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Seerah episode 48: Boycott in Makkah & Its Annulment August 17, 2014

Filed under: Seerah — visitor74 @ 6:31 pm

— Abu Jahl & his crew decided that the only solution now was to assassinate the Prophet

  • No other strategy worked in the past to deal with the Muslims – torture, bribing, threats, insults, etc, didn’t work
  • They publically declared in broad daylight at the Haram that they intend to kill the Prophet

— Abu Talib gathered Bani Abdul Mutallib (the more immediate relatives of Prophet – aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces/nephews)

  • He told them that the Quraysh leaders are going to kill the Prophet. Abu Talib said, “We have to take drastic measures now. We don’t want to see full-scale warfare. We don’t want to see our forefathers disrespected this way. You may not agree with Muhammad, but you all love him, & we don’t want to see him dead, so we have to protect him. We have to take Muhammad to the Shi-eb of Abi Talib.”
    • Shie-eb of Abi Talib: It was a section of land, a stretch of a valley, like a ranch outside of the city that was owned by the family (by Abdul Mutallib)
  • Banu Abdul Mutallib agreed to this, since it’s the only reasonable course of action to take
  • Those who believed & also those who had not accepted Islam were willing to put support behind this action. Some did this to protect Muhammad, & some did to protect family honor

— Abu Talib wanted to take the Prophet outside Makkah, & stash him away at the valley along with some of his family & supporters. It was to be the Muslims’ safe place for a little while

  • Abu Talib decided this was the safest option to take, because he knew that things could go very badly with the Quraysh actually openly advocating & planning for the death of his nephew

— The Quraysh learned that the Prophet’s family rallied behind him. The Quraysh underestimated Abu Talib’s & Banu Abdul Mutallib’s loyalty to the Prophet, & that the Prophet’s family would fully protect him

  • Now the Quraysh realized that they can’t just conduct a massacre & bloodbath against the family of Banu Hashim. So what do they do now?
  • They decide on a social boycott of Banu Hashim (more specifically, Banu Abdul Mutallib)
    • “None of us will talk to them. None of us will sit with them. None of us will do business with them. None of our family members will marry into their family. We will socially boycott them & cut them off unless they hand over Muhammad to us for execution. If they’re not willing to do that, then they’re dead to us. We’re gonna smoke them out.”
  • The Quraysh actually wrote those non-negotiable terms down on a parchment & hung the pact on a wall of the Ka’bah
    • Of course, the parchment that hangs outside can be ruined by the weather, so the Quraysh encased the pact in leather & hung it

— Banu Abdul Mutallib spent 3 years in the family valley under this social boycott

  • Eventually the sufferings of these people got bigger because they had no business going on; they had no means of income or even a regular supply of food. People starved & often died. Children would scream & cry from hunger – their screams could be heard by people who lived in the outskirts of that valley

— The general sentiment on the streets of Makkah was that people didn’t like what was going on in the valley of Abu Talib

  • They were sympathetic toward the sufferings of Banu Abdul Mutallib
  • The Makkans talked amongst themselves at home or in the street that this wretched vile pact caused such inhumane treatment of their neighbors. The Makkans had known these people their whole lives, & they hated hearing of them suffer under the boycott
  • The Makkans also sort of turned against the leadership of the Quraysh.

— Abu Talib lived on high alert for those 3 years of boycott

  • The whole reason that he had taken this drastic step was so that the Quraysh won’t assassinate his nephew. He couldn’t put anything past the likes of Abu Jahl & Abu Lahab to create a bloodbath in Makkah. In spite of all the sufferings Abu Talib witnessed of his own family, he knew that this social isolation was necessary to protect his nephew
  • Every night before they went to sleep, Abu Talib would make the Prophet switch tents (sleeping places) with another member of their clan
    • “This cousin will stay in Muhammad’s tent, & he’ll stay in your tent tonight.”
    • Abu Talib fixed the rotations with different members of the family
    • They would also take shifts on night-watch, especially on tent that Prophet was sleeping in.
  • Even with all these measures, Abu Talib would sometimes wake the Prophet up in middle of night, every 2 or 3 hours, to make him switch sleeping places with someone else

— Abu Lahab, who was from Banu Abdul Mutallib, went over to Quraysh & said to them, “I’m no longer with Banu Hashim. I am with you.”

  • Abu Lahab disengaged himself from his family to conspire with the Quraysh against the Muslims. He was not affected by the boycott like the rest of his family members
  • He went to Hind bint Utbah bin Rabi’ah (wife of Abu Sufyan) – both were power couple who had greatly opposed the Prophet & Islam
  • Abu Lahab said to Hind, “Have you heard where my allegiances lie? I’m with Al-lat and Uzza. I have left the people who oppose Al-lat & Uzza.”
  • Hind replied, “Yes, I have noticed. We will not forget that you have joined us.”

— Abu Lahab had no loyalty & no decency. He sold out his own family

  • He became very senile toward the end of his life. He suffered a stroke & lost a lot physical bodily functions. His body began rotting away & he was in a diseased condition.
  • Because Abu Lahab had dementia, was paralyzed, & had boils & rashes covering his body, his family kicked him out of the home. His family built a shed for him to live in by himself
    • They hired a couple of servants to look after him & clean up after him

— One day, those servants didn’t show up for a day or two.

  • Abu Lahab’s family members then argued about which one of them would go to deal with Abu Lahab. Nobody wanted to go, & these were his own immediate family
    • In the end, no one did go

— After a day or two, when the servants showed up to work again, they checked on Abu Lahab to find him dead

  • The servants informed the family that Abu Lahab passed away, & they asked the family to deal with the burial rites
    • The family of Abu Lahab gave the servants some extra cash & told them to deal with the body on their own
  • People in Makkah related that the senile Abu Lahab, who then lived in the shed alone, would get terrified in the dark in the middle of the night – he had dementia & insanity so he’d scream, yell, & cry throughout the night
    • People who walked by the shed could hear the shrill screams of Abu Lahab

— After being paid, the servants took Abu Lahab’s body outside of Makkah to bury him

  • It was difficult to bury bodies in Makkah due to the tough soil. The servants found a spot outside Makkah (in a location called al-Awali) that was hidden away from public view. They dropped the body there
  • Before they even found the burial spot for Abu Lahab, the servants saw & heard wild dogs that roam in Makkah. The dogs followed them & later tore away at Abu Lahab’s body. That was the end of the Abu Lahab.

— One of the initial moments when Abu Lahab started to lose his mind was after he abandoned his family during the boycott

  • He would be sitting by himself looking into his hands, repeating over & over again, “I don’t see anything that Muhammad has given me. Why would I have to support Muhammad? He didn’t give me anything.”

— Hakim ibn Hizam, the fraternal nephew of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, was a prominent man of Quraysh. He wasn’t really included in the boycott because he wasn’t an immediate family of the Prophet

  • Still, he empathized with the plight of the Prophet’s family during the boycott
  • One day, Hakim ibn Hizam & his slave took some food & went to the Shieb of Abu Talib to deliver the food. Along the way, they ran into Abu Jahl
  • Abu Jahl saw them & became furious
    • “Are you trying to take food to those people? I swear to God, you will not go to them & you will not be able to take food to them until I have humiliated you & ruined you in all of Makkah, and then I’ll send you to live with these people.”
  • Hakim tried to reason with Abu Jahl, “Listen, this belongs to Khadijah. I’m not giving her anything. I’m just returning what belongs to her.”
  • Abu Jahl still screamed & threatened Hakim

— A man named Abul Bukhtari passed by, and asked what’s going on

  • Abu Jahl pointed at Hakim & said, “He’s taking food to Bani Hashim. He’s taking food to the traitors.”
  • Abul Bukhtari tried to calm down Abu Jahl. He said, “Relax, he’s just trying to bring food to his aunt. He’s taking her food to her.”
  • Abu Jahl was not to keep calm & carried on with his screaming
  • Abul Bukhtari got a bit irritated with Abu Jahl & said, “Why don’t you get out of this man’s way?”
  • Abu Jahl yelled, “NO, I’m not gonna let you go.”
    • He reached out & tried to attack Hakim

— Abul Bukhtari got in the way so Hakim wouldn’t get hurt. Abu Jahl then tried to hit Abul Bukhtari

  • Abul Bukhtari was a stronger man than Abu Jahl, so he pushed Abu Jahl back with ease
  • There was a jawbone of camel on the ground; Abul Bukhtari picked it up & cracked Abu Jahl on the head with it
    • Getting hit on the head seems to be a common theme in the life of Abu Jahl. There was Hamza, Umar ibn al-Khattab, & now Abul Bukhtari
  • Abu Jahl fell on the ground, bleeding from his head. Then Abul Bukhtari started stomping & pounding on Abu Jahl, with the intent to finish off Abu Jahl
    • Abul Bukhtari was beside himself. He tried to talk reasonably with Abu Jahl, but Abu Jahl just continued to yell his head off & then tried to throw a punch at Abul Bukhtari, so this made Abul Bukhtari feel disrespected

— Hamza saw this scene before him from the valley. He had beaten up Abu Jahl before

  • Hamza gathered some of the other Muslim men & they ran to rip Abu Jahl & Abul Bukhtari apart
    • They actually saved Abu Jahl’s life. They told Abu Bukhtari to leave, “You’ve done your job. You can leave.”

— Abu Jahl is an evil cold-blooded man who has tortured and killed multiple Muslims in broad daylight

  • Still, Hamza & other Muslim men step in to save Abu Jahl’s life because if this man is killed, as vile as he is, he is still viewed as a leader of Quraysh in Makkah
    • Even if Abul Bukhtari claimed responsibility for Abu Jahl’s death, it would backfire on the Muslims because Abu Jahl’s death would have taken place near the valley with Muslims.
    • If the Muslims were present at the fight/murder & did nothing (even if it’s Abul Bukhtari’s doing), then the Quraysh will still find a way to blame the Muslims & rain more sufferings on them
  • A lot of sacrifices have already been made by the Muslims, Abu Talib, & the family of the Prophet to keep the mushrikoon at bay, so that the message of Allah could still be propagated
    • If Abu Jahl is killed with the Muslims standing there, then nothing will stop the Quraysh from hunting down the Muslims
  • Abu Jahl didn’t care these Muslims saved his life. He still carried on being an enemy of Islam.

— The general sentiment among common people in Makkah (who were friendly with the Muslims) were not favorable toward the boycott

  • At same time, they were apprehensive about taking action against Quraysh leaders

— Abu Talib went to the Prophet & told him that things are pretty bad, due to all the starvation

  • Abu Talib said, “I want to approach the Quraysh leaders & negotiate with them. I know they said this boycott is non-negotiable, but I have to do something. I can’t watch women & children die like this.”
  • The Prophet then made du’a. He then said to Abu Talib, “Allah has done something. Allah has sent down termites & insects upon the written agreement that hangs on the Ka’bah. Those insects ate away any name of Allah & the Prophet that was mentioned on the pact, so it left only the vile & oppressive words of the Quraysh. The name of anything good has been removed from there.”
  • At the same time, some of the general public in Makkah (from Banu Abd Munaf) appointed a separate delegation to prepare to talk to Abu Jahl & his crew & tell them that it’s time to stop this boycott

— The next day, Abu Talib went to Abu Jahl & his council who were hanging out at the Haram

  • The Quraysh said, “Wait, who said this guy can come here? Oh, is he going to hand over Muhammad now?”
  • Abu Talib reprimanded them, “You blame Muhammad for severing family relations, for causing problems in Makkah, for causing problems in your community but what you people have done was worse than anything anyone has ever done. You have left your own women and children, people that are you related to. You left them to starve. So don’t you dare lecture me or Muhammad about family, tribe, & community. I’ve been out there watching people die. You people have no moral ground to speak on. I’m not here to hand Muhammad over to you on a silver platter. I will protect him to my last breath. Muhammad, who I know does not lie, has told me that Allah has sent down insects to eat away any mention of good on your pact, so that it has left only bad things that you’ve written on it. So go and take a look at it. Bring the pact.”

— The delegation of the Makkans who also want the boycott to stop arrive just in time to hear Abu Talib’s words. They get loud & urge Abu Jahl’s crew to bring the pact to take a look at it

  • Abu Talib, seeing that Abu Jahl is being stubborn, said, “You want to know how confident I am about this? If what Muhammad says is true, that the insects have actually eaten away any mention of good & sacred (Ka’bah and Allah), then this boycott will end right here, right now. But if what Muhammad said isn’t true, that there are no insects & the parchment has been left undisturbed, then I will tie up Muhammad & deliver him to you, & you can execute him, you can do whatever you like to him.”
    • Abu Talib knew he had to call Abu Jahl out like that in public to get him to bring the pact
    • Of course, if Abu Jahl turns down that deal, then he’ll be seen as a coward, so he told someone to go ahead & bring the pact down from the Ka’bah to look at it
  • When they open up the leather case, the parchment is exactly as Prophet said it was. They found that Muhammad spoke the truth, & that there was no mention of good on the parchment

— Abu Jahl somehow wanted to turn this around and said, “Aha, see this is more magic from Muhammad.”

  • But at that point in time, even the other Quraysh leaders who were originally on Abu Jahl’s side said, “It is what it is. This boycott has to end right now.”
  • What convinced the high caliber Quraysh leaders to break away from this boycott & go against Abu Jahl was that Abu Talib recited some poetry to appeal to the goodness & pride of the people there, who had more decency than Abu Jahl

— Abu Talib recited, “I’m here to reason about our relationship with Banu Qa’ab. Don’t they understand that we have found Muhammad to be truthful & to be a prophet like the Prophets before him? Don’t you see, that Allah has showered upon Muhammad the love of his fellow man, & that there is no more good than someone who is given the love of Muhammad. Don’t they see & understand that this pact you have hung from the Ka’bah is a huge source of shame & embarrassment for you? Rise above this. Rise above this. Find your decency before graves are dug & the innocent is buried as the guilty should not even be buried. Don’t follow wild animals (Abu Jahl) & break relationships after so much love & nearness has been established between us. You are being dragged into a battle that will never end, that will have multiple casualties, when you people have tasted the biter milk of war.”

  • Abu Talib pointed at the Ka’bah & continued, “I swear by the Raab of this Bayt, that we will not hand over Ahmad”
    • The close family of the Prophet called him Ahmad; by calling him Ahmad, Abu Talib was letting the Quraysh know that Muhammad is his boy (“You think I’m just going to hand my boy over to you?”)
  • Abu Talib continued, “Isn’t Hashim one of our fathers? Didn’t he work very hard to teach us to be good, & teach us about how serious war is? He taught us good ethics & he also taught us how to fight. I am the grandson of Hashim.”
    • Abu Talib is appealing to the Quraysh that war is serious, & that they will have to bury their loved ones
    • At the same time, Abu Talib is emphasizing that Hashim, a very honorable & dignified man who brought a lot of respect to Quraysh, is his grandfather. Hashim was a leader that everyone looked up to, & he is Abu Talib’s grandfather
  • Abu Talib continued, “Even so, we’re not afraid of fighting. We do not bore of fighting, until fighting bores of us.”
    • This is a big thing to say from a man like Abu Talib, who was a humble & gentle man, but Abu Jahl pushed it a bit far. That’s why Abu Talib appealed to the senses of the rest of Quraysh leaders. They may have started this entire thing, but Abu Talib will finish things
  • Abu Talib said, “I’m not here to beg & plead for my life. We were taught by our forefathers not to complain about difficulty. For three years, we have been listening to our children cry to sleep. For three years, we have been burying our dead. But we’re not done. So you best take into consideration who you’re picking a fight with. Even though we can finish things, know that we are people who pride ourselves to protect our people. The souls of the people who go out into the battlefield eventually leave the body. I’m not afraid to fight. I know there’s a time & place to use intelligence & to fight to the death.”
    • Abu Talib shouted this to the Quraysh leaders at the Haram.

— By the time Abu Talib was done, everyone had heard enough. They took the boycott parchment  from Abu Jahl’s hands & tore it up

  • They said, “We still don’t agree with Muhammad, but bring our people home.”
  • This boycott ended 3 years after it started
    • Everyone who had stood with the Prophet (his family, both Muslims & non-Muslims) arrived back home to Makkah & got some relief from the suffering of the valley
    • Still, the Muslims are back in Square 1

— The man who actually penned the agreement was named Mansur ibn Ikrama

  • When the Prophet saw the suffering of his people, he was so pained by the adversity of the innocent that he made dua against whoever wrote something as vile as the boycott pact
  • Shortly afterward, Mansur’s hands became paralyzed. He was not able to use his hands or write anything for the rest of his life

— Lessons from this episode

  • To ensure the safety of Muhammad, Abu Talib took a step back from a volatile situation. The Prophet employed the same strategy when he sent 100+ believers to Habesha
  • Even in these extreme circumstances, the believers did not adopt a vengeful attitude. Even when they saw Abu Jahl being beaten to death, the Muslims stepped in to save his life. They did this so that there would not be more problems down the road against the Muslims
  • Why did the miracle of the insects tearing away at the pact not occur 3 years ago, when it could have prevented so many innocent deaths? Why did it happen three years later? After such a long time?
    • The Muslims had witnessed miracles before, but Allah waited until the general populace in Makkah collectively were not okay with the boycott. Allah waited until the general conscious of the people of Makkah was woken
    • Patience is a major quality that is emphasized throughout the Seerah of the Prophet


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