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  3. Nature of the Madinese

Nature of the Madinese

2821 2008/10/05 2024/05/18

a large number of orientalists have perceived these facts and realized their opposition to the said claim, although they did not expressly say so in their works. we are moved to accredit them with this realization despite their following the muslim historians in their general attribution to muhammad and the muhajirun of the intention to make war against makkah from the first days of residence in madinah. they point out that these early expeditions were, rather, intended as raids on the caravans to rob their goods, and they argue that this kind of robbery was embedded in the nature of the people of the desert and that the madinese were attracted by prospective booty to cooperate in violation of their pledge at al `aqabah. this is spurious reasoning, of course, and to be rejected outright. the people of madinah were not people of the desert living on robbery and raids. rather, like the people of makkah, they had other sources of income and were motivated the same way as all settled people who live on agriculture and trade. such people do not make war except for an extraordinary and stirring purpose. on the other hand, the muhajirun were entitled to seize quraysh goods in retaliation for the goods which the quraysh had seized from them. but they did not have recourse to such action before the battle of badr. this was not, therefore, the reason for those expeditions. besides, fighting had not yet been permitted in islam. neither muhammad nor his companions could have indulged in it for the nomadic purpose erroneously explained by the orientalists. fighting was permitted in islam, and carried out by muhammad and his companions, in order to stop their being persecuted for their faith and to have all the freedom they needed to call men to it. later, when we see the details and the proofs of this, it will become clear that in all these alliances muhammad's purpose was the consolidation of the defense of madinah. the objective was to remove madinah beyond any design the quraysh might have against its muslim inhabitants. muhammad could not have forgotten that the makkans once sought to extradite the muslims from abyssinia. at that time, muhammad did not see any objection at all to entering into a treaty of peace with quraysh. such a treaty would have stopped persecution, given him the freedom to call unto the new faith, and to witness for god unto all men.


threat to the jews

perhaps, too, by these expeditions and armed sorties, muhammad sought to warn the jews of madinah and the neighboring area. we have already seen how, upon muhammad's arrival at madinah, the jews hoped to bring him into alliance with them and how, after befriending him and pledging to honor his freedom to practice and preach the new religion, they had begun to oppose and plot against him. in fact, no sooner had muhammad settled down and the prospects of islam had begun to improve, than the jews, for their part, began their undeclared war against him. their opposition and hostility were never open. above all, they feared lest any harm might befall their trade; and, although they had fanned and fueled the fires of civil war in the past, they adeptly avoided every possible involvement. henceforth, their covenant with muhammad at least prevented them from any such open involvement; and they recoursed to every hidden way to instigate enmity and hostility between the muhajirun and ansar so as to revive the old hatreds between al aws and al khazraj by reminding them of the day of bu'ath in reciting the war poetry which had been composed on that occasion.


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