Buildings of the Prophet's Mosque
we have seen that the prophet's camel stopped in the courtyard of sahl and suhayl. the prophet bought the land in order to build his mosque there. while the mosque was being erected, he stayed in the house of abu ayyub khalid ibn zayd al ansari. in the construction of the mosque, muhammad worked with his own hands as did the muslims, whether muhajirun or ansar. when the mosque was completed, they built on one side of it living quarters for the prophet. these operations did not over-tax anyone, for the two structures were utterly simple and economical. the mosque consisted of a vast courtyard whose four walls were built out of bricks and mud. a part of it was covered with a ceiling made from date trunks and leaves. another part was devoted to shelter the poor who had no home at all. the mosque was not lit during the night except for an hour at the time of the night prayer. at that time some straw was burned for light. thus it continued to be for nine years, after which lamps were attached to the tree trunks on which stood the ceiling. the living quarters of the prophet were no more luxurious than the mosque although they had to be more closed in order to give a measure of privacy.
upon completion of the building, muhammad left the house of abu ayyub and moved into the new quarters. he began to think of this new life which he had just initiated and the wide gate it opened for his mission. the various tribes and clans of this city were already competing with one another; and they differed among themselves in ways and for reasons unknown to any makkan. yet it was equally obvious that they all longed for peace and freedom from the differences and hostilities which had torn them apart in the past. moreover, they were ambitious for and willing to build a peaceful future capable of greater prestige and prosperity than makkah had ever enjoyed. that is not to say that these matters concerned muhammad in the least. rather, his concern, whether immediate or ultimate, was the conveyance of the message god had entrusted to him. the people of makkah had resisted that message with every weapon they knew, and their hostility prevented its light from shining in the hearts of most men. the injury and harm the quraysh were wont to inflict upon anyone who ventured into the new faith was sufficient to prevent conversion of those who were not yet convinced of its truth and value. hence it was a cardinal need that muslims as well as others feel certain that whoever followed the new guidance and entered into the religion of god was absolutely secure against attack. this precaution was necessary in order to confirm the believers in their faith and to enable the weak, the fearful, and the hesitant to enter into the faith with confidence. this consideration preoccupied muhammad as he moved to the security of his new home in yathrib. in the years to follow, it constituted the cornerstone of his policy. all biographies have emphasized this orientation of muhammad's policies. at the time, he thought of neither property, nor wealth, nor trade, but only of realizing the security of his followers and their right to worship as they pleased on an equal footing with men of other faiths. it was absolutely necessary that the muslim, the jew, and the christian have an equal opportunity in their exercise of religious freedom as well as in their freedom to hold different opinions and to preach their own faiths. only such freedom can guarantee victory for the truth and progress of the world toward perfection in the higher unity of mankind. every war against this freedom furthers the cause of falsehood. every limitation of it gives power to the forces of darkness to cut off the light shining within the soul calling man to unity with mankind and the world to an eternal bond of harmony and love instead of alienation, war, and extinction.