The Qur’an and the Sunnah on Fulfilment of Promises
The Qur’an and Sunnah on Fulfilment of Treaties by Islamic
Some Treaties made by the Prophet
Charter of Madinah
Treaty of Hudaibiyah
Treaty with the Christians of Najran
Rules and Regulations of the Treaties
Treaties are made
between the states or nations sometimes to bring war or
hostilities to an end and sometimes to settle terms of peace after
the termination of a war. Treaties are even made to resolve
certain disputes peacefully to avoid possible wars. Between
friendly or like-minded states, treaties are made to form
alliances against a common enemy or to keep peace and security in
a certain region. These days treaties of mutual cooperation in
economic field, trade and commerce, education, science and
technology, diplomatic relations, etc. are being made. In this
chapter, however, we shall be dealing only with the treaties
relating to war and peace.
Islam means ‘peace’
and it stands for peace. Its followers are always ready to incline
towards peace as the Holy Qur’an enjoins upon them: “And if they
incline to peace, incline thou also to it, and trust in Allah.
Lo! He is the Hearer, the Knower.” (8 :
About the nature
and terms of treaties and about the procedure and effects of such
treaties, no detailed rules have been made in the Holy Qur’an
obviously for the reasons that the same are to be made according
to the demands of the occasion. In the practice of the Holy
Prophet, however, we find a lot of guidance about peace treaties
as he himself concluded many treaties with the tribes and nations
upon the subject under issue in detail, let us reproduce some
verses of the Qur’an and Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad about
fulfillment of pledges and treaties.
to the start of this chapter]
I- The Qur’an and the Sunnah on Fulfillment
Islamic attaches as
much importance to treaties, pacts and alliances in international
relations as is the importance attached by it to the promises,
covenants and pledges in individual and personal human
relationships. The Qur’an, the revealed book of Islam, enjoins
upon its followers to fulfil their promises and pledges. According
to the Qur’an, the fulfillment of a covenant is a great human
virtue and the Qur’an showers its admiration very liberally upon
those who honour their given word at all costs. The Qur’an says:-
Nay, but (the chosen of Allah is) he who fulfilleth
his pledge and wardeth off (evil); for lo! Allah loveth those who
ward off (evil).
Those of them with whom thou maddest a treaty, and
then at every opportunity they break their treaty, and they keep
not duty to (Allah):
–—(3 : Ar-Ra’d : 20)
3. Such as keep
the pact of Allah, and break not the covenant.
–—(13:Ar-Ra’d : 20)
4. Fulfil the
covenant of Allah when ye have covenanted, and break not your
oaths after the asseveration of them, and after ye have made Allah
surety over you. Lo! Allah knoweth what ye do.
–—(16:An-Nahl : 91)
5. Come not near
the wealth of the orphan save with that which is better till he
comes to strength; and keep the covenant. Lo! of the covenant it
will be asked.
–—(17:Bani Isra’il : 34)
6. And who are
shepherds of their pledge and their covenant.
–—(23:Al-Mu’minun : 8)
7. And those who
keep their pledges and their covenant.
–—(70:Al-Ma’arij : 32)
Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) enjoining upon his followers
to fulfill their promises and trusts are as under :-
Abdulah-bin-Abil-Hasma’a reported: I bought something from the
Holy Prophet before he was raised up (as a Prophet), and there was
price due to him (from me). So I promised to come to him therewith
in its (appointed) place but I forgot. I remembered after 3 days,
and found him in his place. He said: You have put trouble to
myself. I have been here since three days waiting for you.
2. Abu Hurairah
reported from the Holy Prophet who said: Pay trust to one who has
entrusted you, and be not treacherous to one who was treacherous
reported that the Messenger of Allah said: When four things are in
you, there is nothing against you in the world which may cause
your loss; guarding of trust, truthfulness in speech and beauty in
conduct, and moderation in food.
4. Anas reported:
Hardly did the Messenger of Allah address us without saying: There
is no faith in him who has got no trust, and no religion for him
who has got no promise.
to the start of this chapter]
II- The Qur’an and the Sunnah on
Fulfillment of Treaties by Islamic State
The Islamic state
like individuals is also duty-bound to fulfil its treaties,
alliances and words of honour given by it to foreign countries. It
is one of the fundamental principles of the foreign policy pursued
by an Islamic state to abide by its international commitments in
all circumstances and at every cost. To comply with the terms and
obligations of a treaty amounts to keeping duty to Allah. The Holy
Qur’an enjoins the Islamic state to honour its pledges even with
its enemy states and not to be the first one in breaking a pledge
as it is a great sin. The Islamic state can break a treaty or
pledge only when the other party to the treaty or pledge has been
the first to break it and is bent upon harming the interests of
the Islamic state. The Qur’an says:-
1. Lo! the worst
of beasts in Allah’s sight are the ungrateful who will not
believe; Those of them with whom thou maddest a treaty, and then
at every opportunity they break their treaty, and they keep not
duty to (Allah): If thou comest on them in the war, deal with them
so as to strike fear in those who are behind them, that haply they
may remember. And if thou fearest treachery from any folk, then
throw back to them (their treaty) fairly. Lo! Allah loveth not the
2. And a
proclamation from Allah and His messenger to all men on the day of
the Greater pilgrimage that Allah is free from obligation to the
idolaters and (so is) His messenger. So if ye repent it will be
better for you; but if ye are averse, then know that ye cannot
escape Allah. Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those
who disbelieve. Excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye
(Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your
right nor have supported anyone against you (As for those), fulfil
their treaty to them till their term. Lo! Allah loveth those who
keep their duty (unto Him).
3. How can there
be a treaty with Allah and with His messenger for the idolaters
save those with whom ye made a treaty at the Inviolable Place of
Worship? So long as they are true to you, be true to them. Lo!
Allah loveth those who keep their duty.
4. And if they
break their pledges after their treaty (hath been made with you)
and assail your religion, then fight the heads of disbelief –––
Lo! they have no binding oaths ––– in order that they may desist.
Islam gives so much
importance to the sanctity of treaties that sometimes even the
obligations of Muslim brotherhood can be overridden to honour the
given words. We read in the Qur’an “……… And those who believed but
did not leave their homes, ye have no duty to protect them till
they leave their homes; but if they seek help from you in the
matter of religion then it is your duty to help (them) except
against a folk between whom and you there is a treaty. Allah is
Seer of what ye do”. –—(8:72) According to this verse, it is the
bounden duty of the Islamic state to help its Muslim brothers
living in another state who are being persecuted and who ask for
such help. However, help cannot be given to them if they are
citizens of a state with which the Islamic state has made a
treaty. Thus observance of international obligations in such a
situation would be more imperative for the Islamic state than
honouring its religious ties with the oppressed Muslim minority.
another verse, the Holy Book of Islam stresses the fulfillment of
international obligations by the Islamic state with even
individuals living in a state having treaty relations. The Qur’an
says, while pronouncing punishment for the murder of a believer by
“He who hath killed
a believer by mistake must set free a believing slave, and pay the
blood-money to the family of the slain, unless they remit it as a
charity. If he (the victim) be of a people hostile unto you and he
is a believer, then (the penance is) to set free a believing
slave. And if he cometh of a folk between whom and you there is a
covenant, then the blood-money must be paid unto his folk and
(also) a believing slave must be set free. And whoso hath not the
wherewithal must fast two consecutive months. A penance from
Allah. Allah is Knower Wise :
Thus this verse
ordains that blood-money is to be paid for the murder of a person
belonging to a non-Muslim state which has a treaty with the
Islamic state, if he is killed in the territory of the Islamic
Some of the Ahadith and traditions which highlight the practice of
the Prophet of Islam and his companions are:
Amr-b-Auf-Mujani reported from the Holy Prophet who said:
Compromise is lawful among Muslims except a compromise which makes
a lawful thing unlawful or an unlawful thing lawful. And the
Muslims shall stand upon their terms except a term which makes a
lawful thing unlawful or an unlawful thing lawful.
–—(Tirmizi, Ibn Majah and Abu Daud)
reported from his father who from his grandfather heard that the
Messenger of Allah said in his sermon: Fulfil your convenants of
the Days of Ignorance, because it (meaning Islam) does not add to
it but firmness, and do not renew a convenant in Islam
Safwan-b-Solaim from a number of the children of the companions of
the Messenger of Allah, who from their fathers reported from the
Apostle of Allah who said: Behold! Whoso oppresses a covenanted
man, or does some damage to him, puts such a hard-ship on him as
is beyond his endurance, or takes away something from him without
his willful consent, I shall be his disputant on the Resurrection
reported that the Messenger of Allah made treaty with the Quraish
on the Day of Hudaibiyyah over three things : On conditions that
whoso of the polytheists would come to him, he would return him to
them, but whoever of the Muslim comes to them, they would not
return him; and on condition that he would come to Makkah next
year and would stay there for three days, and would not enter
there except by sheathing lances, swords and bows and like that.
Then Abu Jandal came to him while he was bound in fetters. So he
returned him to them.
reported that there was a treaty between Muwayiah and the
Byzantines and he was going towards their lands till when the
convenant came to an end, he attacked them. A man came riding on a
horse (or a pack horse) and said: Allah is greatest, Allah is
greatest, fidelity and no treachery. They reconnoitered when lo!
he was Amr-b-Abasah. Muwayiah asked him about that. He said: I
heard the Messenger of Allah say: Whoso has got a treaty between
him and a people must not loosen the treaty, nor make it tight
till its term expires or he is thrown to them on an equal footing.
He said : Then Muwayiah returned with the people.
–—(Tirmizi, Abu Daud)
6. Any Muslim
could give a pledge of protection to any person or persons even
belonging to a hostile state, yet the pledge was binding for the
Islamic state. The Prophet of Islam accepted the pledge of
security given by a Muslim woman in these words : “O Mother of
Hani! We have protected whom you protected”. Umar, the righteous
caliph, accepted the pledge of protection given by a slave to the
residents of a town conquered by Muslim forces in Iraq and
directed Abu Ubaydah, the General of Islamic troops, to fulfil the
commitment. Thus, an ordinary Muslim, even a woman or a slave, can
offer protection to an enemy and his or her commitment can bind
the entire Muslim community. The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to
have said: “Muslims are one and the humblest among them is
entitled to bind them by his pledge”.
Khalid-bin-Walid returned the amount of Jizyah (which he had
accepted on the pledge of protection) to the Christians of a town
in Syria as he felt that he would not be able to protect them from
the invasion of the Byzantine emperor. His words were : “We
accepted Jizyah in return for defending you, but in this we have
failed, thus, Jizyah is returned”.
to the start of this chapter]
III- Some Treaties Made by the Prophet
Charter of Madinah :
Soon after his migration from Makkah to Madinah in the year 622
A.D. (1 A.H), Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) concluded a tripartite
agreement between the Emigrants, the Helpers and the Jews of
Madinah. This agreement is known in history as the Charter of
Madinah. It is a historic document which regulated the relations
between the Muslims who had migrated from Makkah to Madinah (known
as Muhajerin) and the Muslims who were already living in Madinah
(known as Ansar) on the one hand and between the Muslims and the
Jews of Madinah and their allies on the other hand. It established
first Islamic state with the Prophet as head in Madinah and
defined the rights and obligations of the parties to the charter.
Its main provisions are :-
1. This is a
document from Muhammad the Prophet governing the relations between
the believers and Muslims of the Quraish and Yathrib and those who
followed them and joined them and laboured (fought) with these.
2. They are one
community (ummah) to the exclusion of all other people.
3. The Muhajerin
of the Quraish, according to their present custom, shall pay the
blood-money within their own number and shall redeem, their
prisoners with the kindness and justice common among believers (ma’ruf).
4. The Banu Auf,
according to their present custom, shall pay the blood money they
paid in times of ignorance; every section shall redeem its
prisoners with the kindness and justice common among believers.
5-8. The Banu
Sa’idah, the Banu Harithah, the Banu Jusham and the Banu Najjar
9-11.The Banu Amr
bin Auf, the Banu al-Nabit and the Banu al-Aus likewise.
shall not leave anyone destitute among them by not paying his
redemption money or blood money in kindness.
13. A believer
shall not take away the freedom of another Muslim against his
God-fearing believers shall be against the rebellious or him who
seeks to spread injustice, or sin or enmity, or corruption between
believers; the hand of every man shall be against him even if he
be a son of one of them.
15. A believer
shall not slay a believer for the sake of an unbeliever nor shall
he aid an unbeliever against a believer.
protection (dhimmah) is one; the least (adna) of
them may give protection to a stranger on their behalf. The
believers are friends (mawali) one to the other to the
exclusion of other people.
17. To the Jew who
follows us belong help and equality. He shall not be wronged nor
shall his enemies be aided.
18. The peace of
the believers is indivisible. No separate peace shall be made when
believers are fighting in the way of Allah.
must be fair and equitable to all (in all peace treaties).
20. In every
party, a rider must take another behind him (while doing military
21. The believers
must avenge the blood of one another shed in the Way of Allah. The
God-fearing believers enjoy the best and most upright guidance.
22. No polytheist
shall take the property or person of a Quraish under his
protection nor shall he intervene against a believer.
23. Whoever is
convicted of killing a believer without just cause shall be
subject to retaliation, unless the next of kin is satisfied (with
blood-money), and the believers shall be against him as one man,
and they are bound to take action against him.
24. It shall not
be lawful for a believer who has agreed to what is in this
document and believes in Allah and the Last Day to help an
evil-doer or to shelter him. The curse of Allah and His Anger on
the Day of Resurrection will be upon him if he does, and neither
repentance nor ransom will be accepted from him.
25. Whenever there
is a difference of opinion about anything, it must be referred to
Allah and Muhammad for a final decision.
26. The Jews shall
contribute to the cost of war as long as they are fighting
alongside the believers.
27. The Jews of
the Banu Auf are one community with the believers (the Jews have
their religion and the Muslims have theirs), their freedmen and
their persons except those who behave unjustly or sinfully, for
they hurt but themselves and their families.
applies to the Jews of the Banu al-Najjar, Banu al-Harith, Banu
Sa’idah, Banu Jusham, Banu al-aus, Banu Thalabah and the Jafnah, a
clan of the Thalabah and the Banu al-Shutaibah.
36 Loyalty is a
protection against treachery. The freedmen of Thalabah are as
themselves. The close friends of the Jews are as themselves.
37 None of (the
believers) shall go to war, except with the permission of
Muhammad, but he shall not be prevented from taking revenge for a
38 He who slays a
man without warning slays himself and his household, unless it be
one who has wronged him, for Allah will accept that.
39 The Jews must
bear their expenses and the Muslims their expenses.
40 Each must help
the other against anyone who attacks the people of this document.
41 They must seek
mutual advice and consultation, and loyalty is a protection
42 A man is not
liable for his ally’s misdeeds.
43 The wronged
must be helped.
44 The Jews must
bear expenses along with the believers so long as war lasts.
45 The valley of
Yathrib shall be a sanctuary for the people of this document.
46 A stranger
under protection (jar) shall be as his host so long as he
does no harm and commits no crime. A woman shall only be given
protection with the consent of her family.
47 If any dispute
or controversy likely to cause trouble should arise it must be
referred to Allah and to Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah. Allah
accepts what is nearest to piety and goodness in this documents.
48 The Quraish
and their helpers shall not be given protection.
contracting parties are bound to help one another against any
attack on Yathrib.
50 If they are
called to make peace and maintain it, they must do so; and if they
make a similar demand on the Muslims, it must be carried out,
except in the case of a Holy War.
51 Everyone shall
have his portion from the side to which he belongs; the Jews of
al-Aus, their freedmen and themselves have the same standing with
the people of this document in pure loyalty from the people of
this document. Loyalty is a protection against treachery. He who
acquires anything acquires it for himself.
52 Allah approves
of this document. This deed will not protect the unjust and the
sinner. The man who goes forth to fight or the man who stays at
home in the city is safe unless he has been unjust and a sinner.
Allah is the Protector of the good and God-fearing man and
Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
to the start of this chapter]
2- Treaty of Hudaibiyah:
In the year 6 A.H. Prophet Muhammad set out for Makkah with 1400
companions for Umrah. Hearing that the pagan Quraish of Makkah are
not prepared to allow him to enter Makkah, the Prophet encamped at
Hudaibiyah six miles short of Makkah. After hectic negotiations
between the Muslims and the Quraish a truce for a period of ten
years was signed which is known in history as the Treaty of
Hudaibiyah. Following is the text of this treaty :
“With Thy name, O
“This is what was
agreed upon between Muhammad, son of ‘Abdullah, and Suhail, son of
“They both agreed
to put down fighting on the part of people for ten years, during
which period the people were to enjoy peace and refrain from
fighting with each other.
“And whoever of the
companions of Muhammad comes to Makkah on Hajj or
‘Umrah-pilgrimage, or in quest of the bounty of God en route to
Yaman or Ta’if, such shall be in security regarding his person and
property. And whoever comes to Madinah, from among the Quraish,
en route to Syria or ‘Iraq [variant : Egypt] seeking the
bounty of God, such shall be in security regarding his person and
“And whoever comes
to Muhammad from among the Quraishites without the permission of
his guardian (mawla), he [he the Prophet] will hand him
over to them; and whoever comes to the Quraish from among those
who are with Muhammad, they will not hand him over to him.
“And that between
us is a tied-up breast [i.e. bound to fulfil the terms] and that
there shall be no secret help violating neutrality, and no acting
“And that whosoever
likes to enter the league of Muhammad and his alliance may enter
into it : and whoso likes to enter the league of the Quraish and
their alliance may enter it–And thereupon upsprang the tribe of
Khuza’ah and said: We are in league with Muhammajd and his
alliance; and upsprang the tribe of Banu Bakr and said: We are in
league with the Quraish and their alliance.
“And that thou
[Muhammad] shalt return from us [Quraish is this year and enter
not in our midst; and that when it is the coming year, we shall go
out from thee and thou shall enter with thy companions and stay
there three nights, with thee being the weapon of the rider :
having swords at the side; thou shalt not enter with what is other
than them [swords].
“And that the
animals of sacrifice (brought by thee this time) will be
slaughtered where we found them [i.e. in Hudaibiyah], and thou
shalt not conduct them to us [in Makkah].
[Probably Seal of Muhammad and Seal of Suhail]
“Muslims :– Abu
Bakr, Umar, ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn ‘Awf. ‘Abdullah Ibn Suhail Ibn
‘Amr, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, Mahmud ibn Maslamah, etc.
Mikraz ibn Hafs, etc.
Scribe and Witness :– ‘Ali ibn Abi
The terms of this
treaty prima facie appear to the disadvantage of the Muslims and
it was considered so by many companions of the Prophet as well.
But the treaty proved a landmark in the history of Islam. It
provided to the Muslims necessary relief from the hectic warfare
and to Islam it provided boost in its spread and propagation. No
doubt the treaty has been called ‘Fatah Mubeen’ (clear victory) by
the Qur’an in its chapter 48 and it was indeed no less than that.
to the start of this chapter]
3-Treaty with the Christians of Najran:
In the year 8.A.H. Christians of Najran submitted to the Islamic
state of Madinah and agreed to pay fixed tribute to Muhammad, the
Prophet of Islam. In lieu of this submission and tribute, they
secured from the Prophet his protection to their life, faith, land
and property. The terms of the treaty concluded between the
parties are :
1. From Muhammad
the Messenger of Allah to the people of Najran.
2. The people of
Najran are responsible for paying tribute to the Prophet according
to the rate fixed for them in fruit, wheat or cattle.
3. Whatever is
taken from them, armour, horses, camels or luggage, will be taken
according to determined computation.
4. In case of war
between us and Yemen, the people of Najran will lend us thirty
armours, thirty horses and thirty camels.
5. Any damage to,
or loss of, the things borrowed will be paid by my envoys.
6. The life,
faith, land and property of the people of Najran and of the
neighbouring areas, absent or present, will be under the
protection of Allah and His Messenger.
7. Their places
of worship and their religious rights will also be protected.
8. Their bishops
will not be transferred nor their monks be removed nor those who
abstain from war.
9. The status quo
will be strictly maintained; whatever is in their possession,
whether plentiful or scarce, will not be changed.
10. They will have
no right to do any business involving interest (riba) or to
claim any right to blood retaliation (shed in the days of)
11. If any of them
claims his right to something, the matter will be decided between
them with justice. They shall not be wronged nor shall they (be
allowed to) do any wrong.
12. Whatever is
mentioned in this document is under the eternal protection of
Allah and is the responsibility of Muhammad the Prophet, provided
these people do good of their own accord without any coercion or
to the start of this chapter]
IV- Rules and Regulations of the Treaties
The jurists of
Islam have laid down certain rules and regulations which should be
adhered to while framing treaties and alliances. Basing their
argument on the command of the Qur’an : “when ye contract a debt
for a fixed term, record it in writing”, and the practice of the
Prophet, they say that a treaty must be reduced into black and
white. Terms of the treaty should be clear to the parties
concerned and there must be no ambiguity in them. The date of the
writing of the treaty, date on which it comes into force and the
duration of the treaty must be precisely mentioned. The signatures
of the duly authorized persons should be affixed along with the
names and signatures of the witnesses in whose presence the deed
was executed. If the supreme commander or the head of the
government is not present at the time of execution of treaty, then
the provisional agreement made on his behalf by a subordinate
authority must be later ratified by the competent authority. The
terms of the treaty must be implemented in letter and spirit and
the solemn pledges made between the parties must be truly honoured
to the start of this chapter]