Jihad in the Koran

The Civil War Which Started It All

The Treaty of Hudaibiyah

Jihad in the KoranThe believers won the battle at Medina, but their victory did not really solve anything for the Muslims. In fact, it may have left them more vulnerable than before.

Many of the Jews of Medina whom the Prophet sent into exile found a new home in the Jewish oasis of Khaybar approximately 153 km to the north of the city.

Khaybar had a pact with Mecca whereby if either city was attacked the other was to march on Medina. Both city also instituted the equivalent of an economic blockade of the oasis city. Not only were the Muslim caravans confined to Medina but so were their raiding parties. The believers can no longer depend on plunder to make ends meet.

Something has to give. It appears the believers have no choice. Unless they break the blockade by attacking either Khaybar or Mecca, many of the warriors who became Muslims for the booty will leave, or join the Confederates making the fall of Medina and the defeat of the believers inevitable.

The Prophet, to the astonishment of his companions decides to go to Mecca, not to fight, but to perform the lesser pilgrimage, the Umrah. He invites all believers to accompany him on this 800 km round-trip religious trek.

The Bedouins among his supporters expect hostilities to break out and do not care to take the war to the holy city of Mecca. They refuse to go. The majority of believers at Medina have no such qualms and look forward to taking the war to the Meccan pagans. They believe the pilgrimage is just a ruse, and that if the Prophet is denied, he will enter Mecca by force.

The men who will accompany God’s Messenger are only allowed a sheathed sword as a weapon, and must follow the ritual preparation, much of it borrowed from the pagans, such as fasting, shaving your head and body hair, wearing a simple robe without decorations of any kind and abstaining from sexual relations.

On February 628 the Prophet and an estimated fourteen hundred male pilgrims leave Medina for Mecca where, like the pagans, they hope to circumambulate the Ka’ba while bowing up and down and glorifying their god, the One and only God, Allah.

The Meccans send a small detachment of cavalry to intercept the pilgrims. All are taken prisoners by the Muslims. The Prophet orders that they be released without conditions. The Meccans then send a larger detachment to meet the believers. It arrives only to find the believers prostrated towards Mecca in prayer. Their leader Ikrimah, son of Abu Jahl, will not give the order to attack and simply turns back.

God’s Messenger then decides to sends an emissary to the Meccans to explain that he has only come to perform the pilgrimage. His envoy and his retinue are intercepted by Ikrimah who cripples they camels and leaves them to make their way back to the Prophet on foot.

Ikrimah and his troops now bar the main route into the sacred perimeter of the holy city. The Prophet avoids a confrontation with Ikrimah by taking an alternate dangerous rocky route among the hills overlooking Mecca. With the holy city spread out before him, his camel refuses to go any further. The Prophet said that an angel barred its way. It is now obvious to God’s Messenger that Allah does not want them to go any further.

There is no water where the angel forced them to stop. The Prophet raises his arms towards the heavens and asks Allah for help. A short time later he is joined by a pilgrim who tells God's Messenger to dig beneath his feet and he will find water. He does.

The Prophet wants to send another emissary to the Meccans. His companions would rather they simply march on the city. Uthman, the Prophet’s son in law, accepts to go and talk to the Meccans. When he is late in returning, rumours start to circulate that he has been killed or is being tortured.

The pilgrims are now determined to enter Mecca by force, with or without their Prophet’s approval, prompting God’s Messenger to demand their unquestioning allegiance at a meeting under one of the few trees. One after the other the believers approach the Prophet and swear absolute obedience. Two revelation about that all-important gathering:

48:18 Allah was well-pleased with the believers, when they paid you homage under the tree; so He knew what was in their hearts and sent down the Serenity upon them and rewarded them with a victory near at hand,

48:19 And with many spoils for them to seize. Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.

A short time later, a delegation from Mecca arrives. A ten year non-aggression treaty is signed, the Treaty of Hudaibiyah. Under Hudaibiyah, Muslims will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage the following year and every year during which the treaty is in force.

His followers are very unhappy about having to return to Medina without having performed the pilgrimage, and accuse the Prophet of selling them out. God’s Messenger tells them that they have achieved a great victory, and Allah bears him out, adding that He will give them an even greater victory.


48 Al-Fath

In the Name of Allah,

the Compassionate, the Merciful

48:1 We have indeed given you a manifest victory,

48:2 That Allah may forgive you your former and your later sins, and complete His Blessing upon you and lead you onto a straight path;

48:3 And that Allah may give you a mighty victory.

But that is not enough! Allah will justify not allowing the Muslims to take Mecca by force because of believers among the Meccans. He would of course have given them a bloody victory, revelation 48:12 instead of a paper one, revelation 48:24; but the price if He had led them proceed – the guilt they would have felt if they “unwittingly” killed Meccan believers – was too high, revelation 48:25. If only “they had stood apart” He “would have inflicted on those who disbelieved a painful punishment.”

48:22 Had the unbelievers fought you, they would certainly have turned their backs in flight; then they would have found no friend or supporter.

48:23 It is Allah’s Way which has gone before; and you will never find any alteration of Allah’s Way.

48:24 It is He Who held their hands back from you, and your hands from them in the valley of Mecca, after He gave you victory over them. Allah observed whatever you do.

48:25 It is they who disbelieved and barred you from the Sacred Mosque, and the offering was prevented from reaching its sacrificial site. Had it not been for some believing men and some believing women, whom you did not know, lest you should trample them and earn thereby the guilt unwittingly, that Allah might thereby admit into His Mercy whomever He wishes. Had they stood apart, We would have inflicted on those of them who disbelieved a painful punishment.

48:26 When the unbelievers instilled in their hearts fierceness, the fierceness of paganism, Allah then sent down His Serenity upon His Messenger and upon the believers, and imposed on them the word of piety, they being more deserving thereof and worthier. Allah has knowledge of everything.

That mighty victory would come only two years into the ten year non-aggression pact.