Naturalizing the Immigrants
One of the most interesting challenges that faced Muslims in Medina under the leadership of the Prophet (PBUH) was the big wave of migration. These immigrants left everything behind and came to this new land with almost nothing but their Islam and their commitment to it. They were sure passionate about the move and they were sure they made the right decision. However, they will soon be hit by the reality of life:it is a new city, no one knows them and they know no one. They will soon face life and its responsibilities, they will need to make money, and they will need to have a future for their families. They will soon miss Mecca and they may think of going back when it is almost impossible. They will soon be under physical and psychological pressure that may even touch their faith and commitment to this faith.
The hosts too, the people of Medina, were sure very passionate about receiving the prophet and the other immigrants. They were sure ready to host more and more. They were truthful to their commitment and were ready to sacrifice for it. However, they will soon realize that those immigrants are strangers and they will realize that they will compete with them in their future. Maybe their love to the prophet and the benefit they get from him would allow them to keep hosting him but how about the other immigrants? The people of Medina, too, will soon be under psychological and financial pressure.
If you add to this the challenge that this mix of people was from different tribes and held different backgrounds and experienced different culture, the problem becomes more difficult to deal with.
The outcome, the final product
The above challenges resulted in the following final product
- The immigrant group lived in Medina as natural citizens of it. The majority of them did not leave even after Mecca had become a Muslim city and they had got back the right to their houses. The loved living in Medina and most of them finished their life there. That included the prophet (PBUH) despite the huge love they had for their home town and the most sacred place on earth, Mecca.
- The immigrants were given huge rights to live and be part of decision making in the new society. They were part of the highest level leadership and they were the top leadership after the prophet died.
- None of the attempts that were plotted to create tribal or financial problems between the immigrants and the hosts were successful. All these attempts were killed in the very early moments
- The economy of Medina strengthened, the army of Medina became the strongest army, the political leadership of Medina among the whole peninsula was well recognized
- Loving between the two groups grew massively and the stories of support were unbelievable
How it was done
The effort to achieve this outcome was also unprecedented. It was a combination of the revelation of Allah in the Qur’an, plans from the Prophet also guided with the revelation, and pure hearts, ones full of faith. Here are a few of these things:
- The Qur’an comes down during and after the immigration telling people how valuable and how rewarding it is to migrate for the sake of Allah. People were marking their personal calendar with the date they migrated and good deeds were evaluated by how much they compare to Hijra. A lot of reward is placed on those who experience hardship, sickness, death, or murder during their hijra, a reward that no one can comprehend [check 22:59 for example].
- Verses about Hajj, its rulings, and its origin were revealed during that time, giving the strong promise and the strong hint that Muslims will be victorious and they will have the chance to go for hajj and even control the rulings of hajj in Mecca, a town they just got driven out of. Promises to come back make it easy to withstand the hardship of migration.
- A magnificent system of brotherhood was established between the immigrants and the hosts. It wasn’t a general direction by the prophet. Rather, it was a specific assignment to couples by name. The words of the Qur’an and the prophet that admire this concept and effort effort related to it were so effective. Brotherhood at that time, as it always should be, was considered as an integral part of the Muslims’ faith.
- The constitution that stated that the believers from Mecca and from Medina are one community supporting one another and helping one another. This made the immigrant feel the ownership of Medina and made them feel the sense of belonging.
- The constitution stating that the responsibility of helping those in need (for paying ransoms or getting out of debt) is as it used to be before the migration with one exception that people of Mecca are all considered one group. This made the hosts feel the safety on their wealth since they are not responsible to help the immigrant by law. However, the constitution also stated that anyone whose tribe or group is not able to support him or help him, this responsibility falls back on the whole community.
- Rejecting the generous offer made by the hosts. It was rejected collectively and individually. In one meeting that gathered all of the Muslims, the people of Medina made a very generous offer; that is to divide the palm trees of Medina, which constituted their wealth, into two halfs: one stays with them and one goes to “their brothers from the immigrants,” as they stated. The prophet said no, a strong no. They then changed the offer to employing the immigrants to work in their land and dividing the outcome between them. The prophet and the immigrants agreed. This transformed a large group of the immigrants into farmers, made them learn a new profession they did not know before, increased the working power of Medina, and made the hosts rest assured that those immigrants are not after their money. It is a win-win situation in nowadays terms
Probably there were many other actions the Muslims did to overcome this challenge and that lead to this success. I will add them as I go. Please add your thoughts as well in the comments section and I will add it to the post.
This effort reminds me with the effort done by America, my new country, to attract the finest of the world population and to naturally involve them in the society creating one of the largest world powers. However, two important things need to be mentioned. 1) This effort of the prophet was done 1431 years ago. 2) The recent effort in America did not succeed in making the sense of community for all people. There still a lot of social divides and justice challenge that need to be be dealt with. We ought to learn from the human aspect of the prophet’s naturalization experience in order for us to help making America a better place for people, all people, including us Muslims.