Shaykh Muhammad Sa‘id Ramadan al-Bouti (رحمه الله) on the Madinan Constitution

We will not include the entire text of the agreement, which is quite lengthy. However, we have selected those articles which are of particular importance in shedding light upon the constitutional significance of the Islamic community and its newly founded state in Medina. What follows is a list of these articles presented in the order in which they appear in the original text:

 

One: The Muslims of Quraysh and Yathrib [Medina], and those who have followed them and fought together with them, are a single nation.

 

Two: All of these Muslims, regardless of their tribes of origin, shall retain their prior rights and commitments with respect to the payment and exaction of blood money, and they shall ransom their prisoner of wars in a manner which demonstrates a spirit of justice and equity among believers.

 

Three: The believers will be certain to provide anyone among them who is burdened with debts and who has many dependents with the ransom or blood money (which he is unable to pay).

 

Four: Those believers who hold God in awe shall stand opposed to anyone among them who commits an outrage or an injustice, or who seeks to obtain advantage for himself through wrongdoing, iniquity, aggression, or corruption among the believers; they shall stand opposed to such a  person even if he is one of their own offspring.

 

Five: No believer shall slay another believer on behalf of an unbeliever, nor shall he support any unbeliever against a believer.

 

Six: The peace agreements at which believers arrive shall apply to all of them without exception; if fighting is taking place for the sake of God and His religion, no believer shall conclude peace with the enemy without all other believers being included on an equal, fair basis.

 

Seven: God’s covenant of protection applies to all believers, from the least to the greatest, and the believers are, likewise, protectors and allies of one another.

 

Eight: It shall be unlawful for any believer who has acknowledged the validity of this agreement and who believes in God and the Last Day to support, protect, or provide lodging to a criminal; anyone who does so shall be under God’s curse and suffer His wrath on the Day of Judgement, with nothing to mitigate his guilt.

 

Nine: The Jews shall be responsible for their own expenses if they go to war (on their own) for any reason.

 

Ten: The Jews of Banī ‘Awf shall be considered a separate nation alongside that of the believers, with the Jews having their religion, and the Muslims theirs. Moreover, if anyone is guilty fo some crime or injustice, only the offender and his family shall perish.

 

Eleven: The Jews are responsible for their own upkeep, and the Muslims for theirs. However, they shall be committed to supporting one another should anyone wage war on those who have entered into this agreement.

 

Twelve: Should the parties to this agreement encounter any conflict or disagreement as a consequence of which they fear that their unity will be threatened, then the conflict shall be brought before God Almighty and Muhammad, the Messenger of God (صلى الله عليه وسلم).

 

Thirteen: Whoever leaves Medina and whoever stays therein shall be safe, except for those who committed some crime or injustice.

 

Fourteen: God Almighty is the Source of all truth and righteousness contained in this agreement, and He is the protector of all who are righteous and fear Him…

 

This constitution which the Messenger of God (صلى الله عليه وسلم) laid down by inspiration from his Lord, and which he dictated to his Companions, he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) then made the agreed-upon basis for relations among the Muslims and between the Muslims and their Jewish neighbours. Moreover, this provides clear evidence that from its earliest inception, the Islamic community was based upon comprehensive constitutional foundations, and that similarly, the Islamic state consisted, from the very start, of all the constitutional and administrative components which a state might require. These components form an essential foundation for the application of the rulings of Islamic law in society, since, as a whole, this law is based on the notion of the unity of the Islamic nation and on all organisational provisions with relevance thereto. There is no substructure upon which the rule of Islam and its relevant laws can be based unless the constitutional organisation established by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is, at the same time, part of the legal rulings of Islam itself.

 

Such considerations belie the arguments put forth by those who allege that Islam is nothing but a religion between the individual and his Lord which has nothing to do with the components of a state or a constitutional organisation. Such claims are an old trick, one to which the opponents of Islam and the chattels of Western imperialism resorted in the hope of circumscribing Islam lest it do its work in the various Islamic societies or gain sufficient power and influence to gain control over other corrupted societies. After all, the only means to achieve this aim is to ensure that Islam is not a state, but a religion characterised by abstract rites of worship rather than legislation and ordinances. Hence, although Islam is, in fact, both a religion and state, it must be turned into an entity incapable of fulfilling the latter function, even if the only way to do so is through lies and distortions. However, unfortunately for such foes of Islam, this ruse was soon foiled, and talk of it came to be viewed as unveiled, malicious nonsense.

[Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Sa‘id Ramadan al-Bouti (r), فقه السيرة النبوية مع موجز لتاريخ الخلافة الراشدة (Fiqh al-Sīrah al-Nabawīyyah ma‘a Mūjaz li Tārīkh al-Khilāfah al-Rāshidah), English Translation: The Jurisprudence of the Prophetic Biography & A Brief History of the Orthodox Caliphate, Dar al-Fikr, Damascus, 2006, pp. 301-304]

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