During the Perak-level Maal Hijrah celebration held at the Amanjaya Convention Centre at Casuarina@Meru, Ipoh on Sunday, Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah urged Muslims to embrace moderation and be open-minded in order to forge ahead as a progressive and modern society.
THE Hijrah (Migration) episode contains many implicit philosophies beyond the explicit. The episode is a clear and living example on the obedience and willingness of a Prophet to uphold a heavy responsibility to strive and think of the most effective methods and strategies to carry out the commands of the Almighty to spread the teachings of Islam and to manage the lives of man and all creations based on His revelations.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. The Hijrah was the first step in forging the success of the Muslim ummah under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad towards creating a new civilisation and translating the divine revelations into reality with the setting up of the City State of Madinah.
Four core aspects are highlighted in the Islamic Government of Madinah. First, organisation and management; second, education and research, third, consolidation of land and its uses and fourth, cooperation and self-reliance.
A climber who reaches the peak of a high mountain is one who accurately reads every topographical line charted on a map and understands every bend, every challenge, covering aspects of height and gradient, wind speed, climate and the surrounding life.
A leader successful in handling challenges is one who is capable of interpreting current scenarios accurately and introducing relevant prescriptions. During the Hijrah, Prophet Muhammad faced a new environment, a new culture, new populace.
Among his early actions when the Prophet arrived in Madinah was to carry out a population census that was not limited to the number of residents in terms of gender, race and age but also covering manpower, education strength, literacy rate and religious beliefs. The data was used as the basis to plan and develop a system and pattern of state administration.
In drawing up his formula of administration, accurate and detailed information, particularly in the population profile, was an important component so that the programme meets the needs and suited to the idealism, culture, requirements, composition and population spread of the population. Clearly, Prophet Muhammad developed an administration and governance that was people-centric.
Madinah then had only about 10,000 people. The Muslims were a minority; a combination of the Medinan Ansar and the Meccan Muhajirin who made up only several hundred people. Almost 50% of the population of Madinah were of Jewish descent that had split into 10 tribes; while the Arabs were divided into 12 caravan tribes. Madinah’s Arab population was not as well-endowed as the Arab Quraisy of Mecca who were wealthy, had mastered trade and had an orderly political structure.
In essence, the first Islamic State in Madinah was built on the support of people of various religions, various races, various groups, various tribes with the minority Muslims given the trust to helm the administration. This came about through the wisdom of Prophet Muhammad in forging cooperation and unity among people of different faiths, religious beliefs, historical background, economic status, racial groups and tribes.
The Prophet fostered harmony, cultivated mutual respect and tolerance to develop a productive working relationship besides drafting strategic defence responsibilities to ward off enemies.
The Madinah Charter was the world’s first written constitution, containing 52 Articles on the principle of “One Administration – One Legislation” which placed Prophet Muhammad as the supreme judicial, legislative and executive authority even while the Prophet placed himself as a servant and Messenger of Allah with the strong conviction that Allah is the all-powerful authority.
Scholars concluded that the Madinah Charter is composed of two components. The first component is related to inter-relations among Muslims, which was achieved within the first year of Hijrah and stipulated in Articles 1 to 23. The second component, reached after the success of the Muslim army in the Battle of Badar, touched on the relationship between the Muslims and the Jews. The success of the Muslims in the Battle of Badar became the shifting point for the Jewish community to recognise the Muslims. The Battle of Badar depicted the strength of the Muslim ummah, delegating them a status of being admired, feared and respected, which prompted the Jews to sign a collaboration treaty with the Muslims that called for an alliance and a protection pact.
The Madinah Charter guaranteed freedom of religion to non-Muslims. For a City-State with a population of 10,000 and relatively free of any complex issues, the Madinah Charter was detailed and comprehensive. It encompassed the spirit of loyalty, cooperation, mutual respect, and the promise of justice and equal protection for all residents, notwithstanding their religious, racial and tribal differences.
What is the DNA strength in the leadership of Prophet Muhammad that led to the setting up of the Islamic State? The answer lies in the acceptance of leadership and the wisdom of the leader. The success of moving people to migrate, followed by the setting up of the Madinah City State, stemmed from the wisdom of a great leader who showed a sincere and honest intention as well as determination and a high sense of integrity, topped by a big vision; supported by companions who also had qualities of sincerity, honesty and integrity, and who were willing to sacrifice their possessions, even their lives, to fulfil the commands of the Almighty.
What is the secret behind the strength of the ummah, who spread the light of Islam to all parts of the world? Their strength was built upon open minds, willingness to accept renewal – a readiness to carry out change – ready to carry out orders and steadfast in defending the Islamic teachings.
The Muslim ummah at that time were magnanimous, broad-minded, moderate and self-confident. They rejected extremist voices, accepted diversity, respected differences and were not homogenic. Those with different views and cultures were not hastily punished, discriminated and sidelined. Rather, each dispute was handled rationally – through dialogue, in line with finding the light of truth; thereby creating a strength in the ummah that was united and cohesive, possessing valour and energetic to spread Islam and raising the dignity of the ummah.
The Hijrah took place in the year 622. Prophet Muhammad helmed the Islamic administration of Madinah till his death in 632. In the 10 years of his administration, almost every part of the Arabian Peninsula was under Islamic rule.
After his death, Islam continued to spread throughout the world and brought many developments in pre-medieval and medieval times. The greatness of Islamic leadership was not limited to religious pursuits. During the administration of Sayidina Umar Al-Khattab, a civil engineering department was set up. It made a feasibility study of a canal connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, similar to the Suez Canal built in 1859. The proposal was not carried out due to safety factors. Instead, the 69-mile “Ameer-ul-Mu’meneen” Canal was completed in six months, connecting the River Nile to the Red Sea.
For 13 centuries, between the years 632 and 1924, Islam spread rapidly and Muslims were united under one administration. Unfortunately, ensuing power struggles among the ummah weakened the leadership. The Islamic Caliphate system collapsed because parties obsessed with authority were willing to do anything to gain and preserve power. Loyalty to the commands of the Almighty and the interests of the ummah were cast aside. From fulfilling the demands of the revelations to tribal and individual interests, the unity factor that was the backbone of the ummah’s political strength was shattered. This gradually opened a window for Western powers to enter. Slowly and gradually elements of secularism replaced principles and values of Islam in the administration of the ummah.
The ummah split – divided among leaders who were rivals and enemies with each other. The precious pearl of universal unity of the ummah was finally lost. The ummah lost its platform of unity, which once placed them in a position of greatness. Today, unity of the ummah is seen only when they gather for the umrah and Haj in Mecca. In August 1969, the ummah throughout the world was shocked with the tragic arson at the Al-Aqsa mosque. Two months later in October, 24 Muslim countries met in Rabat. In March 1970, Foreign Ministers of Islamic countries gathered in Jeddah to form the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), which now has 56 Muslim countries as its members. After 44 years of the setting-up of the OIC, the unity of the ummah remains an illusion – a dream to return to the glory days of Islam’s golden era.
The ummah should not repeat its past mistakes that were paid with a high cost due to fear or being blocked from making the Hijrah from the agriculture to industrial era; setting up barriers, fencing the Muslim ummah from being exposed to new technology. As a result, the fourth core aspect of the Islamic State of Madinah, which is self-reliance, cannot be met, causing a failure to optimise the source of wealth from the Almighty. Islamic countries own two-thirds of the world’s oil, produces two-thirds of the world’s palm oil, 70% of the world’s rubber, 67% of the world’s spices, 75% of the world’s jute, and 50% of the world’s phosphate and tin.
In addition, Islamic countries are among the world’s biggest producers of cotton, tea, coffee, uranium, manganese, cobalt and other minerals. Unfortunately, there is failure to use the wealth endowed by the Almighty to uplift the dignity of Muslim countries to the peak of excellence and for the ummah to be at the peak of glory.
The Hijrah was pioneered by Prophet Muhammad. Undertaking the Hijrah is a Sunnah. Hijrah is not the final aim. Every day last year from 1 Muharram 1435 to 1 Muharram 1436, a technological Hijrah had taken place. People from all backgrounds with ideas and aspirations are connected through electronic technology, which has successfully encompassed the functions of a computer, GPS, camera, video, projector, television, voice recorder and various functions in one small mobile phone. The Ericsson company predicts that by 2017, the coverage of mobile Internet will be enjoyed by 85% of the world’s population.
The global world today is a world of information technology. The world economy today is an economy that hinges on knowledge. Although at this point 36% of the global labour force is still in agriculture, they only contribute 6% to the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) compared to 31% contributed by the industrial sector and 63% by the services sector. In the past year, US$300mil worth of transactions took place every minute online. The number of users engaging in online transactions continues to rise. It is estimated that online transactions will rise from US$1.5 trillion in 2013 to US$3.2 trillion in 2017.
In 1804, the world’s population totalled one billion people, it rose to two billion in 1927, six billion in 1999 and 7.2 billion in 2013; it is estimated to rise to 9.6 billion by 2050. The change in demography and population density is increasing in terms of age structure, life expectancy and location of habitation. Throughout the world, villages are becoming lonely places, urban migration is happening on a large scale, towns and cities are becoming densely populated. The population is rising whereas resources are decreasing to support the needs, especially energy, water and food. The need for food and water resources have been placed on the global security agenda. Immediate renewable measures are urgently needed for implementation in the agriculture and food production sectors and the production of food to balance supply with demand, in addition to ensuring that the world’s ecology is preserved as well as possible and not destroyed through unsustainable and destructive development planning.
The demographic change taking place and the technology that is occurring at a rapid pace do not only bring new opportunities but new challenges. The irony is that, while the world’s societies are seen as connected through communication technology, intolerance is increasingly bubbling, creating fanatical groups and chauvinists in the name of religion, race and groups who are acting in an extreme manner, creating violent terrorist movements – who are militant, creating more conflict – more confrontation between religion, sect, race and group.
Transparency and openness are increasingly becoming norms. Human rights demands, the freedom of expression, the right to take part in politics in the name of democracy are erupting all over the world. The world is witnessing a mass movement that is rising, shifting from rhetoric to more radical actions, challenging the political, economic and social systems in every country. Issues raised have a big potential to create conflict and a new format revolution, it has and is happening in several countries and could arrive on the shores of many more.
The old governing order is losing its currency. The new order demands skill by leaders in handling contradictions and inclusivity to allow engagement. It is a major challenge to all leaders, all governments and all countries worldwide. The challenge is heavier because the number of youths in society is rising; they comprise those who are more educated, more exposed to information and they have no emotional bonds – sentimental ties to the past. This scenario demands the need for a Hijrah in the method of worldly and national governance.
The ummah today must appreciate the major lessons contained in the episode of the Hijrah. It did not end with the migration of Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Madinah. Hijrah must be taken as a source of inspiration to rouse man to cross new frontiers – to explore new regions, to innovate – to be creative. In facing the era of change, the big risk faced by the ummah is the excessively long delay to perform the Hijrah to the extent that it becomes too late.
May Allah bless us with light of His guidance so that we may find the right path and to give us strength and bravery to engage in a Hijrah to head in the path favoured by the Almighty.
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