General Social Boycott She’eb Abi Talib
A Pact of Injustice and Aggression After exhausting their plots, and with the commitment of Banu Hashim and Banu Al-Muttalib to protect Allâh’s Prophet ﷺ the pagans grew even more desperate to get the tribes to abandon their plan to protect him – at what ever the cost. So they held a meeting at Khaif Banu Kinanah in a place called Wadi AlMuhassab, and formed a confederation hostile to both Bani Hashim and Bani Al-Muttalib. They all took an oath not to have any business dealings with them nor any sort of inter-marriage, social relations, visits and even verbal contacts until the Prophet ﷺ was given up to them to be killed. This they wrote down, drawing up a pact and a covenant. Ibn Al-Qaiyim said, *They say that this was written down by Mansur bin ‘Ikrimah bin ‘Amir bin Hashim, or Nadr bin Al-Harith. What is correct is that it was Bagheed bin ‘Amir bin Hashim. The Prophetﷺ invoked Allâh’s curse upon Bagheed, whose hand was later paralyzed. “I This treaty was attached to the wall of the Ka’bah, all of Banu Hashim and Banu Al-Muttalib were boycotted, whether they were believers or disbelievers, except for Abu Lahab. Hazrat Abu Talib Radiallahu anhoo wisely and quietly took stock of the situation and decided to withdraw to a valley on the eastern outskirts of Makkah. Banu Hashim and Banu Al-Muttalib, who followed suit. were thus confined within a narrow pass (Shi’b of Abu Talib). from the beginning of Muharram, or later as some say, the seventh year
of Hazrat Muhammad’sﷺ mission till the tenth year, viz., a period of three years. It was a horrible and deadly siege. The supply of food was almost stopped and the people in confinement faced great hardships. The idolaters used to buy whatever food commodities entered Makkah lest they should leak to the people in Ash-Shib, who were so overstrained that they had to eat leaves
of trees and skins of animals. Cries of little children suffering from hunger used to be heard clearly. Nothing eatable reached them except. on few occasions, some small quantities of foot were smuggled by some compassionate Makkans. During the prohibited months’ – when hostilities traditionally ceased, the would leave their confinement and buy food coming from outside Makkah. Even then, the food stuff was unjustly overpriced so that their financial situation would fall short of finding access to it Hakim bin Hizam was once on his way to smuggle some wheat te his aunt Khadijah is when Abu Jahl intercepted him at tried to prevent him. Only when Al-Bukhtari intervened, did Hakim manage to reach his destination. Hazrat Abu Talib Radiallahu anhoo was so concerned about the personal safety of his nephew that whenever people retired to sleep, he would ask the Prophetﷺ to lie in his place. but when all the others fell asleep, he would order him to change his place and take another, all in attempt to trick a potentia assassin. Despite all the odds Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ persisted, and his determination and courage never weakened. He continued to Al-Ka’bah and to pray publicly. He used every opportunity to preach to outsiders who visited Makkah for business or or pilgrimage during the sacred months and Hajj season.
Dissolution of the Pact
This situation ultimately created disagreement among the various Makkan factions, who were tied with the besieged people by blood relations. After three years of blockade, in the month a Muharram,”11 the tenth year of Hazrat Muhammad’sﷺ mission, the party was broken. Hisham bin ‘Amr, who used to smuggle some food to Bani Hashim secretly at night, went to see Zuhair bin Abi Umaiyah Al-Makhzumi and condemned him for agreeing to that intolerable
treatment meted out to his uncles in exile. The latter expressed weakness, but agreed to work with Hisham and form a pressure group that would secure the liberation of the exiles. On the ground of motivation by ties of kinship, there emerged a group of five people who set out to abolish the pact and declare all relevant clauses null and void. They were Hisham bin ‘Amr, Zuhair bin Abi Umaiyah, Al-Mut’im bin ‘Adi, Abul-Bukhtari and Zam’ah bin AlAswad. They decided to meet in their assembly place and start their self-charged mission from the very precinct of the Sacred House. Zuhair, after circumambulating seven times, along with his colleagues approached the hosts of people there and criticized them for indulging in the amenities of life whereas their kith and kin of Bani Hashim were perishing on account of starvation and economic boycott. They swore they would never give up until the parchment of boycott was torn to piece and the pact broken at once. Abu Jahl, standing nearby, replied in a sharp tone that it would never be torn. Zam’ah became angry and accused Abu Jahl of telling lies, adding that the pact was established and the parchment was written without seeking their approval. AbulBukhtari interfered and backed Zam’ah. Al-Mut’im bin ‘Adi and Hisham bin ‘Amr attested to the truthfulness of their two companions. Abu Jahl, with a cunning attempt to settle the hot argument that was running counter to his evil plans, answered that the issue had already been resolved sometime and somewhere before.Hazrat Abu Talib Radiallahu anhoo meanwhile was sitting in a corner of the Mosque. He came to communicate to them that a Revelation had been sent to his nephew, the Prophet ﷺ in to the effect that ants had eaten away all their declaration that had points of injustice and aggression except those parts that bore the Name of Allâh. He proposed that he would be ready to give Hazrat Muhammad ﷺup to them if his words proved untrue, otherwise, they would have to withdraw and cancel their boycott. The Makkans agreed to the soundness of his proposition. Al-Mut’im went to see the parchment and there he did discover that it was eaten away by ants and nothing was left except the part bearing the Name of Allâh.
The declaration was thus cancelled, and Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ and the other people were permitted to leave Ash-Sh’ib and return home In the context of this trial to which the Muslims were subjected the polytheists had a golden opportunity to experience a striking sign of Hazrat Muhammad’sﷺ Prophethood (the ants eating away the parchment) but to their miserable lot they persisted and increased in disbelief:
“But if they see a Sign, they turn away, and say ‘This is continuous magic.” [54:2]