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The Unlettered Prophet (36)
Khalid Masud
(Tr. by:Nikhat Sattar)

Distress of Muslims at the Terms of the Hudaybiyyah Agreement

During the settlement of the terms of agreement, dissatisfaction prevailed among the Muslims in the camp. The reason for this was the insistence of the Quraysh upon certain points which demonstrated their superiority and the Muslims felt that they were accepting these under pressure from the Quraysh. ‘Umar (rta) became impatient with the terms and asked the Prophet (sws) whether the Quraysh were not on the side of falsehood and themselves (Muslims ) not on the side of truth? The Prophet (sws) answered: “Certainly!” ‘Umar asked again whether the Quraysh would not go to Hell and Muslims to Paradise in case a war was fought. The Prophet (sws) answered: “This will happen, without doubt.” ‘Umar then said that in that case, why should they face humiliation and return to Madinah, whereas God had still not decided between the Quraysh and the Muslims? The Prophet (sws) answered: “Ibn Khittab; I am God’s prophet. He will not waste me.”1

The mindset represented by ‘Umar (rta) in this dialogue shows that he felt humiliated at returning to Madinah and wished to fight in order to meet the requirement of the Pledge of Ridwan and to bring it to its natural conclusion. The Prophet (sws) reassured him that there was no need to worry. God’s prophet was under the direct protection of God. He does not do anything which could cause embarrassment for those on the path of the truth.

The inequality that was evident in the clause related to Muslims who went to Makkah from Madinah and would not be returned was also a matter upon which Muslims sought clarity from the Prophet (sws). He answered: “Anyone who leaves us to go to the Quraysh will be rejected by God. He will be of no use to us. As far as he who comes to us from Madinah is concerned, God will find a way out for him soon.” This clause was implemented at the same time that the agreement was signed upon Abu Jandal, the son of Suhayl ibn ‘Amr himself. He tried to run away to the Muslim camp. He cried and lamented that he was being oppressed in Makkah and wanted to be saved from that situation. Suhayl demanded that according to the agreement, his son should be returned to him. If this was not done, the agreement would become invalid. The Prophet (sws) consoled Abu Jandal and told him that God would take care of him and returned him to the Quraysh. This incident shook the entire Muslim community and they felt the one sidedness of the agreement severely. The clarification which the Prophet (sws) gave about this clause indicates that he interpreted it in the light of the Sunnah of God related to guidance and perdition. The individual who wished to return to the darkness of ignorance after being exposed to the light of Islam was already bereft of God’s blessings to accept the truth. Why should then such a person remain associated with the community of Muslims? What could be the benefit of regaining him from the Quraysh? Similarly, the hope of success for the Muslims of Makkah was based on the fact that the agreement had been finalized at the hands of the Prophet (sws) under direct supervision of God. Thus, its consequences were His responsibility.

When the truce agreement had been signed, it was useless to lengthen the stay in Hudaybiyyah. For the situation when barriers were faced after Muslims had made a formal intention to offer ‘umrah or hajj, and it no longer became possible to fulfill this intention, verse 196 of Surah Baqarah had also been revealed according to which animals already dedicated for sacrifice were to be sacrificed and ahrams taken off. With this instruction in mind, the Prophet (sws) asked his Companions to sacrifice their animals, shave off their heads and remove their ahrams. The Companions were so sorrowful at the terms of the agreement that they made no move to do anything and no one got up to act upon the instructions. The Prophet (sws) went to his tent in a state of extreme worry. When the mother of the believers, Umm Salamah (rta) saw his face so strained, she asked him the reason. He told her about the response from the Companions. She advised him to carry out the sacrifice of his own animal. When people saw him, they would not lag behind in following his example. The Prophet (sws) followed her suggestion and people started to move and in obedience to their Prophet (sws), began to shave their heads and sacrifice their animals. After removing the ahrams, the Prophet (sws) ordered return to Madinah.   

During the return journey to Madinah, the Muslims were very tired and sorrowful. Everyone was lost in his/her thoughts. The questions that were worrying all of them and for which they could not find any answers were:


1.      What was the benefit of a journey as a result of which Muslims were returning without having gained their purpose while the enemy rejoiced?

2.      After taking an oath to fight, why was there a need for a truce, when the real purpose had been to conquer Makkah?

3.      The dreams of prophets are always true; why did this dream of the Prophet (sws) appear to be false?    


The Prophet (sws) reassured his people that they had returned safe and sound and that, despite having gone to the central place of the enemy, the stage of bloody fighting had not been reached. However, the rewards for jihad and ‘umrah were reserved for them with God. Returning in the manner they did was not at all the same as returning without having achieved their purpose. As far as the dream was concerned, that was true, but it had not specified any time. Hence, if the ‘umrah had been postponed by one year, that was the most appropriate and relevant time for it to be offered. But the Companions were so shocked at their return that their minds could find no solace. At last God honoured them and revealed Surah Fath during the journey. After the revelation, the Prophet (sws) told the Companions that the surah that had been revealed to him that night was more precious to him than anything else in the world. It is narrated that he called ‘Umar (rta) specially because he had openly expressed his dissatisfaction. This surah gave convincing replies to all the queries that had been troubling the minds of the Companions.

Surah Fath praised fully the attitude which the faithful had adopted during this mission. It said that the attitude was made possible by the sakinah which God had blessed his servants with. The surah criticised the attitude of the Quraysh which resulted in their pride becoming the cause of their ignorance. This needs further elaboration.

Sakinah means patience, perseverance, serenity, forbearance, dignity and wisdom. God had blessed his servants with these qualities during that journey. They did not get influenced by the lowly actions of their foe nor did anything in retaliation that might have been against God’s will or against the appropriateness of their faith, although many groups may well act in haste under such provocative circumstances and damage their cause irretrievably. Examples of the occasions at which sakinah were demonstrated are:


1.      Muslims showed no fear at going inside the enemy’s den without any arms at the call from the Prophet (sws) to accompany him. They had belief in the dream of the Prophet (sws) and faith in the fact that God was with His Messenger. Hence this journey served to enhance their faith.

2.      Muslims had left Madinah with the intention to offer ‘umrah. They did not let this purpose out of sight throughout the journey and did not forget any of the rules that were binding as a result. The base actions of the Quraysh were unable to turn them away from their objective.

3.      In spite of the humiliating attitude, ridicule and sarcasm of the Quraysh, they persevered and did not lose their patience.

4.      Although they were sorrowful and intensely emotional about some of the terms of the truce agreement, they did not undertake any rebellious action, but showed steadfastness at the orders of the Prophet (sws) and left the matter to God.

5.      At the rumours of ‘Uthman (rta) having being killed, they took the oath with great fervor, although they had not come prepared for a formal battle. They had full faith in assistance from God.


 (Translated by Nikhat Sattar)     




1. Muslim, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, vol. 2, 99.


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