Chapter Two : the Prophet's Major Proceedings in Medina

The Construction of a Mosque

Having settled in Yathrib,[^39] the Holy Prophet deemed necessary to construct a mosque in order to provide Muslims with a center for religious education and a place for their congregation at Friday Prayers. For this reason, he purchased the ground on which the camel had sat on his first arrival and which belonged to the two orphans, from their guardian and constructed a mosque with the assistance of Muslims.[^40] This mosque came to be called Masjid al-Nabi. This was the Holy Prophet's first social act after Hegira.

Upon the completion of the mosque, two chambers were erected close to it as a house for the Holy Prophet and his wives.[^41] Then, he left Abu-Ayyub's home to live in his new chambers[^42] until his demise.

The suffah Followers

Upon the migration to Yathrib, the Ansar housed the Muhajirun and prepared their accommodation to the best of their abilities.[^43] However, the suffah followers were a group of strangers and poor individuals who were deprived of everything. A shade was established at the end side of the mosque as a temporary resort for them.

The Holy Prophet took good care of them so far as he provided them with food and encouraged the rich Ansar to help them. This group who were zealous in their religion, passionate and virtuous Muslims came to be called the suffah followers.[^44] Any new comer to Medina would join his relatives; otherwise, he joined the suffah group. The number of this group varied: those who could find accommodation would leave the group and at times new comers would join them.[^45]

General Treaty (Contract)

Having settled in Medina, the Holy Prophet worked for guaranteeing better social conditions for its people. In order to envisage and achieve great ultimate goals, he had to have peace and tranquility within the community. Of course, this was hard to achieve because the social structure in Medina was quite heterogeneous.

There were different groups of Arabs who belonged to either the tribe of Aws or that of Khazraj. There were also some Jews living in this city who were in touch with those Arabs. There were also new Muslim comers from Mecca.

This state of affairs could have ended in social unrest and disasters. For this reason, the Holy Prophet initiated the draft of the first constitution or the greatest historic document in Islam. This contract defined the rights of the citizens of the various groups and secured peace and justice for all citizens. Here, we will mention some items and paragraphs of this great contract:

(1) Muslims and Jews[^46]constitute a single nation (ummah).

(2) Muslims and Jews are free to follow their faith.

(3) The emigrants of Quraysh, like the pre-Islamic days, should pay blood-money. If anyone of them commits homicide or becomes captive, others should pay the ransom in accordance with accepted terms among believers and free the captive in this way.

(4) Banu-`Amr ibn `Awf (a tribe of Ansar) and other branches should pay blood-money like others.

(5) Nobody is allowed to give asylum to anybody's slaves, children or other family members without his consent.

(6) The signers of this contract collectively have to defend the city of Medina.

(7) Medina is a sacred city and any kind of bloodshed is forbidden there.

(8) The final judge and arbitrator for the settlement of the probable disagreements and conflicts will be Muhammad (s).[^47]

A cursory look at the events of those days shows that this contract, which was concluded in the earlier months of the Holy Prophet's arrival at Medina,[^48] was effective in securing tranquility for citizens. Up to the second year of Hegira, i.e. until the Battle of Badr which occurred due to the conspiracies of Banu-Qaynuqa`, no disturbance or turbulence is recorded.

A Brotherly Contract between Muhajirun and Ansar

The Prophet's second social act of significance during the first year of Hegira[^49] was the convention of a brotherly treaty between the Muhajirun and Ansar. Previously, these two Muslim groups had some rivalry over business and racial issues, because Ansar had migrated from the south (Yemen) and were from the Qahtani race, and Muhajirun belonged to the Northern Arabs and to the `Adnani race; and during the days of Ignorance, there were severe racial conflicts between the two.

Ansar also used to work in agriculture and gardening, while the Meccan Arabs were traders who considered agriculture lowly and classless affair. Furthermore, these two groups had been brought up in two quite different social settings and now they were considered religious brethren.

They had gathered in Medina and the probabilities existed that the remnants of the previous cultures still remained in their souls and minds; and that some ancient obstacles might be renewed. For this reason, the Holy Prophet initiated a brotherly contract between these two groups designating each Muhajir (Meccan emigrant) as a brother for a corresponding Ansar,[^50] except for `Ali who was proclaimed a brother for every Muslim although the Holy Prophet fraternized him with himself.[^51]

Of course, in concluding this brotherly convention between Muhajirun and Ansar, their degrees of faith and virtue were taken into consideration.[^52] The brotherhood of the Holy Prophet and `Ali, both of whom belonged to Muhajirun is justifiable.

This treaty brought forth more unity among Muhajirun and Ansar. This is shown in the financial support of Ansar to Muhajirun.

At the time of the distribution of the booties of the Battle of Banu’l-Nazir, Ansar gave them all to Muhajirun[^53]. Ansar’s immense generosities caused Muhajirun to thank them in the presence of the Holy Prophet.[^54] God has appreciated their benevolence in the following words:

It is the poor who fled, those who were driven from their homes and their possessions, seeking grace of Allah and His pleasure, and assisting Allah and His Apostle: These it is that are the truthful.

And those who made their abode in the city and in the faith before them love those who have fled to them, and do not find in their hearts a need of what they are given, and prefer them before themselves though poverty may afflict them, and whoever is preserved from the niggardliness of his soul, these it is that are the successful ones.

Nonaggression Pact with Three Jewish Tribes

Besides a general treaty in which both Aws and Khazraj and other Jews of these two tribes had participated, the Holy Prophet convened separate treaties with the three Jewish tribes of Banu-Qaynuqa`, Banu’l-Nazir and Banu-Qurayzah. This treaty could be termed a nonaggression pact.

As we have already said, these three tribes lived in Medina and its suburbs.[^55] In this contract, the signatories were obliged:

(1) Not to cooperate with the enemies of Muslims and not to provide them with horses and weaponry;

(2) Not to take any step against the Holy Prophet and Muslims;

(3) To be punished by the Holy Prophet through killing them or enslaving their children and wives or confiscating their wealth if they ever tried to ignore any article of this contract.

This contract was signed by the heads of the three abovementioned tribes, i.e. Mukhayriq, Huyay ibn Akhtab and Ka`b ibn Asad.[^56] Apparently, in those days the Jews neither felt any threat from Muslims nor reckoned their impartiality as an asset, since they assumed the Muslims' other enemies would suffice them. That was the reason for their taking the lead in signing the contract.

[^57] Thus, through these proceedings, the environments of Medina and the neighboring districts became calm; and the Holy Prophet was at ease. Now it was the time for him to confront Quraysh’s inevitable threats and to prepare himself for the establishment of a new society.

The Hypocrites

In addition to the Jews, there was another group of opponents, called munafiqun (hypocrites) by the Holy Qur'an. They were formed after the Holy Prophet's migration to Yathrib. The members of this group called themselves Muslims on the surface, but they were actually either idolaters[^58] or Jews.[^59] Having observed Islam's daily increasing popularity and their lacking of power, the hypocrites kept their faces, pretended to be Muslims and entered the rank of Muslims, but behind the curtains, they had some secret affairs with the Jews and conspired against Muslims.

Their leader was `Abdullah ibn Ubayy who had prepared himself for ascendance to power in Yathrib. However, he was deprived of such leadership due to the Holy Prophet's arrival at the political arena. For this reason, he secretly hated the Holy Prophet.[^60]

The hypocrites performed a series of destructive actions against Islam. In Surahs al-Baqarah (No. 2), al-`Imran (No. 3), al-Tawbah or Bara'ah (No. 9), al-Nisa' (No. 4), al-Ma'idah (No. 5), al-Anfal (No. 8), al-`Ankabut (No. 29), al-Ahzab (No. 33), al-Fath (No. 48), al-Hadid (No. 57), al-Munafiqun (No. 63), al-Hashr (No. 59) and al-Tahrim (No. 66), the Holy Qur'an has referred to them.

It was more difficult for the Holy Prophet to confront this group than the unbelievers or the Jews, because he could not fight them since they pretended to be Muslims. The sabotage and obstruction of this group continued in a systematized way up to the death of `Abdullah ibn Ubayy in the ninth year of Hegira.[^61] Later, this movement lost its vigor gradually.

Chapter Three : Conspiracies of the Jews

The Jews' Sabotage

The Jews, like Christians, were aware of the advent of the Holy Prophet. In the word of the Holy Qur'an, the people of the Book considered the Holy Prophet their own child:

Those whom We have given the Book recognize him as they recognize their sons. (2:146)

They had seen his attributes in the Torah and the Gospel;[^62] they were therefore expected to become Muslims even earlier than the tribes of Aws and Khazraj, because the Jews had threatened them that they would take revenge on them when the Promised Prophet would come with the Divine Mission. However, only a few of them accepted Islam. At the beginning of Hegira, however, their relationships with Muslims were usual as is concluded from their signing of the nonaggression pact with the Holy Prophet.

However, this tranquility did not last long; after a while, they started quarrelling. Among their sabotages was their denial of the Holy Prophet's unique attributes by claiming that they could not find Muhammad's traits and characteristics in their Book and that the attributes of the Promised Prophet could not be identified in the Holy Prophet.[^63] The Holy Qur'an has condemned this approach:

And when there came to them a Book from Allah verifying that which they have, and for a time they used to pray for victory against those who disbelieve. But when there came to them (prophet) that which they did not recognize, they disbelieved in him; so Allah's curse is on the unbelievers. (2:89)

The Jews engaged in sabotage through different approaches:

(1) They had irrational and illogical demands, such as receiving a letter from the skies.[^64]

(2) They put out complicated religious questions to disturb the Muslims' thoughts and minds.[^65] However, they always received strong reactions and answers from the Holy Prophet.

(3) They endeavored to weaken the base of the Muslims' faith by saying:

Avow belief in that which has been revealed to those who believe, in the first part of the day, and disbelieve at the end of it, perhaps they go back on their religion. (3:72)

(4) They attempted to bring about division and turbulence among Muslims. Sha's Ibn Qays, a Jew, tried to enliven once again the old hatreds among Aws and Khazraj. However, this act became futile through the proper act of the Holy Prophet.[^66]

Motives of the Jews' Oppositions

The Jews were generally interest-seeking, greedy and stubborn people.[^67] The Holy Qur'an regards the polytheists and them as the most violent enemies of Islam:

Certainly you will find the most violent of people in enmity for those who believe to be the Jews and those who are polytheists, and you will certainly find the nearest in friendship to those who believe to be those who say: We are Christians; this is because there are priests and monks among them and because they do not behave proudly. (5:82)

This was because these two groups were not rational beings and they did not stop showing their animosities and aggressions against Islam. The Jews opposed Islam for the following reasons:

(1) The Jews treated the Holy Prophet racially; they were jealous because he was Jew; rather an Arab.[^68]

(2) Prior to the influence of Islam in Yathrib, the Jews enjoyed a better socio-economic status because they had had control over the economy of the city through crafts, industry, agriculture,[^69] and usury.[^70] At the same time, taking advantage of the differences between Aws and Khazraj, the Jews weakened their powers.

Through their contracts with Banu-Qaynuqa` who belonged to the tribe of Khazraj and through unity with Banu’l-Nazir and Banu-Qurayzah who belonged to the tribe of Aws, they could easily created animosity between these two tribes.[^71] After the Holy Prophet's migration, the two tribes united and went under the banner of Islam thus increasing the power of Islam tremendously.

The Jews realized that the dominating power would very soon be in the hands of Muslims and they would inevitably be the big losers. This situation was quite unbearable for them.

(3) The Jewish clerks and rabbis were prestigious; they enjoyed a lot of respect among the illiterate people who blindly followed them without questioning. At times, these clerks and rabbis issued orders contrary to God's. Nevertheless, people followed them without asking.[^72] Furthermore, they used to receive a lot of gifts and charities as the protectors of the Torah. They therefore feared that they might lose this source of income with the progress of Islam.[^73]

(4) They showed animosity to Archangel Gabriel who brought God's messages to Muhammad (s);[^74] they used this as an excuse to antagonize the Holy Prophet.

(5) The Holy Qur'an condemned many of the Jews' acts and behaviors and many of the Torah’s instructions[^75] and disagreed with the Jews in many ordinances.[^76] This issue had its roots in the past. Prior to Islam, they were culturally superior to the idolaters and they were respected by the unbelievers.[^77]

After the advent of Islam, this trend, more or less, continued; some times Muslims in Medina used to ask them some religious questions and they translated the Torah into Arabic for Muslims, while their religious data were mostly skewed and erroneous. For this reason, the Holy Prophet recommended Muslims not to accept their statements.[^78]

Once, the Holy Prophet told `Umar ibn al-Khattab, “I swear to God in Whose hands is my soul that if Moses were alive now, he would follow me.”[^79] These issues added to the Jews' hatred and enmity towards Islam; they sometimes used to say, “This man has planned to disagree with all of our plans.”[^80]

Changing the kiblah

While living in Mecca and some time after Hegira, the Holy Prophet used to pray facing the direction of Jerusalem. After the Jews surfaced their enmity, they used this issue as a means to oppose him; they said, “Muhammad is not independent in his religion; he uses our kiblah through different techniques.” They over exaggerated this issue.

Now, the Holy Prophet was under undue pressure. At nights, he used to stare at the skies, waiting for some revelations so that the Jews’ propaganda could be stopped. Seventeen months after Hegira,[^81] while he was performing the Noon (²uhr) Prayer with Muslims facing Jerusalem, the Angel of Revelation came to the Holy Prophet and ordered him to change the direction of kiblah towards Kaaba; therefore, he faced the Kaaba at that very prayer. This was God's command:

Indeed, We see the turning of your face to heaven, so We shall surely turn you to a kiblah which you shall like; turn then your face towards the sacred mosque. And wherever you are, turn your face towards it, and those who have been given the Book most surely know that it is the truth from their Lord; and Allah is not at all Heedless of what they do. (2:144)

The change of kiblah, which brought forth independence for Muslims, brought disastrous consequences for the Jews. They looked for another excuse and asked, “Why have Muslims put aside their previous kiblah?” Prior to the change of kiblah, God made the Holy Prophet realize their position; He told him that east or west, everywhere belonged to God and people should face any direction which He orders when they perform their prayers. God told the Holy Prophet that no place on the earth has any innate honor of its own:

The fool will say: what has turned them from their kiblah which they had? Say: The east and the west belong only to Allah; He guides whom He likes to the right path. (2:142)

With this answer, the Jews had no excuse to delve into negative propaganda and with the change of kiblah, the common grounds between the two old and new religions were gone and the relationship between the two weakened:

And even if you bring to those who have been given the Book every sign, they would not follow your kiblah nor can you be a follower of their kiblah; neither are they the followers of each other's kiblah; and if you follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to you, then you shall most surely be among the unjust. (2:145)

What is understood from the Qur'an is to stop the Jews' nagging and to test Muslims as to what degree they are obedient to Allah:

And thus We have made you a medium (just) nation that you may be witnesses over the people and that the Apostle may be a witness over you; and We did not make that which you would have to be the kiblah but that We might distinguish him who follows the Apostle from him who turns back upon his heels, and this was surely hard except for those whom Allah has guided aright; and Allah was not going to make your faith to be fruitless; most surely Allah is Affectionate, Merciful. (2:143)

In some narrations, this test of faith has been interpreted in the following way: Meccan people preferred the Kaaba; but God made Jerusalem the kiblah to distinguish the true and genuine believers who, contrary to their own wishes and only for God's sake, worship Him in this issue from those acting obstinately. For the people of Medina who preferred Jerusalem, God made the Kaaba the Muslims' kiblah so that these two could be identified.[^82]