Migration of the Prophet: Masterpiece of Thoughtful Planning

On at least two occasions, the tribe of Quraysh planned to kill the Prophet but did not because of the fear of new bloodshed between them. Quraysh tribes, however, drew up a plan to kill the Prophet without the fear of reprisal. This proposal called for the murder to be carried out by one representative from each clan of Quraysh, with each one plunging his sword into the victim. In this way, the tribe of the Prophet, Banu Hashim, would not be able to fight all of the Quraysh tribes combined.

Allah informed the Prophet of their plan, and He permitted him to migrate to Yathrib with his close friend Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr prepared two camels for the trip to where some of his followers had already emigrated and had converted others while there. On the night that the murderers surrounded the Prophet’s house, his faithful son-in-law, Ali Ibn Abu-Talib, a youth of twenty, was instructed to wrap himself with Muhammad’s clock and lie in Muhammad’s bed. By midnight Muhammad slipped away through the sleeping armed members of the plot, waiting to murder the Prophet (PBUH).

To mislead the enemy, Muhammad and his close friend Abu Bakr headed south to cave Thawr, instead of traveling North in the direction of Yathrib. In cave Thawr, they spent three days until the hue and cry of Quraysh had subsided.

The plan of escape drawn by the Prophet illustrates the extent of dependence on the individual efforts to bring about the project to success. Before his migration, he had hired Abdullah Ibn Uraqith as a travel guide for his convoy, and he instructed Asma, Abu-Bakr’s daughter, along with her brother, Abdullah, to provide them with food and news. Abu Bakr’s servant, ‘Aamir Ibn Faheerah, was to graze the heard of sheep where Asma’ or her brother walked to destroy their footprints so that Quraysh would not be able to trace them. Abdullah stayed in Mecca during the day to collect the news and delivered it to the Prophet during the night. The Prophet was informed of all the news as if he was in Mecca. Asma was instructed to provide two camels and food for their journey to Yathrib. The convoy did not take the usual route to the city, but rather the Red Sea route, which goes north along the shores of the Red Sea then east to ensure a successful escape.

Part of the blessing of being a believer in God is that God is always with you. For example, when Allah sees that you have done all that you can do to accomplish your mission, He, in return, will show His assistance to you. In this case, to mislead the enemy from comprehending the Prophet’s whereabouts and his Companion, He sent a spider to build its web at the entry of the cave. When Quraysh’s men reached the opening of the cave, they saw a sound web of a spider and felt that no one could enter the cave without breaking the spider’s web and therefore left the site without searching the cave. In this regard, Allah said:

If ye help him not, still Allah helped him when those who disbelieve drove him forth, the second of two; when they two were in the cave, when he said unto his comrade: Grieve not. Lo! Allah is with us. Then Allah caused His peace of reassurance to descend upon him and supported him with hosts ye cannot see and made the word of those who disbelieved the nethermost, while Allah’s word it was that became the uppermost. Allah is Mighty, Wise. Quran, 9:40

Mecca’s leaders offered one hundred camels as a reward to the one who apprehended Muhammad, but all plans failed to find him.

It was in June 622 CE when the travelers migrated north to Yathrib. That day marked the beginning of the Islamic calendar. After a ten-day journey, Muhammad arrived at the Oasis. Having learned of his migration, the small band of Muslims waited for days at the palms’ southernmost fringe. “He has come! He has come!” They started singing and rejoicing. Nearby was a Jew, Abdullah Bin Salaam, picking dates off a palm tree with his aunt on the ground assisting. Abdullah was in a better position to spot the incoming from a far distance. Therefore, he was the first to see the Prophet and his companion coming.

Upon this, he became overwhelmed with excitement, calling loudly, “Muhammad has arrived, God is great!” At this point, his aunt told him to quiet down, saying, “If he were Moses, son of Imran, you would not have shouted as loud.” Abdullah responded, “Oh my aunt by Allah, he is (only) the brother of Moses, son of Imran, and is on his faith.” She asked, “Is he the expected Prophet we have been told about (in the Torah)? “ He answered, “Yes.”

This historical event is a natural reaction to what is in the inner-hearts of many of the faithful believers in God. Abdullah and other Jewish leaders and individuals accepted Islam and many Arabian tribes residing in the city of Medina. (see A. Alhalabi, Alsirah Alhalabiyah, Volume 2, page 121.)

Establishing Home Land

After he arrived in Yathrib, many people opened their homes for him to stay. However, the Prophet started building the world’s first mosque. The mosque became the base from which the city received several major development projects in the social, agriculture, political and spiritual aspects that gave the city a whole new outlook. From then on, the oasis of Yathrib became known as “al Medinah al-Munawarah” or, simply “Medina” (The City of the Prophet)

Incidentally, the Prophet’s emigration and the events of his coming gracefully prophesied in the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 21, verse 14

The inhabitants of the land of Teman brought water to him that was thirsty; they presented him with their bread him that fled, for they fled from the drawn swords and from the bent bow and from the grievousness of war.

A Transitional Sunnah

During construction on a typical project, there may be a need to go through temporary steps to pass an obstacle or a particular stage. In the early days in Medina, Muslims faced a crisis. There were many Muslim immigrants but few jobs and housing to accommodate them. Here the Prophet (PBUH), remarkably, established a way to overcome the difficulties. He called on a “full brotherhood” union between the Ansar believers, Medina’s believers, and Mecca’s immigrant Muslims. Each Ansari Muslim shared his home, food, and wealth with an immigrant believer. Allah praised this remarkable step in the Holy Qur’an when He said:

Those who entered the city and the faith before them love those who flee unto them for refuge, and find in their breasts no need for that which hath been given them but prefer (the fugitives) above themselves though poverty becomes their lot. And whoso is saved from his own avarice such are they who are successful. Qur’an, 59:9

Later, as the crisis subsided, this transitory of “full brotherhood” union ended. This Mosque of the Prophet became the first institution of Islam in which the desert people became messengers of peace, justice, and enlightenment for many nations of the world. Their belief was the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH):

Lo! The angels offer their wings to the seeker of knowledge.

In the next few years, significant social development plans were undertaken and the teachings of Islam’s spiritualities and beliefs. The city was about to take on a whole new look. Some of the projects were urban development, law, and constitutionality.

Urban development

1- Cleaning the City

As the new immigrants arrived in Yathrib (Medina), many of them had fallen sick, having no immunity against the kind of diseases existing there. Supporting the ill and raising their morale, the Prophet (pbuh) started ridding the causes of disease and made a prayer of encouragement and hope, saying:

Oh Allah, purify Medina and help us move its disposable to al Juhfa and cure our sick and make us love it in the same way You made us love Mecca. (Bukhari, Tradition Number, 1756)

Unlike many of today’s Muslims, the Prophet (PBUH) did not just stop at saying the prayer to cure the illness of the immigrant Muslims. The Prophet further established a task force to haul away the garbage accumulated in the city streets to a place called “al-Jahfah,” away from the city. As a result of this operation, a healthier environment for all citizens was accomplished. (See al Hafith, al Bidayah we al Nihayah, Volume 3, Page 147).

2- Improving the Water and Irrigation Systems

Another essential area of improvement was the city’s agriculture and water systems. Determining insufficient water resources demands more water well be dug.  At this point, the Prophet (pbuh) drew up and executed a plan for drilling 54 water wells in and around the city. The project was completed under the supervision of the companion Talhah Ibn Ubaidellah. Upon its completion, water for the city and irrigation of existing and new land was plentiful through channels versus the old streams of a few water wells. The Prophet (PBUH) had issued a land deed for those who improved a dead land. He said:

Anyone improves a dead field, and he will have the right to own it. -Bukhari, the Book of Muzara’ah (agriculture)

As a result of this outstanding work, the agriculture of the city grew and prospered. In a few years, the city turned into a green valley of palm trees and other vegetation. The factors that led to this clean up of water and agricultural reforms are an integral part of the Muslim’s faith. In this example, it is clear that religion does not stop at offering prayers, but it goes beyond utterance into physical work and actions to accomplish its goals.

3- Lighting the City

Tamim Ben al-Aus al-Darie had set lamps in the Mosque of the Prophet to illuminate it. The Prophet (PBUH) was so pleased with the idea that he provided Tamim with a few young companions and supplies and assigned the task of producing lamps for all the city streets. Upon completing this task, in an inaugurating celebration of lighting the city streets, the Prophet (PBUH) encouraged developments for such standards of living improvements. He said:

May Allah enlighten the heart of Tamim al Darie; if I had a daughter, I would have asked her to marry him.

During the night, the city was like a pearl in the surrounding desert. After dressing it with lights, the city took on the name” al-Medina al Munawarah,” meaning the enlightened city. The city is also known as “Madinat al-Nabi,” the “City of the Prophet,” or just Medina. Thus, Yathrib took on a new name and many developments.

The Constitution of Medina – Peaceful Coexistence of Muslims and Jews

Along with the urban changes, Medina witnessed social and political developments. A historical manifestation is written that established the constitutionality of a pluralist society. “Sahifatu al-Medina,” better known as The Constitution of Medina, was dictated by Prophet Muhammad and signed by the leaders of various tribes of the city of Medina and its suburbs. Among the Jewish tribes which signed the documents were: Banu Najjar, Banu Harith, Banu Sa’dah, Banu Jushum, Banu Awus, Banu Tha’labah, Banu Lujnah, Banu Shatheebah, and Banu Awuf. The Constitution of Medina, among other things, protected the freedom of speech and belief, the sanctity of life, criminal laws, municipalities, and justice. Following is the language of this Constitution.

Note: The text of the translation of the Medina Constitution is copied as a whole from the book Sunshine at Madinah, published by Islamic Publication International. Also, see Minhaj Alsaliheen, Page 777, and Albidayah wa Alnihayah, Volume 3, Page 177 for the original Arabic version. Said Ibn Ishaq:

“The Messenger of God wrote documents (stipulating the relationship) between Immigrants and Helpers, in which he made peace with the Jews and pledged himself to them that he will secure their religion, wealth, and property. He pledged to honor certain rights for them and demanded that they fulfill certain obligations.”

The Constitution of Medina reads:

1. In the name of Allah the Compassionate the Most Merciful. This is a document dictated by Muhammad the Prophet (p) (governing the relations) between the believers and Muslims from Quraysh and Yathrib (Medina), and those who followed and joined them and strove with them. They are one nation, distinct from all nations. The Immigrants from Quraysh, according to their established customs, are bound together and shall ransom their prisoners in the kindness and justice common among believers.
2. The Banu ‘Awf (a Jewish tribe), according to their established customs, are bound together as before. Each group shall ransom their prisoners in the kindness and justice common among believers. The Banu Sa’idah, the Banu al-Harith, The Banu Jushm, and the Banu an-Najjar (Jewish tribes) are likewise.
3. The Banu ‘Amr ibn ‘Awf, the Banu an-Nabeet, and the Banu al-Aws (Jewish tribes) likewise.
4. Believers shall not leave anyone among them in destitution by failing to give for him redemption money or blood-wit in kindness.
5. A believer shall not take as an ally a freedman of another believer against him.
6. The God-fearing believers shall be against whoever rebels or him who seeks to spread injustice, or sin or aggression or spread enmity between believers; the hands of every one of them shall be together against him, even if he be a son of one of them.
7. A believer shall not slay a believer for the sake of an unbeliever, nor shall he aid an unbeliever against a believer.
8. The bond of God is one; the least of them (believers) may give protection (to a stranger) on behalf of them. Believers are protectors one of another, to the exclusion of outsiders.
9. The Jew who follows us is surely entitled to our support and equal rights as any of us. He shall not be wronged, nor his enemy is assisted.
10. The peace of believers is one and indivisible; no believer shall make a separate peace without other believers when they are engaged in war in the way of God, except when conditions are deemed fair and equitable to all.
11. In every foray, a rider must take another behind him. The believers must avenge the blood of one another if anyone fails to fight in the cause of God. The God-fearing believers follow the best and most upright guidance.
12. No polytheist shall take the property or person of Quraysh under his protection, nor shall he intervene on their behalf against a believer.
13. Whoever is convicted of deliberately killing a believer without a legitimate cause shall be liable to retaliation unless the next of kin is satisfied (with blood money). The believers shall all be against him, and they are bound to keep him under their custody (until either the next of kin is satisfied or retaliation takes place).
14. It shall not be lawful to a believer who has accepted this document as binding and believes in God and the last day to help an evil-doer or shelter him. The curse of God and His anger on the Day of Resurrection will be upon him if he does, and neither repentance nor ransom will be received from him.
15. Whenever you disagree, it must be referred to God and Muhammad.
16. The Jews shall contribute to the cost of war so long as they fight alongside the believers.
17. The Jews of Banu ‘Awf are one nation with the Muslims; the Jews have their religion, and the Muslims have theirs. Their freedmen and their persons shall be protected except those who behave unjustly or sinfully; they hurt themselves and their families. The same applies to the Jews of Banu an-Najjar, Banu al-Harith, Banu Sa’idah, Banu Jusham, Banu al-Aws, Banu Tha’labah, and the Jafnah, clan of the Tha’labah and Banu al-Shua’ibah. Doing good deeds is protection against sinfulness. The freedmen of Tha’labah are treated as themselves. The close friends of the Jews are as themselves.
18. None of them shall go out to war, save with the permission of Muhammad. But none shall be prevented from taking revenge for a wound inflicted upon him. Whoever kills a man kills himself and his household, unless it is one who has wronged him, for God would accept that.
19. The Jews must bear their expenses, and the Muslims bear theirs. Each must help the other against anyone who attacks the people of this document. Their condition must be one of mutual advice, consultation, and charity rather than harm and aggression.
20. No man is liable for a crime committed by his ally. Support must be given to him who is wronged. The Jews must spend their wealth, along with the believers, so long as fighting continues.
21. Yathrib (Medina) shall be a sanctuary for the people of this document. A stranger under protection shall be as his protecting host, unharmed and committing no crime. A woman shall not be given protection without the consent of her family.
22. If any dispute that is likely to cause trouble should arise among the people of this document, it must be referred to God and Muhammad.
23. God approves and is pleased with the piety and goodness in this document.
24. Quraysh and their helpers shall not be given protection.
25. The people of this document are bound to help one another against any attack on Yathrib. If they are called to make peace and maintain it, they must do so; and if they make a similar demand on the Muslims, it must be carried out except with one who insists on fighting against their religion.
26. To every small group belongs the share which is their due as members of the larger group which is a party to this covenant. The Jews of the Aws and their clients are entitled to the same rights as any other party to this document, together with the goodness and charity from all parties to it. Charity and good deeds exclude sinfulness and wrongdoing.
27. There is no responsibility except for one’s own deeds.
28. God approves of such truth and goodness as is included in this document.
29. This document shall not constitute any protection for the unjust or the wrongdoers.
30. Whoever goes out to fight or stays at home is safe in the city unless he has committed injustice or a crime. God is the protector of whoever honors his commitment to this document and is God-fearing, and so is Muhammad, the Messenger of God.

True believers are those who work toward the reconstruction of the distorted bridges connecting the three great faiths. Soon after this agreement was signed, the Jewish tribes of Banu Quraithah, Nadheer, and Qunaiqa’ who did not sign this contract, signed a similar treaty with the Prophet Muhammad.

Islam: A Faith of Mercy

Islam is a faith that promotes peace and justice. Throughout the early days of Islam, it is clear that Muslims’ engagements with the Idolaters were either in self-defense or for defending the freedom of belief. Ensuring no violence or commotion, Muslims hid their faith and worked discretely. They even modified the form of prayer (silent from loud) to aggravate Mecca’s disbelievers; they sustained torture and execution; they left their homes, properties, loved ones and migrated away to safe places Abyssinia and Medina. Muslims endured hardship with no retaliation or revenge.

The Muslims’ Strategy of Survival

In their new city of Medina, Muslims were watched by a host of hostile tribes and nations; Quraysh and its pact, the Roman and Persian empires were closely watching, just beyond Arabia’s borders. This hostile environment dictates that one must be strong to be able to survive.
Since Muslims were weak and fewer in numbers than any of their adversaries, they implemented “prevention” to “terminate” the danger. In her book, Karen Armstrong elaborates in “Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet,” stated.

It was essential that the Muslims display an image of strength and decisiveness if they were to survive the lawless state of Arabia, seventh-century. In Medina, whenever the Prophet heard that one tribe, urged by Mecca propaganda, was preparing to invade the Medinan territory, he would march aggressively to forestall the attack, and the opposition tended to melt away as soon as the Muslims arrived.

As far as showing strength and decisiveness, the Roman and Persian empires were considered no less than the surrounding tribes of Medina and Arabia. In fact, the Ghassan (the kingdom of Arab Ghassanids), who were the Roman allies in Syria, had already crucified and killed the Prophet’s messenger to the Ghassan ruler, Sharhabil. The act of executing a messenger was considered a declaration of war since messengers and ambassadors were traditionally protected. For this irresponsible act of killing the messenger, the Prophet dispatched an expedition to the Syrian border to punish the killers, as is discussed later in “The War with Byzantine” section.

To be continued…

By Faysal Burhan