Why does The Qur'an describe the treaty of Hudaybiya as a manifest victory?
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was a man of action. He
never hung back in putting his plans or decisions into action. Any hesitation
in the leader causes his followers to falter. God’s Messenger, upon him be peace
and blessings, always acted with deliberation, never neglected to consult, but
once he had come to a decision or planned something, he did not show any hesitation
in carrying it out.
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, never repented of what
he had, or had not, done, nor regretted any lost opportunity for doing something.
Before starting something, he used to take all the necessary precautions, consider
all the probabilities, and take counsel with those who could give expert advice
on the matter, and once he made up his mind, he never faltered in carrying out
his decision. This is one of the important reasons why he carried all his attempts
to victory and why his Companions followed him in every step he took.
One of the events worthy of elaboration to understand how God’s Messenger
solved problems easily is the Treaty of Hudaybiya.
In the sixth year of the Hijra, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings,
informed his Companions that he had had a dream that they would shortly enter
the Holy Mosque in Makka in security, with their heads shaved or their hair
cut short. This delighted the Companions, particularly the Emigrants, very much.
In March of 628, the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, set out to perform
pilgrimage at Makka with a party of about fifteen hundred men, unarmed and in
pilgrim dress (ihram).
Informed of the coming of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings,
the Quraysh armed themselves and the neighbouring tribes. They were determined
not to allow the Muslims to enter Makka. They despatched troops of two hundred
men under the command of Khalid ibn Walid and Ikrima ibn Abu Jahl, who marched
as far as Qura’u l-Ghamim and, seeing that Muslims were coming towards them,
returned to Makka in order to inform the Makkans. When the Muslims reached Hudaybiya,
a place on the road from Jeddah, about twelve miles from Makka, God’s Messenger
gave the order to stop.
When the Muslims suffered from shortage of water, God’s Messenger threw an
arrow down the only well at Hudaybiya. Water began to gush and rose to fill
the well. This was a manifest miracle. Everyone drank from that water, did wudu’
with it, and filled their bags.19
In the face of the Makkans’ refusal to allow the Muslims to enter Makka,
God’s Messenger sent Budayl ibn Warqa, a man from the tribe of Khuda‘a, with
whom the Muslims were in alliance, to the Quraysh to inform them that they had
come with the intention of pilgrimage and therefore bore no arms. The Quraysh
listened to Budayl, and reciprocated by sending ‘Urwa ibn Mas‘ud al-Thaqafi.
While talking to God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, ‘Urwa attempted
to take the beard of God’s Messenger by way of jesting. However, Mughira ibn
Shu’ba struck his hand, saying: ‘Do not touch the pure beard of God’s Messenger
with your impure hand! If you repeat your attempt, I will cut off your hand!’
Mughira was the cousin of ‘Urwa and it was hardly two months since he had
accepted Islam. Indeed, it was ‘Urwa himself who had paid, a few months before,
the blood money for a crime Mughira had committed. How Islam had changed Mughira!
The commitment of the Companions to their cause and their devotion to God’s
Messenger shocked ‘Urwa, who returned to the Quraysh and said to them:
I have visited Chosroes, Caesar and the Negus. None of their subjects are
so devoted to their rulers as his Companions are to Muhammad. So, I advise you
not to struggle with that man.20
The Quraysh did not heed the advice of ‘Urwa. Nor did they give a warm welcome
to Kharash ibn Umayya, whom God’s Messenger sent after ‘Urwa. Kharash was followed
by ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, who had powerful relatives among the Quraysh. ‘Uthman
came to negotiate with the Makkans. However, the Makkans imprisoned ‘Uthman.
When he did not return at the expected time, rumours had it that ‘Uthman had
been killed. It was then that the Prophet, sitting under a tree, took from his
Companions the oath that they would hold together and fight to the death. The
Prophet himself represented the absent ‘Uthman by proxy in this oath;21 one
man, Jadd ibn Qays refrained from taking it, hiding behind a camel. The revelation
which came on this occasion reads:
God was well pleased with the believers when they were swearing allegiance
to you under the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down
peace of reassurance on them and has rewarded them with a near victory. (al-Fath,
In that moment of tension, a cloud of dust appeared from afar.
The Makkans had sent a delegation headed by Suhayl ibn ‘Amr. When God’s Messenger
learned that the Makkan delegation was headed by Suhayl, he took a good omen
from his name, which means easiness, and told his Companions: The situation
has eased off.
The Quraysh agreed to a truce, and the Treaty of Hudaybiya was drawn up.
Under the terms of this treaty the Prophet would be allowed to make the pilgrimage,
not then, but in the following year. Makka would be emptied for three days for
the Muslim pilgrims. The Treaty also stipulated a truce for ten years; that
any tribe or person would be free to join either party or make an alliance with
it; and that those who were not free but subjects or dependents of the Quraysh
and who defected from paganism to Islam would be returned to the Quraysh by
This last condition was not reciprocal. It was objected to in the Muslim
camp. It shocked some among them such as ‘Umar, who went so far as to question
God’s Messenger about it. However, it really was of little importance. Muslims,
sent back to Makka, were not likely to renounce the blessings of Islam; on the
contrary, they would be a focus of influence in Makka for Islam.
It was just before the treaty was signed that Abu Jandal, the son of Suhayl,
the head of the Makkan delegation, came, trailing his chains, in order to join
the Muslims. God’s Messenger had to return him to his father in tears. However,
he whispered to him: God will shortly save you and those of your like.22
Shortly after the Treaty of Hudaybiya was signed, ‘Utba ibn Asid, known as
Abu Basir, defected to Madina. However, the Quraysh sent two men to demand his
return. On their way back to Makka, Abu Basir escaped, killing one of the two
men, and wounding the other. God’s Messenger did not admit him to Madina, in
observing the terms of the Treaty. Abu Basir chose to settle at Iyss, a place
on the road from Makka to Syria.
The Muslims held in Makka began to escape and join Abu Basir. The trade route
of the Makkans was now under threat. This forced the Quraysh to apply to God’s
Messenger to annul the relevant term of the treaty and requested him to admit
the defecting Makkans to Madina.23
The Qur’an called the Treaty of Hudaybiya ‘a manifest victory’:
Surely We have given you a manifest victory. (al-Fath, 48.1)
It proved to be indeed a victory because:
• By this Treaty, the Quraysh, after many years of unrelenting conflict with
Islam, at length recognized Islam as (what they thought) an equal power with
themselves. In effect, they had given up their struggle without admitting it
to themselves. Having seen the Makkans dealing with the Prophet, upon him be
peace and blessings, as an equal, and as a ruler, a rising tide of converts
flowed towards Madina from all quarters of Arabia.
• There were many among the Quraysh themselves, who would benefit from reflecting
on the call of God’s Messenger in a peaceful atmosphere. The Treaty of Hudaybiya
gave them this opportunity and, as a result, some leading figures of the Quraysh
such as Khalid ibn Walid, ‘Amr ibn al-‘As and ‘Uthman ibn Talha, who were famous
for their military and political skills, accepted Islam. ‘Uthman ibn Talha used
to keep the keys of the Ka’ba, and after the conquest of Makka, God’s Messenger
honoured him with the same task.
• The Quraysh used to regard the Ka‘ba as belonging to themselves exclusively
and no one except them was allowed to visit it without paying tribute. By not
stipulating that the Muslims must pay tribute for their deferred pilgrimage
the following year, the Quraysh unwittingly breached their monopoly of the Ka‘ba.
This awakened desert tribes to the fact that the Quraysh had no right to claim
the exclusive ownership of the Ka‘ba.
• There were at the time in Makka believing Muslims, men and women, and the
faith of some of them was unknown to their brothers from Madina. Some of them
were employed by God’s Messenger as spies. Had a fight taken place in Makka,
even though the Muslims had been successful, they might unwittingly have killed
some of those Muslims, not known to them as Muslims, and thus suffered the anguish
of shedding Muslim blood, and caused either the martyrdom or disclosure of the
Prophet’s spies. This was prevented by the Treaty. The Qur’an points to this
It is He who restrained their hands from you, and your hands from them, in
the hollow of Makka, after He made you victors over them. God sees the things
you do. They are the ones who unbelieved, and banned you from the Holy Mosque,
and hindered the sacrificial animals from reaching their place of sacrifice.
If it had not been for certain believing men and believing women (in Makka)
whom you knew not – lest you should trample them and thus incur guilt for them
unknowingly; that God may admit into His Mercy whom He will – (if the believers
and unbelievers) had been clearly separated, then We would have chastised the
unbelievers among them with a painful chastisement. (Al-Fath, 48.24–5)
• The Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, performed the minor pilgrimage
the following year. The testimony of faith, declaring that there is no god but
God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God, rang out in the valley of Makka.
The Quraysh, camped on the Hill of Abu Qubays, heard it, a portent of the coming
triumph of Islam. This was, in fact, God’s fulfilling of the vision He vouchsafed
to His Messenger, as pointed out in the Qur’an:
God has indeed fulfilled the vision He vouchsafed to His Messenger truly:
You shall enter the Holy Mosque, if God wills, in security, your heads shaved,
your hair cut short, not fearing. He knew what you knew not, and, granted, besides
this, a nigh victory. (al-Fath, 48.27)
• The Treaty of Hudaybiya freed God’s Messenger to deal with others. In the
expeditions which followed the Treaty, the Muslims conquered the redoubtable
citadels of the Jews of Khaybar, giving the Jews the choice of entering Islam
or accepting the rule of Islam by paying a tribute in lieu of protection (jizya),
thereby impressing their neighbors and the Arabs of the Peninsula with the growing
strength of the Islamic state.
The Muslims faithfully observed the terms of the Treaty. But the Makkans
later on broke the terms in the attack which one of their allied tribes (the
Banu Bakr) made on the Banu Khuda‘a (who were in alliance with the Prophet).
So, in January 630, two years after the Treaty of Hudaybiya, at the head of
an army of 10,000, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, marched
upon Makka and conquered it, meeting almost no resistance. The Ka’ba was purified
of idols and in the course of the following days, the Makkans accepted Islam.
This was due to happen because,
It is He who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of
truth, that He may uplift it above every religion. God suffices as a witness.
Muhammad is the Messenger of God, and those who are with him are hard against
the unbelievers, merciful to one another. You see them bowing, prostrating,
seeking grace from God and (His) good pleasure. Their mark is on their faces,
the trace of prostration. That is their likeness in the Torah, and their likeliness
in the Gospel: as a seed that puts forth its shoot, and strengthens it, and
it grows stout and rises straight upon its stalk, pleasing the sowers, that
through them He may enrage the unbelievers. God has promised those of them who
believe and do deeds of righteousness forgiveness and a mighty wage. (al-Fath,
19. Muslim, Hadith No.1834; Bukhari, 4.256.
20. Bukhari, 3.180; I. Hanbal, 4.324; Tabari, 3.75.
21. I. Hisham, 3.330.
22. I. Hisham, 3.321–333; I. Kathir, 4.188-193.
23. I. Hisham, 3.337–8.