A New Society Being Built
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:
“O Allah! no bliss is there but that of the Hereafter, I beseech you to forgive the Emigrants and Helpers.”
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:
“But kindred by blood are nearer to one another regarding inheritance.” [8:75]
“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.
Saifur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri
Islamic University Al-Madina Al-Munawwara