Could you describe The Leadership of The Prophet Muhammad?
How did the Prophet choose people for posts?
God’s Messenger was unique in discovering promising and competent persons
in his community and appointing them to the work they could do best. Whoever
he appointed to a post, he did not find any need to change him, and that person
proved, through both his uprightness and competence, that he was a really good
choice. This is another dimension of the Prophet’s leadership which demonstrates
that he was a Prophet chosen by God.
The Makkan period of Islam was inscribed in the memories of the Muslims as
a period of unbearable persecutions and tortures. Not only the poor and unprotected,
like ‘Ammar, Bilal and Suhayb, but also those Muslims like Abu Bakr and ‘Umar,
who were from the elite and powerful members of the Quraysh, were severely persecuted.1
In order to save his followers from this maltreatment, God’s Messenger, upon
him be peace and blessings, permitted the poor and unprotected among them to
emigrate to Abyssinia, but chose to keep back the powerful ones such as ‘Ali,
Zubayr , Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas in Makka, for Islam needed
their support to spread and implant itself in Makka. These powerful Muslims
were to occupy the highest positions in the administration of the Muslim state
in later decades.
Abu Dharr was a poor, blunt and upright man from the desert. When he heard
Muhammad’s declaration of Prophethood, he came to Makka and became a Muslim.
God’s Messenger used to preach Islam secretly in the earliest stage of his Prophethood.
Abu Dharr was a blunt man, never restraining his feelings and always revealing
the truth wherever he was. Also, he was very pious and lived an austere life.
However, since public administration requires special skills, God’s Messenger
did not accept Abu Dharr’s request to be appointed to an administrative post,
saying: You are not able to manage the affairs of people. Do not apply for such
jobs, for we do not assign such jobs to those who apply for them.2
God’s Messenger refused Abu Dharr, but he implied the caliphate of Abu Bakr,
‘Umar and ‘Uthman. Holding once the hands of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, he said: I
have four viziers, two in the heavens and two in the world. Those in the heavens
are Gabriel and Michael; as for those in the world, they are Abu Bakr and ‘Umar.3
Concerning the future caliphate of ‘Uthman, he declared: It will be a trial
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, recognized his men much
more than they knew themselves. Like Abu Dharr, ‘Amr ibn ‘Abatha was a man from
the desert. He came to Makka and, entering the presence of God’s Messenger,
asked rudely: ‘What are you?’ To this rudeness, the Messenger replied very gently:
I am a Prophet of God. The gentleness of God’s Messenger was enough for the
conversion of ‘Amr ibn ‘Abatha, who knelt down and declared: ‘I am to follow
you from now on, O God’s Messenger’.
The Messenger did not desire ‘Amr ibn ‘Abatha to stay in Makka, because he
was not able to endure the torments inflicted upon the believers. So, he told
him, as he had once told Abu Dharr: Now, return to your tribe, and preach Islam
among them. When, however, you hear that I am victorious, come and join us.
Years later, ‘Amr ibn ‘Abatha came to Madina, and asked God’s Messenger,
who was in the mosque: ‘Do you recognize me, O God’s Messenger?’ The Messenger,
who had an extraordinarily strong and keen memory (another dimension of his
Prophethood) answered promptly: Aren’t you the one who came to me in Makka?
I sent you back to your tribe and told you to join us when you heard that I
I mentioned the case of Julaybib earlier. After the moral lesson of God’s
Messenger, Julaybib became an honest, chaste young man. Upon the request of
God’s Messenger, a noble family gave their daughter in marriage to Julaybib.
Shortly afterwards, Julaybib took part in a battle and, after killing seven
soldiers of the enemy, was martyred. When his corpse was brought to God’s Messenger,
he put his head on Julaybib’s knees and said: O God, this one is of me, and
I am of him.6 He had discovered the essential virtue in Julaybib and foreseen
his future service for Islam.
The conquest of Khaybar proved to be one of the occasions on which God’s
Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, demonstrated his uniqueness in recognizing
the potentials, skills and shortcomings of each of his followers. When the siege
was prolonged, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, declared: Tomorrow
I will hand the standard to one who loves God and His Messenger and is loved
by them.7 This was indeed a great honour, and all of the Companions desired
earnestly to deserve it. The next day came and God’s Messenger asked for ‘Ali.
‘He has sore eyes’, he was told. The Messenger then sent for ‘Ali and applied
his saliva to ‘Ali’s eyes, which, as he swore by God, never again troubled him.8
Despite ‘Ali’s youth, God’s Messenger preferred him on account of his great
skills in combat and in taking command. He took the standard and succeeded in
conquering the stronghold of Khaybar, which was very formidable.
Whoever God’s Messenger gave a job to, that person became successful in doing
it. For example, he described Khalid ibn Walid as ‘a sword among the swords
of God’,9 and Khalid never tasted defeat during his whole lifetime. Likewise,
besides such great soldiers and invincible commanders as Qa’qa’a, Hamza and
Sa‘d, he also made ‘Usama ibn Zayd a commander over a great army in which were
leading Muslims such as Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, Talha and Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas.
‘Usama was the son of Zayd, a black Muslim, and emancipated slave of God’s Messenger,
and was only seventeen years old or so when he was made the commander. His father,
Zayd, had also commanded the Muslim army in the Battle of Mu’ta against the
Byzantines and was martyred.
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was twenty-five years old
when he married Khadija, the daughter of Huwaylid, a widow fifteen years his
senior. He did not marry another woman until Khadija’s death in the tenth year
of his Prophethood. All his subsequent marriages, after the age of fifty, were
directly related to his mission. One of the important reasons for them was that
his wives had different characters and temperaments and could therefore convey
to other Muslim women the rules of Islam related to women. Each of them proved
a guide and teacher for womanhood, and, besides, even the leading figures in
the generations following the Companions such as Masruq, Tawus ibn Kaysan and
Ata’ ibn Rabah benefited considerably from them. The science of Hadith is especially
indebted to ‘A’isha, who related from God’s Messenger more than five thousand
Traditions. ‘A’isha was also a great jurist.
Subsequent events proved how wise and apt were all the choices of the Prophet,
upon him be peace and blessings, not least in the matter of marriage.
1. I. Kathir, al-Bidaya, 3.40–1, 102–3; I. Hisham, Sira, 1.234.”
2. Muslim, “‘Imara,” 16–7.
3. Muttaqi al-Hindi, Kanz al-‘Ummal, 11.563, 13.15.
4. Bukhari, “Fada’il al-Ashab,” 5.7; Muslim, “Fada’il al-Sahaba,” 29.
5. Muslim, “Musafirin,” 294; I. Hanbal, Musnad, 4.112.
6. Muslim, “Fada’il al-Sahaba,” 131.
7. Bukhari, “Fada’il al-Ashab,” 9; Muslim, “Fada’il al-Sahaba,” 34.
8. Bukhari, “Fada’il al-Ashab,” 25.
What about the Prophet’s wisdom in leading his community?
A leader gains the love and trust of his people and is followed by them in
proportion to his competence in solving their problems, whether personal or
public, related to individual, private life, or to social, economic, political
affairs touching the community as a whole.
In solving problems, you may resort to force and terror, or apply sanctions
or punishments like exile, imprisonment or depriving the guilty of their rights
of citizenship, or torture people, or spy into their affairs. However, none
of these ways are of much use in the long term; rather, they will bring about
a vicious circle, in which the more you struggle to solve problems by such means,
the more you entangle yourself in them.
However, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, solved all problems
so skillfully and easily that no one disagreed with the issue of his decisions.
Although he was sent to a people by nature and habit quarrelsome, ignorant,
wild and rebellious, and sent with a mission so grave as ‘to rend mountains
asunder’ – If We had sent down this Qur’an onto a mountain, you would have seen
it humbled and rent asunder out of fear of God (al-Hashr, 59.21) – he made them
into a harmonious community of peace, happiness, knowledge and good morals.
Reflect closely upon the utopias imagined in the West, such as The Republic
(Plato), Utopia (Thomas More), and Civitas Solis (T. Campanella), you will see
that, in essence, they dreamed of the ideal society of Madina in the time of
the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. Mankind have not since
then witnessed the equal of that society. However, if they desire to live a
happy and peaceful life based on good morals and universal values such as love,
mutual respect, compassion, and altruism, they have no way other than to follow
the example of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings.
We described in the first volume how he prevented, through his wisdom, an
imminent war between the clans of the Quraysh during the reconstruction of the
Ka‘ba. Each clan had claimed the honor of putting the sacred Black Stone in
its place. However, the future Prophet of Islam, upon him be peace and blessings,
spread his mantle on a piece of cloth on the ground and, putting the stone on
it, invited the chieftains of the four major clans of the Quraysh involved in
the rebuilding of the Ka‘ba to each take one corner of the cloth. When the cloth
with the Black Stone had been raised level with the spot where it was to be
placed, he took the stone and placed it firmly in position. It was an ingenious
plan and provided yet another proof of his wisdom or gift for problem-solving.
We also saw in the first volume how he prevented a possible moment of sedition
after the Battle of Hunayn. Also, he skillfully suppressed an impending conflict
between a group of Emigrants and some of the Helpers during the return from
the military campaign against the Banu Mustaliq. An internal clash nearly broke
out when the army halted by the side of a well. When informed of the matter,
God’s Messenger immediately gave the order to march and nipped an imminent clash
in the bud.
In understanding the Prophet’s leadership and wisdom, what is the place of Hijra (Sacred Emigration to Madina)?
Emigration to Madina (Hijra) marks a turning point in the life of the Prophet
Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, as well as in the history of Islam.
Belief, emigration and holy struggle are the three pillars of a single, sacred
truth. They are the three ‘taps’ of a fountain from which the water of life
flows for the soldiers of truth to drink from, so that they may convey their
message without being wearied and, when the opposition is too formidable to
overcome, set out for a new land without regard for their home, property and
family. The Prophet’s emigration to Madina is so significant in the history
of Islam and so sanctified that the virtuous men and women around him were praised
by God as (and have since been called) ‘the Emigrants’, and those who welcomed
them so warmly to Madina as ‘the Helpers’. In addition, the beginning of the
era of this religious community was marked, not by the birth of the Prophet
or by the first Revelation or such victories as Badr or the conquest of Makka,
but by the emigration to Madina.
Despite its significance, emigration is, of course, not an easy thing to
achieve. When the believers came to Madina to settle after years of persecution
in Makka, they had neither any provisions with which to manage their families,
nor any houses to live in. Moreover, some of them were extremely poor, and the
others, who had earned their lives by trade, were left with no capital. The
Muslims of Madina were mostly farmers, and the commercial life of the city was
thoroughly controlled by the Jewish community. Another problem worthy of note
is that the people of Madina had decided to make ‘Adbullah ibn Ubayy ibn Salul
their chief, just before the arrival of God’s Messenger. The settlement of the
Messenger brought this plan, and the hopes of Ibn Ubayy ibn Salul, to nothing,
and he consequently became a bitter enemy of God’s Messenger and, as chief of
the hypocrites, never refrained from making conspiracies to ruin him. In addition,
the Makkan polytheists would certainly not leave the Prophet to himself in Madina;
they had contacted Ibn Ubayy ibn Salul in order to prevent the spread of Islam
in Madina. Ibn Ubayy sent them the news: ‘It is not something to fear that he
spreads his religion here. The main danger lies in the possibility that he may
ally with the Christians and Jews against paganism. That is the real threat
After he settled in Madina, God’s Messenger ordered the building of a mosque,
and himself took part in the work of building. The importance of the mosque
for the collective life of Muslims is unquestionable. They come together there
five times a day and, in the Presence of God, their Lord, Creator and Sustainer,
they increase in belief and submission to their Lord, to the Prophet and to
their religion, and strengthen their solidarity. Especially in the first centuries
of Islam, mosques functioned, as well as being places of worship, as centers
of learning. The Mosque of the Prophet in Madina was, in the time of the Prophet
himself and his immediate successors, the center of government as well.
Immediately after his settlement in Madina, God’s Messenger, upon him be
peace and blessings, established brotherhood between Muslims, particularly between
the Emigrants and the Helpers. They loved each other and were very close to
each other. For example, Sa‘d ibn Rabi’ took his emigrant ‘brother’ ‘Abd al-Rahman
ibn ‘Awf to his house and said: ‘Brother, you have left everything you have
in Makka. So, this house, with everything in it, belongs to both of us. Besides,
you do not have a wife here, while I have two. Whichever of them you like, I’ll
divorce her, so that you may marry her.’
‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf answered him in tears: ‘Brother, may God bless you
with your wife! Please show me to the city bazaar so that I may do some business.’9
The brotherhood between the Emigrants and the Helpers was so deep, so sincere
and so strong that the Helpers shared everything they had with their emigrant
brothers. This lasted for some time. However, when the Emigrants were accustomed
to their new environment, one day they came to God’s Messenger and said:
O Messenger of God! We emigrated here purely for the sake of God. But, our
Helper brothers concern us to the extent that we are afraid we will consume
up here in the world the reward of our good deeds, which we expect to get in
the Hereafter. Also, we feel much indebted to them. Please, ask our brothers
to allow us to earn our living ourselves.
God’s Messenger sent for the Helpers and told them of the situation. The
Helpers unanimously objected to the offer of the Emigrants, it was unbearable
to them to be separated from their brothers. In the end, in order to save the
Emigrants from the feeling of indebtedness, the Helpers agreed that the Emigrants
would work in the Helpers’ fields and gardens in return for wages until they
could build their own houses.10
As a second step in solving the immediate problems which appeared after the
Hijra, God’s Messenger signed a pact with the Jewish community in Madina. According
to this pact, which some scholars describe as a first constitution of the city-state
of Madina, the Muslims and Jews were confederated as two separate, independent
communities.11 Since, however, God’s Messenger had the initiative in making
this pact and acted as an arbiter in all disputes and disagreements, the new
city-state of Madina was under the overall control of the Muslims.
In order to guarantee the security of this state on the part of the Muslims,
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, ordered the establishment
of a new bazaar. Until then the economic life of Madina had been under the control
of the Jewish community. Shortly after the establishment of the new bazaar,
Jewish domination of the economic life of the city declined as the Jews no longer
monopolized commerce in the city.
No sooner had the Muslim community of Madina begun to become established
and grow in strength than they had to respond to attacks from inside and outside.
After the victory of Badr against the Makkan polytheists, the Muslims met them
again, this time, at the foot of Mount Uhud. The easy victory won by the Muslims
at the beginning of the battle was unfortunately followed by a reverse due to
some neglect on the part of the archers. Seventy Muslims were martyred and the
Messenger himself was wounded. The Muslim army took shelter on the mountain
and were prepared to counter any further attack by the enemy. However, lacking
enough courage for a further attack, the enemy forces left the battlefield for
Makka. Nevertheless, they changed their mind half-away and again decided to
march upon Madina. Informed of this decision, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace
and blessings, gave the order to assemble and mobilize. A single order of his
sufficed for the Companions to collect themselves, even though they were ill
or wounded. His every call was a breath of life for their souls, a breath that
could revive old, rotten bones. Busiri says:
Were his value and greatness to be demonstrated by miracles,
The bones that have rotted away were revived by calling his name.
The half-crushed army set out to counter the enemy. Almost all of them were
wounded in different degrees, but no one desired to remain behind. In describing
the situation, one Companion said:
Some of the Companions were unable to walk. They said: ‘We desire to be present
at the front where God’s Messenger has ordered us to go. Even if we are unable
to fight, we will stand there with spears in hand.’ They were carried either
on shoulders or on backs.
Seeing the Muslim army marching towards them, Abu Sufyan, the commander of
the enemy forces, ordered his troops to return. In praising those heroes of
Islam, the Qur’an says:
Those to whom the people said: ‘The people have gathered against you, therefore
fear them’; but it increased them in faith, and they said, ‘God is sufficient
for us; an excellent Guardian is He.’ (Al ‘Imran, 3.173)12
9. Bukhari, “Manaqib al-Ansar,” 3; I. Kathir, 3.279.
10. Bukhari, “Hiba,” 35; Muslim, “Jihad,” 70.
11. I. Hisham, 2.147.
12. Bukhari, “Maghazi,” 25; I. Sa‘d, 2.42–9; I. Hisham, 3.99-111, 128.
What is the place of consultation in the Prophet’s life and
the Islamic way of government?
The sagacity or wisdom of God’s Messenger also demonstrated itself in the
counsels he made with his Companions. Counsel or consultation is so important
in Islam that God’s Messenger did not take a decision, especially in public
affairs, without consultation. He sometimes held counsel even in his personal
affairs. To cite only a few examples:
• During the campaign against the Banu Mustaliq, ‘A’isha, the Prophet’s wife,
was accompanying the Prophet, riding in a litter. At one halt she lost her necklace;
she set off alone to find it only to return and discover that the army had left
without her, the camel drivers thinking she was in her litter. She was later
found by Safwan, who was charged with collecting what was lost or left behind
caravans. There followed a scandal and ‘A’isha’s fidelity was questioned, mostly
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was sure of the fidelity
of his wife. However, since hypocrites made this into a pretext to defame God’s
Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, he consulted with some of his Companions
like ‘Umar and ‘Ali. ‘Umar said that ‘A’isha was undoubtedly chaste and pure,
and that she had been slandered. When asked how he knew, ‘Umar answered:
O God’s Messenger! You were once praying. You stopped and explained that
the Archangel Gabriel had come and informed you that there was some dirt in
your slippers. If there were some impurity in ‘A’isha, your wife, God would
certainly have informed you of it.13
God’s Messenger, who said, Whoever takes counsel, does not regret in the
end,14 never neglected to consult those who could give informed advice on a
• He also consulted with his Companions before the Battle of Badr, which
was the first major encounter between the Muslims and the Makkan polytheists
after the Emigration, whether to fight against the Makkan army approaching.
The Muslim force numbered 305 or 313, while the Makkans numbered around one
Miqdad ibn ‘Amr stood up on behalf of the Emigrants and said: ‘Spur your
horse forward even to Bark al- Ghimad; we will follow you, with no one left
behind.’ When the Messenger turned to the Helpers in order to learn their views,
Sa‘d ibn Mu‘adh stood up and said:
O God’s Messenger! I think you are waiting for the opinion we will give.
This is our opinion: Here we are, at your command, with our souls and possessions.
Take from our goods whatever amount you wish; and as many people as you desire
are ready to sacrifice themselves in your way!15
All of his Companions, whether Emigrants or Helpers, promised to follow him
in every step he took, and to carry out all of his orders. Despite this, God’s
Messenger took counsel with them about almost every matter concerning the community
as a whole so that doing so should be adopted or appropriated by everyone as
• Again, in the Battle of Badr, the Muslim army was positioned somewhere
on the battlefield. Hubab ibn Mundhir, who was not a leading personality among
the Companions, stood up and gave this opinion:
O God’s Messenger! If you were not ordered by God to be positioned here,
let us be positioned around the wells and close up all but one of them in order
to prevent the supply of water to the enemy. You set up your camp at the side
of that one well (from which we will take water), and we will encircle you.
The Messenger adopted this view.16
• In the fifth year of Hijra, the Quraysh made an alliance with certain desert
tribes and Jews of the Banu Nadir, who had emigrated from Madina to Khaybar.
However, the Prophet, forewarned of their plans, consulted with his Companions
about what to do in order to defeat the enemy offensive. Salman al-Farisi gave
him the idea that they should dig a defensive trench around Madina, a stratagem
hitherto completely unknown among the Arabs.
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, adopted the idea and ordered
the digging of the trench. This war was therefore called, after the trench,
the Battle of the Trench or Ditch.17
• The Muslims found the terms of the Treaty of Hudaybiya unpalatable, and
showed some reluctance to perform the Prophet’s order to sacrifice the animals
they had brought to sacrifice in Makka during the rites which the Treaty prevented
them from observing. God’s Messenger consulted with his wife Umm Salama about
how to respond. She gave this opinion:
O God’s Messenger! Do not repeat your order lest they should disobey you
and perish. Sacrifice your own animals and take off your pilgrim dress (ihram).
When they understand the order is decisive, they will perform it unhesitatingly.
God’s Messenger acted according to the counsel of his wife.18
13. Halabi, Insan al-‘Uyun, 2.613.
14. Maythami, Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, 2.280.
15. I. Sa‘d, Tabaqat, 3.162 ; Muslim, “Jihad,” 83 ; I. Hisham, 2.266–7.
16. I. Hisham, 2.272.
17. I. Hisham, 3.235; I. Sa‘d, 2.66.
18. Bukhari, “Shurut,” 15.