Keeping one’s promise

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Many verses of the Qur’an lay emphasis on keeping your promises, fulfilling your oaths and sticking to the agreements you make.1 Just like in every matter of good morals, the best example is the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Our Prophet, who said “the command ‘remain on a right course as you have been commanded’ 2 made me grow old,” enlightens us on this matter. This is because ‘a servant’ who is attentive to the promise he made to Allah will of course keep his promise he made to people too. In fact there are many experiences our Prophet lived through in this respect. The Treaty of Hudaybiya has become the most prominent one. It has a many lessons which interest individuals, societies and states.

After the Battle of the Trench, the process that resulted in the Treaty of Hudaybiya had already begun. It had been more than six years since the Hijrah, and the homesickness of the muhajir (Makkan Muslims) had greatly increased. Moreover, turning to the direction of the Kaaba in Makka during the five daily prayers every day was refreshing their memories of their homeland. Our Prophet had also missed this blessed city where he was born and with that longing he had a dream that contained glad tidings.3 He told his dream to his companions: “I saw in my dream that you will certainly enter al-Masjid al-Haram. You will shave your heads and shorten your hairs.” This excited the companions very much. The Qur’an also gave the good news with the following verse: “Certainly has Allah showed to His Messenger the vision in truth. You will surely enter al-Masjid al-Haram, if Allah wills, in safety, with your heads shaved and [hair] shortened, not fearing [anyone].”4 Upon this our Prophet told the companions to get ready for Umra (a visit to the Kaaba).

After the preparations about five hundred people set off toward Mecca. In order to show that they did not come to fight they took along seventy animals to slaughter.6

During the journey the companions witnessed miracles such as

– The gushing of water out of well,

– The filling of a dry well full with water,

– The flowing of water from fingers.7

They quenched their thirst in the desert by means of miracles with the mercy of Allah.

After the difficult journey they arrived at Hudaybiya. Our Prophet first sent Hirash (ra) as a messenger to Makka. He informed the Makkan polytheists that their intention was to circumambulate the Kaaba, slaughter the animals and return back. However, some polytheists killed Hirash’s camel and intended to kill him too.8 In return, our Prophet and the companions showed kindness to the messengers from Makkah.9 Despite this, the polytheists held Uthman (ra), the second messenger of the Muslims, captive. This situation took a long time and caused the spread of the news that Uthman (ra) was killed.10 Having seen that there was no choice but fighting, the believers pledged allegiance to our Prophet, which is praised in the Qur’an11 and called Bay’at al-Ridwan. Preparation for war started. Seeing the seriousness of the matter the polytheists released Uthman (ra).12

Realizing the determination of the Muslims the polytheists of Makka sent a delegation whose leader was Suhayl ibn Amr 13, to make an agreement. They came to an agreement. Ali (ra) was the scribe.14 According to the agreement,

  1. Both sides will not reveal but conceal their hostility to one another.
  2. There will be no battle for ten years.
  3. There will be neither theft nor treason between each other.
  4. This year the Muslims will not visit the Kaaba and will return back to Medina. From the following year on, the Muslims will stay in Makka and visit Kaba for three days.
  5. Commercial circulation would be free.
  6. If a Makkan who became Muslim took refuge in Madina without his guardian’s permission, he would be returned back to Makka. However, if someone among the Muslims took refuge in Makka, he would not be returned back.15

For the last article the companions said “Subhanallah! How can a Muslim who comes to Muslims be declined?” Umar (ra) asked “Oh Rasulullah! Will you accept this article too?” Our Prophet said “Yes,” with a smile, and added:

“Those who will go from us to them, may Allah make them be far from us. With regard to those who will come from them to us and whom we will return, Allah knows them and will create a relief and a way out for them.”16

The moment they were about to sign the agreement, Abu Jandal, the son of the leader of the polytheists’ delegate, came on the scene fettered by chains.17 Suhayl looked at his son and said, “Muhammad, here is the first man that you have to return under this treaty.” “We have not signed the document yet,” countered the Prophet. “The agreement between us was concluded before my son came to you” “Exclude him for me and sign the paper,’ said the Messenger of Allah. “I will not exclude him and allow you to keep him.” “Let him go for my sake.” “I will not.” He did not let his son stay with the Muslims. His father dragged him away to the polytheists. 18

Abu Jandal said while being dragged: “O Muslims! Am I to be returned to the idol-worshippers when I have come to you as a Muslim? Do you not see what I have suffered? O Rasulullah! O Muslims! Do you return me to let them torture me and convert me from my religion?” He was screaming. Muslims were watching him and listening to his cries in tears.

Our Prophet (pbuh) said: “O Abu Jandal! Be patient some more time. Allah will soon save you and the Muslims imprisoned in Makka from this disaster.19 We made a peace treaty with the polytheists. We promised them by Allah’s Name. They promised us by Allah’s Name too. We cannot break our promise. Breaking our promise does not befit us.”20 Then he made Mikraz ibn Hafz take Abu Jandal under his protection,21 thus preventing him from being tortured.

Umar (ra) asked, “Oh Rasulullah! Why do we give Abu Jandal to the polytheists? Why do we accept this abasement?”22 Our Prophet answered, “We had made an agreement with them on this matter. We do not have the notion of breaking promises in our religion.”23

After the agreement, the delegation of polytheists took the road to Makka. Muslims, however, felt sad because of not being able to visit Baytullah (the House of Allah). But they had set off with the glad tidings of the Qur’an and the Messenger of Allah. Some companions, Umar (ra) being in the first place, asked our Prophet “O Rasulullah! Haven’t you told us that we will enter al-Masjid al-Haram and get the key of Kaaba? However, neither our sacrifice of camels nor have we reached Baytullah.” Upon this, our Prophet asked “Did I tell you that it will happen during this journey?” “No.” “Then I repeat: You will certainly go and circumambulate the Kaaba.”24

When you look at the course of events and articles of the Treaty of Hudaibiya, it is possible to say that it was disadvantageous for Muslims. The objections of some companions show this. However, it would be soon understood that this agreement approved by our Prophet was a spiritual conquest. It would prove how our Prophet was farsighted. This conquest would also be the key to other conquests. This is because the number of people who became Muslims within less than two years after the agreement was much more than the number of those who became Muslims before the treaty.25 There were 1,500 Muslims who came to Hudaybiya; two years later, there were 10,000 Muslims who joined the conquest of Makka. This is an important indicator.

This situation shows us that the result of keeping the promise was good. The oppression and bigotry were gone in the environment of peace. People had the opportunity to evaluate the commands of the Qur’an; its truths which influence minds and hearts had greater effect than material swords. Honourable and successful commanders and statesmen like Khalid ibn Walid, Amr ibn As, Osman ibn Talha (ra) embraced Islam.

The doors of the victory of Khaybar, Makka, and Hunayn were opened with this new spirit and fresh power. Four years after the treaty, the entire Arabian Peninsula gathered under the roof of Islam. Keeping the promise resulted in Allah giving victory to the Muslims. 26


  1. The Qur’an, Isra, 34; Nahl, 91, 92, 94, 95; Mu’minun, 8; Ma’arij, 32; Baqarah, 225; Insan, 7; Hujurat 15; Saf 2–3; Maidah 89.
  2. The Qur’an, Hud 112.
  3. Doğuştan Günümüze İslam Tarihi, v.1, p.488, Suruç Salih, Kainatın Efendisi Peygamberimiz’in (ASM) Hayatı, p. 563
  4. The Qur’an, Fath 27.
  5. M. Asım Köksal, İslam Tarihi, v.5, p.337
  6. Doguştan Günümüze İslam Tarihi, v.1, p.488, Suruç Salih, ibid., p. 564
  7. M. Asım Köksal, ibid., v.5, p. 364-366-367, Suruç Salih, ibid., p. 567
  8. M. Asım Köksal, ibid., v.5, p.385, Doğuştan Günümüze İslam Tarihi, v.1, p.490, Suruç Salih, ibid. p. 570
  9. M. Asım Köksal, ibid., v.5, p.382-386-390, Doğuştan Günümüze İslam Tarihi, v.1, p.489
  10. Doğuştan Günümüze İslam Tarihi, v.1, p.490
  11. The Qur’an, Fath, 18, 19
  12. M. Asım Köksal, ibid., v.5, p.401, Suruç Salih, ibid., p. 574
  13. Doğuştan Günümüze Büyük İslam Tarihi, v.1, p.491, Suruç Salih, ibid., p. 574
  14. Suruç Salih, ibid., p. 575
  15. M. Asım Köksal, ibid., v.5, p. 415-416-417, Doğuştan Günümüze Büyük İslam Tarihi, v.1, p.491, Suruç Salih, ibid., v. 576
  16. M. Asım Köksal, ibid., v.5 p. 418, Suruç Salih, ibid., p. 577
  17. Doğuştan Günümüze Büyük İslam Tarihi, v.1, p.491
  18. M. Asım Köksal, İslam Tarihi, v.5, p.419, Suruç Salih, ibid., p. 578
  19. Doğuştan Günümüze Büyük İslam Tarihi, v.1, p.492
  20. M. Asım Köksal, ibid., v.5, p.422, Suruç Salih, ibid., v. 579
  21. Doğuştan Günümüze Büyük İslam Tarihi, v.1, p.492
  22. Doğuştan Günümüze İslam Tarihi, v.1, p.492
  23. M. Asım köksal, ibid., v.5, p.425, Suruç Salih, ibid., p. 579
  24. M. Asım Köksal, ibid., v.5, p.434, Suruç Salih, ibid., p. 580
  25. Doğuştan Günümüze Büyük İslam Tarihi, v.1, p.493, Suruç Salih, ibid., p. 567
  26. Doğuştan Günümüze Büyük İslam Tarihi, v.1, p.493, Suruç Salih, ibid., p. 567, Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı İslam Ansiklopedisi, v.33, p.475

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