Building the Society in Medina – PART III

The Power of Citizenship – Stopping a Civil War

Mecca sees Muslims in Medina as a great danger

After the Muslims left Mecca to Medina, one can imagine that Mecca will live in peace away from the Muslims. However, Mecca saw great danger in the Muslims and Islam finding home in Medina for many reasons. First, Medina was on the road of the business caravans to Levant. Second, they were always under the belief that the Muslims will build their strength and return back to Mecca to take back their homes and their wealth they left behind when they migrate. The Muslims may also try to take revenge for the torture they went through in Mecca. They were also sure that Muhammad and his companions will never stop promoting their message and call people to their religion, something that will threaten their leadership in the peninsula and accordingly threaten their financial sources. They also know how strong the two main tribes of Medina is and how, if united, they can be real threat. They were also afraid that the Jews, a large portion of the inhabitants of Medina, who believe in and talk about one god and believe in messengers and anticipated the arrival of a final messenger, will believe in Islam and join Muhammad with their wealth, forts, and weapons.

Mecca was determined that this cannot continue and they have to do something about this new power arising in Medina, especially if this power is lead by Muhammad and his powerful message. They made many political and military moves to make sure this power is terminated before it gets stronger.

Mecca tries to spark civil war in Medina

As narrated in Abu Dawood, one of the actions they took shortly after the prophet arrived to Medina is to send a threatening message to the leaders of the tribes of Medina and to their leader Abdullah Ibn Ubai Ibn Salool who was a polytheist and had a huge hatred for Islam, the Muslims, and the Messenger (PBUH). The message was, “You have hosted our man and we swear by Allah if you do not kill him or expel him, we will all come to you and kill your men and take your women!

Ibn Salool got the message and gathered all the polytheists of Medina from his tribe al-Khazraj and from their life-long enemy al-Awas and decided to fight the Muslims from both tribes. They prepared themselves to fight the prophet and the Muslims. The muslims also got ready to fight. When the prophet heard about that he went to them and told them, “The threat of Quraish really affect you. They wouldn’t have harmed you more than that which you will do to yourselves.” “Do you want to kill your sons and brothers?” The prophet continued. When they heard that they cooled down and left.

A few thoughts …

  • Despite the fact that Muslims left Mecca altogether, Mecca did not leave Muslims alone. As mentioned above in the story and will be mentioned later in many other stories, Mecca never stopped working against the prophet, his companions, and Islam. They declared hatred and accordingly war against Islam, its messenger, and its people. They even declared war on any one who allies with the Messenger even if not Muslim. As Allah said, “They will continue to fight you until they turn you back from your religion if they can …
  • It was amazing how the Muslims from the life long enemies, al-Aws and al-Khazraj became brothers and forgot all the differences and all the past war. This is obviously attributed to the faith entering their heart and the continuous effort of the prophet in instilling brotherhood in their hearts. What is very interesting is the polytheists from those two tribes getting together. It is very important to know that the enemies of the truth will get together despite their disagreement only to oppose the truth, for that is the only thing they agree on [check the end of surat al-Anfal].
  • Here is the essence of the story: the power of citizenship. The prophet (pbuh) in this difficult time where the Muslims and the non-Muslims stood against one another in a very possible civil war. He can’t preach Islam at that moment and he can’t remind people with Allah and his orders. One side will probably listen to him, these are the Muslims of course, and the others won’t. He had to stop this using something else. That was citizenship. He focused on two things:
    1. Reminding them with the consequences of what they are trying to get in. That was the amount of killing and destruction that can take place. He reminded them about what happened between them in the very recent war. He actually took away the threat of the Meccans in a very smart way: what you are doing to yourself now–by fighting one another and killing one another–is more harmful than what the Meccans threatened you with. They threatened you by killing and you are now doing this for free.
    2. He reminded them of their citizenship, their belonging to Medina, their belonging to same tribes and same families. He simply said, “do you want to kill your sons and brothers?” What a statement! How dare you kill your son or brother? How dare you kill someone from your tribe? How dare you kill someone who shares with you your land and will share with you your future? That is absolute citizenship in its clear form.
  • Peace in Medina and around was a main goal. The prophet could have let this civil war happen. He could have even joined the Muslims’ side of course. It could have been a decisive war. But that was not the intent of the prophet nor was it going to be healthy. Also, the prophet always resolves by peace and patience and resorts to war only when he had to. This will show itself very strongly when we talk about more stories.

Please share some of your thoughts and comments in the comment section.

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