This was the turning point in the life of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, and in the history of Islam and the world. The Holy Prophet was deeply attached to Mecca where he had been born and spent more than half a century of his life. Here he had married, and had children, and here he had received the divine command to wipe out idolatry and call mankind to the worship of One God. It is true that he and those who identified themselves with his cause had endured great hardships in Mecca for the sake of their faith. But they had been sustained by God’s repeated assurances of support and ultimate triumph. They bore the severest persecution cheerfully and with steadfastness, and for all of them who had been left in Mecca after the two migrations to Abyssinia, the final departure from Mecca was a wrench. But God’s will was their supreme law, and giving effect to it was their greatest pleasure.
Hitherto, the precepts of Islam had been few and simple but they had wrought a marvellous and mighty work. Never had man witnessed the like arousing of spiritual life, and faith that suffered sacrifice and took joyfully the sacrifice of all for the sake of conscience.
From time beyond memory, Mecca and the whole peninsula had been steeped in spiritual torpor. The people were sunk in superstition, cruelty and vice. It was common practice for the eldest son to take to wife his father’s widows, whom he inherited with the rest of the estate. Pride and poverty had introduced among them the crime of female infanticide. Their religion was a gross idolatry; and their faith the dark superstitious dread of unseen beings whose goodwill they sought to propitiate and whose displeasure to avert, rather than belief in an over-ruling Providence. The life to come, and retribution of good and evil as motives of action were practically unknown.
Thirteen years before the Hijra, Mecca lay lifeless in this debased state. What a change had those thirteen years produced! A band of several hundred persons had rejected idolatry, adopted the worship of One God, and surrendered themselves implicitly to the guidance of divine revelation; praying to the Almighty with frequency and fervour, looking for pardon through His mercy, and striving to follow after good works, almsgiving, purity and justice. They now lived under a constant sense of the omnipotent power of God, and His providential care over the minutest of their concerns. In all the gifts of nature, in every relation of life, at each turn of their affairs, individual or public, they saw His hand. Above all, the new existence in which they exulted was regarded as the mark of His special grace. The Holy Prophet was the minister of life to them, the source, under God, of their newborn hopes; and to Him they yielded an implicit submission.
In so short a period Mecca had, from this wonderful movement, been rent into two factions which, unmindful of old landmarks of tribe and family, arrayed themselves in deadly opposition, one against the other. The believers bore persecution with a patient and tolerant spirit and a magnanimous forbearance. One hundred men and women, rather than abjure their precious faith, had abandoned home and sought refuge till the storm should be over past in Abyssinian exile. Now again a still larger number, with the Holy Prophet himself, were migrating from their fondly loved city with its Sacred House, to them the holiest spot on earth, and fleeing to Yathrab. There the same marvellous charm had, within two or three years, been preparing for them a brotherhood ready to defend the Holy Prophet and his followers with their blood. Jewish teaching had long sounded in the ears of the men of Yathrab; but it was not until they heard the spirit-stirring strains of the Holy Prophet that they too awoke from their slumber, and sprang suddenly into a new and earnest life.
Having received the divine direction to depart from Mecca, the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, emerged from his house in the fierce noon-day heat of the middle of June, with his face wrapped up against it, and went over to Abu Bakr’s house and told him that he had been granted permission to emigrate. Abu Bakr enquired eagerly, ‘Messenger of Allah, shall I accompany you?’ On receiving this assurance, Abu Bakr shed tears of joy, and submitted, ‘Messenger of Allah, in preparation for this day I have reared two dromedaries on the leaves of the acacia tree. I would beg you to accept one of them for yourself.’ He offered to buy one of them and Abu Bakr had to submit to his condition. Food was prepared for the journey and Abu Bakr’s elder daughter, Asmaa, tore her waist belt into two lengths with which she tied up the mouths of the two vessels into which water and victuals were packed. On this account she became known as ‘she of two belts’. It was settled that the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr would depart from Mecca the same night and take refuge in the cave Thaur. The Holy Prophet then returned home.
Early that night his house was besieged by young men drawn from different tribes of Quraish, with the design of doing away with him as soon as he would emerge from his house next morning. The Holy Prophet had with him certain deposits which individual Quraish had left with him. He handed these over to Ali and told him not to leave Mecca before he had returned all of them to their owners. He then directed him to lie down on his mattress, and assured him that God would safeguard him against all harm. Ali lay down as directed and was wrapped up in the Holy Prophet’s red mantle. The latter then slipped out of the house without being noticed by any of the besiegers, none of whom had expected him to depart from his house so early. He passed rapidly through the streets of Mecca and soon left the city behind, bending his course towards Thaur. He soon perceived Abu Bakr who was waiting for him and the two together climbed up to Thaur, a cave high up in the mountains three miles to the south of Mecca. Abu Bakr entered the cave first and cleaned it and invited the Holy Prophet to follow him.
The besiegers looked into the house at short intervals through the night and perceiving that his mattress was occupied, felt satisfied that he was inside the house. It was only at dawn that they discovered that he had left at some time during the night. In their frustration, they searched for him in Mecca but could find no trace of him. They rough-handled Ali, but could discover nothing from him. They also went to the house of Abu Bakr and threatened his daughter, but could get no definite information from her.
When it became generally known that Muhammad had escaped, Quraish announced an award of a hundred camels, which was great wealth, for anyone who would bring Muhammad back to them, dead or alive. Several people scattered in all directions to look for him in the hope of winning the award. Leading Quraish summoned their best tracker and followed the tracks of the fugitives to the mouth of Thaur, where the tracker announced that the tracks did not proceed any further. One of them suggested that someone should enter the cave and see whether the fugitives had taken refuge in it. Another one ridiculed this suggestion, observing that no one in his senses would take refuge in the cave, which was full of poisonous insects and reptiles.
Abu Bakr could hear their pursuers talking to each other outside the cave, and being much perturbed, whispered to the Holy Prophet, ‘Messenger of Allah, Quraish have arrived so close that I can see their feet outside the cave. Were any of them to bend down and look into the cave, he might discern us inside.’ The Holy Prophet sought to reassure him with, ‘Be not anxious, Allah is with us. Abu Bakr, what do you think of two, with whom there is a third, even Allah?’ Their pursuers returned to Mecca frustrated.
Before departing from his house, Abu Bakr had directed his son, Abdullah, who was a very intelligent young man, to keep track of the movements of Quraish and to make a daily report of them in the evening. He arrived every evening in the cave and spent the night with the fugitives. Abu Bakr had also arranged with his servant, Aamir bin Fuhairah, who was in charge of his goats, to keep them supplied with milk. Thus, they spent three nights in the cave. It had been arranged with Abdullah bin Areeqat of Bani Dail, who was a trustworthy person, was well paid, and was an expert guide, that he should accompany them in their journey. Abu Bakr had committed the two dromedaries to his care and he had been directed to bring them to the cave on the fourth evening. He arrived as he had been instructed and the party of four, including Aamir bin Fuhairah, servant of Abu Bakr, started on their journey to Yathrab. At the moment of departure the Holy Prophet turned his face in the direction of Mecca and said, ‘Mecca, thou art dearer to me than all other places; but thy people would not let me dwell on in thee.’
As pursuit was still possible, the small company of travellers bore west towards the coast and then continued north, parallel to the sea. About mid-day, they made a halt in the shade of a rock, where Abu Bakr succeeded in procuring a quantity of milk from a passing goat-herd. After a brief rest they resumed their journey. A short while later Abu Bakr warned the Holy Prophet that someone appeared to be pursuing them, and was reassured by him that there was no cause for alarm. The pursuer turned out to be one Suraqa bin Malik. His version of the encounter was as follows: ‘When the Holy Prophet escaped from Mecca, Quraish announced that whoever brought Muhammad or Abu Bakr, dead or alive, back to Mecca, would be richly rewarded. Their proclamation was conveyed to us also. A little later, I was sitting among my people, Banu Madhlaj, when one of Quraish came to us and addressing me, said, “I have just espied some people in the direction of the coast who are moving and I conceive that they may be Muhammad and his companions.” I felt that he was probably right, but to put him off, I told him that they were some people who had just passed near us. Shortly after, I slipped away and mounting my horse, I took hold of a spear and departed silently from the back of my house. I rode swiftly and soon came within sight of the Holy Prophet and his companions. My horse stumbled, and I fell to the ground, but I rose quickly and took an augury with divining arrows. The indication was that I should not proceed with my design, but I disregarded it, and mounting my horse I continued my pursuit till I arrived so close to the party that I could hear the Holy Prophet reciting something. I observed that he did not look in my direction even once, but Abu Bakr looked back at me repeatedly. When I advanced a little further, my horse stumbled again and his feet were caught in the sand, and I fell down again. I got up and helped my horse to free his feet from the sand. In his efforts to do so, a cloud of sand was raised all around us. I again took an augury, with the same result as before, whereupon I abandoned my design and called out to the party in a conciliatory tone, on which they stopped. My experience had convinced me that the star of the Holy Prophet was in the ascendant and that he would prevail in the end. Having approached close to them, I told them that Quraish had announced so much reward for killing them or for seizing them and taking them back to Mecca, and that I had started with this design but had now abandoned it. I offered some food to them, but they did not accept it. Only I was admonished not to make any mention of them to anyone else. I requested the Holy Prophet to give me a guarantee in writing. He directed Aamir bin Fuhairah to inscribe the writing on a piece of leather. When I was about to leave, the Holy Prophet said to me, “Suraqa, how will you feel when you will wear the bracelets of Chosroes?” I was surprised and inquired, “What! the bracelets of Chosroes bin Hormuz, Emperor of Iran?” He said, “Yes”.’ Suraqa embraced Islam after the fall of Mecca. During the time of Umar when Iran came under the domination of Muslims, the treasure of the Chosroes fell into their hands and was dispatched to Medina as part of the spoils of war. Included among them were the gold bracelets of Chosroes, which were encrusted with priceless jewels. Umar sent for Suraqa and told him to take the bracelets and put them on.
Shortly after parting from Suraqa, the party encountered Zubair bin Awam, who was returning to Mecca with a small party of Muslims after a trading journey to Syria. Zubair presented a suit of white garments to the Holy Prophet and another to Abu Bakr, and submitted that he would soon return from Mecca and join them in Yathrab. Of other people whom they encountered during the rest of their journey, many who knew Abu Bakr recognized him and inquired from him who was the person who was riding ahead of him. Abu Bakr would reply, ‘He is the one who shows me the way,’ meaning, that he was his spiritual preceptor, but the inquirers understood that he was some person whom Abu Bakr had taken with him as his guide.
After journeying for eight days the party approached Yathrab. The Muslims in Yathrab had learnt that the Holy Prophet had set out from Mecca on his way to Yathrab. For some days they had been coming out of Yathrab to welcome him, but after waiting for him through the forenoon they went back disappointed. On the day of his arrival, they had just returned to their homes when they heard a Jew, who was for some reason standing at a height, and who perceived the Holy Prophet and his companions approaching in the distance, call aloud, ‘O ye Arabs, the one you have been awaiting is approaching.’ On hearing this the Muslims were overjoyed, and, taking up their arms in a hurry, emerged from the city to welcome the illustrious traveller.
When Ansar had the first glimpse of the Holy Prophet, their joy knew no bounds. They felt that on them had been bestowed all the blessings of the here and the hereafter. Bokhari has reported Braa bin Aazib as saying that on no other occasion did he behold Ansar exhibiting such spontaneous joy as they did on the arrival of the Holy Prophet in Yathrab. Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah have reported Ans bin Malik as saying: ‘The day the Holy Prophet arrived in Medina we perceived as if the city had been illumined, and on the day that he died it seemed to us that we had never seen Medina so dark.’
After greeting those who had come out to welcome him, the Holy Prophet did not proceed direct to the city, but veered a little to the right and arrived at Qaba, a suburb about a couple of miles from the city and a little higher from it. Some families of Ansar, of whom the best known was the family of Amar bin Auf, had their residences in Qaba. At that time, their chief was Kulthum bin Hadam. The Ansar of Qaba welcomed the Holy Prophet very joyously and he chose to stay with Kulthum bin Hadam. The majority of the emigrants who had arrived before him had also been put up by Kulthum bin Hadam and other leading Ansar. It may be that the Holy Prophet chose to stop in Qaba for that reason. News of his arrival spread rapidly in Yathrab and the Muslims hurried joyfully to his residence to greet him. Some of them who had not had any opportunity of seeing the Holy Prophet before mistook Abu Bakr for him, as the latter, though somewhat younger than the Holy Prophet, looked older than him and there was nothing to indicate which of them was the Holy Prophet. After the Holy Prophet’s arrival in Yathrab, the city became known as Medinaten Nabi (‘City of the Prophet’), which was soon abbreviated to Medina.
Within three days of his arrival in Qaba, Ali also arrived from Mecca and joined the Holy Prophet. The first matter which the latter paid attention to was the building of a mosque at Qaba, of which he laid the foundation stone and which was constructed within a few days with the eager and diligent labour of his Companions who worked as builders and labourers. The Holy Prophet continued much attached to this mosque till the end of his life. After arrival in Medina he went every week to Qaba and led the Salat in the mosque there. Some divines have surmised that the words ‘A mosque that was founded upon piety from the very first day, is surely more worthy that thou shouldst stand therein to lead the Prayer Service’ (9:108) have reference to this mosque. The Muslims had built some mosques before the erection of this mosque, but this was the first mosque of which the foundation was laid by the Holy Prophet himself on the first day of his arrival in Qaba.
While he was still at Qaba, the Muslims of Medina began to speculate with whom the Holy Prophet would stay in Medina. Every family was eager to have the honour of being his hosts. When the Holy Prophet learnt of this, he intimated that he would stay with Banu Najjar to whom Selma, mother of his grandfather Abdul Muttalib, had belonged.
After a stay of more than ten days in Qaba, the Holy Prophet started towards the main city on Friday. He was accompanied by a large number of Ansar and Emigrants. He was riding a camel with Abu Bakr behind him. Progress was slow and the time of the noon Prayer arrived while they were on the way. The Holy Prophet stopped in the quarter of Banu Salam bin Auf and delivered a sermon and led the Friday Service. The Friday noon Service had already been instituted in Medina, but this was the first Friday Service in which the Holy Prophet participated himself.
After the Service, progress was resumed amidst shouts and songs of welcome. At every step the Holy Prophet was eagerly invited to stay with the Muslim whose house he was passing. He thanked everyone and continued his progress till his camel arrived in the quarter of Banu Najjar, where the men of the tribe were standing armed in rows to welcome him and the girls were singing songs of welcome from the roofs of the houses. Here again the question arose with whom would he stay. Everyone of the tribe was desirous that he should stay with him. Some of them, in their eagerness, would take hold of the halter of his camel. The Holy Prophet, peace be on him, directed, ‘Leave my camel free, it is under divine direction.’ It continued to advance and then sat down, but rose immediately and went a few steps forward and then returned and sat down on the spot where it had sat down first. On this, the Holy Prophet observed, ‘Allah desires that this should be my dwelling place.’ He then dismounted and inquired whose house was nearest. Abu Ayub Ansari came forward and submitted, ‘Messenger of Allah, that is my house and that is my door. You are most welcome.’ He responded, ‘Well then, go and prepare some place for my stay.’ Abu Ayub went and, having made his arrangements, returned within a few minutes and the Holy Prophet accompanied him into the house. It was a two-storey house and Abu Ayub suggested that the Holy Prophet should stay in the upper storey, but he preferred the ground floor so that people should have easy access to him. During the night Abu Ayub and his wife could get little sleep as they were disturbed by the idea that they were above the Holy Prophet, so next morning Abu Ayub respectfully insisted that the Holy Prophet should move to the upper storey and he yielded to his supplications. He continued to reside with Abu Ayub for several months till the construction of the mosque and his own quarters was completed. Abu Ayub took his food up to the Holy Prophet, and he and his wife subsisted on the leftovers. Often food was sent for the Holy Prophet by other Muslims, among whom the name S’ad bin Ubadah, chief of Khazraj, has been specially mentioned in biographies.
Um Saleem, a widow, was a devoted Muslim who had a ten-year-old son, Anas bin Malik. She brought him to the Holy Prophet and submitted, ‘Messenger of Allah, I have brought my son to serve you and request that you may kindly bless him and accept him as your servant.’ He thanked her and blessed the boy, who continued to serve him till his death. As Ans had opportunities of observing the Holy Prophet at close quarters, a large number of ahadith are narrated on his authority. He survived the Holy Prophet for more than eighty years and died in Basra when he was well over a hundred years of age. He often said that through the prayers of the Holy Prophet on his behalf he had been so much blessed in every respect as he could not have imagined.
A short while after his arrival in Medina, the Holy Prophet sent Zaid bin Haritha to Mecca to bring the members of his family and they all arrived safe within a few days. Along with them, Abdullah bin Abu Bakr arrived with the members of Abu Bakr’s family.
In Medina also the first concern of the Holy Prophet was the construction of the mosque. The spot where his camel had sat down belonged to two Muslim boys, Sahl and Suhail, who were under the guardianship of Asad bin Zararah. It was a vacant site on which there were a few date trees and at one place the ruins of an old building. The Holy Prophet purchased this plot for the mosque and his own quarters for ten dinars (approximately six pounds sterling). The site was cleared of the trees and the ruins and was levelled and prepared for the building of the mosque. The Holy Prophet laid the foundation stone with Prayers and, as in the case of the mosque at Qaba, his Companions worked as builders and labourers. The Holy Prophet himself also occasionally shared in their work. The mosque was built of bricks and slabs of stone, which were erected between wooden stakes. The roof was covered with the trunks and branches of date trees, and in the beginning the Holy Prophet delivered his sermon on Fridays leaning against one of these pillars. Some years later a pulpit was provided for him. To begin with the floor was unpaved, and as the roof leaked when it rained the floor became muddy. Therefore, some time later, the floor was paved with gravel. The mosque faced towards Jerusalem, but when the Qibla was, under divine direction, changed towards the Ka’aba, the mosque faced in that direction. The height of the mosque was 10 feet, its length 105 feet, and its width 90 feet. Since then it has been extended several times.
In one corner of the mosque a covered platform was prepared which was known as Suffah. This served as the resting place of indigent Emigrants, who had nowhere else to go to. This was their home and they became known as the Dwellers of Suffah. They enjoyed the company of the Holy Prophet most of the time, and occupied themselves with worship and the recitation of the Holy Quran. They had no permanent means of subsistence. The Holy Prophet looked after them, and shared with them whatever became available to himself and to members of his family. On occasion, the latter went without, and whatever was available was sent to the Dwellers of Suffah. Ansar also offered them hospitality, so far as they could afford it. Nevertheless, these people often faced starvation. This continued for several years till some of them began to find gainful occupation, and the national treasury could also afford to provide them with some relief.
The Holy Prophet’s own quarter, a single chamber a few feet square, was adjacent to the mosque. One of its doors opened into the mosque through which he entered the mosque for prayer services, etc. When the number of his wives increased, a chamber was built for each of them, contiguous with the first chamber. Some of the Emigrants built their simple houses in the vicinity of the mosque.
This was the mosque of the Holy Prophet in Medina. As there was no public building where public affairs could be transacted and administered, the mosque served as headquarters for the administration. The Holy Prophet spent most of his time in the mosque. It was the place of consultation and also the place for the administration of justice. All directions were issued from the mosque. It also served as the public guesthouse. Later, when need arose, prisoners of war were also confined in the mosque. Sir William Muir has observed (The Life of Muhammad, p. 177):
Though rude in material, and insignificant in dimensions, the Mosque of Muhammad is glorious in the history of Islam. Here, the Prophet and his Companions spent most of their time; here, the daily service, with its oft-recurring prayers, was first publicly established; and here, the great congregation assembled every Friday, listening with reverence and awe to messages from Heaven. Here, the Prophet planned his victories; here, he received embassies from vanquished and contrite tribes; and from hence issued edicts, which struck terror amongst the rebellious to the very outskirts of the peninsula. Hard by, in the apartment of Aisha, he breathed his last; and there, side by side with his first two Successors, he lies buried.
The construction of the mosque and its adjacent apartments was completed within about seven months, and the Holy Prophet, peace he on him, moved with his wife, Sudah, into her apartment. Those of the Emigrants who could not procure building plots in the vicinity of the mosque built their houses wherever they could procure a site, sometimes at quite a distance from the mosque, and some were able to procure houses from Ansar.
The times of Prayer services had been appointed, but there was yet no arrangement about the announcement that a Prayer service was about to be held. The worshippers came to the mosque for each Prayer service according to their own estimate of the time of the service, but this was not satisfactory. When the mosque had been built it began to be felt that some suitable means should be adopted for calling the Muslims to Prayer services. A consultation was held and various suggestions were made, and in the end Umar advised that someone should be appointed to announce that the time of a service had arrived. The Holy Prophet, peace be on him, approved of this suggestion and directed Bilal to carry out this duty. Thereafter Bilal used to call out in a loud voice at the time of each Prayer that the service was about to be held, and the worshippers arrived in response to this call. The same announcement was made if it was desired to call the Muslims to the mosque for other purposes also. Some time later Abdullah bin Zaid Ansari was taught the Call to Prayer, which has since been in use, in his dream and he mentioned the dream to the Holy Prophet, who observed that this was a divine direction and told Abdullah to teach the Call to Bilal. When Bilal called the Azan for the first time Umar, on hearing it, hastened to the Holy Prophet and told him that he too had heard the same words in his dream. Thus was the current Azan established. No one will question that the Islamic Call to Prayer is the most blessed and most attractive way of calling people to divine worship. Five times a day, from every mosque around the globe, in every city and every village inhabited by Muslims, the announcement is made of the Unity of God and the Prophethood of Muhammad, peace be on him, along with a brief but comprehensive exposition of Islamic doctrine and teaching.
The Salat had been made obligatory while the Holy Prophet was still in Mecca, but except in the case of the Maghrib prayer service, which comprised three raka’as, the other services comprised only two raka’as. After the Migration to Medina the Holy Prophet, under divine direction, prescribed four raka’as for the three services other than Fajr and Maghrib, except that the old system continue in respect of services during a journey.
The Holy Prophet, peace be on him, laid the greatest stress, of all forms of worship, on the Salat. He observed that during the Salat a worshipper is in communion with his Maker. In his own case he was so fond of Salat that in addition to the five prescribed services he stood in Prayer for a long time in Tahajjud, after midnight, so that sometimes his feet would become swollen. He often observed that the Salat was the greatest comfort of his soul.
At this stage the Muslims in Medina belonged to two categories: those who had migrated to Medina from Mecca or some other place and were known as Emigrants; and those who belonged to Medina, and, because they had given refuge to the Holy Prophet and the Emigrants and had undertaken to help them, were known as Ansar (‘Helpers’). The Emigrants were generally poor, as even those who had been well off in Mecca had left all their belongings when they migrated. Ansar entertained the Emigrants very hospitably and held back nothing from them. The Holy Prophet adopted a device to strengthen further the bond of brotherhood between Emigrants and Ansar. He called them together and established a special bond of brotherhood between one Emigrant and one Ansari, and in this way about ninety persons truly became pairs of brothers, one from Emigrants and one from Ansar. This bond of brotherhood proved in practice stronger than real brotherhood. Ansar offered to share their orchards with their Emigrant brothers, but as the latter were not trained in gardening or agriculture, Ansar were content to carry on with their gardening and horticulture, etc., but shared the produce equally with their Emigrant brethren. This system continued till gradually Emigrants built up their trade and businesses and acquired properties of their own, so that they could dispense with the help of Ansar. One instance may be cited by way of illustration.
Abdul Rahman bin Auf had established brotherhood with S’ad bin Rabi’ Ansari. The latter made an inventory of the whole of his property and put it before Abdul Rahman and invited him to take half of everything. In his eagerness to share everything with this brother of his, he went so far as to suggest that he would divorce one of his two wives whom Abdul Rahman could marry after the lapse of the prescribed period of waiting. Abdul Rahman expressed his gratitude to S’ad and blessed him and told him that he was not in need of any of his property and all that he required was that S’ad might show him the way to the market place. He started in business in a small way and soon became a person of substance and ultimately became very wealthy. A short while after his arrival in Medina he married a young woman of Ansar, and when he told the Holy Prophet of his wedding he was asked what dower he had paid her. Abdul Rahman replied that he had paid his bride her dower in gold equal to a date stone, on which the Holy Prophet observed, ‘You must arrange your wedding feast, even if it is limited to the meat of one goat.’ This was an indication that already Abdul Rahman was able to afford a wedding feast on that modest scale.
In this system of brotherhood, it was also provided that on the death of an Ansari brother, his Emigrant brother would be entitled to a part of his inheritance. This system of brotherhood continued over a couple of years, till it was abrogated under divine direction.
This was a unique device, which proved of great beneficence, over a crucial period, for the small but daily growing community of Muslims in Medina. Emigrants were not only provided with economic aid under it, but were consoled and comforted to a large degree in the strange and helpless condition in which they found themselves on arrival in Medina. They began to feel at home and a strong sentimental bond was forged between them and their brethren in Medina which welded them into one united community.
Thus, after the arrival of the Holy Prophet in Medina, its people were divided into the following groups:
- Muslims, Emigrants and Ansar.
- Those of Aus and Khazraj who had become nominally Muslims but did not truly believe in Islam and entertained secret designs against the Holy Prophet and the Muslims. They were the disaffected who were known as hypocrites.
- Those of Aus and Khazraj who were still pagans, but were rapidly becoming Muslims, and who would be soon absorbed among them.
- The Jews who were divided into three principal tribes, Banu Qainuqa, Banu Nadhir and Banu Quraidha.
This was a situation which was replete with dangerous possibilities in the future, and called for a strong measure of co-ordination and adjustment, more particularly as the very existence of the Muslims was bitterly resented and was seriously threatened by Quraish, who were busy designing measures to wipe out Islam and the Muslims. Therefore, as soon as the Holy Prophet was settled in Medina, he called together the representatives of the Emigrants, Aus and Khazraj, and the Jewish tribes for consultation and invited them to consider the desirability of establishing some system of mutual cooperation whereby risk of dissension might be obviated and the security of Medina might be provided for. After a thorough exchange of views, agreement was reached and was reduced to writing, of which the principal provisions may be summarized as follows:
- The Muslims and Jews would deal with each other on the basis of sympathy and sincerity and would not indulge in any aggression or wrong against each other.
- All sections of the people of Medina would enjoy complete religious freedom.
- Everyone’s life and property would be secure, and would be respected, subject to the maintenance of law and order.
- All matters of difference would be submitted for decision to the Holy Prophet, and would be determined by him according to the laws and the customs of each section of the people of Medina.
- No section would go forth to fight without the permission of the Holy Prophet.
- In case of aggression against the Jews or the Muslims, both would combine in repelling the aggression.
- In case of attack against Medina, all sections would combine in repelling it.
- The Jews would not in any manner aid Quraish or provide refuge or comfort for them.
- All sections would be responsible for their own upkeep and expenses.
- Nothing in the agreement would afford immunity to a wrongdoer, or sinner or mischief-maker.
By virtue of this agreement, the relations between the Muslims and the Jews were duly regulated, and a basis for the governance of Medina was provided, where under each section would have complete freedom of religion, and complete autonomy with regard to its internal affairs, but would be knit into a central administrative system which would be presided over by the Holy Prophet.
At this time there were two outstanding personalities among the non-believing section of Aus and Khazraj. One was Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul, chief of Khazraj. He embraced Islam nominally after the battle of Badr, but continued hostile towards Islam and became the leader of the disaffected in Medina. The principal cause of his hostility was that before the advent of the Holy Prophet in Medina, Aus and Khazraj, who had suffered great loss of life and damage to property in consequence of their mutual dissensions which had culminated in the battle of Bu’ath, were eager to live at peace with each other and had decided to elect Abdullah bin Ubayy as their common ruler. It is related that a crown had already been prepared for him. The advent of the Holy Prophet in Medina frustrated that design. Abdullah bin Ubayy was sorely chagrined and thereafter always nurtured sentiments of hostility towards the Holy Prophet and the Muslims.
The other hostile personality was Abu Aamir, a chief of Aus. In his earlier years he had travelled to many countries, was inclined towards Christianity, but pretended to be a free religious teacher. He was known as a monk. On the advent of the Holy Prophet into Medina, he set himself up in opposition to him but was soon disgruntled and departed for Mecca along with a few of his followers. In the battle of Uhud he fought along with Quraish, while his son, Hanzalah, who was a devoted Muslim, became a martyr in the battle, fighting on the side of the Muslims. Abu Aamir continued in Mecca till its fall and then moved to Taif. When Taif also submitted to the Muslims, he moved to Syria to intrigue with the Byzantines against the Muslims, but was not able to achieve anything in that regard. When he was in Medina, he used to call the Holy Prophet the Exile and the Abandoned. In the end he died in Syria, an exile and abandoned.
The Holy Prophet had not been settled long in Medina when Abdullah bin Ubayy received a threatening letter from Quraish which said: ‘You have given refuge to our man, and we swear by God that unless you repudiate him and fight him, or else expel him, we shall invade you with all our strength and put all your men to the sword and make ourselves masters of all your women.’
On receipt of this letter Abdullah and his supporters began preparations to fight the Holy Prophet, peace be on him. When he learnt of this, he went over immediately to Abdullah bin Ubayy and pointed out to him that for them to start fighting him would be to embark upon a suicidal enterprise, as they would be opposed by their own people who were devoted Muslims. He advised them to consider all the pros and cons before taking any step that they might regret when it was too late. They realized their mistake and held their peace. Quraish, having been frustrated in their design, then sent a similar letter to the Jews of Medina. They too held back. These were clear indications that Quraish were still bitterly hostile towards Islam and were bent upon wiping it out. If those who had given refuge to the Holy Prophet and the Muslims were threatened with wholesale slaughter and rapine, it may be imagined what their designs against the Muslims were.
Their letters to Abdullah bin Ubayy and the Jews were not merely sudden but passing ebullitions of their wrath; they were indications of their firm determination to destroy the Muslims. Some concept of their bitterness and venom may be formed from the following incidents. About that time, S’ad bin Muaz, chief of Aus, who was a devoted Muslim, went to Mecca to perform Umrah and stayed with his friend of olden days, Umayya bin Khalf, one of the chiefs of Quraish. Apprehending some untoward incident on the part of the Meccans, he requested his host to accompany him in his circuit of the Ka’aba, in order to obviate any such contingency. Umayya accompanied S’ad to the Ka’aba at noon when not many people were likely to be about. But it so happened that just at that time Abu Jahl also arrived and was outraged at seeing S’ad in the company of Umayya and inquired from the latter, ‘Abu Safwan, who is your companion?’ and received the reply, ‘It is S’ad bin Muaz, chief of Aus.’ Thereupon, Abu Jahl raged at S’ad: ‘Do you people imagine that after giving shelter to that renegade you can perform the circuit of the Ka’aba in peace? Do you think that you have the strength to safeguard him and help him? I swear by God that had you not been accompanied by Abu Safwan, you could not have returned alive to your people.’ S’ad was provoked to retort, ‘If you obstruct us in approaching the Ka’aba, then be sure you will not be able to journey in security to Syria.’ Umayya tried to soothe S’ad and asked him not to shout at Abul Hikam, to which S’ad retorted, ‘Umayya, do keep out of this. I tell you I cannot forget the prophecy of the Holy Prophet that one day you will perish at the hands of the Muslims.’ Umayya was much perturbed and when he returned home he related to his wife what he had heard from S’ad and said, ‘I swear that I shall not go forth from Mecca against the Muslims.’ But he went forth, albeit reluctantly, to the battle of Badr and was killed at Badr.
About the same time Waleed bin Mughirah, father of Khalid, fell ill, and when he perceived that his end was near he began to weep. Some of the chiefs of Mecca who were present with him were surprised and asked him why he wept. Waleed said, ‘Think not that I weep for fear of death. I weep at the apprehension lest the faith of Muhammad might spread and his authority might extend to Mecca.’ Abu Sufyan bin Harb sought to comfort him with, ‘Grieve not. So long as we are alive, that cannot happen. We give you a guarantee.’
On their side, the Muslims in Medina were not unaware of the designs of Quraish. They had full trust in divine promises of security, but, naturally, they were fearful and anxious over the misery that might be inflicted upon them. In the beginning they were so apprehensive that they were not able to sleep much at night, not knowing when they might be attacked. The Holy Prophet, peace be on him, was most anxious as he bore the responsibility for the safety of the Muslims. It is recorded by Nasai that in his early days in Medina, the Holy Prophet slept but little at night. Bokhari and Muslim have recorded: ‘Late one evening, the Holy Prophet said: “If one of our friends could keep watch for a time, I could have some sleep.” As he said this, we heard the sound of weapons, on which he inquired: “Who is that?” The reply came: “Messenger of Allah, I am S’ad bin Waqqas. I have come to keep watch.” Thereafter, the Holy Prophet slept for a while.’
The Holy Prophet was always on the alert. One night some noise was heard and people emerged from their homes, anxious to discover the cause of it. Some of them began to move in the direction from which the noise had been heard. They had not proceeded far when they saw the Holy Prophet coming from the opposite direction riding on the bare back of Abu Talha’s horse, with his sword at his side. When he arrived near the assembled Muslims, he reassured them that he was returning after having investigated the cause of the noise and that he had not found anything to be anxious about. He must have been awake at the time when the noise was heard and had proceeded immediately in the direction of the noise.
Quraish were not content only with the letters that they had addressed to Abdullah bin Ubayy and the Jews of Medina. They carried on propaganda against the Muslims throughout the country, as far as they could reach, and as they enjoyed a degree of prestige on account of their guardianship of the Ka’aba, their hostile propaganda was turning all tribes against the Muslims. Their caravans carried their propaganda far and wide. All this intensified the anxiety of the Muslims in Medina. Hadith relates that all Arabia united in opposition to them and the Muslims went about armed during the day, and did not put their arms off even during the night. They wondered whether they would survive till such time when they might be able to sleep in peace at night, without any fear in their hearts except the fear of God. Their condition at the time is described in the Holy Quran as follows (8:27):
Call to mind the time when you were few in numbers and were accounted weak in the land, and were afraid of being despoiled by people, and He provided you with shelter, and supported you with His help, and provided you with good things, that you may be grateful.
In Medina, the position of the Muslims at that time was, in some respects, even more precarious than it had been in Mecca, for in Mecca tribal custom and conventions afforded them, at least to those of them who belonged to some tribe or the other, a degree of security, but in Medina they were not only subject to the menace of Quraish but were also afraid of the devices and designs of the disaffected, and were not entirely reassured with regard to the attitude of the Jews.
In the first year after the Migration the first child born to an Emigrant was Abdullah bin Zubair, whose birth was an occasion of joy for the Emigrants. Zubair bin Awam, the father of the baby, was a first cousin of the Holy Prophet, and was married to Asmaa, the eldest daughter of Abu Bakr. She was the mother of the baby. Abdullah grew up a devoted and erudite Muslim who played an important role in the early history of Islam.
The Holy Prophet and the Muslims were grieved in that year by the death of two prominent leaders of Ansar, Kulthum bin Hadam, with whom the Holy Prophet had resided in Qaba, and Asad bin Zararah, who was one of the six men of Yathrab who became the first Muslims, a year prior even to the First Pledge of Aqabah. Mus’ab bin Umair, the first teacher of Islam in Medina, had resided with him, and he had also instituted congregational prayer and the Friday noon Service in Medina. He was, in addition, one of the twelve leaders of Ansar who had been appointed by the Holy Prophet immediately after the Second Pledge of Aqabah. On his death, Banu Najjar, whose leader he was, requested the Holy Prophet to appoint someone in his place. As there was no longer any need of tribal leaders, they were told that they did not need a leader any longer as the Holy Prophet himself was their leader.
Waleed bin Mughirah and Aas bin Wail, two influential chiefs of Quraish, also died in the same year. They were bitter enemies of Islam and were highly respected in Mecca. Their sons, Khalid bin Waleed and Amr bin Aas, embraced Islam within a few years and played a heroic part in the early history of Islam.