Sacrificing short term for long term
If there is one incident in the life of Rasoolullah(SAW) that can be described as a threshold it is the Treaty of Hudaybiya. The treaty between Rasoolullah(SAW) and the Quraysh was the most one-sided agreement that one could imagine. At this stage I believe it will be in order to give a brief account of what led to this famous treaty and the circumstances around it. This incident was like a ‘graduation exam’ for Rasoolullah(SAW) and his Sahaba which they passed with flying colors. It was a test of obedience of the most severe kind to see if they would obey Allah(SWT) in a matter where they were will to do it or not.
Sulah Al Hudaybiya
Rasoolullah(SAW) had a dream. He saw that he was making Tawâf around the Ka’aba and then they shaved their heads. It is now 6 years since they had left Makkah so they were all longing to go to Makkah. Allah(SWT) called His House – Mathaaba lin Naas – a place which you like to return to again and again – so the Sahaba were very keen to go. All believers when they see the Ka’aba the first time they are affected and feel the Haram to be their home and feel at home there even if they are foreigners.
The dream of the prophet is Wahi (Revelation) and so Rasoolullah(SAW) invited the Muslims for Umrah and a total of 1400 people left with Rasoolullah(SAW) . At Dhul Hulaifa they put on Ihraam and marked the sacrificial animals and started to make Talbiya. The procession of pilgrims moved towards Makkah and were peaceful and not armed except for their personal arms which every Arab man would wear. They were not an army going to battle. However Rasoolullah(SAW) had 20 scouts under the command of Abbad bin Bishr(RA), on horseback ahead of him as a protection and to clear the way. Bishr ibn Sufyan(RA) was sent to Makkah to gather intelligence. Umar ibn Al Khattab(RA) said to Rasoolullah(SAW) , ‘Ya Rasoolullah(SAW) , are you going to enter upon a people who are at war with you, without any weapons? Let us be prepared for battle if they bring it to us.’ So Rasoolullah(SAW) agreed with him and sent for weapons from Madina but they were to be kept separate so that the peaceful nature of the procession would not be disturbed.
Bishr bin Sufyan(RA) returned from Makkah and said, ‘Quraysh have allied themselves with Al Ahabeesh (3 or more tribes of Bedouins) and are marching for war.’ This was a very serious matter because in Arab society it was Haraam to prevent anyone from making Hajj and Umrah. It was considered a totally unacceptable thing to do this. Yet this is what the Quraysh appeared to be planning to do and some other tribes had joined them.
So Rasoolullah(SAW) asked the Sahaba for their advice and asked, ‘Shall I attack the tribes in their homes (women and children) so that they will leave the Quraysh and then we can deal with Quraysh?’ Abu Bakr(RA) said, ‘Ya Rasoolullah(SAW) , we did not come to fight anyone. So let us not attack anyone. Let us proceed for Umrah and if someone stops us, we will deal with them but unless that happens, let us not be the first to attack anyone.’ Rasoolullah(SAW) agreed and said, ‘Proceed onwards in Allah(SWT)’s name.’
Quraysh sent their army under the command of Khalid ibn Al Waleed and Ikrimah bin Abi Jahl. Rasoolullah(SAW) asked if there was anyone who knew of a route to Makkah that could bypass the route the Quraysh army was taking. A man from Aslam offered to guide them through a path which was very rough and difficult terrain but they reached the plain of Al Hudaybiyya. When Khalid ibn Al Waleed learnt this, he rushed back to Makkah with his troops and the Quraysh now knew that Rasoolullah(SAW) was just a day’s march from Makkah. When they reached Hudaybiyya, the camel of Rasoolullah(SAW), Qaswa sat down and refused to move. When they tried to move her and said, ‘Hal Hal’, she would not move. So people said, ‘Qaswa has become rebellious.’ But Rasoolullah(SAW) said, ‘It is not in the nature of Qaswa to rebel. She has been held back by the one who held back the elephant.’ Ibn Al Hajr Al Asqalani said, ‘Allah(SWT) knew then and now that the people of Makkah would become Muslim and so he held back the elephant of Abraha and Qaswa to prevent bloodshed. In the case of Abraha, Allah(SWT) destroyed him and his army. In the case of Rasoolullah(SAW) Allah(SWT) held him back so that bloodshed would be prevented.’
Rasoolullah(SAW) was not interested in fighting the Quraysh. There were his own family and old friends among them. He had come to make Umrah as he had seen in his dream and all he wanted to do was to complete that worship and go home. Rasoolullah(SAW) said, ‘By Him who holds my soul in His Hand, I will accept any offer they make that will protect and honor the sanctuaries and prevent bloodshed.’ He made it clear to everyone that he was not intending to make war or to shed any blood.
There was a well in Al Hudaybiyya but the Sahaba discovered that it was dry. So they told Rasoolullah(SAW) and he gave them an arrow from his quiver and told them to drop it in the well and it filled with water enough to water the whole caravan as long as it remained there.
The situation was delicate and tense. Rasoolullah(SAW) wanted to send an envoy to explain to the Quraysh that he had not come to fight but only to make Umrah. So he chose Kharaash bin Umayya from the tribe of Khuza’a. When Kharaash entered Makkah the Quraysh killed his camel and almost killed him until the Ahabeesh intervened and protected him. Quraysh were desperate and frustrated and so they treated the envoy of Rasoolullah(SAW) in a way that was not in keeping with the norms of diplomacy. When Kharaash returned, Rasoolullah(SAW) wanted to send another envoy. So he called Omar ibn Al Khattab(RA) and asked his opinion about going as his envoy. He said, ‘If it your order I will go, but I have no family (Banu Adi) left in Makkah and nobody to give me protection and Quraysh know my animosity to them.’ Rasoolullah(SAW) was silent so Omar(RA) then suggested the name of Othman ibn Affan(RA), who was from Banu Umayyah which was a branch of one of the major clans of Quraysh Banu Abd Manaaf. Quraysh had two major branches, Banu Makhzoom and Banu Abd Manaaf. Abu Jahl, Al Waleed bin Mugheera and Khalid Ibn Waleed were from Banu Makhzoom. Banu Abd Manaaf had two major branches: Banu Hashim (family of Rasoolullah(SAW)) and Banu Umayyah. Othman ibn Affan(RA) agreed to go. When he reached Makkah he was immediately given protection by Abban bin Sa’eed ibn Al A’as (Abu Sufayan was away from Makkah at that time so Abban bin Sa’eed was the next in command). Abban took Othman(RA) on his camel and announced his protection for him. Othman(RA) addressed the leadership of the Quraysh and said to them, ‘Rasoolullah(SAW) has sent me to you to call you to Islam and to Allah(SWT) and to enter the religion of Allah(SWT) because Allah(SWT) will give victory to His religion and will honor his Messenger(SAW). Secondly let someone else take care of this affair so that if they defeat the Messenger(SAW) of Allah(SWT) you will get what you want and if not you can then decide what to do. In the meanwhile you get some rest as war has exhausted you and the best among you have been killed. Rasoolullah(SAW) sent me to tell you that we have not come here to fight anyone but have come for Umrah and to slaughter our sacrificial animals and then we will leave.’ He gave them a very direct and blunt message.
Abban bin Sa’eed told Sayyidina Othman ibn Affan(RA), ‘If you want to make Tawâf, you can do that under my protection. Nobody will stop you.’ Othman ibn Affan(RA) said, ‘I will not make Tawâf until Rasoolullah(SAW) makes Tawâf.’ Some of the Sahaba had been saying that Othman is lucky as he is now making Tawâf. But Rasoolullah(SAW) heard them and said, ‘It is my expectation from Othman that even if he stayed in Makkah for x-years he will not make Tawâf until I make Tawâf.’ And that is what happened.
Quraysh sent Budair bin Waraqah from the tribe of Khuza’a to meet Rasoolullah(SAW). Budair went with some men from his tribe. This tribe was very sympathetic to Rasoolullah(SAW) and both the Muslims and Mushrikeen among them were advisors of Rasoolullah(SAW). Khuza’a were allies of Banu Hashim and since Rasoolullah(SAW) was the head of Banu Hashim they considered themselves allied to him and were loyal to their old tribal alliance. So Rasoolullah(SAW) had inside information about the Quraysh and their people. Budair Ibn Waraqah told Rasoolullah(SAW) that the Quraysh have come out ready for war, have put on their tiger skins and milking camels and are prepared to stay for a long time.
Rasoolullah(SAW) said, ‘I have not come to fight anyone. Quraysh have been consumed by war and are exhausted. I am willing to give the Quraysh some respite. Let them leave me alone and give me access to the people and if I convince the people they can decide what to do. If I lose they would have rested and gained some time. If not and they want to fight, then I swear I will not give up until I perish and Allah ￼ will decide
between us.’ Budair bin Waraqah returned and told the Quraysh what he had learnt but they didn’t like it and ignored him. Then Quraysh sent Mikraz bin Hafz. Rasoolullah(SAW) said, ‘He is a man who is untrustworthy.’ Later Mikraz came with 50 men and tried to circle around the camp of the Muslims with the intention to take prisoners. However they were all captured by the Muslims except Mikraz who ran away but Rasoolullah(SAW) released them all without any conditions as he had not come for war and wanted to give that message clearly to everyone. Then Al Hulais bin Alqama the head of Ahabish offered to go meet Rasoolullah(SAW). Rasoolullah(SAW) said, ‘He is the head of a people who are devout. So drive out the sacrificial animals before him so that he can see that we have come only for Umrah.’ The Muslims did that. As soon as Hulais saw that he was so moved and convinced that he did not even meet Rasoolullah(SAW) but returned to the Quraysh and said, ‘All glory is for Allah(SWT), it is not right to prevent these people from coming to the Ka’aba. This is not permitted in our traditions and we can’t prevent anyone from worshipping at Al Ka’aba. By Allah(SWT) we allow the, Jidam, Kindah, Himyar Laham (tribes from Yemen) to come and visit the house of Allah(SWT) while the son of Abdul Muttalib is himself prevented.’
Quraysh told him, ‘Just sit down. You are a Bedouin without any sense.’ Hulais became so angry with that, that he said, ‘You have no right to prevent people who have come to worship at the house of Allah(SWT) from coming here. If you don’t stop this I will mobilize all the Ahabish against you, to the last man in them.’ Eventually the Quraysh managed to calm him down and he was silent.
Then Urwah bin Masood offered to go to mediate with Rasoolullah(SAW). His mother was from Quraysh and he was from Al Thaqeef from At Ta’aif and was considered one of the great men of Arabia. He was a very powerful and famous man. He said to them, ‘Am I not one of your sons? Do you want me to go and speak to this man?’ They agreed, so he said, ‘I have seen however that you send envoys but if they return without what you want then you demean and insult them. Now I don’t want any part of that. So assure me about that and I will go to speak to Muhammad(SAW).’ They agreed.
Urwah bin Masood was very arrogant and conscious of his exalted status among the Arabs. He went to Rasoolullah(SAW) and said, ‘Hey now Muhammad(SAW) , have you not seen that you are ruining your own people? Have you heard of any Arab who ruined his own people? I don’t see faces here (meaning, ‘I don’t see anyone noble or noteworthy). I just see a hodgepodge of people who are capable of running away if you lose.’ Some of the tribes like Aslam and Ghifaar and Juhayan who were with Rasoolullah(SAW) were considered as second class by people of the major tribes like Quraysh and Thaqeef and Asad and Ghatafaan. Rasoolullah(SAW) said, ‘ On the Day of Judgment these small tribes will be far heavier on the scales than the big tribes who are honored today.’
When Abu Bakr(RA) heard what Urwah bin Masood said he saw this as a great insult which would not be unnoticed and cursed him with a very bad curse. Urwah bin Masood was so badly affected by his words that he said to him, ‘If it was not for the fact for your favor on me, I would have responded to your insult. But I will remain silent and with this silence of mine, I have paid your debt back in full.’ His debt was 10 camels which Abu Bakr(RA) had paid for him in a matter of blood money before Hijrah. Abu Bakr(RA)’s response was an indicator of how much he and the Sahaba loved Rasoolullah(SAW). They would not allow any aspersion, insult or disrespect of Rasoolullah(SAW) go by silently and unpunished. They always stood up for Rasoolullah(SAW) irrespective of what it cost them. Their way of addressing him, ‘May our fathers and mothers be sacrificed for you Ya Rasoolullah(SAW),’ was not a mere formality. They proved the truth of their love and commitment, time and again.
Ibn Al Hajar Al Asqalani says, ‘Urwah saw the two options as disliked (fighting his own people or being defeated) because of the norms of the time and social and cultural traditions. But in the Shari’ah both are praiseworthy, for to fight even your own people for the sake of Islam and win, is praiseworthy and to lose such a fight and become Shaheed fee Sabeelillah is also praiseworthy.’ So Islam changes our criteria of judgment and changes the way we look at life and what is right and wrong and what is winning and losing.
Urwah would extend his hand to hold the beard of Rasoolullah(SAW) as he spoke as this was a custom of those days. Al Mugheera bin Uqba(RA) who was standing beside Rasoolullah(SAW) as his guard would strike the hand of Urwah with the flat of his sword and say, ‘Keep your hands to yourself or your hand will not return to you.’ Urwah bin Masood was upset at this treatment because he was a famous man and he was not used to having his hand slapped. So he asked, ‘Who is this man?’ because he could not see Al Mugheera(RA) as he was completely covered in armor. Rasoolullah(SAW) said, ‘This is your nephew Mugheera.’ Urwah was shocked at this treatment from his own nephew (among the Arabs the uncle is honored like the father) but it shows how Islam changes loyalties and that the loyalty to Rasoolullah(SAW) supersedes all others.
Urwah said to the Quraysh, ‘I have gone in to Kings. I have had audiences with Caesar and Khusro and the Negus. But I have never seen any people love and venerate their kings as do the followers of Muhammad(SAW). If he spits it falls into the hands of one of them and he then rubs it on his face or body. When he speaks they rush to obey him and when they speak they lower their voices and they never look directly at him out of their veneration. They will never leave him. He has made you an offer, so accept it.’ Urwah bin Masood later accepted Islam and became a man blessed in both Dunya and Aakhira.
Othman(RA) was still in Makkah and a rumor spread that he had been killed. Rasoolullah(SAW) headed for the camp ground of Banu Najjar. Umme Ammara (RA) said, ‘I saw him coming to our camp and thought he needed something.’ When he reached there, he sat down and said, ‘Allah(SWT) has commanded me to take a pledge (Baya’a).’ Banu Najjar were from Khazraj and they were the relatives of Rasoolullah(SAW) from his mother’s side. He stayed with them when he first came to Madina and now he went to their tents first. They were his personal guards and closest to him. The pledge was taken in their camp. It was: ‘We pledge to die. We pledge not to flee from battle. We pledge to you according to whatever is in your heart.’ This is called Baya’a Al Ridwaan. See the level of trust that the Sahaba had for Rasoolullah(SAW) that they were willing to pledge to ‘whatever was in his heart’ without knowing what it was and knowing that it meant giving up their lives for it if need be.
Umme Ammara (RA) said, ‘I pulled out a pole from the tent and stuck a dagger in my belt as I wanted to be ready to defend Rasoolullah(SAW) if anyone attacked him. My husband took the Baya’a with his sword in his hand.’ The Sahaba were special and the Ansaar were special even among the Sahaba.
Rasoolullah(SAW) called Salama ibn Al Akwa(RA) and ordered him to take Baya’a and he took Baya’a. Rasoolullah(SAW) saw that he didn’t have any armor so he gave him a small shield. Then he saw him again and said, ‘Come and give Baya’a.’ Salama(RA) said, ‘Ya Rasoolullah(SAW) I have already given Baya’a.’ Rasoolullah(SAW) said, ‘Come and give it again.’ So Salama(RA) gave it again. Then Rasoolullah(SAW) asked him, ‘What happened to the shield I gave you?’ He said, ‘I gave it to my uncle who did not have anything.’ Rasoolullah(SAW) said, ‘The example of you is like the one who said, ‘O Allah(SWT) give me someone who loves me more than he loves himself.’ Then Rasoolullah(SAW) saw his again and called him, ‘Come and give Baya’a’, and Salama(RA) gave Baya’a a third time.
First of all Sayyidina Othman ibn Affan(RA) couldn’t take part in Badr as Rasoolullah(SAW) ordered him to remain with his wife who was the daughter of Rasoolullah(SAW) and was on her deathbed. As for Baya’a Al Ridwaan; for one thing it was for the sake of Othman(RA) in the first place and secondly Rasoolullah(SAW) put one of his hands in the other and said, ‘This is the hand of Othman in my hand and I am giving the Baya’a on his behalf.’ So his Baya’a was the best of all because Rasoolullah(SAW) took it for him.
Allah(SWT) said about this:
Verily, We have sent you (O Muhammad SAW) as a witness, as a bearer of glad tidings, and as a warner.9. In order that you (O mankind) may believe in Allâh and His Messenger (SAW), and that you assist and honor him (SAW), and (that you) glorify (Allâh’s) praises morning and afternoon.10. Verily, those who give Bai’â (pledge) to you (O Muhammad SAW) they are giving Bai’â (pledge) to Allâh. The Hand of Allâh is over their hands. Then whosoever breaks his pledge, breaks only to his own harm, and whosoever fulfills what he has covenanted with Allâh, He will bestow on him a great reward.
Al Fath 48:8
Then Allah(SWT) said about this Baya’a:
Indeed, Allâh was pleased with the believers when they gave their Bai’â (pledge) to you (O Muhammad SAW) under the tree, He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down As-Sakinah (calmness and tranquility) upon them, and He rewarded them with a near victory.
Al Fath 48:18
Allah(SWT) announced His praise for the Sahaba who took part in this Baya’a. Allah(SWT) witnessed this and said that it was His hand on the hand of Rasoolullah(SAW). When the Baya’a was over Rasoolullah(SAW) said, ‘You are the best of the people on the face of the earth.’ Antum khiyaarul ardh.
Later it was discovered that Othman(RA) had not been killed and that the news of his death was only a rumor. The Baya’a was a test for the believers and they were rewarded even though there was no fight after it. In another hadith it says: Everyone was forgiven by Allah(SWT) except the owner of the red camel. This was Ajad bin Khais who did not pledge allegiance and was hiding behind his red camel to escape from pledging allegiance.
Quraysh sent Suhail ibn Amr to negotiate with Rasoolullah(SAW). Suhail was very insistent on not allowing Rasoolullah(SAW) and Sahaba to enter Makkah on this trip and made it a condition of the treaty. This is a mark of Jahiliyya – the tribal pride of the Quraysh – which prevented them from accepting the fact that they were wrong in preventing pilgrims from coming to the Ka’aba. Rasoolullah(SAW) tried to argue this point but to no avail. In the end Rasoolullah(SAW) wanted this agreement to happen so he gave in. Rasoolullah(SAW) was obviously being guided by Allah(SWT) to do whatever he did but it was still a very severe test for him and the Sahaba. After all they had all set out to make Umrah on his invitation and here they were being prevented unjustly.
Omar ibn Al Khattab(RA) was very upset with what he was hearing in the discussion. So he went to Rasoolullah(SAW) and said, ‘Aren’t you the Messenger(SAW) of Allah(SWT)?’ He said, ‘Yes’. He asked, ‘Aren’t we the Muslims?’ He said, ‘Yes’. He asked, ‘Aren’t they the Mushrikeen?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ He then asked, ‘Then why should we demean our religion before them and bargain?’ Rasoolullah(SAW) said, ‘I am the slave of Allah(SWT). I will not disobey him and he will not abandon me.’ Omar (RA) then went to Abu Bakr (RA) and asked the same questions. Abu Bakr (RA) said, ‘Follow him. He is the Messenger(SAW) of Allah(SWT) and He will not forsake him.’ Omar ibn Al Khattab(RA) later regretted these arguments. He realized that what Rasoolullah(SAW) was doing was as a result of Wahi and so he had to do whatever he had been commanded by Allah(SWT). Sayyidina Omar(RA)’s intention was pure in making his arguments as he was very sensitive about Islam and its prestige. But when he realized his mistake in arguing with Rasoolullah(SAW) he said, ‘I have gone on fasting, praying, giving Sadaqa and freeing slaves in return for what I did that day and out of fear for what I said that day, so that Allah(SWT) will forgive me.’
Rasoolullah(SAW) dictated the terms and Ali bin Abi Talib (RA) was writing them down. Rasoolullah(SAW) said, ‘Write Bismillah hir Rahman nir Raheem.’ Ali(RA) wrote it. Suhail bin Amr who was the negotiator on behalf of Quraysh objected and said, ‘We know Allah(SWT) but we don’t know Ar Rahman and Ar Raheem. So write Bismikallahumma.’ Rasoolullah(SAW) told Ali to write that but Ali(RA) hesitated to erase what he had written. So Rasoolullah(SAW) erased it himself. Then he said, ‘Write ‘Sulah between Muhammad the Messenger of Allah(SWT) and the Quraysh of Makkah.’ Ali(RA) wrote but Suhail objected and said, ‘We know Muhammad bin Abdullah but we don’t know any Rasoolullah. If we accept you as the Messenger of Allah(SWT) then there is no quarrel between us. So write Muhammad bin Abdullah.’ Rasoolullah(SAW) ordered this change but Ali(RA) refused once again. Rasoolullah(SAW) then made the change himself. For Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib(RA) to make these changes was impossible because his faith was based on them. To now be told to erase the name of Allah(SWT) and the name of Rasoolullah(SAW) was something impossible for Ali(RA) to contemplate or agree to.
Terms of the Agreement of Al Hudaybiya
- 1. Both have agreed to a complete truce for a period of 10 years during which all the people will enjoy peace and security and will not attack one another.
- 2. If anyone from Quraysh should join Muhammad without permission from his guardian or chief he shall be returned to Quraysh.
- 3. If anyone from the camp of Muhammad joins Quraysh, they are not required to return them.
- 4. Both sides agree that they harbor good intentions towards one another.
- 5. No theft or treachery shall be condoned.
- 6. Whoever wants to enter into an alliance with Muhammad
may do so and whoever wants to enter into an alliance with Quraysh may do so.
- 7. It is further agreed that you Muhammad shall return home this year without entering Makkah. At the end of one year we shall evacuate Makkah for you so that you may enter Makkah with your followers to stay there for 3 days only. You shall carry only the arms necessary for the traveler namely your swords in their sheaths. You shall not carry any other arms.
By agreeing to the unequal terms, Rasoolullah(SAW) opened the door to the peaceful propagation of Islam. When hostilities ceased, Muslims were able to move about freely and to show and preach their message. The result was that most of Arabia accepted Islam. In order to win in the long term it is often necessary to sacrifice temporary or short term gains. This may be painful especially as this may require sacrificing one’s personal pride in the process.
Hudaybiyya was a very severe test which I call the ‘graduation’ of the Sahaba after the years in Makkah and the Hijra and battles in Madina. This was the final exam to test their obedience in stressful conditions. So Allah(SWT) tested them with a test so severe that it put some of the leaders of the Sahaba like Omar ibn Al-Khattab(RA) in a difficult position.
The test didn’t end with the treaty itself. Just as they were about to sign the agreement, Abu Jindal(RA) appeared. He was the son of Suhail bin Amr and had accepted Islam and had escaped from the Quraysh who had imprisoned him. He didn’t know what was happening or anything about the treaty and was happy to get to the camp of Rasoolullah(SAW) and was rejoicing at his escape. Suhail bin Amr saw him and made a point of this and said, ‘This is the first person whose case I take up. You have to hand him over to us or we will not accept this entire agreement.’ He would not budge to any amount of persuasion so Rasoolullah(SAW) eventually told Abu Jindal(RA) to go with Suhail bin Amr. Abu Jindal(RA) was shocked. He said, ‘Are you handing me back to them Ya Rasoolullah(SAW) for them to test me in my faith?’ Rasoolullah(SAW) said, ‘Be patient and Allah(SWT) will help you and those who are suffering with you out of your hardship.’
This was a terrible test for the Sahaba and a big blow to their morale. It was also a test of their obedience to Rasoolullah(SAW) in matters which they clearly hated and disagreed about. For the Sahaba who had dignity and honor and trust in Allah(SWT) it was very difficult to see their Muslim brother being taken away by the Kuffar. And to know that Rasoolullah(SAW) had agreed to this and they could do nothing to stop it. It is important to note that this is a special case where despite the fact that he hated doing this, Rasoolullah(SAW) agreed only because of Wahi and the promise of Allah(SWT) that He would help the Muslims. This is not evidence that Muslims can be handed over to the Kuffar. It is Haraam to do so and anyone doing so has committed treason left Islam and will enter the Hellfire.
Omar(RA) walked near Abu Jindal(RA) as he was being taken away and tried to give him his sword so that he could attack Suhail bin Amr and escape. But Abu Jindal(RA) didn’t take it and Omar(RA) said, ‘He preserved his father and did not attack him.’
Now when the treaty had been signed and Suhail bin Amr had left Rasoolullah(SAW) ordered the Sahaba to shave their heads and slaughter their sacrificial animals. But for the first time nobody moved to obey. Rasoolullah(SAW) was very angry and upset at this apparent disobedience. He didn’t repeat his command because he knew that if he had done that and the Sahaba didn’t obey him, their faith would have become negated. He left them and entered his tent and said, ‘The Muslims are ruining themselves. I have ordered them and they are disobeying me.’ Umm Salama (RA), his wife who had accompanied him on this journey said, ‘Ya Rasoolullah(SAW) the Muslims are under great stress because of all the trouble that you have taken in coming to this agreement. If you want them to obey, then go out and do it yourself and they will follow you.’ Rasoolullah(SAW) accpeted her advice and went out and ordered his own head to be shaved and slaughtered his camels. As one man, the Sahaba all did the same. They were all very sad but obeyed Rasoolullah(SAW) even though it was with a heavy heart. They wept as they shaved each other’s heads and tears mixed with blood as some of them cut the skin which shaving. What a strange sight it must have been to see great warriors weeping but obeying their leader without protest. Allah(SWT) liked this so much that he revealed the Qur’an.
For people like Omar(RA) and others, who were themselves warriors, this was a very humiliating treaty. However this was a test of their obedience to Rasoolullah(SAW). And Allah(SWT)’s plan was for the future which only He was aware of. When the Sahaba rose to the occasion and obeyed their leader despite their own anger, frustration and disappointment at not being able to perform the pilgrimage, Allah(SWT) called it a manifest victory.
Verily, [O Muhammad,] We have laid open before you a manifest victory,
Al Fath 48:1
Two key lessons in this incident:
1. For the leader it is essential to always keep the goal in sight and be willing to make everything, especially his own ego subservient to the accomplishment of the goal. If the leader insists on his own esteem needs often the long term needs of the mission are compromised. The leader must always remember that his success, fame, value and legacy all depend on one thing alone and that is the success of his mission. Everything else must therefore be subject to that goal. If it is necessary for the leader to take a step back temporarily so that the doors for the propagation of his mission are opened, then he must be prepared to take that step. It is like drawing your hand back to draw the arrow. The further you are able to pull back the greater the distance that the arrow will travel.
Leaders, who don’t understand this, sacrifice their ultimate success at the altar of their ego and are remembered for this rather than for any good that they may have done. Rasoolullah(SAW) proved for all time his own ability to be so confident and secure in his own identity and self-worth that he was able to put everything aside for the success of his mission. The trust of his followers was demonstrated by the fact that he was able to sign a treaty that they did not approve of and they trusted him, stood by him and supported him. Victory comes not only by having good leaders but even more by having good followers.
2. Followers must be willing to trust the leader and stand by him even if he does something that they don’t like at the time or don’t understand fully. Once the leader has been elected, then he must be trusted implicitly. In the case of Rasoolullah(SAW) this trust was a part of the faith itself because they knew him to be the Messenger(SAW) of Allah(SWT) and the recipient of Wahi (Revelation) and so understood that if he did something he was being Divinely guided and so even if they didn’t understand something they supported him in it. Needless to say, later events proved this support to be the right decision to have taken.
However even with ordinary leaders who are not divinely guided it is essential that they build enough credibility with their followers to be trusted implicitly and without question. This does not mean that followers must never question a leader or that a leader must not allow them to question him. This refers to the nature of the questioning; is it to understand or is it a challenge to his authority?
If it is the former it is to be encouraged but if it is the latter then it is a danger signal that the leader needs to mend his communication channels. This is also a reason why it is necessary for a leader to communicate openly, freely and often. The more approachable the leader is, the more people understand what he does and why he is doing it, the more he shows respect for his people and the more his people consider him as a role model; the more he will be trusted and looked up to. It is essential for a leader to consciously develop these qualities in himself.
References: Excerpt from Sheikh Mirza Yawar Baig Publications