Thus far we have looked at the political turnaround Muhammed (pbuh) brought about in Medina, and we also looked at the mixed reactions the various communities displayed towards these changes.
We spoke about the Aws and Al-Khazraj- two tribes who aspired to the highest office of that city, and who were obviously not impressed by Muhammed (pbuh) deploying his new brand of politics amongst all the peoples of Medina – and not only the Muslims!
We spoke about the ‘Unbelievers’ from amongst these two tribes, those who had ceaselessly plotted to oust Muhammed (pbuh) from their City and whose primary function it was to create dissension amongst the ‘Believers’ – especially the Ansar (local Arabs from Medina) and the Muhajireen (immigrant Arabs from Mecca). We spoke about the ‘inbetweeners’- those who had reverted to Islam, but were not really Muslim; those who had backstabbed the Prophet (pbuh) at every turn, even going as far as building their own mosque.
We discussed the Jews, who, on the other hand, afforded the Prophet (pbuh) a genuine warm welcome – fraternizing with the Muslims, even following them in certain of their doctrines, believing and hoping that Muhammed (pbuh) had come to help them against the Christians whom they hated for having expelled them from Palestine.
But as we have said before, Muhammed (pbuh) knew that the peace that existed between the various tribes (of Arabs), as well as some of the other denominations (Muslims and non-Muslims), could not be left to chance and he instituted the ‘Covenant of Medina’.
We discussed how this ‘Accord’ instructed them in ways contrary to what they believed and practiced – in their personal lives – and how it bonded Arab and non-Arab into a brotherhood that had never been thought possible at that time.
The Jews, as we have said previously, looked at Muhammed (pbuh) with great expectations. They enjoyed having the Prophet (pbuh) in their midst, engaging in healthy debates with their Rabbis, and even fasting with them during their ‘Holy Days’.
These Jews, or most of them, apart from following the Muslims, enjoyed countless privileges under Muhammed (pbuh), who, in the meantime, was becoming increasingly powerful due to the unprecedented conversion of large numbers of people to the religion of Islam.
We find that the Prophet’s (pbuh) unique brand of politics was bringing untold trade prospects to the city of Medina – and one can thus imagine what this must have done for the Jews, who, in turn, offered the least resistance to Muhammed’s (pbuh) ministries and his universal ‘Call to Islam’.
Perhaps this euphoria or state of perceived security (if you like) that the Jews enjoyed might have continued had some of their own hierarchy not abjured the exclusivity of their own faith.
We find that suddenly and unexpectedly huge numbers of Jewish scholars and ‘holy men’ entered into the fold of Islam; Priests and Rabbis seriously began to look at what Muhammed (pbuh) was offering – besides prosperity – and wondered if they were doing the right thing in allowing the Prophet (pbuh) so much freedom in making so many inroads into their lives. Even some Rabbis were starting to look favorably towards the ‘Religion’.
One such Rabbi, Abdullah ibn Salam, approached the Prophet (pbuh) and announced that he and his family had embraced Islam. His entire household! he said.
He then proceeded to proclaim the ‘Oneness of Allah’ and the articles of faith that are customary to the ‘Acceptance of the Religion’, and the Prophet (pbuh) welcomed him and his whole family into the religion of Islam.
Abdullah ibn Salam then said, ‘O, Messenger of Allah, I fear for the well-being of my family and myself, should the others find out about our conversion.’ He stared hesitantly at the Prophet (pbuh) who looked at him reassuringly.
‘What is it you would like me to do?’ the Prophet (pbuh) enquired.
‘I would like you to ask them what would they do if I, Abdullah ibn Salam, were to accept Islam.’ And he looked down at his feet, feeling awkward and not knowing what to say further.
The Prophet (pbuh) then placed his hand on Abdullah’s shoulder and said. ‘O, Abdullah…It is only Allah who gives guidance, and if He has so willed that you shall become a Muslim then have no fear. Allah will protect you!’
But when Muhammed (pbuh) approached the ‘Jewish Council’ as Abdullah ibn Salam had requested, he was told in no uncertain terms: ‘Abdullah ibn Salam is our master and the son of our Master. He is a learned scholar and Rabbi, and he shall never denounce his faith!’
Thus when Abdullah ibn Salam went back to his people and told them about his conversion, they attacked him and spread all sorts of malicious gossip about him and his family to all and sundry in the Jewish quarters of Medina.
This incident also triggered the Jews’ mistrust of Muhammed (pbuh) and their denial of him as a prophet. It also opened the path to all those enemies of Islam to form a bond with the Jews and systematically begin to undermine Islam.