The Unification of Medina

When the construction of the Kaaba began, there emerged in Medina two distinct groups of people. The people of Medina were divided into the Ansar (Helpers) and the  Muhajireen (the Emigrants). The Ansar were the natives of Medina, while the Muhajireen were the people who emigrated to Medina from Mecca. The Ansar were made up of two clashing tribes, the Aus and Khizra, who had been in conflict with each other for generations. This union between Ansar and Muhajireen was fortifying the new religion, Islam. However, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) hoped that this new union would be fortified by a third group, the Jews. A contract was brokered between the groups and both Muslims and Jews were given equal status, so long as the Jews did not publicly defame the Prophet (SAW) or Islam.

The non-Arab community was stronger at this point than the Arab community, for the simple reason that the Arabs were still broken into different tribes. The two prominent tribes that had not yet entered into Islam were the Aus and Khizra tribes. The believers hoped that Medina would become a unified whole with Muslims, Jews and the two tribes joining together; it was at this point that the longest surah in the Qur’an was revealed, Surat Al-Baqarah (The Heffer).

Surah al Baqarah begins with a definition of the good believers:

Alif Lam Mim.

This beyond doubt is the Book, a guidance unto the God-fearing,

Who believe in the Unseen and perform the prayer and give of that which we have bestowed upon them

And who believe in that which Is revealed unto thee and in that which was revealed before thee, and who are certain of the Hereafter.

These are they who follow guidance from their Lord and these are they who shall prosper.

(Surah Al Baqarah, 2:1-2:5)

This is followed by an explanation of the non-believers and following this, a third type of person was revealed.

And of the people are some who say, “We believe in Allah and the Last Day,” but they are not believers.

They [think to] deceive Allah and those who believe, but they deceive not except themselves and perceive [it] not.

In their hearts is disease, so Allah has increased their disease; and for them is a painful punishment because they [habitually] used to lie.

And when it is said to them, “Do not cause corruption on the earth,” they say, “We are but reformers.”

Unquestionably, it is they who are the corrupters, but they perceive [it] not

(Surah Al Baqarah, 2:8 – 2:13)

For the first time, the believers encountered those who professed that they followed Islam but were not sincere in their beliefs, the hypocrites of Aus and Khizra. The concept of a unified Medina seemed to dissolve, for how could there be true unity when there was insincerity in the hearts of these ‘Muslims’? It was at this time the Jews saw this discord among the Muslims as an opportune time to regain the former supremacy they had in Yathrib. Many Jews convinced themselves that the Prophet (SAW) was not the true Messenger of Allah (SWT) , so they sought to break up the union of Aus and Khizra, for without the tribes’ support, the Jews would gain the upper hand in Medina.

An elderly Jewish man, Bani Qaynuqa, was decided to send a young person to recite poems written by both tribes that glorified their most recent civil war. The youth did as he was told, and when he recited poetry from Aus and Khizra, the men of both tribes burst forth with anger, for they believed themselves to be superior to their counterparts. The fighting escalated to the point that they decided to start another civil war.

When the Prophet (SAW) heard of this, he came to both tribes and said,

“O Muslims, Allah, Allah. Will you act as in the days of Ignorance, what I am with you and God has guided you toward Islam, and honoured you with it. Thereby enabled you to break with pagan ways, and saved you from disbelief, thereby, uniting your hearts?”

The tribes realized then how their hearts had been led astray, and put down their weapons. It was then that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) created a new pact of brotherhood in order to dispel the insincerity and to properly unify the Ansar and Muhajireen. Each of the Ansar would have a Muhajir brother who was to be a closer friend than any of the other Ansar. And each Muhajir would have an Ansar brother who was a closer friend than any other Muhajir.

Like the building of the Kaaba, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was able to slowly build a strong Muslim community.There were still adversaries of the Prophet (SAW) in each tribe – these were the old leaders seeking to grasp onto their titles and positions of influence. Eventually, the strong and undying belief of both Ansar and Muhajireen eclipsed their struggle, and they opened their hearts to Islam as they watched their sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters love other believers without any regard for tribes and all came to accept Islam without any hypocrisy in their hearts.

All information used from Martin Lings, Muhammad (saw): His Life Based on the Earliest Sources.