The Circumstances in the Early Days in Madina

With the arrival of God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, in Madina, the struggle between Islam and unbelief entered a new phase. As Mawdudi, a contemporary Muslim scholar from Pakistan, elaborates in the first volume of his Tafhim al-Qur'an (Towards Understanding the Qur'an), in Makka the Prophet devoted himself almost exclusively to expounding the basic principles of Islamic faith and to the moral and spiritual training of his Companions. After the Emigration, however, people belonging to different tribes and regions of Arabia, who had embraced Islam, began to concentrate in Madina. Although the Muslims held only a tiny piece of the land, the whole of Arabia, under the leadership of the Quraysh, moved against them, bent upon their extermination.

In these circumstances, the very survival, let alone the success, of this small group of believers depended upon several factors. First, that they should propagate their beliefs with the utmost conviction in order to convert others. Second, that they should demonstrate the falsity of their opponents' standpoint so convincingly that there could remain no justifiable ground for any intelligent person to entertain any doubt on the question. Third, that they as the followers of the Prophet should not become disheartened because they had been driven out of their homes and were faced, through the hostility and opposition of the whole country, with economic stringency, hunger, and constant insecurity and danger, but that they should confront the situation with patience and fortitude. Fourth, that they should be able to find a way to retake all their wealth and goods usurped by the Makkans during Emigration. Fifth, that they should be prepared to resist with both courage and the force of arms the violent assault by which the enemy intended to frustrate their movement, and that in this resistance they should not heed the enemy's superiority in either numbers or material resources.

In addition to the threats coming from Makka and its allied tribes, there were, in Madina itself, three tribes of the Jews. As explained earlier, the Jews held the control of the economic life of the city. Although they had been waiting for the emergence of a Prophet, they severely opposed God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, because he did not appear from among them, among the descendants of the Prophet Isaac. They felt constrained to sign a pact with God's Messenger but, entertaining feelings of hatred against him, they never refrained from conspiracies to exterminate Islam. For example, among their poets, Ka'b ibn Ashraf composed poems to satirize God's Messenger and instigate his enemies against him.

In Madina, another element of enmity against Islam also began to emerge in the form of hypocrisy. One group of hypocrites consisted of those who had no faith in Islam but had entered the ranks of the Muslim community merely in order to create mischief. Another group of hypocrites, conscious of the political dominance of the Muslims in Madina, considered it advantageous to gain acceptance as fellow-Muslims. At the same time, they maintained contacts with the enemies of Islam so that they could secure all the advantages of friendship with the two opposite camps and thus remain safe from any hostilities. There was still another group of hypocrites – those who were in a state of ambivalence and indecision between Islam and Ignorance but who had accepted Islam because the majority of their tribe or family had done so. The final group consisted of those who, although they believed Islam to be true, found it difficult to forsake their inherited way of life, their superstitions, their customs and usages, and to discipline themselves to observe the moral restraints and fulfil the obligations prescribed by Islam.

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