26.6 Treaty of AI-Hudaybiya
More complicated and laborious negotiations now followed. Quraysh sent one of their leaders, Suhayl ibn Amr, to undertake these negotiations and he was aggressive and discourteous in addressing Mohamed, who bore it all with great forbearance and tolerance. He kept demanding one concession after another and Mohamed acquiesced, and had not the Muslims had great faith, they would not have agreed to these terms.
Among the terms of the treaty was that the Muslims should not enter Mecca that year, but could come as pilgrims the year after. The Muslims were heartbroken. Had they traveled hundreds of miles to be turned away when they were within sight of the holy city? This was their motherland, the centre of all their hopes, and they considered their surrendering to Suhayl a great humiliation.
Normally Mohamed consulted his Companions, but when he received a command from Allah he followed it meticulously to the last detail, consulting neither their opinions nor his own, neither their feelings nor his own.
After the treaty, Umar, who gave quarter to no one, went to Abu Bakr and said,
"Are these not polytheists?"
Abu Bakr answered, "Indeed they are, Umar."
"Are we not Muslims?" continued Umar.
"Indeed, we are," said Abu Bakr.
"Then why do we make compromises about our religion?"
"Hold your tongue, Umar, for I swear he is the Messenger of Allah," said Abu Bakr.
"I also swear it," said Umar.
Then still furious, he went to Mohamed and spoke similarly to him.
Mohamed answered calmly,
"I am the slave of Allah and His Messenger. I do not disobey His orders and He will not let me perish."
Looking back at this treaty from the cool distance of fourteen hundred years, one cannot help being impressed by its wisdom. Quraysh were, as Mohamed had expressed earlier, exhausted by war and growing weaker every day while the Muslims were getting stronger and growing more numerous. This treaty was the only thing that would have saved the face of Quraysh and mitigated their feelings of bitter inferiority. To the Muslims, to wait one year seemed a dreadful humiliation, but one year is not much in the history of a nation, and one year was not much to pay for a peaceful entry to the Sacred Precincts. Nor was it a great price to pay for stopping the endless war of vengeance between Quraysh and the Muslims. Had they insisted on fighting, it would have meant that they would have kept on fighting until one party annihilated the other. The Muslims were the stronger, but what would they have gained by exterminating their own kin and devastating their motherland? What seemed to them a great humiliation proved to be an outlet, the only means of reconciliation.
Dominion by the force of arms can dominate the bodies of men, but it cannot dominate their souls, and what Allah wanted was the hearts and souls of these stubborn Qurayshis.
The Koran explained to the Muslims that in Mecca there were many men and women who believed like them in Allah, but were unable to proclaim their faith. Had the Muslims been given permission to fight in Mecca, these people would have suffered with the polytheists at the hands of the Muslims, which would in turn have had evil repercussions, since to injure the innocent incurs His wrath.