Abu Sufyan ibn Harb

For the son of Harith, see Abu Sufyan ibn al-Harith.
Abu Sufyan ibn Harb
صخر بن حرب
Born Sakhr ibn Harb
Died 650
Known for Chieftain of the Quraysh of Mecca.
Religion Islam

Sakhr ibn Harb (Arabic: صخر بن حرب), more commonly known as Abu Sufyan (560650),[1] was the leader of the Quraysh of Mecca, the most powerful tribe of pre-Islamic Arabia. He was a staunch opponent of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, until later accepting Islam and becoming a warrior later in his life during the early Muslim conquests.

Sakhr's mother, Safya, was the paternal aunt of Maymunah bint al-Harith, who married Muhammad.


Life and family

Abu Sufyan was the chief of the Banu Abd-Shams clan of the Quraysh, which made him one of the most powerful in Mecca. Abu Sufyan's brother Musab was among several Muslims who migrated to Abyssinia to escape persecution in Mecca.

Military conflict with Muhammad

After Muhammed and other Muslims had migrated to Medina in 622, the Quraysh confiscated the belongings they had left behind. During that period of time, caravans were accompanied by military escorts of varying strength.

Due to the hospitality Muhammad received in Medina, the Meccans feared the growing influence of the Muslims and thus were contriving to safeguard their trade routes by eliminating the religion of Islam. The Muslims of Medina were aware of such activities and began to make preparations for self-defense.[2]

In 624, Abu Sufyan was the appointed leader of a large merchant caravan carrying a fortune of the Quraysh's goods to Syria for trade. The caravan was escorted by a force of around 40 or 50 soldiers. Muhammad had learned that the caravan was passing close to Medina en route to Syria and organized a Muslim force of 300 men to intercept it and repossess the goods that the Quraysh had stolen from the Muslims due to their absence in Mecca.

Around this time, it is related that God revealed to Muhammad that his people were now given permission to go after those who had oppressed them, driven them from their homes and confiscated their property (some of which the Quraysh put on this same caravan). However, the Muslim contingent Muhammad had assembled failed to intercept the caravan. They arrived after the caravan had already passed by Medina. Abu Sufyan had learned of the Muslims' plan from scouts he had deployed, and in response, sent a crier to Mecca to rally the Quraysh to arms against the Muslims. The Muslims ended up engaging this Meccan army, a force of around 1000 men, at the plains of Badr several days after they had failed to intercept the caravan. This conflict, the Battle of Badr, ultimately resulted in a Muslim victory. The death of most Quraysh leaders in the battle not only left Abu Sufyan the leader of Mecca, but also marked the fulfillment of the Quranic prophecy in surah Ar-Rum 2-4.[2]

Abu Sufyan served as the military leader in the later Meccan campaigns against Medina, including the Battle of Uhud in 625 and the Battle of the Trench in 627, but he could not attain final victory.

Eventually the two parties agreed to an armistice, the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah in 628, which allowed Muslims to make the pilgrimage to the Kaaba.

Muslim conquest of Mecca

When the armistice was violated in 630 by allies of the Quraish, Muhammad moved towards liberating Mecca from non-Muslim authority. Abu Sufyan, seeing that the balance had tilted in Muhammad's favour and that the Quraish were not strong enough to hinder the Muslims from conquering the city, travelled to Medina, trying to restore the treaty. No agreement was reached between the two parties and Abu Sufyan returned to Mecca empty handed. These efforts ultimately ensured that the conquest occurred without battle or bloodshed.

Abu Sufyan travelled back and forth between Mecca and Madina, still trying to reach a settlement. According to the sources, he found assistance in Muhammad's uncle, Al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, though some scholars consider that historians writing under the rule of al-‘Abbas' descendants, the Abbasid Caliphate, had exaggerated al-‘Abbas' role and downplayed the role of Abu Sufyan, who was the ancestor of the enemies of the Abbasids.[3]

Later life

After the conquest of Mecca, Abu Sufyan fought as one of Muhammad's commanders in the subsequent wars. During the Siege of Ta'if, he lost an eye.

When Muhammed died in 632, Abu Sufyan was in charge of Najran.[4]

Abu Sufyan also fought in the Battle of Yarmouk in 636, in which he lost his second eye. He played a very important role in the war as the chief of staff (نقيب) of the Muslim army. He fought under command of his son, Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan.[5][6]

Abu Sufyan died at the age of ninety in 650 at Medina. His kinsman Uthman, who became the third Rashid Caliph in 644, led the prayer over his grave.


Wives and children

  1. Ṣāfiyah (Sufayah) bint Abi'l-As.
    1. Ramlah (Umm Ḥabībah). She first married Ubayd-Allah ibn Jahsh, by whom she had one daughter, Ḥabībah bint Ubayd-Allah. After Ubayd-Allah's death, she married Muhammad.
    2. Umayna. She first married Huwaytib ibn Abduluzza, by whom she had one son, Abu Sufyan ibn Huwaytib. Her second husband was Safwan ibn Umayya, by whom she had one son, Abdurrahman ibn Safwan.[7]
  2. Zaynab bint Nawfal of the Kinana.[8]
    1. Yazīd.
  3. Hind bint Utbah.
    1. Hanzalah (killed in the Battle of Badr). Hind refers to Hanzalah as her "firstborn".[9]
    2. Muawiyah I.
    3. Juwayriya. Her first husband was As-Saayib ibn Abi Hubaysh. Her second husband was Abdurrahman ibn Al-Harith.[10]
    4. Umm Hakam. She married Abdullah ibn Uthman al-Thaqifi, by whom she had one son, Abdurrahman ibn Umm Al-Hakam.[10]
    5. Utbah. He is said to have been born "in the time of the Prophet," i.e., after 610.[11] He had a son named Walīd.
  4. Safiya bint Abi 'Amr ibn 'Umayyah.
    1. 'Amr (taken captive in the Battle of Badr).[12]
    2. Hind. She married Al-Harith ibn Nawfal, by whom she had six children: Abdullah, Muhammad the Elder, Rabia, Abdurrahman, Ramla and Umm Az-Zubayr.[10]
    3. Sakhra. She married Saayid ibn Al-Akhnas and is said to have had children by him.[10]
  5. Lubaba bint Abi'l-As.
    1. Maymuna (Amina). She married Urwa ibn Masood al-Thaqafi, and bore him at least one son, Dawud.[13] Her second husband was Al-Mughira ibn Shuba al-Thaqafi.[10]
  6. Atiqa bint Abi Uzayhir.[14]
  7. Umayma bint Saad.[15]

Other children: Ḥārith, Anbasa,[16] Al-Faraa,[17] Azzah.[18]

Family tree

the Quraysh
Abd Manaf ibn Qusai
Ātikah bint Murrah
‘Abd Shams
Salma bint Amr
Umayya ibn Abd Shams
‘Abd al-Muttalib
Abu l-ʿĀs
ʿAbd Allāh
Abu Talib
Abī Sufyān ibn Harb
(Family tree)
Khadija bint Khuwaylid
Khawlah bint Ja'far
Marwan I
Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah
ʿAli bin ʿAbd Allâh
Uthman ibn Abi
(Family tree)
al-Mukhtār al-Thaqafī
Muhammad (Abbasids)

See also


  1. One-Evil. "Influential People - Abi Sufyan ibn Harb". Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  2. 1 2 Mirza Bashir-ud Din Mahmud Ahmad, Life of Muhammad, Islam International Publications 2003, p. 46-47.
  3. Glubb, John (2001). The Life and Times of Muhammad. Cooper Square Press. pp. 304–310. ISBN 0815411766.
  4. Abu Al-Abbas Ahmad Bin Jaber Al-Baladhuri, The people of the Islamic State (translated by Philip Khuri Hitti), p. 107.
  5. Ali ibn al-Athir, The Complete History
  6. "Abu Sufyan Ibn Harb: An Eye Now or an Eye in Heaven?". Francisco Burzi. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  7. Ibn Saad, Tabaqat vol. 8. Translated by Bewley, A. (1995). The Women of Madina, p. 169. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  8. Ibn Hajar. Al-Isaba vol. 6 p. 658 #9271.
  9. Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume, pp. 313, 337, 385.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 Ibn Saad/Bewley vol. 8 p. 169.
  11. Ibn Hajar. Al-Isaba vol. 5 p. 60 #6248.
  12. Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulallah. Translated by Guillaume, A. (1955). The Life of Muhammad, p. 313. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  13. Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume p. 589.
  14. Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume p. 189.
  15. Muhammad ibn Umar al-Waqidi, Kitab al-Maghazi. Translated by Faizer, R., Ismail, A., & Tayob, A. (2011). The Life of Muhammad. Oxford: Routledge.
  16. Nasa'i vol. 2 #1814.
  17. Ibn Ishaq/Guillaume p. 214.
  18. Muslim 8:3413.

External links

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