A potent victory, not a concession.
This lesson is clear in the Hudaibiya treaty the Prophet Mohamed signed with the pagans of Mecca in the sixth year of the Higrah ( the Muslim lunar year). It was a great concession on the part of the Muslims, which was described by Allah in his Holy Qur'an as a great victory.
Six years passed since the Prophet and his followers had left their beloved city of Mecca that was in the hands of the pagan autocracy.
During those years, the Quraish people hadn't stopped fighting the Muslims and had raised different tribes against them as happened in Al-Khandak Battle in the fifth year of the Higrah.
The Quraish, then, in co-operation with many other tribes as well as the Jews, marched to Madina and besieged it for one month without being able to enter the city, thanks to the wide trench the Muslims had dug round Madina.
So, after living for long years away from their homeland that houses the Holy Mosque of Kaaba, the Prophet had a vision of entering Mecca as pilgrims. He immediately expressed his intention to proceed unarmed to Mecca for Umra (the minor pilgrimage).
It was the sacred month of Zul-Qa'da in which the Arabs were accustomed to visiting the sacred enclosure unarmed because of their respect for the holy beit (house) and month.
Accordingly, the Prophet Mohamed accompanied by some 1,400 to 1,500 Muslims marched towards Mecca to make the pilgrimage.
News of their approach reached Mecca, where the pagans launched an army to confront the Muslims. The Prophet, who was unwilling to give Quraish any pretext for violence, changed course, turning a little to the west of the road, and camped in Hudaibiya.
For some days, Quraish continued sending envoys, one after the other, to negotiate with Mohamed to dissuade him from entering Mecca, but it was in vain. In return, he sent his son-in-law Othman ben Affan to Quraish to convey his clear message that he came only to visit the sacred shrine and perform the Umra without any intention of fighting with the Quraish.
After the passage of three days without Othman returning, the rumour was that the Quraish had killed him. Consequently, the Prophet knew it was inevitable that he had to go to war even without enough weapons or preparations. The sincere Muslims on their part gathered round their Prophet and leader and pledged to fight with him to their last breath.
The event was recorded in the Qur'an and praised by God in his Holy Book in the 48th chapter known as Surat Al Fath that deals with the entire events of Hudaibiya and Bay'at al Ridhwan or the allegiance of Allah's Good Pleasure.
Fortunately, Othman showed up untouched with an initiative from Quraish to conduct a peace treaty with Mohamed and his followers.
The Prophet accepted the invitation and even showed great flexibility in signing the pact known as the Hudaibiya Treaty.
It was really astonishing for most Muslims to see their Prophet showing no opposition to whatever conditions Quraish made to sign this treaty, which afforded a 10-year truce between the two sides and allowed Muslims to visit Mecca the following year for pilgrimage.
When Quraish objected to referring to Mohamed as the Messenger of Allah in the written pact, the Prophet even ordered his cousin Ali ben Abu Taleb to omit this sentence.
However, Ali responded by refusing on account of his inability to cancel such words by his own hand. Whereupon, the Prophet, who was illiterate, asked Ali to point to these words on the paper and he erased them himself.
In addition to their disappointment at not visiting Mecca that year, many Muslims including Omar ben Al-Khattab opposed those articles of the treaty in which they saw as unfair for the Muslims.
They included the article stating that if a Quraish person from Mecca, who was under guardianship, should join the Prophet without the guardian's permission, they should be sent back to the guardian, but if a Muslim sought refuge with the Quraish, he was not to be delivered to the Muslims.
The Muslims also expressed opposition to the treaty because of the acute pain they felt at their inability to enter Mecca that year after preparing themselves spiritually and materially for this holy journey.
Omar even argued with the Prophet about the cause of these concessions, so that the Prophet feared that the matter might grow into a kind of revolt bringing the curse of God on the believers.
When he rushed to his tent where his wife Um Salama was waiting for him, the Prophet asked for her advice. The wise wife calmed him down and gave reasons to the Muslims to assuage their disappointment at not visiting their cherished mosque after these long years.
Then she counselled him to stop arguing with them and just go out of his tent and order his barber to cut his hair, an act that signified disengagement from the pilgrimage rituals. The Muslims then became confident of the Prophet's insistence on his decision and so followed his example and accompanied him back to Madina.
On their way back, a revelation came with Heaven's reassurance on the Prophet Mohamed's stand, assuring his followers that they would soon enter Mecca. This treaty was a substantial victory for the Muslims. For the first time the pagans of Quraish accepted Mohamed and the Muslims as equal powers.
With this recognition, the gates of the Arabian Peninsula were opened for Islam to spread. Muslims managed to settle disputes with many tribes round Madina and the Prophet started sending messages to all world rulers inviting them to Islam.
One of the many other lessons Muslims learnt from this experience was to be faithful believers and trust the word and wisdom of their Prophet. In Surat Al Fath that deals with this event, verse no. 25 reveals why Allah the Almighty prevented war breaking out between Muslims and pagans through entering Mecca.
The presence of some Muslim men and women living in Mecca was unknown to their brethren from Madina. Had a fight taken place in Mecca and the Muslims had been successful, they could have unwittingly killed some of these unknown Muslims and would therefore be guilty of shedding Muslim blood. The treaty prevented this.
This treaty also gave Muslims the right to visit Mecca freely and peacefully the following year, when Quraish would have to evacuate the city for a full three days to enable the Muslims to perform their pilgrimage.
Some Orientalists have criticised this treaty today and accuse Mohamed of deception and of using the truce to resume fighting Quraish and take back Mecca from them.
Those biased Orientalists omit the fact that it was the infidels of Quraish and not the Muslims who violated this treaty. As the second condition of this treaty allows any tribe to join either party to make an alliance with it, the Banu Bakr joined Quraish and the Banu Khuzaa joined the Muslims.
Around two years later, the Banu Bakr launched an attack on the Banu Khuzaa and set fire to their houses. Even when unarmed men, women and children resorted to the Kaaba for shelter, the Banu Bakr did not suspend their fighting and murdered them at the sacred shrine in violation of the Arab tradition offering security to whoever shelters in it.
Therefore it was quite natural for the Prophet to insist on punishing Quraish for this act and to free the sacred shrine from the hands of the unbelievers.
Herein came the conquest of Mecca and the occasion for sweeping away worship of idols from this holy land, where the first mosque of Allah was built for the worship of one God. And this was the fourth lesson we would get from the Prophet's life that will be discussed in this corner next week.
Copyright Eltahir House 2006
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