Assalamualaikum ustaz. What are the lessons we can learn from Hilf al-Fudhul?
Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,
Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.
The incident of Hilf al-Fudhul happened in the month of Zulkaedah, the 20th year before prophethood, exactly four months after the battle of Fijar among the Quraisy tribe and qabilah who allied with Bani Kinanah in facing the attack of Bani Qais ‘Ailan. 
This incident was participated by Rasullullah PBUH as narrated by the Prophet PBUH himself through a hadith narrated by ‘Abd al-Rahman bin ‘Auf, he said: The Prophet PBUH said:
شَهِدْتُ حِلْفَ الْمُطَيَّبِينَ مَعَ عُمُومَتِي وَأَنَا غُلَامٌ فَمَا أُحِبُّ أَنَّ لِي حُمْرَ النَّعَمِ وَأَنِّي أَنْكُثُهُ
“I witnessed Hilf al-Mutayyabin with my uncles when I was young. And I dislike it even if I was given a red camel while I have to violate it.” 
While in another narration it is stated:
مَا شَهِدْتُ حِلْفًا لَقُرَيْش إِلاَّ حِلْفَ الْمُطَيَّبِينَ وَمَا أُحِبُّ أَنَّ لِي حُمْرَ النَّعَمِ وَأَنِّي كُنْتُ نَقَضْتُهُ
“I’ve never witnessed an agreement of the Quraisy except for Hilf al-Mutayyibin, And I dislike it if I was given a red camel while I have to violate it.” 
It is also recorded in a narration that Rasullullah PBUH said:
لَقَدْ شَهِدْتُ فِيْ دَارِ عَبْدِ اللهِ بْنِ جُدْعَان حِلْفًا لَوْ دُعِيْتُ بِهِ فِيْ الإِسْلاَمِ لأَجَبْتُ
“Indeed, I’ve witnessed an agreement at Abdullah bin Jad’an’s house. If I was invited to it in Islam, surely, I’d have done so.” 
Thus, we understand that this incident really took place, for the narrations that explained it is strong. Although, regarding the details of the incident, they aren’t narrated by sahih routes.
Hilf al-Fudhul incident involved five qabilah which are:
- Bani Hashim
- Bani Abd al-Muttalib
- Bani Asad bin ‘Abd al-‘Uzza
- Bani Zahrah bin Kilab
- Bani Taim bin Murrah.
It all started after al-‘As bin Wa’il a man from Bani Abd al-Dar was unjust towards al-Zubaidi who came to Mecca for trade by not paying for the goods he bought. The man from al-Zubaidi’s lineages then cried asking help from al-Ahlafi from bani ‘Abd al-Dar who had tahaluf with him before. Unfortunately, the parties that tahaluf with him in al-Ahlafi refused to help him.
The man finally asked help from other parties and al-Zubair agreed, calling others from Bani Hashim, Bani Asad bin ‘Abd al-‘Uzza, Bani Zahrah bin Kilab and Bani Taim bin Murrah who gathered at Abdullah bin Jud’an’s house by preparing a meal.
Next, they made Tahaluf or signed a Cooperation Agreement by Allah’s name that none could be oppressed in mecca whether it is their own citizens or outsiders who came to visit, except that they would help return their rights and honour (al-Fudhul) to its owner. Hence, it is called Hilf al-Fudhul.
They then walked together to the house of al-‘As bin Wa’il and forced him to return the rights of the man from al-Zubaidi lineage.
This tahaluf was attended by Rasullullah PBUH himself before the arrival of Islam and after becoming the Messenger, the Prophet PBUH praised this tahaluf saying:
لَقَدْ شَهِدْتُ فِي دَارِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ جُدْعَانَ حِلْفًا مَا أُحِبُّ أَنَّ لِيَ بِهِ حُمْرَ النَّعَمِ ، وَلَوْ أُدْعَى بِهِ فِي الإِسْلامِ لأَجَبْتُ
“I attended an agreement at the house of Abdullah bin Jud’an. There is nothing I love more compared to a red camel other than this agreement. If I was asked to participate in this agreement during Islam, surely, I’d do so.” 
Ibrah and Lessons from the Incident of Hilf al-Fudhul
Among the lessons that could be taken from this incident are:
First, the harm that is spread in the social strata of society, does not mean all goodness and nobility of character in that environment are lost. 
Second, when the jahiliyyah rejected oppression naturally, then surely Muslims should reject it, but it must be on the basis of faith. The reason is Islam commanded its ummah to not be oppressive. 
Here, we’d also like to state that a good agreement that is beneficial and provides maslahah to the ummah originates from who it was that call or sponsor it, hence we can look at Fiqh Ma’alat where we can follow something that will lead to a good outcome. So true are the words of the Prophet PBUH:
الْكَلِمَةُ الْحِكْمَةُ ضَالَّةُ الْمُؤْمِنِ فَحَيْثُ وَجَدَهَا فَهُوَ أَحَقُّ بِهَا
“The wise statement is the lost property of the believer, so wherever he finds it, then he is more worthy of it.” 
Saidina Ali Karramallhu Wajhah also once said: “Consider what is stated and not who said it.” 
May Allah SWT makes us from amongst His obedient slaves and distances us from any quarrels and fights.
Let us all together supplicate to Allah:
اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّ جِبْرِيلَ، وَمِيكَائِيلَ، وَإِسْرَافِيلَ، فَاطِرَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ، عَالِمَ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ، أَنْتَ تَحْكُمُ بَيْنَ عِبَادِكَ فِيمَا كَانُوا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ، اهْدِنَا لِمَا اخْتُلِفَ فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِكَ، إِنَّكَ تَهْدِي مَنْ تَشَاءُ إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ.
“O God, the Lord of Gabriel, Michael and Israfil, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, who knowest the unseen and the seen, Thou decidest among Thy servants concerning their differences. Guide me on account of different opinions regarding the truth by Thy permission; verily Thou guidest whom Thou wilt to a straight path.”
 See al-Rahiq al-Makhtum by al-Mubarakfuri, pg. 68 and al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah fi Dhau’i al-Quran wa al-Sunnah by Muhammad Abu Syuhbah, 1/213
 Narrated by Ahmad (1655), al-Bazzar (1000), Abu Ya’la (845) and Ibn Hibban (4373). Syeikh Syu’aib al-Arnaut stated the isnad is sahih in takhrij Sahih Ibn Hibban (no. 4373)
 Narrated by al-Baihaqi in Dala’il al-Nubuwwah (2/37-38) and Ibn Hibban (4374)
 Dinukilkan by Ibn Kathir in al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, 3/315
 Narrated by al-Baihaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubra (6/367)
 See al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah, by Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qadir Abu Faris, pg. 119
 See al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah fi Dhau’ al-Masadir al-Asliyyah by Dr. Mahdi Rizqullah Ahmad, pg. 132
 Narrated by al-Tirmizi (2687)
 See Mirqat al-Mafatih Syarh Misykat al-Masabih, 8/3471