Aqaba Pledges and the Spread of Islam in Madinah

It was the twelfth year of the Islamic calendar (621 AD.)

During the eleventh Islamic year, the six individuals who had come from Madina and converted to Islam in a place called Aqaba, promised our Holy Prophet (PBUH) that they would return the following year and meet at the same place.

When it was time for the next hajj, which came a year after their first encounter with our Holy Prophet (PBUH), the six individuals set off in a caravan of twelve people towards Mecca. One night they met with our Holy Prophet (PBUH) in secret in the small and narrow valley named Aqaba. At the end of this meeting, they pledged their allegiance to God’s Apostle (PBUH) on the following conditions:

a) To not associate any partners with God,

b) To not steal,

c) To not commit adultery,                                           

d) To not kill their children,

e) To not slander anyone,

f) To not oppose an auspicious cause. (1)

After this allegiance was made, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) said to them:

“God has prepared Paradise and guarantees rewards for those of you who fulfill his pledge. If someone commits one of these misdeeds out of human error and is punished in this world, that punishment will be considered atonement. And whoever commits one of these out of human error and conceals what he has done and does not reveal it, then it is left to God to decide to forgive or punish him.” (2)

Furthermore, these Muslims made the following agreement with our Holy Prophet (PBUH):

“Obedience and submission come first and foremost during times of distress, pressure, prosperity, and happiness. We are under your command. We will not disobey you in any way.” (3)

The above-mentioned issues that those who were present in the first Aqaba Pledge promised not to do are the things that form a peaceful community life. There would definitely be no law and order in a community where those ugly deeds were prevalent.

The place where the Aqaba Pledge took place and the Aqaba Mosque 

 

Islam, which came to make humanity attain peace and bliss and to base the community life on law and order, would definitely adopt those principles as indispensable and would obtain a promise from its followers regarding the issue.

Those who were present at the Pledge

These were the first 12 Muslims of Medina who were present at the First Allegiance:

1) As'ad bin Zurara (r.a.), 2) Awf bin Harith (r.a.), 3) Muadh bin Harith (r.a.), 4) Rafi' bin Malik (r.a.), 5) Zakwan bin Qays (r.a.), 6) Ubada bin Samit (r.a.), 7) Yazid bin Sa'laba (r.a.), 8) Abbas bin Ubada (r.a.), 9) Qutba bin Amir (r.a.), 10) Uqba bin Amir (r.a.), 11) Uwaym bin Saida (r.a.), 12) Abu'l-Haytham Malik bin Tayyihan (r.a.). (4)

The Muslims of Medina returned to their homeland after this meeting. There, they continued to have their voices heard and spread the light of Islam.

Mus’ab b. Umayr is sent

Some time later, the Muslims of Madina requested from our Holy Prophet (PBUH) that a teacher of the Quran be sent to teach them Islamic manners and rules of conduct. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) immediately fulfilled their request in the most kind and civil way by sending Hazrat Mus’ab bin Umair, a young man with a handsome face from among the Quraysh. (5)

The Light of Islam Shines in Medina

Asad bin Zurara was the leader among the Muslims of Madina for some time. For that reason, when the young Quran instructor, Musab bin Umair (RA) came to Madina, he began to stay in Asad bin Zurara’s home; this home became the center in which the Muslims gathered.

Hazrat Musab had learned the Quran directly from our Holy Prophet (PBUH) ; he would make excellent use of opportunities and time. He devoted all of his efforts and work to spreading Islam in Madina. He would talk and meet with the esteemed figures of other tribes and explain Islam to them in a soft manner.

Usayd B.Khudayr and Sa’d B. Muadh adopt Islam

The Quran teacher of Madinah Muslims, Hazrat  Mus’ab b. Umayr, stayed in the house of As’ad b. Zurara (may God be pleased with him), who was their leader; he carried out the service of conveying and spreading the message of Islam there.

Many people in Madina had become Muslims; however, there were some obstacles to disseminating Islam more quickly. The chieftain of the Aws tribe, Sa’d bin Muadh, and another chieftain, Usaid bin Khudayr, had not yet become Muslims and this was affecting the community in turn.

Sa’d bin Muadh was the nephew of Hazrat As’ad bin Zurara’s paternal aunt.

One day Mus’ab and Hazrat Asad were sitting next to a well in the garden of a home that belonged to the Bani Zafar. There were many Muslims around them.

During this time, Usaid bin Khudayr came next to them with a spear in his hand. In a rageful tone he said, “Why did you come to us? You are fooling and leading several ignorant and weak people astray! If you do not want to be killed, then leave here immediately!”

Hazrat Musab answered very politely, “Wait a bit and sit down. Listen to what we have to say and understand our purpose; if you like what we have to say, then you’ll accept it and if not, you can oppose.”

Usaid replied, “You are correct,” thrust his spear into the ground, and sat down.

Hazrat Musab made a speech describing Islam and recited the Holy Quran.

Usaid was unable to contain himself, “This is such a beautiful and nice message.” He then asked, “How can one enter this religion?”

Mus’ab (r.a.) explained Islam to him in more detail. Usaid bin Khudayr then recited the oath of faith and joined the ranks of the privileged who accepted Islam. (6)

Following his conversion he said, “I’m going to go but I will send someone to you. If he testifies, then there will be no one left who has not converted,” and left. He went to Sa’d bin Muadh and his tribe.

Sa’d asked, “What did you do?”

Usaid replied:

“I told the two men what I had to say. By God, I did not see any stubbornness or noncompliance from them.”

Sa’d bin Muadh then said, “By God, you did not bring any satisfying news” and went straight to Mus’ab and As’ad (r.a.) He angrily reproved and threatened them, “O As’ad! If we were not relatives I would not tolerate nor show any patience towards the ugliness you have instilled into our tribe.”

In the same sweet manner, Hazrat Mus’ab (r.a.) said, “Please wait. Sit down and rest. Understand what we have to say; if you like our words then you can accept them, and if you do not like them then we will refrain from proposing what you deem as being ugly.”

Upon this Sa’d sat down and began to listen to Hazrat Mus’ab’s words.

Hazrat Mus’ab explained to him what the religion of Islam meant and recited the beginning of Surah az-Zukhruf.

While Hazrat Mus’ab was reciting the Quran, the expression on Sa’d’s face immediately changed. The mark of faith suddenly appeared on his face. He had never heard nor known such things till that moment. Upon hearing the incomparable eloquence and sweet wording of the Quran, he immediately said, “What must one do to join this faith?”

Mus’ab (r.a.) explained the fundamentals to him. He testified right there and became a Muslim. (7)

Afterwards he turned to his own tribe, the Bani Abdu’l-Ashhal and addressed them: “O Community! “What do you know of me?”

They answered, “You are our elder, our superior.”

Upon this Hazrat Sa’d said, “In that case, you must testify to God and His Apostle” and added:  “As long as you do not convert, may it be haram (prohibited) for me to speak with your men and women!

Upon these words, every single person from the Bani Abdu’l Ashhal converted that day.

Hazrat As’ad bin Zurara and Mus’ab (r.a.) returned to back Hazrat As’ad’s home together.

From then on, Hazrat Mus’ab was not alone in delivering Islam’s message. The chieftains of the Aws and Khazraj tribes had joined ranks with them. They tried spreading Islam with their utmost efforts.

Once again, the center through which Islam would be disseminated was Hazrat As’ad bin Zurara’s home. Here, Hazrat Mus’ab and Sa’d bin Muadh were occupied with inviting people to Islam.

In a short time, Islam greatly expanded in Madina, to such an extent that the only house that did not convert within the Aws and Khazraj tribes was Bani Umayya bin Zaid. Some time later, Islam began to shine in that house as well.

The Second Aqaba Allegiance

It was the 13th year of the Islamic calendar (622 A.D.)

During the Hajj season of this year, Hazrat Mus’ab bin Umayr came to Mecca with 75 people, two of them were women, of the Aws and Khazraj tribes.

This group went to our Holy Prophet (PBUH) who was sitting at the Masjid-al-Haram with his uncle Hazrat Abbas, and made the following offer:

Oh God’s Apostle! We are a rather big group. We agree to take you amongst us, to help you, to sacrifice ourselves for your sake, and to protect your inner-being as we do your physical being. Where should we meet with you to further discuss this matter?”

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) again deemed it suitable to meet at Aqaba.

This meeting was to be held at night and no one else was to know. In fact, in order not to attract any attention they would leave from their encampment in very small groups to go to Aqaba. (8)

As instructed, the Muslims from Medina gathered in the valley near Aqaba at nighttime without attracting anyone’s attention and without letting anyone else know.

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) came with his uncle Hazrat Abbas who had not become a Muslim yet. Hazrat Abbas’ purpose was to not leave his nephew alone in this important matter and to hear the given promises himself.

At first, Hazrat Abbas began to speak. He made a speech saying that if the Muslims of Madina were confident they could protect our Holy Prophet (PBUH) that they should proceed and if they were not confident then they had to abandon this plan at once.

However, the Muslims of Medina wanted our Holy Prophet (PBUH) to speak: They said, “O Messenger of God! You talk, too! Obtain the promise that you want for you and for your Lord from us.”

At that moment As’ad bin Zurara, the leader of the Muslims of Medina, received permission from our Holy Prophet (PBUH) to speak and said, “O God’s Apostle, every invitation has a way. That way can be either be or difficult! The invitation you make is a difficult one for the people of today to accept. You invited us to your religion and to abandon the religion we used to follow. This was a very difficult task. Despite this, we accepted your invitation. We were a community that protected our homeland with honor and against all kinds of invasion; nobody could dare to dominate us except us let alone a person who abandoned his tribe and whose uncles wanted to surrender him to his enemies. Although this was very difficult, we accepted your offer on this path! However, unless God bestows the resolve to discover the true path and the hope to reach beneficence, then none of this will appeal to the people. However, we accepted this by avowing with our tongues, testifying with our hearts, and reaching out our hands. We testify to you by knowing and believing all that you bring from God. We testify to our Lord and your Lord. God’s powerful hands are upon our own hands. Our blood is with your blood, our hands are you with your hands. We will protect you as we protect ourselves, our children, and our wives. If we break our promise, then let us be grief-stricken people who have broken God’s promise.”

Hazrat As’ad bin Zurara completed the final portion of his speech:

“O God’s Apostle! Take whatever promise from us that you desire for yourself and for the sake of God.”

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) first recited some verses from the Holy Quran. Afterwards, he listed the conditions he wanted for himself and His Lord’s sake:

My request for the sake of God, the Exalted, is that you;

“Worship Him without associating any partners to Him, you perform your salah (daily prayers) and to pray your zakat (alms.)

“As for myself;

“Testify that I am God’s Messenger and protect me as you would yourselves, your children, and your wives.” (9)

This time Abdullah bin Rawaha received permission to speak; he said, “O God’s Apostle! If we fulfill what you say, then what is in it for us?”

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) replied, “Paradise.”

Happiness brightly shone in their eyes as they all testified and said, “In that case this is a rewarding and beneficial exchange.” (10)

Afterwards, they asked our Holy Prophet (PBUH), “How should we pledge our allegiance to you?”

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) answered, “You must promise me that you will testify to there being no god but Allah and that He sent me as His Apostle, to pray your salah (daily prayers), to pay your zakat (alms,) to obey me in times of joy and sorrow, to completely submit to my commands, to help me in every way, and when I go there, to protect me from the same things from which you would protect yourselves, wives, and children!” (11)

Twelve Representatives

Upon this, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) declared, “Choose 12 individuals from among yourselves who will stand by me in every matter as the representatives of their tribes. Moses also had 12 representatives from the Sons of Israel.” (12)

The Muslims of Madina chose nine representatives from the Khazraj tribe and three from the Aws.

The chosen individuals from the Khazraj were as follows:

1) Abu Umama As'ad bin Zurara, 2) Sa'd bin Rabi', 3) Rafi' bin Malik, 4) Abdullah bin Rawaha, 5) Abdullah bin Amr, 6) Bara' bin Ma'rur, 7) Sa'd bin Ubada, 8) Ubada bin Sâmit, 9) Mundhir bin Amr.

The representatives chosen for the Aws were:

1) Usaid bin Khudayr, 2) Sa'd bin Haythama, 3) Abu'l-Haytham Malik bin Tayyihan. (13)

All of these representatives were the leading figures of Madina, esteemed individuals, and literate scholars.

Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) said to these representatives, “Just as the disciples vouched for Isa (Jesus,) Son of Mary, against their tribes, you too are the disciples of yourselves. And I am the disciple of the immigrants from Mecca.” (14)

They confirmed by saying, “Yes.”

Furthermore, after the 12 representatives were chosen, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) appointed Hazrat As’ad bin Zurara as the head of the 12 representatives.

These representatives spoke to the groups they represented, explained the importance of the allegiance, and prepared their respective groups to also pledge their allegiance to our Holy Prophet (PBUH.)

Afterwards, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) extended his holy hand. The Muslims of Madina all pledged their allegiance one by one. Only the two women did not give their hands but he accepted them as having pledged.

In a sense, this allegiance was an alliance made between the Muslims of Madina and Mecca.

The Polytheists Sense Things!

The Allegiance took place in the darkness of the night in a secluded place that nobody other than those invited could see.

Despite this, as soon as the allegiance was complete, they all heard a sound: “O Quraysh! Muhammad and the Madinans who have left the religion of their fathers, have gathered and agreed to wage war on you!”

Where could this voice that tore the silence of the night be coming from? Concern and worry overcame everyone.

This voice resembled the voice of Munabbih bin Hajjaj. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) commanded: “Immediately return to your camps!”

At that time, Abbas bin Ubada said, “O God’s Apostle, if you would like, as soon as morning comes, we can sharpen our swords, tread upon the community of Mina, and slay them.”

However, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) was commanded to use his sword of patience, he declared,

“No, no. We are not yet commanded to act in this way. Everyone, return to your spots.” (15)

Upon this, the Muslims of Madina returned to their camps.

When the morning came, the polytheists began to investigate this incident whose purpose was yet unknown to them. At first, they asked the polytheists of Madina. However, they swore they were uninformed of this matter, “Such a thing did not happen. We do not know of such a thing.”

The Muslims of Madina thought silence was the best way; and for that reason they did not say one word.

This time, the polytheists went to Abdullah bin Ubai bin Salul and asked him. He said, “That is a grand work. Such a thing must not have happened. These must be empty words. The tribe did not consult with me. When I was in Yathrib they did not do anything without first consulting with me.”    

The polytheists then determined that the polytheists of Madina knew nothing about this matter.

If our Holy Prophet (PBUH) had not said, “Do not let anyone else know about this incident” and if the Muslims of Madina had not concealed this matter from their polytheist compatriots, then of course, this matter would have been heard by the polytheists of Mecca and a great trouble would have befallen upon the Muslims.

When the Season of Hajj came to a close, the Muslims of Madina set off to return to their homeland.

A short time after the Muslims of Madina had left, the polytheists learned what had happened. They immediately planned to keep a close watch on the Muslims from Madina. However, it had been a long time since they had left; thus, they were only able to capture two people: Sa’d bin Ubada and Mundhir bin Amr. These two individuals had somehow stayed behind when the caravan set off. Much later, Hazrat Mundhir was able to find a way and escape from their hands. The polytheists only brought Sa’d bin Ubada to Mecca. They took their anger and resentment out on him by torturing and subjecting him to all kinds of cruelty. At last, Hazrat Sa’d bin Ubada was released from this torture when he received the protection of two polytheists he had known from long before and who had been his guests in Madina.

Madinah Muslims who returned to their homeland were looking forward to welcoming muhajirs and the Messenger of God!

[1] Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 2, p. 75-76; Tabari, Tarikh, V. 2, p. 235.

[2] Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 2, p. 75-76; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, V. 2, p. 220; Tabari, ibid, V. 2, p. 235.

[3] Doç. Dr. Sâlih Tuğ, İslam Vergi Hukukunun Ortaya Çıkışı, p. 27 (Ank. 1963).

[4] Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 2, p. 73; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, V. 1, p. 220.

[5] Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 2, p. 76; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, V. 1, p. 220.

[6] Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 2, p. 77-78; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 3, p. 420; Tabari, Tarikh, V. 2, p. 236.

[7] Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 2, p. 78-79; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, V. 3, p. 420; Tabari, ibid, V. 2, p. 236-237; Ibn Sayyid, Uyunu’l-Athar, V. 1, p. 160; Halabi, Insanu’l-Uyun, V. 2, p. 170-171.

[8] Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 2, p. 83-84; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 1, p. 221; Tabari, Tarikh, V. 2, p. 228.

[9] Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 2, p. 84; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 1, p. 222; Tabari, ibid, V. 2, p. 238; Ibn Sayyid, Uyunu’l-Athar, V. 1, p. 163; Halabi, Insanu’l-Uyun, V. 2, p. 174-175.

[10] Tabari, Tarikh, V. 2, p. 239; Halabi, ibid, V. 2, p. 175.

[11] Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 2, p. 97; Halabi, ibid, V. 2, p. 175.

[12] Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 2, p. 85; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, V. 1, p. 222; Tabari, Tarikh, V. 2, p. 239; Ibn Sayyid, Uyunu’l-Athar, V. 1, p. 164; Halabi, Insanu’l-Uyun, V. 2, p. 176-177.

[13] Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 2, p. 86-87; Ibn Sayyid, ibid, V. 1, p. 164.

[14] Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 2, p. 88; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, V. 1, p. 223.

[15] Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 2, p. 90; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 1, p. 223.

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