Applied Sciences


A. Place Names (Setting)

*Makkah or Mecca [MACK-ah] – an ancient city in the Arabian Peninsula. Makkah was an important religious center that housed the Ka’bah. At the time of Muhammad’s birth, Makkah had become an important caravan city on the trade route from Yemen to Syria as well as a religious shrine.
Jabal al-Nur – Literally, “Mountain of Light” – a small mountain outside Makkah with a cave where Muhammad would often go to worship and meditate. Muhammad related that he received the first revelation of the Qur’an from God while in the cave of this mountain.
Yathrib [YUTH-rib] – the city in Arabia north of Makkah to which Muhammad and Muslims from Makkah migrated to escape religious persecution. Yathrib was renamed Madinat an-Nabi, or the “City of the Prophet.”
*Madinah or Medina [ma-DEE-nah] – also Madinat al-Nabi, or “City of the Prophet” – a city north of Makkah, formerly known as Yathrib. The people of Madinah welcomed the persecuted Muslim refugees from Makkah and accepted Muhammad as their leader.
Hudaybiyyah – the place where Muhammad made a peace treaty with the Makkans. Muhammad led his companions to Makkah to make the pilgrimage to the Ka’bah, but the Makkans prevented them from entering the city. The treaty with the Makkans allowed the Muslims to return the following year, and both agreed to peace for ten years. The Makkans eventually broke the treaty, leading to the Muslims’ peaceful takeover of Makkah.
*Ka’bah [KAA-bah] – a cube-shaped building in Makkah. The Qur’an states that the Ka’bah was the first house of worship dedicated to the One God. According to the Qur‘an, Abraham and his son Ishmael built the Ka’bah. Muslims all over the world face in the direction of the Ka’bah during prayer.

B. Individuals and Groups

*Quraysh [kur-AYSH] – the tribe into which Muhammad was born and which ruled Makkah. The Makkan Quraysh fought Muhammad until they were defeated in 630 C.E., but as Muslims, they continued to play important roles in Muslim history.
*Muhammad [moo-HUM-med] – according to the Qur’an, he was the last prophet, or God’s messenger to humankind. Prophets before Muhammad include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Muhammad was born into the tribe of Quraysh at Makkah in about 570 CE.
*Khadijah [kha-DEE-jah] – first wife of Muhammad, a wealthy widow who was older than Muhammad. She was the first person to accept Islam after the revelation, and the wife who bore him four daughters.
Arbitrator – a person who settles a dispute between two or more persons or groups. Muhammad was invited to Yathrib as an arbitrator to bring peace to the warring tribes in Yathrib.
Ansar [an-SAR] – literally, “the Helpers” – they were Muslims of Yathrib who welcomed and aided the Muslim refugees from Makkah, who fled religious persecution.
Muhajirun [mu-ha-JIROON] – literally, “the Immigrants” – Muslims who migrated to Yathrib to escape religious persecution by the Quraysh at Makkah.
*Sahabah [sa-HAA-bah] (implicit) – literally, “the Companions” – a title given to Muslims who saw, heard or knew Muhammad. Because they shared in the development of the Muslim community, the Sahabah are considered models of piety and character for Muslims. Through their knowledge and love of the Prophet, they recorded his words and deeds (the hadith)and transmitted the Qur’an to later generations after Muhammad’s death.
Ahl al-Kitab [AHL al-kee-TAAB] – “People of the Book” – a term used in the Qur’an to describe those who believe in One God and in the revealed scriptures from God, such as the Torah and the Bible.
*Tribe – a group of people who share common ancestors, language and traditional claims to territory. At the time of Muhammad’s birth, Makkan society was organized according to relationships among clans and tribes.
*Clan – a family group that is a sub-group of a tribe, claiming descent from a single common ancestor. At the time of Muhammad’s birth, Makkan society was organized according to relationships among clans and tribes.

*Ummah [OOM-mah] – the worldwide community of Muslims. The total number of Muslims in the world today is over 1.2 billion.

C. Important Events in Early Muslim History

Isra’ and Mi’raj (“Night Journey and Ascension”) [iss-RAA, me-RAAJ] –Muhammad’s night journey to Jerusalem and his ascension to the Heavens.According to the Qur’an and the recorded words of Muhammad (hadith), Angel Gabriel took Muhammad to Jerusalem during one night, through the Heavens and into the presence of God, and returned him to Makkah in the same night.
*Hijrah [HIJ-rah] – the migration of Muslim refugees from Makkah to Yathrib seeking religious freedom. This migration happened in 622 CE and marks the beginning of the Islamic, or hijriyah, dating system, abbreviated as A.H., meaning Anno Hijriya.
Constitution of Madinah – a document Muhammad formed as arbitrator to unify the different warring groups in Yathrib under his leadership. The document states that each group in Yathrib must respect each other’s rights and share in the responsibility of defending the city.
*Pilgrimage, or Hajj [huj] – pilgrimage to Makkah is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and the duty of every Muslim believer. Pilgrims perform rites that reenact the life of Abraham, his wife Hajar, and their son Ishmael over 4,000 years ago. It is required of every Muslim who is able, to go at least once in a lifetime.

D. Islamic Beliefs

*Islam, [is-LAHM] – literally, “seeking a state of peace” – the religion of belief in One God, revealed through the prophets from Adam through Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, whose final prophet is Muhammad. Islam is the name given in the Qur’an, and refers to the state of peace achieved through submission to God. A Muslim is a follower of Islam.
*Allah [al-Lah]– literally, “the God” – this name means the one God, who is all-Powerful and who created everything in the universe. Allah is also called Rabb, the Lord of Abraham and all other prophets. In the Arabic language, Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews also use the term Allah for God. The Qur’an lists 99 attributes, or names of God.
Qur’an [kur-AAN] – the holy book of Islam, which Muslims believe is a divinely revealed scripture sent to Muhammad from God through the Angel Gabriel in the Arabic language. The Qur’an is the source of guidance in a Muslim’s daily life, and a source of knowledge about God and His creation. Muslims only consider the Qur’an authentic as read and recited in Arabic but translations may express its meaning as an aid to understanding, not as a substitute for the original scripture.
Akhirah [AA-khi-RA] – life after death. An important theme in the Qur’an is that after life in this world, every human will be judged by God for the good and bad they did on earth, and receive just reward or punishment for their deeds.
Resurrection – raising from the dead. The Qur’an teaches that every human being will be brought back to life after they die to be judged by God on the Day of Judgment.
*Monotheism – the belief that there is only one God. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are known as the three monotheistic faiths.
Jibreel [jib-REEL] – also known as “Gabriel” – the Angel who brought revelation to each of the prophets, or God’s messengers. Muslims believe that Gabriel brought revelation of the Qur’an to Muhammad over a period of 23 years.
Hadith [hah-DEETH] – the recorded tradition of the words and deeds of Muhammad, transmitted by his companions and later compiled into authoritative collections during the 8th and 9th centuries CE.

E. Muslim Practices

Khutbah [KHUT-bah] – a public sermon or speech held every Friday in the masjid before the midday prayer.
*Salah [sa-LAAH] – the five daily prayers, second of the Five Pillars of Islam.These obligatory or required prayers are offered at dawn, at noon, in mid-afternoon, at sundown, and after twilight.
Hijab [hee-JAAB] – a term used for the head covering worn by Muslim women.Literally, “a condition of modesty,” it also means the public appearance of women wearing loose-fitting clothing that reveals only her hands and face.
*Jihad [ji-HAAD] – literally, “making an effort,” “striving,” or “struggling” – Jihad can mean the effort to improve oneself and resist doing bad deeds, a struggle against injustice, or limited warfare for a just cause.
*Five Pillars – five basic acts of worship required of every able-bodied Muslim.They are (1) shahada, testifying to belief in one God and Muhammad’s prophethood, (2)salah, performing five daily prayers, (3) zakah, paying the poor due, (4) siyam, fasting in the month of Ramadan, (5) performing the hajj, or pilgrimage to Makkah once in a lifetime.


Muhammad was born to Aminah and Abdullah, son of Abd al-Muttalib in 570 C.E.
Muhammad was a shepherd as a young boy and went on several trading caravans to Syria with his uncle Abu Talib.
Khadijah, a wealthy widow who employed traders, asked Muhammad to take her goods to Syria and sell them. Khadijah was so impressed by Muhammad’s fine character that she proposed marriage to him. Khadijah and Muhammad had four daughters and two sons, who both died in infancy.
In 610 C.E., on a retreat to a cave on Jabal al-Nur (Mountain of Light) outside of Makkah, Muhammad received the first verses of the Qur’an from God, according to Muslim beliefs. Frightened, Muhammad left the cave and went home to Khadijah, who comforted and reassured him, and accepted the truth of what he said.
A verse told Muhammad to preach the message of the Qur’an to his family and members of his clan. Only his cousin Ali, who was 13 at the time, responded.
Muhammad began preaching to the people of Makkah, telling of a Day of Judgment, the resurrection of the dead, and the promised afterlife.
In the year 617, the Quraysh, unable to convince Muhammad to stop preaching, banished the Muslims and their supporters to a dry valley and refused to trade with them. Muhammad’s uncle, Abu Talib, lost his business and the Muslims nearly starved. Abu Bakr, once a wealthy trader, lost everything. In 619, Muhammad’s wife Khadijah died, and then Muhammad also lost his protector, Abu Talib.
In the year 620, the most remarkable spiritual event of Muhammad’s life occurred – the Night Journey called Isra’ and Miraj–in which Muslims believe Muhammad was transported to Jerusalem and then to Heaven. Muslims believe that God gave Muhammad the order for Muslims to pray the five daily prayers on this night journey.
The Muslims were offered asylum in a city north of Makkah called Yathrib (later, Madinah). The migration of the Muslims to Yathrib, in 622, is called the Hijrah. Hearing of a plot to kill Muhammad, he and Abu Bakr escaped to Madinah together, and received a joyful reception.
Muhammad purchased land for the first masjid, or house of worship, and established a mutual defense and cooperation pact among the tribes of Madinah, with himself as the leader of the city. This document was called the “Constitution of Madinah.” Muhammad paired immigrants from Makkah with the Muslims from Madinah in a relationship of brotherhood.
Muslims believe Muhammad was sent a verse from the Qur’an allowing the Muslims to fight against those who had turned them out of their homes because of their beliefs. The first battle between the Muslims from Madinah and the Quraysh from Makkah took place at Badr in 624 C.E. The Muslim army of about 250 defeated the Makkan army of more than a thousand fighters, according to historical accounts.
A year after the Battle of Badr, the Makkans sent an army to get revenge for their defeat. This battle was called the battle of Uhud. With many losses on both sides, the two sides withdrew in a stalemate.
The third major battle between the Quraysh and the Muslims was the Battle of the Trench, in which the Quraysh and their allies besieged Madinah. The Bani Qurayzah, a Jewish tribe in Madinah, sided with Quraysh and broke their treaty with the Muslims. When the Makkans finally left amid storms and the desertion of their allies, the Muslims turned to attack the Bani Qurayzah for siding with the attack against Madinah.
After the Battle of the Trench, in 628, Muhammad decided to lead a pilgrimage to Makkah. The Muslims camped at Hudaybiyyah, just outside Makkah, where they were halted by Quraysh. The Makkans didn’t want to let the Muslims make the pilgrimage but entered into a peace treaty with Muhammad. The treaty at Hudaybiyyah called for ten years of peace between the Muslims and the Makkans, and allowed the Muslims to make their pilgrimage the following year.
A year after the treaty at Hudaybiyyah, Muhammad and his companions completed their pilgrimage. Muhammad asked Bilal ibn Rabah, a former slave and among the earliest Muslims, to give the call to prayer from the top of the Ka’bah. This angered the Makkans, who were camped in the hills outside Makkah until the Muslims completed their pilgrimage. They couldn’t believe that a former slave stood on top of their sacred house.
The Makkans broke their treaty with the Muslims by attacking a tribe allied with the Muslims. Muhammad immediately marched on Makkah and took the city peacefully in 630 C.E.
Muhammad returned to Madinah after the conquest of Makkah. He made a final pilgrimage to Makkah, also called the Farewell Pilgrimage, to define the rites of the pilgrimage. He also gave his farewell address where he told Muslims to treat each other humanely.
Muhammad became ill with a strong fever. On June 8th, 632, Muhammad died. Abu Bakr, the leader of the Muslim community after Muhammad’s death, reminded the grieving Muslims that Muhammad was only human, and that they should worship God and not Muhammad.


A. Abu Bakr was the first person to accept Islam outside of Muhammad’s immediate family. He was a close friend who was near in age to Muhammad. He was a wealthy Makkan merchant who lost almost all his wealth during the ban on trade with the Muslims of Makkah. At the time of the Hijrah, or migration to Madinah, Abu Bakr asked Muhammad if he could leave Makkah with those going to Madinah. Muhammad told him to wait, hinting that he may have the opportunity travel with Muhammad himself. They both made a dramatic escape from Makkah after escaping a murder plot to kill Muhammad by leading Makkan families. They stayed in a cave for several days south of the city while the Makkans searched for them. Eventually they made their way to Madinah. This journey was a major turning point for the Muslim community and gave Abu Bakr special status as Muhammad’s companion on the Hijrah.

When Muhammad fell ill, Abu Bakr was the only companion of Muhammad to lead the communal prayer in his place. This was one of the reasons some say Abu Bakr was chosen as the first Caliph, or successor, to Muhammad after his death. Upon taking office Abu Bakr asked the Muslims for obedience only if he kept to Muhammad’s example, asking for assistance in this. In Muslim history, this was a memorable statement about the importance of limited government. When Muhammad died, the Muslim community was in a state of disbelief and confusion. Abu Bakr addressed the Muslims, saying, “O people, whoever among you worships Muhammad, Muhammad has died. But whoever among you worships God, indeed God is the Living and does not die.” Then he quoted a verse from the Qur’an: “Muhammad is but a messenger; and messengers have passed away before him. Will you, when he dies or is slain, turn back on your heels (back to your old religion)? He who turns back does not hurt Allah. And Allah will reward the thankful.” (Qur’an, 3:144)

B. ‘Amr (Abu Jahl) was one of the strongest opponents of Muhammad in Makkah. Abu Jahl was about to become an important man in Makkah when Muhammad began calling the Quraysh to Islam. Not only did Abu Jahl reject Islam, he also persecuted and tortured to death some early Muslims who were enslaved. Abu Jahl had been called Abul Hakam, “the Father of Wisdom,” but the Muslims of Makkah called him Abu Jahl meaning, “the Father of Ignorance” because of his violent opposition to Muhammad. Abu Jahl often took every opportunity to insult and humiliate Muhammad. After one such incident, Muhammad’s uncle Hamzah, who was not yet a Muslim, was returning from hunting when a woman told him what Abu Jahl had done to his nephew. Furious, he went straight to Abu Jahl and struck him with his bow saying, “Will you insult him, now that I am of his religion, and now that I stand for what he stands for?” The incident was curious because Hamza–a renowned warrior–actually did accept Islam after realizing what he had said, and also because it could have set off a clan war in Makkah, had Abu Jahl’s friends defended him. Abu Jahl was killed at the battle of Badr.

C. Abu Sufyan, a rich merchant who sent caravans to Syria, was an important leader of the Quraysh when Muhammad began to preach. Abu Sufyan opposed Muhammad in Makkah but did not abuse him in the same way that Abu Jahl did. He participated in all three major battles against the Muslims. The first battle at Badr began when the Makkans tried to protect Abu Sufyan’s caravan. However, when it became clear that the Muslims were going to capture Makkah itself, Abu Sufyan decided to become a Muslim. Muhammad made his house a place of asylum, or safety, for the people of Makkah.

D. Abu Talib, Muhammad’s uncle, was a poor but influential elder from the important clan of Bani Hashim. He took care of Muhammad as an orphaned child, and when Muhammad married, he returned the favor by taking Abu Talib’s son Ali into his household. Abu Talib gave tribal protection of his clan to Muhammad, a tradition that kept the Makkans from harming him while Abu Talib lived. Although Abu Talib never accepted Islam, he was loyal to his nephew to the end. When Abu Talib was dying, leaders of the Quraysh visited him hoping he would broker an agreement with Muhammad. Abu Talib sent for his nephew and said, “Son of my brother, these notables of your people have gathered here for your sake for give and take.” The Makkan clans did not try to carry out the murder plot until Abu Talib had died.

E. ‘Aisha bint Abu Bakr was the daughter of Abu Bakr. She was the first wife Muhammad married after the death of his first wife Khadijah when Aisha was still quite young. ‘Aisha was known for both her intelligence and quick temper. Nothing made her more jealous than when Muhammad would speak about Khadijah. ‘Aisha said to him, “It is as if there had never been any other woman in the world except Khadijah.” Muhammad praised her, saying, “She was the wife who believed in me while others rejected me. When people called me a liar, she affirmed my truthfulness. When I stood forsaken, she spent her wealth to lighten the burden of my sorrow.” ‘Aisha’s closeness to Muhammad gave her insights and knowledge about Muhammad and his teachings that made her one of the major scholars of hadith after the death of the Prophet. She was also a source of knowledge for Muslims who wanted to model their lives after the life of Muhammad.

F. Ali ibn Abi Talib was the son of Muhammad’s uncle, Abu Talib, who grew up in Muhammad’s household. Ali was the second person to become a Muslim, when he was only ten years old. After Muhammad was told to spread the message of Islam to his family, Muhammad invited the men from the clan of Hashim to a meal. He asked them who would help to spread God’s message. No one offered assistance but Ali, who stood courageously among the clansmen. Many of them were amused that Muhammad’s only aid was from a thirteen-year-old boy. In the years that followed, however, Ali played a vital role in the Muslim community. He was counted among the closest companions, a valiant warrior, and a wise and brave leader. In the murder plot, young clansmen intended to strike while Muhammad slept. When they learned of the plot, Muhammad escaped to Madinah while Ali slept in his empty bed. Seeing they were foiled, the clansmen left. They did not dare to kill the son of Abu Talib. Ali remained in Makkah for a few days to settle some of Muhammad’s financial transactions before he left for Madinah. Ali married Fatima, Muhammad’s youngest daughter, and they had three children, Hasan, Hussain and Zaynab. Ali served as Muhammad’s scribe, writing the treaty of Hudaybiyyah. After Muhammad’s death, Ali became one of the major scholars of Islamic law, and became the fourth “rightly-guided” Caliph after the death of Uthman. According to the Shi’i branch of Muslims, Ali ibn Abi Talib was the rightful heir to Muhammad’s leadership of the Muslim community, although Ali did not press that claim over Abu Bakr. Ali was later killed in the course of a conflict over the succession that led to the founding of the Umayyad dynasty by Muawiyyah, son of Abu Sufyan.

G. Bilal ibn Rabah was a slave of Ethiopian descent who lived in Makkah early in Muhammad’s prophethood, and who accepted Islam while still a slave. His master was a wealthy merchant opposed to Muhammad’s teachings. He tortured Bilal by placing large stones on his chest under the noonday heat. Abu Bakr bought Bilal and set him free. Bilal migrated to Madinah, and was chosen to make the first call to prayer, or adhan, in Islam, and that unique call can be heard wherever Muslims are found. During the pilgrimage, Muhammad asked Bilal to climb to the roof of the Ka’bah to call the adhan. His voice echoed throughout the valley. Bilal served as Muhammad’s treasurer in Madinah, taking care of the wealth gained in battles and raids and distributing it to the needs of the community. Bilal was buried in Damascus, Syria where traveled to after Muhammad’s death.

H. Fatimah bint Muhammad was the fourth daughter of Muhammad and Khadijah. She was five years old when Muhammad received the first revelations of the Qur’an. She sometimes accompanied her father when he prayed at the Ka’bah. One day some of the leaders of Quraysh poured something filthy on Muhammad as prayed, and Fatimah wept for her father as she wiped off the mess. She migrated with the Muslims to Madinah. There she helped take care of the poor people who came to study and live at the masjid. Fatimah married Ali when she was twenty years old. Ali and Fatimah had three children, Hassan, Hussain, and Zaynab. Muslims known as Sharif, or descendants of Muhammad, trace their ancestry through Hassan and Hussain, Fatimah’s sons. Fatimah died six months after her father’s death.

I. Khadijah was a wealthy widow in the caravan trade in Makkah. She had hired Muhammad to buy and sell her goods in Syria. Impressed by Muhammad’s honesty, skill and good character, she asked him to marry her. According to Muslim sources, she is said to have told Muhammad, “I love you for your kinship with me, and your honor amongst your people. I love you for your trustworthiness and for the beauty of your character and the truthfulness of your speech.”

Khadijah was forty years old when she married Muhammad who was then only twenty-five years old. For the next fifteen years, Muhammad and Khadijah were happily married, and she was his only wife. They had four daughters and two sons, who died in infancy. Khadijah comforted and reassured Muhammad after his experience in the cave at the beginning of his prophethood, and she took him to her cousin Waraqah, a Christian hermit for advice. Khadijah became the first Muslim woman, and endured persecution by the Makkans, which probably resulted in her death at 65 years of age. Her death was a great blow to Muhammad, who relied upon her encouragement and friendship. He remained loyal to her memory throughout his life.

J. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab lived in Makkah with Muhammad during the earliest days of Islam. ‘Umar was known for his uncontrollable temper, skill as a warrior, and imposing personality. ‘Umar was a strong believer in the idols that the Makkans worshipped, and actually decided to kill Muhammad to end the division in the Makkan community over Islam. On his way to do the deed, he met a man from his own clan who was secretly a Muslim. The man told him to first go to his own sister and her husband who had become Muslims. ‘Umar rushed to his sister’s house and confronted her striking his sister. His action startled himself and made him feel bad. According to tradition, he then asked to see the Qur’an, and was overcome by the beauty of its language and message. He then asked to go to Muhammad to declare Islam instead of killing him. ‘Umar went straight to the Ka’bah in the middle of Makkah and publicly proclaimed that he was Muslim. He then began to pray and dared anyone from Quraysh to stop him. Of course, no one did. ‘Umar’s acceptance of Islam helped the Muslims at Makkah practice their faith more openly, because he was a strong defender. ‘Umar became one of Muhammad’s close companions and was one of the migrants to Madinah . Muhammad married ‘Umar’s daughter Hafsa.

After Muhammad’s death, ‘Umar became the second khalifah, or successor to Muhammad, who governed for fourteen years, the longest of the four “Rightly Guided Caliphs”. Known for justice and equity, he made important rulings that showed how Islamic law could be applied to new situations that arose after Muhammad’s death. His rulings were important to the development of Islamic law, the Shari’ah.

K. Salman al-Farisi was a Persian slave born in Isfahan, in present-day Iran, and who worked in the date orchards of Madinah. He became a Muslim after Muhammad immigrated to Madinah, and Muhammad bought him his freedom. Salman is best known for his role in the Battle of the Trench, when the Makkan army besieged Madinah. Salman suggested a strategy that was common in Persia, but had not been used in Arabia before. Using his advice, the Muslims dug a trench around Madinah, which was deep and wide enough to prevent the Makkans’ horses from crossing it. The Muslims kept the Quraysh out of Madinah until they and their allies grew tired and hungry. When the weather turned bad and their allies deserted, the Quraysh ended the siege. With Quraysh humiliated in front of their allies, the Battle of the Trench gave the Muslims a major victory, which led to the peace treaty at Hudaybiyyah.




The Constitution of Madinah is a voluntary pact among three groups, namely the Muslims from Makkah, the Muslims from Yathrib, and the non-Muslims of Yathrib. It followed a period of disagreement over leadership in Yathrib, which was one reason that the people of the city invited Muhammad to come to the city. The Constitution was unique in Arabian history, because it went beyond the system of tribal loyalty that people depended upon. Not breaking completely with tradition, the Constitution incorporates the tribes into an agreement in which loyalty, rights and responsibilities are based on voluntary association and religious belief. The groups named “Bani” refers to the clans, a subgroup of a tribe, often living in a certain neighborhood in the city. The following excerpt is from a biography of Muhammad’s life, and explains the Constitution further. “[Upon arriving at Madinah,] The Prophet gave orders that his newly acquired courtyard should be made into a mosque. They began work on it immediately. Most of the building was done with bricks, but in the middle of the northern wall, that is, the Jerusalem wall, they put stones on either side of the prayer niche. The palms in the courtyard were cut down and their trunks were used as pillars to support the roof of palm branches, but the greater part of the courtyard was left open.

The Muslims of Madinah had been given the title of Ansar, or Helpers, by the Prophet. The Muslims of Makkah, who had left their homes and emigrated to Madinah, were called Muhajirun, or Emigrants.

It was to be hoped that these two parties would be strengthened by a third, and the Prophet now made a covenant of mutual obligation between his followers and the Jews of the oasis, forming them into a single community of believers but allowing for the differences between the two religions. Muslims and Jews were to have equal status. If either a Jew or Muslim was wronged, then he must be helped to his rights by both Muslims and Jews. In case of war against polytheists, the two parties must fight as one force, and neither Jews nor Muslims were to make a separate peace, but peace was to be indivisible. If there were differences of opinion or dispute or controversy, the matter was to be referred to God through His Messenger. There was, however, no express stipulation that the Jews should formally recognize Muhammad as the Messenger and Prophet of God, though he was referred to as such throughout the document.” [From of Martin Lings, Muhammad, His Life Based on the Earliest Sources, pp. 125-126]

The “Constitution of Madinah” (622)

The Prophet’s Document Between the Muhajirun (The Emigrants), the Ansar (The Helpers from Madinah) and the Jews (of Madinah):

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim (In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate)

(1) This is a document from Muhammad, the Prophet (governing the relations) between the believers and the Muslims of Quraysh and Yathrib, and those who followed them and joined them and struggled with them.

(2) They are one community (ummah) to the exclusion of all men.

(3) The Quraysh Muhajirun, according to their present custom, shall pay the blood money within their number and shall redeem their prisoners with the kindness and justice common among believers.

(4) The Banu ‘Awf, … with kindness and justice.

(5) Banu al Harith (Ibn al Khazraj)…

(6) Banu Sa’idah…

(7) Banu Jusham …

(8) Banu al Najjar ….

(9) Banu ‘Amr ibn ‘Awf …

(10) Banu al Nabit…

(11) Banu al Aws… with kindness and justice.

(12a) Believers shall not leave anyone destitute among them by not paying his redemption money or blood money in kindness.

(12b) A believer shall not take as an ally against him the freedman of another Muslim.

(13) The God-Fearing believers shall be against the rebellious or anyone who seeks to spread injustice, or sin, or enmity, or corruption between the believers; the hand of every man shall be against him even if he be a son of one of them.

(14) A believer shall not slay a believer for the sake of an unbeliever, nor shall he aid an unbeliever against a believer.

(15) God’s protection is all-embracing, the least of them may give protection to a stranger on their behalf. Believers are friends and protectors one to the other, to the exclusion of outsiders.

(16) To the Jews who follow us belong help and equality. He shall not be wronged nor shall his enemies be aided.

(17) The peace of the believers is indivisible. No peace shall be made when believers are fighting in the way of God. Conditions must be fair and equitable to all.

(18) In every foray a rider must take another behind him.

(19) The believers must avenge the blood of one another shed in the way of God.

(20a) The God-fearing believers enjoy the best and most upright guidance.

(20b) No polytheist shall take the property or person of Quraysh under his protection nor shall he intervene against a believer.

(21) Whosoever is convicted of killing a believer without good reason shall be subject to retaliation unless the next of kin is satisfied (with blood money), and the believers shall be against him as one man, and they are bound to take action against him.

(22) It shall not be lawful to a believer who holds by what is in this document and believes in God and the Last Day, to help an evil-doer or to shelter him. The curse of God and His anger on the Day of Resurrection will be upon him if he does, neither repentance nor ransom will be received from him.

(23) Whenever you differ about a matter, it must be referred to God and to Muhammad.

(24) The Jews shall contribute to the cost of war so long as they are fighting alongside the believers.

(25) The Jews of Banu ‘Awf are one community with the believers (the Jews have their religion and the Muslims have theirs), their freedmen and their persons except those who behave unjustly and sinfully, for they hurt but themselves and their families.

(26) The Jews of Banu al Najjar are like the Jews of Banu ‘Awf.

(27) The Jews of Banu al Harith …

(28) The Jews of Banu Sa’idah ….

(29) The Jews of Banu Jusham …

(30) The Jews of Banu al Aws …

(31) The Jews of Banu al Tha’labah …

(32) Jafnah, a clan of the Tha’labah, are as themselves.

(33) The Jews of Banu al Shutaybah …

(34) The freedmen of Tha’labah are as themselves.

(35) The close friends of the Jews are as themselves.

(36a) None of them shall go out to war save with the permission of Muhammad.

(36b) But he shall not be prevented from taking revenge from a wound. He who slays a man without warning slays himself and his household, unless it be one who has wronged him, for God will accept that.

(37a) The Jews must bear their expenses and the Muslims their expenses. Each must help the other against anyone who attacks the people of this document. They must seek mutual advice and consultation, and righteousness is a protection against sinfulness.

(37b) A man is not liable for his ally’s misdeeds. The wronged must be helped.

(38) The Jews must pay with the believers so long as war lasts.

(39) Yathrib (Madinah) shall be a sanctuary for the people of this document.

(40) A stranger under protection shall be as his host doing no harm and committing no crime.

Three Major Events in the Rise of Islam

The three major events are: (1) the Hijrah, (2) the treaty of Hudaybiyyah, and (3) the victory over Makkah.

· Why did Muhammad allow groups of Muslims to migrate to Madinah from the city of Makkah? [A: he allowed them to emigrate in order to get away from the danger of further persecution]

· What event led to his own migration to Madinah, together with Abu Bakr? What did the Quraysh leaders plan, and what was their response to his escape from Makkah? What did the leaders of Makkah gain from the departure of the Muslims, and what did they lose or risk losing? [A: The Quraysh murder plot led to his emigration. They planned to kill him, and when he escaped, they sent tribesmen to capture him. The leaders gained the property and homes of the Muslim emigrants; they lost control over the Muslims, and risked the Muslims gaining influence among tribes loyal to Quraysh, and creating a center of influence out of the Quraysh’s reach.]

· What reaction did Quraysh display to the establishment of the Muslim community at Madinah? How did hostilities between the two groups begin? What battles took place? [A: The Quraysh sought to continue their trade in the region unchallenged by the Muslims, and they sought to weaken and if possible eliminate the Muslim community. The conflict began when Muslim forces met a Quraysh caravan and the Battle of Badr resulted. Major battles included Badr, Uhud and Khandaq.]

· What was the purpose of Muhammad’s journey to Makkah with his followers after the Battle of Khandaq? What symbol of their peaceful intention was clearly understood by the Quraysh? [A: Muhammad led his followers, unarmed showing the recognized signs that they intended to make pilgrimage to Makkah, their pilgrim dress and animals marked for the sacrifice.]

· Were the Muslims allowed to enter Makkah for the pilgrimage? What was the outcome of the challenge posed by the Quraysh to the Muslims? [A: The Quraysh, in violation of their role as custodians of the Ka’bah and hosts of the pilgrimage, denied them entry. Muhammad, however, asked the Quraysh to negotiate and secured a treaty with them.]

· Muhammad compromised on almost every point in the treaty of Hudaibiyya. Why would the treaty be called a “clear victory” in the Qur’an? How did the treaty of Hudaibiyya change the relationship between the Muslims and the Quraysh? [A: The treaty represented the long-sought recognition of the Muslims as a bargaining partner, as a legitimate entity with whom a treaty could be made. Before that, no such entity had existed other than tribes, and the Muslims had been considered renegades from Quraysh itself. Furthermore, the denial of entry to the pilgrims was a clear violation of Quraysh’s traditional role as host of the pilgrimage, just as Quraysh’s leadership in battle and position as head of tribal alliances had been destroyed by their inability to defeat the Muslims. Finally, the treaty committed Quraysh to conditions that didn’t allow them to continue to pressure the Muslims. It forced them to give up trying to destroy the Madinan community in order to maintain the terms of their agreement.]

· Makkah was finally captured peacefully by the Muslims when the Makkans broke the treaty. What enabled the Muslims to capture Makkah without a fight? [ A: The Muslim forces had become stronger both in military skill, in numbers of adherents to Islam, and in alliances with other tribes. While the Quraysh position had become steadily weaker, militarily, economically and politically. By the time they broke the treaty, a mere show of force with the assembly of 10,000 troops outside Makkah was enough to overcome the city with only token opposition.]


A. The Battle of the Trench

The Battle of the Trench occurred in 627 C.E. between the Quraysh and their allies and the inhabitants of Madinah. The year before the battle, one of the three Jewish tribes of Madinah had been expelled by the Muslims due to a foiled plot to kill Muhammad. The tribe left Madinah and went to the walled fortress of Khaybar. A leader of the Bani Nadir asked the Quraysh to help raise an army that would put an end to the Muslims at Madinah. Muhammad received word from friends in Makkah of the coming attack. He called his companions to consult on what to do. Salman al Farisi, a freed slave originally from Persia, suggested that the Muslims dig a deep trench as they did in Persia to keep the enemy cavalry from entering the city. The Muslims had only a week to dig the trench around the part of Madinah that was not protected by walls and natural barriers. They finished the trench in six days, just before the Makkans and their allies arrived.

The armies advanced towards the city of Madinah, hoping to storm the city with their cavalry. When they saw the trench in front of them and the Muslim archers on the opposite side, they were dismayed. The trench frightened their horses, which could not jump across it, and any horseman that rode down into the trench would be trapped and picked off by archers. The Makkans had to take the city quickly though, because they had not brought enough supplies for a long encampment. There was little to feed them or their animals outside the city. The Makkans repeatedly tried and failed to storm the trench. The Muslims guarded the trench in shifts around the clock. No one passed over.

A leader of the banished Jewish tribe then went secretly to the Bani Qurayzah, another Jewish tribe still in Madinah, and convinced its leader to break their agreement with the Muslims and join the Makkan alliance. This would allow the enemy to enter the city through a fortress that protected one side of the city. The defection of the Bani Qurayzah was dangerous to the Muslims who were already weak and tired from the siege. The Makkans planned to send troops into the fortress of the Bani Qurayzah and capture the Muslim women and children while the men were guarding the trench. Upon hearing of the defection, Muhammad sent three hundred troops to the center of Madinah to hold off the attack. As it happened, a dispute broke out between the Makkans and the Bani Qurayzah who kept delaying the attack. A dispute erupted between the two because the Bani Qurayzah wanted to hold some nobles of Quraysh hostage to make sure they were sincere in their offer. During this dispute, the weather turned cold and the wind blew down all of the tents of the Quraysh and their allies. The Quraysh and their allies lost heart and withdrew their troops to go home.

After the Quraysh and their allies left, the Muslims besieged the fortress of their former allies. Seeing that they were trapped, the Bani Qurayzah negotiated a surrender. Muhammad agreed to allow the Aws, former friends of the Bani Qurayzah who asked for leniency, to choose an arbitrator from their own clan to decide the fate of the inhabitants of the fortress. Sa’d ibn Mu’adh, the chief of the Aws, was chosen to pass judgment on the Bani Qurayzah. He had been wounded at the Battle of the Trench and was brought on a stretcher to the fortress of Bani Qurayzah. He judged that the men would be executed and that the women and children would be taken as slaves.

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