THE FIRST CONSTITION
Allah has referred to the people of IbrahimR.A several times in the Holy Qur’an. IbrahimR.A laid the foundation stone of Holy Ka’bah. IbrahimR.A’s religion, which became the foundation of Islam, was flexible enough to accommodate within itself both Judaism and Christianity, therefore Islam attained the status of a universal religion.
The Christian religion had reverted to racial devotion and the Jews claimed that they were the "chosen nation" of the world and thus they had the sole right to communicate with Allah. As Christianity was revealed to complete Judaism, therefore it could not have attained the universal popularity, Islam accepted the Prophets who had brought both Christianity and Judaism. It said each Prophet on earth had brought the message of Islam to his people. The message had been changed over time, the Scripture edited and altered. Islam did not envisage any boundaries for religion. There was no special race, or special people, all were equal before Allah. Therefore it had all the compatibility to become universal. Every person of this world, irrespective of his colour or creed, could and can easily accept Islam.
Hijrah became the demarcation line between the old and the new environment. It separated Islam from the dark ages and turned the tables of high born in such a way that when Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) entered Quba, a person like UmarR.A bin Khatab who had been among the high chieftains of Makkah, was found carrying stones on his shoulders. UmarR.A was tall with a thundering voice, about him the people said that Satan dreaded him. Such a person of prominence, was working like a common labourer to build the Mosque of Islam. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) himself and Abu BakrR.A were kneading clay from the soil. If UmarR.A bin Khatab had been presented all the wealth of Arabia, before accepting Islam he would not have consented to shift a handful of soil from one place to another. In Makkah each and every task was the responsibility of servants and slaves. The high-born considered themselves a superior race.
The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was well aware that his migration would lead to the gradual development of a society, which would nullify the dominance of genealogy and wealth. Black or white, the high and the low or the rich and the poor would all be equal. Such a human gathering would be named "Ummat" i.e. a society where all the Muslims would be equal. There would be no discrimination, based on gender. The rights of all would be equal. The highest order in the new society or umma rests with Allah, and the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) would be His representative in this society.
The Islamic Ummat and the common lot are demarcated by the Islamic law. This law is not beyond the reach of any person, tribe or nation. Whosoever enters the Islamic Ummat, (provided he abides by its laws), shares the right of equality: like all the other members of the Ummat. It was only the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) who could undertake the foundations of such a society, which would revolutionise the world.
Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was an orphan. He had lost his parents in childhood. During the entire period of his infancy, he used to pondermoan around the mountains of the Arabian Peninsula barefoot; sometimes staying hungry for days.
In the tenth verse of Surah Al-Dhuha, the second Surah to be revealed to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), Allah has stressed that one must not be indifferent to the beggar or orphan;
In today’s world begging is considered a bad act and he who begs is considered a low person. People believe that he who begs is either a lame person, not interested in work or lacks the facilities to complete any work. His manners and habits may include drinking or drug addiction, which impair him for work.
Fourteen hundred years ago begging was considered abominable in the Arabian Peninsula. There were few who begged those days. Even though the people of that period did not have many worldly possessions, they stayed away from begging. However incidents did crop up where people were forced to ask for help from others.
When bandits looted a traveller in the desert, the traveller had no option but to ask for help. When an area was in flood and the lands and possessions of the people were destroyed, the people could do nothing else than plea for help. Organisations like the Red Crescent and Red Cross did not exist to provide monetary compensation to the disaster-struck people or come to their immediate rescue and provide food and clothing.
Fourteen hundred years ago the call of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) against the customs and traditions caused a social and cultural movement to spring up and blossom. The 6236 verses of the Holy Qur’an time and again repeat this call.
Two learned French teachers of Arabic language and literature consider Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) only as preacher of religious laws. This is absolutely unjustified. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was not only a preacher of religious laws but he was also the pioneer of a social, cultural, progressive and moving code of life.
It must be remembered that to all the Apostles preceding Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), heavenly laws were revealed at one time. Apostles brought those laws at one place and at a particular time while the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) brought his laws in 23 years i.e., from 610 AD. and to last till Dooms day.
The revelation of the Holy Qur’an at different occasions has been explained in the 25th Surah (Al-Farqan) of the Holy Qur’an, in its thirty second verse.
It states that this was ordained as such, so that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) may memorise by heart the verses of the Holy Qur’an. Secondly the Holy Quranic verses were revealed pertaining to different occasions and circumstances. The Apostles that came before the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) were not illiterate hence heavenly books were revealed upon them at once. Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was illiterate and thus Holy Quranic verses were revealed upon him at intervals so that he may store them in his memory.
The religious, social, cultural, and progressive movement led by the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) gave the Muslims such enthusiasm and spirit that only a century after the migration to Madinah, they were masters of three Great kingdoms of the world i.e., Iran, Syria and Egypt. The people of these lands had converted to Islam attractively without any coercion. He had been able to convert the inhabitants of those areas to Islam by portraying living examples of human conduct.
There is no other religion of the world, which has spread so fast. If the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had brought laws only pertaining to religion, Islam would never have gained the popularity as quickly as it did. One of the reasons for Islam’s success was that it was a symbol of a social and cultural movementembracing all segments of society for universal acceptance.
The world today is searching for that principle embedded in the Prophet’s social movement, which preached and pursued the unity and equality of all human beings. The Holy Qur’an notes that all human beings belong to a single unified nation. The differences and conflicts among different nations of the world are the products of their own evils, injustices and vices. This is referred to in the second Surah of the Holy Qur’an Al-Baqarah (the cow), verse 213.
There is no doubt that the Prophet’s (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) movement was for the establishment of unity in Islamic society. This is why Allah made Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) base his religion on the pattern of the religion of IbrahimR.A. IbrahimR.A was neither a Jew nor a Christian. He worshipped one Allah. Both Jews and Christians accepted IbrahimR.A as a prophet of Allah. The Prophet’s (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) religion was based on that of IbrahimR.A so that both Christians and Jews could accept his religion freely. This is also why the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not raise his voice against these two religions. He instead invited these people to Islam.
The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) of Islam believed that the followers of Judaism and Christianity had not fully comprehended the commandments of Allah revealed unto Moses and Christ as they did not follow the rules of their Prophets. These people had not attained righteousness and if they accepted Islam then they too would receive the benefits of the world and religion.
Both the words ‘Islam’ and ‘Holy Qur’an’ are considered to be among the best words of the language. As far back as tradition goes Allah Almighty before the time of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used the word ‘Islam’ only once and that was the time when IbrahimR.A had decided to sacrifice his son in the way of Allah. It had been declared that both IbrahimR.A and his son had become "Islama" meaning they had both submitted themselves to the will of Allah. He professes Islam who is a Muslim. When a person professes Islam he submits completely to the will of Allah.
The Holy Qur’an has also been termed as ‘Farqan’ which means separate. The Holy Qur’an has been termed such because it was revealed not as a whole but separately, in parts, and after intervals. Apart from this the Holy Qur’an (Farqan) also means the separator of truth from falsehood. The word Holy Qur’an has been derived from the word "Qirat" which entered the Arabian language from another language. Qirat means to read sacred words. This is why reading normal words cannot be termed as Holy Qur’an and as the Holy Qur’an is the sacred text revealed from Allah to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) any other text cannot be termed as the Holy Qur’an.
The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to recite the words of the Holy Qur’an fast and with great speed for he feared he might forget the words but Allah Al-Mighty states in Surah ‘Qiyamat’ the third Surah to be revealed onto the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace);
Then it is also stated;
Allah says to Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace); "We will store the Holy Qur’an in your conscience and make it easier for you. Be patient when you read a verse of the Holy Qur’an and when you have read it then you follow and keep faith that you will be able to memorise the whole Holy Qur’an. If after memorising the Holy Qur’an there is any difficulty in understanding something then we ourselves will explain it". After the revelation of these verses the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) never recited the Holy Qur’an fast. He (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) used to recite it slowly and with ease.
Once we know the history of the Arab nation and the conditions of Arabia before the advent of Islam, the reason for the interrupted revelation of the Holy Qur’an becomes clear. If 6236 verses of the Holy Qur’an had been revealed instantly then the illiterate, ignorant and simple people of this land would have been so confused that they would have understood nothing.
Today in the twentieth century and with extensive advance in education and mass communication the mental level of the masses has been uplifted greatly when compared with the people present 1400 years ago, yet governments today cannot introduce and implement hundreds of laws in one instance. Considering the potential of the people of today, one can well imagine that the imposition of hundreds of laws on people 1400 years ago would have been totally out of the question. The people of those times would not have been able to memorise the whole of Holy Qur’an. If it had been instantaneously revealed, some of its
parts may have been lost, or incompletely remembered. Thus its overall effect would not have been large. The psychological and social aspects also laid out the importance of revelation of the Holy Qur’an after intervals. Gradually people could familiarise themselves with the words of Allah. They could understand them better and be able to act upon them responsibly.
The Revolution, which the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) sought, considering the Arab social context, its ancient traditions and customs and the tribal norms, exceeds in magnitude from any other revolution in history. The French revolution which the west recognises as one of the best in the world, with all its blood and gore, failed to delegate the rights of equality to the French people and thus failed to fulfil its major objective. The revolution of Islam put an end to differences of colour and creed, the rich and the poor. It terminated the dominance of the privileged class and tribal supremacy.
After the migration of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) to Madinah, he laid out a basic constitution, which consisted of fifty two points. Twenty five of these points pertained to the Muslims while the remaining twenty seven were for the believers of other religions including Jews, Christians and the Sabians.
This constitution was composed in such a way as to let the believers of all the religions live together freely on the principles of equality in Madinah. It was written in the first year of Hijrah in 623 AD, when one year had passed after Migration. According to this constitution, the citizens of Madinah, irrespective of their tribes, were sanctioned to abide by their own religion. No body had the right to infringe on the rights of others. It was imperative for the believers of all religions to defend collectively against any invasion on Madinah.
Some extracts of that manifesto are recorded for the readers. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) in lieu of giving religious freedom to the others, had taken inspiration from the Holy Quranic verses as Allah has put it in the second Surah, Baqarah, verse 62.
The Sabians mentioned in these verses are those who worship stars and angels and Allah as well. The above verse depicts that Allah has not let the Jews, the Christians and even the Sabians be deprived of His Beneficence, on the condition that they do remain pious and their Faith remains firm without any pretence or impurity.
In the Fifth Surah Al-Maida of the Holy Qur’an, verse 69 Allah has stated about the Jews and the Christians as,
The reference to the above verses is to show that the law or constitution composed by the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) in Madinah and implemented in the first year of Hijrah, was in complete concordance to the Holy Quranic injunctions. However its wordings and clauses were not the part of these verses.
Unlike the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), no other founder of religion has tolerated the presence of other religions. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) tried very hard that the followers of other religions should be free to lead their lives independently. He comforted them and declared that nobody would desist their respective religions. He knew it very well that Islam, which is based on the foundations of freedom and equality, has no obvious danger from other religions as it is quite probable that Islam could influence other religions without being affected by them.
In the first and second points of this constitution or pact, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) while addressing the various tribes of Madinah, said, "The Believers should not resign to see their fellow Believers bent under the heavy encumbrance of life. It is their duty to help their brethren in the issues of life and if any Believer wishes to give blood-ransom or "Fidyah", the other Muslims should collectively help him to repay his debts".
Every person in Arabia belonged to a tribe and if he murdered someone, his blood-ransom (if he was unable to pay) was paid by his tribe to the family of the slain. When the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) began preaching Islam, he at once abolished the tribal and family prominence. This pride was replaced by another in the pact of Madinah. The pride of being a Believer and belonging to the Ummat of Islam replaced the ancient pride of being in a tribe.
If any member of the Ummat was arrested for any reason and ransom was sought for his freedom, it was the obligation upon the Muslims to pay the ransom required and set him free. If he had committed murder (with the condition that the murder had not been laid in the thirteenth clause of the pact) the rest of the Muslims were collectively responsible for his deliverance. The thirteenth clause of this pact states:
"If any Muslim commits a crime, brings cruelty, usurps the rights or induces disparity among the Believers he will automatically be denied the above mentioned facilities. All the Muslims should oppose such a person and also sentence him punishment as required even if it is their own offspring".
In the sixteenth clause punishment for the murderer has been mentioned. The Prophet’s (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) decree in this regard is, "A person who deliberately murders someone is to be punished with death and no one had the right to favour a murderer".
The 26th clause was, "Whatever the difference be, consult Allah to nullify it and solve your differences through the representative of Allah, that is, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)".
In the 36th clause was written, "The Jews have the right to remain resolute to their religion and so should the Muslims; and those who are ‘revered’ or the ‘refugees’ are also under the same decree".
In another clause, "the Jews will themselves bear their living expenses and so will Muslims. But the Jews and the Muslims will jointly wage war against the one who violates this pact. The Jews and the Muslims should exhibit courtesy among themselves and should refrain from usurping each other’s rights".
"The citizens of Madinah will not support the Quraysh tribe or their allies".
In this clause, by the "Quraysh tribe" is meant those who used to torture the Muslims in Makkah. Therefore they should be considered separate from those who had accepted Islam and had migrated to Madinah.
In the constitution of Madinah, it was also mentioned that the city of Madinah was a "Harem", i.e. a revered sanctuary where brawl was prohibited. With the implementation of this new constitution, a wave of happiness spread among the people of Madinah as this pact had granted equal rights to all the citizens.