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Key Forces in the Madinah Community

Adopted from the book : Muhammad the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.)

At Madinah, the Prophet (s.a.w.), settled in a society whose control was shared by the tribes, material interests and conflicting ideas. The chief forces at Madinah were the following:

1. Muslims

They were Ansar (supporters) and Muhajirin (migrants). The Prophet (s.a.w.) called the two tribes of Aws and Khazraj, the inhabitants of Madinah (the Ansar), as they supported and defended the new faith.

The Aws and Khazraj were two tribes named after the two sons of Harithah bin Tha'labah 'Anqa'. Their mother was Qilah, the daughter of Kahil. They lived in Yemen.

Shortly after the destructive flood of al-Aram, which destroyed the great dam of Ma'rib, the Aws and Khazraj left Yemen and settled at Yathrib. All the people of Saba' scattered in the surrounding lands.

Their descendants became farmers because the soil was fertile but economically, their condition was bad. As a result, they fell prey to greedy Jews.

With the passage of years and generations, differences arose between the descendants of the Aws and their cousins, the descendants of the Khazraj, due to mostly personal causes. The burning desire to avenge themselves over one another widened the gap between them. Many wars were waged between the two. The key ones included: The Day of Spring, the Day of al-Baqi' , the First Fujjar, the Second Fujjar and the Day of Bu'ath. The latter, was the last waged and was followed shortly by the migration of the Prophet (s.a.w.) to Madinah. Their displeasure, hate and boredom to warfare were so much that they unanimously agreed, in the wake of the war of Bu'ath, to crown Abdullah bin Abi-Salul, as their king. 57 But, no sooner was Abdullah crowned than the Prophet (s.a.w.) arrived in Madinah.

The immigrants were the pioneers of faith who had fled Mecca to preserve Islam after the unspeakable torture they were subjected to there. They settled at Madinah after their inhabitants opened their hearts to the Divine Message and guidance. For the sake of their faith, they parted with their land, wealth, houses, and even their relatives.

Meeting the new fresh challenge in the historical movement of Islam, constructive plans, both short-term and long-term, were laid on the basis of the new religion.

The migration, however , did not pass unobserved. It cast its shadow and left its imprint on the life of the followers.

Taking into consideration the new social structure, Islam created necessary communal ties never known before to man of the pre-Islamic era. It lays stress on the concept of brotherhood for the cause of Allah. It took a strategic, historical line:

O people! surely We have created you of a male and a female, and made you tribes and families that you may know each other surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the one among you most careful (of his duty); ...

Holy Qur'an (49: 13)

The Messenger of Allah, in clarifying this Qur'anic concept said:

Allah has, certainly freed you from pre-Islamic era's fanaticism and the pride over the status of their forefathers. You are either a pious faithful or a miserable dissolute. You are the sons of Adam and from dust Adam was created. 58

Through this vivid concept, Islam swept away all the remnants of the pre-Islamic era, of which were the pride over one' s lineage and similar defects. In its place, Islam made piety and the fear of Allah a standard to evaluate man in Islamic life.

The concept of brotherhood was provided and exemplary expressed in the prophetic order to the Ansar to choose brothers for themselves from among the Muhajirin and implement the ensuing duties of brotherhood in all domains of life. The process of fraternity being fulfilled, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) proclaimed Ali bin Abi-Talib his brother. 59 He said to him; You are my brother in this life and the hereafter 60.

So vividly was the principle of fraternity endorsed that it has stood unique and unprecedented throughout history. It is suffice to say every one of the Muhajirin was made entitled to inherit that of his brother from the Ansar, after his death, while the deceased's relatives had no such entitlement. 61 It was not until after the battle of Badr that this situation was abrogated by this holy verse.

... and the possessors of relationships are nearer to each other in the ordinance of Allah;...

Holy Qur'an (8:75)

The Ansar took the principle of brotherhood to heart so enthusiastically that they vied with one another to make a Muhajir their brother, and in certain cases they resorted to casting lots to decide the winner. Many of the Ansar gave up half of their property in favour of their brother among the Muhajirin.

It comes as no surprise that history has recorded some cases, in which a man from the Ansar asked his brother from the Muhajirin to choose any one of his two wives, so that he divorced her to become free to marry to the brother from the Muhajirin. This is after the end of the legal obligatory period of probation observed by women after divorce (al-Uddah). 62

The process of fraternity helped to settle the pressing economic problems faced by the Muhajirin, due to their migration to Madinah in a simple and natural way.

It should be noted here that the Muhajirin did not choose to take advantage of their brothers' flooding sentiment towards them but worked to secure the gratification of their needs. 63 Most of them in fact, fortunately worked in profitable domains like trade and the like.

All of the followers of the Prophet (s.a.w.) were busily worked except a small group of the faithful. This group were neither from the Muhajirin nor from the Ansar. They were called Al-A'rab (Dwellers of the desert). They were neither able to find work nor had the money to satisfy their Deeds. A part of the mosque was made, by the Prophet, as a refuge for them. By activating the principle of general responsibility,' the Muslims shared helping them.

Thus the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) based the Muslim community on firm and sound grounds.

2. The Jews

They were four groups of Jews: The tribe of Qainuqa' inside the city (Madinah), the tribe of al-Nadir, the Jews of

Khaibar and the tribe of Quraidah, living outside the city.

In reality, the Jews constituted a special community which was a far cry from the inhabitants with regard to their religion, objectives and sentiments. Residents of Madinah though they were, yet socially, psychologically and practically they were far removed.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) signed truces with them so that he could build the state, spread the faith and make it firm inside for his followers. Their share in the constitution, which he made for the state, was considerable. The following are some provisions from it:

1. Muslims from the tribe of the Quraish and the city of Yathrib, with those who joined their ranks and fought along side them, are one undivided community.

2. All Muslims, the weakest among them included, are under the protection of Allah. Unlike other people, the faithful, both men and women, are guardians for each other.

3. The Jews of the tribe of Bani-Awf are a community of the faithful. Jews can follow their own religion as Muslims do. Only those who wrong others inflict harm and punishment upon themselves and their households.

4. Jews spend from their own money and Muslims spend from theirs. They should link hands together in fighting anyone who might oppose this agreement.

5. Should any disagreement or discord arise among the parties signatory to this agreement, they have to consult with Allah, the Mighty and Powerful, and Muhammad (s.a.w.) His Messenger.

6. Whoever leaves the city of Madinah or stays in it should be secure. But those who transgress the limits would certainly be punished.

These are but a few of the provisions of the constitution drawn up by the Prophet (s.a.w.) for Muslims and Jews to live together harmoniously. For more information, the reader can refer to the Life of the Prophet (s.a.w.) by Ibn Husham. 64

The majority of the Jews signed this agreement, that included the tribes of Bani Awf, Bani al-Najjar, Bani al-Harith, Bani Sa'idah, Bani Jash'am, Bani Tha'labah and the Jews of al-Aws. The tribes of Bani Quraidah, Bani al-Nadir, and Bani Qainuqa' opposed the agreement only to sign similar agreements drawn up by the Prophet (s.a.w.) later on and accept their provisions.

3. The Hypocrites

These were a group of the Madinites who embraced Islam reluctantly, holding a grudge against the Muslims. They had no other choice except proclaiming their acceptance of Islam when it became undoubtedly clear that Islam was victorious. They buried their ill-intentions deeply waiting for any suitable opportunity to act against Islam.

The reasons behind the animosity of the hypocrites against Islam were various. Some of them were cut off from their materialistic interests. Some found in Islam a very potentially dangerous enemy to their paganism. Some came under the influence of the doubts raised by the Jews about the new faith. Others were narrow-minded. They regarded the immigrants as foreigners who were strangers in Madinah.

All these groups pretended to be Muslims. They took part in the congregational prayers, and fasted during the holy month of Ramadan. But, internally, they were the prime foes of Islam and the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.).

They busily fabricated and aired harmful stories to revile Islam and the Prophet (s.a.w.). At one point, for instance, they accused A'i'shah, a wife of the Prophet, with adultery. But no matter how actively they worked to abuse the Muslims, all of their hatched plots failed. The Holy Qur'an always exposed their true intentions and disclosed their devilish schemes and plans. Another reason for their failure was the progressive growth of Islam that left the hypocrites helplessly cornered and unable to stem its spread and power.

The hypocrites could hardly do anything harmful to the Muslims during the life of the Prophet (s.a.w.). They remained paralyzed and ineffective. But, from time to time, they would raise troubles for the Muslims.

4. Polytheists

They were the least in number of Madinites, and their harmful role in the new-built community was very effectively narrowed by the trend towards Islam.

They tightly held to their paganism and their ways of life, but they were powerless against the Islamic wave, too tremendous to be faced.

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