Boycott of Banu Hashim

Good article since 22 July 2018
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From wikishia
Timeline of Prophet (s) in Mecca
Before Islam
570 Birth; Demise of 'Abd Allah (Father)
576 Demise of Amina bt. Wahb (Mother)
578 Demise of 'Abd al-Muttalib (Grandfather)
583 Business Trip to Damascus
595 Marriage to Khadija bt. Khuwaylid
610 Bi'tha and the beginning of Prophethood
613 Yawm al-Dar and Overt Invitation
614 Harassment of Muslims by Quraysh
615 Birth of Lady Fatima (a); Emigration of a Group of Muslims to Abyssinia; Blockade of Banu Hashim in Shi'b Abi Talib
618-9 End of Blockade of Banu Hashim
in Shi'b Abi Talib
619 The year of sorrow, Demise of Abu Talib
and Khadija bt. Khuwaylid
620 Mi'raj
621 The First Pledge of al-'Aqaba
622 The Second Pledge of al-'Aqaba; Emigration of Muslims to Medina

Boycott of Banu Hashim is the economic and social boycott by polytheists of Mecca on Prophet Muhammad (s), Banu Hashim and Muslims. The boycott started seven years after Bi'tha (in 7 BH)/615 C.E and they Muslims lived in Shi'b Abi Talib (Valley of Abu Talib) which is in the east of Ka'ba between the Mount Abu Qubays and the Mount Khandama in Mecca. The valley was owned by 'Abd al-Muttalib and the house of Lady Khadija (a) and Prophet Muhammad (s) was located there.

The boycott lasted for three years and Muslims were suffering from the difficulties. Polytheists of Mecca noticed that their children's suffering but they didn't sympathize with them. After three years under blockade, the boycott ended in 4 BH (ten years after Bi'tha). In his letter to Mu'awiya, 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) mentioned the enmity of Quraysh and their three-year-boycott against Muslims in the valley of Abu Talib.


The leaders of Quraysh were irritated with the influence and astonishing expansion of Muslims and they tried to find a solution. When Hamza b. 'Abd al-Muttalib converted to Islam and young members of Quraysh showed tendencies toward Islam, besides considering the freedom of Muslims in Abyssinia, Quraysh leaders were stunned as their plans failed to succeed. Therefore, they decided to declare an economic and social boycott against Prophet Muhammad (s), Banu Hashim and Banu 'Abd al-Muttalib except for Abu Lahab and his children[1] in order to stop increasing influence and expansion of Islam.[2]


The boycott of Banu Hashim took place in Shi'b Abi Talib (valley of Abu Talib).[3] This Shi'b (valley) is located near al-Masjid al-Haram and behind Safa and Marwa mountains. It was between Mount Abu Qubays and Mount Khandama.[4] When a person exits al-Masjid al-Haram from Bab al-'Abbas gate, 'Ali gate, or al-Salam gate and passes Mas'a (the place sa'y is performed) an open space can be seen which is located below the Mount Abu Qubays which is the exact location of Shi'b Abi Talib. The house of Khadija (s) where she and Prophet Muhammad (s) were living was also located in this valley. Also Lady Fatima (s) was born in that house[5]

Today, only a small part of it remains which is called Suq al-Layl located on the mountain opposite from Mas'a. Most of the historical houses and places of Shi'b Abi Talib are currently added to al-Masjid al-Haram in different expansions.[6]


According to Ibn Sa'd, the boycott started in Muharram of the 7th year after Bi'tha (7 BH/615).[7] and Miqrizi mentions it to be on the Muharram 1 (September 30, 615).[8] The Boycott lasted for three years[9] and ended after three years in the 10th year after Bi'tha (4 BH/618-9).[10]

Treaty of Polytheists

The Polytheist held a meeting in Dar al-Nadwa and they drew up a treaty written by Mansur b. 'Ikrima and signed by the supreme members of Quraysh council which was hanged inside Ka'ba. They took an oath that Quraysh clans would follow its principles until their last breath. Its principles were:

  • Ban of trading with supporters of Muhammad (s),
  • Ban of having relations and social interactions with Muslims,
  • Ban of marrying with them,
  • Its principles could only be breached if they had surrendered Prophet Muhammad (s) to be killed.

The text of this treaty was signed by all the prominent members of Quraysh except for al-Mut'im b. 'Adi[11] and its principles were effectively administrated.[12] Abu Talib invited Banu Hashim and told them to support Prophet Muhammad (s) and ordered all of Muslims in Mecca to move to Shi'b Abi Talib and settle there. He also put some guards around the valley. Living in Shi'b Abi Talib had some outcomes as well:

  • Members of Banu Hashim could protect Prophet Muhammad (s) together.
  • It reduced the mental pressure on Banu Hashim.

Whoever who entered Mecca was not allowed to carry out trades with Banu Hashim. Those who violated the rule, their properties were confiscated.[13]

In the time of official ceremonies, Muslims were allowed to leave Shi'b temporarily in order to buy something, promote, or invite others to Islam.[14] Prophet Muhammad (s) invited people in the time of hajj in the first year of the boycott which aggravated the polytheists. They came to Abu Talib and asked him to surrender Prophet Muhammad (s) as they wanted to kill him. Abu Talib reacted strongly and disappointed them.[15] Because he was afraid that they would come to kill the Prophet (s) in his sleep, he slept next to Prophet (s) and told one of his children to sleep on the other side of Prophet (s).

Harsh Situation of Banu Hashim

The boycott lasted for three years and children of Banu Hashim were suffering from the difficulties.[16] Polytheists of Mecca noticed that their children's suffering but they didn't sympathize with them.

Spies of Quraysh were watching Muslims all the time so that no one would be able to give them food. However sometimes Hakim b. Hizam,[17] the cousin of Khadija (s), and Abu l-'As b. Rabi',[18] and Hisham b. 'Umar brought wheat and date to Banu Hashim in the middle of the nights. They put them on a camel and then they released the camel near the valley so that it could get to Banu Hashim.[19]

Prophet Muhammad (s), his supporters, Khadija (a), and Abu Talib lived in harsh situations for three years and they used up the possessions of Khadija (s). Sometimes close relatives of Banu Hashim secretly gave Muslims food, despite the principles of the treaty. The endurance of Prophet Muhammad (s) and his supporters irritated Quraysh leaders. Most of them had a daughter, son, grandchildren, or close relatives living in Shi'b, and they were looking for an excuse to end the treaty and set Muslims free.

End of Boycott

In the 10th year after Bi'tha (4 BH/618-9), a night when Abu Jahl stopped Hakim b. Hizam from sending wheat to Khadija. Others interfered and criticized Abu Jahl for the severity of his actions. Gradually groups of Quraysh members felt guilty and started to support Banu Hashim, they said that Banu Makhzum (the rival of Quraysh) where enjoying easy life while Banu Hashim was living in harsh situations. Finally, the treaty ended and some decided to tear up the treaty. Ibn Hisham narrated from Ibn Ishaq that when they went to see the treaty in Ka'ba, they noticed that it was miraculously eaten by termites except for the phrase "Bismik Allahumma" (In your name O Allah).[20]

According to another narration, God informed Prophet Muhammad (s) that the treaty was eaten by termites except for the phrase "Bismik Allahumma" and the Prophet (s) informed Abu Talib about the news.[21] Ibn Hisham has written that a group of scholars have said: "Abu Talib met Quraysh and told them: My cousin has said the treaty you have written is eaten by termites except for the name of God. See the treaty yourself and if he was right end the boycott, and if he was wrong I will hand him over to you. When Quraysh leaders went to see the treaty, they were shocked to see that it was eaten by termites except for the name of God. Therefore, the boycott ended and Banu Hashim were free to leave the valley."[22]

Word of Imam 'Ali (a) about the Boycott

According to Nasr b. Muzahim, Ali b. Abi Talib (a) has written in a letter to Mu'awiya about the tyrannies and oppressions of Quraysh in Shi'b Abi Talib against Prophet Muhammad (s) and Muslims:

Our relatives (Quraysh tribe) decided to kill our Prophet (s) and end our lineage. They decided our fate and posed oppressions against us, they blocked our access to water, they frightened Muslims, put spies to watch us and forced us to take shelter in a narrow valley. It was not enough for them as they launched attacks and battles against us and wrote treaties so that they should not eat and drink with us, they banned having any marital relations and trades with us. They put us at risk because we refrain from handing Prophet Muhammad (s) over to them, as they wanted to kill him and mutilate his body. Except for the hajj time, we were in danger of attacks. However, God decided that we protect the Prophet (s) restlessly. Our Muslim members were protecting him as they were promised rewards from God and our disbelievers were protecting him in order to protect their relatives and clan.[23]


  1. Miqrizī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʿ, vol. 1, p. 44.
  2. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 163.
  3. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 163.
  4. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawiyya, vol. 1, p. 352.
  5. Qāʾidān, Tārīkh wa āthār-i Islāmī-yi Makka wa Madina, p. 114.
  6. Jaʿfarīyān, Āthār-i Islāmī-yi Makka wa Madina, p. 151.
  7. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 163.
  8. Miqrizī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʿ, vol. 1, p. 44.
  9. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 163.
  10. Qāʾidān, Tārīkh wa āthār-i Islāmī-yi Mecca wa Medina, p. 114
  11. Ṭabrisī, Iʿlām al-warā, p. 72.
  12. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 3, p. 84-86; Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 1, p. 163.
  13. Ṭabrisī, Iʿlām al-warā, p. 71-72.
  14. Ṭabrisī, Iʿlām al-warā, p. 72.
  15. Ṭabrisī, Iʿlām al-warā, p. 72-73.
  16. Qāʾidān, Tārīkh wa āthār-i Islāmī-yi Makka wa Madina, p. 114.
  17. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawiyya, vol. 1, p. 354.
  18. Ṭabrisī, Iʿlām al-warā, p. 73.
  19. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawiyya, vol. 1, p. 352.
  20. Shahīdī, Tārīkh-i taḥlīlī-yi Islām, p. 53.
  21. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 1, p. 234.
  22. Shahīdī, Tārīkh-i taḥlīlī-yi Islām, p. 53; Ṭabrisī, Iʿlām al-warā, p. 73-74.
  23. Shūshtarī, Bahj al-ṣabāgha, vol. 2, p. 355.


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