MAN AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN ISLAM – (2)

Some of the underlying societal qualities and features of Islam, such as commitment to the established cause, justice, equality, and mutual understanding and cooperation, have also been demonstrated as early as during the exercise of determining the site of the Prophet’s mosque and the marking out of its boundaries.

The Prophet’s (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) scheme of personality and community building reached its climax when he legislated the system of mu’akhah (brotherly association) among the Migrants (Muhajirs) from Makkah and the Helpers (Ansar) of Madinah. The mu’akhah included 90 men, 45 from either side. So binding was the treaty that the Migrants for sometimes were the heirs of the Helpers, and vice versa, instead of their own kindred by blood. However, verse 33 of the Qur’anic chapter al-Nisa’ was revealed and the matter of the Migrants and Helpers inheriting from one another was rescinded.

Nurturing exemplary community members in Madinah as human capital was additionally dealt with by God’s direct intervention, which prescribed directives that targeted at both men’s and women’s steady spiritual development, and defining their roles and standing in the society’s speedy growth. For instance, in the night of al-Mi’raj, which occurred sometime between one and two years before the Hijrah, the institution of prayer (Salah) was prescribed to the Muslims. Initially, the prayers of those not travelling and of those travelling had been of two rak’ahs (units) except for the Maghrib (sunset) prayer which was always three rak’ahs. But about a month after the arrival of the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) in Madinah two rak’ahs in Zuhr (noon), ‘Asr (mid afternoon) and ‘Isha’ (evening) prayers were added to the prayers of those who were not travelling.

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Certainly this addition had scores of benefits for the spiritual maturity of many Muslims. Some of them had just entered the fold of the new life code and were exposed to the unprecedented community building challenges, given that the task of one’s prayers is to restrain oneself from shameful and evil deeds (al-‘Ankabut 45), and to foster honesty, goodness, conformity and dedication. As the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) experienced a midnight journey from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa (al-Isra’), whence he travelled to the seven heavens (al-Mi’raj) where the prayer commandment was decreed, every human soul, similarly, ought to undergo a journey of its own in its religious growth in life. Praying five times a day at the divinely appointed times and as many rak’ahs as prescribed denotes the most precious asset that one may possess all through the long and thorny journey. Every single prayer is expected to elevate its executor a step, or a degree, off the wickedness and confines of this world and towards the spiritual fulfilment. So, the bigger the number of those who are willingly and enthusiastically on the said spiritual journey, ever ready to better themselves and those around them, the better the prospects for their ideals to materialize and flourish become.

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For the purpose of creating healthy and upright individuals who will constitute a healthy and righteous society, the prescription of Adhan (calling to prayers), Siyam (fast), Zakah (the alms), Sadaqah al-fitr (charity of fast-breaking), Jihad (struggle for the holy cause), and some other legislative moves with regard to halal (lawful) and haram (forbidden) — all these came about during the earliest Madinah period.

Finally, shortly after arriving in Madinah, the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) also organized the relationship between the various inhabitants of Madinah, including the Jews, and recorded it in a document dubbed the Constitution of Madinah. The commitments of each group within Madinah and their rights and duties were comprehensively enshrined in the document.

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To the critical significance of human development and human capital in generating cultural and civilizational value attests the following story. The second Caliph, ‘Umar b. al-Khattab, RadhiAllahu Anhu, sitting with a group of companions and he asked: “Let each one make a wish!” Someone said: “I wish if this house was filled with gold so I could spend it for the sake of Allah”. ‘Umar, RadhiAllahu Anhu, asked the people again: “Make a wish!” Someone else said: “I wish if this house was filled with pearls and with every kind of precious gems so I could spend them in charity for the sake of Allah”. ‘Umar, RadhiAllahu Anhu, asked again: “Make a wish!” They replied: “O Amirul Mu’minin, we truly do not know what else to wish for”. ‘Umar, RadhiAllahu Anhu, then said: “I wish if this house was filled with men like Abu ‘Ubaydah b. al-Jarrah so I could use them for the sake of Allah (on Allah’s path)”.

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