In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Recollection of the Prophet’s mission in Mekka and Medina
The Prophet’s mission in Mekka al-Mukarramah was to solidify the pillars of Islamic belief. Thus, he consolidated the power of faith in the souls of his companions and the power of glorifying Allah the Almighty; he acquainted them with Allah and the Doomsday; he induced them to take on and discharge responsibilities –in the previous lesson I mentioned many of the objectives accomplished by the companions in Mekka al-Mukarramah.
In Medina al-Munawarah, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, added to the power of faith the right to power, thus building up a strong Islamic society. What were the elements of strength in this society? Today, we are in the utmost need of the civil achievements that turned Muslims to an entity that enjoyed the right to power in addition to the already enjoyed power of the truth. At the meccan stage the construction was spiritual; whereas in Medina Muslims constructed a strong civil society with an army ready to defend their faith with might.
I mentioned in the previous lesson that the first steps taken at this stage by the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, aimed at the reconciliation between two big tribes living in Medina: Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj. We cannot confront a strong enemy supported by the whole world except with a cohesive Islamic society. Thus, we have to start with the conciliation within all the layers and segments of this society. That is what the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, started with and the current denomination of such a line of action would be "national reconciliation". This is a must in order to be able to face a strong, violent, arrogant enemy that ruins everything and does not know mercy for woman or child, according to what you hear and see. The next stage is equality and indiscrimination among individuals and groups. How? Equality is a must.
"Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you."
"All of you are sons of Adam, and Adam is of dust."
"People are equal like the teeth of a comb."
No Islamic society will be strong unless it applies knowledge and actions as measurement of value; judging, firstly, according to knowledge and, secondly, to achievements, and putting aside values such as descent, power, charm, cleverness and wealth.
It is said that one of the followers, called Ahnaf ibn al-Qays, was short, dark-colored, crippled, hollow-eyed, with a tilted chin and high cheek bones. He indeed had quite a share of rather ugly features. Yet, he was the master of his people –100 thousand swords were ready to back up his anger, not inquiring about the reason for it. He would refuse to drink water if he knew that it would compromise his nobleness.
Thus, the thing the Prophet started with on his way to establishing a strong Islamic society was conciliation. The second thing was to assert equality among the believers, with no exception. It found its expression on the day the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, left Quba and arrived at Medina. The Ansar (Supporters), family after family, clan after clan, would invite the Prophet to stay at their respective homes. He said: "Leave it (to his camel); it is directed." Had he accepted the invitation of any family or clan, he would have conferred distinction upon them. When you single out one of your sons, you distinguish him. Try to be fair with your children. If you have to choose one, then let it be through drawing lots.
Discrimination in the modern era
Everybody who came into the company of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, thought that they were the closest to him. Yet a society in which there are citizens of the first class, and sh3er of the second class, and the third, the fourth, and the fifth... this is discrimination from which the world is suffering today. So what is discrimination?
I am prepared to say that all human beings may be classified in two ways only: according to the human classification and the racial classification. Who is a racist? He is the one who considers himself distinguished from those around him: he has exceptional rights, he is exempt from the duties other people have, he alone shall eat, inhabit, enjoy life, buy what he desires of the most expensive things, build his glory upon the ruins of sh3er, accumulate his wealth upon their poverty, build his life and security upon their death, his glory upon their humiliation. Such is a racist.
What we suffer from the West today is racism. They treat their own citizens in a most exquisite way and they treat other countries' citizens in a way fit for monsters. They use destructive weapons that exterminate people and preserve stones. A nation with people of two categories, the strong and the weak, will not prosper. People must be equal like the teeth of a comb.
"No Arab will be favoured over foreigner, or red over black, except in taqwah."
"By Him in Whose Hand my life is, if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, were to commit theft, I would cut off her hand."
Such is the society of justice and equality which makes us stronger than our enemy. In this way, we can confront them; in this way, we can stand in one row; in this way, they cannot break through us.
"Leave it to the camel; it is being directed." Until it knelt down. We find in this scene respect for everybody and insistence on indiscrimination. His choice of Abu Ayyub’s house was for the sole reason that it was the nearest to where the camel knelt – no discrimination and no embarrassment.
Let me give you an example: You want your son to be a doctor. You send him to the most expensive of schools and get him the best tutors. At your shop you have a young employee who asks your permission to leave an hour earlier to join a night school where he studies for his degree; you refuse to let him go. You are a racist; even if you pray and fast.
When you treat people arrogantly, in a superior manner, when you want for your children what you don’t concede to other people’s children, you are a racist. These are the times when a Muslim may easily come to be a racist. Allah will not be content with us unless we are humane.
The peak of mercy and humbleness: The woman who cleaned the mosque
Is there a job on earth less significant than floor-sweeping? The woman who was in charge of cleaning the mosque passed away. The companions didn't think the matter important enough to have the Noble Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, informed about it. However, he noticed her absence and inquired about her, and was told she had passed away. He said they should have told him about it. He went to her grave where he prayed an exceptional janazah (funeral) prayer.
What we see in the world today is wildness, savagery, killing the innocent, and destruction of buildings… This is mere racism.
Racism is a crime, not a point of view
Racism is not a point of view, but rather a crime. Say, you have an Indonesian girl at your house. If you never allow her to call her family, you are a racist, even if you go to the mosque. She misses her family the same way you miss yours. If you burden her with more than she can cope with, if you don’t help her out, if you keep her up till after midnight to look after your needs, if you don’t treat her as your daughter, then you are a racist, even if you are Muslim.
An employee at a commercial centre I was at one day, a rather small man, was complaining of the heavy batches of clothes the owner was piling up on his back –one, two, three, four... "I can't carry any more," he objected. "But you are young," came the reply of the owner. The same man got worried seeing his son carry a single batch. "Watch out for your back, son!" This man is a racist, even if he prays and fasts. Mind you; we will not be able to gain victory over our enemy as long as we are racists, for they are racists. We must fear Allah and be humane.
On the conquest of Jerusalem, the Europeans slaughtered 70 thousand people. When Salahuddin occupied it, he did not shed a drop of blood – humane, bound by the mandate of Allah, fearing Allah.
A racist is a person who considers himself distinguished from sh3er; privileged. Ten thousand captives, 30 members of the Palestinian parliament and eight ministers imprisoned, and the whole Lebanese nation are not equal to two captive soldiers. What is this called? This is racism. A human being is connected to Allah; hence humane, or disconnected from Him; hence racist.
Some housemaids commit suicide because of the hostess’s harshness. Unable to bear the cruelty, the beating, the pain, they jump out of the fourth floor window and die. Their hostesses are racists, even if they pray and fast, and will be severely punished by Allah.
A believer is humane. He treats people as he would wish to be treated by them. He shows benevolence to the stranger, to the kith and kin. He has the same mercy for sh3er as that he has for his own children.
Thus, treating people on an equal basis is a basic factor in Islam.
Consideration for the social conditions in the society of Medina
The second basic factor in building up the society of Medina:
The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, took into consideration the social conditions of every host family who received the Muhayirin (Emigrants). Sad bin Khathimah, a single man, received the bachelor emigrants, and thus his house was called "the house of bachelors". The Emigrants with wives and children resided at the houses of the married Ansar (Supporters), who had ample income and spacious houses. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was now building up a society.
How did Salahuddin gain victory over the Europeans? A p of 50 years separates the beginning of his work on the causes that contributed to the victory and the final triumph. Over this period of time he builds up an Islamic society, promotes education, teaches the Way of Allah the Almighty, and urges people to obey Him and abolishes all iniquities.
Al-Khadiy, one of the Egyptian rulers, visited the scholars at al-Azhar to consult them about what was to be done about the attacks Egypt was being exposed to. The answer was that in such cases they usually read the hadith book of "Sahih al-Bukhari", for it might repel assaults. So he ordered some scholars to read the book. Nonetheless, the attack continued with an increasing ferocity, so al-Khadiy returned to al-Azhar and said exasperatedly to the scholars: "Either this idea of reading the Bukhari book is not right and pointless, or you are not scholars, or this book is actually not the 'Sahih Bukhari' book!" The scholars kept silent for they feared his oppression, but a young man among them had the pluck to tell him that it was he who was the reason for what was going on. al-Khadiy went away without saying anything, leaving the young man exposed to severe censure from the other scholars for having put them in a dangerous position on account of what he had said. After a time, the young scholar was summoned to Khadiy's palace. He made his will and bid his friends farewell, for everybody assumed he was to be executed. When he got there, al-Khadiy asked him why he thought he was the reason for what was going on. He answered: "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said that if you don’t enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil, your prayers will not be answered." "What can I do?" said al-Khadiy, and then confessed: "This is what Westerners want me to do; open amusement centers, nightclubs and bars. This is civilization." Eventually, however, he abolished all iniquities, and in the end gained victory.
Thus, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, built a society void of all discrimination –a society ruled according to the same standard for everyone.
"By Him in Whose Hand my life is, if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, were to commit theft, I would cut off her hand."
This society became exceptionally strong and achieved victory over the most powerful forces on the Arabian Peninsula.
The manners of the Noble Prophet while building the society of belief
1- Sharing food with his Companions
Zaid bin Thabit narrated: "Upon taking up residence at Abu Ayyoub’s house, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, would send him most of whatever he received as a gift. Mind you, staying as a guest and sharing the presents with his host! A bowl filled with bread, butter and yoghurt was put between his hands, and it was said: "O Messenger of Allah, my mother has sent this." He said: "May Allah bless her," and called his companions to eat. Soon after, a boy arrived from Sad bin Ubadah with a covered bowl. He uncovered the meat it contained and delivered it to the Prophet. We were among the people of Malik bin al-Najjar, and three or four of us carried food to the Prophet’s door every night until he departed from Abu Ayyub’s house, where he stayed for seven months. The bowls from Sad bin Ubadah and Asad bin Zurarah were frequently delivered to his door." Did he distinguish himself eating special food? He shared all food he received with his companions. If the food was not much, he ate little and sent the rest to Abu-Ayyub. This is leadership.
On entering his house, Umar bin Abdu'l-Aziz, may Allah be pleased with him, reauthord the following ayah:
"Have you seen if We do let them enjoy (this life) for a few years; Yet there comes to them at length the (Punishment) which they were promised. It will profit them not that they enjoyed (this life)."
Umar bin al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, addressed his stomach saying: "Gurgle or not, by Allah, you will not taste meat until Muslim children have had enough of it."
2- He never found fault with food
Of his eating etiquette: Umm Ayyub was asked: "What food was the Prophet’s favourite? You should know this from his stay at your house. What did he eat? What did he like?" She said: "I never heard him ask for any specific food to be prepared, and we never heard him disapprove of food brought to him."
Someone described his friend saying: "I once had a friend whom I consider one of the greatest of people. The principal characteristic that made him superior in my opinion was the exceptionally low regard he had for this world. He was free of the supremacy of his stomach; he did not desire what was not there and did not eat to excess of what was available."
The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, never asked for a specific dish to be prepared for him. He never criticized food, never expressed approval or disapproval. If he felt an inclination to eat it, he would eat; and if he disliked it, he would leave it.
3- Delicacy in refusing certain foods
Jabir bin Sumrah narrated that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to send what remained of his food to Abu Ayyub. Food that contained garlic was brought to him one day and he sent all of it to Abu Ayyub. "O Messenger of Allah, is it forbidden?" he asked. "No, but I dislike its smell." Abu Ayyub said: "And I dislike what you dislike, O Messenger of Allah." Hence, in consideration for his companions and because of its pungent smell he did not eat food with garlic.
What exquisite thoughtfulness! What delicacy! Abu Ayyub, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "We used to prepare dinner, then send it to him. If he returned what was left, Umm Ayyub and myself looked for the traces of his hands on the food, seeking blessings. One night, we sent him dinner with onion and garlic, which was returned with no trace of the Noble Prophets’ hands. Alarmed, I asked him: "O Messenger of Allah, you have returned your dinner untouched. Um Ayyoub and myself used to look for the traces of your hands seeking blessings." The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, answered: "I have found in it the smell of this plant, and I am a man who approaches his Lord, but you may eat it." Abu Ayyub continued: "So we ate it. We never served him food with that plant from then on."
4- Modesty in his way of living as a guest
Abu Ayyub narrated: "When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, stayed in my house, he lived on the ground floor, while Umm Ayyub and I stayed on the first one. I told him: 'O Messenger of Allah, I hate to be above you and you below me. Stay upstairs and we shall stay downstairs.' He said: 'O Abu Ayyoub, it is easier for me and for those who visit me if I stay on the ground floor.' So the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, stayed on the ground floor, and we above him. Once, a pitcher got broken and all the water got spilled. Umm Ayyub and I hurried to dry the floor with the only quilt we had, dreading water might drip on the Prophet and bother him."
5- The taste for (fresh) water
When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, stayed at his home, Abu Ayyub used to fetch him fresh water from the well of Malik bin al-Nathar, Anas’ father. Anas, Hind, and Harithah, the children of Asmaa, used to carry water from reservoirs to the houses of his wives. There is inference in this as regards fetching fresh water. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had refined taste.
6- Drinking in three sips, praising Allah afterwards
Anas bin Malik narrated that he had seen the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, take one sip of his drink, then stop and mention the name of Allah; then take another sip, stop and mention the name of Allah; then take another sip, until he finished (drinking). He also praised Allah when he finished. He drank water in three sips.
Abu Ayyub al-Ansari narrated that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to say upon eating or drinking:
"All praise due to Allah who has provided me with food and drink, and made it pleasant, and provided an outlet for it."
7- Gathering around food and drink
The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not eat alone. Five to sixteen men gathered round his dinner. Such were the manners of the Noble Prophet. Due to his modesty, a stranger who wished to speak to him was unable to identify him among his companions and would ask: "Who among you is Muhammad?"
8- Helping to prepare food
They wanted to prepare once a lamb as provision for the journey. One of them said: "The slaughter is on me." Another said: "The skinning is on me." A third one said: "The cooking is on me." The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said: "Collecting firewood is on me." They said: "We shall do it for you." He said: "I know that you can do this for me, but Allah does not like to see his servant distinguished from his companions."
9- Alternating between walking and riding
In the battle of Badr, the warriors outnumbered the mounts. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said:
"Three of us to an animal. Abu Lubabah, Ali and myself on one. He rode the camel when it was his turn, and when it was over and it was his turn to walk, his companions begged him not to dismount. He said: "You are not more capable of walking than I am, and I am not less in need for the reward than you are."
10- The last to drink
He was the last to drink when water was distributed among his companions.
11- His sitting down in the first available place
He used to sit down in the first place available. This is the society of Muslims in which discrimination does not exist.
Nowadays we often talk about a concept called reunification. Many Islamic countries do not accept a foreign employee except on his own; without his wife. As a result, the couple suffer being apart for a whole year. If either of them is of weak faith, he or she may not be able to avoid temptations.
In the process of building up the society of Medina the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, aimed at the reunification of families. What did he do? During his stay at Abu Ayyub's he sent Zaid bin Harithah and Abu Rafiaa to Mekka with 500 dirhams and two camels to fetch his family. They took from Abu Bakr to buy whatever they needed, so Zaid bought three camels. Abu Bakr also sent Abdullah bin Uraiqet with them as a guide. They returned with Fatimah and Um Kalthum, the daughters of the Noble Prophet, his wife Sawda bint Zumaa, his nursemaid Um Ayman, Zaid bin Harithah’s wife and their son Usama, Abu Bakr’s son Abdullah, his wife Um Rouman, and his daughters Aisha and Asmaa, together with the wife of Al-Zubair, who was pregnant. Due to the difficulties of the journey she gave birth to Abdullah bin al-Zubair at Quba, then, already in Medina, came to the Noble Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and put the baby in his lap. Thus, Abdullah bin al-Zubair was the first Muslim baby to be born in Medina.
Such was the society of the Companions
Abdullah bin al-Zubair was once playing with other children when Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, passed by. The children, struck with awe, ran away and dispersed. Only Abdullah bin al-Zubair remained, attracting thus Umar’s attention. He asked: "Why didn’t you flee with those who fled, child?" He answered: "O Emir, you are not an oppressor so that I should fear your oppression; nor am I guilty of anything to fear your punishment; and the road is wide enough for you and me."
The same Abdullah bin al-Zubair sent a letter to Muawiyah bin Abu Sufian which read:
"O Muawiya," not the Amir of the Believers or the Caliph of the Messenger of Allah, "your men have entered my land. Stop them, or else I will have to deal with you."
Rather intolerable way of addressing the Amir of the Believers on the part of a citizen!
Muawiya handed the letter to his son, Yazid, who was sitting next to him. "What do you think we should do?" he asked. "I see that you should send him an army whose head would be in Medina, where he is, and its tail here in Syria, to get you his head," came Yazid’s answer. "Otherwise is better," replied Muawiya, and he dictated the following answer:
"I have received the letter of the son of a Companion of the Messenger of Allah. What has upset him upsets me indeed. The whole world is insignificant next to his contentment. I have given up to him the land with whom it carries."
The letter which Abdullah bin al-Zubair wrote in answer to this read:
"O Amir of the Believers, may Allah prolong your life, and preserve your sense of judgement which has favoured this decision of yours."
Muawiya handed the letter to his son Yazid who had formerly suggested his father sending an army, saying: "O son! He who pardons, prevails; and he who is indulgent, is magnified; and he who forgives, inclines hearts to himself."
Abu Bakr’s family stayed at the house of Harithah bin al-Nayman. Abdullah bin al-Zubair was born in the month of Shawwal, a few months after the emigration.
We shall continue in our next talk, showing how the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, built the society of believers, and how he managed to add the right to power to the power of the truth.