SNMC Heritage: The Boycott of Banu Hashim and Banu Abdul Mutale: Year 6-8 of Prophethood of Muhamed PBUH

The Boycott of Banu Hashim and Banu Abdul Mutale: Year 6-8 of Prophethood of Muhamed PBUH

The Quraysh were divided into different family groups called clans, and the prophet Muhammad belonged to the clan of Hashim, his great-grandfather. It was Hashim’s brother Muttalib who had been the guardian of Abdul Muttalib, the prophet’s grandfather. Although many of the Quraysh bitterly opposed Muhammad and his followers, most of the clan of Hashim were determined to protect their kinsman, whether or not they believed that he was a prophet. A notable exception was Abu Jahl, one of the most vehement persecutors of the Muslims.

The Quraysh decided to organize a boycott against the clan of Hashim. About forty leaders drew up and signed a document which forbade anyone to marry a woman of Hashim or to give his daughter in marriage to a man of Hashim. It also banned the sale of goods to anyone in the clan of Hashim and prohibited anyone from buying goods from a member of Hashim. The boycott was extended to the clan of Muttalib when they refused to go along with the majority. The boycott was to remain in effect until the Hashim turned against the Prophet or until Muhammad renounced his claim to prophethood.

The boycott brought great hardship to the two clans, and they frequently faced starvation, but they were not without sympathizers. Muslims among the other clans, such as Abu Bakr and Umar, often managed to find ways to get supplies to the clans. Some sympathizers, although unbelievers, also defied the boycott. One man would load his camel with food and clothing and then send it running loose past the houses of the Hashim so that they could catch it and unload it. Women who had married into the clan of Hashim were still considered members of their own clan even after marriage. In this way, Khadija and other wives could receive goods from their kinsfolk without breaking the rules of the boycott.

The boycott went on for nearly two years, with no sign of the Hashim being ready to renounce Muhammad nor of Muhammad being ready to renounce his claim to prophethood. In addition, it had the unwanted effect of bringing more attention to the prophet. All over Arabia, people were talking about the religion of Muhammad and his devoted followers. People were beginning to have second thoughts about the boycott, especially those who had close relatives who were suffering from it.

One of those who wished to see an end to the boycott was Hisham, the same man who had frequently driven his supply-laden camel past the homes of the Hashim. He managed to find four other leaders who felt the same as he, and together they devised a plan of action. The following day when they were at the mosque one of them spoke up against the boycott, saying he did not wish to see the people of Hashim die while his clan had plenty of food and clothing. One by one the four other men spoke up in support of his call to end the boycott. One of them entered the Ka’bah to bring out the written document, which had been placed there after it had been signed by the forty leaders. When he emerged, he held a small scrap of paper, all that was left of the original document, which had been eaten by worms. Most of the people, who were already only lukewarm about the boycott, considered the destruction of the document to be a sign. And so, after nearly two years, with public support strongly against the hardliners, the boycott was ended, and the clans of Hashim and Muttalib were reinstated into Qurayshi society.

After the boycott had been lifted, the Quraysh tried to obtain one more compromise from Muhammad They tried to get him to agree that both sides would practice both religions. The Prophet’s response came in the form of a revelation, Surah 109. Most of you are probably familiar with this short but forceful statement:

In the name of Allah Most Gracious
Most Merciful
Say: O ye that reject Faith!
I worship not that which ye worship
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship
Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
To you be your Way and to me mine.
(Al Qur’an 109)