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Ismaili History 310 - Social Boycott

Having failed in all their attempts to impede the progress of Islamic mission, the Qoraish of Mecca called a summit conference and pledged themselves to a policy of social boycott of the Hashimites on a large scale. This implied the severance of all social, matrimonial and commercial ties of Meccans with Hashimites. The decree was written by Mansur, the son of Akrama and the scroll hung up on the wall of Kaba, which reads: 'It has been agreed that henceforth no one in Mecca shall have any dealings or transact any business with Muhammad, the son of Abdullah, his family or his followers. No one shall sell food to them nor visit them, nor converse with them. This ban will continue until Muhammad's people hand him over to us to be treated as he deserves.'

On hearing of this, Abu Talib was thereby obliged to shift alongwith the entire family of Hashimites to a secluded valley fastness, known as Shib (quarter) of Abu Talib, on the eastern skirts of Mecca, cut off by rocks from the city except for one narrow gateway. Abu Jahl spared no pains to keep a vigilant watch to ensure that the blockade was strickly observed. When Hakim bin Hazam tried to supply some provisions to Khadija, who was closely related to him, Abu Jahl offered obstruction. But never throughout these trying times did the Hashimites waver in their resolution.

The provisions which they had carried with them were soon exhausted. For days they went without food; water was scare; infants and children almost died of hunger. The sick and the infirm breathed their last painful breath without succour or sustenance. There was much weeping and wailing in the Muslim camp but there were no betrayers. The pressure of hunger had reached its climax to such an extreme that Sa'd bin Abi Waqqas relates, 'One night I was coming out of the valley in such a condition that I was about to exhaust all my faculties. Suddenly I saw a dried hide of a camel. I picked it up, washed, baked and ground it. I kneaded its powder with some water and used it for three days.' The severity of the action of the Qoraish however did not diminish the great patience and fortitude of the Muslims.

The pitiable condition of the Hashimites continued for a period of three years, till, at length, the Qoraish were awakened to a sense of remorse on their dealings with the Hashimites. All at once it was discovered that the parchment in the Kaba, on which the decree had been written, was eaten up by termite and only the words, 'In the name of the Lord' (with which the Qoraish commenced their writings) had survived. The decree was, therefore, declared to be annulled, and was torn off, and approaching Abu Talib, the Meccan leaders requested him to come back to his original abode. Abu Talib accepted to resume his civic life alongwith all members of Hashimites. During the period Muhammad was shut up in the Shib of Abu Talib, Islam virtually made no progress outside.

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