Treaties With The Non-Muslims: Is it Allegiance? Is it Apostasy?

One of the main reasons for revolt, whether verbal or physical, against the Rulers of the Muslims by the modern-day Jihādist sects is their claim that the Rulers make agreements with the non-Muslims that weaken the Ummah and that the rulers invite the non-Muslims armies into Muslim lands and that all of this constitutes apostasy.

This is another proof of their hastiness in declaring other Muslims to be unbelievers and highlights their ignorance of the life of the Messenger Muhammad (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam)  and the teachings of his disciples. Let us here begin with that which occurred in the lifetime of the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) when he made a treaty with the pagans of Mecca [1]:

Treaties and Covenants with Non-Muslims

In the month of Dhul-Qaʿdah of the sixth Islamic year Allāh’s Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) went out to perform ʿUmrah (the lesser pilgrimage to the Kaʿbah in Mecca) along with fourteen hundred men. So when the pagans came to know of this, they gathered their scattered associated tribes and went out from Mecca to block and prevent him from performing ʿUmrah that year. The Messenger  arrived at the place of al-Hudaybiyah. [2]

Then he and the pagans sent messages back and forth until Suhayl bin ʿAmr, the emissary of the pagans, arrived and finalized the treaty.

Right at the beginning, some differences occurred in the writing of the introduction to the treaty. The Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) wished it to be Islamic in style, but the representative of the pagans of Mecca, Suhayl bin ʿAmr objected to that. ʿAlī bin Abī Tālib (radiyallaahu ‘anhu)  was writing the treaty down on behalf of the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) [3]:

The Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) commanded ʿAlī  (radiyallaahu ‘anhu), “Write: In the name of Allāh, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of mercy.” Suhayl said: “By Allāh, I do not know what this ‘Most Merciful’ is, instead write: ‘In your name, O Allāh’ as you used to before.” The Muslims said: “We will not write anything except ‘In the name of Allāh, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of mercy.’” However the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) said: “Write ‘In your name, O Allāh’.” Then he commanded ʿAlī : “Write: ‘This is what Muhammad, the Messenger of Allāh, has agreed.’” Suhayl said: “By God, if we had recognized you to be the Messenger of Allāh, we would not have prevented you from going to the Kaʿbah and we would not have fought you. Rather write: ‘Muhammad the son of ʿAbdullāh.’” The Prophet  said: “By God, I am indeed the Messenger of Allāh, even if you do not believe me. Write, therefore: ‘Muhammad the son of ʿAbdullāh.’” Then the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) said: “On the condition that you allow us to go to the Kaʿbah and make tawāf around it (i.e. circumambulate it).” Suhayl said: “By God, the Arabs shall never say that we have taken them by force. You shall not enter Mecca this year, but you will enter Mecca next year.” So this was written down.

Suhayl said:

“On the occasion that if any of our people come to you, even if he be a Muslim, you will hand him back to us.”

The Muslims said:

“Glory be to Allāh! How could we hand someone back to the pagans when he has come to us as a Muslim?”

The great eighth century scholar Ibn Kathīr (rahimhaullaah) commented:

“So Allāh, the One free of all imperfections, affirmed all of that, apart from the exception He made regarding the believing women who migrated. He forbade that they be sent back to the disbelievers, and He prohibited them for the disbelievers that day.”

While they were discussing this, Abu Jandal the son of Suhayl bin ʿAmr, entered walking in fetters. He had escaped from the lowest part of Mecca and had come to be with the Muslims. Suhayl said:

“O Muhammad, this is the first one I ask you to return to me.” The Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam)  responded, “We have not finished writing the treaty yet.” So Suhayl said, “Then by God, consider that I have never made any peace treaty with you!” The Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) said, “Let me keep him.” Suhayl said, “I will not let you keep him.” The Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) said, “Do it.” Suhayl said: “I will not do it.” So he took Abu Jandal back to Mecca. [4]

The Muslims complained about this agreement and felt uneasy about it, especially after the Islamic style of the document was changed. ʿAlī bin Abī Tālib (radiyallaahu ‘anhu)  refused to erase the words, ‘The Messenger of Allāh’; so the Prophet  took the document from him and asked someone else to write what Suhayl bin ʿAmr wanted.[5] The Muslims were angry about having to give up to the Quraish those Muslims who had fled to them and said: “O Messenger of Allāh, do you agree to this?” He (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) said:

“Yes, for whoever goes to them has been removed from us by Allāh, and whoever comes to us, Allāh will give him relief and prepare a way out for him.” [6]

Then the agreement was concluded on the following terms:

 “… to lay aside for ten years, during which time men can be safe and refrain from hostilities on condition that if anyone comes to Muhammad without the permission of his guardian, Muhammad will return him to them (i.e. to the pagan Quraish); and if anyone of those with Muhammad comes to the Quraish, they will not return him to Muhammad. We will not show enmity one to another and there shall be no secret reservation of bad faith[7] He who wishes to enter into a bond or agreement with Muhammad may do so, and he who wishes to enter into a bond or agreement with Quraish may do so. [8] You must retire from us this year and not enter Mecca against our will, and next year we shall make way for you and you can enter it with your Companions, and stay there for three nights. You may carry a rider’s weapon, the swords in their sheaths. You can bring in nothing more.”[9]

The Muslims set out from Madīnah without any doubt that they would enter Mecca, so when they saw the negotiations for peace, they were very saddened ‘almost to the point of death’, especially when Abu Jandal was returned to the Quraish after he had appealed to them for help, saying:

“O Muslims! Am I to be returned to the pagans so that they may entice me away from my religion?” The Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) said, “O Abu Jandal, be patient and control yourself, for Allāh will provide relief and a means of escape for you and those of you who are helpless.”[10]

And when the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) finished concluding the agreement with the pagans, as we have already mentioned, he prepared to remove himself from the state of ihrām [11] which he had entered for his Umrah, and he commanded the people to do so. So they found it very difficult to do that, and they withheld, hoping that it would be abrogated. So the Prophet  became angry at that. So he entered upon his wife, Umm Salamah (radiyallaahu anhaa) and told her so. She said:

“Then you go out, O Messenger of Allāh, and slaughter your sacrifice, and shave your head, and then the people will follow you.”

So he went out and did that, and the people were quick to follow his example. [12]

So some of them were almost killing each other because of their anguish [13], because they thought that the idolaters had dictated whatever conditions they wanted to them, and that the Messenger had merely acceded to them.

Years later, on the occasion of the battle of Siffīn when the Muslims negotiated a peace treaty between themselves, the Companion, Sahl bin Hunayf (radiyallaahu ‘anhu) narrated [14], saying:

“O people! Doubt and suspect yourselves, for we were along with Allāh’s Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) on the day of al-Hudaybiyah, and if we had seen any fighting we would have fought, and that was with regard to the peace treaty which came about between Allāh’s Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) and the pagans. So ʿUmar bin al-Khattāb (radiyallaahu ‘anhu) came, and he went to Allāh’s Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) and said: “O Messenger of Allāh! Are we not upon the truth, whereas they are upon falsehood?” So he said: “Yes indeed!” He said: “Is it not the case that those of us who are killed will be in the Paradise, whereas those of them who are killed will be in the Fire?” He  said: “Yes indeed!” He said: “Are we to do that which demeans us for our Religion, and go back, when Allāh has not yet judged between us and them?” So he said, “O Ibn al-Khattāb! I am Allāh’s Messenger, and Allāh would never suffer me to be lost.”

He said: “So ʿUmar  went off, and he could not control his rage, and he came to Abu Bakr , and said: “O Abu Bakr, are we not upon the truth whereas they are upon falsehood?” He said: “Yes indeed!” He said: “Is it not the case that those of us who are killed will be in Paradise whereas those of them who are killed will be in the Fire?” He said; “Yes indeed!” So he said: “Then why are we doing that which demeans us for our Religion, and we go back when Allāh has not yet judged between us and them?” So he said: “O Ibn al-Khattāb, he is Allāh’s Messenger, and Allāh would never suffer him to be lost.”

He said: “So the Qurān came down to Allāh’s Messenger declaring it a victory. So he sent for ʿUmar and read it to him. So he said: “O Messenger of Allāh, is it a victory?” He said: “Yes.” So he became satisfied and returned.

Ibn Hajar (died 852H) said:

“It is as if Sahl ibn Hunayf  was saying: Accuse your opinion when it contradicts the Sunnah, just as happened with us when Allāh’s Messenger  ordered us to leave the state of ihrām. However we wanted to continue in a state of ihrām, and we wanted to fight, in order to complete our rites and overcome our enemy. However we were unaware of what was apparent to the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) from that which was going to occur as a consequence of it.”

Concerning that which took place at al-Hudaybiyah, Jābir bin ʿAbdullāh (radiyallaahu ‘anhu) said:

“We had not used to consider the victory of Mecca except as the day of al-Hudaybiyah.” [15]

And he (radiyallaahu ‘anhu) also said it with the wording:

“We had not used to consider the victory except as being the day of al-Hudaybiyah.” [16]

It is notable that the Companion, Mirdās al-Aslamī (radiyallaahu ‘anhu) who was present at Hudaybiyah and gave the pledge to Allāh’s Messenger  ‘under the tree’ narrated:

“Pious people will die in succession, and there will remain the dregs of society who will be like the useless residues of dates and barley, and Allāh will pay no attention to them.” [17]

There is no doubt that the dregs include the likes of the modern day extremist-Jihādist sects who ignorantly accuse the rulers of apostasy due to agreements they make with non-Muslims.

In these authentic accounts we find the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) signing an agreement with the pagans with respect to the most sacred site in Islām, Mecca, the home of the Kaʿbah.

What would these Jihādist fanatics, the followers of the doctrine of the Leninist Sayyid Qutb [18] say about our noble Prophet? Would they label him as they label the Muslim rulers of today as ‘sell-outs’, ‘in the pockets of the Christians and Jews’, ‘apostates who have no concern for the lives of Muslims, compromisers of the religion’?  Or would they hang their heads in shame for the ignoramuses that they are?

We should not be in any doubt that it is permissible to sign treaties and accords with the non-Muslims if it will aid the Muslims – maybe not in the short-term but in the long run. So it is allowed for the Muslim rulers to negotiate with the non-Muslims leaders, even with those who wish to see the annihilation of the Islamic religion [19], if they see a benefit for the Muslim societies or a lessening of harm inflicted upon them. This may even include conceding wealth and property, and may seem to weaken the Muslims in the short-term. This is not considered to be walā’ (giving loyalty) or allegiance to the enemies of Islām, otherwise they would be forced to accuse the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) of this due to his signing of what seemed to be on the surface [to some] a defeatist agreement with the pagans.

Allegiance and Loyalty: Al-Muwālāt

The Mufti and Scholar, Sālih al-Fawzān has stated that the people are of types in their understanding of al-walā’ (allegiance) and al-barā’ (disavowal); from them are those who consider that allegiance to Islām and disavowal from the disbelievers means that we cut off absolutely from the disbelievers; not to enter into treaties with them, not to make truces or reconciliation with them, not to enter into negotiations with them, not to accept their sending of emissaries and ambassadors for the purpose of coming to mutual understandings because as far as they are concerned, all of this is from showing loyalty and allegiance (mawalāt) to the unbelievers.

However all of these affairs do not necessitate the showing of loyalty and allegiance, rather those who say that are ignorant of the affair of what showing allegiance and loyalty truly means. This is extremism and exaggeration in the affair of loyalty and disavowal (i.e. walā’ and barā’), and it opposes that which is proven by the Book of Allāh and the Sunnah of His Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) for indeed the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) made reconciliation with the pagans; he used to buy, sell and trade with the Jews. He died whilst his armor was pawned with a Jew so that he could purchase food for his family [20]. The Prophet made an accord with the Jews in Madinah and he did not fight them until they violated the agreement [21]. And if they had stuck to the accord, then the Messenger  would have stuck to it with them likewise. So this is not from muwālāt (i.e. showing loyalty) towards them. So these people have with them extremism and ignorance; and they say: “This is showing loyalty and allegiance to the disbelievers.” And the meaning of their statement is that we should not interact with them in anything ever and that we should not negotiate and reconcile with them – and this view of theirs is not from the religion.[22]

Shaikh al-Fawzān (may Allaah protect him) also mentions that there is a difference between indulging the disbelievers and diplomacy with them (al-mudārāt) and between bootlicking and flattery of them (al-mudāhanah). As for the latter, al-mudāhanah, then it is to compromise with one’s religion and faith for the sake of worldly gain or seeking to flatter the enemies of the Islāmic religion. And as for the former, al-mudārāt, then it is to sacrifice something worldly for the sake of the Religion and the welfare of the Muslims.

So we may give the unbelievers something from our wealth or our lands; even to the extent that Zakāt (the obligatory charity) may be given to them to protect us from their evil; or to bring their hearts closer to Islām. So this is from the aspect of permissible compliant diplomacy (mudārāt) to avert their harm and their evil away from the Muslims, or to lessen it. [23]

So that which the Muslim rulers indulge in with respect to negotiations and diplomacy with the non-Islamic countries, and with the United Nations is not to be considered an act of apostasy or unbelief at all, even if Muslim wealth and property is used to appease the non-Muslims and to lessen their harm. There is no doubt that this affair is not for the novice or the youthful fanatic who only sees compromise and then concludes that the Muslim rulers are ‘sell-outs and bootlickers’, and thus embarks upon a path of terrorist activities against Muslims and non-Muslims alike.[24]


[1] See al-Fusūl fis-Sīratir-Rasūl of Ibn Kathīr (died 774H), with benefits from the translation of Dawood Burbank (rahimahullaah) of this unpublished work. See also, Madinan Society at the Time of the Prophet, Al-Umaree, IIIT, 1991.

[2] Al-Hudaybiyah is the name of a well, twenty-two kilometres (fourteen miles) north-west of Mecca.

[3] Abdur-Razzāq, al-Musannaf, 5/343, with an authentic chain from the narration of Ibn ʿAbbās, and another from a disconnected narration (mursal) of Az-Zuhrī (died 124H).

[4] Al-Bukhārī; Ibn Hajar, Fat-hul-Bārī, nos. 2731, 2732.

[5] Al-Bukhārī, Ibn Hajar, Fat-hul-Bārī, no. 2699.

[6] Reported by Muslim, Kitābul-Jihād, no. 93.

[7] Ibn al-Athīr, Majdud-Dīn Abū as-Saʿādah, an-Nihāyah fil-Gharīb al-Hadīth, 3/327.

[8] Ibid., 2/392, 3, 380.

[9]  Ahmad, Musnad, 4/325, from Ibn Ishāq with a good (hasan) chain where he clearly states that he heard it in Sīrah Ibn Hishām, 3/308.

[10] Ahmad, al-Musnad, 4/325, with a good chain.

[11] Ihrām is a state in which a Muslim enters ready for pilgrimage whereby he wears specific garments and avoids certain prohibitions.

[12] Refer to al-Bukhārī, nos. 2731, 2732.

[13] The narration of al-Bukhārī, no. 2731, has the wording:

“So he went out, and he did not speak to anyone from them until he had done that. He slaughtered his sacrifice, and called for his barber who shaved his head. So when they saw that, they got up and sacrificed, and they shaved each other’s heads and were almost killing each other because of their anguish…”

[14] Reported by al-Bukhārī, no. 3182: Fath al-Bārī, and Muslim 5/175-176, and the wording is his and Ahmad 3/486.

[15] Its chain of narration is authentic to the standard of Muslim.

[16] See Jāmiʿul-Bayān 26/44, and its chain of narration is good (hasan).

[17] Al-Bukhārī, in the Chapter of the Expedition of al-Hudaybiyah, no. 4156.

[18] See www.TheMadkhalis.com and www.Takfiris.com for more a detailed discussion of his life, writings and influence. A small number of scholars were initially unaware of his (Sayyid Qutb’s) deviations, but once his grave errors were presented to them, they declared him to be a deviated innovator.

[19] There is ample evidence that the pagans in the time of the Prophet  wished to see the destruction of the Islamic religion along with its adherents, yet the Messenger negotiated agreements with them.

[20] Reported by al-Bukhārī, no 2916; Muslim, no. 1603 from the narration of ʿĀ’isha, may Allāh be pleased with her.

[21] Another point of benefit here is that it was the leader of the Muslims, the Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) and his close advisers who decided when a violation was considered to be in breach of the treaty, not anyone and everyone! So take note.

[22] Shaikh Dr. Sālih al-Fawzān, Sharh Risālatid-Dalā’il fee Hukmi Muwālāti Ahlil-Ishrāk, p. 21-22.

[23] Shaikh Dr. Sālih al-Fawzān, Sharh Risālatid-Dalā’il fee Hukmi Muwālāti Ahlil-Ishrāk, p 58.

[24] Point and case are the July 7th London tube and bus bombers!

Taken from the book: The Rise of Jihadist Extremism in the West, Salafi Publications, Birmingham.

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