In September of the year 622 CE, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) entered Madinah. He was welcomed with great joy. People had been anticipating his arrival for several days, waiting impatiently to see him, many for the first time.
The Ansar (Muslims of Madinah) offered to host him, and competed to gain his acceptance. The new converts from the Aws and Khazraj (Madinah’s two main tribes) invited him to stay in their homes.
It was not an easy decision. If the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) accepted an offer from one tribe, the other tribe would feel deprived. The Prophet (peace be upon him) had come to Madinah as a peacemaker. The last thing he (peace be upon him) wanted to do was stir up bad feelings between its people.
The Banu Al-Najjar
But there was a third group of people in Madinah: the Banu Al-Najjar. They were relatives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) on his mother’s side.
Flash back around fifty years. The Prophet’s mother, Amena, had traveled from Makkah to Madinah. She took her son, Muhammad, whose father Abdullah had passed away during her pregnancy, to visit her family. On their return journey, she fell seriously ill at a place called Al-Abwaa’ and soon passed away. The heartbroken Muhammad returned to Makkah an orphan, having lost both his parents at the age of six.
When he arrived in Madinah at the age of 53, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told people to let his camel go free. After a while, the camel settled in the area of Banu Al-Najjar. Abu Ayyub, a man who lived there, immediately took hold of the Prophet’s belongings and placed them in his house.
When other people from the Ansar invited the Prophet (peace be upon him) to stay at their place, he now had a wise answer. He said, “A man stays where his belongings are.” This decision made sense, as the Prophet was hosted by his relative from Banu Al-Najjar. With this solution, he was able to diffuse the crisis with wisdom and fairness.
The Wise Peacemaker
This event reminds us of another important decision he (peace be upon him) made back in Makkah eighteen years earlier.
The tribes of Makkah had just rebuilt the Ka’bah. But before its completion, they nearly went to war. They disagreed which tribe would have the honor of placing the black stone in its place. At that time, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was only 35 years old. But he was able to prevent war and managed to guide them to a very wise solution.
He (peace be upon him) placed the black stone on a big cloth. Each tribe took hold of part of the cloth. Together, they carried it to the Ka’bah, thus sharing this honor. And as they had chosen him as arbitrator, he was the one who placed it in its correct position, as detailed here.
This is our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He was the wisest peacemaker who always searched for the best solution to bring people together in peace.
Three Top Priorities
We concluded the last part of this series with the question: “What were Prophet Muhammad’s first initiatives in Madinah?”
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had three top priorities following his arrival from Makkah.
Firstly, he (peace be upon him) needed to establish consensus and agreement about people’s rights and responsibilities. He had to agree with them on what we would today consider a constitution. Madinah’s two main tribes had chosen him as their leader at the Pledge of Al-Aqabah, near Makkah, and offered to protect him.
But they were not the only inhabitants of Madinah. In addition to the Ansar, who were new converts to Islam, and the Muhajiroun, the Muslim migrants from Makkah, there were Jewish tribes. Other non-Muslims, mainly idol-worshippers, also lived in the city.
In fact, just before the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) arrival, the people of Madinah were on the verge of choosing another man to rule them. His name was Abdullah ibn Ubay ibn Saloul. It is said that they had even prepared the crown for him to wear as their king.
But all this changed with the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) arrival. And this man, Abdullah ibn Ubay, became a fierce enemy of the Prophet, till the day he died, as we will see in the following articles.
Secondly, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) needed to establish peace between all members of Madinah, especially the Aws and Khazraj tribes. They had been at war for many years, and the new leader of Madinah had an important role to help them heal and overcome the memory of those wars.
He (peace be upon him) also needed to integrate the migrants from Makkah, who were the new citizens of Madinah, into society.
Finally, he wanted to establish a masjid where Muslims could pray, learn, and practice their religion.
The Masjid First
Why did Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), choose to start with building the masjid?
For several reasons. Muslims in Makkah had spent most of the past thirteen years persecuted and praying in secret. In the first years of the revelation, they even hid from people the fact that they were Muslims for safety reasons. They used to meet in secret in the house of Al-Arqam, as explained in Part 2. Then, after Umar ibn Al-Khattab accepted Islam, they went out to announce their Islam in public.
As a consequence, most of those early Muslims were harmed by their own tribes and families. Persecution led some of them to migrate to Abyssinia, and others later to Madinah to safeguard their religion. But now they were in a safe new city. They needed a place in which to worship Allah (SWT) and learn their religion in peace.
The Prophet’s masjid was also to become a community center for many other activities. Muslims went there for meetings and deliberation, for celebrations, for education, for socialization, and even for medical care.
Leading by Example
There was another important practical reason for building the masjid first. Combining efforts to achieve a common goal and working together is one of the best ways for people to get to know each other. It gave the people of Madinah a chance to get to know their new leader. And it also gave Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) more insight to understand his new community and get to know them better.
This project was also another step in strengthening relations between the new Muslims of Madinah and the new citizens from Makkah. As we will see in the next article, the brotherhood between the Ansar and the Muhajeroun is unparalleled in the history of mankind. And the masjid was their daily meeting place where this love and brotherhood grew and flourished.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) led by example. He did not simply give orders and sit back to watch others work.
After buying a piece of land for the masjid, he was one of the workers on the Muslim team. Like any other Muslim, he helped in the different stages of the project, until its completion. He set high standards, and others followed. His style of management was always one of serving others and supporting them.
New Converts & Their Local Masjid
It’s often not easy for new converts to find a masjid that feels like home from Day 1.
Are you one of them? Is it taking time for you to find the right masjid?
If so, you’re not alone. Many converts in the West don’t find a masjid near their home. Some have to drive or commute a long distance to get to the nearest masjid. Others may find people at their first local masjid not very welcoming to new converts.
If you face this problem, patience is an important key. Please check the resources below, where fellow converts share a useful collection of practical tips on this matter.
What happened next in Madinah?
More events will be detailed in the next part of this series, in sha’ Allah.
So please stay tuned…
Activities for New Converts Following this Series
1- New Converts at the Masjid
It often takes time for new converts to find the right masjid. These are some suggestions by fellow converts from their personal experiences to help you in this process, in sha’ Allah.
2- The Wisdom of Our Beloved Prophet
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the wisest of men. As a leader, he was a genius at establishing peace among people. As a manager, he led people by example with wisdom and patience.
For more insight into this matter, please check the following resources:
3- Madinah & Its Beautiful Masjid
Madinah is a city of peace. Once there, you immediately get a feeling of serenity and inner peace. There is no other place like it on earth. And when you enter the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) masjid, you get a sense of tranquillity which you can’t find elsewhere.
For more details, please check these materials:
4- Send us your questions on this series to [email protected]
This is a special series for new converts to learn about Islam in a comprehensive way through learning the Seerah (Biography of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) in a gradual, chronological way. We add a few more resources of other related areas of Islamic knowledge in each part of the Seerah at the end of each article as extra learning resources.
We are also adding videos to this series as we progress from Year 1 to Year 23 in sha’ Allah.
The references we use in each article are given below for further details. Please feel free to send us any questions you may have to this e-mail: [email protected]
You may also wish to join our Facebook Group, for further learning and also to interact with fellow new converts and those who are new to Islam here.
The Sealed Nectar – Sheikh Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarkpuri
The Seven Roles of the Mosque – Dr. Jasser Auda
Building of the First Mosques in Islam – (Part 31 of Dr. Yasir Qadhi Video Series)