Madina: The City of the Prophet
The inhabitants in Madina had been waiting for Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to join them and become the leader of their newly found state. After receiving the divine command to leave Mecca and join the others in Madina, Prophet Muhammad finally made his way to Madina to join them. Anas, a close companion of Prophet Muhammad said “I was present the day he entered Madina and I have never seen a better or brighter day than the day on which he came to us in Madina, and I was present on the day he died, and I have never seen a day worse or darker than the day on which he died” (Ahmed).
The very first task Prophet Muhammad undertook in Madina was to build a mosque. He inquired about the price of land that was owned by two local boys who initially wished to give the land as a gift. However, Prophet Muhammad insisted to pay full price for the land and thus began to help in the construction of the mosque. This mosque would serve as the place of worship for the Muslims in Madina. It signified the end of oppression and an era where they could now openly and freely practice their religion. Prophet Muhammad and the emigrants and helpers worked tirelessly to build the mosque. During it’s creation, Prophet Muhammad was heard saying, “O God-Almighty! There is no goodness except that of the hereafter, so please forgive the emigrants and the helpers” (Bukhari).
Once this most important task was complete, Prophet Muhammad also built homes around the mosque for his family. Both the mosque and the home of Prophet Muhammad stand in Madina to this day. This marked the completion of the Hijrah, of emigration to Madina and thus marked the beginning of the Islamic calendar. Before this day, Madina was known as Yathrib, but this day gave it the new name of Madinat-un-Nabi, the City of the Prophet, otherwise known as Madina.
The Wisdom of Prophet Muhammad as Commander
Prophet Muhammad’s primary concern was to propagate Islam efficiently and effectively to convert others, show Islam’s offerings to societal peace, face exile, pervasive hostility and opposition, economic hardship, hunger, insecurity, and danger with patience and fortitude (1) in addition to this, establishing human rights, women’s rights and societal rules and regulations laid out by God-Almighty in the Qur’an.
The Quraysh grew increasingly enraged once they found out that he successfully emigrated to Madina. In response, they increased in both number and severity the persecution of Muslims left in Mecca. They also began making alliances with polytheists in Madina. They began sending frequent warnings of annihilation. This in combination with the news of plots and plans of violence that reached Prophet Muhammad himself caused the Muslims in Madina to live in fear. Through thirteen years of persecution and violence, boycotts and social injustice, the Muslims lived as pacifists.
Small expeditions began whether led by the Prophet himself or by other emigrants from Mecca for the purpose of probing trade routes that led to Mecca, and they also served to form alliances with other tribes. Other expeditions were led to intercept some caravans from Syria to place economic pressure on the Quraysh. A small amount of these expeditions ever saw battle, but through them, Madina was able to establish a new position in the Arabian Peninsula. No longer were they seen, as weak and oppressed, but had grown strong and a force to be reckoned with.
The Battle of Badr
Because of the Muslim concentration in Madina, the Quraysh always felt their trade route into Syria was threatened. They sent letters to the Madinians threatening to kill their men and take their woman as slaves (2). In response to the constant threat, Prophet Muhammad was left with no choice, but to consolidate control over this trade route to Syria. Abu Sufyan, the head of this particular caravan, received word and immediately rounded up as many men as possible to teach the Muslims a lesson and stop them from taking over any caravans in the future.
When the Muslims received news of the Meccan army coming, they knew they could not back down and needed to take some daring steps in the matter. They knew that if they did not protect themselves at Badr, that the persecution of Islam and the Muslims would only get worse. They were also afraid of the possibility of the battle reaching to Madina, destroying property and wealth of the people living there, and most importantly, putting their lives at risk. This being said, Prophet Muhammad did not go forward before consulting a group of advisors. He did not want to lead his people into something they did not agree with.
After receiving strong support from his trusted followers, the emigrants and the helpers (those who were already living in Madina before the emigration), a group of approximately 300 people made their way to Badr. Having only 70 horses and camels between them, they rode in turns.
In prayer, Prophet Muhammad beseeched the help of God-Almighty, when the following verse was revealed from the Holy Qur’an, “When you were imploring your Lord for help (as a special mercy), and He responded to you: “I will help you with a thousand angels, coming host after host.” (8:9) With this revelation, the Muslims gained a valor of faith and took an offensive approach. The Meccan army was defeated and forced to flee the battle.
Important facts to take away from the Battle of Badr:
1. Prophet Muhammad attempted to consolidate economic control before being forced into the battle by the Quraysh (2)
2. Prophet Muhammad consulted his men before entering the battle as to go with the majority
3. Prophet Muhammad always gave himself in prayer before making any major decisions and he never went against the will of his people.
The Battle of Uhud
The following year, an army of three thousand men set from Mecca to Madina to destroy the city. The initial plan of Prophet Muhammad was to simply defend the city. However, the men who fought at the battle of Badr encouraged Prophet Muhammad to take an offensive approach as they thought it would be a shame to hide behind the walls of Madina. Agreeing with the consultation set out by his men, the Muslims set out with an army of about a thousand men toward Mt. Uhud, where the Meccans had set camp. Despite the odds, the battle would prove to potentially be more victorious than the battle of Badr. However, a band of archers whom Prophet Muhammad sent to guard a pass, disobeying an order to not retreat from their positions, upon seeing their comrades victorious abandoned their posts and the cavalry of the Quraysh rode in and fell upon the Muslims. Prophet Muhammad was among the wounded. Many thought he had been killed until someone recognized him and shouted to the others that he was indeed alive. Gathering around the Prophet, the Muslims were forced to retreat.
There are three important points to take from the Battle at Mt. Uhud (1):
1. It was not the will of Prophet Muhammad to go to battle, he wanted to stay back and defend the city of Madina
2. The majority of the youth in Madina wanted to go to battle, and to show democratic rule, Prophet Muhammad followed the will of the people through consultation, even though he knew it was not the best decision.
3. After the horrific loss of Uhud, Prophet Muhammad never blamed nor ridiculed those who wanted to go to battle.
The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah
The sixth year after the emigration to Madina, Prophet Muhammad began negotiations for a peace treaty between the Muslims and the Quraysh. Initially, he wrote at the top the treaty, “This is a contract between Muhammad, the Messenger of God-Almighty and the Quraysh” but the Quraysh refused to refer to him as a Messenger of God-Almighty, so he agreed to allow them to remove the title.
After negotiations, the two sides agreed to a peace treaty that would last ten years. The treaty included that: both sides would not interfere with the free movement of the other, the Muslims would be allowed to enter Mecca the following year, any Muslim man coming from the Quraysh to join the Muslims would be sent back, but any man going from the Muslims to Quraysh would not be sent back, any tribes other than the Quraysh that wished to enter an alliance with Muhammad were free to do so, and any that wished to enter an alliance with the Quraysh were free to do so.
Although many saw the treaty as biased, it was in fact to become known as a product of political statesmanship and political genius. The treaty brought many advantages. First of all, the Meccans now saw Prophet Muhammad as an equal and gave recognition to Madina as a separate state. Muslims who had been living in fear for so many years were now free to practice their faith openly without the fear of prosecution. Before the treaty, many tribes who were afraid to form an alliance with the Muslims fearing persecution from the Quraysh were now free to for an alliance. These factors of the treaty led to a significant increase in the acceptance of Islam and gave way for Madina to be known as the symbol of a golden generation. (2)
Gulen, Fethullah. Muhammad as Commander. Somerset, NJ: Light, 2002. Print
Gulen, Fethullah, The Messenger of God: Muhammad, Somerset, NJ: Light, 2005. Print