In the Qur’an, Allah called Al-Hudaibeyah treaty “a magnificent triumph.” What did this treaty present back during its time is the main idea of this post.
The 10 years truce of Al-Hudaibeyah treaty unmooerd Islam; they formed the perfect opportunity for Muslims to preach their religion safely. Many pagans had the chance to think calmly about the teachings of Islam and compare them to the pagan faith, and the results were amazing. Thousands of pagans embraced Islam during the first year, among them were two of the most clever army generals in the Islamic history like Khaled Ibn Al-Walid and Amr Ibn Al-‘As. Arabs from all over the Arabian Peninsula visited Madinah and met the prophet. Within two years, the number of Muslims exceeded 20,000 adult men and women.
Meanwhile, the prophet started sending emissaries to the surrounding empires inviting them to Islam and conveying its message to their rulers. The world of that day was formed of empires that ruled most people and fought against each other. Emperors and kings were concentrating on their military powers, consequently they avoided any internal disorder by oppressing their people and seeking to unify them on one religion. Religion is truly the opium of people if it was built on blind faith and not reason. Let’s take a simplified overview on the empires and monarchies of that time.
First, the Roman Empire: They were mostly Christians in the Trinitarian form. After the council of Nicaea (324 A.D.), anyone who dared declare to have any different beliefs was condemned as a heretic and sentenced to be burned at the stake. Millions of people who dared question the church at these times were killed in the most terrible ways. The inquisitions continued until the 19th century at some places. Of course the priests who supervised these crimes were regarded by their people as ‘MEN OF GOD’, and consequently they were not questioned for their deeds. John Davenport described this period in the following words:
“After the death of Christ, there were two distinct and successive versions of His doctrines, to which the name of Christianity was given, the first, introduced by the authority of the Apostles, Paul and John, the second by that of Constantino. This emperor, who, from political motives exclusively, had embraced Christianity, but who, on account of his cruelty, has justly been called a second Nero, presided over the famous Council of Nicaea, commonly called Nice, in A.D. 324, in which the doctrine of Christ’s divinity was, for the first time, established. Regarding the ceaseless, bloody and unprofitable religious disputes in which the lives of thousands of Christians were sacrificed and the most unexampled cruelty exercised, by those who ought to have lived like brothers and friends, St. Hilary, who lived at the time—viz., the fourth century — was Bishop of Poictiers, and one of the early fathers of the Church, expresses his regret, disapproval and condemnation in these words:
‘It is a thing, equally deplorable and dangerous, that there are as many creeds as opinions among men, as many doctrines as inclinations, and as many sources of blasphemy as there are faults among us, because we make creeds arbitrarily, and explain them as arbitrarily. Every year, nay, every moon, we make new creeds to describe the invisible mysteries. We repent of what we have done, we defend those who repent, we anathematize those whom we defended. We condemn either the doctrine of others in ourselves, or our own in that of others, and reciprocally tearing one another to pieces, we have been the cause of each other’s ruin.’
It was at the Council of Nicaea that Constantine invested the priesthood with that power whence flowed the most disastrous consequences, as the following summary will show: the massacres and devastations of nine mad crusades of Christians against unoffending Turks, during nearly two hundred years, in which many millions of human beings perished , the massacres of the Anabaptists , the massacres of the Lutherans and Papists, from the Rhine to the extremities of the North , the massacres of St. Bartholomew in France, and forty years more of other massacres between the time of Francis I. and the entry of Henry IV. into Paris, the massacres of the Inquisition (According to the estimate of Llorente, who wrote the history of the Inquisition, the aggregate number of victims burnt from 1481 to 1808 was 34,024) which are more execrable still as being judicially committed, to say nothing of the innumerable schisms, and twenty years of popes against popes, bishops against bishops, the poisonings, assassinations, the cruel rapines and insolent pretensions of more than a dozen popes, who far exceeded a Nero or a Caligula in every species of crime, vice and wickedness, and lastly, to conclude this frightful list, the massacre of twelve millions of the inhabitants of the new world, executed Crucifix in hand.”
[An apology for Mohammad and the Koran, 1882]
Second, the Persian Empire: They were mostly Zoroastrians (aka Magians). It was “Ardashir I” (180-242 A.D.) who restored Zoroastrianism in Persia. He established it as the official religion of the state and built fire temples everywhere. He ordered the sacred fire to be lit on the altars and employed Zoroastrian priests to maintain it. He ordered the priests to collect the teachings of Zoroaster into one book, which he later imposed upon his subjects.
In his book “Seven great monarchies of the ancient eastern world”, George Eawlinson, Professor of ancient history in the University of Oxford described this period as follows: “It was necessary, in order to secure permanent uniformity of belief, to give to the Magian priesthood, the keepers and interpreters of the sacred book, very extensive powers. The Magian hierarchy was therefore associated with the monarch in the government and administration of the State. It was declared that the altar and the throne were inseparable, and must always sustain each other. The Magi were made to form the great council of the nation. While they lent their support to the crown, the crown upheld them against all impugners, and enforced by pains and penalties their decisions. Persecution was adopted and asserted as a principle of action without any disguise. By an edict of Artaxerxes (i.e. Ardashir I), all places of worship were closed except the temples of the fire worshippers.”
Many persecution campaigns were adopted against anyone who dared speak against Zoroastrianism, or tried to preach any other faith. King “Shapur II” (309-379 A.D.) killed the Christian Archbishop “Shemon” for complaining from the high taxes imposed upon Christians. Shapur closed the churches and confiscated the ecclesiastical property. He gave his Christian subjects the choice of converting to Zoroastrianism or being put to death. Thousands of Christian civilians were killed during his reign for refusing to convert to Zoroastrianism.
Later on, King Isdigerd (399-419 A.D.) was convinced of Christianity and he was baptized. Unlike what you may think, this didn’t change anything. Persecution continued but it was time for the Magians to suffer instead of the Christians. This continued until one of the Christian bishops seized the opportunity of this honeymoon and supervised the destruction and burning down of the Magian great fire temple in his city. When this backfired at Isdigerd, he permitted the Magians to avenge themselves. The end product was a persecution campaign that continued for 5 years, in which thousands of Christians were killed or tortured to death. Isdigerd didn’t find this sufficient, he tried to extirpate Christianity from Armenia but he failed. The religious subjection practiced by the Persian kings continued and never receded.
The other small kingdoms weren’t any better. For example in Armenia, after King Tiridates (287-330 A.D.) converted from paganism to Christianity, he enforced Christianity upon his subjects by the sword. Thousands from those who refused Christianity from his subjects were killed. Consequently, secret societies were formed and they allied themselves with foreign enemies against the Christian rulers. After a lengthy reign of 56 years, Tiridate died leaving behind a weak heir who was driven into exile by the nobles who were still secretly pagans, and the Christian priests were slaughtered. Without indulging into the historical bloody feud, it’s enough to say that the era that preceded Islam was disgusting, people everywhere suffered terrible subjection by their rulers. Freedom of thought, freedom to choose your beliefs or to preach anything other than what the rulers imposed upon their subjects, was something forbidden.
The Roman and Persian empires fought against each other in pursue of a dominion that was never achieved. The remaining scattered smaller kingdoms in Sham, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain and Egypt were all subjected by the two empires. Oman, Bahrain and Yemen were subordinates to Persia. Their citizens were either pagans or Magians. Egypt, Sham and the North African coast were subordinates to Rome. The people of Sham and Egypt were a combination of Unitarian and Trinitarian Christians. Some of them were Judeo-Christians, while others embraced the Pauline form of Christianity. Many Egyptians followed the teachings of “Arius”, the former presbyter of Alexandria who was forced to exile for ten years, then killed after his famous debates in the first council of Nicaea. Besides those sects, there were the remaining scattered Jewish tribes who have abandoned the application of Allah’s laws, even before Jesus and John the Baptist P.B.U.T. Many of these tribes dwelled in Arabia, mainly in Dedan, Tema, Madinah and the valley of the villages. Finally, there were the Arabs who dwelled all over the Arabian peninsula, mainly in Hejaz, they were mostly polytheists and pagans, very few of them were still “Hanifs” following the pure creed of Abraham, and few of them were Christians. Any observer of the world’s situation would instantly know that humans were in need for urgent help and guidance.
The inhabited world back then was connected through land, and Arabia was its heart. As a huge mountainous hot Sahara, it never attracted the invasion of great empires. This kept it a calm place proportionally, and made it the perfect place for one final message from the Creator to all mankind. A message of liberation and equality, a message containing the final law which people need in order to live rightly and return back to the pure creed of all prophets, a massage that will end the use of people as subjects for greedy rulers and make them realize that they are all servants to their Creator, and to Him alone they should direct their obedience and sincerity.
After embracing Islam, and having their hearts soaked with its teachings, a new nation evolved, a nation that knows consultation and hates autocracy, a nation dominated by social justice and knows not casteism, a nation in which all people are equal and there is no place for racism or arrogance. Taking into account all of the previous conditions, the prophet’s approach started by inviting the kings and rulers to Islam first; if they accept it, then this saves a lot of people from persecution. If they decline and refuse, then logically this means that they won’t allow Islam to spread inside their countries. In Sham, the Muslim emissary was slaughtered merely for carrying an invitation to Islam. This incident is just an example for the political situation of those days.
It is totally true that Islam refused the dogmas of all other faiths, and criticized the wrong ideas and teachings that were never recorded in an authenticated manner. Islam also denied the claim that those dogmas were preached by any of the prophets. For instance the Qur’an totally refuses associating any partner to Allah or saying that He took a son, it refuses any embodiment of Allah or comparing Him to the creatures, it refuses attributing any sort of immoralities to the prophets, and describes them as infallible righteous persons. In this manner, the Qur’an is crystal clear in conveying to its reader why it was sent as the final testament to mankind. But still, the Qur’an never allowed any sort of persecution against people of other faiths or any compulsion in religion. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“The believers (i.e. Muslims), the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabaeans— all those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and do good deeds—will be rewarded by their Lord, they shall have no fear, nor shall they grieve.” [The Qur’an (2:62)]
“Say [O Muslims]: ‘We believe in Allah, and that which has been send down to us (i.e. teachings of Islam), and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another of them: And to Him (i.e. Allah) we have submitted (in Islam)’.” [The Qur’an (2:136)]
“We have sent down the Qur’an as clear evidence, and surely Allah guides whom He wills. Allah will judge between the believers, the Jews, the Sabaeans, the Christians, the Magians and the polytheists on the Judgment day. Surely Allah is witness to everything.” [The Qur’an (22:16-17)]
Muslims viewed Islam as a message of justice and freedom for all people; consequently, they had all the moxie needed to undergo all sorts of hazards and submit any sacrifices for its prevalence. It was reported that one of the Persian commanders asked the Muslim emissary disdainfully: “Who are you people?” The Bedouin companion whose name was “Reb’i Ibn-‘Amer” responded saying: “We are a group of people who rose to free all people from worshipping creatures to worshipping the Creator alone, and from the narrowness of this worldly life to the vastness of this life and the hereafter, and from the injustices of distorted religions to the justice of Islam.”
Some people may take this answer lightly, but those who know history won’t.
Written By: Ehab Shawky