Suhayl Ibn Amr RA – The Instigator turns Murabbi.
At the Battle of Badr, when Suhayl Ibn Amr fell into the hands of the Muslims as a prisoner, Saidina Umar ibn al-Khattab RA came up to Rasulullah SAW and said: “O! Rasulullah! Let me pull out the two middle incisors of Suhayl ibn Amr so that he would not stand up and be able to speak out against you after this day.” “Certainly not, Umar,” cautioned Rasulullah SAW. “I would not mutilate anyone lest Allah SWT mutilate me even though I am a Rasul.” And calling Saidina Umar Al Khattab RA closer to him, the blessed Rasulullah SAW said: “Umar, perhaps Suhayl will do something in the future which will please you.”
Suhayl ibn Amr was a prominent person among the Quraish. Suhayl Ibn Amr was clever and articulate and his opinion carried weight among his people. Suhayl Ibn Amr was known as the khatib or spokesman and orator of the Quraish. Suhayl Ibn Amr was to play a major role in concluding the famous truce of Hudaibiyah. Towards the end of the sixth year after the Hijrah, Rasulullah SAW and about fifteen hundred of his Sahabah left Madinah for Makkah to perform Umrah. To make it known that they were coming in peace, the Muslims were not armed for battle and carried only their travellers swords. They also took with them animals for sacrifice to let it be known that they were really coming on pilgrimage. The Quraish learnt of their approach and immediately prepared to do battle with them. They vowed to themselves that they would never allow the Muslims to enter Makkah. Khalid ibn al-Walid was dispatched at the head of a Quraish cavalry force to cut off the approaching Muslims. Khalid’s army stood waiting for them at a place called Kara al-Ghamim. Rasulullah SAW learnt in advance of Khalid’s position. Although committed to the struggle against them, he was keen not to have any encounter then with the Quraish forces. Rasulullah SAW asked: “Is there any man who could take us (to Makkah) on a different route to avoid the Quraish?”
A man from the Aslam tribe said he could and took the Muslims through the difficult terrain of Warah and then on fairly easy marches, finally approaching Makkah from the south. Khalid realized what the Muslims had done and returned frustrated to Makkah. Rasulullah SAW camped near Hudaibiyah and indicated that if the Quraish would give any hint of a truce out of veneration for the sacred time and place, he would respond. The Quraish sent Badil ibn Warqa with a group of men from the Khuzaah tribe to find out why the Muslims had come. Badil met Rasulullah SAW and when he returned to the Quraish and informed them of the peaceful intentions of Rasulullah SAW and his companions, they did not believe him because they said he was from the Khuzaah who were allies of Muhammad. “Does Rasulullah ﷺ intend,” they asked, “to come upon us with his soldiers (in the guise of) performing Umrah? The Quraish would hear that he moved against us and entered Makkah by force white a state of war existed between us. By God this will never happen with our approval.”
The Quraish then sent Halis ibn Alqamah, the chieftain of the Ahabish who were allies of the Quraish. When Rasulullah SAW saw Halis he said, “This man is from a people who think greatly of animal sacrifice. Drive the sacrificial animals in full view of him so that he can see them. This was done and Halis was greeted by the Muslims chanting the talbiyyah: “Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk.” On his return, Halis exclaimed: “Subhana Allah – Glory be to God. These people should not be prevented from entering Makkah. Can lepers and donkeys perform the Hajj while the son of alMuttaIib (Muhammad) is prevented from (visiting) the House of God? By the Lord of the Kabah, may the Quraish be destroyed. These people have come to perform Umrah.” When the Quraish heard these words, they scoffed at him: “Sit down! You are only a nomad Arab. You have no knowledge of plots and intrigues.” Urwah ibn Masud, the Thaqafi chieftain from Tail, was then sent out to assess the situation. He said to Rasulullah SAW: “O Muhammad! You have gathered all these people and have come back to your birthplace. The Quraish have come out and pledged to God that you would not enter Makkah against them by force. By God, all these people might well desert you.” At that Saidina Abu Bakr RA went up to Urwah and said with disdain: “We desert him (Rasulullah SAW)? Woe to you.”
Illustration Only: His Role in Convention of Hudaibiyah.
As Urwah Ibn Masud was speaking, he touched Rasulullah’s beard and Mughirah ibn Shubah RA rapped his hand saying, “Take away your hand,” and Urwah Ibn Masud retorted: “Woe to you! How crude and coarse you are.” Rasulullah SAW smiled. “Who is this man, O Muhammad?” asked Urwah. “This is your cousin, Al-Mughirah ibn Shubah.” “What perfidy! “Urwah Ibn Masud hissed at Al-Mughirah RA and continued to insult him. Urwah Ibn Masud then surveyed the companions of Rasulullah SAW. He saw that whenever he gave them an order, they hastened to carry it out. When he made ablutions they vied with one another to help him. When they spoke in his presence, they lowered their voices, and they did not look him in the eye out of respect for him. Back with the Quraish, Urwah showed that he was obviously impressed: “By God, O people of the Quraish, I have been to Chosroes in his kingdom and I have seen Caesar the Byzantine emperor in the plenitude of his power, but never have I seen a king among his people like Rasulullah ﷺ among his companions. I have seen a people who would not abandon him for anything. Reconsider your position. He is presenting you with right guidance. Accept what he has presented to you. I advise you sincerely… I fear that you will never gain victory over him.”
“Don’t speak like that,” said the Quraish. “We will have him go back this year and he can return in the future.” Meanwhile, Rasulullah SAW summoned Saidina Uthman ibn Affan RA and sent him to the Quraish leaders to inform them of his purpose in coming to Makkah and to ask their permission for the Muslims to visit their relatives. Saidina Uthman ibn Affan RA was also to cheer up the Mustadafin among the Muslims who still lived in Makkah and inform them that liberation would not be long in coming… Saidina Uthman Ibn Affan RA delivered Rasulullah’s message to the Quraish and they repeated their determination not to allow Rasulullah SAW to enter Makkah. They suggested that Saidina Uthman Ibn Affan RA could make tawaf around the Kabah but he replied that he would not make tawaf while the Rasulullah SAW was prevented from doing so. They then took Saidina Uthman Ibn Affan RA into custody and a rumor spread that he was killed. When Rasulullah SAW heard this, his attitude changed.
“We shall not depart,” Rasulullah SAW said, “until we fight.” Rasulullah SAW summoned the Muslims to take Baiah, an oath of allegiance, to fight. The herald cried out: “O people, al-Baiah, al-Baiah.” They flocked to Rasulullah SAW as he sat under a tree and swore allegiance to him that they would fight. Soon after however, Rasulullah SAW ascertained that the rumor was false. It was at this point that the Quraish sent Suhayl ibn Amr to the Rasulullah SAW with the brief to negotiate and persuade Rasulullah SAW to return to Madinah without entering Makkah. Suhayl Ibn Amr was chosen no doubt because of his persuasiveness, his toughness and his alertness major qualities of a good negotiator. When Rasulullah SAW saw Suhayl Ibn Amr approaching, he immediately guessed the change in the position of the Quraish. “The people want reconciliation. That’s why they have sent this man.”
The talks between Rasulullah SAW and Suhayl Ibn Amr continued for long until finally agreement was reached in principle. Saidina Umar Ibn Khattab RA and others were very upset with the terms of the agreement which they considered to be harmful to the cause of Islam and a defeat for the Muslims. Rasulullah SAW assured them that this was not the case and that Rasulullah SAW would never go against the command of Allah SWT and that Allah SWT would not neglect him. He then called Saidina Ali ibn Abi Talib RA to write down the terms of the treaty: “Write: Bismillah-r Rahman-r Rahim.” “I don’t know this (phrase)”, interjected Suhayl. “Write instead ‘Bismika Allahumma – In Your name, O Allah.” The Prophet conceded and instructed Ali to write ‘Bismika Allahumma.’ He then said: “Write: ‘This is what has been agreed between Rasulullah ﷺ the Messenger of God and Suhayl ibn Amr…” Suhayl objected: “If I had testified that you were indeed the Messenger of God, I would not be fighting you. Write instead you name and the name of your father.” So Rasulullah ﷺ again conceded this and instructed Saidina Ali Ibn Abi Talib RA to write: ‘This is what has been agreed upon by Rasulullah ﷺ the son of Abdullah and Suhayl ibn Amr. They have agreed to suspend war for ten years in which people would enjoy security and would refrain from (harming) one another. Also, that whoever from among the Quraish should come to Rasulullah ﷺwithout the permission of his wali (legal guardian), Rasulullah ﷺ would send him back to them and that if any who is with Rasulullah ﷺ should come to the Quraish, they would not send him back to him.
When the agreement was written down, witnesses from both sides were asked to sign the document. At that moment, a man from Makkah arrived in handcuffs and with his legs in chains. He was being kept prisoner there because he was a Muslim. This man was none other than Suhayl’s own son, Abu Jandal RA. It was his father who imprisoned him and fastened his shackles. Nevertheless, Abu Jandal RA was able to escape and to take an unfamiliar route through the mountains surrounding Makkah until he arrived at Al-Hudaibiyah. When the Muslims saw him, they were very glad that he had been able to escape and gave him a fine reception.
While the peace agreement was being written down, Suhayl was too busy to notice anything. When it was finished, Suhayl Ibn Amr looked up and saw his son among the Muslims. Suhayl Ibn Amr went up to him, hit him in the face and took him by the collar. Abu Jandal RA cried aloud: “My fellow Muslim, am I to be returned to the unbelievers to try to turn me away from my faith?” Those words were very painful to the Muslims, some of whom started to cry.
Suhayl ibn Amr, however, was unmoved. He said to God’s Messenger: “This is the first person whose case I take up. You must return him to me.” Rasulullah SAW referred to the fact that Abu Jandal RA arrived before the agreement was completed: “We have not finished drawing up the document yet.” Suhayl Ibn Amr said: “Then I have not agreed any terms with you whatsoever.” Rasulullah SAW pleaded: “Then allow me with him.”
Suhayl Ibn Amr l said that he would not. Mikraz, another member of the Quraish delegation, said that they should allow Rasulullah ﷺto have Abu Jandal. The father was adamant and refused all appeals to let his son join the Muslims. He went further and began to hit his son with a thorny branch of a tree. Rasulullah SAW again pleaded with him to let his son go, or at least not to torture him. But Suhayl would accept nothing. Some of Suhayl’s friends, however, extended their protection to Abu Jandal RA and his father stopped hitting him. Rasulullah SAW explained to Abu Jandal RA his inability to help him, speaking to him in a loud voice so that he could hear:
“Abu Jandal, be patient and endure your situation for Allah sake. Allah SWT will certainly provide for you and those who are suffering with you a way out of your hardship. We have made a peace agreement with those people, giving them a pledge by Allah that we will be faithful to the terms of our agreement. We shall not violate our pledges”.
Suhayl Ibn Amr had managed to save the Makkans face. Suhayl Ibn Amr had attempted to and got as much as possible for the Quraish in the negotiations. Of course Suhayl Ibn Amr was assisted in this by the noble tolerance of Rasulullah SAW. Two years of the Hudaibiyah treaty elapsed during which the Muslims enjoyed a respite from the Quraish and were freed to concentrate on other matters. In the eighth year after the Hijrah however the Quraish broke the terms of the treaty by supporting the Banu Bakr in a bloody aggression against the Khuzaah who had chosen to be allies of Rasulullah SAW.
Rasulullah SAW took the opportunity to march on Makkah but his object was not revenge. Ten thousand Muslims converged on Makkah reaching there in the month of Ramadan. The Quraish realized that there was no hope of resisting let alone of defeating the Muslim forces. They were completely at the mercy of Rasulullah SAW. What was to be their fate, they who had harried and persecuted the Muslims, tortured and boycotted them, driven them out of their hearths and homes, stirred up others against them, made war on them?
When two years later Makkah fell to Islam and practically all its people became Muslims, there remained some of its leaders who needed time to review their position. Mostly, such people did not wish to feel, or to be perceived by others, as accepting Islam in order to save their lives. They wanted to make a free decision. Rasulullah SAW did not pressure anyone to become a Muslim. However, the fact that the psychological barrier of old opposition was removed and people began to think clearly. Yet those who were in leading positions had a higher mountain to climb. They had to struggle against their past when they mobilized people’s resistance to Islam.
The city surrendered to Rasulullah SAW. Rasulullah SAW received the leaders of the Quraish in a spirit of tolerance and magnanimity. In a voice full of compassion and tenderness he asked: “O people of the Quraish! What do you think I will do with you?” Thereupon, the adversary of Islam of yesterday, Suhayl ibn Amr, replied: “We think (you will treat us) well, noble brother, son of a noble brother. “. “A radiant smile flashed across the lips of the beloved of God as he said: “Idhhabu… wa antum at-tulaqaa. Go, for you are free.”
Suhayl ibn Amr was one of these. He reports: “When God’s Messenger entered Makkah, winning a clear victory, I went straight into my home and locked my door. I sent to my son asking him to request the Prophet to extend protection to me.” His son, Abdullah, asked Rasulullah SAW: ‘Would you extend protection to my father?’ He said ‘Yes. He is safe under Allah’s security. Let him come out.’ He then said to those sitting with him: “Suhayl Ibn Amr is a man of wisdom and noble position. Someone like Suhayl Ibn Amr could not be ignorant of Islam. He has realized that his opposition to it will avail him nothing.”
Abdullah ibn Suhayl went to his father and told him what Rasulullah SAW said. He remarked: “By God, Rasulullah ﷺ always honored his commitments, both when he was young and now that he is old.” Suhayl ibn Amr enjoyed his freedom of movement, feeling secure. When Rasulullah SAW moved to meet his enemies at the Battle of Hunayn, Suhayl Ibn Amr joined him but was still an unbeliever.
At this moment of unsurpassed compassion, nobility and greatness, all the emotions of Suhayl ibn Amr were shaken and he announced his Islam or submission to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. His acceptance of Islam at that particular time was not the Islam of a defeated man passively giving himself up to his fate. It was instead, as his later life was to demonstrate, the Islam of a man whom the greatness of Rasulullah SAW and the greatness of the religion he proclaimed had captivated. Those who became Muslims on the day Makkah was liberated were given the name “At-Tulaqaa” or the free ones. They realized how fortunate they were and many dedicated themselves in sincere worship and sacrifice to the service of the religion which they had resisted for years. Then declared his acceptance of Islam when Rasulullah SAW reached Al-Ji’irranah on his way back to Makkah.
Islam molded him anew. All his earlier talents were now burnished to a fine excellence. To these he added new talents and placed them all in the service of truth, goodness and faith. The qualities and practices for which he became known can be described in a few words: kindness, generosity, frequent Salat, fasting, recitation of the Quran, weeping for the fear of God. This was the greatness of Suhayl Ibn Amr RA. In spite of his late acceptance of Islam, he was transformed into a selfless worshipper and a fighting in the path of God. When Rasulullah SAW passed away, the news quickly reached Makkah, where Suhayl ibn Amr RA was still resident. The Muslims were plunged into a state of confusion and dismay just as in Madinah. In Madinah, Saidina Abu Bakr RA quelled the confusion with his decisive words: “Whoever worships Muhammad, Rasulullah ﷺ is dead. And whoever worships Allah; Allah is indeed living and will never die.”
In Makkah Suhayl Ibn Amr RA performed the same role in dispelling the vain ideas some Muslims may have had and directing them to the eternal truths of Islam. He called the Muslims together and in his brilliant and salutary style, he affirmed to them that Rasulullah ﷺ was indeed the Rasulullah and that he did not die until he had discharged his trust and propagated the message and that it was the duty of all believers after his death to apply themselves assiduously to following his example and way of life. On this day more than others, the prophetic words of Rasulullah SAW shone forth. Did not Rasulullah SAW say to Saidina Umar Ibn Al Khattab RA when the latter sought permission to pull out Suhayl’s teeth at Badr: “Leave them, for one day perhaps they would bring you joy”? When the news of Suhayl’s stand in Makkah reached the Muslims of Madinah and they heard of his persuasive speech strengthening the faith in the hearts of the believers, Saidina Umar ibn al-Khattab RA remembered the words of Rasulullah SAW. The day had come when Islam benefitted from the two middle incisors of Suhayl which Saidina Umar Ibn Al Khattab RA had wanted to pull out.
When Suhayl Ibn Amr RA became a Muslim he made a vow to himself which could be summarized in these words: to exert himself and spend in the cause of Islam at least in the same measure as he had done for the mushrikun. With the mushrikun, he had spent long hours before their idols. Now he stood for long periods with the believers in the presence of the one and only Allah SWT, praying and fasting. Before he had stood by the mushrikun and participated in many acts of aggression and war against Islam. Now he took his place in the ranks of the Muslim army, fighting courageously, pitting himself against the fire of Persia and the injustice and oppression of the Byzantine Empire.
In this spirit he left for Syria with the Muslim armies and participated in the Battle of Yarmuk against the Byzantines, a battle that was singularly ferocious in its intensity. Suhayl Ibn Amr RA was someone who loved his birthplace dearly. In spite of that, he refused to return to Makkah after the victory of the Muslims in Syria. He said: “I heard Rasulullah SAW: ‘The going forth of anyone of you in the path of Allah for an hour is better for him than his life’s works in his household.’ “Suhayl Ibn Amr RA vowed: “I shall be a murabit in the path of Allah till I die and I shall not return to Makkah.” For the rest of his life, Suhayl Ibn Amr RA remained true to his pledge. Suhayl Ibn Amr RA died in Palestine in the small village of ‘Amawas near Jerusalem.
Selected Hadiths Attributed to Suhayl Ibn Amr RA
(The Role played by Suhayl Ibn Amr – during Jahilliyah on Hudaibiyah Convention)
When he approached the Muslims, the Prophet said,
«هَذَا مِكْرَزٌ وَهُوَ رَجُلٌ فَاجِر»
(Here is Mikraz and he is a vicious man.) Mikraz started talking to Rasulullah SAW and as he was talking, Suhayl bin `Amr came.” Ma`mar said that Ayyub said to him that `Ikrimah said, “When Suhayl bin `Amr came, Rasulullah SAW said,
«قَدْ سَهُلَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَمْرِكُم»
(Now the matter has become easy for you.)” Ma`mar said that Az-Zuhri narrated, “When Suhayl bin `Amr came, he said to the Rasulullah SAW, `Please conclude a peace treaty with us.’ So, Rasulullah SAW called `Saidina Ali bin Abi Talib RA and said to him,
«اكْتُبْ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيم»
(Write: In the Name of Allah, Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim.) Suhayl bin `Amr said, `As for Ar-Rahman, by Allah, I do not know what it means. So write: By Your Name, O Allah, as you used to write previously.’ The Muslims said, `By Allah, we will not write except: By the Name of Allah, Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim.’ Rasulullah said,
«اكْتُبْ بِاسْمِكَ اللْهُم»
(Write: “In Your Name O Allah.”) Then he dictated,
«هذَا مَا قَاضَى عَلَيْهِ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله»
(This is a peace treaty, which Muhammad, Allah’s Messenger has concluded.) Suhayl said, `By Allah, if we knew that you are Allah’s Messenger, we would not prevent you from visiting the Ka`bah, and would not fight with you. So, write: Muhammad bin `Abdullah.’ Rasulullah said to him,
«وَاللهِ إِنِّي لَرَسُولُ اللهِ وَإِنْ كَذَّبْتُمُونِي، اكْتُبْ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَبْدِالله»
(By Allah! I am the Messenger of Allah even if your people do not believe me. Write: “Muhammad bin `Abdullah.”)” Az-Zuhri continued, “Rasulullah SAW accepted all those things, since he had already said that he would accept everything they would demand if it respects the ordinance of Allah, the Exalted.” The Hadith continues, “Rasulullah said to Suhayl,
«عَلَى أَنْ تُخَلُّوا بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَ الْبَيْتِ فَنَطُوفَ بِه»
(On the condition that you allow us to visit the House so that we may perform Tawaf around it.) Suhayl said, `By Allah, we will not, so as not to give the Arabs a chance to say that we have yielded to your pressure, but we will allow you next year.’ So, Rasulullah SAW had that written. Then Suhayl said, `We also stipulate that you should return to us whoever comes to you from us, even if he embraced your religion.’ The Muslims protested, `Glorified be Allah! How can a person be returned to the idolaters after he has become a Muslim’ While they were in this state Abu Jandal bin Suhayl bin `Amr came from the valley of Makkah staggering with his chains and fell down among the Muslims. Suhayl said, `O Muhammad! This is the very first term with which we make peace with you, that is, you shall return Abu Jandal to me.’
Rasulullah SAW said,
«إِنَّا لَمْ نَقْضِ الْكِتَابَ بَعْد»
(The peace treaty has not been written yet.) Suhayl said, `Then by Allah, I will never conduct peace with you.’ Rasulullah SAW said,
(Release him to me,) and Suhayl responded, `I will never allow you to keep him.’ Rasulullah SAW said,
(Yes, do.) He said, `I will not.’ Mikraz said, `We allow you (to keep him).’ Abu Jandal said, `O, Muslims! Will I be returned to the idolaters although I have come as a Muslim Don’t you see how much I have suffered’ Abu Jandal had been tortured severely for the cause of Allah, the Exalted and Most Honored. Saidina Umar bin Al-Khattab RA said, `I went to Rasulullah SAW and said: Aren’t you truly the Messenger of Allah’ Rasulullah SAW said,
(Yes, indeed.) I said, `isn’t our cause just and the cause of the enemy unjust’ He said,
(Yes.) I said, `Then why should we be humble in our religion’ He said,
«إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللهِ وَلَسْتُ أَعْصِيهِ وَهُوَ نَاصِرِي»
(I am Allah’s Messenger and I do not disobey Him, and He will make me victorious.) I said, `Didn’t you tell us that we would go to the Kaabah and perform Tawaf around it’ He said,
«بَلَى أَفَأَخْبَرْتُكَ أَنَّا نَأْتِيهِ الْعَامَ؟»
(Yes, but did I tell you that we would visit the Kaabah this year) I said, `No.’ Rasulullah said,