إِنَّهُ لاَ يُفْلِحُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ
The Qur'anic term falah (prosperity, success) used in the above verse (last part of verse 10:17) has been understood by some to signify such things as longevity, worldly prosperity and other worldly attainments. Under this false impression, they tend to believe that if a claimant to prophethood attains material prosperity and longevity or if his message is spread around, then he ought to be considered a genuine Prophet because he has indeed attained 'prosperity'. Had he been an impostor, it is argued, he would soon have been assassinated, or would have starved to death, and, in any case, his message would not have spread around. Such an absurd line of argument can only be pursued by those who are altogether ignorant of the concept of falah (prosperity) as envisaged in the Qur'an, who are unaware of God's law of respite regarding evil-doers, and who are altogether unappreciative of the special meaning in which the term has been employed in the present context.
In order to fully understand what is meant by saying that 'the guilty shall not prosper', a number of things ought to be borne in mind. In the first place, the Qur'anic statement that "the guilty shall not prosper' is not made with a view to providing a yardstick that might be applied by people so as to determine the truth or falsity of the claimants of prophethood. The verse does not seek to stress that all those who 'prosper' after claiming to be a Prophet are truly Prophets, and that those who do not prosper after making such a claim are not so. The point of emphasis here is altogether different. Here the Prophet (peace be on him) is being made to say that since he knows fully that those guilty of inventing lies against Allah could not prosper, he would not dare make any claim to prophethood if such a claim was false.
On the other hand, the Prophet (peace be on him) also knew that the unbelievers were guilty of rejecting the true signs of God and of declaring a true Prophet of God to be an impostor. In view of that monstrous guilt, it was quite apparent to the Prophet (peace be on him) that they would not prosper.
Moreover, the Qur'anic term falah (prosperity, success) has not been used in the limited sense of worldly success. Rather, it denotes that enduring success which admits of no failure regardless of whether one is able to achieve success in the present phase of one's existence or not. it is quite possible that someone who calls people to falsehood might enjoy life and nourish in a worldly sense, and he might even be able to attain a substantial following for his message. But this is not true prosperity or success; rather it constitutes total loss and failure. Contrarily, it is also possible that someone who calls people to the truth might be exposed to much persecution and be overwhelmed by pain and suffering. It is possible that even before he is able to create any significant following, he is continually subjected to persecution and torture. In the Qur'anic view, such an apparently tragic end constitutes the very zenith of such a person's success rather than his failure.
Moreover, it should be remembered that it has been amply elucidated in the Qur'an that God does not punish evil-doers instantly: that He rather grants them a fair opportunity to mend their ways. Not only that, if the evil-doers misuse the respite granted by God to perpetrate further wrongs, they are sometimes granted an even further respite. In fact, at times a variety of worldly favours are bestowed upon such evil-doers in order that the potential for wickedness inherent in them might be fully exposed by their actions, proving that they do indeed deserve a very severe punishment. Hence, if an impostor continues to enjoy periods of respite and if worldly favours are lavished upon him this should not in any way give rise to the notion that he is on the right path.
In the same way as God grants respite to other evil-doers. He also grants respite to impostors. There are no grounds whatsoever for believing that the respite granted to other evil-doers would not be granted to those impostors who lay false claim to prophethood. We may well call to mind that Satan himself has been granted a respite until Doomsday, It has never been indicated that although Satan is granted a free hand to misguide human beings, as soon as he throws up an impostor claiming prophethood such a venture is instantly nipped in the bud.
In order to refute the view expressed above it is possible that someone may refer to the following verse of the Qur'an: Now if he [i.e. Muhammad] would have made up, ascribed some sayings to Us, We would indeed have seized him by the right hand, and then indeed would have cut his life-vein (al-Haqqah 69: 44-6).
Even a little reflection makes it obvious that the verse in question does not contradict the view we have expressed above. For, what the present verse says relates to a principle which God follows in dealing with true Prophets. Were any such Prophet to falsely claim something to be a revelation from God, he would instantly be seized by God's wrath. To argue to the contrary that all those who are not seized by God's wrath are necessarily genuine Prophets is simply a logical fallacy devoid of any justification. For the threat of instant Divine wrath embodied in this verse is applicable only to true Prophets, and not to impostors who, like other evil-doers, are granted a respite.
This can be well understood if we bear in mind the disciplinary rules laid down by different governments for their officials. It is obvious that those rules are not enforced in respect of ordinary citizens. Were the latter to lay any false claim to being a government official, he would be subjected to the normal rules of the criminal code relating to the conviction of those who are guilty of fraud rather than to the disciplinary rules meant for government officials. Under this analogy, an impostor who claims to be a Prophet, would be dealt with by God along with other evil-doers who commit evil, and who, as we know, are not necessarily punished immediately.
In any case, as we have pointed out earlier, the verses quoted above were not revealed so as to provide the criterion to judge the truth of anyone who lays claim to prophethood. This verse should not be considered to mean that if a celestial hand stretches forth to cut off the life-vein of a claimant to prophethood, such a person is an impostor; and if that does not happen, he is a genuine Prophet. Such a weird criterion would have been needed only if no other means were available to judge the genuineness of a claimant to prophethood. But as things stand, a Prophet is known by his character, by his work, and by the contents of his message. (Tafheemul Quran)
"Allah's Messenger (s.a.a.w.) used to patch his sandals, sew his garment and conduct himself at home as anyone of you does in his house. He was a human being, searching his garment for lice, milking his sheep, and doing his own chores." (Narrated by al-Tirmathi).
She also said:
"He would patch his garments and sole his sandals" She was once asked: "How was he with his family?", she responded: "He was in the service of his family until it was time for prayer, at which time he would go and pray."
|The First Phase ... The Status Quo in Madinah at the Time of Emigration|
Emigration to Madinah could never be attributable to attempts to escape from jeers and oppression only, but it also constituted a sort of cooperation with the aim of erecting the pillars of a new society in a secure place. Hence it was incumbent upon every capable Muslim to contribute to building this new homeland, immunizing it and holding up its prop. As a leader and spiritual guide, there was no doubt the Noble Messenger (Peace be upon him), in whose hands exclusively all affairs would be resolved.
In Madinah, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had to deal with three distinctively different categories of people with different respective problems:
1. As for his Companions, the conditions of life in Madinah were totally different from those they experienced in Makkah. There, in Makkah, they used to strive for one corporate target, but physically, they were scattered, overpowered and forsaken. They were helpless in terms of pursuing their new course of orientation. Their means, socially and materially, fell short of establishing a new Muslim community. In parallel lines, the Makkan Chapters of the Noble Qur’ân were confined to delineating the Islamic precepts, enacting legislations pertaining to the believers individually and enjoining good and piety and forbidding evils and vices.
In Madinah , things were otherwise; here all the affairs of their life rested in their hands. Now, they were at ease and could quite confidently handle the challenges of civilization, construction, means of living, economics, politics, government administration, war and peace, codification of the questions of the allowed and prohibited, worship, ethics and all the relevant issues. In a nutshell, they were in Madinah at full liberty to erect the pillars of a new Muslim community not only utterly different from that pre-Islamic code of life, but also distinctive in its features in the world at large. It was a society that could stand for the Islamic Call for whose sake the Muslims had been put to unspeakable tortures for 10 years. No doubt, the construction of a society that runs in line with this type of ethics cannot be accomplished overnight, within a month or a year. It requires a long time to build during which legislation and legalization will run gradually in a complementary process with mind cultivation, training and education. Allâh, the All-Knowing, of course undertook legislation and His Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), implementation and orientation:
“He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger [Muhammad (Peace be upon him) from among themselves, reciting to them His Verses, purifying them (from the filth of disbelief and polytheism), and teaching them the Book (this Qur’ân, Islamic laws and Islamic Jurisprudence) and Al-Hikmah [As-Sunna: legal ways, orders, acts of worship, etc. of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)].” [62:2]
The Prophet’s Companion (May Allah be pleased with), rushed enthusiastically to assimilate these Qur’ânic rules and fill their hearts joyfully with them:
“And when His Verses (this Qur’ân) are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith.” [8:2]
With respect to the Muslims, this task constituted the greatest challenge for the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him). In fact, this very purpose lay at the heart of the Islamic Call and the Muhammadan mission; it was never an incidental issue though there were the matters that required urgent addressing.
The Muslims in Madinah consisted virtually of two parties: The first one already settled down in their abode, land and wealth, fully at ease, but seeds of discord amongst them were deeply seated and chronic enmity continually evoked; they were Al-Ansar (the Helpers). The second party were Al-Muhajirun (the Emigrants), homeless, jobless and penniless. Their number was not small, on the contrary, it was increasing day by day after the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had given them the green light to leave for Madinah whose economic structure, originally not that prosperous one, began to show signs of imbalance aggravated by the economic boycott that the anti-Islamic groups imposed and consequently imports diminished and living conditions worsened.
“… because they say: “There is no blame on us to betray and take the properties of the illiterates (Arabs)” [3:75]
Religiously, they showed no zeal; their most obvious religious commodity was fortunetelling, witchcraft and the secret arts (blowing on knots), for which they used to attach to themselves advantages of science and spiritual precedence.
They excelled at the arts of earning money and trading. They in fact monopolized trading in cereals, dates, wine, clothes, export and import. For the services they offered to the Arabs, the latter paid heavily. Usury was a common practice amongst them, lending the Arab notables great sums to be squandered on mercenary poets, and in vanity avenues, and in return seizing their fertile land given as surety.
They were very good at corrupting and scheming. They used to sow seeds of discord between adjacent tribes and entice each one to hatch plots against the other with the natural corollary of continual exhaustive bloody fighting. Whenever they felt that fire of hatred was about to subside, they would nourish it with new means of perpetuity so that they could always have the upper hand, and at the same time gain heavy interest rates on loans spent on inter-tribal warfare.
Three famous tribes of Jews constituted the demographic presence in Yathrib (now Madinah): Banu Qainuqua‘, allies of Al-Khazraj tribe, Banu An-Nadir and Banu Quraizah who allied Al-Aws and inhabited the suburbs of Madinah.
Naturally they held the new changes with abhorrence and were terribly hateful to them, simply because the Messenger of Allâh was of a different race, and this point was in itself too repugnant for them to reconcile with. Second, Islam came to brabout a spirit of rapport, to terminate the state of enmity and hatred, and to establish a social regime based on denunciation of the prohibited and promotion of the allowed. Adherence to these canons of life implied paving the way for an Arab unity that could work to the prejudice of the Jews and their interests at both the social and economic levels; the Arab tribes would then try to restore their wealth and land misappropriated by the Jews through usurious practices.
The Jews of course deeply considered all these things ever since they had known that the Islamic Call would try to settle in Yathrib, and it was no surprise to discover that they harboured the most enmity and hatred to Islam and the Messenger (Peace be upon him) even though they did not have the courage to uncover their feelings in the beginning.
The following incident could attest clearly to that abominable antipathy that the Jews harboured towards the new political and religious changes that came to stamp the life of Madinah. Ibn Ishaq, on the authority of the Mother of believers Safiyah (May Allah be pleased her) narrated: Safiyah, daughter of Huyayi bin Akhtab said: I was the closest child to my father and my uncle Abi Yasir’s heart. Whenever they saw me with a child of theirs, they should pamper me so tenderly to the exclusion of anyone else. However, with the advent of the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) and setting in Quba’ with Bani ‘Amr bin ‘Awf, my father, Huyayi bin Akhtab and my uncle Abu Yasir bin Akhtab went to see him and did not return until sunset when they came back walking lazily and fully dejected. I, as usually, hurried to meet them smiling, but they would not turn to me for the grief that caught them. I heard my uncle Abu Yasir say to Ubai and Huyayi: “Is it really he [i.e. Muhammad (Peace be upon him)]?” The former said: “It is he, I swear by Allâh!” “Did you really recognize him?” they asked. He answered: “Yes, and my heart is burning with enmity towards him”
An interesting story that took place on the first day, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) stepped in Madinah, could be quoted to illustrate the mental disturbance and deep anxiety that beset the Jews. ‘Abdullah bin Salam, the most learned rabbi among the Jews came to see the Prophet (Peace be upon him) when he arrived, and asked him certain questions to ascertain his real Prophethood. No sooner did he hear the Prophet’s answers than he embraced Islam, but added that if his people knew of his Islamization they would advance false arguments against me. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) sent for some Jews and asked them about ‘Abdullah bin Salam, they testified to his scholarly aptitude and virtuous standing. Here it was divulged to them that he had embraced Islam and on the spot, they imparted categorically opposite testimonies and described him as the most evil of all evils. In another narration ‘Abdullah bin Salam said, “O Jews! Be Allâh fearing. By Allâh, the only One, you know that he is the Messenger of Allâh sent to people with the Truth.” They replied, “You are lying.” ... That was the Prophet’s first experience with the Jews.
That was the demo-political picture within Madinah. Five hundred kilometres away in Makkah, there still lay another source of detrimental threat, the archenemy of Islam, Quraish. For ten years, while at the mercy of Quraish, the Muslims were subjected to all sorts of terrorism, boycott, harassment and starvation coupled by a large scale painstaking psychological war and aggressive organized propaganda. When they had emigrated to Madinah, their land, wealth and property were seized, wives detained and the socially humble in rank brutally tortured. Quraish also schemed and made attempts on the life of the first figure of the Call, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) . Due to their acknowledged temporal leadership and religious supremacy among the pagan Arabs, given the custodianship of the Sacred Sanctuary, the Quraishites spared no effort in enticing the Arabians against Madinah and boycotting the Madinese socially and economically. To quote Muhammad Al-Ghazali: “A state of war virtually existed between the Makkan tyrants and the Muslims in their abode. It is foolish to blame the Muslims for the horrible consequences that were bound to ensue in the light of that long-standing feud.”
The Muslims in Madinah were completely eligible then to confiscate the wealth of those tyrants, mete out for them exemplary punishment and bring twofold retaliation on them in order to deter them from committing any folly against the Muslims and their sanctities.
That was a resume of the major problems that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had to face, and the complicated issues he was supposed to resolve.
In full acknowledgment, we could safely say that he quite honestly shouldered the responsibilities of Messengership, and cleverly discharged the liabilities of both temporal and religious leadership in Madinah. He accorded to everyone his due portion whether of mercy or punishment, with the former usually seasoning the latter in the overall process of establishing Islam on firm grounds among its faithful adherents.