Muhajeroon and Ansar: Can History Repeat Itself?
20 Dec, 2005
FEW MUSLIM scholars and historians disagree about the most important event in Islamic history. It was not the birth of Muhammad in the year 570 AD or even the start of his revelations in the year 610 AD. The majority of scholars will consider Muhammad's relocation to the northern city of Yathrib ( Hijra = migration) as the most remarkable turning point in Islamic history.
Certainly, this was the opinion of the early Muslims who lived and had witnessed the event about 1400 years ago. When the second Khalifa Omar wanted to chose a starting point for the new Islamic calendar (known as Hijri calendar) he did not chose the year when Muhammad was born or the year when he started his call for Islam. Omar and fellow Muslims decided on the year 622 AD because they knew very well that REAL ISLAM only started after Hijra.
Muhammad was not the first or the last Arab to claim to be a prophet. A Few 'prophets' actually co-existed with him in different parts of Arabia. Musailama (Muhammad called him the liar) was a successful prophet in his tribe. He had preceded Muhammad by few years. Another interesting prophet was a lady (what a pity, it could have been a first for the Arabs, perhaps) whose name was Sijah. Musailama and Sijah, both attracted all their tribes as their followers--something Muhammad could only achieve after twenty years of brutal force and intimidation. Both Musailama and Sijah were not expansionists and they were only interested to rule and preach quietly among their own tribes. But the refusal by this duo to accept Islam resulted in the inevitable confrontation between them and Muhammad. Muhammad was the only prophet warlord with an organized army and a vision to fight and rule.
The Arabs of Mecca
The Meccan Arabs belonged to a tribe called Quraysh. They knew Muhammad very well since he was a child. When Muhammad claimed to be a prophet they did what any civilized society would do: they asked him for evidence of his claim of preophethood. All what Muhammad could provide were a few verses of what later became known to be the Quran. The Arabs of Mecca were the masters of the Arabic language and were deeply involved in the theology of the time as their city was the centre for the various religions practiced in Arabia in the seventh century. Quraysh looked at the evidence produced by Muhammad and were not impressed. They did not accept those verses as a divine proof and decided to reject Muhammad's claim. They were not biased or prejudiced and were happy to consider the matter seriously in a fair manner; but when they examined the evidence they knew it is a forgery and so rejected Muhammad's assertion.
Muhammad tried his luck with other tribes with further disappointments; He even went to the neighbouring city of Taif with no success at all. His Islamic movement was in deep trouble and was set to die. In a rescue attempt he asked those who followed him to seek asylum in Abyssinia which was ruled by a Christian king. In preparation for this journey Allah revealed some of the best verses about Christianity which helped to impress the Christian king. This worked well and Muhammad learned how to use Allah's revelations to his best advantage to advance his career. In Abyssinia some of Muhammad's followers converted to Christianity and stayed there.
Muhammad spent thirteen years in Mecca propagating Islam with very little success, as only a few dozens of Arabs, mostly his friends and relatives, joined him. His movement was set to die just like many other movements before him. However, his fortune changed dramatically when he met a group of Arabs belonging to the tribes of Aws and Khazraj who live in the northern city of Yathrib. These Arabs agreed to join Islam and invited Muhammad and his small number of followers to live with them in their city. After Muhammad had immigrated to Yathrib in the year 622 A.D, the city was renamed as Medina.
The Arabs of Medina
The generosity of Medina Arabs to Muhammad and his companions was unparalleled. Their hospitality covered all his needs: from shelter to food and more importantly, the moral support he needed so badly. Both tribes of Medina (Aws and Khazraj) accepted Islam which quickly doubled the number of Muhammad's followers.
In the beginning, Muhammad just enjoyed the hospitality and was peaceful with everyone including the Medina's Jewish tribes. The Medina Arabs were now called Al-Ansar, which means the supporters, while Muhammad's Meccan companions were called Al-Muhajeroon, which means the immigrants.
Muhammad's only disappointment came from the Jewish tribes in Medina. He hoped that after he had included in the Quran some of the Old Testament stories and had prescribed in Islam some of their practices, he would be accepted by the Jews. But to his chagrin, the Jews of Medina denied Muhammad the recognition he desperately wanted. The Jews were known in Arabia as the people of the book and the ones who knew all about prophets. Therefore, their opinion about him was extremely important for his prophetic image. But the rejection from the Jews was very painful and insulting to Muhammad, and he could never forgive them for their insolence.
Muhammad never really cared much about Al-Ansar and there are reasons to believe that he even looked down on them. When Muhammad started to launch his aggressive wars (Ghazwas) he gave clear priorities to his companions from Mecca in leadership and the war booties. This occasionally triggered some bad feelings among Al-Ansar which Muhammad dealt with very efficiently by revealing the latest Quranic verses in support of his actions, a tactic that Muhammad used regularly to quiet any criticism to his policies. The rest of Al-Muhajeroon too, concurred fully with Muhammad's views of Al Ansar and used them in the same way he did.
Two breeds of Arabs
It is interesting to note the difference in the approach adopted by the Meccan and the Medina Arabs towards Muhammad. The Arabs of Mecca had known him since his birth and had gone through the thirteen years of his prophetic claims, which they had already rejected steadfastly. They called him anything from a liar to a mad man to a poet but never called him a prophet. They heard the verses he produced to support his claim and they said we produced better verses to refute his claims! They heard the Quranic stories and said they had heard this before! Muhammad was getting with them nowhere.
On the other hand, the Arabs of Medina believed Muhammad without asking any questions and without even seeing the man or hearing the Quran! Only a few of their tribesmen met Muhammad during their Hajj to Mecca and the rest just followed. They gave Muhammad more than he could dream of. They allowed him and his group in their city and provided them with food, shelter and protection which he dearly needed. Now look at how Muhammad returned this favour: he took over the city from them and made it a rule that none of AlAnsar will ever rule the Islamic state as long as a Qurayshi is still in existence! Muhammad knew only too well that those Ansars are too stupid to be trusted as rulers.
Muhajeroon and Ansar -1400 years later!
The Muslim Brotherhood movement, which is the mother of most of the current Islamic movements, has been around for about eighty years. It started in Islamic countries among its Sunni Muslim population, but was largely rejected by people and governments alike. Even during the stage when it was supported by the west in the 1950s and 1960s it made no impact on ordinary Muslims. Hizbul Tahrir was the second Islamic movement to appear in the Middle East and started soon after the Second World War with almost no successes at all. Its members, like those of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, were living in the Middle East like outcasts. The rejection of these Islamists was mainly from the very Muslims who found more appeal in other national movements of the time.
The current Islamic movements started in its own Mecca and among its own population, but for decades failed to make any real progress. Just like Muhammad failed in his own Mecca!
These current Islamists turned their eyes to the west which they saw as the new Ansars. And they were not disappointed. The western civilization has a built-in structural fault called Political Correctness which aims to make stupidity, not common sense prevail. The west received these Islamists (some actually call themselves al Muhajeroon!) with open arms and provided them with food, shelter and protection which they badly needed to propagate their religion, just like the Ansar of Medina did to Muhammad and his companions!
These new Muhajeroon despise the west (the new Ansar) just like Muhammad did to his own Ansar! Today's Islamists are only interested in making use of the benefit system and civil liberty laws available in the west under the protection of political correctness. Under such protection, they plan to use to their advantage, all the facilities available in the west to propagate the real Medina Islam, including their plans of ghazwas-just like Muhammad did in Medina.
Even though they are yet to be powerful to make any dent in the western civilisation, these Islamists audaciously make it clear they want to take over the city, under the protection of the politically correct western Ansars! Just like Muhammad did.
Mumin Salih is a Middle Eastern ex-Muslim.