The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa)

Glimpse into the Life of the Holy Prophet (sa) – The Charter of Madinah

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Besides uniting Makkan and Medinite Muslims in a brotherhood, the Holy Prophet (sa) instituted a covenant between all the inhabitants of Madinah. By this covenant, Arabs and the Jews were united into a common citizenship with Muslims. The Prophet (sa) explained to both Arabs and Jews that before the Muslims emerged as a group in Madinah, there were only two groups in their town, but with Muslims now, there were three groups. It was but proper that they should enter into an agreement which should be binding upon them all, and which should assure to all of them a measure of peace. Eventually, an agreement was arrived at. The agreement said:

‘Between the Prophet (sa) of God and the Faithful on the one hand, and all those on the other, who voluntarily agree to enter. If any of the Makkan Muslims is killed, the Makkan Muslims will themselves be responsible. The responsibility for securing the release of their prisoners will also be theirs. The Muslim tribes of Madinah similarly will be responsible for their own lives and their prisoners. Whoever rebels or promotes enmity and disorder will be considered a common enemy. It will be the duty of all the others to fight against him, even though he happens to be a son or a close relation. If a disbeliever is killed in battle by a believer, his Muslim relations will seek no revenge. Nor will they assist disbelievers against believers. The Jews who join this covenant will be helped by Muslims. The Jews will not be put to any hardship. Their enemies will not be helped against them. No disbeliever will give quarter to anybody from Makkah. He will not act as a trustee for any Makkan property. In a war between Muslims and disbelievers he will take no part. If a believer is maltreated without cause, Muslims will have the right to fight against those who maltreat. If a common enemy attack Madinah, the Jews will side with the Muslims and share the expenses of the battle. The Jewish tribes in covenant with the other tribes of Madinah will have rights similar to those of Muslims. The Jews will keep to their own faith, and Muslims to their own. The rights enjoyed by the Jews will also be enjoyed by their followers. The citizens of Madinah will not have the right to declare war without the sanction of the Prophet (sa). But this will not prejudice the right of any individual to avenge an individual wrong. The Jews will bear the expenses of their own organisation, and Muslims their own. But in case of war, they will act with unity. The city of Madinah will be regarded as sacred and inviolate by those who sign the covenant. Strangers who come under the protection of its citizens will be treated as citizens. But the people of Madinah will not be allowed to admit a woman to its citizenship without the permission of her relations. All disputes will be referred for decision to God and the Prophet (sa). Parties to this covenant will not have the right to enter into any agreement with the Makkans or their allies. This, because parties to this covenant agree in resisting their common enemies. The parties will remain united in peace as in war. No party will enter into a separate peace. But no party will be obliged to take part in war. A party, however, which commits any excess will be liable to a penalty. Certainly God is the protector of the righteous and the Faithful and Muhammad (sa) is His Prophet (sa).’ (Hisham)

This is the covenant in brief. It has been prepared from scraps to be found in historical records. It emphasises beyond any doubt that in settling disputes and disagreements between the parties at Madinah, the guiding principles were to be honesty, truth and justice. Those committing excesses were to be held responsible for those excesses. The covenant makes it clear that the Prophet (sa) of Islam was determined to treat with civility and kindness the other citizens of Madinah, and to regard them and deal with them as brethren. If disputes and conflicts arose later, the responsibility rested with the Jews.

Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), Life of Muhammad (sa) (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2014), 47-49.