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Tunisia’s Ennahda slams calls to boycott Hajj

Supporters of the boycott argue that the Hajj ritual has become too expensive

Muslim Hajj pilgrims try to touch Kaaba stone as they circumambulate around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest site, located in the center of the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on 22 August, 2017 [Fırat Yurdakul/Anadolu Agency]

Muslim Hajj pilgrims try to touch Kaaba stone as they circumambulate around the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest site, located in the center of the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on 22 August, 2017

Tunisia’s Ennahda Movement has decried calls aimed to urge Muslims to boycott the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Calls have recently grown in Tunisia demanding the issuance of a fatwa to prevent Tunisians from going to the holy lands in Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj ritual.

Supporters argue that the ritual has become too expensive and that revenues are being used by Saudi authorities to stage wars in Muslim countries.

“These are isolated and ideological calls that only serve personal purposes,” Ennahda said in a statement.

It warned that such calls would lead to strain relations between Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

Last year, nearly 11,000 Tunisian pilgrims performed the annual ritual, which costs around 12,000 Tunisian dinars ($4,583 USD).

Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab coalition that launched a massive air campaign in 2015 against Shia Houthi rebels, which overran much of Yemen, including capital Sanaa a year earlier.

(Source / 01.07.2018)

Turkey: 90 years on foundation of Muslim Brotherhood

Ibrahim Mounir – 90 years on foundation of Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood group yesterday commemorated its 90th anniversary in the Turkish capital of Istanbul under the slogan “90 Years of Giving.”

The commemoration ceremony was attended by dozens of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders from around the world, including Ibrahim Mounir, the group’s deputy leader, the former head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Mashal, in addition to thousands of the group members from various Arabic countries.

Since its inception on 22 March 1928, many of the Brotherhood members and leaders have been arrested and held in prisons of the Arab rulers, under the pretext that the group is involved in several terrorist attacks that are being carried out around the world.

Arab regimes, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have named the Islamist group as “terrorist group.” Many of the group’s members and leaders under a travel ban.

The Brotherhood has a presence in 52 Arabic, European, Asian and African countries. It also has presence in North and South America and Australia, according to historical and organisational sources.

(Source / 02.04.2018)

#3rdMarch1924 – 93 years without the Caliphate

[For a detailed historical insight into the fall of the Caliphate watch the video above, 1914; The shaping of the Modern Muslim World by Sheikh Yasir Qadhi]

“We must put an end to anything which brings about any Islamic unity between the sons of the Muslims. The situation now is that Turkey is dead and will never rise again, because we have destroyed its moral strength, the Caliphate and Islām.”

“This bold statement, or rather stark warning, was allegedly made by the former British Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, at the House of Commons after the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, when the Ottomans were defeated in World War One. The reason why Lord Curzon’s statement should be taken with so much weight (if it is true) is because it correlates with the following ḥadīth of Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam):

“The knots of Islām will be undone one by one, each time a knot is undone the next one will be grasped, the first to be undone will be the ruling and the last will be the prayer.”[2]

Today marks 93 years since the destruction of the Ottoman Caliphate, heralding arguably the darkest chapter in Islamic history after the death of Rasūl’Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam). The Ummah continues to suffer from the after-effects of this calamitous event, for the very reason, which Lord Curzon mentioned – the Muslims currently have no collective “moral strength”, which is embodied in the form of an inclusive Islamic polity. The Middle East and North Africa were subsequently carved up between Britain and France, as Mark Sykes and Francois Georges Picot planned the future of the former Ottoman territories with a pen and ruler. What followed since was an uninterrupted chain of secular dictatorships and petrol rich sheikhdoms. Many of these regimes came to power via military coups, dressed up as pseudo-liberators, whilst the Gulf monarchies unashamedly enjoyed the fruits of their forefathers’ betrayal during WW1.

The history lesson aside, the concept of the Caliphate, and the general Muslim populous’ desire for it, continues to be maligned by academics, journalists, Western policy makers and governments. Secular liberals and modernists, both Muslim and non-Muslim, from across the political spectrum, appear to have adopted the attitude of Lord Curzon, but with rehashed rhetoric that a Caliphate is simply incompatible with the modern world, rendering it barbaric and despotic. The irony is that they all seem to conveniently forget that for over a thousand years Islamic civilisation under successive Caliphates, from the Umayyads to the Ottomans, led humanity in science, philosophy, arts and technology. Furthermore, agenda-driven critics and muscular ideologues also overlook that not only did every Caliphate have the trappings of a modern state, but they were the beacon and example of modernity for their relevant period in history. Again, I cannot do justice in explaining Islām’s contribution to the world as we know it today, when libraries are filled with books and historical testimonies of non-Muslims who substantiate this undeniable fact.

Also read: The Caliphate Chicken & Egg

However, it must be stated from the onset that the Caliphate is not regarded as a utopian state, conceptually or in practice. This was never the case when Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) ruled over Madīna, or when the Khulafāh Rāshidūn (Rightly Guided Caliphs) expanded the Caliphate, or those that came after. In fact, when the Caliphate entered hereditary rule and kingship, there were cases of internal corruption, theological deviation and infighting. Rather, this polity is what followed the end of Prophethood, and the practical manifestation of Allāh’s (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) divine law on Earth. This is evident in the following ḥadīth of Rasūl’Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam):

“The Prophets used to manage the political affairs of Banī Isrāīl. Whenever a Prophet died another Prophet succeeded him, but there will be no Prophets after me; instead there will be Caliphs, and they will number many”. The Companions asked: what then do you order us? He (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said: “fulfil allegiance to them one after the other. Give them their dues. Verily Allāh will ask them about what He entrusted them with”.[3]

The virtues and societal conditions sought from the Caliphate, deduced from the classical scholars after scrutinising the Sharīʿah, is to establish social justice, to protect the honour and property of its citizens, and the preservation of the Islamic way of life. Now this may be a sour grape for the intolerant ‘tolerant’ who stubbornly comprehend the Islamic system through the lenses of a secular paradigm, assuming that liberal democracy is the default benchmark against which every governing system should be compared to. But there is also a political context to this ideological objection of the Caliphate, and that is the conflation of Europe’s systematic separation of the ‘Church and state’. This period of secularisation, which is symbolised in the era known as the ‘Enlightenment’, has never occurred in the Muslim world during the existence of a Caliphate, nor would it be befitting.

Those that attempt and conflate Islām and western Christianity under the arbitrary term “religion” invariably superimpose the pre-reformation Christian historical baggage onto Islām. The fact of the matter is that Islamic history is not plagued with the same repressive church-like institutions that stifled human advancement, and the classical Islamic governance already secured the rights that the Enlightenment sought to secure, and more. The notion of a Caliph is an employee that represents and is accountable to the people, and Islamic history shows a level of accountability that we still have not yet seen in Western politics. Despite this, there were attempts during the 19thcentury to minimise the legislative powers of the Caliph, and to modernise certain aspects of the declining Ottoman Caliphate, to make it more ‘palatable’ with its thriving European contemporaries; but the idea of a systematic separation of “religion and state” was unthinkable.

Additionally, Islām’s worldview that was represented by the Caliphate had always clashed with other empires it encountered; from the Persians, Byzantines, Mongols, Crusaders, right up to the imperial powers of Europe. Hence, after the destruction of the Caliphate on 3rd March 1924, Christian Europe had successfully eradicated the only superpower that it had been in a constant state of conflict with for nearly a millenium. Of course, Europe had suffered centuries of bloody internal wars, but the fight against the ‘Mohammedans’ was a unique one due to the cultural and religious dissimilarity.

After the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1989, Francis Fukuyama had arrogantly stated that humanity had reached the “end of history” – implying that liberal democracy was the only natural form of government to have survived the testing waves of global change.[4] Fukuyama was clearly naive in his assessment of the world, because he assumed that in the absence of the Caliphate, the Islamic mind would also be non-existent – he was grossly mistaken. The 9/11 attacks, and the subsequent US-led ‘war on terror’ that followed is a testimony to this. After the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the rise of armed groups in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan, it became unavoidably clear that the desire for the return of the Caliphate was very much existent. The Arab Spring, or what remains of it, is another example of the Islamic sentiment of the general Muslim masses in wanting Islām to play a greater role in society. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and more evidently in Syria, are prime examples of this. The revolutions which spread like wildfire in 2011 initially began as a grassroots movement, in order to attain self-determination in a region, which had been ruled by Western-backed dictators for decades. Unfortunately, with the interference of Western powers and their regional proxies, the sincere efforts of those who lost their lives during the uprisings, had been sidelined and forgotten by political opportunists in search for power. Naturally, cosmetic changes were made to the ‘new’ post-Arab Spring countries, but in nearly every case, the oppressive regimes and state apparatus remained.

The emergence of the group known as ISIS, which claimed to have restored the Caliphate on 29 June 2014, was a dream come true for the West. The former chief of the British Armed forces, Sir General Richard Dannatt, justified the occupation of Afghanistan, and Britain’s involvement in the war on terror by stating that it was to prevent:

“…the historic Islamic caliphate, running through south Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and up through south and south-east Europe.”[5]

Lo and behold, the West had at last found its medieval Caliphate in the form of ISIS, which in reality was a doctor’s sick note to continue its destructive foreign policy in the Middle East. The criminality of ISIS has been used as a stick by Western politicians to beat the Muslims with, and a tool to demonise the noble concept of the Caliphate. The media continues to refer to ISIS as an “Islamic State”, knowing that the majority of Muslims, including likeminded groups who share the same goal, have unequivocally rejected their claim to the Caliphate.

The abhorrent actions of ISIS cannot be used to pressure Muslims into rejecting the concept of the Caliphate for two very simple reasons. Firstly, there is a unanimous consensus amongst classical and contemporary scholars within Sunni Islām, that the Caliphate is the ideal form of governance for Muslims, and to work for its re-establishment is an obligation. However, Muslims will inevitably differ in the methodology of how the Caliphate should be restored due to theological and political differences, but the scriptural evidences and scholarly works emphasising its importance is too overpowering. Secondly, the fact that Rasūl’Allāh’s (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) burial was delayed until a Caliph was appointed could not have been a more significant indication of how serious the Companions (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) took the matter of the Caliphate. “The aforementioned reasons, coupled with the dire situation the Muslim world is currently in, as a result of seeking liberation by adopting failed secular ideologies, the only real option remaining for the Ummah is to return to a system which, for all its previous mistakes, protected Islām and safeguarded its citizens from harm.

Those who are adamant that the Caliphate is incompatible with the modern world, and to anticipate its return is a romanticised idea, need to appreciate from an Islamic perspective, that the Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) has prophesised its permanent return,[6] and Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) has promised the Muslims authority on Earth.[7]

Notes:

[1] Musnad Aḥmed, ḥadīth no.31

[2] Saḥīḥ Muslim

[3] https://ps321.community.uaf.edu/files/2012/10/Fukuyama-End-of-history-article.pdf

[4] http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/dec/20/faces-2009-richard-dannatt-tory

[5] Musnad Aḥmed, ḥadīth no 273[6] Al-Qur’ān, 24:55

This article was originally published in 2015 and updated in 2016

(Source / 03.03.2018)

Thousands celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s birthday in Al-Aqsa Mosque

Palestinians celebrate Mawlid al-Nabi, the birth anniversary of the beloved Prophet Mohammad in Jerusalem on 30 November 2017

Thousands of Muslims in occupied Jerusalem have celebrated the anniversary of the birth of Prophet Muhammad, Quds Press has reported. The celebrations took place on Thursday in Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Palestinians and Muslims from around the world arrived at the mosque in the early morning to participate in the programme announced by the Department of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in Jerusalem. The celebrations included the singing of religious songs. Sweets were distributed amongst those taking part.

The markets in the Old City of Jerusalem also witnessed an increase in business activity as thousands of Palestinians from Israel and the occupied West Bank also visited the city to mark the occasion.

Meanwhile, teams of Scouts toured the streets before they marched towards the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa through the Old City gates.

(Source / 01.12.2017)

Saudi Crown Prince: Biggest Danger of Terrorism is Distorting the Name of Islam

Saudi Crown Prince and Ministers of Defense during the inauguration of meeting of IMCTC Ministers of Defense Council

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense opened on Sunday the inaugural meeting of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) Ministers of Defense Council under the slogan “Allied Against Terrorism” with participation of the ministers of Defense of the Islamic State’s Coalition and international delegations.

The meeting marks the official launch of the IMCTC which will discuss the fight against the financing of terrorism and the identification of future mechanisms and frameworks that will guide the efforts of Islamic countries to eliminate terrorism, and unifying efforts to maintain international peace and security.

The Crown Prince said in his inauguration speech that the biggest threat of terrorism is the distortion it has imposed on Islam.

The prince also highlighted that today more than 40 Islamic countries strongly reaffirm their commitment to cooperate in the fight against terrorism.

“IMCTC members have gathered in Riyadh to pledge to do all that we can until terrorism is uprooted and is erased from the face of the Earth” the Crown Prince said.

He also sent his condolences to the brothers in Egypt for the attack in Sinai.

IMCTC has established the Counter Terrorism Center as its operational arm. The Center’s mission is to build up the member country’s Counter Terrorism capacity, exchange global best practice on specific IMCTC initiatives and create coordinated efforts across the four IMCTC domains; ideology, communications, counter terrorist financing, and military.

Two years ago in December 2015, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced the formation of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) to form a unified Pan-Islamic front against terrorism and to reinforce solidarity and collaboration among coalition member countries to present a unified front against terrorist organizations trying to tarnish the name of Islam.

(Source / 26.11.2017)

6 African Muslims Who Brought Islam to America

(An older article)

6 African Muslims Who Brought Islam to America

As a Muslim of West African origin living in the United States, my Muslim-ness is always contested by Europeans, Americans, and even clueless Africans. They ask me questions like:

“Are you Muslim?” and “Were you born Muslim?”

I get asked these questions a lot by Americans because Islam is something that was made to sound foreign to them.

“I’ve never seen a Muslim from that country wear Hijab.”

Believe it or not, many Africans ask this question as if they are well-travelled.

Is your country predominantly Muslim?”

I get this question from European Muslims as if they had just discovered ‘water on Mars’. In their minds, Black Muslims are an oddity. Because I have been around many of them, I now know the reasoning behind asking such questions. They have the idea that All of Africa is uncivilized and only non-Muslims live there.

The strange thing is many of them have heard of Mansa Musa, the Malian Muslim King. Why they won’t add two and two together to infer that Islam has always been an old religion in Africa and in the USA, I don’t know. In addition, the US census has a record of approximately 300 slaves that had a Muslim surname who fought during the Civil War for freedom.

Throughout all these irritating questions, I try to keep my cool. I keep the frustrated comments, I want to utter, in my head, smile, and move on. However, what I want to tell them is Islam came to West Africa not too long after the 10th century. My ancestors were traders and this was how Islam came to us Mandinga. Islam has always been a religion of business. Furthermore, this also means that many West Africans were exposed to Islam before it was spread to Europe during the Ottoman empire and America via the Moriscos and the Transatlantic slaves.

According to Lost Islamic History, one example of an African Muslim who brought Islam to America is Bilali Muhammad. There are also others like Ayub Job Djallo, Yarrow Mamood, Ibrahim Abdulrahman ibn Sori,  Ummar ibn Sayyid (Omar ibn Said) and Salih Bilali.

1. Bilali Muhammad

bilali-232x300

Born around 1770 in the area of Africa which are known as Guinea and Sierra Leone today, Bilali Muhammad was an elite of the Fulani tribe. He knew Arabic and was knowledgeable in hadith, tafsir, and shariah matters. Because he was educated, he was allowed to rise in status in the slave community. Bilali Muhammad even wrote a 13 page manuscript on Islamic law from the Maliki Madhab called the Bilali Document that he gifted to his friend before his death. The manuscript was thought to be a diary until it was deciphered at al-Azhar university in Cairo. His manuscript is also known as Ben Ali Diary or Ben Ali Journal. Read more here.

2. Ayuba Suleiman Diallo

1-Ayuba

Ayub Job Djallo was born in Senegal from a respected Fulbe Muslim family. He was also known as Job Ben Solomon. He wrote some memoirs and was a slave in Maryland for a couple years. Sold into slavery as a result of a confusion, he eventually returned home in Senegal to his aristocratic roots still a Muslim. You can read more on him here.

3. Yarrow Mamout

2-Yarrow

Born in Guinea, Yarrow Mamood was born in 1736 and died in 1823 a free man. He arrived at the age of 14 years old in Maryland with his sister. Knowledgeable in Arabic, he practiced Islam openly until his death. Read more on him here.

4. Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori

3-Ibrahim

Ibrahim Abdulrahman ibn Sori was born in Guinea. He was also known as The Prince Amonsgt Slaves. Son of King Sori from the village of Timbo, Abdulrahman was a military leader. He became a slave as a result of an ambush and sold to a slave owner by the name of Thomas Foster in Mississipi. Ibn Sori got married and had children. Abdulrahman worked for 40 years before his release. He died during his trip back. He had even wrote a letter to his family in West Africa in Arabic which was read by the Sultan of Morocco Abderrahmane who found it deeply touching and petitioned U.S. President John Quincy Adams to release him.

5. Omar ibn Said

4-Umar

Ummar ibn Sayyid was born in Fuuta Toro, Senegal in 1770. Captured in 1807, he became known as Omar Moreau and Prince Omeroh according to Muslimofusa.Though there are reports that say he converted to Christianity later in his life, many sources say that there was more than met the eye in his situation. Nevertheless, he was known to be an Islamic scholar, knowledgeable in many fields from arithmetic to theology who wrote several Arabic texts.

6. Salih Bilali

5-Salih

Salih Bilali was born in Mali and captured in 1782. It was reported that his last words on his death bead were the shahada according to the Abolition Institute. Robert Abbot, founder of the Chicago Defender, is his descendant.

In conclusion, all the continents contributed to the spread of Islam, Africa included. So how can they deny such a legacy?

(Source / 22.10.2017)

New initiative brings Quran to Gaza’s hearing-impaired

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — In an attempt to teach the Holy Quran to the deaf in the Gaza Strip, the Future Society for Deaf Adults (FSDA) offers religious and awareness courses aimed at interpreting the Quran using sign language. The initiative was first launched on Feb. 2, 2013. Courses are offered for deaf youth ages 12-18, targeting 500 deaf people in Gaza.

The courses are funded by the Sheikh Eid Bin Mohammad Al Thani Charitable Foundation and are given at the Dar al Quran al Karim Wa Sunnah, which has 14 branches in the Gaza Strip. Each class consists of 20 students.

Mervat Hamdan, 14, is one of the students who enrolled in the courses. She was able to memorize a few verses of the Quran.

Hamdan talked to Al-Monitor using sign language; her teacher Mervat Sayam interpreted the conversation. “I am very happy to have memorized a few Quranic verses. “The FSDA offered us a booklet with image interpretations of the Holy Quran in sign language and text in Braille, as I also suffer from impaired vision,” she said.

“At first, I had some difficulties in learning the Quranic verses and the hadiths. I did not find much encouragement from the people around me, as they do not know sign language to try to give me advice. My mother was the one to encourage me to keep trying and to concentrate on memorization,” she added.

“Every word in the Quran has a special sign that helps explain it. As for the process of memorizing, the Quranic verses are written on the blackboard in front of the students and then they are explained,” Sayam told Al-Monitor.

Sayam explained, “The courses start off with giving general information about the number of Quranic verses and their parts. The memorizing process is done through tutorial videos on LCD screens, explaining the verse using sign language.”

FSDA President Adham Eid told Al-Monitor, “Ten years ago, most of the deaf Palestinians did not know who the Prophet was. However, today things have changed with the religious awareness courses in sign language, which were diligently prepared by Jordan’s Conservation of the Holy Quran Society with the cooperation of the Jordanian Ministry of Awqaf and a professional team of sign language interpreters over the past five years.”

Eid added that one of the most prominent advantages of this initiative is the unification of sign language in interpreting the Holy Quran; in other words, the Quranic verses are being interpreted using the same signs and body postures.

According to Eid, on the social level the courses help integrate the deaf better in society, as they are now receiving religious education, which is a source of pride for some parents who used to hide their hearing-impaired children at home.

Eid added that students are provided with CDs with images that show sign language and Braille books.

According to statistics by the Ministry of Social Affairs in 2015, there are 2,409 people above 18 and 1,243 under 18 who suffer from hearing impairment in the Gaza Strip.

The only school in Gaza for the deaf is the Mustafa Sadeq Rifai Secondary School, which counts 160 students since its opening in February 2011. Female and male students are separated in the school. In 2015, the school graduated 130 students, who passed the official baccalaureate exams.

Although there should be more efforts employed to promote and start initiatives for deaf people in Gaza, teaching the Quran is seen as a major step, especially for many who were introduced for the first time to Quranic verses through this initiative.

(Source / 30.08.2017)

Awqaf Ministry announces arrangements for Haj season

Hassan al-Saifi about Haj

Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs in Gaza announced the arrangements and procedures to be pursued for the Haj season this year.

The Ministry’s Undersecretary Hassan al-Saifi said in a press conference, held in the Ministry of Information headquarters on Tuesday morning, that Gaza’s pilgrims will leave to Egypt on Monday morning, August 14, in order to travel to Saudi Arabia the next morning via Cairo Airport. The pilgrims are slated to return to Gaza on Sunday, September 10, he added.

Saifi pointed to other details on the visas and passports as well as the flight tickets and accommodation of pilgrims during their stay in Saudi Arabia. The cost of Haj this year was estimated at over $3,000, he pointed out.

(Source / 02.08.2017)

Hamas in Lebanon stands up for 3rd holiest site in Islam

Hamas Lebanon

A mass-rally was held by Hamas on Thursday evening in the Lebanese city of Sur (Tyre) to speak up for holy al-Aqsa Mosque.

Hamas leader Jihad Taha and Abdul Majid al-Awad, along with a number of scholars and civil society representatives, joined the rally.

Taha said Israel’s removal of the metal detectors and security installations around al-Aqsa Mosque is a historic victory achieved by the Palestinians.

“Israel’s criminal policy will never dampen our people’s spirits. The Palestinians will keep yearning for victory and freedom until every single inch of the occupied territories is liberated,” added Taha.

“The only way to retrieve our rights is to prop up resistance and anti-occupation uprisings,” the Hamas leader further stated, calling on Arabs and Muslim to stand up for al-Aqsa and the Palestinian cause.

(Source / 28.07.2017)

The Prophet’s Greatest Victory According to the Quran: A Peace Treaty

dove_pair

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 (Arabicصلح 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.[1][2][3]

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.[4]

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.[5]

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?

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It was not an easy negotiation or no brainer. It was a hard fought victory, through flexible negotiation with the Makkan ambassador and then the prophet had to sell it through patience and wisdom to his followers, who were on the verge of breaking down.  According to Karen Armstrong, a former Catholic nun and now a popular writer on religions, in her book, Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet:

But the pilgrims were still mutinous and there was a dangerous moment when they seemed on the point of rebellion. After the treaty had been witnessed, Muhammad cried aloud that they would now observe the rites of the pilgrimage right there in Hudaybiyah, even though they had not reached the Ka’aba. Every man would shave his head and they should sacrifice the seventy consecrated camels. There was absolute silence. Unmoving, the pilgrims stared bitterly at Muhammad. In despair, he retreated to his tent, knowing that if he lost their obedience and support at this crucial moment all was lost. What should he do? he asked Umm Salamah, who had been watching the scene from his red-leather tent. She had judged the situation perfectly: Muhammad should go out to the people once more, she told him, and refuse to speak to anyone until he had sacrificed his own camel in front of the whole pilgrim body. It was exactly the right decision. The dramatic and spectacular blood-letting immediately broke the tension. Muhammad left his tent, looking neither to right nor to left, strode over to the camel he had consecrated and performed the ritual sacrifice. It was a holy action, familiar to all the Arab pilgrims, but it was also an act of defiance and independence because Muhammad was breaking with tradition in sacrificing the camel outside Mecca itself. It released some spring of recognition in the silent crowd, broke through the torpor of depression and incomprehension and pro- vided a catharsis. Immediately the men leaped to their feet and raced over to the other camels, probably intensely relieved to be able to do something at last. They sacrificed the animals, crying aloud the ancient Arab formula, ‘In thy name, O al-Llah!’ and adding the Muslim slogan, ‘al- Llahu Akbar!’ When Muhammad called one of the Helpers to him and asked him to shave his head, the Muslims nearly fell over one another in their eagerness to do the same, and set about each other’s heads with such a frenzy of enthusiasm that Umm Salamah said later that she was ‘afraid they would inflict mortal wounds in their zeal.[1]

Seyyed Hossein Nasr and associates write in their recent commentary of the Quran, in the introduction to Surah Fatah (the Victory):

Some of the Prophet’s Companions, however, considered the terms unfavorable for the Muslims and even tantamount to defeat. Nonetheless, the Prophet accepted the terms, and the treaty worked quickly and decisively to the advantage of the Muslim side. The freedom of any tribe to ally with either the Muslims or the Quraysh absolved the tribes of their former alliances, and some that had been allied with the Quraysh quickly switched to the Muslims. The concluding of a treaty with the Quraysh clearly demonstrated that the Muslims had acquired at least equal footing with the Quraysh, which was a feat in and of itself.  After the Prophet slaughtered his sacrificial animals in the area of Hudaybiyah, where the Muslim pilgrims had stopped, and they had begun the return trip to Madinah, this surah was revealed, declaring the Treaty of Hudaybiyah a manifest victory. Regarding this event, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab is reported to have said, “We were with the Messenger of God on a trip, and I asked him about a matter three times, but he did not answer me. So I said to myself, ‘May your mother be bereft of you, O Ibn al-Khattab! You were stubborn in repeating your question three times to the Messenger of God; each time he did not respond to you.’ So I mounted my camel and went ahead for fear that a part of the Quran might be revealed regarding my case. Suddenly I heard someone calling, ‘O ‘Umar!’ So I went to the Messenger while fearing that part of the Quran had been revealed about me. The Prophet said, ‘Last night, a surah was revealed to me that is dearer to me than all over which the sun rises.’ Then he recited [the surah beginning with] ‘Truly We have granted thee a manifest victory’ (IK, Q).

Here IK is reference to a traditional Quranic commentator ‘Imad al-DinAbu’l-Fida’ Isma’il ibn ‘Umar ibn Kathir (d.774/1373) and Q is reference to Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Qurtubi 9d671/1272).  These two are among the 41 traditional commentators of the holy Quran that in the beginning of his commentary, Seyyed Hossein Nasr has listed that he and his colleagues have used as a resource and quoted frequently in the text.

The treaty was quite controversial for many reasons. Originally, the treaty referred to Muhammad as the Messenger of God, but this was unacceptable to the Quraish ambassador Suhayl ibn Amr. Muhammad compromised, and told his cousin Ali to strike out the wording. But Ali said, “I will not be the person to rub it out”, after which Muhammad himself rubbed out the words. (Sahih al-Bukhari3:49:862Sahih Muslim19:4404).

Another point of contention, was that the Muslims objected over a clause of the treaty that said that any citizen from Makkah entering Madinah was eligible to be returned to Makkah (if they wanted), while the reverse was not true, and any Muslim from Madinah entering Makkah was not eligible to be returned to the Muslims, even if Muhammad himself requested. (Sahih al-Bukhari3:50:874)

A condition was also placed that the Muslims could not enter for their pilgrimage at that time, but could return the following year. The treaty also assured a 10-year peace.

After the signing of the treaty, there was still great resentment and fury among the Muslims because they did not like its stipulations. Muhammad, binding onto the Islamic ethic “fulfill every promise” ordered that Muslims do exactly as the treaty says. Also, many Muslims thereafter objected, when Muhammad told them (thrice) to perform their rites there and then. (Sahih al-Bukhari3:50:891)

Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan was the first Foreign Minister of Pakistan. From 1954 to 1961 he served as a member of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. He again represented Pakistan at the UN in 1961–64 and served as president of the UN General Assembly in 1962–63. Returning to the International Court of Justice in 1964, he served as the court’s president from 1970 to 1973. Let me quote him as he describes the negotiations of the treaty in the following words in his biography, Muhammad Seal of the Prophets:

After some further interchange of messages Quraish deputed Suhail bin Amr, one of their leading chiefs, and other representatives with power to conclude a treaty of peace. When the Holy Prophet saw Suhail, he observed, ‘There comes Suhail; now, if God so wills, the affair would be resolved.’ (The root of the word Suhail is sahl, meaning easy.) When Suhail arrived with his companions, he said, ‘We are ready to come to a settlement.’ The Holy Prophet, peace be on him, said that he too was ready and summoned Ali to act as the scribe of the treaty, the purport of which was understood between the two sides, and the details of which would be put into shape during the writing of it. When Ali arrived, the Holy Prophet started dictating, and told him to write, ‘In the name of Allah, Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim’, to which Suhail immediately demurred, saying, ‘We have no knowledge of Rahman; begin as is the Arab custom with: In Thy name, O Allah.’ The Muslims were excited and insisted that the opening words should be as the Holy Prophet had dictated, but he told them there was no harm in adopting the suggestion of Suhail. The dictation proceeded: ‘These are the conditions of peace between Muhammad the Messenger of God and…’, ‘Stop again,’ interposed Suhail. ‘If thou art what thou sayest, we would not have taken up arms against thee. Write, as the custom is, thine own name and thy father’s name.’ ‘Write, then,’ continued the Holy Prophet, ‘between Muhammad son of Abdullah, and Suhail son of Amr,’ whereupon Ali protested that having already inscribed the words Messenger of Allah, he felt it would be a sacrilege to rub out those words. The Holy Prophet thereupon himself rubbed out those words and the writing preceded as Suhail had desired. The terms of the treaty were: ‘War shall be suspended between Quraish and the Muslims for ten years. Whosoever wisheth to join Muhammad, or enter into treaty with him, shall have liberty to do so; and likewise, whosoever wisheth to join Quraish, or enter into treaty with them. If a man from among Quraish goeth over to Muhammad without the permission of his guardian, he shall be sent back to his guardian; but should any of the followers of Muhammad return to Quraish, they shall not be sent back. Muhammad shall retire this year without entering the City. In the coming year, Muhammad may visit Mecca, he and his followers, for three days, during which Quraish shall retire and leave the City to them. But they may not enter it with any weapons, save those of the traveller, namely, to each a sheathed sword.’

While the treaty was being inscribed Suhail’s son, Abu Jandal, wearing handcuffs and chains and bearing marks of injuries all over his body, staggered into the Muslim camp and told the Muslims that he had embraced Islam and was being kept in durance and tortured, as they could see from his chains and injuries. He begged that he should not be returned to Quraish as he would not be able to survive further torment. On his side Suhail demanded that he should be handed over into his custody. The Holy Prophet was deeply moved by the condition of Abu Jandal and pleaded with Suhail to let Abu Jandal remain with the Muslims, but despite the repeated pleas of the Holy Prophet, Suhail was adamant and his claim was admitted. As he was dragged away, the Holy Prophet said to Abu Jandal, ‘Have patience and put thy trust in the Lord. He will work out for thee, and for others likeminded with thee, a way of deliverance. We are unable to help thee, as we have entered into an agreement with the Meccans, and we cannot go against our word.’

The Muslims were much agitated over this incident and Umar, being unable to restrain himself, approached the Holy Prophet and inquired, ‘Are you not the Messenger of Allah?’ To which he replied, ‘Certainly.’ Then Umar asked, ‘Are we not based upon truth, and our enemies on falsehood?’ To which the Holy Prophet replied, ‘That is so.’ ‘Then why should we submit to such humiliation in the matter of our faith?’ The Holy Prophet pointed out, ‘Umar, I am the Messenger of Allah, and know what He desires. I cannot go against it, and He alone is my Helper.’ Umar was still not satisfied and asked: ‘Did you not tell us that we would perform the circuit of the House?’ To which the Holy Prophet rejoined, ‘Indeed I did, but did I also say that it would happen this very year?’ Umar confessed that such had not been the case, on which the Holy Prophet counselled him, ‘Then wait; you will, God willing, certainly enter Mecca and perform the circuit of the Ka’aba.’ Still excited, Umar approached Abu Bakr and had a similar exchange with him. Abu Bakr admonished him, ‘Umar, hold yourself in check, and do not let your grip on the stirrup of the Messenger of Allah be loosened, for by God, he to whom we have sworn allegiance is certainly true.’ Umar subsequently confessed that, in his momentary excitement, he said all this to the Holy Prophet and to Abu Bakr, but was soon overtaken by remorse and sought to wash out this stain of weakness through prayer, and fasts and almsgiving and the freeing of slaves.

The inscribing of the treaty was completed and it was attested, on behalf of the Muslims, by Abu Bakr, Uthman, Abdul Rahman bin Auf, S’ad bin Abi Waqqas, and Abu Obadiah. A copy was handed to Suhail bin Amr who returned with it to Mecca. The original was retained by the Holy Prophet.

Sir William Muir (27 April 1819 – 11 July 1905) was a Scottish Orientalist, scholar of Islam, and colonial administrator. He evaluates the treaty in his book ‘Life of Muhammad’ on page 35 and 36 of Volume IV, (the PDF file is available here: Muir’s book about the prophet Muhammad), in the following words:

The people, led by the vision to anticipate an unopposed visit to the Ka’aba, were crestfallen at the abortive result of their long journey.  But, in truth, a great step had been gained by Muhammad.  His political status, as an equal and independent power, was acknowledged by the treaty: The ten years’ truce would afford opportunity and time for the new religion to expand, and to force its claims on the conviction of Quraish; while conquest, material as well as spiritual, might be pursued on every other side.  The stipulation that no one under the protection of a guardian should leave Quraish without his guardian’s consent, though unpopular at Madinah, was in accordance with the Arab society; and the Prophet had sufficient confidence in the in the loyalty of his people and the superior attraction of Islam, to fear no ill effect from the counter clause that none should be delivered up who might desert his standard.  Above all, it was a great and a manifest success that free permission was conceded to visit Makkah in the following year, and for three days occupy the city undisturbed.

I have modernized the spellings in the above quote. Other volumes of this biography by Sir William Muir are linked here: Volume IVolume IIVolume III.

The key message of flexibility of thought and being always open to peace and negotiation, in this treaty, has been nicely captured by two non-Muslim biographers of the Prophet Muhammad.

Francesco Gabrieli writes in Muhammad and the Conquests of Islam:

The struggle with Makkah, after the unsuccessful siege of the ‘war of the ditch,’ moved into a new and surprising phase with the episode of Hudaibiya, which shows us a pliant, opportunist Muhammad, open to negotiation and compromise. . . At the edge of the sacred ground of Makkah, the Prophet halted his armed advance and stooped to bargain with his enemies, to the astonishment and discomfiture of his own companions . . . This episode will serve to give the measure of the Prophet’s tactical ability, of the absolute obedience he was able to command from his followers, and of the situation, by now seriously weakened, of the Quraysh.[2]

RVC Bodley writes in his biography of the Prophet Muhammad, The Messenger:

In point of fact, that treaty was Mohammed’s masterpiece of diplomacy. It was a triumph. No one, except perhaps Soheil, had thought back as had Mohammed when the Koreishite stood be­fore him. No one, except those two, recollected the beatings, the stonings, the escape by night, the hiding in the cave. No one thought of the hazardous exile with the seventy followers. The contrast between now and then was unbelievable, miraculous. That the Quraishites were willing to treat with Mohammed at all, to recognize him as someone worthy of their attention, to admit him as the ruler of an Arab community, was beyond the bounds of all expectations. But, apart from his personal triumph over men who had vowed to capture him, alive or dead, Muham­mad saw what no other Muslim did, the far‑reaching effects of the treaty.

He was not a man to quibble over small details. …… If Soheil’s limited mentality could not reconcile itself to calling someone who had been a traveling salesman by a grandiloquent title, it did not really matter. If a Muslim phrase in referring to God was upsetting to a Quraish ear, it was not impor­tant enough to break off negotiations.

What was important was to have free access to Makkah. Mu­hammad knew that the day he and his men could set foot in the Holy City, it would not be long before they would be there per­manently. …..

What, however, Muhammad chiefly saw in having this peace treaty with Makkah was the effect it would produce on the local tribes. He was right in this too. Within a few days of signing the document which had caused so much stir among his own people, chiefs from all around were coming to swear allegiance.

Umar was confounded. During the space of one week there had been more converts to Islam than in the six preceding years. [3]

If the prophet was so open to peace with the polytheists of Makkah, should not the Muslims living in the West receive pluralism and multiculturalism with open arms in the Western countries? Should not the Muslims be ever ready to negotiate with the Jewish majority in Israel and the Hindu majority in India?

And last but the not the least, should not the Muslims in the Muslim majority countries be ever ready for secularism and equal rights for the non-Muslim minorities, since they are already signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, remembering the prophet’s absolute commitment to the terms of treaties, even at significant cost?

It is only those who don’t have confidence in their religion or philosophy that are belligerent. One who knows that his or her religion is inferior to none and who has confidence in his or her cause, can be patient in peaceful coexistence and freedom of speech, like the prophet Muhammad was.

References

1. Karen Armstrong. Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet. A Phoenix paper back, published in 2001. Page 222.

2. Francesco Gabrieli; Muhammad and the Conquests of Islam.

3. RVC Bodley. The Messenger.  Double Day and Company Inc, 1946.  Page 257-258.

(Source / 17.07.2017)