Treaty of Hudaybiyyah

Treaty of Hudaybiyyah

The Treaty of Hudaybiyya (Arabic: صلح الحديبية) is the treaty that took place between the state of Medina and the Quraishi tribe of Mecca in March 628CE (corresponding to Dhu al-Qi'dah, 6 AH) [Tafsir ibn Kathir This treaty establishes a ten year peace and allows Muhammad to come into Mecca during pilgrimage for the rest of his life. [] ] .


In 628 AD, a group of 1,400 Muslims marched towards Mecca, in an attempt to perform the pilgrimage. The group was prepared with animals of sacrifice, as they hoped that the Quraish would honour the Arabian custom of allowing unarmed pilgrims to enter the city. According to Lewis, Muhammad felt strong enough to attempt an attack on Mecca, but on the way it became clear that the attempt was premature and the expedition was converted into a peaceful pilgrimage. [Lewis (2002), p. 42.] Andrae disagrees, writing that the Muslim state of "ihram" (which restricted their freedom of action) and the paucity of arms carried indicated that the pilgrimage was always intended to be pacific. [Andrae; Menzel (1960) p. 156; See also: Watt (1964) p. 183] The Quraish intercepted the Muslim party well outside Mecca. By this time all of Arabia was aware of the military strength of the Muslims. Muhammad, wanted to avoid bloodshed in or near the holiest city of Islam. He said: (Bukhari B3V50H891)

"We have not come to fight anyone, but to perform the 'Umra. No doubt, the war has weakened Quraish and they have suffered great losses, so if they wish, I will conclude a truce with them, during which they should refrain from interfering between me and the people, and if I have victory over those infidels, Quraish will have the option to embrace Islam as the other people do, if they wish; they will at least get strong enough to fight. But if they do not accept the truce, by Allah in Whose Hands my life is, I will fight with them defending my Cause till I get killed, but (I am sure) Allah will definitely make His Cause victorious."

The two parties decided to resolve the matter through diplomacy, rather than warfare. Hence the Quranic reference to the Sakina or Spirit of Peace. "He it is Who sent down the sakina into the hearts of the believers that they might add faith unto their faith" (48:4).

A treaty was drawn up.


The basic outline of the treaty was as follows:

"In the name of God. These are the conditions of Peace between Muhammad (SAW), son of Abdullah and Suhayl ibn Amr the envoy of Mecca. There will be no fighting for ten years. Anyone who wishes to join Muhammad (SAW) and to enter into any agreement with him is free to do so. Anyone who wishes to join the Quraish and to enter into any agreement with them is free to do so. A young man, or one whose father is alive, if he goes to Muhammad without permission from his father or guardian, will be returned to his father or guardian. But if anyone goes to the Quraish, he will not be returned. This year Muhammad (SAW) will go back without entering Mecca. But next year he and his followers can enter Mecca, spend three days, perform the circuit. During these three days the Quraish will withdraw to the surrounding hills. When Muhammad and his followers enter into Mecca, they will be unarmed except for sheathed swords which wayfarers in Arabia always have with them." (Muslim|19|4401)


The treaty was quite controversial for many reasons. Originally the treaty referred to Muhammad as the Messenger of God which was unacceptable to the Quraish ambassador Suhayl ibn Amr. Muhammad ordered Ali to strike it out, but Ali replied that he would not as it would be false, after which Muhammad himself rubbed the words. (Bukhari|3|49|62, Muslim|19|4404). An objection was made by the Muslims over one clause of the treaty that said that any citizen from Makkah entering Medina is eligible to be returned back to Makkah (if they want), while any Muslim from Medina entering Makkah is not eligible to be returned to the Muslims even if Muhammad requested. (Bukhari|3|50|874)

After the signing of the treaty, there was still great fury amongst the Muslim side for they did not like the stipulations of the treaty. Muhammad, binding onto the Islamic ethic "Fulfill every promise" ordered that Muslims do exactly as the treaty says. A few Muslims, especially Umar bin Khattab strongly objected to the treaty, and even went on as far as regarding Muhammad's decision to be wrong. Many Muslims thereafter objected, when Muhammad told them (thrice) to perform their rites there and then. (Bukhari|3|50|891)

Muhammad insisted that Muslims had been victorious and was supported in this by new revelation: "Verily we have granted thee a manifest victory" (Qur'an 48:1). He promised much spoils in the near future: "...and He sent down peace of reassurance on them, and hath rewarded them with a near victory, and much booty that they will capture". (Qur'an 48:18-19)

The treaty's stipulations on the movement of persons gave rise to later controversy, when the Quraysh woman Um Cultum went to Medina and joined the Muslims, and her brothers demanded her return from Muhammad, as they interpreted the treaty to mean. Muslim commentator Abdullah Yusuf Ali considers the treaty to have been already violated, probably by an attack by the Quraysh-allied tribe of Banu Bakr upon the Muslim tribe of Banu Khuza'a, necessitating divine instruction on what was to be done with migrants from Mecca. [A. Yusuf Ali. Holy Qur'an, Text, Translation and Commentary. 1934: Ripon Press, Lahore. p1390,p1534.] Other Muslim sources state that the treaty's restrictions only applied to free men, and not slaves or women. [Sh. Sh. Safi ur-Rahman Al-Mubarakfuri. "Al-Hudaibiyah Treaty."] Ultimately, prophet refused on the basis of revelation from God: "When there come to you believing women refugees, examine and test them... if ye ascertain they are believers, send them not to the unbelievers" (Qur'an 60:10). If the woman married a Muslim, the Muslims would pay the Meccan refugee's ex-husband a sum equal to the dower he had paid upon marriage to her (Qur'an 6:10).


In 629 AD, the Muslims made The first pilgrimage. Two years later, in 630 AD, a skirmish between the Bedouin tribe of Khuza'a and the Banu Bakr tribe which was an ally of the Quraysh occurred; this was a breach of the treaty as one of the clauses of the treaty was 'An attack on an ally of the party, will be considered an attack on the party itself'. Muhammad offered the Quraish three alternatives:

#Dissolve their alliance with the Banu Bakr.
#Compensate by paying blood money.
#State that the treaty stood dissolved.

The Quraish chose the third alternative. Thus, Muhammad was left with 'no alternative' but to march on Mecca. He, along with 10000 men, marched to Mecca where he gave orders that old or sick men, children, men who dropped their arms, men who stayed in their homes, or people who stayed in Abu Sufyan's home were not to be harmed and no trees were to be cut. Thus, there was no bloodshed in the conquest.

Islam spread widely and quickly during the two years that the treaty was in effect. While Muhammad had one thousand four hundred followers when he signed the treaty in Hudaybiyya, he had well over ten thousand for his conquest of Mecca two years later.

ee also

*Pledge of the Tree
*List of treaties
*Urwah ibn Mas'ud


*The Oxford History of Islam by John Esposito (Oxford U. Press, 1999)
*Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir
*Sirat Rasul Allah

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