Three Major Events in the Rise of Islam

Overview: This lesson allows students to examine three important events in the life of Muhammad and the development of the Muslim community with respect to jihad, or legitimate warfare.

Objectives: Students should be able to:

    • explain the significance of the Hijrah (Muhammad’s migration from Makkah to Madinah), the treaty of Hudaibiyyah, and the "Opening of Makkah" to the development and survival of the Muslim community and to Muhammad’s life.
    • explain the factors that led to each event.


    1. Working in small groups and using Handout 3:2a, students should use the class chronology and their notes to discuss the significance of three watershed events in the development of the Muslim community: (1) the Hijrah, (2) the treaty of Hudaybiyyah, and (3) the victory over Makkah.
    2. OPTION OR ADAPTATION: This activity can be combined with the activity on placing events in chronological order. While that activity involves comprehension, this one involves higher-order thinking and analysis. The questions given below, under #3, can be used as a reference for the chronology activity during discussion.
    3. Have students answer the following questions about the factors that contributed to each event. The answers in brackets and italics offer suggestions for the teacher, but many discussions will carry the ideas further:
      • Why did Muhammad allow groups of Muslims to migrate to Madinah from the city of Makkah? [A: he allowed them to emigrate in order to get away from the danger of further persecution]
      • What event led to his own migration to Madinah, together with Abu Bakr? What did the Quraysh leaders plan, and what was their response to his escape from Makkah? What did the leaders of Makkah gain from the departure of the Muslims, and what did they lose or risk losing? [A: The Quraysh murder plot led to his emigration. They planned to kill him, and when he escaped, they sent tribesmen to capture him. The leaders gained the property and homes of the Muslim emigrants; they lost control over the Muslims, and risked the Muslims gaining influence among tribes loyal to Quraysh, and creating a center of influence out of the Quraysh’s reach.]
      • What reaction did Quraysh display to the establishment of the Muslim community at Madinah? How did hostilities between the two groups begin? What battles took place? [A: The Quraysh sought to continue their trade in the region unchallenged by the Muslims, and they sought to weaken and if possible eliminate the Muslim community. The conflict began when Muslim forces met a Quraysh caravan and the Battle of Badr resulted. Major battles included Badr, Uhud and Khandaq.]
      • What was the purpose of Muhammad’s journey to Makkah with his followers after the Battle of Khandaq? What symbol of their peaceful intention was clearly understood by the Quraysh? [A: Muhammad led his followers, unarmed showing the recognized signs that they intended to make pilgrimage to Makkah, their pilgrim dress and animals marked for the sacrifice.]
      • Were the Muslims allowed to enter Makkah for the pilgrimage? What was the outcome of the challenge posed by the Quraysh to the Muslims? [A: The Quraysh, in violation of their role as custodians of the Ka’bah and hosts of the pilgrimage, denied them entry. Muhammad, however, asked the Quraysh to negotiate and secured a treaty with them.]
      • Muhammad compromised on almost every point in the treaty of Hudaibiyya. Why would the treaty be called a "clear victory" in the Qur’an? How did the treaty of Hudaibiyya change the relationship between the Muslims and the Quraysh? [A: The treaty represented the long-sought recognition of the Muslims as a bargaining partner, as a legitimate entity with whom a treaty could be made. Before that, no such entity had existed other than tribes, and the Muslims had been considered renegades from Quraysh itself. Furthermore, the denial of entry to the pilgrims was a clear violation of Quraysh’s traditional role as host of the pilgrimage, just as Quraysh’s leadership in battle and position as head of tribal alliances had been destroyed by their inability to defeat the Muslims. Finally, the treaty committed Quraysh to conditions that didn’t allow them to continue to pressure the Muslims. It forced them to give up trying to destroy the Madinan community in order to maintain the terms of their agreement.]
      • Makkah was finally captured peacefully by the Muslims when the Makkans broke the treaty. What enabled the Muslims to capture Makkah without a fight? [ A: The Muslim forces had become stronger both in military skill, in numbers of adherents to Islam, and in alliances with other tribes. While the Quraysh position had become steadily weaker, militarily, economically and politically. By the time they broke the treaty, a mere show of force with the assembly of 10,000 troops outside Makkah was enough to overcome the city with only token opposition.]


The Hijrah

The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah

The Opening of Makkah