Previously we discussed Muhammed’s (pbuh) implementation of a new political order in Medina, and his instructions to the Muhajireen (immigrant Arabs from Mecca) and the Ansar (local Arabs from Medina) to join in a pact of forming one brotherhood, and to align themselves to one another to effectively combat any connivance the ‘Unbelievers’ from the Aws and Al-Khazraj could devise against them.
We looked at how Muhammed (pbuh) endeavoured ceaselessly to bring cohesion amongst his followers and how the Aws and Al-Khazraj felt cheated at the emergence of the Prophet (pbuh) on the political scene—thwarting their ideals of claiming Medina for themselves to govern.
We spoke about the different tribes of Jews that existed in Medina, and their aspirations of winning the Prophet (pbuh) over to their side to fight against the Christians whom they hated for having expelled them from Palestine.
One can thus imagine the political powder-keg that must have existed at that time.
On the one side there were the Muslims who were now solely reliant on Muhammed (pbuh) for guidance and instruction; on the other hand there were the Jews, Christians, and Unbelievers, as well as those ‘in-betweeners’ who had reverted to Islam, but were not really Muslim. They were the ones who took pleasure in back-stabbing the Prophet (pbuh) at every turn! They were the ones who befriended those Jews and Christians who had it in for Muhammed (pbuh)—and together, they plotted with the ‘Unbelievers’ how to overthrow the Prophet (pbuh) and expel him from their city.
We learn about one incident where these hypocrites built their own mosque and endeavoured to cause a split between the Muslims. The Prophet (pbuh) summarily burnt down that mosque and effectively stopped any further attempts at such deviant ideologies.
One point of note, though, is that Muhammed (pbuh), unlike any other Prophet before him, was politically motivated enough to understand the social implications of leaving any emerging subversiveness unattended. He knew that his presence in Medina was causing dissension amongst the different tribes of Arabs inhabiting the city, and he speedily instituted a strategy whereby all concerned parties had to swear fealty to him and abide by this new constitution. He instituted the ‘Covenant of Medina’ which to this day is hailed as a ‘master-strategy’ of political expedience.
Muhammed (pbuh), as has been said before and recorded through all the annals of history, could neither read nor write; he could not even spell his own name! But he understood and appreciated the power of the pen.
He therefore had this particular ‘Covenant’ reduced to writing—by one of his trusted scribes—and all concerned parties then had to abide by this constitution of Islam. Many of the Jews of Medina were also a part of it.
Below follows a brief synopsis of this ‘Pax Islamica’. It also outlines the role of the Muslims regarding the socio-political infrastructure of Medina, as well as the role of the Jews who aligned themselves with the followers of Muhammed (pbuh):
In the name of Allah; The Compassionate;
This is a Covenant given by Muhammed (pbuh)
to the Muslims of Qureish, Medina, and all
Those who followed them, joined them, And,
Fought with them.
It is a Covenant for those who believe in Allah
Almighty and in the Last Day. Those who shall not
cause division amongst the People and neither
It is hereby agreed that no Believer shall leave
his fellow-believer in destitution, without giving
him in kindness what he needs by way of ransom or
All Believers shall rise, as one man, against
anyone causing harm or mischief, or, creates
division amongst the Believers—even though he be
a son or close relative.
No Believer shall slay another Believer as
retribution for an Unbeliever. And, neither shall
he assist an Unbeliever against a Believer.
Any Jew who follows us is entitled to our assistance
and shall enjoy equal rights and partnership as
any one of us, without injustice, nor partisanship.
The Document goes on to explain what happens in times of war and peace; about those who fall in battle and those who are left behind; about those committing murder and the punishment for it; and about peace-agreements—and who could transact these agreement and under what circumstances.
It was quite a lengthy Covenant, but all in all it bounded the Muhajireen, Ansar, Jews, as well as a group of the other denominations, who had recently accepted Islam, to an inviolable treaty that stretched far and wide across Medina.
The Arabs, being known for their wild and volatile nature, slowly began to respect one another—to fraternise with one another, as had never been done before! They could be seen hugging each other through mutual understanding and genuine concern, helping one another without expecting anything in return. Even those Jews who had not signed the initial ‘Accord’, like the Jews from the Banu al Nathir, Banu Qurayzah, and Banu Qaynuqah, entered into similar ‘pacts’ with the Prophet (pbuh) as time went on. Crime and corruption were being given a telling blow and Medina began to glow from a tranquility that to this day bears testimony to that transformation that took place when Muhammed (pbuh) instituted the Covenant of Medina.