|The en rout of Hijra; the journey to Madinah (blue line is normal route to Madina & the red line is the route followed by Prophet Muhamed (PBUH) on his journey)
Some of the underlying societal qualities and features of Islam, such as commitment to the established cause, justice, equality, and mutual understanding and cooperation, have also been manifested as early as during the exercise of determining the site of the first urban component in the city of Madinah, i.e., the
Prophet's mosque, and during the marking out of its boundaries. At the earmarked location of the mosque there was a walled piece of land that belonged to some people from the Banu al-Najjar clan. The Prophet (pbuh) sent to them and asked them to suggest to him the price of the land. They replied:
"No! By Allah! We do not demand its price except from Allah." The Prophet (pbuh) accepted the offer and the occurrence typified as well as inaugurated, so to speak, a new phase of the unreserved keenness of the first Muslims to sacrifice whatever they possessed for the cause of strengthening Islam and the Muslim community. Additionally, the mosque proper was about to expand into an area used for drying dates which belonged to two youths, both orphans, named Sahl and Suhayl. The Prophet (pbuh) asked them too to suggest to him the price of the place. However, when they said that they demand no price for it, the Prophet (pbuh) insisted that they tell the price, since they were orphans and possessed little. Eventually, he paid them ten golden dinars. The money was Abu
The Prophet's scheme of personality and community building, as an integral part of his urbanization paradigm, reached its climax when he legislated the system of
mu'akhah (brotherly association) among the Migrants (Muhajirs) from Makkah and Helpers (Ansar) from Madinah. The
mu'akhah included 90 men, 45 from either side. While some claim that the mu'akhah took place after the building of the
Prophet's mosque, albeit before the battle of Badr, others contend that it in fact occurred during the process of building the mosque. The
mu'akhah was accomplished in the house of Anas b. Malik. So binding was the treaty that the Migrants for sometimes were the heirs of the Helpers, and vice versa, instead of their own kindred by blood. Later, however, the verse 33 from the
Qur'anic chapter al-Nisa' was revealed and the matter of the Migrants and Helpers inheriting one another was cancelled.
Shortly after arriving in Madinah, the Prophet (pbuh) also organized the relationship between the various inhabitants of Madinah, including the Jews, and recorded it in a document (the Constitution of Madinah). The commitments of each group within Madinah and its rights and duties were comprehensively enshrined in the document. That the society of Madinah was founded and was set to progress on the basis of commitment, love, mutual understanding, cooperation and support, was thus demonstrated in a striking applied fashion. As was the Islamic perception of believers envisaging them in their mutual love and affection as one entity whose components depend on and complement each other.
Furthermore, nurturing and developing exemplary community members in the young and constantly evolving city-state of Madinah was dealt with by
God's direct interventions as well, by means of prescribing guidelines and directives that targeted at both
men's and women's steady spiritual and moral development, as well as at clearly defining their roles and standings in the community.
For example, in the night of al-Mi'raj, which occurred sometime between one and two years before the Hijrah, the institution of prayer (Salah) was prescribed to the Muslims. The prayers of those not traveling and of those traveling had both been of two
rak'ahs, except the Maghrib (sunset) prayer which was of three rak'ahs from the beginning. But about a month after the arrival of the Prophet (pbuh) in Madinah, two
rak'ahs in Zuhr (noon), 'Asr (mid afternoon) and 'Isha' (evening) prayers were added to the prayers of those who were not traveling.
Certainly, this addition which came to pass in Madinah immediately after the Hijrah had scores of benefits for the spiritual and civilizational maturity of many Muslims, some of whom had just entered the fold of the new Islamic code of living, given that the task of
one's prayers is to restrain one from shameful and evil deeds (al-'Ankabut
) and to foster honesty, goodness, conformity and dedication. As the Prophet (pbuh) experienced a midnight journey from the al-Masjid al-Haram to the al-Masjid
al-Aqsa (al-Isra'), whence he traveled to the seven heavens (al-Mi'raj) where the prayer commandment was decreed, every human soul similarly ought to undergo a journey of its own in its religious growth in life. Praying five times a day at the divinely appointed times and as many
rak'ahs as God asked us to take on - which in fact signifies conversing with our Lord and Sustainer, plus powering our soul and mind with the spirit of Truth - is the most invaluable asset that one may possess all through the long and thorny journey. Every single prayer is thus expected to elevate its executor a step or a degree off the wickedness and the confines of this world and towards a spiritual fulfillment. So, the bigger number of those who willingly and enthusiastically tread on the said spiritual journey, ever ready to better themselves and those around them, the better the prospects for their ideals to materialize and flourish become. With such people aboard, imposing a struggle for the supremacy of
God's Word as the sole objective of existence will never be an impossible proposition, as plainly shown by the history of the Madinah city-state and by the history of other successful Islamic societies.
For the purpose of creating healthy and upright individuals who will constitute a healthy and virtuous society, the prescription of Adhan (calling to prayers), Siyam (fast), Zakah (the alms), Sadaqah al-fitr (charity of fast-breaking), Jihad (struggle for the holy cause), and some other legislative moves with regard to halal (lawful) and haram (forbidden)
- all these came about as well during the earliest Madinah period. Although the city-state of Madinah was just about a few years old, yet some of the most crucial and decisive aspects of the individual, family and societal life have already been duly taken up. The aspect of urban development was just a dimension in a multidimensional cultural and civilizational mission undertaken by the Prophet (pbuh) and his followers.
This article is an excerpt from the author's book "Prophet Muhammad
(pbuh) and Urbanization of Madinah"
Dr. Spahic Omer is a Bosnian currently residing in Malaysia, is an Associate Professor at the Kulliyyah of Architecture and Environmental Design, International Islamic University Malaysia. He studied in Bosnia, Egypt and Malaysia. His research interests cover Islamic history, culture and civilization, as well as the history and philosophy of the Islamic built environment. He can be reached at
spahicoyahoo.com; his blog is at