according to the terms of the treaty of hudaibiyah, the arab tribes were given the option to join either of the parties, the muslims or quraish, with which they desired to enter into treaty alliance. should any of these tribes suffer aggression, then the party to which it was allied would have the right to retaliate. as a consequence, banu bakr joined quraish, and khuza‘ah joined the prophet [pbuh]. they thus lived in peace for sometime but ulterior motives stretching back to pre-islamic period ignited by unabated fire of revenge triggered fresh hostilities. banu bakr, without caring a bit for the provisions of the treaty, attacked banu khuza‘ah in a place called al-wateer in sha‘ban, 8 a.h. quraish helped banu bakr with men and arms taking advantage of the dark night. pressed by their enemies, the tribesmen of khuza‘ah sought the holy sanctuary, but here too, their lives were not spared, and, contrary to all accepted traditions, nawfal, the chief of banu bakr, chasing them in the sanctified area — where no blood should be shed — massacred his adversaries.
when the aggrieved party sought justice from their muslim allies, the prophet [pbuh], as their leader, demanded an immediate redress for not only violating the treaty but also slaying men allied to him in the sanctified area. three demands were made, the acceptance of any one of them was imperative:
- to pay blood money for the victims of khuza‘ah,
- to terminate their alliance with banu bakr; or
- to consider the truce to have been nullified.
this behaviour on the part of quraish was clearly a breach of the treaty of al-hudaibiyah and was obviously an act of hostility against the allies of the muslims, i.e. banu khuza‘ah. quraish immediately realized the grave situation and feared the horrible consequences looming on the horizon. they immediately called for an emergency meeting and decided to delegate their chief abu sufyan to madinah for a renewal of the truce. he directly headed for the house of his daughter umm habiba (the prophet’s wife). but as he went to sit on the messenger’s carpet, she folded it up. "my daughter," said he, "i hardly knew if you think the carpet is too good for me or that i am too good for the carpet." she replied, "it is the messenger of allâh’s carpet, and you are an unclean polytheist."
being disgusted at the curt reply of his daughter, abu sufyan stepped out of her room and went to see the prophet [pbuh], but the latter was well aware of his tricks and did not hold him any assurance. he then approached abu bakr, but the latter too declined to interfere. he contacted ‘umar to intercede but this great companion made a point-blank refusal. at last he saw ‘ali bin abi talib and began begging him in the most humble words, cunningly alluding to the prospects of mastery over all the arabs if he were to intercede for the renewal of the treaty. ‘ali also briefly regretted his inability to do anything for him.
abu sufyan turned his steps back to makkah in a state of bitter disappointment and utter horror. there he submitted a report of his meeting with his daughter, abu bakr, ‘umar and ‘ali’s reaction and the meaningful silence of the prophet. the makkans were dismayed, but did not expect imminent danger.