Recently, a number of authors and commentators in the media have referred to
the Treaty of Hudaybiyya - between Prophet Muhammad and his adversaries, the
Quraysh - as something on which recent Mideast peace efforts have been
based. Unfortunately, such references have stated, more often than not, that
the Hudaybiyya Treaty was a temporary truce into which the Prophet Muhammad
entered with the leaders of Mecca, then subsequently violated.
ISCA is concerned that this falsehood, that the Prophet Muhammad, peace and
blessings of God be upon him, violated the Treaty of Hudaybiyya is being
repeated throughout the world. For the sake of better understanding, we have
composed a brief elucidatation of the actual circumstances of the breaking
of the Treaty of Hudaybiyya. Please visit our Web site for the complete
For an insightful exploration of the treaty of Hudaybiyya and to resolve
many questions that have recently been asked about battles waged in the
early days of Islam, read the new book: "Muhammad, The Messenger of Islam:
His Life and Prophecy," written by Hajjah Amina Adil and published by the
Islamic Supreme Council of America.
Behind the Treaty of Hudaybiyya
ISLAMIC SUPREME COUNCIL OF AMERICA - SUMMER 2002
Also as PDF
Recently, a number of authors and commentators in the media have referred to the Treaty of Hudaybiyya - between Prophet Muhammad and his adversaries, the Quraysh - as something on which recent Mideast peace efforts have been based. Unfortunately, such references have stated, more often than not, that the Hudaybiyya Treaty was a temporary truce into which the Prophet Muhammad entered with the leaders of Mecca, then subsequently violated.
ISCA is concerned that this falsehood, that the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him, violated the Treaty of Hudaybiyya is being repeated throughout the world. For the sake of better understanding, we will briefly elucidate the actual circumstances of the breaking of the Treaty of Hudaybiyya.
The treaty was established in 628 CE between Prophet Muhammad and the Quraysh tribe, rulers of Makkah, several years after the Prophet migrated to Madina to escape the Quraysh's vicious persecution of the Muslim faithful.
In the years preceding the treaty, the Prophet had transformed Madina into a city-state ruled by a constitution (agreed upon among the local Arab tribes, Jews and Muslims), and had begun to propagate the faith, sending preachers throughout Arabia and nearby lands.
Seeing Islam's successful and rapid growth, the Quraysh had sent armies time and again to destroy the fledgling Muslim state, without success. Fearing the loss of their prestige and power as custodians of Arabia's idolatrous religion, the Quraysh continued fighting the new Muslim community, but lost a series of decisive battles.
Six years after migrating to Madina, the Prophet decided to make the lesser pilgrimage to Makkah, which years of warfare with the Quraysh had prevented. Despite his willingness to enter the Holy City with his companions unarmed, and with the intention to perform the rites of the pilgrimage and leave, the Quraysh refused him entry. The Prophet's companions urged him to fight to defend his right to perform the ritual, but the Prophet always preferred to seek a peaceful solution instead of resorting to bloodshed. Therefore, at a place known as Hudaybiyya, he agreed to a truce - an agreement that he would return to Madina without completing the pilgrimage. Other conditions were imposed that were disadvantageous to the Muslims but the Prophet agreed to them in order to avoid bloodshed.
It was agreed that:
1. all hostilities should cease for ten years;
2. any one leaving the Quraysh to join the Prophet without the permission of his guardian or chief should be returned to Makkah;
3. any Muslims joining the Quraysh should not be returned to the Muslims;
4. any tribe seeking to entering into alliance with either with the Quraysh or the Muslims should be at liberty to do so;
5. the Muslims should return to Madina on the present occasion without advancing further; and
6. they should be permitted in the following year to visit Makkah and to remain there for three days.
The following year, the Prophet made the pilgrimage, according to the terms of the Treaty and unopposed by the Quraysh.
Near the end of the seventh year after migration, the Quraysh and the tribe
of Bani Bakr attacked the Bani Khuzaah tribe, who were allies of the Muslims.
This incident directly violated the treaty of Hudaybiyya (cf. item 1 above)
and the Bani Khuzaah appealed to the Prophet for help and protection.
However, even then the Prophet did not act in haste. Instead he sent a letter to the Quraysh demanding payment of blood money for those killed, and a disbandment of their alliance with the Bani Bakr. Otherwise, the Prophet said, the treaty would be declared null and void.
Quraysh then sent an envoy to Madina to announce that they themselves considered the Treaty of Hudaybiyya null and void. However, they immediately regretted this step and Quraysh leader Abu Sufyan himself traveled to Madina to renew the contract. Despite being the greatest enemy and persecutor of the Muslims, no hand was laid on him. He was permitted to enter the Prophet's mosque and announce that he was reinstating the Treaty of Hudaybiyya." His tardy announcement was unheeded by the Muslims and Abu Sufyan returned to Makkah in humiliation before his people.
It was only then, after the Muslims had honored a treaty that was largely disadvantageous to them, after they refused to respond to the Quraysh's breach of the contract, and the Quraysh's subsequent nullification of said contract, that the Prophet prepared to retake of Makkah. He therefore did not breach the Treaty of Hudaybiyya.
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The Council calls on the media to observe the utmost care in reporting such historical incidents. Slights of this nature are bound to not only offend the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, but convey at the same time a sense of enmity. Rather, it is hoped that the correct telling of history will reduce the discord that prevails today among believers of various faiths, and lay the foundation for a time of peace and justice.