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Story of Makkah’s Brutal Embargo against Early Muslims

During the Makkah period of the Prophet’s message, four events of special significance occurred:

1- the conversion of Hamzah,

2- the conversion of Umar,

3- the Prophet’s refusal to negotiate any sort of compromise with Quraish,

4- and then the pact drawn up between the families of Banu Al-Muttalib and Banu Hashim. The pact was drafted to protect the Prophet (peace be upon him) against any treacherous attempt to kill him.

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The polytheists were at a loss as to what course they would follow to stop the Prophet. They had already been aware that if they killed him, civil war would break out. Also blood would surely flow profusely in the valleys of Makkah.

Taking this dreadful prospect into consideration, they grudgingly resorted to a different wicked course that would not imply murder.

The pagans of Makkah held a meeting in a place called the Al-Muhassab valley. They also formed a confederation hostile to both Bani Hashim and Bani Al-Muttalib. They decided not to have any business dealings with them nor any sort of inter-marriage.

Social relations, visits and even verbal contacts with Muhammad (PBUH) and his supporters would discontinue until the Prophet was given up to them to be killed.

Bagheed ibn ‘Amir ibn Hashim wrote the articles of their proclamation, which had provided for merciless measures against Bani Hashim. The Prophet (PBUH) invoked Allah against Bagheed, whose hand was later paralyzed. (Ibn Al-Qayim, Zad Al-Ma`ad)

Abu Talib took stock of the situation and decided to withdraw to a valley on the eastern outskirts of Makkah. Families of Banu Hashim and Banu Al-Muttalib, who followed suit, were thus confined within a narrow pass (Shi`b of Abu Talib). This was from the beginning of Muharram, the seventh year of the Prophet’s mission till the tenth year; that is, a period of three years.

Suffering intensifies

It was a stifling siege. They almost stopped the supply of food 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-Shi`b. Muslims had to eat leaves of trees and skins of animals.

People heard the cries of little children suffering from hunger. Nothing to eat reached them except of some meager quantities of food smuggled by some compassionate Makkans on few occasions.

During ‘the sacred months’ — when hostilities traditionally ceased, they would leave their confinement and buy food coming from outside Makkah. Even then, merchants unjustly raised the price of food stuff; so that the Muslims’ financial situation would fall short of finding access to it.

Hakim Ibn Hizam was once on his way to smuggle some wheat to his aunt Khadijah when Abu Jahl intercepted him and wanted to debar him. Only when Al-Bukhtari intervened, did Hakeem manage to reach his destination.

Unshakable determination

Abu Talib was so much concerned about the personal safety of his nephew. Whenever people retired to sleep, he would ask the Prophet to lie in his place; but when all the others fell asleep, he would order him to change his place and take another. This was just an attempt to trick a potential assassin.

📚 Read Also: Seerah Of Prophet Muhammad – Conversions Of Omar & Hamza Plus Boycott

Despite all odds, Prophet Muhammad persisted in his line; his determination and courage never weakened. He continued to go to Al-Kabah and to pray publicly.

The Prophet used every opportunity to preach to outsiders who visited Makkah for business or on pilgrimage.

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