First Islamic State

The Prophet devoted all his time entirely to explaining the Fundamentals of belief in Mecca era which lasted for thirteen years. A lot of people found their place in the blissful bosom of Islam, thanks to this service of belief. The number of believers increased and Muslims gained an evident power. However, despite this, it was forbidden to react to enemies of Islam in this era. Muslims had only one weapon: “patience”.

However, they were in a new environment after migration. The conditions had totally changed. Muslims could do anything that was necessitated by their faith freely.

As it was mentioned before, the most important thing the Messenger of God did as soon as he arrived in Medina was to appoint migrants and the Ansar as brothers to each other. By doing so, the Prophet established a strong alliance among Muslims. Islam’s foundation of brotherhood that knew no differences pertaining to race, language, class and geography was put into practice for the first time in history.

Yet, this was not the end, of course. Muslims were not the only group living in Medina. There were also Jews, pagan Arabs and some Christians too and therefore, the scene was not homogeneous. And if we take into consideration the never-ending conflicts and rivalries between Arabian tribes, we can easily understand what a great chaos this new environment was in!

Moreover, there was another side to the issue, which could not be overlooked. It was the fact that polytheists in Mecca could advance towards Medina any time. The cold war which was going on between them could turn into hot war any time.

So, the Prophet had such important issues to be solved in ahead of him.

It was necessary to have an agreement with non-Muslim peoples, and to establish a spirit and atmosphere of unity in this new environment. It was crucial to determine some certain juridical, military and political principles.

The first year of migration (the hijrah) was not over yet.

The Honorable Messenger gathered the representatives of all Medina peoples in Hazrat Anas bin Malik’s house, in order to agree on some social principles. Certain principles were agreed upon at the end of the meeting and put into practice right away. Important principles were written down and signed by the parties.

These principles were the first constitution of the Islamic State which was being formed at the helm of the Messenger of God. Indeed, it was not only the first constitution of the first Islamic State, but also the first written constitution in the whole world.

With this constitution agreed upon, people of Medina were distinguished from other people as a nation on their own.

The Constitution of the City-State

The first and second items of the first written constitution of Islamic State, which included fifty-two provisions, said:

“1. This book (inscription) is arranged by Muhammad the Messenger of God (pbuh) for the people of Quraish, believers and Muslims of Yathrib, people who are and who will be later under their sovereignty and those who join jihads with them.

2. Those people constitute a different nation from others.” (1)

According to this constitution, people of Medina, regardless of faith, did form a different “nationality” from others and a separate community on its own.

Hazrat Messenger of God also established friendship with tribes living around Medina, especially those living along Damascus trade road of Mecca right away and made contracts with them.

Moreover, Muslims had to be in contact with Jews and others who were city locals. For this reason, they were also given rights in this constitution of the state.

“Accordingly, they were also regarded as the citizens of the state together with Muslims: “Muhammad’s great sagacity and political attentiveness is seen in the rescript he provided for the Jews. It was written, apart from other issues, in this rescript that they were the citizens of the state just like Muslims, that the two tribes of Yathrib were regarded as one nation, that the crimes would be punished based on the judgments of their own religions, that both parties (Muslims and Jews) would be called to defend the new state and that the Messenger of God would decide on the issues to come out in the future, when necessary.” (2)

Moreover, the provision pertaining to war in this constitution is quite interesting. In case of any possible wars, Jews would join the defense of Medina on condition that they covered war expenses themselves.

According to the sixteenth provision of the constitution, it was decided that they would benefit from Muslims’ charity and legal aid on condition that they paid homage to Muslims. In addition, they would defend the city-state together (Muslims and Jews) in case of an external attack and they would help each other, no matter who was in need of help, whether Muslims or Jews.

We see Muslims’ alliance with Jews, who are one of “the People of the Book”, under the light of these provisions. Jews and Christians, who are the People of the Book, were given utmost freedom of belief and religious liberty. This way, the People of the Book were united against the idolaters, who did not have a divine belief, in common grounds; by mentioning Jews and Muslims together as “one group” in the first constitution.

The Prophet, in addition to allying and making contracts with non-Muslim people of the book, who were the locals of the city, in order to defend the newly-founded state against enemy, tried to establish an alliance based on belief. He wanted to unite them with the belief of “tawhid” (oneness), a mutual word among them, and found “the pact of believers” against idolaters. As a matter of fact, he tried to follow this policy for other countries whose people were the People of the Book, in addition to that, he did the same for the People of the Book in Medina. In the letters he sent to the Byzantine emperor Heraklius and other Christian princes, he addressed them with the following Quranic verse:

 “Say: "O People of the Book! come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but God; that we associate no partners with him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than God." If then they turn back, say ye: "Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to God's Will).” (3)

The People of the Book, who were provided with protection and assistance due to the constitution prepared by the Honorable Messenger himself, violated the conditions of the contract themselves unfortunately, and therefore caused the conditions which were favorable for them to be abolished. They rebelled during a very critical period when Medina was subject to attack by idolaters and began to make games against a state which was newly founded and had not yet fallen into place although it was written in the constitution that “those who lived in the city-state would not work against each other” and “would not ally with enemies of each other.” Of course, this directly caused them to be deprived of Muslims’ protection.

Apparently, this constitution included provisions pertaining to many concerns of the new state and drew reasonable lines for every issue: “A new stage of Islamic life had begun with this constitution. Including material and corporeal together with spirituality and inwardness gained it a unique style. A policy that does not include spirituality and ethics leads us to materialism and a degree lower than lives of wild animals. And a spirituality apart from affairs of the world we are living in can take us up to a degree higher than the degree of angels. However, this is only possible for a quite limited group of people. The majority of people will be excluded from the circle of those who put this ideology into practice. Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) thought especially of the average man and taught him how to balance both sides of human life and how to make a composition including both material and non-material aspects together at the same time. This religious doctrine selects some fundamental points that are necessary in the least for everyone yet leaves the choice of whether to devote oneself more to non-material life to individuals. In this sense, Hazrat Prophet’s companions became the management group of an autonomous country, while the Prophet was its leader in all fields.” (4)

 

1. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 2, p. 147. For other items,see: Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 2, p. 147-150.

2. Prof. Harun Han Şirvanî, İslam’da Siyasî Düşünce ve İdare, TerV.; p. 18.

3. Aal-i Imran, 64.

4. Prof. Muhammed Hamidullah, İslam Peygamberi, V. 1, p. 148.

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