Aqaba Allegiances

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Now was not the time to stop. The Messenger of Allah had turned his face away from Mecca once again and was contemplating new openings in other lands. Twelve years had passed since the meeting in Hira. It was the pilgrimage season once again. He was expecting news from the six Ansar from Medina who had come to him and become Muslim the year before.

The time he was waiting for came and our noble Prophet went to Mina in order to meet those traveling to Mecca and to tell them about Islam. He had, in a way, set up camp there, and treated everyone he met as fresh hope, inviting everyone he saw to faith in Allah. There were also those who were looking for him in this crowd. These were the youths from Medina who had become Muslim the year before. They saw him from afar and ran towards him. The place they met in Mina was called Aqaba. But now they had doubled in number. The only name from the year before who had not been able to make it was Jabir ibn Abdullah. Added to those from last year were Muadh ibn Harith, Zakwan ibn Abdulqays, Ubada ibn Samit, Yazid ibn Salaba, Abbas ibn Ubada, Abu’l-Haysam at-Tayyihani and Uwaymir ibn Saida. They had become Muslim and they had come to Mecca for a permanent union. This meeting meant a new opening for Islam, for the grip that was tightening in Mecca would find a release in Medina, and maybe the cause of Allah would take root in a place other than where it had originated. In short, what had been foreshadowed was now taking its course, and the words of Waraqa ibn Nawfal were turning out to be true.

They spoke at length, and afterwards the Messenger of Allah asked for their allegiance. He said: “Come and give allegiance to not holding anything equal to Allah, not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to kill your children, to have control over your hands and feet and not to slander anyone, to obey me in all that is good and beautiful! Whoever stays true to his word from among you and remains loyal, remember that it is Allah who will reward him, and whoever faces difficulty in keeping his allegiance and is persecuted, this will be atonement for him, for those who keep secret what has befallen them will be judged by Allah. He may forgive if He pleases, and He may punish if He pleases.”

The Pride of Humankind, peace and blessings be upon him, was standing before them and calling them to virtue, because whatever they had suffered from, it had always resulted from not heeding the issues that they had been warned and informed about. Now, by accepting the Messenger of Allah’s call for virtue, they had the chance to attain a quality of life they longed for. Each issue had been addressed carefully and in detail, and now it was time to farewell. However, there was something on the minds of the Ansar from Medina. They had learned some of Islam’s rulings while they had been in the company of the Messenger of Allah but Islam was a religion that was being renewed every day, a religion that came to the people with a new message as the need arose. Also, because they had failed to come to an alliance as the tribes of Khazraj and Aws, they could have difficulties in letting the other tribe lead the Prayers, and even this could constitute a problem among them. In the short period of time they had spent with the Messenger of Allah they had not had the time to learn about the verses that had been revealed to that day, so they needed a murshid, a teacher, a guide. They spoke of this need to the Messenger of Allah before they took their leave. His benevolent eyes searched around for someone who would go with the Ansar to Medina and to make out of their town a civilized city before the official migration would take place: “Mus’ab!” called out the noble Messenger.

It was decided that this guide would be Mus’ab ibn Umayr, the once wealthy son of a family who disowned him as their child merely because he had become a Muslim. It was a sad departure for Mus’ab because he would now have to part from his Beloved. But duty came before everything else and he set on the road for Medina with all excitement and without hesitation. There, he would represent the Messenger of Allah and he would teach the religion that the people of Medina had only recently been introduced to. This was an honorable duty indeed; it was now Mus’ab who would make Medina ready for the impending “Divine migration”; he would lay the foundations of the civilized city of Medina. Yes, he was alone, but he was going with the power of the cause he was representing. It was As’ad ibn Zurara who opened his doors to him in Medina. He took him in his home and they started to look for ways together to share the beauties in their hearts with the people of Medina. This was where they were performing their Prayers five times a day; they were reading the verses of Allah to a new face every day and were struggling to go deeper in their religion. There was now an ember in the Name of Allah in Medina and there was a hearth for faith.

Mus’ab was the perfect representative. People who saw him admired him immensely. His faith, sincerity, modesty and perfect morals attracted the attention of everyone in Medina! Each day one of the leading men of Medina would come to him, and Mus’ab would speak about the finer aspects of religion. He put all his efforts into Medina, he had almost become like a one man Ummah. Of course, as was expected, he also had to face certain difficulties, but these were familiar things for him. Wasn’t it the Messenger of Allah himself who had had to shoulder the greatest of difficulties? No one wanted to submit easily! But those who came to him with swords in their hands would return with faith in their hearts. Mus’ab would speak to the future Companions of the Prophet who first came to him in fury in such soft tones, the sternest of them could not resist his nice behavior, and before long they came and submitted themselves.

“My friend, first listen to me, and then you can cut my throat if you like. I will not resist you,” Mus’ab would tell them.

Indeed, in the face of a person taking life so lightly and who cared for nothing but for speaking the truth to people, all ice seemed to melt, and the circle of faith around Mus’ab grew day by day.

One day, As’ad ibn Zurara took Mus’ab to the neighborhood where his family lived. They came to a well and stopped for a break. Sa’d ibn Muadh and Usayd ibn Khudayr from among the inhabitants had heard that they were coming and they did not approve of these latest developments. They were talking among themselves. Sa’d pulled Usayd to one side and asked him to banish both of them from their land. Usayd took his spear and approached them. As’ad and Mus’ab who saw him coming could guess what was about to happen. But their concern was different to many others, for once faith had taken root in a heart, and that heart wanted to share its wealth with other people even if they should come with the intention of murder; that heart needed to show its difference. As’ad whispered into Mus’ab’s ear and told him who Usayd was. In tabligh, communicating one’s faith, knowing your interlocutor was very important indeed. Usayd was the lord of his tribe and Mus’ab had to speak to him accordingly.

Usayd started his rebukes the minute he addressed them. He was very angry: “Why do you come here and suggest these things to the weak? If you want to stay alive, leave this place immediately!”

Mus’ab was as gentle as ever: “Will you sit down a while and listen? If you like it, you’ll accept it. If you don’t like it we will do as you please.”

This was a reasonable reply, so reasonable that one had to be fair in the face of such behavior. Usayd was a reasonable man. The situation was clear for him; he thought things would not change even if he did listen. Then what harm could there be in this? If he liked it, he would leave and if he did not like it, they would leave. He set his spear aside and sat down to listen to what Mus’ab had to say. Wisdom was flowing from the lips of Mus’ab like sweet honey. Usayd was very impressed. He was about to submit to the faith as well. He was unable to control the exuberance he felt in his heart. The expressions on his face were mere reflections of the changes happening in his heart. Even before Mus’ab was finished with what he had to say, he intervened and started to say: “What a wonderful thing this is… What beautiful words…” and then he added: “What must someone who wants to enter this religion do?”

Mus’ab spoke to him of ghusl, the major ablution. He spoke of how one’s clothes had to be clean, he spoke of the words of tawhid needed to declare the oneness of Allah, and he spoke to him about the Daily Prayers.

Usayd got up and left. He just seemed to disappear! When he came back to the gathering, one could see water dripping from his wet hair. Usayd had believed and he spoke the words of tawhid from his very heart. Faith had changed him so fast and so much that he started to feel Mus’ab’s anxiety there and then: “There is someone I know, if he also believes, there will be no one left who doesn’t believe in this town. Wait, I will send him to you,” he said.

Usayd went straight to Sa’d ibn Muadh. Sa’d and his friends had gathered together and were waiting for Usayd. When they saw him coming they said to one another: “I swear he is not coming in the same way that he went!” Sa’d had understood. When Usayd came, he was asked hastily:

“What did you do?” Usayd responded saying that he had encountered no problems: “By Allah, I spoke with those two men. There is nothing wrong with them. First I dismissed them. Then they said ‘We will do as you please’.”

Usayd’s aim was to have Sa’d and Mus’ab meet each other and so he was trying to convince Sa’d that they were now holding the ropes and that he could go speak to the men if he so wanted. In order for him to see the beauty in all its clarity, Sa’d needed to be in Mus’ab’s presence. People didn’t like the atmosphere to be so friendly. There were those who wanted to keep the enmity going. They started to say things that would provoke Sa’d. They wanted to make him feel that things were getting out of control and these developments had to be stopped right then and there.

As mentioned, Sa’d was the lord of his tribe and he could not allow such disorder. His veins were throbbing because of the nerves. He was also very angry at Usayd. He had sent him there to see to this issue once and for all and now he had come back speaking about the beauty of what he had encountered. He had to solve this problem himself. He took his spear and went straight to Mus’ab. He was so angry that he was breathing through his nostrils and was saying everything that came to his mouth. He first blew at his aunt’s son As’ad who had brought Mus’ab to their town: “Had there been no family bond between us, you would not have escaped my wrath!”

He was throwing threats at Mus’ab and he continued shouting for a while. It looked like the tempests raging inside him were not going to calm down any time soon. But there was no change in Mus’ab’s attitude. He was showing the same maturity as always, for he did not care about death. He was only looking for ways to give life even to people who came to kill him: “Please listen! If you like it, you’ll accept it. If you don’t, then you can do as you like,” he said with the same sweetness. The decision lay with Sa’d again.

“You are right,” he said, for there was no man on earth who could make him do something he didn’t want to. Just like Usayd, he put his spear aside, sat down and started to listen to Mus’ab. He was struck at the very start with the invocation “In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate” that Mus’ab had spoken! Light upon light was settling on his face. Even before Mus’ab had finished what he was to say, he started to ask questions similar to Usayd: “What does one need to do when one wants to submit and enter this religion?”

Mus’ab told him the same thing he had told Usayd. Everything was clear and out in the open, and to grasp the truth wherever one finds it, was true virtue. Denial had no logic to produce excuses! It had nothing left, nor could it have any excuses any more. In the company of Mus’ab he too would set about the task to find the key that would unlock the hearts of his tribe. He too was not returning back to his tribe the way he had gone to seek Mus’ab.

They understood now the state Mus’ab was in… Sa’d also started to feel the same anxiety, for he had found a value that he had not realized till that day and now he felt the need to share it with everyone he knew!

Something had to be said to the curious looks given by the members of his tribe. Sa’d had no intention to let even one person from his tribe loose. He first asked them: “How do you know me among you?”

They all confirmed his good character. Sa’d meant to turn his standing among his tribe into credit for faith. He shared with them what he got from the source and then invited them to faith. He put everything he had in it and then added: “If you do not believe Allah and His Messenger, I will not speak to any of you, man or woman.” When leading men like Usayd and Sa’d accepted, naturally, the others followed. In Medina everyone looked to one another. It would not be becoming of them not to follow when men who had been their guides till that day had submitted: “Come, let us go to Mus’ab! Let us submit as well!”

Amazingly, these voices were now being heard in Medina!

Medina was a very fertile place. The news of Mus’ab was spreading with the speed of light. In a very short time, there were no households left in Medina that had not converted to Islam. Mus’ab was going from house to house, sharing the wealth of his heart and preparing the people to become Ansar, the Helpers. Gradually, the whole of Medina had embraced its name to the fullest and had become a Medina, a civilized city.

The light of faith could not contain itself within Medina and had started to spread to its outskirts. Mus’ab was going to the surrounding tribes and carrying the same beauties to them. The Messenger of Allah had done the very same thing; on the one hand he had addressed Mecca, and on the other he had not neglected speaking about Islam to the surrounding tribes. Mus’ab, who was perfectly trying to represent him, could do no different.

One day, Mus’ab wrote a letter to the Messenger of Allah. There was a request made to him and he was asking his beloved Prophet how he should act. In his reply Allah’s Messenger described the Jumu’ah Prayer to him and the Muslims in Medina gathered in the house of Sa’d ibn Haysama and performed the first Jumu’ah Prayer in Medina. About a year had passed since they had given their allegiance to the noble Messenger in Aqaba. Now when they got together, they formed a big congregation. These were good developments, but the pain of severance was difficult to bear. They knew what the Messenger of Allah was suffering immensely in Mecca and were asking themselves: “For how much longer will we leave him under oppression between the mountains of Mecca, how much longer will we have him suffer?”

Medina was much nicer, more sincere and embracing. This separation and suffering was not the way to go; they had to find a way to have their routes meet, and this separation had to end. There were two ways to do this; either they were to go to Mecca and be his congregation, or they were going to invite the Beloved, peace and blessings be upon him, to Medina to be their leader. When each option was weighed out, both held difficulties. But these difficulties had to be risked and a solution had to be found, for this separation had to end.

 

Kesmez, Umit. “The Luminous Life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)” Tughra Books Press. December 2014.