Islamic Peace Treaties


John F. Schmidt



What do you call it when a person makes a peace treaty with an opponent with the sole purpose of suddenly destroying his treaty partner in an overwhelming surprise attack? You might be tempted to call it ‘war’, but what does it mean when this is called “peace?”


Recently, a chilling description of Mohammed’s model of diplomacy came to light in an article “The lesson of al-Hudaybiyah” by Joseph Farah, editor of Worldnetdaily. Al-Hudaybiyah was the name of the town where a peace treaty was signed between Mohammed and some tribes that ruled his hometown of Mecca. He wanted to rule Mecca but was too weak militarily to do so. So he signed a peace treaty with them for ten years. Yet after less than two years, and after he had built up his military strength to the point where he was confident he could now conquer his opponents, he found his chance in a slight Meccan infraction of the treaty. Seizing this opportunity, he spurned all attempts by his rivals to make peaceful compensation and instead marched on Mecca. Caught by surprise, and unprepared, they capitulated. He conquered them because they trusted him to observe the spirit of his “Peace Treaty.” But he betrayed them.


Most fair-minded people would call Mohammed’s actions, first and last, “treachery,” since his ‘peace’ treaty is easily seen in retrospect to have been a sham. He never intended peace – he only used the treaty to buy time to prepare for the “final solution.”


This bit of obscure trivia would be just an interesting historical note except that it happens to be the central theme behind Islamic efforts to make peace with Israel.


If we embrace the notion that the “Peace Process” involving the U.S., the Israelis and the Palestinians is intended to bring about a just peace that accepts the rights of both peoples to exist and have a place to live, then certainly no negotiator should broker a “peace” that implicitly allows one party to “cross their fingers behind their back” when they sign on the dotted line. Any hint that either party has such intentions should immediately shelve negotiations and gain the perpetrator universal censure.


And while we may agree, “all is fair in … war,” it is also true that genuine peace includes laying down subterfuge or deceit as a tactic and the adoption of truth when dealing with past adversaries. The goal is a fair peace and cessation of war, not a total victory of one party over the other. Honest dealing therefore must include laying down treachery.


Yet treachery is the expressed goal of Yassir Arafat, and the Palestinian Authority. Arafat has made numerous public references to “al-Hudaybiyah” in explaining himself to his Islamic supporters as recently as May 15 of this year. This was also the same justification he provided to his Islamic supporters just after signing the Oslo accords several years ago. Read more details of this from the very informative article by Daniel Pipes, “Lessons from the Prophet Mohammed’s Diplomacy”, dated September 1999, appearing in “The Middle East Quarterly.”


Presumably, he thought that no Westerner would grasp the significance of his references to an obscure event in the life of Mohammed, while any Islamic person knowledgeable in the Koran would instantly understand the treacherous basis on which he was making “peace.”


His announced rationale for engaging the hated Israelis in any kind of peace diplomacy is that it is actually intended to be a ruse to buy time until the Israelis are ripe for the plucking. Then the Palestinians will implement their real “final solution” for the Jews – total extermination.


Even more chilling than the evil workings of this one man is how widely accepted his words have been in the entire Islamic culture. I have not found one word published by Islamic sources criticizing the use of al-Hudaybiyah as a diplomatic basis for making agreements. In fact, they appear to enthusiastically support him in this treachery, even to this present time. That fact does not give me confidence in any Islamic words concerning peace because it appears that al-Hudaybiyah is part and parcel of the doctrine and practice of Islam.


It is easy to understand the practices of thugs and murderers being defended by lies and treachery, but it is perplexing and discouraging to think that the religion of Islam is founded – and strongly defended by its adherents – on Allah’s blessing on Mohammed’s example. Something is wrong if Allah is the author of lies and treachery. Figure it out for yourself.


President Bush has declared Arafat to be out of the peace process, and that is good news. The world needs a plain declaration from all quarters of the Islamic peoples of the world that they renounce the principle of al-Hudaybiyah as a basis for dealing with those they regard as enemies. Somehow I don’t think we will get any takers on that one.


So the only prudent thing to do – for Israel or the U.S. - is treat the Islamics as untrustworthy in war or in peace, and deal with them from a position of strength not weakness, until such a time that they renounce treachery as the basis for diplomacy.


We might not be able to change the way they think, but we don’t have to allow ourselves to be murdered in our sleep either, because we forgot the lesson of al-Hudaybiyah.