Seerah - Life of the Prophet Muhammad (saw)

12 - The Boycott

The Quraysh decided to counteract the power of influence that the Prophet gained with Hamza and ‘Umar’s acceptance of Islam; stating that they would not abide by the existing ties of kinship and law with the Banu Hashim and the Banu Muttalib, they declared these two clans as enemies and forbade any communication, trade and any contract of marriage with them. They wrote up the terms of such a boycott and hung them on the wall of the Ka’ba. In the face of this social boycott, Abu Talib gathered his nephew and his nephew’s followers in the “Valley of Abu Talib” (Shi’bu Abi Talib) with the purpose of protecting them. The Prophet moved here from the House of Arqam where he had continued his efforts to convey Islam.

With the exception of Abu Lahab and his sons who chose to side with the polytheists, all members of the Banu Hashim and Banu Muttalib, whether Muslim or not, were forced to move there and live under boycott for a period of up to three years (616-619). Khadija and Abu Talib exhausted all their wealth in these years of hardship. Outside of the pilgrimage season and the sacred months, it was not possible to engage in trade activities or leave for the purpose of buying or selling. On the days when trade was permitted, the polytheists would make things very difficult for them by increasing the prices. Finally, some right-minded individuals such as the son of Abu Talib’s sister Zuhayr ibn Umayya, and Hisham ibn ‘Amr, spoke to leading members of the Quraysh Mut'im ibn 'Adi and Zam’a ibn Aswad; after gaining both their support, they went to the Valley of Abu Talib and released those living there, thus putting an end to the boycott.



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