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Islamic researcher, graduated from Al-Azhar University, Islamic Studies in the English language. I also studied at Temple University in the US.
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In a Nutshell:
After reviewing almost all the books of seera, we could deduce the people of Medina swore the allegiance to the Messenger (saw) for:
1. Not to join anything in worship along with Allah;
2. Not to steal;
3. Not to commit illegal sexual intercourse;
4. Not to kill their children;
5. Not to accuse an innocent person (to spread such an accusation among people);
6. The Prophet is the leader of the state;
7. Not to be disobedient against the Prophet (when ordered) to do a good deed in a time of vivacity and slackness;
8. Afford expense in times of hardship and easiness;
9. Protect the Prophet (saw) in the way they protect their women, sons and wealth;
10. Fight (his enemies) of the black and white people regardless of their kin;
11. Fear not in Allah's seek the blame of blamers;
12. Enjoy the good and forbid the evil.


Historical Background

The Messenger (saw) was seeking the influences over societies and states and he approached dozens of tribes after the repeated rejection of Quraysh and the death of his uncle Abu Talib. His aim was mana'ah (protection) and nusrah (support). Al-Abbas, Abu Bakr and Ali (ra) would identify influential and tribes and visit them with him at their homes, marketplaces and in the Hajj season. He would ask about the number of fighters, the protection they could provide, their forefathers, previous wars etc to evaluate their ability to defend and propagate Islam.

The Messenger (saw) saw a group of Yathrib (called later Medina) from al-Aws (a leading clan) who came to Mecca seeking the alliance with Quraysh against al-Khazraj. He (saw) told them there was a better option than allying with Quraysh i.e., accepting the deen of Islam. All of them found the truth in the speech of the Messenger (saw) except their leader (Anas ibn Rafi) who kept his conversion secret and prevented the others from showing it, but there is no mention regarding whether they allied with the Meccans or not and the latter is more likely. A short while later, Anas died and they showed their faith and invited others.

The Messenger (saw) also saw (probably in the next year) a group of six members al-Khazraj and presented Islam to them. After he (saw) finished his dawa to them, they told themselves this is the man whom the Jews and Christians are waiting for. They accepted Islam and invited their tribe seeking the union.

It is probable the contacted with the other converts of al-Aws and helped in Islamizing the state as we find in just one year there is no one house without having Muslim in it. The two clans were also joined together and sent 12 influential representatives (such as Ubadah ibn al-Samitt, Asad ibn Zararah, Rafi ibn Malik and others) to meet the Messenger (saw) and pledge the Islamic oath in what is knowing as the first bay'ah of al-Aqabah al-'Aqabah or the bay'ah of women.

A year later, 73 men and two women of Medina came to the Messenger (saw) who asked them to appoint nuqabaa (representatives, guarantees, leaders and responsible). (Ibn Mandhur, Lisan al-Arab) The people pledged in the second Bay'ah of al-Aqabah. Those involved as leaders and representatives in the discussions and treaties were also involved in the Saqeefa Banu Sa'idah who were seeking the Khilafah after the Messenger (saw) passed away, such as Saad ibn Ubaday who was the appointed candidate to this position. (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, pp. 78-90; Ibn Kathir, al-Seerah al-Nabawiyyah, Vol. 3, pp. 148-150)

Terms of First Bay'ah of al-'Aqabah

In the twelfth year of revelation, twelve men of Yathrib came to the Messenger (saw) pledging to the first Bay'ah of al-Aqabah. At that time the physical Jihad had not yet been prescribed upon Muslims; i.e., they could not fight back.

The terms of this Bay'ah was narrated by Ubadah ibn al-Samitt the Messenger (saw) told them that day:

تَعَالَوْا بَايِعُونِي عَلَى أَنْ لاَ تُشْرِكُوا بِاللَّهِ شَيْئًا، وَلاَ تَسْرِقُوا، وَلاَ تَزْنُوا، وَلاَ تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلاَدَكُمْ، وَلاَ تَأْتُونَ بِبُهْتَانٍ تَفْتَرُونَهُ بَيْنَ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَأَرْجُلِكُمْ، وَلاَ تَعْصُونِي فِي مَعْرُوفٍ، فَمَنْ وَفَى مِنْكُمْ فَأَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ، وَمَنْ أَصَابَ مِنْ ذَلِكَ شَيْئًا فَعُوقِبَ بِهِ فِي الدُّنْيَا فَهْوَ لَهُ كَفَّارَةٌ، وَمَنْ أَصَابَ مِنْ ذَلِكَ شَيْئًا فَسَتَرَهُ اللَّهُ فَأَمْرُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ، إِنْ شَاءَ عَاقَبَهُ، وَإِنْ شَاءَ عَفَا عَنْهُ
"Swear allegiance to me for:
Not to join anything in worship along with Allah.
Not to steal.
Not to commit illegal sexual intercourse.
Not to kill your children.
Not to accuse an innocent person (to spread such an accusation among people).
Not to be disobedient against the Prophet (when ordered) to do the good deed."
The Prophet (saw) added: "Whoever among you fulfils his pledge will be rewarded by Allah. And whoever indulges in any one of them (except the ascription of partners to Allah) and gets the punishment in this world, that punishment will be an expiation for that sin." (Bukhari 18 and other books of Hadith)

So this Bay'ah was a kind of theological pledge as well as political one that has not yet included the prescription of fighting. It was a political Bay'ah because the Messenger (saw) asked them for leadership when he said 'Not to be disobedient to me (when ordered) to do the good deeds' and also the prescription of punishment for certain acts which is to be fulfilled by the state.

In the narration of Ahmed, Ubadah ibn al-Samitt (ra) added:

فَبَايَعْنَا رَسُولَ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَلَى بَيْعَةِ النِّسَاءِ، وَذَلِكَ قَبْلَ أَنْ تُفْتَرَضَ الْحَرْبُ
"We pledged to the Messenger of Allah (saw) in the Bay'ah of women before the prescription of fighting" (Ahmed 22826, Ibn Hisham, al-Seera al-Nabawiyyah, Vol. 1, p. 431)

For that reason, it was called the Bay'ah of women where no woman attended the pledge because it is similar to the Bay'ah of women in Mecca who are not mandatory asked to fight at all as well as the Ansar at this temporary time.

The Terms of the Second Bay'ah of Al-'Aqabah

After the first Bay'ah, the Messenger (saw) sent Mus'ab ibn Umayr (ra) to Medina to pave the way before the coming of the Messenger (saw) and help the Ansar (ra) in converting the leaders and individuals.

When they came in the third year of revelation, they wanted to accompany the Messenger (saw) and to start the first Muslim state in Medina. It was called the second Bay'ah of al-Aqabah or the Bay'ah of war.

بَايَعْنَا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم عَلَى بَيْعَةِ الْحَرْبِ
We pledged to the Prophet (saw) for (fulfilling the terms of) the Bay'ah of war. (Tabari, Tarikh at-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 368)

Al-Abbas (ra) was still a non-Muslim but he accompanied the Messenger (saw) to ensure his security of his nephew. The Messenger (saw) then asked them to protection similar to the protection they provide for their women, children and wealth.

Ibn Hisham narrated the Prophet (saw) said:

قَالَ أُبَايِعُكُمْ عَلَى أَنْ تَمْنَعُونِي مِمَّا تَمْنَعُونَ مِنْهُ نِسَاءَكُمْ وَأَبْنَاءَكُمْ. قَالَ: فَأَخَذَ الْبَرَاءُ بْنُ مَعْرُورٍ بِيَدِهِ، ثُمَّ قَالَ: نَعَمْ، وَاَلَّذِي بَعَثَكَ بِالْحَقِّ (نَبِيًّا)، لَنَمْنَعَنَّكَ مِمَّا نَمْنَعُ مِنْهُ أُزُرَنَا، فَبَايِعْنَا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، فَنَحْنُ وَاَللَّهِ أَبْنَاءُ الْحُرُوبِ، وَأَهْلُ الْحَلْقَةِ، وَرِثْنَاهَا كَابِرًا (عَنْ كَابِرٍ)
"I will give you Bay'ah to protect me in the way you protect your women and sons.
Al-Bara' (ra) took his hand and said, 'By Whom has sent you with truth, we will protect you in a similar way we protect out offspring; so give us the Bay'ah, O Messenger of Allah.
By Allah, we are the people of war and protection who inherited it from our great forefathers.'" (Ibn Hisham, al-Seera al-Nabawiyyah, Vol. 1, pp. 442-443, Kinani, al-Mukhtasar al-Kabir, p. 46, Tabari, Tarikh at-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 362)

They also pledged to fight against all the enemies of Islam regardless of their nationality. One of the Ansar explained to them the meaning of this Bay'ah before the pledge and said:

إنَّكُمْ تُبَايِعُونَهُ عَلَى حَرْبِ الْأَحْمَرِ وَالْأَسْوَدِ مِنْ النَّاس ... إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَرَوْنَ أَنَّكُمْ وَافُونَ لَهُ بِمَا دَعَوْتُمُوهُ إلَيْهِ عَلَى نَهْكَةِ الْأَمْوَالِ، وَقَتْلِ الْأَشْرَافِ، فَخُذُوهُ
You pledge him to fight (his enemies) from amongst the black and white people. So if you think you will fulfil what you asking him for; i.e., the expense of wealth and the death of your elites (by your enemies), accompany him. (Ibn Hisham, al-Seera al-Nabawiyyah, Vol. 1, pp. 445, Ahmed 14390, Ya'muri, 'Uyun al-Athar, Vol. 1, p. 192)

In other narration, the Messenger (saw) added:

وَأَنْ تَقُولُوا فِي الله لَا تَخَافُونَ فِي الله لَوْمَةَ لَائِمٍ
To say the truth from Allah and to fear not in Allah's seek the blame of blamers. (Ibn Hiban, Vol. 14, p. 174, Ahmed 14390)

Ibn Kathir narrated another narration adds extra terms:

فَقُلْنَا: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ عَلَامَ نُبَايِعُكَ؟ قَالَ " تُبَايِعُونِي عَلَى السَّمْعِ وَالطَّاعَةِ فِي النَّشَاطِ وَالْكَسَلِ، وَالنَّفَقَةِ فِي الْعُسْرِ وَالْيُسْرِ، وَعَلَى الْأَمْرِ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ والنَّهي عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ، وَأَنْ تقولوا في الله لا تخافوا فِي اللَّهِ لَوْمَةَ لَائِمٍ وَعَلَى أَنْ تَنْصُرُونِي فَتَمْنَعُونِي إِذَا قَدِمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ مِمَّا تَمْنَعُونَ مِنْهُ أَنْفُسَكُمْ
We (al-Ansar) said, 'O Messenger of Allah, for which we are to give bay'ah to you?'
He replied, 'You have to give me bay'ah on obedience in a time of vivacity and slackness;
affording expense in times of hardship and easiness;
enjoying the good and forbid the evil;
to be sincere to Allah and do not let the fear of blame of others stop you from carrying out the command of Allah;
to support and protect me when I join you in the manner you protect yourselves.' (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, Vol. 3, p. 248,
Sahih Ibn Hiban, Vol. 14, p. 175)

In a narration on the authority of al-Zuhri, one of Ansar (As'ad ibn Zurarah) adds another term:

َودَعَوْتَنَا ونَحْنُ جَمَاعَةً في عِزٍ ومَنْعَةٍ -ولا يَطْمَعُ فِينَا أحدٌ- أن يَرْأَسَ عَليّنَا رَجُلٌ مِنْ غَيّرِنا ... فَأَجَبْنَاكَ إِلى ذَلِك.
Whilst we are a protected and honoured collective entity and no one dares to attack us, you call us to make a strange man as our leader (the Prophet) … and we accepted. (al-Mutaqi al-Hindi, Kanz al-'Umal, Vol. 1, p. 173, Abi al-Baqa', Jami al-Athar, Vol. 4, p. 234)

The Ansar (ra) then accepted and the Messenger (saw) promised them with paradise when fulfilling the terms of the Bay'ah. So they finally pledged:

قَالُوا: اُبْسُطْ يَدَكَ، فَبَسَطَ يَدَهُ فَبَايَعُوهُ
They (Ansar) said, 'stretch your hand for us (to pledge),' the Prophet (saw) stretched his hand and they gave him the Bay'ah. (Ibn Hisham, al-Seera al-Nabawiyyah, Vol. 1, pp. 446)

Ibn Kathir commented on this saying:

ِولَمَّا اسْتَقَرَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلى اللهُ عَليهِ وَسَلَمَ بالمَدِينَةِ بَيْنَ أظْهُرِ الأَنْصَارِ وتَكَفَلُوا بِنَصْرِهِ ومَنْعِهِ من الأسْوَدِ والأحْمَر
When the Messenger (saw) stayed in Medina among the Ansar, they guaranteed his protection and support against the black and white (of his enemies). ((Ibn Kathir, al-Fusul fi Seerat al-Rasul, p. 121)

and

When this group met to pledge allegiance to the Messenger of God (saw), Abbas bin Ubada al-Ansari, of the Bani Salim bin Awf, said, 'Oh Khazraj, do you know what it is you are pledging this man?'
'Yes,' they replied.
He continued, 'You are pledging to go to war against all kinds of people. If you think that if you suffered great losses to your wealth and had your leaders killed, you would give him up, then do it now or suffer the punishment of this life and the next. If you think you will keep faith with h i in what he has called upon you to do, despite loss of wealth and your leaders being killed, then do accept him. For he is, by God, the best in this world and the next.'
They replied, 'We will take him regardless of loss of wealth or the death of our leaders. But what will we receive in return for this, 0 Messenger of God, if we keep faith with you?'
'Paradise,' he replied.
'Then hold out your hand,' they asked.
He did so and they pledged allegiance to him. (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, Vol. 2, p. 136)

Finally there was one caveat - namely no violence was permitted at that point as the messenger had been obliged to utilised discourse up to that point:

Al-Abbas bin Ubada said, 'Oh Messenger of God, by Him who sent you with the truth, if you wish tomorrow we will fall on those at Mina with our swords!'
The Messenger of God (saw) replied, 'We have not been ordered to do that; however, do go back to your caravans.' (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, Vol. 2, p. 138)


Conclusion

After review almost all the books of seera, we could conclude; the people of Medina swore the allegiance for:

  1. Not to join anything in worship along with Allah;
  2. Not to steal;
  3. Not to commit illegal sexual intercourse;
  4. Not to kill your children;
  5. Not to accuse an innocent person (to spread such an accusation among people);
  6. The Prophet is the leader of the state;
  7. Not to be disobedient against the Prophet (when ordered) to do good deed in a time of vivacity and slackness;
  8. Affording expense in times of hardship and easiness;
  9. Protect the Prophet (saw) in the way they protect their women and sons and wealth;
  10. Fight (his enemies) of the black and white people and regardless of their kin;
  11. Fear not in Allah's seek the blame of blamers;
  12. enjoying the good and forbid the evil.


References

Ibn Hisham, al-Seera al-Nabawiyyah
Ibn Ishaq, al-Seera wa al-Maghazi
Tabari, Tarikh at-Tabari
Kinani, al-Mukhtasar al-Kabir
Ya'muri, 'Uyun al-Athar
Sahih ibn Hiban
Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah
Ibn Kathir, al-Fusul fi Seerat al-Rasul
al-Mutaqi al-Hindi, Kanz al-'Umal
Abi al-Baqa', Jami' al-Athar


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