A NEW SOCIETY BEING BUILT
We have already mentioned that the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) arrived in Madinah on Friday, 12th Rabi‘ Al-Awwal 1 A.H., i.e. September 27th. 622 A.D. and took the downstairs of Abi Ayyub’s house as a temporary residence.
The first task to which the Prophet (Peace be upon him) attended on his arrival in Madinah was the construction of a Mosque, in the very site where his camel knelt down. The land, which belonged to two orphans, was purchased. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) himself contributed to building the Mosque by carrying adobe bricks and stones while reciting verses:
The ground was cleared, of weeds and shrubs, palm trees and rubbish, the graves of the polytheists dug up and then levelled and the trees planted around. The Qiblah (the direction in which the Muslims turn their faces in prayer) was constructed to face Jerusalem; two beams were also erected to hold the ceiling up. 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 Prophet’s household 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 Adhân (summoning the Muslims to the Mosque by the Call for prayer) was initiated at this early stage of post-migration era. The Mosque was not merely a locus to perform prayers, but rather an Islamic league where the Muslim’s were instructed in Islam and its doctrines. It served as an assembly place where the conflicting pre-Islamic trends used to come to terms; it was the headquarter wherein all the affairs of the Muslims were administered, and consultative and executive councils held.
The Mosque being thus constructed, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) next turned his attention to cementing the ties of mutual brotherhood amongst the Muslims of Madinah, Al-Ansar (the Helpers) and Al-Muhajirun(the Emigrants). It was indeed unique in the history of the world. A gathering of 90 men, half of whom Emigrants and the others Helpers assembled in the house of Anas bin Malik where the Prophet (Peace be upon him) 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 Badr, and the regular rule of inheritance was allowed to take its usual course:
- “O Allâh! no bliss is there but that of the Hereafter, I beseech you to forgive the Emigrants and Helpers.”
“Brotherhood-in-faith” to quote Muhammad Al-Ghazali again, “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 God-fearing.”
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) attached to that brotherhood a valid contract; it was not just meaningless words but rather a valid practice relating to blood and wealth rather than a passing whim taking the form of accidental greeting.
The atmosphere of brotherhood and fellow-feeling created a spirit of selflessness infused deeply in the hearts of his followers, and produced very healthy results. For example, Sa‘d bin Ar-Rabi‘, a Helper, said to his fellow brother ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Awf, “I am the richest man amongst the Helpers. I am glad to share my property half and half with you. I have two wives, I am ready to divorce one and after the expiry of her ‘Iddah, (the prescribed period for a woman divorcee to stay within her house unmarried) you may marry her.” But ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Awf was not prepared to accept anything: neither property nor home. So he blessed his brother and said: “Kindly direct me to the market so that I may make my fortune with my own hands.” And he did prosper and got married very shortly by his own labour.
The Helpers were extremely generous to their brethren-in-faith. Abu Hurairah reported that they once approached the Prophet (Peace be upon him) with the request that their orchards of palm trees should be distributed equally between the Muslims of Madinah and their brethren from Makkah. But the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was reluctant to put this heavy burden upon them. It was, however, decided that the Emigrants would work in the orchards alongwith the Helpers and the yield would be divided equally amongst them.
Such examples point directly to the spirit of sacrifice, altruism and cordiality on the part of the Helpers, and also to the feeling of appreciation, gratitude and self-respect that the Emigrants held dear to their hearts. They took only what helped them eke a reasonable living. In short, this policy of mutual brotherhood was so wise and timely that many obstinate problems were resolved wonderfully and reasonably.
A CHARTER OF ISLAMIC ALLIANCE:
Just as the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had established a code of brotherhood amongst the believers, so too he was keen on establishing friendly relations between the Muslims and non-Muslim tribes of Arabia. He established a sort of treaty aiming at ruling out all pre-Islamic rancour and inter-tribal feuds. He was so meticulous not to leave any area in the charter that would allow pre-Islamic traditions to sneak in or violate the new environment he wanted to establish. Herein, we look over some of its provisions.
- “But kindred by blood are nearer to one another regarding inheritance.” [8:75]
- In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.This is a document from Muhammad, the Messenger of Allâh, concerning Emigrants and Helpers and those who followed and strove with them.
It was solely by his wisdom and dexterity, that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) 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 the Islamic education, he sanctified their selves, enjoined them to observe righteousness and praiseworthy manners and was keen on infusing into them the ethics of amity, glory, honour, worship and first and foremost obedience to Allâh and His Messenger.
The following is a cluster of the virtues he used to inculcate in the minds of his followers:
- They are one nation to the exclusion of other people.
- The Emigrants of Quraish unite together and shall pay blood money among themselves, and shall ransom honourably their prisoners. Every tribe of the Helpers unite together, as they were at first, and every section among them will pay a ransom for acquitting its relative prisoners.
- Believers shall not leave anyone destitute among them by not paying his redemption money or blood money in kind.
- Whoever is rebellious or whoever seeks to spread enmity and sedition, the hand of every God-fearing Muslim shall be against him, even if he be his son.
- A believer shall not kill another believer, nor shall support a disbeliever against a believer.
- The protection of Allâh is one (and is equally) extended to the humblest of the believers.
- The believers are supported by each other.
- Whosoever of the Jews follows us shall have aid and succour; they shall not be injured, nor any enemy be aided against them.
- The peace of the believers is indivisible. No separate peace shall be made when believers are fighting in the way of Allâh. Conditions must be fair and equitable to all.
- It shall not be lawful for a believer, who holds by what is in this document and believes in Allâh and the Day of Judgement, to help a criminal nor give him refuge. Those who give him refuge and render him help shall have the curse and anger of Allâh on the Day of Resurrection. Their indemnity is not accepted.
- Whenever you differ about a matter, it must be referred to Allâh and to Muhammad.
- Killing a believer deliberately with no good reason entails killing the killer unless the sponsor deems it otherwise.
And he said:
- A man asked the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) which of the merits is superior in Islam. He [the Prophet (Peace be upon him)] remarked:
- “That you provide food and extend greetings to one whom you know or do not know.”
- ‘Abdubin Salâm said: When the Prophet (Peace be upon him) arrived in Madinah, I went to see him and I immediately recognized through his features that he would never be a liar. The first things he (the Prophet [Peace be upon him)] said was:
- “Extend peace greetings amongst yourselves, provide food to the needy, maintain uterine relations, observe prayer at night while people are asleep, then you will peacefully enter the Garden (Paradise).”
- “The Muslim is that one from whose tongue and hand the Muslims are safe.”
- “None amongst you believes (truly) till one likes for his brother that which he loves for himself.”
- “He will not enter Paradise, he whose neighbour is not secure from his wrongful conduct.”
- “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, Allâh will remove from him one of the griefs of the Day of Judgement. Whosoever shields a Muslim, Allâh will shield him on the Day of Resurrection.”
- “Abusing a Muslim is an outrage and fighting against him is disbelief.”
- “To remove something harmful from the road, is charity.”
- “Charity erases sins just as water extinguishes fire.”
- “He is not a perfect believer, who goes to bed full and knows that his neighbour is hungry.”
- “Show mercy to people on earth so that Allâh will have mercy on you in heaven.”
- “Try to avert fire even by half a date (in charity) if not by tendering a good word.”
He used as well to exhort the believers to spend in charity reminding them of relevant virtues for which the hearts yearn.
- “Clothing an under-clad Muslim, entitles you to a garment from the Paradise; feeding a hungry Muslim will make you eligible (by Allâh’s Will) for the fruit of the Paradise, and if you provide water to a thirsty Muslim, Allâh will provide you with a drink from ‘the Sealed Nectar’.”
- “The believers in their mutual love, are like the human body where when the eye is in agony, the entire body feels the pain; when the head aches, all the body will suffer.”
- “The bonds of brotherhood between two Muslims are like parts of a house, one part strengthens and holds the other.”
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) used as well to promote that habit of abstention from asking the others for help unless one is totally helpless. He used to talk to his companions a lot about the merits, virtues and Divine reward implied in observing the prescribed worships and rituals. He would always bring forth corroborated 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 consequences of the Call of Islam, and at the same time emphasize the exigencies of comprehension and contemplation.
That was his practice of maximizing their morale and imbuing them with the noble values and ideals so that they could become models of virtue to be copied by subsequent generations.
‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud (May Allah be pleased with him) once said: If you are willing to follow a good example, then you can have a recourse in the tradition of the deceased, because the living are likely to fall an easy victim to oppression (so they might waver in faith). Follow the steps of Muhammad’s Companions. They were the best in this nation, the most pious, the most learned and the least pretentious. Allâh chose them to accompany the Prophet (Peace be upon him) 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 biography. They were always on the orthodox path. There is then the great Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) whose moral visible attributes, aspects of perfection, talents, virtues, noble manners and praiseworthy deeds, entitle him to occupy the innermost cells of our hearts, and become the dearest target that the self yearns for. Hardly did he utter a word when his Companions would race to assimilate it and work in its light.
Those were the attributes and qualities on whose basis the Prophet (Peace be upon him) wanted to build a new society, the most wonderful and the most honourable society ever known in history. On these grounds, he strove to resolve the longstanding problems, and later gave mankind the chance to breathe a sigh of relief after a long wearying journey in dark and gloomy avenues. Such lofty morale lay at the very basis of creating a new society with integrated components immune to all fluctuations of time, and powerful enough to change the whole course of humanity.
- “Do not have malice against a Muslim; do not be envious of other Muslims; do not go against a Muslim and forsake him. O the slaves of Allâh! Be like brothers with each other. It is not violable for a Muslim to desert his brother for over three days.”