Posted by Nick Efstathiadis in 600-700, Middle East
The earliest recorded constitution, the Charter concerns the rights and responsibilities of the Muslim, Jewish, and other Arab and tribal communities of Medina during the war between that city and its neighbours.
Medina Charter was created by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the year 622 CE, it was the first written constitution in the Islamic world. The Medina Charter contained every aspect of running a country from politic to the human rights administration. Do the Muslim majority country now really follow what the Prophet had laid down for mankind to follow?
The Medina Charter consists of 47 clauses. 23 clause governed the relationship betweenMuslims, between Ansar and Muhajirin, while the remaining 24 clauses governed the relations of Muslims with non-Muslims, the Jews and others. In addition to the charter of Medina, it is also known by various names such as Medina agreement, Dustar al-Madinah and Al-Madinah Sahifah. The Medina Charter form the constitution for Medina which was based from the regulations of Islamic law to establish a pure Islamic state that puts people of different races or ethnic groups in one country living peacefully.
The main contents in the Charter were the declaration that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the head of state to all the people of Medina and any dispute shall be referred to him. All the people of Medina is forbidden to plant a hostile or envy among themselves, instead they should be united as one and be known as nation of Medina.
All residents are free to practice their customs and religious ceremonies respectively. All residents of Medina should cooperate in economic and if Medina to be attacked by outsiders all the citizen shall defend its. The Jews freedom are guaranteed as long as they obey the agreements listed in the charter.
The purposed of the Medina Charter was to face a plural society of Medina and was to establish rules that will be complied by all the people. The charter also provide elements to unite people of various races and to establish peace and eliminate any hostility that was occurring before the arrival of Prophet Muhammad to Medina.
The Medina Charter also determined the rights and duties of Prophet Muhammad and the local population. It's also provide guidelines for the Muhajirin (immigrants) recovery and providing help either material or non material to them after losing everything for leaving Mecca. Political union was also formed to defend Medina from any foreign enemy. The Charter give a clear guarantee for the right of the non Muslim and the Jews.
Medina Charter was not only the first Islamic constitution but it was also the first human right charter that provided the basic rights of every human living in Medina.
Medina Charter was created based on Holy Koran and Sunnah. Therefore the Holy Koran and Sunnah are the source of state law. The charter also was an instrument to unite the nation and a signed of a state sovereignty. Other principles that contain in the charter were; Freedom of movement and the right to live in Medina, rights and duties in terms of defending and maintaining the State. It also provide good relations and mutual help among all citizens and individual responsibility and government duty in upholding social justice. Some security laws such as penalties and so forth have been listed as Qisas. Religious freedom was also guarantee and the responsibility of states to non-Muslims. It also stated the duty of all parties toward bringing and upholding peace in the State.
It is justified to say the Medina Charter produced a form of government that adheres to the shura system (parliamentary system) where citizen can give opinions. The charter had a great impact toward the development of Islamic civilization, especially in politics and the human rights of the ordinary citizen. The Medina Charter shows that Islam can be practiced in creating an efficient and just government.
However the Muslim majority countries all over the world now are facing with all kind of problems from their own making and its has nothing to do with the western power. The western countries succeed in developing their countries because they are implementing the rules and regulations that are suitable to them. But the Islamic countries either copying from the west and failed because does not conform to the norms of the majority or created a new form of system that only suitable to the iron claws of the power hungry politician. In the end the people suffered and Islam which should be the way of living is only used during birth of a child, marriage and death!
The Muslim leaders does not even respect the human rights that the Prophet had lay down 1400 years ago. The rights of the people either Muslim or non-Muslim has been discriminate for years as if the Medina Charter been kept and locked in the dusty shelves. From Gamal Nasir to Muamar Kahdafi none has ever used or implemented the true Islamic law in administering their countries. An Islamic scholar and politician from Malaysia, who was disappointed with his country freedom of expression restriction once commented, "Sometime the European are more Islamic than the Muslim!".
It is safe to say that not a single country of the Muslim majority countries or even the terrorist group such as Al-Qaeda are practising the true Islamic governance that the Prophet taught and lived by. Maybe it is time for every leader to start reading the Medina Charter and give the people their rights as what Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) taught
THE MEDINA CHARTER
- This is a document from Muhammad the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), governing relations between the Believers i.e. Muslims of Quraysh and Yathrib and those who followed them and worked hard with them. They form one nation - Ummah.
- The Quraysh Mohajireen will continue to pay blood money, according to their present custom.
- In case of war with any body they will redeem their prisoners with kindness and justice common among Believers. (Not according to pre-Islamic nations where the rich and the poor were treated differently).
- The Bani Awf will decide the blood money, within themselves, according to their existing custom.
- In case of war with anybody all parties other than Muslims will redeem their prisoners with kindness and justice according to practice among Believers and not in accordance with pre-Islamic notions.
- The Bani Saeeda, the Bani Harith, the Bani Jusham and the Bani Najjar will be governed on the lines of the above (principles)
- The Bani Amr, Bani Awf, Bani Al-Nabeet, and Bani Al-Aws will be governed in the same manner.
- Believers will not fail to redeem their prisoners they will pay blood money on their behalf. It will be a common responsibility of the Ummat and not of the family of the prisoners to pay blood money.
- A Believer will not make the freedman of another Believer as his ally against the wishes of the other Believers.
- The Believers, who fear Allah, will oppose the rebellious elements and those that encourage injustice or sin, or enmity or corruption among Believers.
- If anyone is guilty of any such act all the Believers will oppose him even if he be the son of any one of them.
- A Believer will not kill another Believer, for the sake of an un-Believer. (i.e. even though the un-Believer is his close relative).
- No Believer will help an un-Believer against a Believer.
- Protection (when given) in the Name of Allah will be common. The weakest among Believers may give protection (In the Name of Allah) and it will be binding on all Believers.
- Believers are all friends to each other to the exclusion of all others.
- Those Jews who follow the Believers will be helped and will be treated with equality. (Social, legal and economic equality is promised to all loyal citizens of the State).
- No Jew will be wronged for being a Jew.
- The enemies of the Jews who follow us will not be helped.
- The peace of the Believers (of the State of Madinah) cannot be divided. (it is either peace or war for all. It cannot be that a part of the population is at war with the outsiders and a part is at peace).
- No separate peace will be made by anyone in Madinah when Believers are fighting in the Path of Allah.
- Conditions of peace and war and the accompanying ease or hardships must be fair and equitable to all citizens alike.
- When going out on expeditions a rider must take his fellow member of the Army-share his ride.
- The Believers must avenge the blood of one another when fighting in the Path of Allah (This clause was to remind those in front of whom there may be less severe fighting that the cause was common to all. This also meant that although each battle appeared a separate entity it was in fact a part of the War, which affected all Muslims equally).
- The Believers (because they fear Allah) are better in showing steadfastness and as a result receive guidance from Allah in this respect. Others must also aspire to come up to the same standard of steadfastness.
- No un-Believer will be permitted to take the property of the Quraysh (the enemy) under his protection. Enemy property must be surrendered to the State.
- No un-Believer will intervene in favour of a Quraysh, (because the Quraysh having declared war are the enemy).
- If any un-believer kills a Believer, without good cause, he shall be killed in return, unless the next of kin are satisfied (as it creates law and order problems and weakens the defence of the State). All Believers shall be against such a wrong-doer. No Believer will be allowed to shelter such a man.
- When you differ on anything (regarding this Document) the matter shall be referred to Allah and Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).
- The Jews will contribute towards the war when fighting alongside the Believers.
- The Jews of Bani Awf will be treated as one community with the Believers. The Jews have their religion. This will also apply to their freedmen. The exception will be those who act unjustly and sinfully. By so doing they wrong themselves and their families.
- The same applies to Jews of Bani Al-Najjar, Bani Al Harith, Bani Saeeda, Bani Jusham, Bani Al Aws, Thaalba, and the Jaffna, (a clan of the Bani Thaalba) and the Bani Al Shutayba.
- Loyalty gives protection against treachery. (loyal people are protected by their friends against treachery. As long as a person remains loyal to the State he is not likely to succumb to the ideas of being treacherous. He protects himself against weakness).
- The freedmen of Thaalba will be afforded the same status as Thaalba themselves. This status is for fair dealings and full justice as a right and equal responsibility for military service.
- Those in alliance with the Jews will be given the same treatment as the Jews.
- No one (no tribe which is party to the Pact) shall go to war except with the permission of Muhammed (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). If any wrong has been done to any person or party it may be avenged.
- Any one who kills another without warning (there being no just cause for it) amounts to his slaying himself and his household, unless the killing was done due to a wrong being done to him.
- The Jews must bear their own expenses (in War) and the Muslims bear their expenses.
- If anyone attacks anyone who is a party to this Pact the other must come to his help.
- They (parties to this Pact) must seek mutual advice and consultation.
- Loyalty gives protection against treachery. Those who avoid mutual consultation do so because of lack of sincerity and loyalty.
- A man will not be made liable for misdeeds of his ally.
- Anyone (any individual or party) who is wronged must be helped.
- The Jews must pay (for war) with the Muslims. (this clause appears to be for occasions when Jews are not taking part in the war. Clause 37 deals with occasions when they are taking part in war).
- Yathrib will be Sanctuary for the people of this Pact.
- A stranger (individual) who has been given protection (by anyone party to this Pact) will be treated as his host (who has given him protection) while (he is) doing no harm and is not committing any crime. Those given protection but indulging in anti-state activities will be liable to punishment.
- A woman will be given protection only with the consent of her family (Guardian). (a good precaution to avoid inter-tribal conflicts).
- In case of any dispute or controversy, which may result in trouble the matter must be referred to Allah and Muhammed (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) of Allah will accept anything in this document, which is for (bringing about) piety and goodness.
- Quraysh and their allies will not be given protection.
- The parties to this Pact are bound to help each other in the event of an attack on Yathrib.
- If they (the parties to the Pact other than the Muslims) are called upon to make and maintain peace (within the State) they must do so. If a similar demand (of making and maintaining peace) is made on the Muslims, it must be carried out, except when the Muslims are already engaged in a war in the Path of Allah. (so that no secret ally of the enemy can aid the enemy by calling upon Muslims to end hostilities under this clause).
- Everyone (individual) will have his share (of treatment) in accordance with what party he belongs to. Individuals must benefit or suffer for the good or bad deed of the group they belong to. Without such a rule party affiliations and discipline cannot be maintained.
- The Jews of al-Aws, including their freedmen, have the same standing, as other parties to the Pact, as long as they are loyal to the Pact. Loyalty is a protection against treachery.
- Anyone who acts loyally or otherwise does it for his own good (or loss).
- Allah approves this Document.
- This document will not (be employed to) protect one who is unjust or commits a crime (against other parties of the Pact).
- Whether an individual goes out to fight (in accordance with the terms of this Pact) or remains in his home, he will be safe unless he has committed a crime or is a sinner. (i.e. No one will be punished in his individual capacity for not having gone out to fight in accordance with the terms of this Pact).
- Allah is the Protector of the good people and those who fear Allah, and Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the Messenger of Allah (He guarantees protection for those who are good and fear Allah).
This text is taken from A. Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad — A
Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, Oxford University Press