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Policies of the Prophet at Times of Conflict

Chroniclers have mentioned that when the Apostle of God liberated Mecca he put a young man named !It"b in place to govern the city and provided for him a modest stipend of four dirhams (approximately two measures of silver) daily. The Apostle of God said to him: 'Act well towards those who act well and overlook those who act wrongly.' This was one of the reasons for the transformation of this city, at the hands of !It"b, from being a city of tyrants, rebels, infidels, murderers and criminals, one which had made war on the Apostle of God for twenty years, into an extremely civil city. This was because they knew that if they acted wrongly he would overlook it and if they acted well he would act well towards them. By virtue of this constitution the city of Mecca did not rebel against the Apostle of God afterwards despite the fact that he had placed no army or security force there. Rather he had captured people's hearts with his compassion, his grace, his love and his beneficence.

When the Apostle of God came to power he said: 'Islam waives whatever came before it' 128, meaning that whoever has previously done something wrong such as spilling blood or plundering or making war or joining with the Polytheists [against the Apostle] will be forgiven when they enter Islam.

When the Apostle of God liberated the city of Mecca he was asked: 'O Apostle of God, will you not stay in your own house?', for the Apostle used to have a house in Mecca. He said: 'Do I have a house?' This means that the Apostle gave up [his rights] even to the house that the Infidels had confiscated before his arrival in Mecca. He realised that the unbeliever who had taken his house was sure to have let other people stay in that house; tenants or family or the like, and that if he were to take back his house it would mean that he would have to evict those people. The Apostle did not seek to exercise even this much of his rights in case some said: 'When the Apostle of God took control of Mecca we were living in this house and he evicted us from our dwelling and abode.'

Imam Ali did the same thing when he was pledged in as the Caliph some twenty-five years after the death of the prophet. He did not even take back the land of Fadak which was his and his sons' personal property as the inheritance of Lady F"Uimah al-Zahr"' despite the fact that from the day [he was pledged in as Caliph], it was within his power to do so. This is mentioned in the book nahj al-bal"ghah (The Path of Eloquence, a collection of Imam Ali's sayings).

Imam Ali was not such a worldly person that he had any need for rich furnishings and mansions and palaces and fine horses and camels and the like. He took a farsighted approach and tried to see how to unite the Muslims under the banner of Islam and how to win their hearts. Had he taken back Fadak then certainly those who had been benefiting from the lands, during the time of reign of the third ruler Othm"n ibn Aff"n, would be deprived of that benefit and would say: 'It would have been better for us had Ali not come to power.'

It is related in the traditions that an infidel who warranted death was brought before the Apostle of God. The angel Gabriel descended and said: 'O Apostle of God, your Lord conveys you a greeting of peace and says: 'Forgive this person for he is noble.' So the Prophet said to the man: 'You are forgiven so go as you please.' The man said: 'Why, O Muhammad?' The Apostle said: 'Because Gabriel has told me that you are noble and God loves the noble.' This became the reason for the man entering Islam. The Prophet had appreciated the nobility in this man and for this reason forgave him even though he was a polytheist and had committed crimes deserving death.

The Prophet Muhammad wanted to draw the people to what is best for them in this world and in the hereafter, he did not want to adhere to dictatorship or authoritarianism, or wealth and position, like other rulers, kings and Caesars do. Islam is underlined by a system of equal opportunities and respects professionalism and expertise, and therefore when it assumes power, its policy would be to forgive and forgo of acts perpetrated before, and take into account the role and impact of expertise on the society's future.

The Islamic government has certain functions:

" The preservation of social justice so that no-one transgresses against another.

" The protection of the [Muslim] land from enemies.

" Facilitating the nation's progress in all areas of life - order, health, employment, manufacturing and agriculture, culture and education, economics, virtue, piety, faith etc.

The ruler in Islamic lands is not to be a dictator. As Imam Ali said: 'He is not to be a ravening lion,' meaning that he will take people's property and freedoms and stifle their breaths and limit their movements. In the Islamic regime the people's property, honour, lives, and their freedoms including those of the non-Muslims who live in the Islamic lands are guaranteed security, peace, prosperity and well being.

It is related that the Apostle of God sent Kh"lid ibn al-Wal:d to a community of unbelievers who subsequently professed Islam but Kh"lid nonetheless killed a number of them. When reports of this atrocity reached him, the Apostle raised his hands to the heavens and said:

" O God, I distance myself from what Kh"lid has done. O God, I distance myself from what Kh"lid has done. O God, I distance myself from what Kh"lid has done. "

When Kh"lid came to the Apostle of God he said: 'O Apostle of God, they only professed Islam as a ruse and a plot and falsely.' The Apostle said to him: 'Did you dissect their hearts (to see whether Islam had entered their hearts as a ruse and a plot?')

Then Apostle of God gave Imam Ali an amount of money and said to him: 'Go to them and give them compensation for their dead.' So Ali came to them and gave them satisfaction and gave them compensation for the animals that had been killed and gave compensation for the fear experienced by the women and for things that had been lost such as the halters of camels.

One of the chroniclers reports that when Odayy ibn H{"tam saw that the Apostle of God had gained control of the area he fled from the H{ij"z to Syria and was opposed to the new established government. Then one of his friends wrote to him and said: 'O Odayy, Muhammad is a Prophet and is not a king. The Prophet is merciful, kind, beneficent, consults (with others) and he is reasonable, determined and forward thinking so there is no need to flee so return to the land.'

Odayy decided to return because he trusted that friend. When he returned he stood outside the Prophet's mosque. When the Prophet emerged Odayy saw an old woman come in front of the Prophet to ask him something and the Prophet stopped for her with all kindness and answered her question and solved her problem. Odayy said to himself: 'This is not a king and this is not the behaviour of sultans, kings or princes. This is the behaviour of Prophets and those connected with heaven.' Because of this, love for the Prophet entered the heart of Odayy and he stepped forward to the Prophet and introduced himself. When the Prophet recognised him he honoured him, treated him well, and greeted him with a smile and kindness and honour, and took him to his house. He entered the house of the Prophet and entered Islam at his hand when he saw the openheartedness of the Prophet and his fine morals. Then when he came out, his friend said to him: 'How did you enter Islam?' He said: 'I entered Islam because I saw in him the morals of the Prophets and the attributes of the Apostles.'

The Islamic rule of law should not only be just, but should also be beneficent. Islam has no place for torture or confiscation of wealth, and nor for executions and imprisonment, except under extraordinary circumstances; and its ruling is the same as that of the eating of carrion or the drinking of wine as is detailed in Islamic jurisprudence [which are normally expressly forbidden except when, under exceptional circumstances, not to do so would endanger one's life, such as if in a desert or such like one was dying of hunger and nothing was available but carrion.

Then he would be allowed to eat only the minimum amount to save himself from death, but not to eat to be satiated]. When the people saw that Islam is merciful and that it does not execute, confiscate, torture, imprison or banish they were naturally attracted to it. The Prophet of Islam and Imam Ali adopted this policy even when they were able to be severe and violent. Instead, they preferred to be kind and clement and forgiving even towards the criminals as can be found in many well- known accounts.

The Islamic government should also be a paradigm in granting freedoms to Islamic political parties and enhancing the progress of the people and should not interfere in the affairs of the people. Not in their commerce, their agriculture, their manufacturing, their travelling, their dwelling, in expressing their opinions, in their free association, in their writing, their teaching. Were the Islamic government to be a paradigm to this extent, today it would surely attract the eyes of the world to its excellent qualities just as the eyes of the world are still attracted to the achievements and characteristics of the Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali.


128. ghurar al-9ikam: p.73, 9adith 53.

Adopted from the book : "The Prophet Muhammad; a Mercy to the World" by : "Ayatullah Muhammad Sadiq al-Shirazi"

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