The Treaty of Hudaybiyya is a treaty between the early Islamic community and the Quraish tribe.
The Treaty of Hudaybiyya was signed in 628. In 628 C.E. a group of 1,600 Muslims marched towards Mecca, in an attempt to perform the pilgrimage. "Then he [Muhammad] marched till he reached al-Hudaybiyya which lies at the limit of the Haram [sacred territory of Mecca] area at a distance of nine miles from Mecca." [ Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir ]
The group was prepared with sacrificial animals, as they hoped that the Quraish would honour the Arabian custom of allowing unarmed pilgrims to enter the city. The Quraish, however, intercepted the Muslim party, well outside Mecca. By this time all of Arabia was aware of the military strength of the Muslims. Muhammad, the leader of the Muslims, was also desperate to avoid bloodshed in or near the holiest city of Islam. Therefore the two parties decided to resolve the matter through diplomacy, rather than warfare."Today whatever condition Quraysh make in which they ask me to show kindness to kindred I shall agree to". [ Sirat Rasul Allah ]
The basic outline of the treaty was as follows: "In the name of Allah. These are the conditions of Peace between Prophet Muhammad PBUH, son of Abdullah and Suhail Ibn `Amr the envoy of Mecca. There will be no fighting for ten years. Anyone who wishes to join Prophet Muhammad PBUH and to enter into any agreement with him is free to do so. Anyone who wishes to join the Quraish and to enter into any agreement with them is free to do so. A young man, or one whose father is alive, if he goes to Muhammad without permission from his father or guardian, will be returned to his father or guardian. But if anyone goes to the Quraish, he will not be returned. This year Prophet Muhammad PBUH will go back without entering Mecca. But next year he and his followers can enter Mecca, spend three days, perform the circuit. During these three days the Quaraish will withdraw to the surrounding hills. When Prophet Muhammad PBUH and his followers enter into Mecca, they will be unarmed except for sheathed swords which wayfarers in Arabia always have with them." (Bukhari)
The treaty was quite controversial for many reasons. Originally the treaty referred to Prophet Muhammad PBUH as the Messenger of God. The pagan Arabs refused to sign any such document. This, however, was taken out despite great opposition from Muslim scribes. But, perhaps, the greatest objection to those who doubted the wisdom of the pact was directed to the provision that any Quraish member joining the Muslims without the permission of his guardian would have to be returned to Quraish, and that any apostate from Islam would not have to be returned to Medina. Prophet Muhammad`s opinion in this matter centered on the consideration that the apostate from Islam who seeks the shelter of Quraish is not really worthy of readmission to the Muslim community; that for the convert who wished to join that community but who was not allowed to at present, Allah would soon find an outlet.
After the signing of the treaty, there was still great fury amongst the Muslim side. Muhammad ordered that Muslims perform their sacred rites there and then, and return to Medina. Many Muslims, however, refused to do so. Some openly questioned whether the Prophet`s decision to opt for peace was a right one. In the end, the Prophet Muhammad`s wife, Um-Salamah, solved the matter by asking him to perform the rites, regardless of his companions` wishes, and leave for Medina.
Two years later, in 630, a skirmish between the Bedouin tribe of Khuza`a and the Quraysh occurred; Muhammad considered this to constitute a breach of the treaty. Muhammad and his followers, 10,000 strong, marched upon Mecca and demanded the surrender of the city, which capitulated.
Islam spread widely and quickly during the two years that the treaty was in effect. While Muhammad had one thousand four hundred followers when he signed the treaty in Hudaybiyya, he had well over ten thousand for his conquest of Mecca two years later.
Urwah ibn Mas`ud
The Oxford History of Islam by John Esposito (Oxford U. Press, 1999)
Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir
Sirat Rasul Allah