Friday, April 13, 2007

The Charter of Madinah

Description: The establishment of new constitution and society under the Islamic State.

Banu Salleh

Just as the Prophet SAW, had established a code of brotherhood amongst the believers, he was also keen on establishing friendly relations between the Muslims and non-Muslim tribes of Arabia. Medinah and its suburb were at this time inhabited by three distinct parties, the [Muhajirin] Emigrants, the [Ansar] Helpers, and the Jews.

He established a treaty aimed at ruling out all pre-Islamic rancor and inter-tribal feuds. He was meticulous not to leave any area in the charter that would allow pre-Islamic traditions to influence or violate the new environment he wanted to establish. This was to weld them together into an orderly federation.

The Prophet SAW clearly defined their rights and obligations as well as represented the framework of the first organized commonwealth. Following are some pertinent provisions.

“In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

This charter is given by Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah to all believers, whether of Quraish or Medinites, and all individuals of whatever origin who have made common cause with them,

1. They are shall all constitute one nation.

2. The Emigrants of Quraish shall unite together and pay blood money from among themselves, and shall ransom honorably their prisoners. Every tribe of the Helpers shall unite together, as they were at first, and every section among them will pay a ransom for releasing its relative prisoners.

3. Believers shall not leave any poor among them but not paying his redemption money or blood money in kind.

4. All true Muslims shall hold in abhorrence every man guilty of crime, injustice or disorder; no one shall uphold the culpable, though he is his nearest kin.”

5. A believer shall not kill another believer, nor shall he support a disbeliever against a believer.

6. The protection of Allah is one extended to the humblest of believers

7. The believers are supported by each other.

8. Whoever the Jews who attach themselves to our commonwealth shall be protected from all insults and vexations; they shall have an equal right with our people to our assistance and good offices

9. The state of peace and war shall be common to all Muslims; no one among them shall have the right of concluding peace with, or declaring war against, the enemies of his co-religionists.

10. It shall not be lawful for believers, who holds by what is in this document and believes in Allah and the Day of Judgement, to help a criminal nor give him refuge. Those who give him refuge and provide him help shall have the curse and anger of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. Their indemnity is not accepted.

11. Killing a believer deliberately with no good reason entails killing the killer unless the heirs consider it otherwise.

12. All future disputes arising among those who accept this charter shall be referred, under Allah to Muhammad.”

This charter put an end to the state of anarchy that prevailed among the Arabs. It constituted the Prophet Muhammad as the leader of the nation.

The Individual Role in the Society.

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 solely by his wisdom and adroitness, that the Prophet SAW erected the pillars of the new society. This phenomenon no doubt left its mark on the virtuous Muslims. He used to bring them up in the light of Islamic guidance; he sanctified their persons, enjoined them to observe righteousness and praiseworthy manners and was keen on infusing into them the ethics of amity, glory, honor, worship and obedience to Allah and His Messenger. The Prophet SAW, used to inculcate the good virtues, in particular the importance of strong bonds of brotherhood and building the basic character based on the faith of Allah in the minds of the Companions when he was building a new nation of Islam in Medinah.

A man asked the Messenger of Allah SAW, which of the merits is superior in Islam. He remarked: "That you provide food and extend greetings to one whom you know or do not know."

‘Abdullah bin Salam said: “When the Prophet, arrived in Al-Madinah, I went to see him and I immediately recognized through his features that he would never be a liar. The first things the Prophet SAW, said were: ‘Extend peace greetings amongst yourselves, provide food to the needy, maintain relations of kinship, observe prayer at night while people are asleep, then you will peacefully enter the Garden [Paradise].’"

The Prophet said: "A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim; he neither oppresses him nor does he fail him. Whosoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, Allah will remove from him one of the grief’s of the Day of Judgment. Whosoever shields a Muslim, Allah will shield him on the Day of Resurrection. "

The Prophet also said: "Abusing a Muslim is an outrage and fighting against him is disbelief."

The Prophet said: "To remove something harmful from the road is charity." "Charity erases sins just as water extinguishes fire."

The Prophet said: "He is not a perfect believer, who goes to bed full and knows that his neighbor is hungry."

The Prophet also said: "Show mercy to people on earth so that Allah will have mercy on you in heaven."

The Prophet said: "Try to avert tension even by half a date [in charity]; if not, then by tendering a good word.”

The Prophet also said: "Clothing an under-clad Muslim, entitles you to a garment from Paradise; feeding a hungry Muslim will make you eligible [by Allah’s Will] for the fruits of Paradise, and if you provide water to a thirsty Muslim, Allah will provide you with a drink from ‘the Sealed Nectar’.”

The Prophet said: "Do not have malice against a Muslim; do not be envious of other Muslims; do not go against a Muslim and forsake him. O slaves of Allah! Be like brothers with each other. It is not allowed for a Muslim to desert his brother for over three days.”

The Prophet SAW, used to promote the habit of abstention from asking others for help, unless one is completely helpless. He used to talk to his Companions about the merits, virtues and Divine reward in observing the prescribed acts of worship. He would always bring forth substantiated proofs in order to link them physically and spiritually to the Revelation sent to him. Hence, he would apprise them of their duties and responsibilities in terms of the call of Islam, and at the same time emphasize the importance of comprehension and contemplation. That was his practice in order to boost their morale and inspire them with noble values and ideals, so that they could become models of virtue to be emulated by subsequent generations.

‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud said: “If you are willing to follow a good example, then you can take recourse to the tradition of the people who have passed away, because the living are likely to fall an easy victim to oppression [so they might waver in faith]. Follow the steps of the Companions of Muhammad. They were the best in this nation, the most pious, the most learned and the least pretentious. Allah chose them to accompany the Prophet SAW, and establish His religion. Therefore, it is imperative to get to know their grace, follow their righteous way and adhere as much as you can to their manners and assimilate their biographies. They were always on the straight path.”

Then, there is the example of the Messenger of Allah SAW, whose moral attributes, perfection, talents, virtues, noble manners and praiseworthy deeds, entitle him to occupy the innermost portions of our hearts, and become the dearest example that the self yearns for. He would hardly utter a word, and his Companions would race to assimilate it and work in its light.

Those were the attributes and qualities on the basis of which the Prophet SAW, wanted to build a new society: the most wonderful and honorable society ever known in history. On these grounds, he strove to resolve the longstanding problems, and later gave humankind the chance to breathe a sigh of relief after a long wearying journey in dark and gloomy avenues. Such lofty morals lay at the very basis of creating a new society, with integrated communities that were immune to all fluctuations of time and circumstances, and powerful enough to change the whole course of humanity.


See: Prophet Muhammad. 17.

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