The Prophet's Biography - nabi muhammad 7

The Prophet's Biography - nabi muhammad

7

REPERCUSSIONS OF ABRAHA'S FAILURE

When God turned back the Abyssinians from Makkah, crushed and humbled, and inflicted His punishment upon them, the Arabs, naturally, looked up to the Quraysh in great respect. They said: "Verily, these are the people of God: God defeated their enemy—and they did not have even to fight the assailants." The esteem of the people for the Ka'bah naturally increased strengthening their conviction in its sanctity. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, p.57)

It was undoubtedly a miracle; a sign of the advent of a Prophet (r) who was to cleanse the Ka'bah of its contamination of idols. It was an indication that the honour of the Ka'bah was to rise with the final dispensation to be brought by him. One could say that the incident foretold the advent of the great Prophet (r).

The Arabians attached too much importance, and rightly too, to this great event. They instituted a new calendar from the date of its occurrence. Accordingly, we find in their writings such references as that a certain event took place in the year of Elephant or that such and such persons were born in that year or that a certain incident came to pass so many years after the Year of Elephant. This year of miracle was 570 A.D.

 

 

The Metropolis

 

Historical records, collections of pre-Islamic poetry, and what is known of the habits, customs, norms and traditions of the Arabians show that the people of Makkah had already been drawn into the stream of urban culture from their earlier rural, nomadic existence.

The Qur'aan describes the city as 'the Mother of towns'.

"And thus we have inspired in thee a Lecture in Arabic, that You may warn the mother-town and those around it, and may warn of a day of assembling whereof there is no doubt. A host will be in the Garden and a host of them in the Flame". [Qur'aan 42:7]

 

At another place Makkah is designated as the 'land made safe'.

"By the fig and the olive, by Mount Sinai, and by this land made safe". [Qur'aan 95:1-3]

 

The Qur'aan also calls it a city.

"Nay I swear by this city— And You art an indeweller of this city". [Qur'aan 90:1-2]

Makkah had long passed from nomadic barbarism to the stage of urban civilization by the middle of the fifth century. The city was ruled by a confederacy based on mutual cooperation, unity of purpose and a general consensus on the division of administrative and civil functions between self governing clans, and this system had already been brought into existence by Qusayy b. Kilab. Prophet Muhammed (r) being fifth in the line of succession to Qusayy b. Kilab, the latter can be placed in the middle of the fifth century.

Makkah, thinly populated in the beginning, was located between the two hills called Jabl Abu Qubays (adjacent to Mount Safa) and Jabl Ahmar, known as 'Araf during the pre-lslamic days, opposite the valley of Quaqiq'an. The population of the town increased gradually owing partly to the reverence paid to the Ka'bah and the regardful position of its priests and attendants, and partly because of the peace prevailing in the vicinity of the sanctuary. The tents and shacks had given place to houses made of mud and stones and the habitation had spread over the hillocks and low-lying valleys around the Ka'bah. At the outset the people living in Makkah abstained from constructing even their housetops in a rectangular shape like the Ka'bah since they considered it to be a sign of disrespect to the House of God, but gradually the ideas changed; still, they kept the height of their houses lower than that of that Ka'bah. As related by certain persons, the houses were initially made in a circular shape as a mark of respect to the Ka'bah. The first rectangular house, reported to have been built by Humaid Bin Zuhair, was looked upon with disfavor by the Quraysh.

The chiefs and other well-to-do persons among the Quraysh usually built their houses of stones and had many rooms in them, with two doors on the opposite sides, so that the womenfolk did not feel inconvenience in the presence of guests.

 

RECONSTRUCTION OF MAKKAH

Qusayy b. Kilab had played a leading role in the reconstruction and expansion of Makkah. The Quraysh who had been dispersed over a wide area, were brought together by him in the valley of Makkah. He allocated areas for settlement of different families and encouraged them to construct their houses in the specified localities. The successors of Qusayy continued to consolidate the living quarters and to allocate spare lands to new families coming into Makkah. The process continued peacefully for a long time with the result that the habitations of the Quraysh and their confederate clans grew up making Makkah a flourishing city.

 

THE CITY STATE

Qusayy b. Kilab and his had assumed a commanding position over the city and its inhabitants. They were the custodians of the Ka'bah, had the privilege of Saqayah or watering the pilgrims and arranging the annual feast, presided over the meetings of the House of Assembly (Dar-al-Nadwa) and handed out war banners.

Qusayy b. Kilab had built the House of Assembly close to the Ka'bah with one of its doors leading to the sanctuary. It was used both as a living quarter by Qusayy and the rendezvous for discussing all matters of common weal by the Quraysh. No man or woman got married, no discussion on any important matter was held, no declaration of war was made and no sheet of cloth was cast on the head (104) of any girl reaching marriageable age except in this house. Qusayy's authority during his life and after his death was deemed sacrosanct like religious injunctions which could not be violated by anybody. The meetings of the House of Assembly could be attended only by the Quraysh and their confederate tribesmen, that is, those belonging to Hashim, Umayya, Makhzum, Jomah, Sahm, Taym, 'Adiy, Asad, Naufal and Zuhra, whatever be their age, while people of other tribes not below the age of forty years were allowed to participate in its meetings.

After the death of Qusayy, the offices held by him were divided between different families. Banu Hashim were given the right of watering the pilgrims; the standard of Quraysh called 'Aqab (Lit. Eagle) went to Banu Umayya; Bani Naufal were allocated Rifada; Banu 'Abdul-Dar were assigned priesthood, wardenship of the Ka'bah and the standard of war; and Banu Asad held the charge of the House of Assembly. These families of the Quraysh used to entrust these responsibilities to the notable persons belonging to their families.

Thus, Abu Bakr (t), who came from Banu Taym, was responsible for realizing blood-money, fines and gratuity; Khalid (t) of Banu Makhzum held charge of the apparatus of war kept in a tent during the peace-time and on the horseback during battles; 'Umar b. al-Khattab (t) was sent as the envoy of Quraysh to other tribes with whom they intended to measure swords or where a tribe bragging of its superiority wanted the issue to be decided by a duel; Safwan b. Umaayah of Bani Jomah played at the dice which was deemed essential before undertaking any important task; and, Harith b. Qays was liable to perform all administrative business besides being the custodian of offerings to the idols kept in the Ka'bah. The duties allocated to these persons were hereditary offices held earlier by their forefathers.

 

COMMERCIAL OPERATIONS

The Quraysh of Makkah used to fit out two commercial Caravans, one to Syria during the summer and the other to Yemen during the winter season. The four months of Hajj, that is, Rajab, Dhul-Q'ada, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, were deemed sacred when it was not lawful to engage in hostilities. During these months the precincts of the Holy Temple and the open place besides it were utilized as a trade centre to which people from distant places came for transacting business. All the necessaries required by the Arabs were easily available in this market of Makkah. The stores for the sale of various commodities, located in different lanes and byways, mentioned by the historians, tend to show the economic and cultural growth of Makkah. The vendors of attars had their stalls in a separate bylane and so were the shops of fruit-sellers, barbers, grocers, fresh dates and other wares and trades localized in different alleys. A number of these markets were spacious enough, as, for example, the market set apart for food-grains was well-stocked with wheat, ghee (clarified butter), honey and similar other commodities. All these articles were brought by trading caravans. To cite an instance, wheat was brought to Makkah from Yamama. Similarly, cloth and shoe stores had separate quarters allocated to them in the market.

Makkah had also a few meeting places where carefree young men used to come together for diversion and pastime. Those who were prosperous and accustomed to live high, spent the winter in Makkah and the summer in Ta'if. There were even some smart young men known for their costly and trim dresses costing several hundred dirhams.

Makkah was the centre of a lucrative trade transacting business on a large scale. Its merchants convoyed caravans to different countries in Asia and Africa and imported almost everything of necessity and costly wares marketable in Arabia. They usually brought resin, ivory, gold and ebony from Africa; hide, incense, frankincense, spices, sandal-wood and saffron from Yemen; different oils and food-grains, amour, silk and wines from Egypt and Syria; cloth from Iraq: and gold, tin, precious stones and ivory from India. The wealYour merchants of Makkah sometimes presented the products of their city, of which the most valued were leather products, to the kings and nobles of other countries. When the Quraysh sent 'Abdullah b. Abu Rabl'a and 'Amr b. al-'As to Abyssinia to bring back the Muslim fugitives, they sent with them leather goods of Makkah as gifts to Negus and his generals.

Women also took part in commercial undertakings and fitted out their own caravans bound for Syria and other countries. Khadija bint Khuwaylid and Hanzaliya, mother of Abu Jahl, were two merchant women of dignity and wealth. The following verse of the Qur'an attests the freedom of women to ply a trade.

"Unto men a fortune from that which they have earned, and unto women a fortune from that which they have earned." [Qur'aan 4:32]

 

Like other advanced nations of the then world, the commercially minded citizens of Makkah had based their economy on commerce for which they sent out caravans in different directions, organized stock markets and created favorable conditions in the home market for the visiting tourists and traders. This helped to increase fame and dignity of Makkah as a religious centre and contributed in no mean measure to the prosperity of the city. Everything required by the people of Makkah, whether a necessity or a luxury, reached their hands because of the city's commercial importance. This fact finds a reference in these verses of the Qur'aan:

"So let them worship the Lord of this House, Who hath fed them against hunger, And hath made them safe from fear" [Qur'aan 106:3-5]

 

ECONOMIC CONDITIONS, WEIGHTS AND MEASURES

Makkah was thus the chief centre of business in Arabia and its citizens were prosperous and wealthy. The caravan of the Quraysh, involved in the battle of Badr while returning from Syria, consisted of a thousand camels and carried merchandise worth 50,000 dinars.

Both Byzantine and Sasanian currencies, known as dirham and dinar, were in general use in Makkah and other parts of the Peninsula. Dirham was of two kinds: one of it was an Iranian coin known to the Arabs bagliyah and sauda’-I-damiyah, and the other was a Byzantine coin (Greek-drachme) which was called tabriyah and bazantiniyah. These were silver coins and therefore instead of using them as units of coinage, the Arabs reckoned their values according to their weights. The standard weight of dirham, according to the doctors of lslamic Shari'ah, is equal to fifty-five grains of barley and ten dirhams are equivalent in weight to seven mithqals of gold. One mithqal of pure gold is, however, according to Ibn Khaldun, equal to the weight of seventy-two grains of barley. Doctors of law unanimously agree with the weight given by Ibn Khaldun.

The coins in current use during the time of the Prophet (r) were generally silver coins. 'Ata states that the coins in general use during the period were not gold but silver coins. (Ibn Abi Sha'iba, Vol. 3, p.222)

Dinar was a gold coin familiar to the Arabs as the Roman (Byzantine) coin in circulation in Syria and Hijaz during the pre-Islamic and early Islamic period. It was minted in Byzantium with the image and name of the Emperor impressed on it as stated by Ibn 'Abd-ul-Bar in the Al-Tamhid. Old Arabic manuscripts mention the Latin denarius aureus as the Byzantine coin (synonymous with the post-Constantine sol dus) which is stated to be the name of a coin still a unit of currency in Yugoslavia. The New Testament, too, mentions denarius at several places. Dinar was considered to have the average weight of one mithqal, which, as stated above, was equivalent to seventy-two grains of barley. It is generally believed that the weight standard of the dinar was maintained from the pre-Islamic days down to the 4th century of the Hijrah. Da'iratul Ma'arif Islamiyah says that the Byzantine denarius weighed 425 grams and hence, according to the Orientalist Zambawar, the mithqal of Makkah was also of 425 grams. The ratio of weight between dirham and dinar was 7:lO and the former weighed seven-tenths of a mithqal.

The par value of the dinar, deduced from the hadeeth, fiqah and historical literature, was equivalent to ten dirhams. 'Amr b. Shuyeb, as quoted in the Sunan Abu Dawud, relates: "The blood money during the time of the Prophet (r) was 800 dinars or 8,000 dirhams, which was followed by the companions of the Prophet (y), until the entire Muslim community unanimously agreed to retain it." The authentic ahadeeth fix the nisab or the amount of property upon which Zakat is due, in terms of dirham, at 20 dinars. This rule upheld by a consensus of the doctors of law goes to show that during the earlier period of Islamic era and even before it, a dinar was deemed to have a par value of ten dirhams or other coins equivalent to them.

Imam Malik says in the Muwatta that 'the accepted rule, without any difference of opinion, is that zakat is due on 20 dinars or 200 dirhams'. The weights and measures in general use in those days were Saa', mudd, ratal, ooqiyah and mithqal to which a few more were added latter on. The Arabs also possessed knowledge of arithmetic, for, it is evident, that the Qur'aan had relied on their ability to compute the shares of the legatees in promulgating the Islamic law of inheritance.

 

PROSPEROUS FAMILIES OF QURAYSH

Bani Umayya and Bani Makhzum were the two prominent families of the Quraysh favored by the stroke of luck. Walid b. al-Mughira, 'Abdul 'Uzza (Abu Lahab), Abu Uhayha b. Sa'eed b. al-'As b. Umayya (who had a share of 30,000 dinars in the caravan of Abu Sufyan) and 'Abd b. Abdul Rabi'a al-Makhzum had made good fortunes. 'Abdullah b. Jad'an of Banu Taym was also one of the wealthiest persons of Makkah who used to drink water in a cup of gold and maintained a public kitchen for providing food to every poor and beggar. 'Abbaas Ibn 'Abdul-Muttalib was another man abounding in riches who spent lavishly on the indigent and the needy and lent money at interest in Makkah. During his farewell Pilgrimage when the Prophet (r) abolished usurious transactions, he declared: "The first usury I abolish today is that of 'Abbaas b. 'Abdul Muttalib".

Makkah had also men rolling in riches whose well-furnished drawing rooms were the rendezvous of the elite of the Quraysh who rejoiced in the pleasures of wine, love and romance.

The chiefs of the Quraysh usually had their sittings in front of the Ka'bah in which prominent poets of pre-Islamic days, such as, Labid, recited their poems. It was here that 'Abdul Muttalib used to have his gatherings and, as they say, his sons dared not take their seats around him until their father had arrived.



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Section : The Biography of the Prophet muhammad
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Date : 4/5/2010
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