The Boycott of Muslims and the Valley of Abu Talib

The Boycott of Muslims and the Valley of Abu Talib

2024,01,30
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Boycott of Muslims is the economic and social boycott by the Meccan polytheists on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family), Banu Hashim and Muslims. After the proclamation of the Prophetic mission by the Prophet Muhammad and the conversion of considerable numbers of Meccans into Islam, the leaders of Quraysh were annoyed with the influence and astonishing expansion of Muslims, particularly after the conversion of Hamza ibn Abd al-Muttalib.

The Quraysh had made several attempts in the past to isolate Muhammad from his clan and to stop Abu Talib from giving support and protection to his nephew and Islam. This was because they believed that if they could isolate Muhammad from his clan, they would be able to overcome him and his new belief. Therefore, in an attempt to stop the increasing influence and expansion of Islam among the Arabs, the leaders of Quraysh decided to declare an economic and social boycott against Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family), Banu Hashim and Banu ‘Abd al-Muttalib except for Abu Lahab and his children[1]. The spies of Quraysh were monitoring Muslims all the time so that no one would be able to give them food or have any economic transactions with them.

Time of the boycott

According to a report, the boycott started in Muharram of the seventh year of the proclamation of the Prophetic mission (7 BH/615)[2]. Miqrizi on the other hand stated that it started on the Muharram 1 of the seventh year of the proclamation of the Prophetic mission (Bi’tha)[3] (September 30, 615) and lasted for three years[4].

Treaty of Polytheists

After a meeting in the town hall of Mecca, “Dar al-Nadwa”, the polytheists made a treaty written by Mansur ibn ‘Ikrima and signed by the supreme members of the Quraysh council and was hung in the Sacred House of the Ka’aba. The contents and provisions of that joint treaty, which may have been composed of several articles, were summarized in the following sentences:

1. Ban on having any economic transactions with Bani Hashim and the children of Abd al-Muṭṭalib;

2. Ban of having relations and social interactions with Muslims;

3. Ban of marrying their women and marrying women to them;

4. Ban of making any agreement with them and defending them in any event;

5. As long as Bani Hashim does not hand over Muhammad to the Quraysh to be killed or they secretly or openly kill Muhammad, Quraysh will adhere to this agreement.

It is mentioned that in the period of official ceremonies such as Hajj, Muslims were allowed to leave the valley temporarily in order to buy something, promote, or invite others to Islam[5]. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) invited people during the time of hajj in the first year of the boycott which aggravated the polytheists. They came to Abu Talib and requested him to surrender the Prophet to them as they wanted to kill him. Abu Talib reacted strongly and disappointed them[6].

The Valley of Abu Talib

During these years of boycott, Abu Talib, who observed that Bani Hashim could not live comfortably in the city of Mecca with this arrangement, took them to a valley in the northern part of the city that belonged to him – and it was customarily known as the Valley of Abu Ṭālib (Shi’b Abi Talib) – and he assigned the youths of Bani Hashim, especially his sons Ali, Ṭālib and ‘Aqīl to strictly guard and protect the Holy Prophet[7].

The Valley of Abu Talib (Shi’b Abi Talib) is located in the east of Ka’aba between the Mount Abu Qubays and the Mount Khandama in Mecca[8]. The valley was owned by ‘Abd al-Muttalib and it was called differently at different times. ‘Abd al-Muttalib gave it to his children in the last years of his life. Therefore, the father of Prophet Muhammad; ‘Abdullah was also given a part of that land[9].

According to some historical reports, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) was born in that valley and it is therefore called the birthplace valley [Shi’b al-Mawlid][10]. The house of Prophet Muhammad where he and his wife, Lady Khadija were living was also located in this valley. In addition, Lady Fatima (peace be upon her) was born in that house[11]. However, only a small part of this region, called Suq al-Layl remains today and the other parts were added to al-Masjid al-Haram in different expansions of the Holy mosque[12].

Difficult Situations during the Boycott

During these three years of boycott, children of Banu Hashim and Muslims suffered greatly from the hands of were suffering from the difficulties[13]. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family), his supporters, Khadija, and Abu Talib lived in harsh situations for three years and they used up the possessions of Khadija.

In an attempt to confront this economic boycott, Lady Khadija spent all the wealth she had in those years of boycott, and likewise, Abu Ṭālib himself gave all his property. The steadfastness and perseverance of Bani Hashim against the polytheists and their disgraceful agreement and likewise, their endurance of all the severity and hardship ended to the benefit of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) and the progress of Islam, because on the one hand, it caused a group of Quraysh elders who had signed that agreement to pity the conditions of Bani Hashim and provoked their emotions and feelings towards Abu Ṭālib and his relatives who were from among Bani Hashim clan, and they thought of breaking that cruel agreement. On the other hand, there were some people [among the Quraysh] who had secretly inclined towards Islam, but because of the fear of Quraysh, they did not dare to express their opinion and faith in the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) and they were worried about the future.

Despite the treaty and strict monitoring by the spies of Quraysh, sometimes close relatives of Banu Hashim secretly brought food items to them in the middle of the night. This was because most of them had either a daughter, son, grandchildren, or close relatives living in the valley, and they were looking for an excuse to end the treaty and set Muslims free.

End of Boycott

The boycott ended in the tenth year after the proclamation of the Prophetic mission[14]. According to a narration, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) was informed one night through a revelation that the termites had eaten all of that accursed agreement, leaving only the part where “Bismika Allahumma” was written in it, and it remained intact. The Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) therefore informed Abu Talib about the news[15]. Ibn Hisham narrated from Ibn Ishaq thus: “Abu Talib met Quraysh and told them: My cousin has said the treaty you have written is eaten by termites except for the name of God. See the treaty yourself and if he was right end the boycott, and if he was wrong, I will hand him over to you. When Quraysh leaders went to see the treaty, they were shocked to see that it was eaten by termites except for the name of God. Therefore, the boycott ended and Banu Hashim was free to leave the valley[16].”

In conclusion, it could be said that the Quraysh in an attempt to prevent the spread of Islam and the teachings of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family), the Quraysh polytheists designed a new and dangerous plan and decided to go into an all-inclusive agreement to sever relations and boycott Bani Hashim. Thus, an agreement was written by the polytheists of Mecca in this regard in the seventh year after the proclamation of the Prophetic mission, declaring an economic and social boycott on the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family), Banu Hashim and Muslims. So they lived in a valley on the outskirts of Mecca known as the Valley of Abi Talib [Shi’b Abi Talib] under harsh conditions. After three years of blockade, the boycott ended in the tenth year after the proclamation of the Prophetic mission (4 BH/618-9).

 

References

[1] . Miqrizī, Aḥmad ibn ʿAlī, al-Imtāʿ al-asmāʿ bi-mā li-l-Nabīyy min al-aḥwāl wa l-amwāl wa l-ḥafda wa l-amṭāʿ, vol. 1, p. 44

[2] . Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 163.

[3] . Miqrizī, Aḥmad ibn ʿAlī, al-Imtāʿ al-asmāʿ bi-mā li-l-Nabīyy min al-aḥwāl wa l-amwāl wa l-ḥafda wa l-amṭāʿ, vol. 1, p. 44

[4] . Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 163.

[5] . Ṭabrisī, Iʿlām al-warā, p. 72.

[6] . ibid, p. 72-73.

[7] . Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 163.

[8] . Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawiyya, vol. 1, p. 352.

[9] . Ḥamawī, Muʿjam al-buldān, vol. 3, p. 347.

[10] . Qāʾidān, Tārīkh wa āthār-i Islāmī-yi Makka wa Madina, p. 114.

[11] . ibid, p. 114.

[12] . Jaʿfarīyān, Āthār-i Islāmī-yi Makka wa Madina, p. 151.

[13] . Qāʾidān, Tārīkh wa āthār-i Islāmī-yi Makka wa Madina, p. 114.

[14] . ibid, p. 114.

[15] . Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 1, p. 234.

[16] . Shahīdī, Tārīkh-i taḥlīlī-yi Islām, p. 53; Ṭabrisī, Iʿlām al-warā, p. 73-74.

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