Episode 48: Boycott in Makkah & its Annulment
Welcome to Seerah Pearls, which aims to highlight some tantalising learning points from each episode of the Seerah- Life of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
Boycott in Makkah
The Quraysh resolved to become harsher in their opposition to Islam. They felt the only solution was to kill the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Abu Talib gathered Banu Abu Muttalib and rallied them to protect Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), even if they disagreed with what he said. He advised they all move to a valley owned by him on the outskirts of Makkah, called Shib Abu Talib. This was to protect the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and show solidarity.
Quraysh started a complete social boycott of Banu Abdul Muttalib: they would not marry, sit, talk, visit or do business with anyone from the group, until they agreed to hand over the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) for execution. They wrote a physical agreement that was non-negotiable.
The boycott lasted 3 years- the conditions were so severe and eventually the suffering of these people became so dire, you could hear the children screaming from the pangs of hunger. Many died due to starvation and sickness. The general sentiment in Makkah was an increasing intolerance of what was going on- they started to discuss this wretched agreement and how inhumane it was against people they loved.
Abu Talib lived 3 years on high alert. Every night, he would make the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) switch sleeping places. Sometimes he would be so nervous, he stay up all night long, or he fixed a rotation that someone would stay up guarding the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). After making him switch, he sometimes would still come in the middle of the night and make him switch again.
Abu Lahab had decided he was not with Abu Talib and the family and joined the Quraysh. He suffered a horrible ending to his life. He became senile, suffered a stroke and lost control of his bodily functions. His family made him live in a shed separately and servants were made to care for him. He would scream and cry all night. He died alone and the servants were asked to dispose of his remains- they left him to be consumed by wild dogs.
A compassionate nephew of Khadija (RA) and her servant took some food towards the valley. They ran into Abu Jahl and he was upset by what he saw: he threatened to beat and humiliate them for trying to help the outcast group. Khadija’s (RA) nephew tried to reason with him, but Abu Jahl refused to listen. A third man arrived and a brawl started amongst the group as they started to attack Abu Jahl. Hamza (RA) came along with some believers and broke up the fight, saving Abu Jahl. They did not want any blame for the death of Abu Jahl, as well as recognising the need to stop senseless violence.
There was a growing sentiment amongst the Quraysh that what was happening was wrong. Abu Talib came to negotiate with Quraysh. He said the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had made dua and Allah had sent insects down upon the agreement that hung bound in leather in the Ka’ba: they specifically had eaten away wherever the name of Allah or Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was written. He asked them to bring the agreement: if what the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had reported was true, the boycott would be nulled. If it was untrue, he promised to hand over Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and they could do whatever they wished with him. However, the agreement was found exactly how it had been reported by the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The agreement was torn up and the people were asked to return. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) made dua against Mansoor bin Ikrimah, who wrote the boycott, and his hand became paralysed.