Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Prophet Set A New Stage in Madinah

Description: The challenges of establishing a new city state of Medinah and establishing of the first Islamic State.

Banu Salleh

The Messenger of Allah SAW, arrived in Yathrib on Friday, Rabi’ul-Awwal 12, 1 AH [September 27, 622 CE] and took the lower portion of the house of Abu Ayyub as a temporary residence. Prophet Muhammad SAW changed the name of Yathrib, and henceforth was called, Al-Medinah Al-Munawarah, the Illuminated City, or more shortly, Medinah, the City.

Yathrib was then ruled by two Kahtanite tribes, Aws and Khazraj. These two tribes, however, were constantly quarreling among themselves. It was only about that time when the Prophet announced his mission at Makkah that these tribes, after long years of continuous warfare, entered on a period of comparative peace. When the Prophet SAW settled at Medinah, the tribes of Aws and Khazraj forgot entirely their old feuds and were united together in the bond of Islam. Their old divisions were soon effaced and known as the “Ansar”, the Helpers of the Prophet. They became the common designation of all Medinites that had helped the Prophet in his cause. Those who emigrated with him from Makkah received the title of "Muhajirin" or the Emigrants.

Constructions of a Masjidil Nabawi.

The first step the Prophet SAW took, after his settlement at Medinah, was to build a mosque for the worship of Allah according to principles of Islam. Also, houses for the accommodation of the Muhajirins were soon erected.

The construction of a Mosque was done at the very site where his camel knelt down. The land, which belonged to two orphans, was purchased. The ground was cleared of weeds and shrubs, palm trees and rubbish; the graves of the polytheists were dug up and then leveled, and trees were planted. The Prophet SAW, himself contributed to building the Mosque by carrying adobe bricks and stones. The Qiblah [the direction in which the Muslims turn their faces in prayer] was constructed to face Jerusalem; two beams were also erected to support the ceiling. It was square in form, each side measuring approximately 100 yards, facing towards the north and having three gates on each of the remaining sides. Nearby, rooms reserved for the household of the Prophet SAW, were built of stones and adobe bricks with ceilings of palm leaves. To the north of the Mosque, a place was reserved for the Muslims who had neither family nor home. The Adzan [summoning the Muslims to the Mosque by the call for prayer] was initiated at this early stage of the post-migration era. The Mosque was not merely a locus to perform prayers, but rather a place where the Muslims were taught the doctrines of Islam. It served as a place of assembly and was the headquarters wherein all the affairs of the Muslims were administered and consultative and executive councils held.

Established Brotherhood System.

The Mosque being thus constructed, the first objective of the Prophet SAW was to establish law and order and good mutual relations among the people. He felt right away that the Muhajirin had come from Makkah and so they must not become a source of constant mental stress for the people of Al-Madinah. However, he was equally conscious of the stark reality that the Muhajirin had migrated from Makkah sacrificing everything for their faith - their homes, motherland, relatives, wealth, property, family and clan. They should be treated in a manner that they were not overtaken by a deep sense of loss, dejection and frustration.

Prophet was a person who led a very modest daily life with main meal was usually a boiled gruel, with dates and milk, his only other meal of the day being dates and water; but he frequently went hungry, sometimes even binding a flat stone against his belly to alleviate his discomfort. One day a woman gave him a cloak, something he badly needed but the same evening someone asked for it to make a shroud, and he promptly gave it as charity. He was brought food by those who had a small surplus, but he never seemed to keep it long enough to taste it, as there was always someone in greater need. The physical strength is diminishing, now fifty-two years old, he pursued to build a nation based upon the true religion of Islam out of the varied assortment of people God had given him as his raw material.

It was through the combination of character combined with extraordinary diplomatic skill, Prophet SAW began to reconcile the factions of Medinah. And with his other companions also kept emigrating, a support system for the newcomers was most essential.

The Prophet SAW convened a meeting of the Muhajirin and the Ansar and told them about the virtues of Islamic brotherhood. He then established a system known as bonds of brotherhood between the Muhajirin and the Ansar, putting them together in an atmosphere of mutual regard. The Prophet’s vision was to instills a united brotherhood between the Ansaar [Helpers] and the Muhajirin [Emigrants]; a system of personal relationships that each ‘helper’ took an ‘emigrant’ as his brother, to be treated as such under all circumstances and to stand in order of inheritance along with members of the natural family. Each Helper took a Muhajir as his brother.

The Prophet SAW attached to that brotherhood a valid contract; it was not just a matter of words, but a valid practice relating to blood and wealth rather than a passing whim.

It was indeed unique in the history of the world. A gathering of 90 men, half of whom were Emigrants and the others Helpers assembled in the house of Anas bin Malik where the Prophet SAW, gave the spirit of brotherhood his official blessing. When either of the two persons who had been paired as brothers, passed away, his property was inherited by his brother-in-faith. This practice continued till the following verse was revealed at the time of the battle of Badar, and the regular rule of inheritance was allowed to take its usual course:

"But those of [blood] relationship are more entitled [to inheritance]." [Surah Al-Anfal, 8:75]

Muhammad Al-Ghazali said that the “Brotherhood-in-faith, was holding subordinate every distinction of race and kindred and supporting the Islamic precept: none is superior to the other except on the basis of piety and being God-fearing.”

The atmosphere of brotherhood infused a deep spirit of selflessness in the hearts of the Companions, and produced very healthy results. Some of the ‘emigrants’ had lost everything they possessed and were completely dependent upon their new brothers. The Helpers sometimes went so far as to give their Emigrant brothers half of whatever they possessed in the form of houses, assets, lands and groves. Such was the enthusiasm of the Helpers to share everything with their brothers-in-faith that they divided everything into two parts to draw lots for allocating their share. In most cases, they tried to give the Emigrants the fairer portion of their property. Sa‘ad bin Ar-Rabe‘ from the Ansar , said to his fellow brother ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Awf: “I am the richest man amongst the Helpers. I will be glad to share half of my property with you. I have two wives, I am ready to divorce one and after the expiry of her ‘Iddah, you may marry her." However, ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Awf was not prepared to accept anything, neither property nor home. Instead, he blessed his brother and said: "Kindly direct me to the market so that I may make my fortune with my own hands." Soon, he prospered in his trade and got married shortly thereafter, by his own labor.

Abu Bakar's brother in faith was Kharijah bin Zubair Al-Ansari and ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab entered the bond of brotherhood with ‘Utban bin Malik Al-Ansari, Abu ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah with Sa'd bin Mu'ath Al-Ansari, ‘Abdul Rahman bin ‘Awf with Sa'ad bin Ar-Rabe', Zubair bin Al-‘Awwam with Salamah bin Salamah, ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan with Thabit bin Al-Munthir Ansari . Similarly, Talhah bin ‘Ubaidullah and Ka'ab bin Malik, Mus'ab bin ‘Umar and Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari, ‘Ammar bin Yasir and Hudzaifah bin Al-Yaman mutually consolidated their bonds of brotherhood.

The Ansar remained faithful to this arrangement with so much caution and sincerity, that human history is unable to give any other similar example. The Ansar treated their Muhajirin brothers like their own and entrusted to them their wealth and property in abundance. However, the Muhajirin disliked being a burden on their Ansaari brothers and undertook a life of sweat and toil to shoulder their own burden.

One is tempted to describe as a ‘miracle’ the fact that this situation seems to have caused no resentment whatever among those who were so suddenly obliged to take complete strangers into their families. This bond of brotherhood broke all ties of ancestry, color, nationality and other factors previously regarded as a standard of honor. The only ties which now mattered were religious. Seldom has the power of religious faith to change men been more clearly demonstrated.

The Makkan Muslims, however, had not forgotten their old skills. An ‘emigrant’ who when his new brother said to him, ‘O poorest of the poor, how can I help you? My house and my funds are at your disposal!’ replied: ‘O kindest of kind friends, just show me the way to the local market. The rest will take care of itself.’ This man, it is said, started by selling cheese and clarified butter, and soon became rich enough to pay the dower of a local girl and, in due course, was able to equip a caravan of 700 camels.

Such enterprise was encouraged, but there were also those who had neither the ability to do so or did them have neither family nor property. They would spend the day in the Mosque and at night, the Prophet would place them with various individuals of the Helpers. They came to be known as ‘Ahl us-Suffa.’ Some were fed at the Prophet’s own table, when there was any to spare, and with roasted barley from the community chest.


See: Prophet Muhammad. 16.

No comments: