The Prophet’s Greatest Victory According to the Quran: A Peace Treaty
The prophet Muhammad had participated in several battles in the larger defensive war after his migration to Madinah in the tenth year of his prophetic ministry. There was the battle of Badr in which a small Muslim army of untrained 313 had a resounding victory over a 1,000 well trained Makkan army. Nevertheless, God reserved the applause of ‘a great victory,’ not for any armed struggle, but for a peace treaty, which the common Muslim opinion held as acceptance of humiliating terms by the prophet.
What an amazing emphasis on peace, dialogue and coexistence in Islam as opposed to armed struggle and war, even if defensive!
The Quranic verse we are talking about is from the beginning of Surah Fatah (the Victory):
Surely we have granted you (Muhammad) a clear victory. (Al Quran 48:1/2)
إِنَّا فَتَحْنَا لَكَ فَتْحًا مُّبِينًا
The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah (Arabic: صلح الحديبية) was an important event that took place during the formation of Islam. It was a pivotal treaty between Muhammad, representing the state of Madinah, and the Quraysh tribe of Makkah in March 628 (corresponding to Dhu al-Qi’dah, 6 AH). It helped to decrease tension between the two cities, affirmed a 10-year peace, and authorized Muhammad’s followers to return the following year in a peaceful pilgrimage, later known as The First Pilgrimage.
Muhammad had a premonition that he entered Makkah and did tawaf around the Ka’bah. His Companions in Madinah were delighted when he told them about it. They all revered Makkah and the Ka’bah and they yearned to do tawaf there. In 628, Muhammad and a group of 1,400 Muslims marched peacefully without arms towards Makkah, in an attempt to perform the Umrah (pilgrimage). They were dressed as pilgrims, and brought sacrificial animals, hoping that the Quraish would honor the Arabian custom of allowing pilgrims to enter the city. The Muslims had left Madinah in a state of ihram, a premeditated spiritual and physical state which restricted their freedom of action and prohibited fighting. This, along with the paucity of arms carried, indicated that the pilgrimage was always intended to be peaceful.
Muhammad and his followers camped outside of Makkah, and Muhammad met with Makkan emissaries who wished to prevent the pilgrims’ entry into Makkah. After negotiations the two parties decided to resolve the matter through diplomacy rather than warfare, and a treaty was drawn up.
What is most instructive about this treaty is that even though the Makkans were polytheist and Muhammad’s arch enemies and had persecuted the prophet and his followers for 13 long years in Makkah, chased them to Abyssinia when some of his followers had migrated there and later attacked Madinah three times after his migration there, he did not hesitate to negotiate peace with them in good faith.
Could he have given us a brighter example to be flexible and negotiate peace and coexistence with others?