Prophet Muhammad Models of Political Communication

Ali Zohery

Introduction

It is difficult to discuss separately the political and the military features of the prophet’s leadership. He was the political leader and the chief of the first Muslim State in Arabia of which Madina was the capital. This research paper is to investigate the prophet’s political communication.

Politics can be defined as the “art of ruling human societies”(Abd Allah, Political Systems, p. 9) (in Arabic). Or as the “Science of government and the art of relationships of government, and is used to describe the group of affairs which concern the state or the manner followed by rulers. (Kayyali & Zohairi, Encyclopaedia of Politics, p.327) (In Arabic)

The most important qualities of a military leader coincide with those required in the political leader, especially when the leader assumes the highest position in the state, or is establishing a state. Military leadership requires firmness and resolution while political leadership requires clemency, forbearance and wisdom. Having qualities for both kinds of leadership can be found in very rare people.

The prophet Muhammad differs from other political leaders in that he neither inherited a throne nor seized power. Rather, he established a state from nothing.

Research Questions

To show the wisdom behind the prophet’s political communication, this research paper will address the followings questions:

1. How did the prophet communicate concerning the establishing of the state?

2. How did the prophet communicate concerning home affairs

3. How did the prophet communicate concerning the external affairs

Methodology

Content analysis is the method of data collection for this research: “ Prophet Muhammad style of Political Communication as a world leader.” This methodology is an approach to qualitative and quantitative research that is used to identify specific characteristics in textual messages (Morris R., 1994). The textual messages in this research are the speeches and conversations that the prophet had with his companions and followers. In addition, his orations or sermons that he delivered to address the mankind in general.

During the twenty-three years of the prophethood of Muhammad, there were many of the speeches, orations or sermons that Prophet Muhammad communicated through to deliver his message to people. The message of Islam was not only for the people of the Arabia, but also was intended to be universal.

Contents analysis looks at the characteristics of communication messages, their contents and the producers of these messages ( Rubin, R.B., Rubin, A.M. & Piele, L.J. 1996). The study is analyzing some of the speeches and events through which the prophet communicated the message of Islam to the people.

The unit of analysis of this study is the Prophet Muhammad’s individual speeches to his followers. Codes such as dates, events, locations and circumstances (peace or war). Using the content analysis, as a method to collect the data requires defining the categories involved in the research study. The definition of the categories will help to clarify the coding scheme and that will lead to the reliability of the research. (Hamza, M. J., May 1997)

The researcher is investigating the effects that the speeches of the prophet had on his followers. This will shed the light on the communication techniques and strategies that the prophet used to deliver his message to the world.

Significance of the Study

The Prophet Muhammad’s techniques in his political communication and his leadership style played a significant role in accomplishing his goal in delivering the message of Islam to the world. Researching these techniques and style will uncover an important phase of the methods through which the religion of Islam is reaching 1.2 billion Muslims on the planet of Earth.

Literature review – findings

The prophet’s strategy in his leadership political communication was unique comparing to other leaders. One of the primary duties of a political leader is to be aware of the surroundings and circumstances. This would give him the ability to deal with reality to improve it. The prophet did not seek to build a kingdom. He worked towards establishing a state, which embraced new principles, which went against the previous traditions.

A state rests on three pillars: people, land and political authority, which manages the affairs of people. The state can be defined as “A group of people who are living permanently on a specific geographical territory and who are subjected to a specific political administration.” (Abd Allah, Al Nodhom, p. 19)

The Prophet Muhammad spent 13 years in Makka facing war with peace, violence with calm, revenge by forgiveness and tyranny with the call of justice. During this period, he was able to build a community, which consisted of people ready to sacrifice their lives in the path of God and the new religion. The Prophet Muhammad became convinced that Qoraish would not allow him to make of Makka a “safe and strong basis” from which he can start to establish his state. He prepared the believers, the first pillar of the state. But he needed the land, the second pillar. That was why he turned to another city, which would be suitable to form his basis. He, firstly, chose Taef because it was the nearest town to Makka. Taef enjoyed a strategic location and its inhabitants were firm warriors. Thus he went to invite its leaders to Islam but they rejected him and harmed him. They even incited their children to harm him. Following this, he returned to Makka disappointed but still hopeful in God’s help and support.

The prophet did not give up and kept on calling to Islam other tribes, which used to make pilgrimage to Makka according to ancient Arab traditions. He met a group of 12 men from the city of Yathreb (Madina). In the next year, seventy-three Madinans came, met the prophet. He felt that he could look forward to having his safe and solid basis in Madina. When God revealed His permission to the prophet to immigrate to Madina, he realized that he had ensured the second element of his state: the land.

He still had to establish some sort of organization and political administration in order to have all the necessary elements of the state. The first thing he did after coming to Madina was to declare that his followers from Makka and Madina were brethren to each other. The prophet formulated a treaty to govern the relationships between the various elements of the new society, Muslims as well as non- Muslims. The treaty was called Al Sahifa (“document, treaty, covenant”). The treaty embodied the provisional constitution of the first Muslim State.

This research will analyze one of the prophet’s characteristics: forbearance. In the opinion of Aristotle, forbearance is the middle way between swift anger and passivity. Anger is not blameworthy when it is subject to the intellect. The blameworthy form of anger is when it is expressed towards things, which do not deserve anger, or for improper reasons, or when it lasts for a longer time than is proper.

According to al-Ghazzali, forbearance consists in curbing the power of anger and subjugating it to the intellect. In his opinion, the first stage is to imitate forbearance or restraint of anger. When he becomes accustomed to that for a time, then forbearance becomes his characteristic. Natural forbearance is an indication of perfection of the intellect and its control over anger. Some studies define forbearance as self-control.

The prophet Muhammad was the highest example of forbearance because Allah taught him and taught well. Allah says:

“Make allowances for people, command what is right, and turn away from the ignorant. If an evil impulse from Shaytan pricks you, seek refuge in Allah. He is all hearing, All-Seeing. As for those who are godfearing, when they are disturbed by visitations from Shaytan, they remember and immediately see clearly.”

The command is to be steadfast and seek forgiveness from Allah when you are angry and moved to revenge.

The manifestation of forbearance in the life of the Prophet

The manifestations of this forbearance in the life of the Prophet, were very numerous, the followings are examples:

1. After the Prophet defeated the Banu’l-Mustaliq, some of the Ansar and Muhajirun quarreled and ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayayy al-Khazraji said “The Muhajirum have constricted us and crowded us in our own land. By Allah, when we return to Madina, the stronger will expel the baser from it!”

The Prophet heard those words. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab was with him and said: “Command ‘Ubbad ibn Bishr to kill him!” The Prophet said “Umar, how will it be when people say that Muhammad kills his companion? No, announce that we are leaving.”

That was at a time when the Prophet did not normally travel. The people set out and while they were travelling, Usayd ibn Hudayr asked him, “Prophet of Allah, by Allah, you are returning at an early hour when you do not normally travel.” The Messenger said to him, “ Have you heard what your companion said?” He said, ‘ Which companion?” He said, ‘”Abdullah ibn Ubayy.” He asked, “And what did he say?” He replied “He stated that when he returns to Madina the stronger will expel the baser from it.” Usayd said,” So you, Messenger of Allah, be kind to him. By Allah, when Allah brought you to us his people were preparing to crown him. He thinks that you have wrested a kingdom from him.”

Then the Prophet traveled with the people until evening, then through the night until morning, and then through the beginning of the day until the sun was too hot for them. Then he camped with them and as soon as they touched the ground, they fell asleep. He did that to distract them from what had happened the previous day.

Then the son of ‘ Abdullah ibn Ubayy presented himself to the Prophet and said that if his father must be killed, then his son should be the one to kill him. The Prophet said, “ No, we will be kind to him and be a good companion to him as long as he remains with us.”

Here the Messenger was in a situation where a person would normally be very angry; he was also in a position to punish ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy for the sedition which he was inciting. But he showed forbearance to him and refused to allow him to be killed, refused to threaten him with expulsion from Madina, refused to allow his son to kill him and, on top of all this, promised to be kind to him and be a good companion to him. This is a wonderful example of forbearance.

2. Wahshi, the client of Jubayr ibn Mut’im killed Hamza ibn ‘Abdu’l-Muttalib in the Battle of Uhud. When the Prophet conquered Makka, Wahshi fled to Ta’if. When the delegation of Ta’if went to the Prophet to submit, all avenues were closed to him.

Wahshi said, “ I said, ‘ I will go to Syria, Yemen or some other land.’ By Allah, I was in that state of anxiety when a man said to me, ‘ Woe to you! By Allah, he does not kill anyone who enters his religion and bears witness.’ When he told me that, I went out to the Messenger of Allah without fear of him until I was standing face to face with him and then gave the testimony of truth. When he saw me, he said, ‘ Is it Wahshi?’ I said, ‘ Yes, Messenger of Allah.’ He said, ‘ Sit down and tell me how you killed Hamza.’ When I finished telling him, he said,’ Bother you! Remove your face from me. I do not want to see you.’ So I used to avoid the Messenger of Allah wherever he was so that he would not see me, until Allah Almighty took him.”

What unique restraint of rage! What immense forbearance the Messenger of Allah showed. He met the killer of his noble uncle, his friend comrade in jihad, and his brother by suckling! He was angry with his killer and able to take revenge on him, even if he had been strong and free, let alone a slave who had been freed by his master after killing Hamza and so without helper or protector.

3. A Bedouin came to the Messenger to ask him for something. He gave him something and then asked him, “ Have I been generous to you?” The Bedouin said, “ No, and you have not behaved well.” The Muslims became angry and made for him, but he, indicated to them to hold back.

Then he went inside his house, sent for the Bedouin, and gave him more. Then he asked the man, “ Have I been good to you?” “Yes, may Allah repay you well from your family and tribe,” he replied. Then the Prophet said to him, “ you said what you said and that had an effect on my Companions. If you like, you can say what you have just said in front of them so that it will remove what they feel in their hearts against you.” The Bedouin agreed.

Next morning or evening he came and the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “ This is the Bedouin who said what he said. We gave him more and now he states that he is pleased. Is that the case?” The Bedouin said, “ Yes, may Allah repay you well from your family and tribe.”

The Messenger “ I and this Bedouin are like a man who has a she-camel which bolts from him. People pursue it, but they only make it in shy away more. Then the owner of the camel cries out to them, ‘Leave me with my camel! I am kinder to it and know it better.’ So he goes to it from in front and takes some sweepings from the earth and slowly drives it back, until it comes and kneels and he puts his saddle on it and gets up on it.”

Can you see how the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was forbearing to this man he gave to in spite of the fact he was ungrateful for what he had already been given? Do you see how he gave to him a second time and then heard his pleasure and supplication? Do you see how he removed the anger of his companions towards this Bedouin so that none of them would punish him for his incivility and ingratitude?

4. A young man came to the Prophet, and said, “ Prophet of Allah, will you give me permission to commit fornication?” The people shouted at him and the Prophet said, “ Bring him near. Approach.” He came up and sat in front of him. The Prophet said to him, “ Would like your mother to do it?” The young man said,” No, may Allah make me your ransom!” The Prophet said, “ So people do not like it for their mothers. Would you like it for your daughter?” The young man said,” No, may Allah make me your ransom!” The Prophet said,” So people do not like it for their daughters. Would you like it for your sister?” and he went on to mention his aunts. Every time the man said,” No, may Allah make me you ransom!” and the Prophet would say, “ So people do not like it.”

Then the Prophet put his hand on the breast of the young man and said, “ O Allah, purify his heart and forgive his sin and protect his private parts. Make nothing more hateful to him than fornication.”

Here the wisdom of the great teacher is very clear. He did not rebuke the young man or confront him with his foolishness but was kind to him and began to make examples for him so that he would see the ugliness and atrocity of what he proposed. Then he added to that the kindness of a loving father and prayed for the young man to be healed of his disease from which he had thought there was no release or cure.

5. At the Battle of Uhud, his Companions asked him to curse the idolaters who had wounded his face and broken his tooth so that the blood flowed down his face. He said, “ I was not sent as a curser. I was sent as a summoner and a mercy. O Allah, forgive my people. They do not know.”

That day was critical: the Muslims were not victorious and many of their great men were killed and wounded. Even the Prophet himself not preserved from injury. But even so, he would not call on Allah to destroy his people, since he was steadfast and forbearing. He continued to have great hope that their senses would return to them and they would be guided to the religion of Allah.

6. Anas narrated: “ One day I was walking with the Messenger of Allah, when a badouin caught up with him and pulled him violently. The Prophet was wearing a Najrani cloak with a thick border and I saw that the neck of the Messenger of Allah had a mark from the edge of the cloak owing to the strength of the man’s tugging.

“ The Bedouin said, “ Muhammad! Load up these two camels of mine with some of the property of Allah which is in your possession. You will not let me load up from your property nor your father’s property.’ The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was silent and then said, ‘ The property is the property of Allah and I am His slave.’ Then he said, ‘ Shall retaliation be taken from you, Bedouin, for what you did to me?’ The Bedouin said, ‘ No.’ the Messenger said, ‘ Why not?’ The Bedouin said, ‘ Because you never repay evil with evil.’ The Messenger of Allah, laughed and then commanded that the Bedouin have one camel loaded with barley and another with dates.”

The Prophet was forbearing to that Bedouin who was rude to him, spoke insolently to him, and used inbefitting coarseness. Then he gave him what he wanted and probably more than he wanted.

7. Before he was a Muslim, Zayd ibn Sa’na came to demand that the Prophet repay a loan to him. He pulled his garment from his shoulder, seized hold of him and behaved coarsely towards him. ‘ Umar chased him off and spoke harshly to him while the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, merely smiled. He said, “ I expect something other than this from you, ‘ Umar. You should command me to repay the man well and command him to ask for his debt correctly.” Then he said, “ Three days are left till it is due.” He told ‘Umar to repay him what was owed and to add twenty sa’s because he had alarmed him. This was the cause through which Zayd became Muslim.

8. The Messenger of Allah made a division of goods and one of the Muslim Bedouins said: “ This is a division by which the Face of Allah is not intended.”

When the Prophet, Messenger of Allah was told that, his cheeks became red and he said, “ May Allah have mercy on Musa! He suffered more abuse than this and remained patient.”

The prophet became angry as is proper, because his anger, as Ali ibn Abi Talib said, was not for this world’s sake. He was angry for the sake of the truth and nothing could withstand his anger until the Truth had been vindicated. It is as Aisha (a wife of the prophet) said: the Prophet never took revenge for himself unless the honor of Allah was violated. Then he took revenge for the sake of Allah.” Even the anger of the Messenger never transgressed the limits of fairness in any instance.

Above just a few examples of forbearance characteristic of the Prophet.

Conclusion

In his political leadership communication, the Prophet demonstrated extreme self-control made his followers to love him and his enemies either to give up and join his religion or to fear him and stay away. There was no human being had his life more scrutinized and documented than the Prophet Muhammad. His behavior was perfect with companions and fair with his foes.

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Prophet Muhammad Leadership

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