Bassam Zawadi on Muhammad's Treaty of Hudaibiyah [2nd round]

Sam Shamoun

Bassam Zawadi has written a brief response to my rebuttal to his article regarding the claim that Muhammad had broken his treaty with the Quraysh at Hudaibiyah (original article).

Since there really wasn’t much to rebut we will try to therefore make this quick:

My Response:

I want to thank Sam Shamoun for doing the research for me and even strengthening my arguments by providing more sources of information to back up my claims.

First of all if Banu Bakr had to avenge for their leader's deaths caused by Banu Khuza'ah, they should have refused to enter the treaty. They should have said, "no we will not enter this treaty because that would mean that we would have to have peace with Banu Khuza'ah and we don't want that because we want to avenge our leader's deaths". They should have known that the treaty stated that anyone siding with the Meccans should not be attacking anyone siding with the Muslims.

Secondly, notice what Tabari said:

They tried to drive each other away and fought. Quraysh aided the Banu Bakr with weapons, and some members of Quraysh fought on their side under cover of darkness until they drove Khuza’ah into the sacred territory.

According to al-Waqidi: Among the members of Quraysh who helped the Banu Bakr against Khuza’ah that night, concealing their identity, were Safwan b. Umayyah, ‘Ikrimah b. Abi Jahl, Suhayl b. ‘Amr, and others, along with their slaves.

When Quraysh leaguered together [with Banu Bakr] against Khuza’ah and killed some of their men, breaking the treaty and covenant that existed between them and the Messenger of God by violating the Khuza’ah, who had a pact and treaty with him.

So this even goes to show that the Quraysh did help Banu Bakr in attacking the Banu Khuza'ah and this went against the truce they made with the Muslims.

So the Quraysh did break the treaty by helping in the attack on the allies of the Muslims.

Shamoun goes on to criticize that the Prophet let Banu Khuza'ah to enter into a treaty with the Muslims. However, some one's past does not necessarily mean that they would do the same in the future. The Prophet would never have allowed them to do what they did if he was in a treaty with them. Plus, notice that ever since Khuza'ah entered into a treaty with the Prophet they did not break it, but it was the Banu Bakr that did.


We will see that, far from strengthening his case, what I presented actually refutes Zawadi. Zawadi obviously didn’t grasp the reason why I cited the background information regarding the real reason why Banu Bakr attacked the Khuza’ah. The latter was a treacherous, murderous group who had attacked and killed some prominent men of the Banu Bakr, instigating the hostile relations between them. And this is the same group that Muhammad chose to associate with even before the treaty of Hudaibiyah!

Furthermore, the reason Banu Bakr entered into the treaty was to show their faithfulness to the Quraysh, a tribe that they had been on good terms with. So we know why the Banu Bakr joined, in order to cement their loyalty with a tribe which they had been allies with before Muhammad ever came to Medina.

Moreover, the Quraysh DID NOT BREAK THE TREATY first, Muhammad did by refusing to return the Meccan women back to their guardians. In fact, Muhammad’s disregard for the treaty provides strong support that he would allow the Banu Khuza’ah to break the treaty. After all, this is the same man who said:

Narrated Zahdam:
Once we were in the house of Abu Musa who presented a meal containing cooked chicken. A man from the tribe of Bani Taim Allah with red complexion as if he were from the Byzantine war prisoners, was present. Abu Musa invited him to share the meal but he (apologised) saying. "I saw chickens eating dirty things and so I have had a strong aversion to eating them, and have taken an oath that I will not eat chickens." Abu Musa said, "Come along, I will tell you about this matter (i.e. how to cancel one's oath). I went to the Prophet in the company of a group of Al-Ashariyin, asked him to provide us with means of conveyance. He said, ‘By Allah, I will not provide you with any means of conveyance and I have nothing to make you ride on.’ Then some camels as booty were brought to Allah's Apostle and he asked for us saying. ‘Where are the group of Al-Ash'ariyun?’ Then he ordered that we should be given five camels with white humps. When we set out we said, ‘What have we done? We will never be blessed (with what we have been given).’ So, we returned to the Prophet and said, ‘We asked you to provide us with means of conveyance, but you took an oath that you would not provide us with any means of conveyance. Did you forget (your oath when you gave us the camels)?’ He replied. ‘I have not provided you with means of conveyance but Allah has provided you with it, and by Allah, Allah willing, if ever I take an oath to do something, and later on I find that it is more beneficial to do something different, I will do the thing which is better, and give expiation for my oath.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Number 361)

Therefore, the Quraysh were completely justified in helping their allies defeat a tribe who had shown such disdain and proven to be a treacherous, murderous lot.

Finally, Zawadi fails to touch upon the fact that the Khuza’ah had to make restitution for their murderous treachery, since Arab custom (which Muhammad himself adopted as part of his religion) demanded either that the persons responsible be killed or that blood money be paid. If Muhammad was as a fair as Zawadi would have his readers believe then why didn’t he demand his allies to make restitution insuring that justice had been met?

Zawadi says in light of all the data which I presented proving that Muhammad broke the treaty:

Notice when Sam quotes Ibn Kathir. Notice what is said:

 Surat Al-Fath, we related the story of the treaty at Al-Hudaybiyyah that was conducted between the Messenger of Allah and the disbelievers of Quraysh. In that treaty, there were these words, "Everyman (in another narration, EVERY PERSON) who reverts from....

Notice that there are narrations that state that the truce said, "Every MAN".


It seems that Zawadi didn’t (or simply doesn’t want to) get the point. This variant reading refutes him and proves that women were not excluded by the expression "every man", or because they used masculine pronouns such as "his", "him" etc. The expression itself, as well as the masculine pronouns, were used inclusively, that men and women were covered by these phrases. This is why I even quoted Zawadi’s own source to show that the Meccans intended by the language of the treaty to include even the women.

Even commentator Yusuf Ali states that the whole ordeal started after the Quraysh already broke the treaty.


It seems that the reason why Yusuf Ali believed that the Quraysh had broken the treaty is because he may have been aware that by refusing to return the women Muhammad was in clear violation of his pact with the Meccans. As a result of this it seems that Ali had to therefore find a justification for Muhammad breaking the treaty whereby he reneged on his promises. The problem with Ali’s defense is that he fails to provide the data showing in what way the Quraysh had broken their agreement, and the reason is obvious. The attack by Banu Bakr against the Khuza’ah occurred long AFTER MUHAMMAD REFUSED TO RETURN THE WOMEN BACK TO THEIR GUARDIANS.

Moreover, Ali’s comments provide justification for what the Banu Bakr did. After all, if Ali believed that it was alright for Muhammad to refuse to return the women who had fled to him from Mecca on the grounds that the Quraysh had broken their treaty, then by the same token the Banu Bakr had every right to attack the Khuza’ah since Muhammad had dishonored his promise to keep the pact he had made when he refused to return back the women!

Others such as Ibn Kathir and Asad might say otherwise.

Everyone has conflicting views and we cannot tell which one is correct. Even Sam Shamoun indirectly admits this when he says:

Note the confusion. Ali says that the reason Muhammad refused to return the women is because the Quraysh had broken the treaty! So now which position is one to adopt, the one that says returning women that defected was not part of the conditions, or the one which claims that married women were exempted from the terms of the agreement, or this one which says that the Quraysh had broken the treaty and Muhammad was therefore no longer bound to keep the stipulations of the pact?

So even according to Sam we cannot be sure about what truly did happen. This is all contradictory evidence. If evidence is contradictory then it is unreliable. Can unreliable evidence be sufficient enough to convict some body of a crime in a reliable court of law? No! So then it cannot be used in this case as well.

MAYBE Prophet Muhammad did not break the treaty and just MAYBE he did. But MAYBEs do not do and are not sufficient and hold absolutely no value.

Therefore, I await to see strong and reasonable evidence to convict the glorious Prophet Muhammad of such a crime.


Zawadi tries to use the contradictions which exist among the Muslim sources to disprove that Muhammad broke the treaty, but it won’t work for the following reasons. First, all these sources agree that Muhammad refused to return the women back to the Meccans. Second, the Muslim sources also agree that the guardians of these women, specifically the brothers of Umm Kulthum, demanded that Muhammad return them in accord with the stipulations of the treaty. It is from this point onwards that we find disagreements and the reason should be clear. Some Muslims couldn’t handle the fact that Muhammad broke the treaty because they realize how bad this makes him look. They therefore decided to come up with various explanations to justify his treachery towards the Meccans.

Some Muslims (al-Qurtubi) tried to distort the language of the treaty by saying that women were excluded, something which we saw is nothing more than a distortion of the facts. One Muslim said (Yusuf Ali) that Muhammad refused to return the women since the Quraysh had already broken the treaty, a statement which he provides no evidence for. Moreover, if they had broken their treaty with Muhammad then why did he never mention this as the reason for not returning the women back to their guardians? A final view (Ibn Kathir) is to simply honestly admit that Muhammad refused to return the women because he claimed that his god abolished that part of the treaty. After all, if Allah says that this part of the pact is canceled then who was Muhammad to argue with his deity?

More importantly, if Zawadi thinks that the evidence is inconclusive then how could he dare say that what we had written is far from the truth? Note what Zawadi initially wrote in response to our article:

THIS IS FAR FROM THE TRUTH. The Quraysh are the ones who broke the treaty.

If he believes that the evidence is contradictory then on what grounds can he adamantly claim that what was said about Muhammad breaking the treaty is not true? After all, his acknowledgement that the evidence is contradictory is basically an admission that there is data showing that Muhammad did break the treaty, thereby vindicating what we he had said. He simply happens to not like that data so he decides to reject it on the basis that there seems to be other evidence contradicting it!

Therefore, I await a much better refutation to the facts presented which proves that Muhammad was a covenant breaker than the one provided by Zawadi. Until then, we won’t bother addressing articles that fail to refute anything.

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