حَدَّثَنِي زُهَيْرُ بْنُ حَرْبٍ، حَدَّثَنَا الْوَلِيدُ بْنُ مُسْلِمٍ، حَدَّثَنِي الأَوْزَاعِيُّ، حَدَّثَنِي الزُّهْرِيُّ، حَدَّثَنِي أَبُو سَلَمَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ لَنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَنَحْنُ بِمِنًى “ نَحْنُ نَازِلُونَ غَدًا بِخَيْفِ بَنِي كِنَانَةَ حَيْثُ تَقَاسَمُوا عَلَى الْكُفْرِ ” . وَذَلِكَ إِنَّ قُرَيْشًا وَبَنِي كِنَانَةَ تَحَالَفَتْ عَلَى بَنِي هَاشِمٍ وَبَنِي الْمُطَّلِبِ أَنْ لاَ يُنَاكِحُوهُمْ وَلاَ يُبَايِعُوهُمْ حَتَّى يُسْلِمُوا إِلَيْهِمْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَعْنِي بِذَلِكَ الْمُحَصَّبَ .
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said to us as we were at Mina: We would observe halt tomorrow at-Khaif of Banu Kinanah, where (the polytheists) had taken an oath on unbelief, and that was that the Quraish and Banu Kinanah had, pledged against Banu Hashim and Banu Muttalib that they would neither marry nor do any transaction with them unless they deliver Allah’s Messenger (way peace be upon him) to them. And (this pledge was) taken at this (place) Muhassab. (Sahih Muslim 1314b)
The Quraysh had tried many ways to make the Muslims leave their religion. All their efforts had been in vain, so now they had to try a new approach. The number of Muslims was increasing, and they had been further strengthened by the Islām of ʿUmar and Ḥamzah (RA). The Quraysh decided that they would now introduce a boycott. The terms of this boycott were written down. The terms were:
All ties will be severed with Rasūlullāh (SAW), the Banū Hāshim and all their supporters
No one can marry a person from the Banū Hāshim
No one will talk to them until Rasūlullāh (SAW) is handed over to them.
No one will buy from them or sell to them
The document was written and placed inside the Kaʿbah. Manṣūr ibn ʿIkrimah who had written the document was punished right away by Allāh (SWT). He was unable to write anything after that.
The Boycott Starts
The leaders of the Quraysh all agreed to the terms except the Banū Muṭṭalib. The Banū Muṭṭalib were the children of Hāshims brother Muṭṭalib. Due to this disagreement, they also became subject to the boycott.
Abū Ṭālib, along with the others, had no choice but to now move out of the centre of Makkah to a valley on the outskirts. This valley became known as the valley of Abū Ṭālib.
The Banū Hāshim and Banū Muṭṭalib, both Muslims and nonMuslims, supported him and moved out to the valley. The Muslims moved because of their religion and the non-Muslims due to their ties of kinship. From the Banu Hāshim, only Abū Lahab stayed with the Quraysh in Makkah.
The Difficulties of the Boycott
The boycott did not just carry on for a day, or a week or a month, but for 3 years. The families of the Banū Hāshim and Banū Muṭṭalib stayed like this with ever mounting difficulties. The people were starving to the extent that you could hear the crying of hungry children. Some of the people used to survive eating the leaves off Acacia trees.
The boycott had been implemented to such an extent that when a trade caravan used to come into Makkah, Abū Lahab would make an announcement saying that no one is to sell to Muḥammad for the normal price, they would have to charge him extra. If anyone is at a loss, then he is responsible.
The Companions would come to buy provisions but would return empty handed because of these conditions causing inflated prices.
The Secret Provisions
There were some people who saw the state of the Banū Hāshim and Banū Muṭṭalib and took pity on them. They would secretly send them food and provisions.
On one occasion, along with his servant, Ḥakīm ibn Ḥizām, the nephew of Khaḍījah (RA) was going to see her with some grain. On the way they met Abū Jahal and he asked them if they were taking the grain for the Banū Hāshim. He told them that he would not let them it on any account and would disgrace them in front of everyone.
It just so happened that Abū Al-Bakhtarī was going by. After he found out what was happening, he said to Abū Jahal that a person is sending some grain to his aunt, why are you stopping them? When Abū Jahal heard this, he got very angry and started to say very bad words. Abū Al-Bakhtarī lifted a camel bone and struck Abū Jahal on the head to the extent that he started to bleed.
More than the actual physical pain, Abū Jahal felt more pain since Ḥamzah (RA) was watching what was happening from his place in the valley.
The boycott had continued for around 3 years and now a group of people from the Quraysh decided to try and break it. One of these was Hishām ibn ʿAmr. He used to see that they, meaning the people in Makkah were all fed and watered whilst their brethren from the Banū Hāshim and Banū Muṭṭalib were starving in the valley.
To ease some of their plight, he used to take a camel full of provisions at nighttime to the valley and leave it there. One day Hishām ibn ʿAmr went to Zahīr ibn Abū Amiya who was the grandson of ʿAbdul Muṭṭalib. He was the son of ʿᾹtikā, the aunt of Rasūlullāh (SAW), therefore he was his cousin.
Hishām said to Zahīr, ‘Oh Zahīr, do you like it that you can eat what you want, wear what you want, marry who you want, and your uncle is hungry for even a single grain. I swear by Allāh, if Abū Jahals’ uncle and mother’s family were in a state like this, then Abū Jahal would never even think of any agreement’.
Zahīr said regretfully that he was alone, what could he possibly do alone. If only there was another person who felt the same way, then he would stand up for this cause.
Hishām ibn ʿAmr got up from there and went to Muṭʿam ibn ʿAdīy and made him think the same way. Muṭʿam also said that another person should be made to share their feelings.
Hishām then went to Abū Al-Bakhtarī and after a while to Zumʿā ibn Al-Aswad and made them also share the same feelings. In total 5 people got ready and decided when the people gather tomorrow, we will raise this issue.
The following morning, the people started to gather in the Ḥaram. Zahīr ibn Abū Amiya stood up and said, ‘Oh people of Makkah, it is a very unfortunate thing that you can eat, drink, wear clothes, and marry and the Banū Hāshim are dying of starvation’. He said that he would not sit down until the document upon which the terms had been written, is ripped up.
Abū Jahal replied that this document can never be ripped up. Zumʿā then said, ‘it can definitely be ripped up, when this document was written we were not happy with it’. Abū Al Bakhtarī then said ‘Zumʿā is staying the truth, we were also not happy’. Muṭʿam then said, both are saying the truth. Hishām ibn ʿAmr also now supported them. Abū Jahal saw what was happening and was shocked and said indeed this is a thing which has been fixed in the night.
At that time, Rasūlullāh (SAW) told his uncle Abū Ṭālib that the document which had been drawn up had been eaten away by ants. Apart from the words اللهم باسمك, which was written at the beginning, all the other letters had been eaten away.
Abū Ṭālib went to the Quraysh and told them about the parchment. He said my nephew has informed me of this today and he has never lied, and up until today, none of his words have proven untrue. Let us decide that if what Muḥammad is saying is true, then you will stop this boycott. If what he says is false, then I am ready to surrender him to yourselves, you can either kill him or leave him alive.
The people said, Oh Abū Ṭālib, you have said a just thing, and at that moment the document was called for. When they saw it, to their amazement, all the letters apart from Allāh’s name had been eaten away by the ants. They lowered their heads in shame and embarrassment. The boycott was now finally over.
(Sirah of Muhammad, Part 6-The Middle Years of the Makkan Period by Maulana Ebrahim Noor)