PROPHET MUHAMMAD (peace be upon him) stayed in Makkah calling the people of his hometown to the message of Allah for 13 years and the number of people who embraced Islam did not exceed 70. The Prophet (peace be upon him) suffered a lot at the hands of his people who rejected the new religion, in spite of its noble and uplifting values. During that initial phase of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was fully occupied with instilling the idea of monotheism or the Oneness of God in his people’s minds.
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) migrated to Madina where he (peace be upon him) spent 10 years of his life, that are truly considered the most profitable and fruitful ones in the history of Islam. As soon as he settled in Madina, the Prophet (peace be upon him) started to work for establishing the Muslim state. If we deeply study the foundations upon which Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) established this state, we will discover that it was a modern state in the full sense of the word:
• When the Prophet (peace be upon him) arrived in Madina, he started building a mosque first to serve as the parliament for the nascent Muslim state. In other words, it was not only a place of worship but a place for discussing and reviewing all the matters related to the general good of Muslims and Islam.
• The second step taken by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was to effect a reconciliation between Aws and Khazraj, the two most powerful tribes of Madina. This is what is called nowadays in political circles as establishing social peace and political stability.
• The third step was to sign non-aggression treaties with the Jews which in the present terminology is called establishing and fostering good neighborliness. But, unfortunately, the Jews, as usual, violated the treaty which made Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) expel them from Madina to keep their mischief away from the new-born Muslim state and this is what is called today political shrewdness.
• The Prophet (peace be upon him) established the principle of Shoura (Consultation). He (peace be upon him) used to consult his Companions to seek their views on all matters of importance, giving everybody the chance to present his or her point of view. He never hesitated to accept and act on any reasonable point of view, in spite of the fact that it might be contrary to his own view. This is what we call today the democratic spirit and public opinion polls.
• The Noble Prophet (peace be upon him) was deeply concerned about equality. He emphasized on many occasions that all Muslims regardless of their color, race, wealth and social status are equal and this accomplished what we call today as human rights.
• The Prophet (peace be upon him) always emphasized the positive role of women in building the Muslim society and always stressed that her role is as important as that of man, and this is what we have come to call today women’s rights or women’s empowerment.
We as Muslims, let us confess, have neglected reading our history although reading it will unveil a lot of bright aspects of Islam. Many of the orientalists (people specialized in the history of the east and Islam) were fascinated by the glorious history of Islam. Most of them admit that Muslims had a unique history which they should be proud of.
Reading our history will reveal that Islam spread by the commendable conduct and good manners of Muslims and not by the sword as some critics of Islam claim. The countries that have the largest numbers of Muslims like India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Pakistan are situated far from the Arabian Peninsula where most of the wars between Muslims and their enemies took place.
Reading our history will reveal that the utopia, the ideal city dreamt of by thinkers like Plato and Sir Thomas Moore, did exist in Al-Madina, where all people were treated equally regardless of their color, race, language or social position and where everybody knew his duty and performed it and equally knew his right and got it.
Reading our history will show that Muslim scientists like Ibn Sina, Al-Farabi, Jabir Bin Al-Hayyan, …etc. led the world from the dark and middle ages into the modern world with their discoveries and inventions. In addition to this, when Muslims were in Andalusia (they stayed there for 800 years) they at that time reached the peak of human civilization and knowledge.
The history books narrate stories about many kings in Europe sending their sons to be taught at the hands of Muslim scholars and scientists. At the same time, Europe was still living in ignorance and people were still arguing whether the woman was a human being or an animal. In contrast to this, Islam from the very beginning gave women their rights and due position in the society. Reading our history will tell us that Islam encouraged all forms of democracy and the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught his companions to adopt the principle of Shoura (consultation) in all their affairs. Not only that, the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to act on the point of view of the majority, although in many cases he (peace be upon him) had a different point of view.
Reading our history will tell us that Islam established the first comprehensive social system based on social solidarity through Zakah and Sadaqat (charity), which to a great extent kept social peace and order in society. At the end, I suggest that we should read our history because we as Muslims had a great history and that should guide us to a better future.
MU’ADH Bin Jabal was a young man growing up in Yathrib as the light of guidance and truth began to spread over the Arabian Peninsula.
He was a handsome and imposing character with black eyes and curly hair and immediately impressed whoever he met. He was already distinguished for the sharpness of his intelligence among young men of his own age. The young Mu’adh became a Muslim at the hands of Musab Bin Umayr, the daiyah (missionary) whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) had sent to Yathrib before the Hijrah. Mu’adh was among the seventy-two Yathribites who journeyed to Makkah, one year before the Hijrah (immigration), and met the Prophet at in his house and later again in the valley of Mina, outside Makkah, at Aqabah. Here the famous second Aqabah Pledge was made at which the new Muslims of Yathrib, including some women, vowed to support and defend the Prophet at any cost. Mu’adh was among those who enthusiastically clasped the hands of the blessed Prophet then and pledged allegiance to him.
As soon as Mu’adh returned to Madina from Makkah, he and a few others of his age formed a group to remove and destroy idols from the houses of the Mushrikeen (polytheists) in Yathrib. One of the effects of this campaign was that a prominent man of the city, Amr Bin Al-Jumuh, became a Muslim.
When the noble Prophet reached Madinah, Mu’adh Bin Jabal stayed in his company as much as possible. He studied the Qur’an and the laws of Islam until he became one of the most well-versed of all the companions in the religion of Islam.
Wherever Mu’adh went, people would refer to him for legal judgments on matters over which they differed. This is not strange since he was brought up in the school of the Prophet himself and learnt as much as he could from him. He was one of the best pupils of the best teacher. His knowledge bore the stamp of authenticity. The best certificate that he could have received came from the Prophet himself when he said: “The most knowledgeable of my ummah (nation)in matters of Halal (lawful) and haram (unlawful) is Mu’adh Bin Jabal.”
One of the greatest of Mu’adh’s contributions to the Ummah of Muhammad was that he was one of the group of six who collected the Qur’an during the lifetime of the Prophet. Whenever a group of companions met and Mu’adh was among them, they would look at him with awe and respect on account of his knowledge. The Prophet and his two caliphs after him placed this unique gift and power in the service of Islam.
After the conquest of Makkah, the Quraysh embraced Islam en masse. The Prophet immediately saw the need of the new Muslims for teachers to instruct them in the fundamentals of Islam and to make them truly understand the spirit and letter of its laws. He appointed Attab Bin Usay as his deputy in Makkah and he asked Mu’adh Bin Jabal to stay with him and teach people the Qur’an and instruct them in the religion.
Sometime after the Prophet had returned to Madina, messengers of the kings of Yemen came to him announcing that they and the people of Yemen had embraced Islam. They requested that some teachers should be with them to teach Islam to the people. For this task the Prophet commissioned a group of competent Duaat (missionaries) and made Mu’adh Bin Jabal their leader. He then put the following question to Mu’adh:
“According to what will you judge?”
“According to the Book of God,” replied Mu’adh.
“And if you find nothing therein?”
“According to the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) of God.”
“And if you find nothing therein?”
“Then I will exert myself (exercise ijtihad) to form my own judgment.”
The Prophet (pbuh) was pleased with this reply and said: “Praise be to God Who has guided the messenger of the Prophet (pbuh) to that which pleases the Prophet (pbuh).”
The Prophet personally bade farewell to this mission of guidance and light and walked for some distance alongside Mu’adh as he rode out of the city. Finally he said to him:
“O Mu’adh, perhaps you shall not meet me again after this year. Perhaps when you return you shall see only my mosque and my grave.” Mu’adh wept. Those with him wept too. A feeling of sadness and desolation overtook him as he parted from his beloved Prophet, peace and blessings of God be on him.
The Prophet(pbuh)’s premonition came true. The eyes of Mu’adh never beheld the Prophet(pbuh) after that moment. The Prophet(pbuh) died before Mu’adh returned from Yemen.
There is no doubt that Mu’adh wept when he returned to Madinah and found there was no longer the blessed company of the Prophet (pbuh).
Mu’adh went to Palestine. There Mu’adh fell ill with an infectious disease. As he was near death, he turned in the direction of the Kabah and repeated this refrain: “Welcome Death, Welcome. A visitor has come after a long absence . . .” And looking up to heaven, he said: “O Lord, You know that I did not desire the world and to prolong my stay in it . . . O Lord, accept my soul with goodness as you would accept a believing soul…”
He then passed away, far from his family and his clan in the service of God.
Caliph Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) was the dearest friend of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to speak about Abu Bakr, remarking on how he was the only person who never hesitated to accept Islam once he heard about it. Other people who embraced Islam in the early days would think for some time and consider, but Abu Bakr declared his faith immediately.
Before he declared his Islam, Abu Bakr was known as a pious man; he had an essentially good character, and only good was expected from him. He and the Prophet (peace be upon him) were good friends before the Prophet s mission.
Abu Bakr was a wealthy man and was in the habit of using his wealth to benefit others. One of the evil pre-Islamic traditions was the practice of burying baby girls alive. This practice was stopped when the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) came with the message of Islam. This pre-Islamic time is commonly known as the era of ignorance because the people lived without the knowledge of the values and principles of Islam. For this reason, the birth of a baby girl was something for a man to be ashamed of. Men thought that sons would bring more honor on them, their families, and their tribes while girls could potentially bring them and their tribes dishonor; therefore, many men buried their daughters alive. Whenever Abu Bakr heard that a baby girl was to be buried alive, he would go and negotiate with the father and he started something that could be called a boarding house in today’s terms, a place where he put these little girls in the care of women who would look after them while he paid for their maintenance.
Muslims believe that, every human being is born with an innate nature; an ability to tell the difference between good and evil and the knowledge that there is a Creator and a desire to know Him. This nature remains strong in some people and weakens over time with others. Abu Bakr remained firm in his human nature, so that even before the advent of Islam and the sure knowledge and system that came with it, he knew that such things as burying baby girls alive were essentially evil. He knew this in a society that largely accepted this practice.
Goodness is attracted to goodness and comprehends it, so it is not surprising that Abu Bakr befriended the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as he perceived his innate piety and, thereafter, never even hesitated to follow the Prophet until his last breath.
The final days of the Muslims before they emigrated to Madina, witnessed two kinds of extremes: the Muslims gradual sense of success and the continual torment and persecution at the hands of the non-Muslims of Quraish. The Prophet and the believers were hopeful that better days would soon come and that the migration to Madina would soon occur. About one year before the migration, Allah blessed the Prophet (peace be upon him) with something miraculous. This was the event of the Prophet s Night Journey to Jerusalem and then his Ascension to the heavens.
The following day, after this miraculous event, the Prophet (peace be upon him) spoke about it. This was a test for the Muslims because, from the earthly point of view, such an event cannot be explained by human reason and so those who were weak in their faith doubted. The true and strong Muslims found nothing unusual in Allah granting His prophet a miracle as they believed that He is All Powerful and created all there is by an act of His will. Needless to say, the non-Muslims ridiculed and questioned the truth of this event. They went to Abu Bakr to see his response to this event. When Abu Bakr was asked about it, he asked if the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had said this happened. When they answered in the affirmative, Abu Bakr simply declared that he did indeed verify it. It was due to his response on this most important day that Abu Bakr earned the title of As-Siddiq which means the verifier of truth (Al-Mubarakpuri, 150-51).
Abu Bakr knew that prophets received Allah’s signs to establish their faith. He knew that they were eligible for this in consequence of divine privilege because of the heavy burdens they had to bear, as messengers of Allah. Abu Bakr did all he could to help his friend the Prophet (peace be upon him) carry out his mission in the service of Allah.
The Night Journey, together with other revelations around that time, showed the Muslims the greatness of the civilization which they were in the process of constructing. A coherent society was soon to be established and the call of Islam was soon to be heard throughout the world. Abu Bakr was a significant part of the call and spread of Islam.
Not long after the Night Journey, the Muslims prepared to migrate to Madina. The people of Madina welcomed the Prophet Muhammad and his followers and eagerly awaited his blessed arrival. One by one, the Muslims left the distress and persecution of Makkah and settled in Madina (Lings, 113-15). Abu Bakr, still in Makkah, wished that he would be the one to travel with the Prophet (peace be upon him), but the Prophet did not answer Abu Bakr until he received guidance from Allah to do so.
Muharram – The first month of the Hijra calendar – is one of the four sacred months about which Allah said: “Verily, the number of months with Allah is 12 months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…” (Qur’an, 9:36)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The year is 12 months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab which comes between Jumada and Sha’ban.” (Al-Bukhari, 2958)
It was reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said that this phrase “so wrong not yourselves therein…” referred to all the months, then these four were singled out and made sacred, so that sin in these months is more serious and good deeds bring a greater reward.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “The best of fasting after Ramadan is fasting Allah’s month of Muharram.” (Sahih Muslim)
This Hadith is probably meant to encourage fasting during Muharram, without meaning that one should fast for the entire month.
Fasting on ‘Ashoura
Ibn Abbas said: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) came to Madina and saw the Jews fasting on the day of ‘Ashoura. When he asked them about it, they said, ‘This is a blessed day, it is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Musa (peace be upon him) fasted on this day.’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘We have more right to Musa (peace be upon him) than you,’ so he fasted on that day and commanded (the Muslims) to fast on that day.” (Al-Bukhari)
Fasting on the day of ‘Ashoura was earlier obligatory, but when fasting Ramadan was made obligatory, the obligation to fast ‘Ashoura was cancelled, i.e., it was no longer obligatory to fast on this day, but it is still recommended.
Virtues of fasting ‘Ashoura
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “For fasting the day of ‘Ashoura, I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before.” (Sahih Muslim)
This is from the bounty of Allah towards us. By fasting one day, He expiates our sins for the whole year. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty.
Fasting the ninth and tenth
Abdullah Ibn Abbas said: “When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) fasted on ‘Ashoura and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.’ The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, ‘If I live to see the next year, Insha Allah, we will fast on the ninth day too.’ But it so happened that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) passed away before the next year came.” (Sahih Muslim)
Al-Shafi’i and his companions, Ahmad, Ishaq and others said: “It is Mustahab (recommended) to fast on both days, ninth and tenth, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) fasted on the tenth, and intended to fast on the ninth.”