The Treaty of Hudaibiah and the Pledge of Ridhwan
In Dhul-Qa'dah, 6 A.H., the Prophet decided to perform the 'umrah (the lesser pilgrimage) to the Ka'bah which had been till then denied to the Muslims due to the hostility of the Meccans. Fourteen hundred Muhajirun and Ansar showed readiness to go with him. Lest there be any misgivings in any quarter about his intentions, he directed the Muslims not to carry any arms other than swords, and he himself put on the robes of ihram and took up camels to sacrifice. The Muslims camped at Hudaibiyah, ten miles from Mecca. An envoy was sent to the Meccans to obtain-their permission for visiting the Ka'bah but it was rejected. Instead, the Meccans collected a force to prevent the Muslims from entering Mecca. The Quraish sent Budayl of the tribe of Khuza'ah, to tell the Prophet that he was not allowed to visit the Ka'bah. The Prophet said that he had not gone there to fight but to perform the pilgrimage.
The Quraish deputed 'Urwah ibn Mas'ud al-Thaqafi to have a talk with the Prophet, but nothing came out of it. The Prophet then sent Karash ibn Umayyah to the Quraish, but the messenger was mistreated, and it was only with difficulty that he escaped with his life. The vanguard of the Quraish attacked the Muslims, but it was captured. The Prophet demonstrated great clemency and set the captives free. Ultimately, 'Uthman (who belonged to the same clan to which Abu Sufyan belonged) was sent to persuade the Quraish to allow the Muslims to visit the Ka'bah. News came that 'Uthman had been killed by the Quraish. The Muslims took a pledge on the hands of the Prophet, known as "Bay'atur-Ridhwan", to stand by him to the last. Referring to this pledge, the Qu'ran says:
Indeed God was well pleased with the believers when they swore allegiance to thee under the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down tranquility on them and rewarded them with a near victory. (Qur'an, 48:18)
However, it came to be known later that the news of Uthman's murder was not true. After considerable difficulty, a treaty was ultimately signed with Suhayl ibn 'Amr, Quraish's envoy, on the following terms reproduced in almost all the Arab Chronicles:
Although these terms were apparently disadvantageous to the Muslims, the Prophet accepted them. No sooner had the terms been agreed upon than a critical situation arose. Abu Jundal, son of the said Suhail, had been imprisoned by his father for accepting Islam and was being severely mistreated. He managed to escape and, with his fetters on, reached Hudaibiyah just before the treaty was signed. Suhail, the emissary of the Meccans, demanded his return according to the terms of the treaty. The Muslims said that the treaty had not been signed yet. Suhail said that if his son was not returned to him, there would be no treaty at all. Abu Jundal pleaded with the Muslims in the name of mercy not to throw him back to the tyranny of the Meccans and showed the injuries they had inflicted upon him. The Muslims were moved to plead his cause and 'Umar made an impassioned appeal, but the Prophet silenced them by declaring that he could not break a treaty. He consoled Abu Jundal by saying that God would create some way for his deliverance.
Some Muslims were unhappy abut this treaty. 'Umar ibn al-Khattab talked very rudely to the Holy Prophet. Afterwards, he used to say: "Never did I have doubt (about the truth of Islam) since my acceptance of Islam except on that day (of Hudaibiyah)."
The Prophet sacrificed his animals at Hudaybiyah. Having shaved his head, he removed the robes of ihram. Many Muslims were reluctant to do so, but finally they followed suit.
After three days' stay at Hudaibiyah, the Muslims returned to Medina. On the way back, Surah 48 titled "TheVictory" was revealed. It described the treaty as an open victory for the Muslims. Later events confirmed that it was really a great victory for them.
Till then, idolaters and Muslims had not been mixing with each other. By virtue of this treaty, they started doing so freely. On account of their family relationships and trade connections, the Meccans started visiting Medina, and many of them stayed there for months. In this way, they were getting acquainted with the teachings of Islam and were deeply impressed by the righteous conduct and moral integrity of the Muslims. The Muslims of Medina who were visiting Mecca left behind them similar impressions. The result was that the Meccans were themselves attracted to Islam and many of them embraced the new religion. It is recorded that during the two years following this treaty, more people accepted Islam than during the whole nineteen years since the inception of the mission. A clear proof is found in the fact that while only 1,400 Muslims had accompanied the Prophet for the lesser pilgrimage when the treaty of Hudaibiyah was concluded, two years later, that is, when Mecca fell in the hands of the Muslims, 10,000 Muslims accompanied him.
Inviting Sovereigns of Neighboring States
The tranquility afforded by the Hudaibiyah peace treaty gave an opportunity to the Prophet to propagate Islam throughout Arabia and to enable Islam to embark upon its attempt to embrace all humanity. He sent ambassadors with his letters to Heraclius, the Byzantine emperor, to Khusro Parviz Il, the Kisra of Persia, to the kings of Egypt and Abyssinia, the chiefs of Yemen and Syria. These letters have been preserved and reproduced by Arab chroniclers.
The letter to Heraclius, which was carried by Dahiyah al-Kalbi, read as follows:
In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful. From Muhammad, the slave and Messenger of Allah, to Heraclius, the emperor of Rome. Peace be on him who follows the guidance. After this, I invite you to accept Islam. Accept Islam and you will prosper and Allah will give you double rewards. But if you refuse, the sin of your people also will fall on your shoulders. O People of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you: that we shall not worship anything save Allah, and that we shall not associate anything with Him, nor shall some of us take others for lords besides Allah. But if they turn back, then say: Bear witness that we are Muslims.
Herachus wanted to know more about this religion, so he summoned some Arab merchants who had come to Gaza with a caravan. Abu Sufyan, one of the bitterest enemies of the Prophet, happened to be in that group, so he became its spokesman. The conversation that took place between Heraclius and Abu Sufyan is preserved in the books of traditions:
Herachus: Is the family of the person claiming prophethood a noble one?
Abu Sufyan: It is a noble family.
Heraclius: Has anyone else in", this family claimed prophethood?
Abu Sufyan: No.
Heraclius: Has there been any king in this family?
Abu Sufyan: No.
Heraclius: Are the people who have accepted this religion weak or influential?
Abu Sufyan: They are weak people.
Heraclius: Are his followers increasing or decreasing?
Abu Sufyan: They are on the increase.
Heraclius: Have you ever known him to tell lies?
Abu Sufyan: No.
Heraclius: Does he ever commit a breach of any pact?
Abu Sufyan: He has not done it so far, but we would like to see if he keeps up a new peace treaty that we have recently negotiated with him.
Heraclius: Have you ever fought against him?
Abu Sufyan: Yes.
Heraclius: What was the result?
Abu Sufyan: Sometimes we won and sometimes he.
Heraclius: What does he teach?
Abu Sufyan: He bids people to worship one God and not to associate any partners with Him, to offer prayers, to be truthful and chaste, and to bestow alms.
Heraclius then summed up the conversation thus:
"You say that this man belongs to a noble family. Prophets always come from noble families. You say that no one else in the family ever before claimed prophethood. Had it been so, I would have thought that he was influenced by family traditions. You say that none of his predecessors was a king. Had it been so, I would have thought that he was aspiring to attain kingship. You admit that he never tells lies. A person who does not tell a lie to a man cannot tell a lie about God. You say that poor people are the adherents of his creed. The first followers of prophets always come from this class. You say that his religion is expanding. This is a characteristic of a true religion. You say that he does not deceive. Prophets do not deceive anyone. You say that he bids you to offer prayers and to observe purity and chastity. If all this is true, his realm will come right up to my domain. I had thought that a prophet might be coming, but I did not think that he would be born in Arabia. If I could go there, I would have paid homage to him."
Abu Sufyan used to say that he had to give true answers to the emperor, as he was afraid of being contradicted by one or more of his caravan companion if he gave any false reply.
The envoy sent to Khusro Parviz met a different reception. Khusro Parviz was enraged at the very idea of an ordinary person addressing him, the great Kisra that he was, on terms of equality, so he tore the letter to pieces. Kisra directed his governor of Yemen to arrest the person claiming to be a prophet and to send him to his court. When the governor's messengers arrived at Medina and asked the prophet to comply with Kisra's orders on pain of his country's destruction, the Prophet replied, "Go back and tell him that the Islamic empire will reach the throne of Kisra's kingdom." Not many years had passed when this prophecy came true.
The envoy sent to Harith, chief of the Ghassan tribe ruling Syria, was put to death. This eventually became the cause of a conflict with the Christians which resulted in the Battle of Mu'tah and the expedition of Tabuk.
The Prophet sent an epistle to al-Mundhir, the then Iranian Governor of Bahrain. It read as follows:
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. From Muhammad the Messenger of Allah to al-Mundhir son of Sawa. Peace on him. Praise be to Allah besides Whom there is no other god. And I bear witness that there is no god except Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger. And now I remind you of Allah, the Mighty and the Glorious. Whoever receives admonition receives it for his own good, and whoever obeys my envoys and follows their instructions obeys me. Whoever is sincere to them is sincere to me. My envoys have spoken well of you. I have accepted your intercession on behalf of the people of Bahrain. Leave to the Muslims all they owned before accepting Islam. While I hereby grant indemnity to the wrongdoers, you should also forgive them. You shall not be deposed so long as you conduct yourself well. And whosoever continues following his (religion of) Judaism shall be liable to pay the jizyah (defence tax).
The letter sent earlier to Negus, the king of Abyssinia, had read as follows:
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. From Muhammad the Messenger of Allah to Negus, the king of Abyssinia. Peace be on him who follows the path of Guidance. Praise be to Allah besides Whom there is no other god, the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Preserver of Peace, the Keeper of the Faithful, the Guardian. I bear witness that Jesus son of Mary is indeed a spirit of God and His word, which He conveyed unto the chaste Virgin Mary. He created Jesus through His word just as he created Adam with His hands. And now I call you to Allah Who is One and has no partner, and to friendship in His obedience. Follow me and believe in what has been revealed to me, for I am the Messenger of Allah. I invite you and your people to Allah, the Mighty, the Glorious. I have conveyed the message, and it is up to you to accept it. Once again, peace on him who follows the path of guidance.
Another epistle sent to Muqauqis, the then Roman Viceroy over Egypt, was as follows:
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. From Muhammad, the servant and Messenger of Allah to Muqauqis, Chief of the Copts. Peace be on him who follows the path of Guidance. I invite you to accept the message of Islam. Accept it and you shall prosper. But if you turn away, then upon you shall also fall the sin (of misleading by your example) the Copts. O people of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you: that we shall worship none but Allah and that we shall ascribe no partners unto Him and that none of us shall regard anyone as lord besides God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are Muslims.