Hudaibiyyah Peace Agreement
TypePeace Agreement

The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah (Arabic: صُلح الْحُدَيْبِيَّة, romanizedṢulḥ al-Ḥudaybiyya) was an event that took place during the time of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was a pivotal treaty between Muhammad, representing the state of Medina, and the Qurayshi tribe of Mecca in January 628 (corresponding to Dhu al-Qi'dah, AH 6). It helped to decrease tension between the two cities, affirmed peace for a period of 10 years, and authorised Muhammad's followers to return the following year in a peaceful pilgrimage, later known as The First Pilgrimage.


As a result of the rejection of his message and the persecution of his followers, the Islamic prophet Muhammad left his hometown Mecca in the year 622 and migrated with his followers to the oasis town of Medina.[1] There he had more followers and was able to found a local power base. On three occasions his forces battled with his Meccan opponents led by his own tribe of Quraysh.[2] Mecca was thus a no-go area for the Muslims,[3] and there was located the old sanctuary of the Ka'ba. Although it had been a pilgrimage center from the pre-Islamic times, it seems that Muslims were enjoined to perform pilgrimage to the Ka'ba only in the Medinan period.[4] The Muslims had so far prayed facing in the direction of Jerusalem,[5] but at some point in Medina Muhammad reportedly received a divine revelation ordering him to face Mecca instead.[3]

Traditional account

See also: Pledge of the Tree

In March 628, following a dream that he was circumambulating the Ka'ba, Muhammad decided to set out for pilgrimage.[6] Anticipating violent Meccan response, he invited his Bedouin and tribal allies in the outskirts of Medina to join him, but the majority declined, probably seeing no prospect of booty or anticipating hostilities.[6][7] Muhammad with a group of some 1,500 Muslims of Medina as well as some tribal allies marched towards Mecca in order to perform the Umrah (lesser pilgrimage).[8][a] There are conflicting accounts as to whether the Muslims carried weapons.[10] They were dressed as pilgrims and had sacrificial animals with them.[11] On getting the news, the Meccans mistook the approach as an attack, and sent a 200-strong cavalry force to stop it. Muhammad avoided the force by taking an unconventional route and pitched his tents at the place of Hudaybiyya, on the border of the sacred territory of the Ka'ba.[8]

The Quraysh sent their emissaries to negotiate with him, to whom he declared that he had come to perform the pilgrimage and had no hostile intentions. The Quraysh nevertheless considered it weakness and declaration of defeat to let him enter the city unconditionally. They are reported to have said: "Even if he has come not wanting to fight, by God, he shall never enter [the sanctuary] by force against our will, nor shall the bedouin ever [have cause to] say that about us".[12] At one point he sent his close aid Uthman to Mecca to carry out negotiations. Rumor spread that he had been slain. Muhammad vowed to avenge his death and took pledge of his followers to fight the Meccans to end. The pledge became known as the Pledge of the Tree (bay'at al-ridwan). The rumor turned out to be false and the Quraysh sent their emissary Suhayl ibn Amr to reach a settlement. After negotiations, the parties agreed to resolve the matter peacefully and a treaty was drawn up.[13][14] The main points stated:[15]

The document was written by Ali. As he was writing "This is what Muhammad, the apostle of God has agreed with Suhayl b. 'Amr",[16] Suhayl objected that he did not believe in his prophethood, hence he could only write his name, to which Muhammad consented.[16] After the document was written, Suhayl's son Abu Jandal turned up to join the Muslims, but was handed over to Suhayl in keeping with the treaty.[13] Umar and some other Muslims were unhappy about the truce with the people whom they regarded as the enemies of God.[17] Muhammad called his followers to shave their heads and sacrifice their animals. They were reluctant to do so but followed suite when he set the example. The Muslims then returned to Medina and en route was revealed the Sura 48 of the Qur'an.[13]


Those converts who later escaped to Medina were returned in accordance with the treaty. Abu Basir, one of the returned, escaped to the sea coast and was later joined by some 70 others including Abu Jandal. They formed a guerrilla band and started raiding Meccan caravans to Syria. The Meccans eventually asked Muhammad to take them back to Medina. An exception to the treaty was later created unilaterally by the Muslims when some Muslim women from Mecca escaped to Medina. The Qur'an forbade their return.[13]


In the long term, the treaty proved advantageous to the Muslims and is often regarded as an "important step" in Muhammad's consolidation of power.[18] By signing the treaty, the Quraysh implicitly acknowledged Muhammad as their equal,[19] and by gaining access to the pilgrimage at the Ka'ba, Muhammad was able to increase Islam's appeal to those tribes who held the Ka'ba in high regard.[18] Muhammad's biographer Ibn Hisham later wrote: "No previous victory in Islam was greater than this ... when there was an armistice and war was abolished and men met in safety and consulted together none talked about Islam intelligently without entering it."[20] The truce enabled Muhammad to expand his dominion elsewhere in Arabia unhindered. The historian Fred Donner has suggested that the very purpose of the attempted pilgrimage was to secure a truce with the Meccans, for Medina was trapped between two hostile cities — the Jewish stronghold of Khaybar to the north and Mecca to the south — and very vulnerable. But he could not simply beg the Meccans for a truce; by skillfully crafting the situation, he got it without asking. It was nevertheless a "desperate gamble" which could have ended in disaster had the Quraysh opted not to make peace.[21] Soon afterwards, he besieged and neutralized Khaybar.[22] Since other tribes were allowed to align whichever side they wanted, Muhammad was able to win over some tribes formerly allied with the Quraysh.[23] According to Islamicist Montgomery Watt, through the treaty, which meant lifting of the Medinan blockade of the Meccan trade with Syria, and by granting the Quraysh other concessions, Muhammad intended to foster better relations with the Quraysh and attract them towards Islam.[24]


  1. ^ Different accounts report between 700 and 1,900 pilgrims.[9]


  1. ^ Donner 2010, pp. 42–43.
  2. ^ Donner 2010, pp. 43–44, 46–47.
  3. ^ a b Hawting 1986, p. 1.
  4. ^ Donner 2010, pp. 64–65.
  5. ^ Kennedy 2016, p. 35.
  6. ^ a b Watt 1971.
  7. ^ Guillaume 1998, p. 499.
  8. ^ a b Watt 1956, p. 46.
  9. ^ Fishbein 1997, pp. 68–70.
  10. ^ Donner 1979, p. 240 n.
  11. ^ Guillaume 1998, pp. 499–500.
  12. ^ Donner 1979, p. 240.
  13. ^ a b c d Goerke 2000, p. 241.
  14. ^ Ali 1981, p. 61.
  15. ^ a b Watt 1956, pp. 47–48.
  16. ^ a b Guillaume 1998, p. 504.
  17. ^ Ali 1981, pp. 61–62.
  18. ^ a b Donner 1979, p. 241.
  19. ^ Watt 1956, p. 48.
  20. ^ Guillaume 1998, p. 507.
  21. ^ Donner 1979, pp. 242–244.
  22. ^ Donner 1979, p. 245.
  23. ^ Watt 1956, pp. 48–49.
  24. ^ Watt 1956, p. 49.