View Printable Version :: Email to a Friend
The Unlettered Prophet (17)
Khalid Masud
(Tr. by:Nikhat Sattar)


As the Quraysh realized increasingly that matters related to the new religion were getting out of their control, they proposed even more tough actions, one after the other, against the believers and their supporters, so that the Message may be prevented from becoming a success. The Banu Hashim had given refuge to the Prophet (sws), and the Quraysh were unsuccessful in convincing Abu Talib to withdraw this support. Therefore, some emotional people decided to punish the Banu Hashim itself for this support, in the shape of a social boycott.


The Most Common Narrative of the Boycott

The most common narrative related to the boycott, that biographers have relied upon, is that when the Quraysh were offended by the expressions of esteem and good wishes for Muslims from Najashi, they agreed among themselves to kill the Prophet (sws). They wrote an agreement against the Banu Hashim, saying that, unless that tribe delivered the Prophet (sws) to them, no family of the Quraysh would develop any bonds of marriage with them, conduct any business dealings or have any interaction with them. This written document was hung inside the Ka‘bah. According to the narrative, acting upon this agreement, they put the Banu Hashim and their ally, the Banu Muttalib, under siege in Sha‘b Abi Talib. They were neither allowed to be given any food, nor to purchase anything from external traders. They survived by eating the leaves of berry trees. Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas became so hungry once that, when he found a piece of dried leather, he roasted it over the fire, chewed it and swallowed it with water. A few kind individuals would drive a beast laden with grain towards them. When children cried with hunger, the Quraysh rejoiced in their sounds. The Banu Hashim tolerated this situation for three years. Finally, the Prophet (sws) informed Abu Talib that the document of the agreement had been eaten up by woodworm. Abu Talib went to the kafirs, and asked them to present the agreement. According to his nephew, nothing was written on the document. If he was wrong, Abu Talib would deliver him to them. When the document was brought forth, it was found to be empty of any writing. At this point, some large hearted leaders such as Mut‘im ibn ‘Adi, Abu al-Bukhtari ibn Hashim, Zam‘ah ibn al-Aswad, ‘Adi ibn Qays and Zuhayr ibn Abi Umayyah insisted that they would not allow such cruelty any further, and they brought the beleaguered people from the valley. They had raised their voices even before this cruel agreement was made. 

According to this narrative of the agreement, every tribe of the Quraysh was bound to implement the following:


· No one would enter into marriage with the Banu Hashim

· No trade would be conducted with them and,

· No one would have any social interaction with them


until they gave Muhammad (sws) into their custody, so that they could get rid of him.

Other narratives of this event differ in their detail. According to some, the Quraysh put the Banu Hashim in Sha‘b Abi Talib, but according to others, they came together of their own accord. Narratives also give the duration of the siege as 2-3 years, or less, or more. There is also a difference regarding the part of the document that was destroyed by woodworm: was it the first part with the words bi ismika allahumma, or did these words remain and the rest was destroyed?

In our view, several questions arise, regarding such a narrative, to which satisfactory answers cannot be found. For example:

1. The agreement includes clauses forbidding marriages and trade relations, but none on putting them under siege. Thus, there was no requirement under this agreement to bring them under siege, and no Quraysh tribe was under any compulsion to do so. Without such a clause in the agreement, how did the Quraysh implement it with consensus?

2. This agreement was against the Banu Hashim and its ally, the Banu Muttalib. Other tribes were not to be affected by it. Yet, Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas is said to be chewing a piece of leather in his hunger. He belonged to the tribe of the Banu Zahrah. The question arises, why was he included in those besieged? If he was forced, why did his tribe not come to his rescue?

3. The trade ban with the Banu Hashim was put only on the Quraysh; it did not apply to other tribes or traders who came from outside Makkah. In such a situation, the Banu Hashim would not have found it difficult to obtain necessary goods from other traders, and cause their children to go hungry. But the narrative shows that they suffered from hunger throughout the three year siege.

4. It was not an easy task to kill anyone in Arab society. If the Quraysh wanted to kill the Prophet (sws), the best place to take such a decision have would been the Dar al-Nadwah, where all Quraysh leaders would gather to make important decisions. But such a meeting was not held.  Decisions taken out of the ambit of such meetings were not considered to be joint decisions, even if they were important ones, and were not implemented. It was after this event that all the tribes of the Quraysh gathered in the Dar al-Nadwah, and after much debate and discussion, decided on ways and means to kill the Prophet (sws). Because this decision was taken very seriously, God instructed the Prophet (sws) to migrate and thus he was saved from his enemies.

5. If the three year siege had occurred, it would have carried so much significance that the entire Arab world should have resonated with its implications, because the Banu Hashim held the responsibility of taking care of the hajj pilgrims, giving them water, managing the House of God and serving the travelers. If they vanished for three years, this should have created a crisis in the country. But history does not mention any alternative arrangement that was put into place after banishing the Banu Hashim to a besieged status.

In the light of these facts, it is not possible to believe such weak narratives. The event is different from what has been portrayed in them.


The Possible Situation

Abu Hurayrah (rta) relates that, when they were in Mina# during the last day of the hajj, the Prophet (sws) said that they would descend into the valley of the Banu Kananah the next day. This was the place where people promised to remain disbelievers, the Quraysh and the Banu Kananah swore that they would neither marry into Banu Hashim and the Banu Muttalib, nor have any commercial dealings with them, until they gave up the Prophet (sws) to them.1

This is far more close to reality than the previous narrative. According to this, the situation may have been somewhat as follows: a group of the disbelievers of the Quraysh promised each other that they would boycott both the Banu Hashim and the Banu Muttalib, who had remained steadfast in their support to Banu Hashim. The boycott included not getting involved in mutual marriages and ending all trade relations with them. It had no clause that covered a ban on getting food to them, or besieging them. This promise was made in a valley of Mina, not in Makkah, and whatever status it had for those who participated, it was not an agreement made by the Quraysh, hence it was not written down. With this background, it is not difficult to come to the following conclusions:

1. This was not a collective agreement of the Quraysh made after careful deliberation. A few people of the Quraysh and the Banu Kananah thought of harassing the Banu Hashim and got together in the valley of Mina# to boycott them. It is quite possible that some emotional people were involved in this, and the elders were kept out. There was no mention of any siege.

2. This agreement was not acceptable to some important Quraysh leaders. They fought with the proponents of the boycott constantly and their efforts brought the conflict to an end. This shows that it was not a consensual agreement among the Quraysh, and was therefore often breached by some people, as some narratives show.

3. Since there was no siege, the relatives of the Banu Hashim could convey necessary items to them. Thus, some narratives give the example of Hakim ibnn Hizam taking grain to them.

4. Abu Hurayrah’s story does not explain the duration for which the Banu Hashim remained worried. But the worry existed, not because of any siege or lack of food, but because they faced this situation caused by people with whom they had had good relations previously.  

As explained above, most people within the jurisdiction of the Quraysh and Banu Kananah had accepted Islam. Since this agreement was only against Banu Hashim and the Banu Muttalib, the rest of the Muslims, such as Abu Bakr (rta), Omar (rta) and those whose names have been cited above were not affected. Hence this boycott did not hamper the spread of Islam.

It can be deduced that there was no ban on free movement of either the Prophet (sws) or other Muslims, to come to the Ka‘bah or go to the city. Hence his preaching continued as before. In such a situation, Banu Hashim would have been able to fulfill their responsibilities related to hajj and ‘umrah.

5. Except from those who were part of the agreement, Banu Hashim could trade with others who were not bound by the agreement.

6. The location of the siege is given as Sha‘b Abi Talib, but such a place does not exist within the surrounds of Makkah. It could have been Sha‘b Bani Hashim, which is the area within Makkah where Banu Hashim resided in large numbers, and which was present in the recent past in the south west of the Prophet’s place of birth. With the extension of the Ka‘bah, all signs of this quarter and the hill over which it was located have vanished. The idea that this was a valley away from Makkah and where the Banu Hashim were imprisoned is completely wrong, since these narratives also say that when the children of Muslims cried from hunger, the Quraysh would hear their cries and laugh. This could only have been possible if the valley was close to other quarters of Makkah. It was also barren and had no berry trees on the leaves of which the Banu Hashim could have survived for so long.

Had the Banu Hashim gathered in this place, it is possible that Abu Talib may have asked those of his tribe, who lived out of the area to come together for fear of oppression by the Quraysh. Then, when the better elements within the Quraysh put a stop to their activities, the Banu Hashim returned to their homes. This has also been stated in one of the narratives. 2


Invitation for Reconciliation

When the Quraysh realized that their oppression was worsening the situation and the new religion was gaining dominance in society, they made a political move. They pleaded to the Prophet (sws) that they were brothers to each other; it did not please them to create difficulties for them. They had great expectations from him, that he would lead the Banu Hashim so that the status of the Quraysh would be raised. They believed that, if he changed some parts of his teachings that were objectionable to them, they would accept these. Additionally, there were some behaviours and actions that they were now so used to, that it was not possible for people to adjust to the new injunctions he was asking them to obey; they would request him to revise these as well. This would lead them to implement his instructions. Their people would accept his religion and his mission would be successful.

Such ideas cause one to pause and rethink. One is impelled to consider the pros and cons, and think that if one could give some flexibility to people, perhaps they could come around to belief in the original teachings after having understood it in totality. The Prophet (sws) loved his people, and was eager for them to accept the faith, concerned that they may become fodder for hell in their foolishness. Thus, he began to think about their proposal. Since prophets act as the representatives of God on earth, they are under His guidance. On occasions such as these, when a prophet is indecisive about an action, God stops him from taking a wrong decision and guides him to the straight path. God explained the Prophet Muhammad’s situation thus: 

And indeed, they were about to tempt you away from that which We revealed to you in order to [make] you invent about Us something else; and then they would have taken you as a friend. And if We had not strengthened you, you would have almost inclined to them a little. Then [if you had], We would have made you taste double [punishment in] life and double [after] death. Then you would not find for yourself against Us a helper. (17:74-75)

At another place, the Qur’an says:

And when Our verses are recited to them as clear evidence, those who do not expect the meeting with Us say: “Bring us a Qur’an other than this or change it.” Say, [O Muhammad]: “It is not for me to change it on my own accord. I only follow what is revealed to me. Indeed I fear, if I should disobey my Lord, the punishment of a tremendous Day.” Say: “If Allah had willed, I would not have recited it to you, nor would He have made it known to you, for I had remained among you a lifetime before it. Then will you not reason?” (10:15-16)

In other words, the Qur’an was not the Prophet’s creation that he could make changes in it according to his will. This was God’s guidance which he was bound to follow and could not cancel any part of it.  If he did so, he would come under God’s grasp.

At another place: 

[He is] Knower of the unseen, and He does not disclose His [knowledge of the] unseen. Except whom He has approved of messengers, and indeed, He sends before each messenger and behind him observers. That He may know that they have conveyed the message of their Lord; and He has encompassed whatever is with them and has enumerated all things in number. (72:26-28)

This shows that when God gives knowledge of the unknown to His messenger through divine revelation, He does not leave him to himself to say whatever he will to the people. The messenger is kept under strict observation and is surrounded by angels who ensure that the message is communicated to the people in its entirety and purity. Hence, there is no possibility that the message could be changed by the messenger of his own accord, or through the influence of others. Explaining this further, the Qur’an says:

[It is] a revelation from the Lord of the worlds. And if Muhammad had made up about Us some [false] sayings, We would have seized him by the right hand; Then We would have cut from him the aorta. And there is no one of you who could protect him from [Us]. And indeed, the Qur’an is a reminder for the righteous. (69:43-48)

Here, the Quraysh were told that when one was was selected as God’s messenger, there was no danger that he would mix his own falsehoods with God’s revelations. If ever a messenger dare do this, he would be destroyed immediately by God.

In this way, God instructed the Prophet (sws) that it was his responsibility to communicate God’s revealed message without any addition or subtraction to people. These people wanted to show flexibility in their attitude if he would do the same. But he was not authorized to do so. He was answerable only to God, not to them. However hard his detractors may try, they must not succeed in swaying him from God’s verses. The Prophet (sws) should proclaim all the verses that they disliked, loudly and clearly. God’s revelations can neither be reversed nor hidden. This demonstrates the difference between a politician and a prophet. The latter cannot change his stance, but a politician changes his decisions according to changing circumstances and benefits from the type of opportunities which the Quraysh had offered to the Prophet (sws). 

As a part of the above offer of reconciliation, a group from the Quraysh met with Abu Talib and requested him to convince his nephew to revise his message. In return, they would give him whatever wealth, fame, status and political standing that he may wish for. When Abu Talib called the Prophet (sws) and presented this idea to him, he said what became one of his most famous sayings: “Uncle, if these people were to place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left in lieu of my preaching, I would not accept these offerings.” At this, Abu Talib asked him to continue with his work. 

When the opponents despaired of any breakthrough in compromise, they started to terrorize people again and to torture the Prophet (sws) and his colleagues.


Abu Bakr’s Decision to Migrate

Abu Bakr Siddiq (rta) was respected highly among the Quraysh and it was his responsibility to decide on matters related to blood money and ransom. Despite this, the Quraysh were deeply offended by his “crime” of accepting Islam. He was a man of great honour and did not hesitate to help any poor Muslim and back him up. He never faltered even under the most trying of circumstances. But now the Quraysh were becoming so barbaric that even such a steadfast person as he, thought of migrating from Makkah and joining other Muslims in Abyssinia. He had travelled several miles already from Makkah when he met a friend, Ibn al-Daghnah, who was the leader of the tribe Qarrah. In response to his query about where he was heading, Abu Bakr (rta) replied that his nation had forced him to move out. Now he wanted to go elsewhere, where he could worship God freely. Ibn al-Daghnah offered to take him into his protection and return to Makkah. On his return, Ibn al-Daghnah met all leaders of the Quraysh and told them categorically that a man like Abu Bakr (rta) could neither leave Makkah nor be forced to leave. Would they banish a person who helped the poor, treated his relatives well, carried the burdens of others, took care of guests and supported those in trouble? The Quraysh accepted Ibn al-Daghnah’s protection and allowed Abu Bakr (rta) to worship God in his house, say the prayer, read the Qur’an, but not make this public, as this would lead their women and children astray. Abu Bakr (rta) had left an open space within his house, where he made a place for offering the prayer. He would offer the prayer and read the Qur’an. He would break into tears when doing so. Passersby would wonder and be concerned. The idolaters became worried and asked Ibn al-Daghnah to control Abu Bakr (rta), at which he asked the latter to pray inside his house. If he failed to do so, he should return his protection, because he did not wish the Arabs to put the blame of breaking a promise of protection himself. Abu Bakr (rta) was not ready to accept protection under these conditions and returned it to Ibn al-Daghnah, saying that he was happy with the protection of God. He also decided to fight against the oppression of the Quraysh himself and not to migrate from Makkah.3

Thus, God retained a trustworthy well wisher to look after the interests of the Muslims within Makkah. Another benefit of his stay in Makkah was that, he was a very trusted friend of the Prophet (sws) who would consult him in all important matters. This consultation continued until both migrated together.


(Translated by Nikhat Sattar)







1. Muslim, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, vol.1, 549.

2. Ibn Kathir, Sirah al-Nabi, vol. 1, 344.

3. Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, vol, 3, 126.

For Questions on Islam, please use our

Replica Handbags Bottega Veneta fake Bvlgari fake Celine fake Christian Dior fake Gucci fake Gucci Bag fake Gucci Wallet fake Gucci Shoes fake Gucci Belt fake Hermes fake Loewe fake Louis Vuitton fake Louis Vuitton Belt fake Louis Vuitton Calf Leather fake Louis Vuitton Damier Azur Canvas fake Louis Vuitton Damier Ebene Canvas fake Louis Vuitton Damier Graphite Canvas fake Louis Vuitton Damier Infini Leather fake Louis Vuitton Damier Quilt lamb fake Louis Vuitton Embossed Calfskin fake Louis Vuitton Epi fake Louis Vuitton Game On Monogram Canvas fake Louis Vuitton Jewellery fake Louis Vuitton Key Holder fake Louis Vuitton Mahina Leather fake Louis Vuitton Monogram Canvas fake Louis Vuitton Monogram Denim fake Louis Vuitton Monogram Eclipse Canvas fake Louis Vuitton Monogram Empreinte fake Louis Vuitton Monogram Seal fake Louis Vuitton Monogram Shadow fake Louis Vuitton Monogram Vernis fake Louis Vuitton Monogram Watercolor fake Louis Vuitton New Wave fake Louis Vuitton Shoes fake Louis Vuitton Since 1854 fake Louis Vuitton Strap fake Louis Vuitton Taiga Leahter fake Louis Vuitton Taurillon leather fake Louis Vuitton Transformed Game On canvas fake Louis Vuitton Utah Calfskin fake Louis Vuitton X Supreme fake Mulberry fake Prada fake YSL fake