Here are two Ayats of Qur’an and their accompanying Tafsir that highlight the significance of Madina as a model city.
As for those who make hijra (migrate) for Allah’s sake after being wronged,
We shall give them good lodging in this world
and the reward of the Next World is greater still, if only they knew
“We shall give them good lodging in this world” Ibn Abbas, Asha’biyy and Qataadah said: it is Madina. For the illuminated city is the dwelling of good, joy and blessings both inwardly and outwardly, in sensory and in meaning. And Ibn-Jareer chose this opinion.
Arraaghib also said: “hasanah” or “good” is used to describe all that is a blessing for man in his self, body and state and so it does not stop at just reward in the hereafter, and this can be seen in Madina, whomever takes residence in it or visits it will find good, joy, expansion, blessing and tranquillity that they would not find in any other cities.
Those who were already settled in the abode, and in iman, before they came,
love those who have made hijra (migration) to them
and do not find in their hearts any need for what they have been given
and prefer them to themselves even if they themselves are needy.
It is the people who are safe-guarded
from the avarice of their own selves who are successful
The abode here refers to the city of Madina, it is the abode of migration and faith and naming it as the abode by Allah is an indication that it is deserving of being named the abode, it is the city that Allah had prepared for the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the believers to reside in, in honour of them.
In mentioning the abode (which is Madina) and iman together indicates to us the virtue of Madina, since Allah made their (the Ansar) residence in Madina linked with their iman and belief in Allah and His Messenger. Perhaps this is what Maalik meant in what Ibn-Wahb narrated from him: “I heard Maalik mentioning the virtue of Madina above other places and he said: “Madina housed both Iman and the hijra while other towns came to Islam through conquest” and then he recited the verse “Those who were already settled in the abode, and in iman, before they came, love those who have made hijra (migration) to them….”
Madina in hadith
Abu Huraira narrated: Allah’s Prophet said, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “I was ordered to migrate to a town which will swallow (conquer) other towns, is called Yathrib and that is Madina, and it turns out (bad) people as a furnace removes the impurities from iron.”
Sahih Bukhari, Muwatta’ Maalik
Abi Zuhayr said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘Yemen will be conquered and the people will be attracted to it, taking their families and whoever obeys them. Madina would have been better for them, had they but known. Ash-Shams will be conquered, and people will be attracted to it, taking their families and whoever obeys them. Madina would have been better for them, had they but known. Iraq will be conquered, and people will be attracted to it, taking their families and whoever obeys them. Madina would have been better for them, had they but known.’ ”
Sahih Bukhari, Muwatta’ Maalik
Abu Huraira narrated: Allah’s Messenger said, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “Truly, Iman returns and goes back to Madina as a snake returns and goes back to its hole (when in danger).”
Imam Ibn-Hajar commented on this hadith in al-fath’ al-baari: Just as it (the snake) leaves its hole seeking its provision and if it is afraid or harmed it returns to its hole, so does Iman which spread in Madina and every Mumin (believer) finds in himself a drive towards Madina out of love for the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. This is true for all times, since in the time of the Messenger it was to learn from him, and in the time for the right acting Salaf to emulate them, seek guidance from them, after that to visit the tomb of the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, to pray in his mosque and to seek blessings from witnessing the signs and traces of him and his companions.
Anas narrated: The Prophet said, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “O Allah! Bestow on Madina twice the blessings You bestowed on Mecca.”
Anas narrated: Whenever the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, returned from a journey and observed the walls of Madina, he would make his mount go fast, and if he was on an animal (i.e. a horse), he would make it gallop because of his love for Madina.
Madina was the first city established by the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him. It was established as the city of justice, and balanced economic and social welfare – the model city throughout the lifetime of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and his companions. It is a sacred city since the Prophet, his family and his close companions are buried there. Madina was the place of the establishment and embodiment of Islam after the Qur’an was revealed in completion. (Based on a document by Dr. Humaira Shahid)
We often refer to a Sura of the Qur’an as either Makkan or Madinan: the Makkan being the earlier revelation, the Madinan being the later revelation. The completion of the Qur’an was in Madina and the embodiment of the message was carried through in Madina: the exercised activities, duties and actions of the earlier generations which makes Madina so important.
Two fundamental ideas about the Welfare of Madina: ‘imarat (urban waqf) and Zakat (welfare prescribed as obligatory worship).
The ‘imarat which literally means ‘development’ or ‘construction’ is today a forgotten concept. The Ottomans called it ‘imarat, and it was the foundational urban unit upon which cities were developed. The Ottoman ‘imarat was an urban complex consisting of a mosque and a public market, and often complemented with a madrassa, library, hospital, hamam and hospice.
All these institutions inside the ‘imarat were waqf. The public market, although free to trade within it, generated enough revenue to cover the maintenance cost of the other institutions, which delivered their services for free or for a reduced fee. Consequently, all new neighbourhood expansions in existing cities were also built around a central ‘imarat. The ‘imarat is a unique model of welfare generated by urban design. It supplied through trading the largest number of jobs to the city, and also generated basic welfare services for free or almost free, especially health and education. Ibn Khaldun refers to the establishment of ‘imarats as the means to distribution of wealth that allows “Islam and the Muslims to flourish”, and indicates that the largest part of the treasury should be dedicated to this end of building and expanding the ‘imarat. The public market building consisted of two distinctive zones:
- The trading area which was free-from-fees for traders (as free as a Muslim is able to pray in a mosque);
- The service area which generated income based on the provision of logistic services to traders and amenities to consumers. The service area consisted of specially designed compartments and buildings attached to the main market area such as: long-term, short-term, and security types of merchandise storage, light workshops, professional offices and public amenities. As argued by the great historian Halil Inalcik, “in rebuilding ottoman cities and regenerating commerce and the economy the construction of ‘imarats played a fundamental part.”
The market was established soon after the mosque with strict rules of trade which permitted the halal and forbade the haram, carried justice for the poor and brought economic balance. The Madinan model is the caravan model. The caravan is a guild of traders. This model lasted for hundreds of years among Andalusians, Ottomans and Mughals.
- The Caravan Model: Rasulullah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was a caravan trader (not just a trader). A caravan is a fraternity of traders, like the original craft-based biradari (‘brotherhood’ in Persian). Members share resources –commonly owned as a waqf – on the basis of “everything-as-a-service”. Members are trusted and vouch for each other which leads to a new groundbreaking conception of credit worthiness based on their socially recognised integrity. The caravan is based on solidarity but balanced with a healthy competition as individual traders.
By comparison a capitalist export company typically consists of an owner and several hundred employees. The employees do their assigned jobs and decisions are centralised in the management. The management chooses what to buy and what to sell. In the caravan model, each trader makes his/her own decisions and manages his/her own risks. Historically the caravan is proven as the most efficient system of trade ever. Measured against the overall benefits to society (rather than individual profit), efficiency-oriented models are clearly better than profit-oriented models: monopolies are profitable but harmful to society.
Autonomy: members choose which caravan journey they wish to participate in and how much they wish to participate.
Openness: the caravan is an open network; the only condition to join the caravan was to prove your honesty and mastery of skills to your peers. The Caravan of Madina belonged to the people of Madina.
AMAL (BEHAVIOUR) of MADINA
Our source guides and authority on the Amal of Madina is Imam Malik (rahimahullah) who recorded the practises of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and his Companions in a text known as the Muwatta, and Qadi ‘Iyyad who prepared two seminal texts, The Foundations of Islam and Ash-Shifa. Both texts can be ordered through Diwan Press by clicking on the links below: