SHAFAQNA| by Leila Yazdani: Thirteen years after the rise of Islam due to the intolerable situation in Mecca, the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) and most of his companions were forced to migrate to the city of Yathrib which was later called “Madīnat an-Nabī” or “Madina” in short which means the “City of the Prophet (PBUH)”. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) presented the most perfect ever constitution. The Constitution of Madina is an authentic document and it provides a suitable content within the context of sociological and historical value of that particular era.
The first thing the Prophet (PBUH) did upon arriving in Madina was to construct a Mosque that served as the first community center for Muslims. It also served as the headquarters of leadership and a social center. Furthermore, it became the place for consultation and it strengthened the bond within Muslim community. The Mosque also became the meeting place among Muslims and the Messenger of Allah in order to learn Islamic teachings and social rules or etiquette.
He afterwards established the bond of brotherhood between the Muhajirun (immigrants from Mecca) and Ansar (the helpers from Madina). Nearly half of the Muslim population back then was originally from Mecca. They had abandoned their wealth, trade, homes and property to escape the torture and oppression of the Quraysh in Mecca. It required great wisdom from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to address this issue. He decided to establish the bond of brotherhood between the Muhajirun and Ansar. The Ansar shared their trade and wealth with the Muhajirun. There is no event in history which showcases the same amount of love which is developed between Muhajirun and Ansar.
The Constitution of Madina is a model which is manifested from the Holy Quran and later, translated into real life. It established the first constitutional principles on basis of equality without regard to religion, race or gender. The covenant stipulated that all citizens are duty-bound to protect the city, share the common responsibility of caring for and aiding one another, and enjoin what is good for the nation and ward off whatever may threaten it. The covenant stressed that securing the borders of the city was a common responsibility shared by all citizens of the city and laid strict emphasis on the values of equality, mutual care and peaceful coexistence.
Objectives and Articles of the Consitution of Medina are as follows:
The principle of tolerance: It has been discussed thoroughly in the Holy Quran, whether literally or metaphorically. Quran explains the principle of tolerance to human beings, so that they can accept differences, respect and execute justice. Allah (SWT) mentions Surah Al-Ma’idah verse 8 which indicates:
“O’ believers! Stand-up firmly by the commandments of Allah (SWT), bearing witness with justice and let not the enmity or hatred towards any race incite you that you should not do justice. Do justice as it is nearer to piety and fear Allah (SWT), undoubtedly, Allah (SWT) is aware of your doings”.
Hence, the Messenger of Allah (SWT) implements the principle of tolerance in order to enhance equality and social. Thus, religious freedom for every citizen is implemented in the Constitution of Madina. The Messenger of Allah (SWT) outlines rules which justify the principle of tolerance which is never used by other leaders before. The Messenger of Allah (SWT) allows freedom of religion and protects the place of worships for Christians and Jews. The principle of tolerance encourages plural society to respect and cooperate with each other.
The Principle of Love: The Constitution of Madina includes the principle of love which create unity in plural society.
The Principle of Respect: The Messenger of Allah (SWT) recognises Madinans as one Ummah (nation) so that they respect each other and cooperate in order to defend or protect Medina. Muslims are not allowed to disrupt and neglect non-Muslims’ rights. Respect is outlined in the Constitution of Medina when every member of society’s rights are recognised, as citizens of Medina. Respect is formed between rulers and those who are ruled.
The Principle of Women’s rights: A principle vindicates women’s rights and that they should be given respect. Islam recognises and provides nobility to women by giving them protection and security. It is obligatory to protect women’s dignity in any condition and it is prohibited to destroy or ruin women’s dignity. Islam recognises women’s rights, contradictory to the conditions during pre-Islamic era (Jahiliah) where people did not recognise women’s rights.
The principle of justice: Justice which is implemented by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) succeeds in creating sociopolitical stability in Medina. This principle is Prophet Muhammad’s goal in his struggle, as mentioned by Allah (SWT) which indicates:
“We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidences. We have sent down with them Scripture and justice scale so that people may maintain [their affairs] in justice”.
The Principle of Responsibility: Responsibility is essential to develop individual, society. Therefore, the Apostle of Allah (SWT) stipulates responsibilities to every member of the communities in Madina. This is to make sure that the plural society can cooperate together in safeguarding Medina so that it stays peaceful, as mentioned by Quran Majid that:
“Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) does not neglect or downgrade differences and racial diversity. He ordains responsibilities to all communities in Medina so that they can cooperate together to keep Madina peaceful”.
These principles will be discussed further in order to examine Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) success in managing conflicts among plural society in Madina.
First, the Covenant of Madina is considered the first constitution organizing the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) wrote in the covenant: “Whoever of the Jews follows us has the (same) help and support so long as they [the believers] are not wronged by him and he does not help [others] against them.”
In this charter of human rights, the first of its kind in human history, the constitutional nucleus of a society, one finds that Islam has recognized non-Muslims, especially Jews and Christians living among Muslims, as full citizens with equal rights to protection, respect and freedom.
Second, this covenant is the first written constitution in human history to recognize all sectors of citizens forming one nation and sharing one homeland. Madina was the first among world countries and nations to establish a strong state that safeguarded and recognized the rights of citizenship and gave its people a sense of identity and belonging.
Third, Madina is built and founded through cooperation between races. The Madina Charter has successfully eliminated the division of racial and the tribal system that destroys the system of society.
Forth, Madina set a good example of a strong state that respects and abides by moral values, refined manners, a just constitution, and rights of citizenship:
Fifth, Considerable attention should be given to the fine selection of the word “safe” which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used repetitively throughout the text of the covenant. It is a general word that covers the protection of individuals as well as their dignity, honor, and equality, without any discrimination based on religion, origin, color, or gender. The word also covers the protection of the family, wealth, freedom of religion … etc.
Sixth, Prophet (PBUH) declared the Principle of Consultation as per Quranic order “and make consultation regarding your affairs”. He (PBUH) ordered that all government work should be decided in the light of consultation.
-Muhammad,Yasin T. Al-Jibouri
-The Spread of Islam, From its beginning to the 14th Century, Sh. Mansour Leghaei
– Conflict Management in the Constitution of Medina: AnAnalysis, Zaleha Embong, www. hrmars.com
-Moral Governance of Prophet Muhammad (s), Mohammad Nasr Isfahani