history repeat itself?
By Mumin Salih
FEW MUSLIM scholars and historians
disagree about the most important event in Islamic history. It was not the birth
of Muhammad in the year 570 AD or even the start of his revelations in the year 610 AD. The majority of scholars will
consider Muhammadís relocation to the northern city of
= migration) as the most remarkable turning point in Islamic history.
Certainly, this was the opinion of the
early Muslims who lived and had witnessed the event about 1400 years ago. When
the second Khalifa Omar wanted to chose a starting point for the new Islamic
calendar (known as Hijri calendar)
he did not chose the year when Muhammad was born or the year when he started his
call for Islam. Omar and fellow Muslims decided on the year 622 AD because they
knew very well that REAL
ISLAM only started after Hijra.
Muhammad was not the first or the last
Arab to claim to be a prophet. A Few Ďprophetsí
actually co-existed with him in different parts of
(Muhammad called him the liar) was a successful prophet in his tribe. He had
preceded Muhammad by few years. Another
interesting prophet was a lady (what a pity, it could have been a first for the
Arabs, perhaps) whose name was Sijah.
and Sijah, both attracted all their tribes as their followers--something
Muhammad could only achieve after twenty years of brutal force and intimidation.
and Sijah were not
expansionists and they were only interested to rule and preach quietly among
their own tribes. But the refusal by this duo to accept Islam resulted in the
inevitable confrontation between them and Muhammad. Muhammad was the only
prophet warlord with an organized army and a vision to fight and rule.
Arabs belonged to a tribe called Quraysh. They knew Muhammad very well since he was a child. When
Muhammad claimed to be a prophet they did what any civilized society would do: they
asked him for evidence of his claim of preophethood. All what Muhammad
could provide were a few verses of what later became known to be the Quran. The
Arabs of Mecca were the masters of the Arabic language and were deeply involved
in the theology of the time as their
city was the centre for the various religions practiced in
in the seventh century. Quraysh
looked at the evidence produced by Muhammad and were not impressed. They did not
accept those verses as a divine proof and decided to reject Muhammadís claim.
They were not biased or prejudiced and were happy to consider the matter
seriously in a fair manner; but when they examined the evidence they knew it is
a forgery and so rejected Muhammadís assertion.
Muhammad tried his luck with other
tribes with further disappointments; He even went to the neighbouring city of
with no success at all. His Islamic movement was in deep trouble and was set to
die. In a rescue attempt he asked those who followed him to seek asylum in
which was ruled by a Christian king.
In preparation for this journey Allah
revealed some of the best verses about Christianity which helped to impress
the Christian king. This worked well and Muhammad learned how to use Allahís
revelations to his best advantage to advance his career. In
some of Muhammadís followers converted to Christianity and stayed there.
Muhammad spent thirteen years in
propagating Islam with very little success, as only a few dozens of Arabs,
mostly his friends and relatives, joined him. His movement was set to die just
like many other movements before him. However, his fortune changed dramatically
when he met a group of Arabs belonging to the tribes of Aws
and Khazraj who live in the northern city of
. These Arabs agreed to join Islam and invited Muhammad and his small number of
followers to live with them in their city. After Muhammad had immigrated to Yathrib in the year 622 A.D, the city was renamed as
The generosity of Medina Arabs to
Muhammad and his companions was unparalleled. Their hospitality covered all his
needs: from shelter to food and more importantly, the moral support he needed so
badly. Both tribes of
(Aws and Khazraj) accepted Islam
which quickly doubled the number of Muhammadís followers.
In the beginning, Muhammad just enjoyed
the hospitality and was peaceful with everyone including the
ís Jewish tribes. The Medina Arabs were now called Al-Ansar,
which means the supporters, while
Muhammadís Meccan companions were called Al-Muhajeroon,
which means the immigrants.
Muhammadís only disappointment came
from the Jewish tribes in
. He hoped that after he had included in the Quran some of the Old Testament
stories and had prescribed in Islam some of their practices, he would be
accepted by the Jews. But to his chagrin, the Jews of Medina denied Muhammad the
recognition he desperately wanted. The Jews were known in
as the people of the book and the ones who knew all about prophets. Therefore,
their opinion about him was extremely important for his prophetic image. But the
rejection from the Jews was very painful and insulting to Muhammad, and he could
never forgive them for their insolence.
Muhammad never really cared much about Al-Ansar
and there are reasons to believe that he even looked down on them. When Muhammad
started to launch his aggressive wars (Ghazwas)
gave clear priorities to his companions from
in leadership and the war booties. This occasionally triggered some bad
feelings among Al-Ansar which Muhammad dealt with very efficiently by revealing
the latest Quranic verses in support of his actions, a tactic that Muhammad used
regularly to quiet any criticism to his policies. The rest of Al-Muhajeroon
too, concurred fully with Muhammadís views of Al Ansar and used them in the same way he did.