According to the terms of the treaty of Hudaybiyah, the Arab tribes were given the option to join either of the parties with which they desired to enter into treaty alliance, the Prophet’s sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, (may Allah exalt his mention) or the Quraysh’s. As a consequence, Banu Bakr joined the Quraysh, and Khuzaa’ah joined the Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam. According to the Treaty they could not attack one another for a period of ten years. But Banu Bakr developed an evil scheme against Banu Khuzaa’ah and they planned to take revenge on their rivals. The Quraysh of Makkah should have held Banu Bakr back from implementing their plan against Banu Khuzaa’ah making them uphold the Treaty. Instead of preventing them, the Quraysh, totally at variance with their obligation to the Treaty, came out in the open lending full and active support to Banu Bakr with men and material. They broke their covenant to the extent that Safwaan ibn Umayyah, ‘Ikrimah ibn Abu Jahl, and Suhayl ibn ‘Amr joined the fighting along with Banu Bakr.
The combined attack of Banu Bakr and the Quraysh inflicted on Banu Khuzaa’ah a heavy loss of 20 or 30 men. Being caught by a surprise attack at night while they were asleep, they found no where to take refuge except at the House of Allah, the Ka’bah, and even some of them were killed there (this was also a breach of trust as the Ka’bah was a sanctuary for all).
A Few days after the incident Budayl ibn Warqa’ and ‘Amr ibn Saalim came to Al-Madeenah and put their complaint before the Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam. ‘Amr ibn Saalim told his tale of woe in a poem filled with gloom and grief at their being brutally attacked and killed.
The Prophet of Allah, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, consoled them saying, “You will be helped.” At the time of their departure from Al-Madeenah the Messenger of Allah, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, remarked: “Abu Sufyaan has set out from Makkah to seek an extension in the duration of Peace Treaty and get it consolidated, but his mission will end in failure.”
When the Makkans found time to think over the consequences of their misconduct, they were struck by fear. They sent Abu Sufyaan to renew the Peace Treaty. The Messenger of Allah, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, ordered the Muslims, on the other hand, to make preparations for the ensuing battle and to keep it a top secret. On the way back to Makkah, Budayl ibn Warqa’ and his group came across Abu Sufyaan who was heading for Al-Madeenah. “Where have you been?” asked Abu Sufyaan. “I was only up in this valley,” Budayl replied. Abu Sufyaan was under the impression that the Prophet was unaware of the attack against Banu Khuzaa’ah that had just occurred. He was determined to get the Peace Treaty renewed as soon as possible.
Abu Sufyaan in Al-Madeenah
Abu Sufyaan came to Al-Madeenah and went to the house of his daughter Umm Habeebah, may Allah be pleased with her, (wife of the Noble Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam). But as he went to sit on the apostle’s carpet she folded it up. “My daughter,” said he, “Do you think that the carpet is too good for me or am I too good for the carpet.” She replied, “It is the apostle’s carpet and you are an unclean polytheist.”
Being disgusted at the curt reply of his daughter, Abu Sufyaan stepped out of her room and went to the Noble Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, but he, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, was well aware of his tricks and did not hold him any assurance. He then approached Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, but he declined to interfere. He contacted ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, also to intercede but he made a point-blank refusal. At last he saw ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib, may Allah be pleased with him, in this connection, but he also regretted his inability to do anything for him.
Preparations for the Attack on Makkah
Immediately after the departure of Abu Sufyaan, the Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, asked the Companions to march on Makkah. In spite of the massive size of the military preparations, the Companions did not know the target of attack. It was simply because the Messenger of Allah, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, wanted the Makkans to be caught unaware.
However, a Companion of the Prophet, Haatib ibn Abu Balta’ah, may Allah be pleased with him, informed the Quraysh of the impending Muslim attack, in a letter sent through a woman. Allah The Almighty inspired His Messenger with this. He, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, sent ‘Ali and Az-Zubayr ibn Al-‘Awwaam, may Allah be pleased with them, immediately after the woman with the description of her features. They caught her after a hard chase, searched her belongings but the letter remained hidden. However, ‘Ali was quite sure about the letter because he knew the Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, would not say anything that wasn’t absolutely true. When ‘Ali threatened her with dire consequences, she drew out the letter from her hair and handed it over to them. The letter was from Haatib ibn Abu Balta’ah, may Allah be pleased with him, to the Quraysh. The letter along with the woman was brought to the Messenger of Allah. Haatib was sent for and was asked for an explanation. He said, “Since my relatives were still in Makkah and in danger, I wished to oblige the Makkans by informing them about the ensuing Muslim attack so that my relatives would remain safe from them.” Having heard this, ‘Umar lost his temper and said, “O Messenger of Allah! Allow me to cut his head off.” But the Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, forgave him and told ‘Umar that Haatib was truthful in his claim, and Allah would forgive him due to his partaking in the battle of Badr.
March to Makkah
On Ramadan 11, 8 AH, the Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, set out from Al-Madeenah at the head of a ten-thousand-man army of the Companions. The failure of Abu Sufyaan’s mission had disheartened the Quraysh and they were in the dark about the plans of the believers. The Prophet’s march to Makkah was very swift. They came across his uncle Al-‘Abbaas ibn aAbdul-Muttalib, may Allah be pleased with him, on the way who, along with his wife and children, was moving to Al-Madeenah after they had embraced Islam. The Messenger of Allah took Al-‘Abbas to Makkah and sent his family to Al-Madeenah. Marching quickly, the Muslim army reached Marruaz-Zahraan at a distance of 8 miles from Makkah. The Makkans were still unaware of the presence of Muslim troops even though they were so close to Makkah. They encamped at that place. The Makkans came to know of the Muslim force only from the shepherds who went back in the night. Informed of this, Abu Sufyaan came out to look into the matter. The Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, had already deputed ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, at the head of a patrol party to ward off a night attack.
Al-‘Abbaas ibn Abdul-Muttalib was anxious about the safety of his people and wanted them to accept Islam and be safe. He came out mounted on the mule of the Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, in the night and moved towards Makkah. As per the order of the Messenger of Allah, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, the entire Muslim army had, in separate groups of one thousand each, lit their campfires.
When Abu Sufyaan witnessed the blazing campfires spread over a vast area, he was shocked and stunned to the core to think how such a large army had been collected.
Al-‘Abbaas recognized the voice of Abu Sufyaan even in the dark night and sounded back that the army belonged to the Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, and was ready to invade Makkah the next morning. Abu Sufyaan was left more confounded at this disheartening news. He, in a state of utmost bewilderment, drew near Al-‘Abbaas to seek his counsel at this juncture. Al-‘Abbaas said to him, “Ride on the back of this mule and I will bring you to the Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, for he alone can give you protection.” Abu Sufyaan got on the mule without a moment’s delay. ‘Umar recognized Abu Sufyaan and wanted to kill him at once, but Al-‘Abbaas spurred the mule and quickly went into the camp of the Prophet. ‘Umar came chasing him and said, “O Prophet of Allah! Command me to kill this disbeliever, for he has come under our control without any condition.” Al-‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “I have already given him protection.” But ‘Umar sought permission once again. Al-‘Abbaas replied to him with a pinch of taunt, “‘Umar’! You would not have insisted on his being killed had he belonged to your family.” Thereupon ‘Umar said, “O Al-‘Abbaas! I felt more happy on your accepting Islam than I would have been had my father done so because I found the Prophet eager for your becoming a Muslim.” After this exchange between the two, the Prophet of Allah, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, enjoined, “Well, Abu Sufyaan is given respite for a night.” Following this he asked Al-‘Abbaas to keep Abu Sufyaan in his own camp. And next morning Abu Sufyaan appeared before the Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, and confessed Islam.
To be continued