[32] The Constitution of Medina

The Prophet Muhammad had been invited to Medina to quell tensions in the city. With a few months of arriving, he created a social contract between the different tribes in they city, specifying the behaviors expected from each group: Ansar, Muhajireen, Jews, and Polythiests

Practical Lessons:

  1. The importance of writing down contracts. This was an unprecedented move by the Prophet since Arabia was mostly an oral culture and agreements were usually oral. But to avoid any confusion and disagreements he insisted on putting this in writing
  2. The great respect Islam has for monotheistic traditions. Prophet granted the Jews a great deal of autonomy and independence provided that they didn’t betray the Muslims
  3. All people were accountable before the law, regardless of if you’re Muslim or not. Being Muslim doesn’t get you off the hook
  4. The Prophet accepted the legal norms and customs (urf) of every tribe, as long as they didn’t conflict with the laws of the sharia. Just because we want to follow Islam, it doesn’t mean cultural norms and practices should be abolished provided they don’t violate Islamic laws.

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