As Muslims, the Prophet (pbuh) is our model to emulate. The practical source for learning about the life of the Prophet (pbuh), his behavior and actions is the Sirah, the prophetic biographical works. Muslims rely on this outlet for guidance about issues of daily life and behavior. The main sources of Sirah are the Qur’an, the Sunnah – stories from the life of the Prophet (pbuh) that were documented by classical biographers of the Prophet (pbuh), and the Hadith – the sayings and actions of the Prophet (pbuh).
Research focusing on the life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) by both Muslims and non-Muslims has yielded significant lessons and observations. Nonetheless, one area of the Prophet’s (pbuh) life has not attracted substantial attention, namely, the discussion concerning the administrative aspects of the Prophet’s (pbuh) governance. Knowledge of how the Prophet (pbuh) managed and administered his then new state would help us understand the human nature of the Prophet (pbuh) that is, his humanness. This is an aspect of his life that encompasses his deliberations and decision making.
Having said this, here are some questions to test our knowledge in this area: How many Muslims were in Medinah when the Prophet (pbuh) emigrated? Who set the boundaries of Medinah? Who gave the old city of Yathrib the new name – Medinah? Did the Prophet (pbuh) have secretaries, counselors or a Shura Council? Who provided security for the Prophet (pbuh) and the Muslims? Who were his governors, generals and chiefs of protocol? Who wrote and helped to compose the constitution of Medinah, alternatively called the Charter of the Islamic Alliance?
Some of the answers can be found below within the results of my moderate review of prophetic administrative literature. It is noteworthy that one of the traits of the Prophet (pbuh) was to delegate responsibilities to qualified individuals. It was common for him not to decide affairs of the community on his own. For example, he (pbuh) chose fourteen people who were called the ‘Nuqabaa’a’ to help him in managing the new state. Some modern scholars termed them the ‘Majlis Shura’ or Shura Council. Ibn Khaldun stated that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) consulted with Abu Bakr so often that Abu Bakr was considered his wazir, chief advisor. Al-Bukhari quotes A’ishah as saying, “…Not a single day passed but that the Messenger of Allah visited us both in the morning and in the evening….” Thus, the Prophet (pbuh) often consulted with others. When delegations came to the Prophet (pbuh) in Medinah, Abu Bakr functioned as the Chief of Protocol; he instructed the tribal chiefs and bedouins in the correct etiquette for addressing and dealing with the Prophet (pbuh).
All that was needed to be in writing became the responsibility of secretaries. Zaid ibn Thabit was the head of this area; his main responsibility was conducting correspondence on the Prophet’s behalf to sovereign leaders and other state dignitaries. Abd Allah ibn Arqam and Al-Zubair ibn Al-Awwam were similarly tasked, but to a lesser extent. Ali ibn Abi Talib documented the personal loans to the Prophet (pbuh). Hanzalah ibn Al-Rabi’a functioned as a general backup or substitute secretary when necessary.
Another area of administration was delegated to city officials. They included and also were called qadis or muftis. It was not uncommon for the Prophet (pbuh) to send two people to a city – one would be the governor while the other would be the qadi or mufti. Well known qadi and governor appointees of the Prophet (pbuh) were Ali ibn Abi Talib, Mu’adh ibn Jabal, Attab ibn Usaid, and Baa Zan. It is noteworthy that when a populace had a legitimate complaint against their amir or governor, the Prophet (pbuh) immediately replaced him. The collectors of zakah and sadaqat were Juhaim ibn Salt and Bilal ibn Rabah. The duties overseen by contemporary Secretaries of Housing and Water were assigned to Zaid ibn Arqam and Al-Alaa ibn Uqbah.
There were many leaders of the army and of military expeditions. Among the most well known are Hamzah ibn Abd al-Muttalib, Khalid ibn Walid, Ja’far ibn Abd Al-Muttalib and Zayd ibn Harith. Abbas ibn Abd Al-Muttalib and Umm Al-Fadl handled spying and intelligence activities. Budail ibn Waraqa and Abd Allah ibn Ka’b collected the spoils of war. Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas and Sa’d ibn Ubadah distributed the spoils. Saeed ibn Al-As and Samraa bint Nuhaik Al-Asadiyya were market inspectors.
At various times, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, Budail ibn Warqaa, Aws ibn Thabit, Aws ibn Uraba and Rafi’ ibn Khadij handled perimeter and personal security. Rabah ibn Al-Aswad, Safinah and Anas ibn Malik were head of hijabah, security, when it involved standing guard at the entrance to the Prophet’s (pbuh) quarters – they were armed doormen.
In lieu of having a print media and other means of communicating news of events, the era of the Prophet (pbuh) utilized orators and poets. The main companion for this and for speaking on behalf of the Prophet (pbuh) was Thabit ibn Qays ibn Shammas and Hassan ibn Thabit; others to note were Ka’b ibn Malik and ‘Abd Allah ibn Rawaha. The education amirs, those who supervised public education, were Abd Allah ibn Sa’id ibn Al-Asi and Ubadah ibn Samit.
It is hoped that these tidbits of the Prophet’s (pbuh) appointees encourage the reader to read and research more about the ways of the Prophet’s governance. Those whom Allah has blessed with academic acuity and expertise are especially needed to help their communities.
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