They went with no intention of making war, but when the prophet and his followers approached Mecca they were refused entry, and the Meccan people stopped them performing their Umrah. Then the prophet sent one of his companions Osman ibn Affan to explain to the people of Mecca that they hadn’t come to make war, but to pay their respects to House of God. But when the messenger of the Prophet went to speak to the people they kept him there for three days, and it was feared that they had killed him. The prophet became angry and made a covenant with his followers. If this rumour was true, they must fight the people of Mecca because of this terrible deed. The followers of the Prophet promised not to return home until they knew what had happened to the Prophet , and this day is known in Islamic history as the Day of “ Ba’at al- Ridwan”.
It is mentioned in the Holy Quran that on this day they pleased God in the sincerity and their readiness to make sacrifices in order to seek the truth. Then the people of Mecca sent a delegation to the Prophet, returning at the same time his messenger. This delegation was sent to make an agreement with the people of Mecca and the Prophet. They agreed that the Prophet must not enter Mecca that year, but they would be permitted the following year. And the war must stop between both sides for ten years. Anyone who came to the people of Mecca from the side of the Prophet would not be allowed to return, and a further condition was that anyone wishing to form an alliance with the Prophet, could do so, and anyone of Muhammad’s followers could form an alliance with Mecca.
When the followers heard these conditions they were not at all happy. They had no wish to go back to Medina without performing their Umrah, to the House of God in Mecca and they were surprised that the Prophet should be expected to return anyone coming from Mecca back to them and yet not to have one of their people returned who had gone to the side of Mecca. They argued until Omar Ibn Al-Khathab became very angry and went to the Prophet, saying:
“Aren’t we right and they in wrong?” The Prophet answered:”Yes”. Then Omar said:“But why should we accept this humiliation?” The Prophet’s answer was:“I am the slave of God and His messenger. He will never let me lose the way”. Omar could not continue talking to the Prophet after this. He went to Abu Bakr and expressed his sorrow for this. Abu Bakr explained to Omar that even if they didn’t understand the benefits that this agreement would bring them then certainly the Prophet did know and they must follow him and put their trust in him.
The prophet saw the distress of his followers ad he himself was saddened by it. He spoke to his wife, Omm Salmah about it, but she advised him to hi sacrifice and start to slaughter the animals and that when they saw him doing this they would do the same. And this is what happened. Then they returned to Medina. Several events took place which made it clear the Prophet’s acceptance of the Agreement had been of great benefit to the Muslim side, because it was first time that the people of Mecca had accepted the existence of the Muslim community in Arabia, and other tribes could have an alliance with them if they wished, which had never been possible before.
The other point which Muslim people could not understand was why they should return anyone who came from Mecca, and not expect the Meccan people to return one from their side who had gone over to Mecca. The Prophet explained this point as follows: “if anyone leaves us and goes to Mecca we don’t want him back, because he is not with us. There will be no benefit in keeping anyone with us against his desire. But those who come from Mecca, when we return them they will find a way of securing freedom”. And this was so. Three people came from Mecca to the side of the Prophet. When the people from Mecca discovered this they sent a delegation to demand their return. The Prophet gave them the three people, and this caused a sad situation among the Muslim people. What happened when these three were being returned to Mecca? One of them, who was strong and brave killed one of the Meccans who had come to take them back, and the other two ran away. Then he and his friends stayed somewhere between Mecca and Syria. When anyone came by from Mecca they stopped him and took away his property and made it very difficult for the Meccan people to carry on their trade. At last the Meccans went to the Prophet, asking him not to return anyone who came from their side.
The Holy Quran, therefore, called this agreement a great victory, because of the results which came from it, and the verses of the Holy Quran were revealed on this occasion:
لَّقَدۡ رَضِىَ ٱللَّهُ عَنِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ إِذۡ يُبَايِعُونَكَ تَحۡتَ ٱلشَّجَرَةِ فَعَلِمَ مَا فِى قُلُوبِہِمۡ فَأَنزَلَ ٱلسَّكِينَةَ عَلَيۡہِمۡ وَأَثَـٰبَهُمۡ فَتۡحً۬ا قَرِيبً۬ا
وَمَغَانِمَ كَثِيرَةً۬ يَأۡخُذُونَہَاۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمً۬ا . وَعَدَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ مَغَانِمَ ڪَثِيرَةً۬ تَأۡخُذُونَہَا فَعَجَّلَ لَكُمۡ هَـٰذِهِۦ وَكَفَّ أَيۡدِىَ ٱلنَّاسِ
عَنكُمۡ وَلِتَكُونَ ءَايَةً۬ لِّلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ وَيَهۡدِيَكُمۡ صِرَٲطً۬ا مُّسۡتَقِيمً۬ا. وَأُخۡرَىٰ لَمۡ تَقۡدِرُواْ عَلَيۡہَا قَدۡ أَحَاطَ ٱللَّهُ بِہَاۚ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ ڪُلِّ
“Allah was well pleased with the believers when they swore allegiance unto thee beneath the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down peace of reassurance on them, and hath rewarded them with a near victory; And much booty that they will capture. Allah is ever Mighty, Wise. Allah promiseth you much booty that ye will capture, and hath given you this in advance, and hath withheld men’s hands from you, that it may be a token for the believers, and that He may guide you on a right path. And other (gain), which ye have not been able to achieve, Allah will compass it, Allah is Able to do all things.”
(48 : 18-21)
In the next year the Prophet came to Mecca with his companions to perform their umrah to the House of God. Some time earlier a battle had taken place between two tribes, one of them allied to the Prophet and the other allied to people of Mecca. According to the agreement, the Meccan people had no right to help the allies but they did not keep away from the battle. They helped their allies and killed the allies of the Prophet. The allies of the Prophet explained to him what had happened and it was clear that the people of Mecca had broken their promise. Therefore the Prophet ordered his companions to be ready and they went to Mecca.
They reached Mecca on 24thRamadan, in the eight year after Hijrah. When the Prophet approached Mecca the news of his coming had reached the people before him, and they were in a difficult position. But the Prophet made an announcement:
“Whoever comes to the Mosque is saved, and whoever stays at home and doesn’t fight is also saved; whoever comes to the house of AbuSufyan is also saved”. A large number of people did these things, but some of them insisted on fighting the Prophet and his companions. The battle did not last long and the Prophet and his companions entered Mecca.
When the Prophet came to the House of God he prostrated himself and thanked God for what He had done for him, and he went around the House of God for ‘Tawwaf’ as a greeting to the House and asked for the key of it, and went inside. He found the House full of idols. He broke all of them saying “ I bear witness that there is no deity than God”. He then prayed inside the House, and he ordered Bilal to stand on the roof and to call ‘Adhan’ for the first time in the history of Mecca. This was a sign that Mecca was in the hands of the Prophet, and the Meccan people were worried. They didn’t know what the Prophet was going to do with them, because they remembered what they had done against him over the last twenty years. They remembered how they had harmed him and insulted him, how they had tried to kill him and launched war against him, killed many of his followers and tried to destroy his town. All these things they remembered, and did not expect their lives to be spared. The prophet, however, had not come to kill them, but to guide them to the right path and they sat in rows around the House of God, waiting to discover their fate. Would they live or die? Then the prophet came out of the House of God, stood at the doorway and directed his face towards them, saying:
“Praise be to God who keeps His Promise and gives victory to His servants and helps His army and defeats their enemies”
Then he said: “O people of Mecca! What do you expect me to do with you?”
And they answered: “Something good. You are a noble brother and the son of a noble brother.”
And the Prophet said: “NO harm shall befall you this day. Allah will forgive you, He is Merciful Beneficent. Go, you are free”.
What did the Prophet do? This was the act of who wanted to guide people to the right path, not, to destroy them. He came as a messenger of God and his call was to allow peace to prevail in the world. And this was what made peace: he pardoned those who had harmed him. And they did not forget his grace upon them. The historians therefore call this day ‘The day of Mercy’. He even renounced the claim for the Muslim property confiscated by the pagans. This produced a great psychological change of hearts instantaneously. When a Meccan chief advanced with a fulsome heart towards the Prophet, after hearing this general amnesty, in order to declare his acceptance of Islam, the Prophet told him: “And in my turn, I appoint you the governor of Mecca! Without a single soldier in the conquered city, the Prophet returned to Madinah. The Islamization of Mecca which was accomplished in a few hours was complete. Immediately after the occupation of Mecca, the city of Taif mobilised to fight against the Prophet. With some difficulty the enemy was dispersed in the valley of Hunain, but the Muslims preferred to raise the siege of nearby Taif and use pacific means to break the resistance of this region.
Less than a year later, a delegation from Taif came to Madinah offering submission. But it requested exemption from prayer, taxes and military service, and the continuance of the liberty to adultery and fornication and alcoholic drinks. It demanded even the conservation of the temple of the idol Al-Lat at Taif. But Islam was not a materialist immoral movement; and soon the delegation itself felt ashamed of its demands regarding prayer, adultery and wine. The Prophet consented to concede exemption from payment of taxes and rendering of military service; and added: you need not demolish the temple with your own hands: we shall send agents from here to do the job, and if there should be any consequences, which you are afraid of on account of your superstitions, it will be they who would suffer.
This act of Prophet shows what concessions could be given to new converts. The conversion of the Taiffites was so whole hearted in a short while, they themselves renounced the contracted exemptions, and we find the Prophet dominating a tax collector in their locality as in other Islamic regions. In all these “wars”, extending over a period of ten years, the Non Muslims lost on the battlefield only about two hundred and fifty persons killed, and the Muslim losses were even less. With these few incisions, the whole continent of Arabia, with its million and more of square miles, was cured of the abscess of anarchy and immortality. During these ten years of disintegrated struggle, all people of the Arabian Peninsula and the southern regions of Iraq and Palestine had voluntarily embraced Islam.