Hilf al-Fudul

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Ḥilf al-Fuḍūl (Arabic:حِلفُ الفُضُول) was the name of a pact announced between some clans of Quraysh at the Age of Ignorance, to support the oppressed in Mecca. Banu Hashim and Banu Muttalib, Banu 'Abd Manaf, Banu Zuhra b. Kilab, Banu Taym b. Murra and Banu Asad b. 'Abd al-'Uzza b. Qusay were the clans that followed the pact. After Bi'tha, the Holy Prophet (s) praised this effort.


This pact was named Hilf al-Fudul because it was formed after Hilf al-Mutayyabin and Hilf al-Ahlaf and so was different from them. Also, it has been said that Hilf al-Fudul was called Hilf al-Fudul due to its excellence over all other pacts made among Arabs until that time and also due to the good qualities of those who participate in it.

This designation is attributed to Zubayr b. 'Abd al-Muttalib who was from Banu Hashim clan and it has been said that he wrote this pact for them and composed some poems about it. Also, some have said that Arabs or Quraysh in particular named this pact as Hilf al-Fudul. Other reasons explained about the cause of naming, are not quite justifiable.


It is said that Hilf al-Fudul was made 20 years after 'Am al-Fil, on the return of Quraysh from the Battle of Fijar. Battle of Fijar took place in Shawwal and Hilf al-Fudul was made in Dhu l-Qa'da. However, there are reports which refer to the formation date of this pact to have been either five years before the beginning of the mission of the Holy Prophet (s) or in the childhood of the Holy Prophet (s).

Cause of Formation

The main cause which led to the formation of this pact was that members of Quraysh treated the foreigners or those who did not have any relatives in Mecca with cruelty. For instance, one day a man who had brought goods to sell, went to Mecca from Zabid of Yemen. As b. Wa'il al-Sahmi (father of Amr b. al-'As) bought his goods but made delays in giving him the money thus making the vender angry. The protesting vender went to Quraysh and asked them to help him in claiming his right, but no one helped him. Later on, he decided to go up the Abu Qubays (a mountain near Masjid al-Haram) and loudly repeated some poems, calling for justice.

Zubayr b. 'Abd al-Muttalib, uncle of the Holy Prophet (s) and one of the elders of Quraysh, was the first person who spoke of Hilf al-Fudul and invited people to it. Afterwards, some clans of Quraysh gathered in Dar al-Nudwa (a meeting place for resolving issues) and agreed to claim the rights of the angry vender. Then, by the efforts of Zubayr b. 'Abd al-Muttalib, they gathered in the house of 'Abd Allah b. Jud'an al-Taymi, one of the elders of Quraysh. They soaked their hands in Zamzam water and according to another report they put their hands on soil. They made an agreement with each other that if any foreigner or anyone from Mecca is treated unjustly, they would help him reclaim his right from the oppressor, they would prevent an oppressor from oppression, prohibit from evil and help the needy in their day to day living. Hilf al-Fudul was the most honorable and noble pact which remained among Arabs until then. Hilf al-Fudul was later considered as one of the bases for determining dates before Islam for its importance.

Clans Involved

Quraysh clans involved the making of this pact were:

The name of Banu Harith b. Fihr has also been mentioned in records, but there is no consent on their presence in Hilf al-Fudul. Anyhow, the initiative and pioneering in Hilf al-Fudul belonged to Banu Hashim.

Banu 'Abd al-Shams and Banu Nawfal that were two clans from 'Abd Manaf exited from this pact, because this pact was formed against Banu Umayya and their ally 'As b. Wa'il. Some historians have said that the clans participating in Hilf al-Fudul were the same clans who previously participated in Hilf al-Mutayyibin.

After Islam

Since Hilf al-Fudul was established in order to defend the rights of the oppressed against oppressors, Islam could approve of it and even reinforced it. It is narrated from the Holy Prophet (s) that after Bi'tha, he (s) said:

"(together with my uncles) I witnessed a pact in the house of 'Abd Allah b. Jud'an which I would not like to break it even if all red-hair camels are given to me and if today I was invited to it again, I would accept it."

The second caliph regarded the presence at Hilf al-Fudul a criterion for superiority of different tribes for receiving more provisions and budget. In one of the trips of Mu'awiya to Medina, 'Abd Allah b, Zubayr told Mu'awiya that he was with Imam al-Hasan (a) in Hilf al-Fudul and if one day Imam (a) asks him for help against Mu'awiya, he would help him. However Mu'awiya refused to accept it by mocking his account.

In another event, after the martyrdom of Imam al-Hasan (a), when according to his will, Imam al-Husayn (a) wanted to bury him beside the grave of the Holy Prophet (s), the Umayyad opposed it and he (a) turned to Hilf al-Fudul for assistance and even some tribes prepared to help him , but he (s) withdrew from taking action.

Also, when Walid b. 'Utaba b. Abi Sufyan, the Umayyad governor of Medina (from 57-60/between 676-679 and 61-62/680-682) ignored the right of Imam al-Husayn (a) regarding a property or state which belonged to Imam (a) and he (a) warned him that if he does not do justice towards Imam (a), he (a) will take his sword and will call people to Hilf al-Fudul. Following that event, some people expressed readiness for supporting Imam al-Husayn (a) and Walid , having no other options, gave him his rights.

According to Jawad 'Ali, maybe Imam (a) meant that he (a) would call people to a pact similar to Hilf al-Fudul and so it cannot be inferred from this story that Hilf al-Fudul had been valid until then.

Hisham b. Muhammad b. Sa'ib al-Kalbi (d. 204/819-820) wrote a book called Hilf al-Fudul.

See also