The Final Phase of the Diplomacy of Negotiation
The Messenger of Allâh (Allah bless him and give him peace) left his confinement and went on preaching his Faith as usual. Quraish, likewise, repealed the boycott but went on in their atrocities and oppression on the Muslims. Abu Talib, the octogenarian notable, was still keen on shielding his nephew but by that time, and on account of the series of tremendous events and continual pains, he began to develop certain fits of weakness. No sooner had he emerged victorious from the inhuman boycott, than he was caught in a persistent illness and physical enervation. The polytheists of Makkah, seeing this serious situation and fearing that the stain of infamy that the other Arabs could attribute to them in case they took any aggressive action against the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) after he had lost his main support, Abu Talib, took a decision to negotiate with the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) once more and submit some concessions withheld previously. They then delegated some representatives to see Abu Talib and discuss the issue with him. Ibn Ishaq and others related: "When a serious illness caught Abu Talib, the people of Quraish began to deliberate on the situation and reviewed the main features that characterized that period and which included the conversion of ‘Umar and Hamzah to Islam, coupled with the tremendous stir that Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) had created amongst all the tribes of Quraish. They then deemed it imperative to see Abu Talib before he died to pressure his nephew to negotiate a compromise on the various disputed points. They were afraid that the other Arabs might attribute to them the charge of opportunism."
The delegation of Quraish comprised 25 men including notables like ‘Utbah bin Rabi‘a, Shaibah bin Rabi‘a, Abu Jahl bin Hisham, Omaiyah bin Khalaf, Abu Sufyan bin Harb. They first paid tribute to him and confirmed their high esteem of his person and position among them. They then shifted to the new give-and-take policy that they claimed they wanted to follow. To substantiate their argument they alleged that they would refrain from intervening in his religion if he did the same.
Abu Talib summoned his nephew and apprised him of the minutes of his meeting with them, and said: "Well, my nephew, here are the celebrities of your people. They have proposed this meeting to submit a policy of mutual concessions and peaceful coexistence." The Messenger of Allâh (Allah bless him and give him peace) turned to them saying:
"I will guide you to the means by which you will gain sovereignty over both the Arabs and non-Arabs."
In another version, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) addressed Abu Talib in the following words: "O uncle! Why don’t you call them unto something better?" Abu Talib asked him, "What is it that you invite them to?" The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) replied, "I invite them to hold fast to a Message that is bound to give them access to kingship over the Arabs and non-Arabs." According to Ibn Ishaq’s version, "It is just one word that will give you supremacy over the Arabs and non-Arabs." The Makkan deputies were taken by incredible surprise and began to wonder what sort of word was that which would benefit them to that extent. Abu Jahl asked, "What is that word? I swear by your father that we will surely grant you your wish followed by ten times as much." He said, "I want you to testify that there is no god worthy to be worshipped but Allâh, and then divest yourselves of any sort of worship you harbour for any deities other than Allâh." They immediately clapped their hands in ridicule, and said "How can you expect us to combine all the deities in one God. It is really something incredible." On their way out leaving, they said to one another, "By god this man (Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) ) will never relent, nor will he offer any concessions. Let us hold fast to the religion of our forefathers, and Allâ h will in due course adjudicate and settle the dispute between us and him." As regards this incident, Allâh revealed the following verses:
"Sâd: [These letters (Sâd, etc.) are one of the miracles of the Qur’ân and none but Allâh (Alone) knows their meanings]. By the Qur’ân full of reminding. Nay, those who disbelieve are in false pride and Apposition. How many a generation We have destroyed before them, and they cried out when there was no longer time for escape! And they (Arab pagans) wonder that a warner (Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace)) has come to them from among themselves! And the disbelievers say, ‘This (Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace)) is a sorcerer, a liar. Has he made the gods (all) into One God (Allâh). Verily, this is a curious thing!’ And the leaders among them went about (saying): ‘Go on, and remain constant to your gods! Verily, this is a thing designed (against you)! We have not heard (the like) of this among the people of these later days. This is nothing but an invention.’" [Al-Qur'an 38:1-7]
[Ibn Hisham 1/417-419; Tafheem-ul-Qur'an 4/316; Mukhtasar Seerat Ar-Rasool p.9]