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The Foundation of a New Society

[Pages from the Seerah (the life history of the Prophet s.a.w.): The Foundation of a New Society]

The Hijrah (emigration) of the Prophet s.a.w. to Yathrib, which was later named Madinah, was the earliest process towards the foundation of the first nation of Islam or the Islamic State on the face of the earth. It stood established under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.The Prophet s.a.w. laid the important foundations of the nation and these are reflected by three actions:

i. The building of a masjid (mosque)
ii. Enjoining brotherhood among Muslims in general and bonding ties (muakhah) between the Muhajirin (the emigrants-refugees) and the Ansar (the helpers) in particular

iii. Drafting a charter or a constitution (dustur) to govern the lives of the Muslims and to clarify their relationships with non-Muslim citizens in general and the Jews in particular. This was accepted by all before the establishment of the Islamic state. The charter became the constitution that safeguards and guarantees the security, well being, freedom and rights of all the citizens of Madinah.

The Masjid

As the Prophet s.a.w. entered Yathrib, the camel that he rode stopped at a plot of land. The land was bought and paid for. The Prophet designated the place to be a masjid. The land was leveled and building work started using bricks. During the construction, the Prophet s.a.w. himself carried the bricks. The direction of prayer (qiblat) at that time was still towards bayt al maqdis (Jerusalem). The column posts and roof were made from date palm trunks and leaves. The floor was a mixture of granules and sand. Whilst in the midst of working together with the Muslims in building the masjid, the Prophet said a prayer (doa’):

O Allah! There is no goodness except the good of the Hereafter, so help the Ansar and the Muhajirin.

From the beginning of his stay at Madinah, the Prophet s.a.w. quickly established a strong, united and vibrant society consisting of the Muhajirin and the Ansar. The first step towards this was the building of the masjid. No wonder then that the masjid is the asas - foundation of fundamental importance for the development of a healthy Muslim community. Muslim society shall never be formed in a complete and strong manner unless there is a firm commitment towards the system, the aqidah - faith and the way of Islam. One of the principles of Islam is establishing bonds of brotherhood – ukhuwwah and mahabbah – love for each other. These ties of brotherhood and love could only occur at the masjid for whenever Muslims meet each other everyday, at every time, in the houses of Allah s.w.t., differences of status, wealth and social positions are suppressed. In its place comes, acquaintance, friendship, association and brotherhood.

Al Tawbah: 108:

……There is a mosque (Masjid Quba) whose foundation was laid from the first day on piety (taqwa); it is more worthy of you standing forth (for prayer) therein. In it are men who love to be purified; and Allah loveth those who make themselves pure.

One of the values and culture of Islam is the spirit of justice and equality among Muslims in all aspects of life. The spirit of justice and equity will not flourish forever unless Muslims meet everyday in a single formation – saf, tight rows standing in the sight of Allah s.w.t. together with the same purpose of worshipping Allah s.w.t. alone. Without this unity in worship, no matter how many times they diligently bow (ruku’) and prostrate (sujud), the values of justice and equity could never overcome each other’s ego and pride.

One of the systems of Islam is that although the Muslims are diverse and multicultural, they are in a union bound by the “rope” of Allah s.w.t. – His Laws and Syari’ah. But unless in building the masjid, Muslims do not gather and organize to learn and practice Allah s.w.t.’s Laws and Syari’ah so that they enjoin themselves to hold on to it consciously at all levels and corners of society, then forever will they be divided and disunited.

A point to ponder in the philosophy of the construction and the decorations of the masjid, is the tendency for extensive, lavish and elaborate features which affects the concentration of the worshipper away from the feeling of servititude and humility to Allah s.w.t. Pride is then associated with glamorous architecture and luxurious calligraphy. One sad consequence is that the poor and the needy can no longer find shelter and solace in the masjid. Such conditions are signs of the Muslims’ departure away from the essence of Islam into superficial delusions of grandeur.

Brotherhood in Islam

The Prophet s.a.w. established ties of brotherhood between the companions of the Ansar and the Muhajirin on the basis of truth and equality. They were to be, in the beginning, inheritors of one another even to the extent of being stronger than family ties or blood relations. Among the examples are the brotherhood between Ja’far bin Abi Talib with Mu’adz bin Jabal, Hamzah Abd Mutalib with Zaid bin Haritsah, Abu Bakr al Siddiq with Kharijah bin Zuhair, Umar al Khattab with ‘Utbah bin Malik, Abd Rahman bin ‘Auf and Sa’d bin Rabi’ and so on. (May Allah be pleased with all of them)

The Prophet s.a.w. subsequently bonded their relations among companions by a general framework of brotherhood (ukhuwwah) and loyalty (muwalah). These ties of inheritance above family ties were only abrogated after the battle of Badr when Allah s.w.t. revealed in surah al Anfal: 75:

And those who accept faith subsequently and adopt exile, and fight for the faith in your company – they are of you. But kindred by blood have prior rights against each other in the Book of Allah. Verily Allah is well acquainted with all things.

Brotherhood is the second foundation for upholding the nation and community of Islam. No nation can exist without unity and support of its community. Unity and support do not come without mutual love and brotherhood. No community which is not held together by the bonds of love and brotherhood can ever hold on to a single principle. Without strong social cohesion and cooperation, there can be no community or a nation. But brotherhood must be preceded by aqidah – faith as the core and uniting factor. It is the Islamic aqidah which gathers the hearts of the companions to stand shoulder to shoulder in one front worshipping only to Allah s.w.t. without any differences between them except in taqwa and good deeds. Brotherhood, mutual help and giving preferences to others do not develop where people are divided by faith, with diverse thoughts and with everyone indulging in their own egos and desires.

If the principle of mutual help, cooperation and support is implemented according to justice and equality then that is a just and peaceful society. If on the other hand, this principle is implemented oppressively and falsely, then that is an oppressive and deviant society.

What then is the factor that guarantees the upholding of justice? Justice is assured universally by brotherhood and love. Only then can it be assured by authority and enactment of laws. However wishful a ruler aspires to administer justice among his citizens, this wish will not be fulfilled unless it is based on mutual love and brotherhood. Administering justice without love and brotherhood will sow the seeds of hatred and envy among the community.

That is why the Prophet s.a.w. made brotherhood between the Muhajirin and the Ansar as the basis for the best system of social justice in the world. This social justice system then developed and the syari’ah laws were formed and derived from this basis. Had it not been for such noble Islamic brotherhood, the principles of justice could not have been positive or applicable in establishing Islamic society and its existence.

The brotherhood established by the Prophet s.a.w. was not mere rhetoric or symbolic, but was really observed and practiced in the life of the companions and in all aspects of the relationship between the Muhajirin and the Ansar.

Al Hashr 59:9

But those who before them had homes (in Madinah) and had adopted the faith – show their affection to such as came to them for refuge, and entertain no desire in their hearts for things given to the (latter), but give them preference over themselves, even though poverty was their (own lot). And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls – they are the ones that achieve prosperity.

Islamic Outreach-ABIM Usrah Notes

Adaptation and translation of an extract from Seerah Nabawiyah (Fiqh al Seerah) by Dr Muhammad Sa’id Ramadan al Buthy.Additional material translated from Sirah by Abd Rahman Rukaini.
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