March 31 holds an important place in Islamic history as the anniversary of the treaty that paved the way for official recognition of the first Islamic state under Prophet Muhammad’s leadership.

In 628 CE, 1,394 years ago, the treaty of Hudaybiyyah was signed; it is considered a landmark in Islam's history.

What happened in Hudaybiyyah was a kind of peace treaty signed by the idolaters of Mecca and the Muslims. It was signed in the village of Hudaybiyyah, located about nine miles (14.5 km) outside Mecca, thereby acknowledging the equality of Muslims as bargaining partners.

The incident took place six years after Hijrah (meaning “departure” or “migration”), and the Muslims, under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), were eager to visit the Holy Kaaba again. 

During this period, the idolatrous pagans of Mecca and the Muslims waged war three times; in Badr, Uhud and in the Battle of Trench. Although the Muslims had defeated the idolaters in two of these battles, they were still not strong enough to fight again against such a large force. 

The Hudaybiyyah encounter tested the courage and faith of Muslims. Here is a look at how it all happened and the importance of the treaty.

Behind the treaty

His Holiness the Prophet Muhammad called on his followers to perform the Umrah, the pilgrimage, following a dream he had, and some 1,400 of his companions wended their way through Mecca. 

As their intention was to perform a religious duty, they took only seventy sacrificial weapons with them. When the idolaters of Mecca prevented them from entering the city, the caravan, led by Prophet Muhammad, decided to stay at Hudaybiyyah and camped there. 

Following rumours regarding the Meccans’ preparations for war, Prophet Muhammad sent a message saying they had not come to fight.

His Holiness, the future caliph Uthman, was sent as an envoy to convey the prophet’s message to the Meccans. When reports emerged that he had been martyred, the Muslims prepared for war. 

When the Quraysh (a grouping of Arab clans that historically inhabited and controlled the city of Mecca) sent an army of about 200 people, they encountered the Muslims and were taken prisoner. After that, the Meccans tried to make peace. After a long discussion, a treaty finally emerged.

The articles of the treaty

Prophet Muhammad and the envoy of Meccans, Suhaly ibn Amr, agreed on the articles as per the Hudaybiyyah Treaty;

1. There would be an armistice between the two parties and no fighting for the next 10 years.

2. Any person or tribe who wished to join Prophet Muhammad and enter into any agreement with him would be free to do so. Likewise, any person or tribe who wished to join the Quraysh and enter into any agreement with them would be free to do so.

3. If any Meccan went to Medina, then the Muslims would return him to Mecca, but if any Muslim from Medina went to Mecca, he would not be returned.

4. If any young man, or one whose father was alive, went to Muhammad without permission from his father or guardian, he would be returned to his father or guardian. But if anyone went to the Quraysh of Mecca, he would not be returned.

5. That year, the Muslims would go back without entering Mecca. But the next year, Prophet Muhammad and his followers could enter Mecca, spend three days there and perform the Umrah.

Future outcomes of the treaty

The agreement at first seemed like a negative development for Muslims, but later on, it turned out to be a great victory.

Although the treaty, which was signed on the borders of Hudaybiyyah, was first met with sadness by the companions of Prophet Muhammad, it later paved the way for significant gains, as the Meccans had officially recognised the Muslims.

Muslims were equally allowed to make alliances with other tribes. The 10 years of armistice with Meccans provided a unique opportunity to spread Islam and to deal with their rivals in other parts of the peninsula, just like conquering the Jewish stronghold of Khyber.

A year after signing the treaty, there were 2,000 pilgrims with Prophet Muhammad instead of 1,400 previously.

Amid the peaceful environment, the number of Muslims started increasing. Thanks to this treaty, the way was opened for the conquest of Mecca, which took place two years later when the truce was broken because Banu Bakr, an ally of the Quraysh, attacked the Banu Khuza’a, who had recently become allies of the Muslims.

Source: TRT World