Yathrib or Medina was a place where there were conflicts among pagan and Jewish tribes for hundreds of years. Due to distinction in ideologies and disagreements, it resulted in massacres and battles such as ‘Battle-of-Bu’ath’ between clans. This was perceptible to all the clans of Medina, that the hatred and bloodshed will be endless, until a superior authority intervenes. Upon the agreement of 12 clans of Yathrib, Prophet Muhammad- The founder of Islam and leader, who was known for his righteousness and moral decisions, was invited to Medina from Mecca, with a motive to bring harmony between communities. Upon Muhammad’s Hijrah to Medina, in 622 C.E, he drafted ‘Dustūr-al-Madīnah’ or ‘The Constitution of Medina’. The document outlines a series of agreements and principles set for the believers and Muslims of Quraysh and other religious communities of Yathrib. The Charter provokes a pluralistic approach by Prophet, as he instructs responsibilities to Muslims and Jews of Medina, in order to bring them as ‘Umma-Wahida’ (one community).
The constitution comprises 47 clauses, and in the first segment of clauses, Muhammad addresses the believers of Allah, guiding them with his moral ideologies. While, the second segment of clauses are agreements set between Muslims and Jews that focus in resolving communal distress. The document commence by declaring the people of Medina and Muhammad’s followers from Mecca as “one-community (umma)” (clause-2), which evokes the message of companionship and unity, in the beginning of the constitution. In the Charter, Muhammad, while addressing the 8 significant tribes of medina, announces that each group is accountable for any offense committed by any of its members and also instructs to secure the rights of the prisoners, “every section shall redeem its prisoners with kindness and justice” (clauses 3-11), which exhibits prophet’s concern towards rights and justice of every being. Additionally, in clause 12.a), Muhammad states “Believers shall not leave anyone destitute among them by not paying bloodwit”, where he enlightens the believers to support debtors and deprived ones in the community, while guiding them to adapt the qualities of kindness and assistance. Moreover, the charter directs the believers to unite against rebellious ones and against every person who attempts to attain anything by force, “who seeks to spread injustice”, is culpable of sin, spreading hatred among believers (clause-13). While, prophet warns believers to not betray or kill each other for the sake of non-believers and reminded them that under god’s protection all believers are brothers and must protect one another with ethics and integrity (clauses 14-15).
Furthermore, the constitution in the second segment focuses on addressing inhabitants of Medina. The constitution enlightens several ethnic and cultural characteristics of Jews and attempts to bring in harmony and justice among the inhabitants Jews of Medina and emigrant Muslims of Mecca. Additionally, the constitution seeks to abolish the belief that Jews are superior community in Medina. As evident in clauses 24-31, the charter addressing the Jews of 8 clans of Medina, declares that Jews are part of umma along with the believers, “The Jews have their religion and Muslims have theirs” but both possess equal rights and respect. Later, constitution highlights the significance of loyalty and faithfulness towards each other and informs that Jews and Muslims must unite and shall mutually handle the action against anyone who attacks the followers of this charter, but ‘Jews and Muslims must bear their own expenses’ (Clause-37). This highlights Muhammad’s approach towards maintaining companionable relations between both communities. However, the clause-36 outlines regulation for Muslims that “None of them shall go out to war save permission of Muhammad”, which discloses the authority and responsibility of Muhammad as the leader for Muslims. Moreover, the further clauses impose regulations regarding security in Medina. The charter discusses that a woman should be protected only with the consent of her family, however the people of Medina were instructed not to provide any protection to Quraysh people or anyone who help them. This suggests the significance of protection in Medina, during 7th century. Likewise, in the clause-47, Prophet concludes that the one who is sinless and deserved ones must have protection whether he goes for fight or in stays in Medina, while god is the protector of pure hearted ones and Muhammad is his messenger.
The Constitution of Medina emphasized regulations ranging from resolving the disagreement between Jewish tribes to building a sense of fairness and unity among the inhabitants and migrants. Yet, author “Aaron Hughes” writes in his book ‘Muslim Identities’, that “It became increasingly clear to Muhammad…that some Jews of Medina would never accept his message” (Hughes-52), which could be because Muhammad was an Islamic prophet and some Jews may not desire him to be supremacy. However, Muhammad, as an authority attempted to create conviction between the people and eliminated religious differences by allowing every individual to practice their faith, establishing a pluralistic and optimistic mindset in Medina. With the constitution, Medina was anticipated to have communal harmony between Muslims and Jews, both living as umma and protecting each other.