The liberation of Mecca is an Islamic event occurred on 24 Ramadan 8 AH (≈15 January 630) when Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him and His Family) entered Mecca after nearly eight years from leaving this holy city.
To understand this occasion, it is significant to point to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah which it is considered a milestone in the course of the struggle between Quraish and the then leaders of the city of Mecca on the one hand, and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his Muslim companions on the other hand. That is because Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was able to impose the treaty on Quraish and this emphasises that the struggle has reached a stage of a balance of force that ended the phase in which Quraish had the upper hand. Quraish tried to stop Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from entering Mecca to circumambulate around the Ka‘aba since it was afraid that the Arabs would no longer fear it and thus it started to search for a solution that preserves its dignity. Therefore, it signed the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah under some conditions: Muslims would go back that year without entering Mecca. The following year they would come for three days and stay in Mecca in order to perform Umrah.
Another condition was that there would be no war for ten years and this reveals that the balance of forces shifted towards the Muslims especially that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was planning to open Mecca by a show of force and not war.
The Holy Quran expressed this reconciliation as a manifest victory in which Allah, the Most Exalted, said: “Verily We have granted thee a manifest Victory” (48: 1). That was because Allah has opened the polytheists’ hearts to accept to make a balanced reconciliation with Prophet (PBUH) and Muslims. This reconciliation gave the Muslims time to engage wholly in planning for opening Mecca when they have the opportunity for that. In this way, the Muslims were given the chance to become stronger. That is because signing any treaty between the two parties represented an admission that both parties were equal in force since the Hudaybiyyah’s treaty indicated that Quraish recognised that Islam is a new force.
Despite the importance of Mecca’s liberation and although Allah described it as the manifest victory, we find that Allah, the Most Exalted, has made a strong relation between the fight and the forgiveness of sins. He, the Almighty said: “That Allah may forgive your past faults and those to follow” (48: 02).
In this respect, the following two questions are to be raised:
The first question is: What is the relation between entering Mecca and the forgiveness of sins?
The second question is: What is the meaning of forgiving the Prophet’s sins, knowing that he is infallible in all his sayings and actions. Then, what is the meaning of the forgiveness of sins before they are committed?
There are many answers to these two questions. For example: it is said that the sins are not that of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) towards Allah, but towards the people of Mecca since they believed that the Prophet’s Da‘awa (proselytization) that led to the military and the unmilitary struggle represented the big sin, considering this call as being the movement that caused the death of many of their men and made them lose their prestige. Thus, the liberation that started morally with the treaty of Hudaybiyyah and ended as a matter of fact with entering Mecca and after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) forgave the polytheists in the aftermath of entering Mecca, revealed that they have forgiven him (PBUH) for the sins he had committed towards them. That was because the greatness of the Prophet’s forgiveness of their sins cancels all his past and following sins. In this way, the liberation of Mecca is the act of forgiveness.
When we examine this issue and study the expression of the noted Quranic verse, we realise that the majority of explanations were trying to avoid the apparent interpretation. That is because this interpretation contradicts the infallibility and the perfection of Prophet (PBUH) or his prophetic personality that represents the role model. Hence, his human nature might be subjected to points, but his message that came through revelation would grant his personality its strength. Besides, the merits, that he enjoyed throughout forty years before the message was revealed to him, should be studied in order to build a personality based on it, considering that the people who lived with him (his relatives and companions) could not score any black points on his past behaviour. For that reason, the issue of forgiving his sins contradicts with his pure and luminous past that has become brighter and purer…
Perhaps, it is better for us to inspire from forgiveness the meaning of satisfaction, love and mercy. That is because they represent the results of forgiveness, meaning that Allah has granted him His satisfaction and love and this has a positive meaning that cancels the negative meaning, considering that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) represents the starting point that opens for Islam the wide door of life that guides people to the righteous path. Moreover, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) tried hard to reach this result with the success Allah bestowed upon him and which reveals Allah’s love to him.
In this way, and as the followed Quranic verses reveal, we see that the liberation of Mecca represents the key to Allah’s satisfaction and blessings and the key to guidance, and the victory of Islam.
* This edited article is originally published in Bayynat in English (and translated by Manal Samhat).