Looking Back to Madeenah – Complete book
GENTLENESS AND TOLERANCE
The level of hostility among Muslims today is disturbing. The language we use to describe our opponents and our treatment of them is abusive. Looking back to Madeenah may assist us to deal with opponents in a more practical way, whether the opponent is a Muslim or non-believer. May Allaah preserve us from the calamity when we, Muslims become the worst enemies of Islam or of Muslims! When we would appear that we are more friendly and compassionate towards the enemies of Allaah than towards ourselves. We clearly lack the skills to deal with opponents from within the household of Islam and with those who fight us openly.
Let us open the windows of Madeenah and view the skills of the beloved Prophet Today we will look specifically at his social skills of tolerance, patience and friendliness.
Four hundred and seventy hypocrites (three hundred male, one hundred and seventy female) were leaders in Madeenah long before the arrival of the Prophet. At the head was Abdullah ibn Ubai ibn Salool. He boastfully stated in public, ‘We will return to Madeenah and remove the despicable (Muhammad) and the replace him with the mighty (himself)”, Umar wanted to kill him, but the Prophet stopped him. He was concerned that people would accuse him of killing his own people. He had to tolerate their insults until he developed a strong community of true Believers in Madeenah that would crush them without any bad consequence for Islam.
The Prophet was a disciplined strategist. He concentrated on the goal of bringing about the correct Islamic social order. He devised a practical framework of priorities, which sometimes meant that he had to postpone the punishment of the mischief-makers in Madeenah, such as Abdullah ibn Ubai.
The Prophet was prepared to endure abuse. Once, he took his usual nap after Dhuhr prayers (qailoolah), choosing to rest under a tree in Madeenah away from his Companions, who were enjoying their own rest. He was unconcerned when an attack from an enemy occurred. Suddenly, Ghaurath ibn Haarith (radhiallaahu anhu) was standing at his head with a sword. ‘Who will protect you now?’ he said arrogantly. The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) replied, ‘Allaah!’ And the sword fell from the hand of Ghaurath (radhiallaahu anhu). The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) picked up the sword and asked Ghaurath (radhiallaahu anhu), ‘Now who will protect you?’ Scared, Ghaurath (radhiallaahu anhu) replied, ‘Nobody.’ The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) allowed him to leave without harm. He immediately embraced Islam, saying, ‘You are better than me,’ even though he was the most courageous of his tribe.
There is the incident of Zaid Ibn Su’nah and the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). With fury in his eyes, Zaid (radhiallaahu anhu) clutched at the Prophet’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) upper garment and shirt. ‘Don’t you want to settle your debt, Muhammad?’ he demanded. Umar (radhiallaahu anhu) saw this and was so angry that his eyes turned red. Umar (radhiallaahu anhu) shouted at him, ‘Enemy of Allaah! Is it real what I hear and see (the disrespect towards the Prophet)? By Allaah! I would cut off your head with this sword, but I am wary about what the Prophet will say if I do so.’ The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) looked at Umar (radhiallaahu anhu) in absolute tranquillity and said, ‘You could do better if you instructed this man to be gentler in his request for settlement of the debt. For me, you could have advised to settle in a good spirit. Take this man and settle his dues; add 20 cubic measures (saa’a) of dates.’
Zaid (radhiallaahu anhu) could not understand why his claim was added to. Umar (radhiallaahu anhu) taught him that it was the way of the Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] to subdue his anger. Zaid (radhiallaahu anhu) then revealed himself to be a Jewish rabbi who wanted direct proof of the Prophethood of Muhammad [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam], he said that would explain to Umar (radhiallaahu anhu) the reason for his behaviour towards the Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]
He said that he was convinced of the Prophet’s [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] prophethood in terms of his appearance. But he wanted to test two qualities: that he was more gentle than irrational and his gentleness sharpens at times when others would have lost their rationality. Zaid remarked,’You are my witness that I am pleased with Allaah as my Lord and with Muhammad as His Messenger. You are witness that I donate half of my wealth to the whole community of Muhammad.’ Umar said, ‘You mean part of the community of Muhammad. Your wealth is not sufficient to cover the whole community.’ Zaid retracted his words by saying, ‘Part of the community.’ Zaid (radhiallaahu anhu), went back to the Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] and announced his Islam.
Some Muslims would literally beat a person who urinates in any Mosque. But we see in Madeenah a Bedouin urinating in the mosque of the Prophet the second mosque of the Believers. All the Companions are furious and jumped up to punish him, but the Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] instructed them instead to take a bucket of water and pour it over the urine. He reminded them, ‘Your mission is to facilitate matters, not to complicate them.’
Once Anas [radhiallaahu anhu] walked with the Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam]. A Bedouin took hold of the Prophet’s Najraani garment, which had a thick edge. The Bedouin pulled the garment so violently that the edges left marks on the Prophet’s [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] body. He demanded his portion of the Zakaat, shouting, ‘Muhammad! Give the command (to the Companions) to give me the money of Allaah which Allaah placed in your care! This is not the money of your father!’ The Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] looked at the Bedouin, smiled and told Anas [radhiallaahu anhu] to take money for the man from the community chest.
The Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] never engaged in hostility to restore damage done to his person. When he fought his enemy, his main objective was to restore balance in the community for the sake of Allaah, so that his people could live in peace, harmony and justice. He never beat his wives or his servants. But he fought vigorously in battle: In the battle of Uhud, Ubai ibn Khalaf [radhiallaahu anhu] complained that the Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] scratched his neck. In pain, he cried, ‘Had he spat on me, I would have died.’
The Prophet’s [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] victorious entry into Makkah found his persecutors tense anxious and frightened. He gathered the leaders of Quraish together near the Ka’bah after he performed tawaaf and prayed two rakaat. ‘What do you think am I going to do with you?’ he asked them ‘You will do good. You are a generous brother, the son of a generous brother’, they replied, seeking his mercy and forgiveness. He said, ‘I will say, as my brother Yusuf said to his brothers (who delivered him to the enemy), “No rebuke or hard feelings; Allaah pardoned you (faradtum).” My mercy comes from the mercy of Allaah. I was sent as a merciful being to guide you. You are all released from today!’
- a Muslim is a natural caller to Allaah . He or she calls, and loves the creation he or she calls to Allaah
- a Muslim attracts others to the way of Allaah by applying the excellent skills of which tolerance and gentleness are examples
- tolerance does not mean defeat. It is a strategy; it takes into regard material and other obstacles and then postpones the punishment of the enemy. It requires spiritual training to endure anger when aroused
- sincere, mature, far-sighted and Allaah-conscious leader is indispensable.
- if there is only one lesson we may take from our experience of looking into Madeenah today, then it is certainly to realise that the need to convey Islam into the hearts of humanity is the primary function of the Muslim. The interests of the masses override those of individuals. People are watching Muslims. They want to come to Islam as Islam is their natural home, but if Muslims conduct their affairs chaotically and with little discipline many potential Muslims will lose interest.
- embrace the universality of Islam, acknowledging that Islam is the right of humanity at large and that we are the vehicles to provide it to them in the most appropriate manner
- learn to endure that which we cannot change immediately. We must behave with serenity, and must invent a clear and practical plan to overcome the challenge in the future
- evaluate people differently in terms of their different intellectual levels and apply the correct skills to either introduce them to Islam or to improve their Islam
- learn tolerance. It is a spiritual condition and requires spiritual training. This means that Muslims should understand the vices of the self and be equipped with methods to purify the self
- take heed of the Prophet’s [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] gentleness and tolerance. He was instructed by the Creator to show us how to deal with challenges in a practical manner a manner that will please the Creator.
The lessons of tolerance and gentleness we take from Madeenah are immortal gifts of mercy and guidance. Muslims have to appreciate such gifts and exercise appreciation by implementing them.
In conclusion, we should compare our capacity for gentleness and tolerance to that of the Prophet. How far from or how close are we to Madeenah?