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Prophet Muhammad is an immigrant who migrated from the City of Makkah to Yathrib. After the Prophet’s migration, muslims called Yathrib as Madina or Madinatu An-Nabiy (or the City of Prophet Muhammad). At his first days in Madina, Muhammad declared the City as a city that welcoming immigrants from all over the world. The City’s residents comprised of the immigrants (muhajereen) and the natives of Yathrib, who helped the immigrants (ansar). They were united as one nation (ummah). All tribes regardless their religious affiliations would be included as the residents of the city of Madina. Prophet Muhammad approved the constitution of Madina that states, “Yathrib will be a safe place for the people of this constitution. A stranger (individual) who has been given protection (by anyone party to this constitution) will be treated as his host (who has given him protection) while (he is) doing no harm and is not committing any crime. Those given protection but indulging in anti-state activities will be liable to punishment.”
The Constitution was a victory for all immigrants in Madina, especially muslim immigrants, who were persecuted in Makkah. Since the migration of the Prophet in 622, Madina has begun to be a city that welcoming strangers to be its residents. The diversity in the city-state was the main reason that Madina became a super power state a few years later. As the leader of the city, what are the strategies implemented by the Prophet to build a strong city-state that based on his immigration policy?
Muhammad and his companions built a welcoming city for immigrants and introduced a brand-new concept in the Arabian Peninsula. Immediately after the Prophet declared Madina as a welcoming city for all its residents, he broke the concept of Arabian tribalism that based on blood and changed it with a concept of a “nation”, or ummah. He ordered that the immigrants (muhajereen) and their helpers (ansar) would be united as brothers and sisters. Some helpers even shared their properties, such as houses and farms. A few immigrants such Abd Ar-Rahman bin Awf refused to get any shared property or farm. He only asked his “new brother”, Saad ibn Ar-Rabi, an assistance to show him the way to local market. At that time Saad is the richest man in the City. However, just in a few years, Abd Ar-Rahman achieved his “Madinah Dream” and became one of the wealthiest man in Madina too.
Prophet Muhammad also encouraged his people to free their slaves in order to promote racial justice in Madina. One of his closets companion, Bilal ibn Rabbah, was enslaved until Muhammad’s best friend , Abu Bakr, bought him and let him free. Bilal was well-known as a Bilal from Abyssinia (Ethopia). Some guests of the Prophet were mistaken and not recognized him whenever he ate and hanged out together with a black person from Abyssinia, who was Bilal. As a close companion of Muhammad, he had a very respected position within the society as a muadhin or a person who call people to pray five times a day. With his beautiful voice and talent, Bilal called all muslims to worship the God. There was a racist comment when Bilal exchanged arguments with another muslim named Abu Dharr and he called Bilal as “a son of Black woman”.
When Muhammad heard about the racial slur he told Abu Dharr, “This means you still retain the standards and judgements of the pre-Islamic days of ignorance. Islam has eradicated all those false standards or measures judging people by blood, fame, color or wealth. It has established that the best and most honorable of men is he who is the most pious and upright in conduct. Is it right to defame a believer just because he is black?”. Abu Dharr was surprised by Muhammad’s response. He went straight to Bilal’s house, put his head on the threshold, and said , “This head will not rise from here until the blessed feet of Bilal tread on the face of foolish, impolite Abu Dharr.” Bilal responded in very beautiful manners, “That face deserves to be kissed, not trodden upon”. Bilal forgave Abu Dharr. This is a real multiculturalism society and model of a just city in the Islamic history.
Prophet Muhammad, as a leader of Madina, established a program to assist new immigrants, despite their religions or races, in getting a better life in the city. As a result, the new multicultural city rapidly thrived in the peninsula. Madina’s economy was thriving. Of course other cities and states were not comfortable with Madina. There were some blockades and battles to shut down the city. Both of the immigrants and the helpers defended the city together. Five years after the Prophet moved to Madina, the City was blockaded by a coalition army from the entire peninsula. It was Salman from Persia (or Salman Al-Farisi) came up with his idea, “Oo Prophet of Allah! In Persia, if we were attacked, we dig trench to defend the city.” Muhammad ordered the people of Madina to dig trench. The strategy led the city to a great victory. Madina could survive with its multiculturalism and even take control of the whole Arabian Peninsula.
Rasulullah salallahu alaihi wassalam successfully transformed Madinah to a city that welcoming immigrants. The city has spread the values of social justice to the entire world centuries after it was established by the Prophet.
Taskerianto Morriswari, Student, Lives in Philadelphia
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