People are both the creators and demolishers of every civilizational accomplishment. They, too, are the only beneficiaries of each and every valuable civilizational upshot. Similarly, people are the creators and inhabitants of cities, a locus of civilization. They create cities and then live and work in them. They do this either commendably, thus securing and enjoying the fruits of their right acts, so long as they stick to the right schemes which led them to such a state, or appallingly with no clear purpose or direction. In the latter scenario, things are always bound to work against the inhabitants of a city, making their lives both miserable and injurious. Allah says to this effect:
"Mischief has appeared on land and sea because of (the meed) that the hands of men have earned, that (Allah) may give them a taste of some of their deeds: in order that they may turn back (from
Of the essence is thus constantly and painstakingly educating, purifying, nurturing and cherishing individuals, as well as overseeing and monitoring their progress and involvements, along the lines of an adopted worldview, philosophy and vision. This is so because individuals make up groups and societies, and they are the planners, makers, beneficiaries, consumers and sustainers, or slayers, of every civilizational triumph. They subsist at the heart of every urbanization scheme and advancement. Indeed, human development and urbanization are intertwined. They cannot be separated. Neither of them can be treated without, or at the expense of, the other.
It goes without saying that the people are the most direct causes of their own civilizational destinies. They, by and large, are fully responsible for them. Allah says, for example, that He will change the condition of a people only when they change what lies in themselves, i.e., when they change themselves first.
31:11) He also says that He will help a people only when they "help" Him by obeying Him and by following His religion, Islam. (Muhammad, 7) This close and causal relationship between urbanization and any sort of civilizational awakening, on the one hand, and human spiritual and moral development and enlightenment, on the other, has been emphasized as a blueprint for genuine and lasting success in both worlds since time immemorial. It in fact denoted the focal point of each and every holy
prophet's struggle and teachings, from Adam to Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
About Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Allah says that he was sent in order to teach people that they
"...should worship none but Allah" (Hud,
11:2), and that they should seek "...the forgiveness of your Lord, and turn to Him in repentance; that He may grant you enjoyment, good (and true), for a term appointed, and bestow His abounding grace on all who abound in merit! But if you turn away, then I fear for you the penalty of a great day. To Allah is your return, and He has power over all
Thus, in view of the developments that the Islamic message was living through in the city-state of Madinah, following the Hijrah, such a thing, i.e., nurturing and developing community members consistent with the values and beliefs of Islam, instantaneously attracted much of the
It should be noted that at the time of the Hijrah, the ongoing revelation of Islam was entering its 13th year and the Muslims were yet to set up a free and autonomous state of their own. Once the city of Madinah with most of its inhabitants wholeheartedly welcomed the new religion, so fiercely disapproved of by many where it had originated, the wait finally came to an end and the stage was set for broadening the focus of the young
community's undertakings. As a result, the focus of revelation was likewise widened. The religion of Islam thus began to assert itself as a universal code of life overlooking no segment of human existence - a momentous development indeed after having been portrayed essentially as an inclusive belief system during the precarious episode in Makkah. From the point of development, urbanization and community building, the whole Madinah period of revelation - in particular the first half, about four to five years
- was, as expected, exceptionally eventful too.
The Prophet's vision of the subject of personality and community building, as a launch pad for a wholesome urban development, was well-structured and arresting. He championed that under the auspices of Islam and its unique tawhidic worldview, the Muslims are seen as brothers to each other and their similitude is like a wall whose bricks enforce and rely on each other; they are like a solid cemented structure held together in unity and strength, each part contributing strength in its own way, and the whole held together not like a mass, but like a living organism. The Muslims are furthermore related to each other in such a way that if one of them (a part of an organic and formidable formation called the Ummah) is troubled by a problem of whatever kind, the rest of the body parts will remain disturbed and restless until the matter became solved.
Surely, for the reason of nurturing community members did the Prophet (pbuh) upon arriving in Madinah disclose to the assembled crowd some of the paths which invariably lead towards Jannah (Paradise) in the Hereafter, as well as towards individual and collective felicity in this world. Such paths are: implementing and spreading peace and concord wherever possible and by whatever lawful means, sharing and compassion, maintaining good relations with relatives (as well as with others), and praying at night when everybody else is asleep. The companion
'Abdullah b. Salam said that these were the first words he had heard from the Prophet (pbuh). Without doubt, these were among the very first advices the Prophet (pbuh) gave following the Hijrah, because
'Abdullah b. Salam was among the first to see, meet and hear the Prophet (pbuh). No sooner had he done so, than he embraced Islam, as he realized that the
Prophet's face "seemed by no means like the face of a phony."
For the same reason did the content of the Prophet's sermon at the first Friday prayer
(Jumu'ah) in Madinah - as well as the content of the other sermons of his at this juncture - emphasize the importance of such issues as faith (iman), taking hold of the good and leaving the evil, brotherhood, sincerity, steadfastness, gratefulness for the blessing of Islam, the significance of helping one another in righteousness and piety and not in sin and rancor, the common cause of the Muslims, and the like.
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