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The Sealed Nectar

 The Sealed Nectar by Shaykh Safi ur-Rahman

 

The inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula were of two kinds: the nomadic desert dweller {Bedouin} and the city dweller. Tribal laws and customs prevailed all over Arabia, even among the more civilized kingdoms of the region, such as the kingdom of Yemen in the south, the kingdom of Al-Heerah in the northeast, and the kingdom of Ghasaasinah in the northwest.

A tribe was a group of people who were linked to one another through blood relations. It was the laws and customs of each tribe that dictated the relation between the individual and the group as well as the rights that were due to and obligatory upon - depending on the case - each member of the tribe. For example the chief of a tribe had many rights over his people. But they too had rights over him. There were a number of factors that made a tribe member suitable for the position of chief – his status, generosity, character, bravery and so on. The chief of a given tribe had the right to be honored and obeyed by his people; if there was a dispute, his judgment was final. He had monetary rights as well: one-quarter of the spoils of war belonged to him; before the distribution of the spoils of war, he had the right to choose specific items for himself; what ever was taken from an enemy before battle belonged to him; what ever form of wealth {from the spoils of war} could not be distributed, belonged to him. These rights did not come with out a price; the chief had many duties that he had to fulfill, some of which effectively nullified the benefits of the aforementioned monetary rights. During times of peace, he was expected to be very generous to his fellow tribesmen. And in war, he was expected to fight in the frontlines; also, it was his duty and right to enact peace agreements when doing so was for the benefit of the tribe.

Living under tribal laws and customs, the average tribesman lived a life of freedom, having to answer to no one, as long as he harmed no one. And as such, it became a part of the nature of Arabs to love freedom, and to hate injustice and subservience. Every individual member of a given tribe fought for all of the other members; more honor for the tribe meant more honor for the individual tribesman. On the downside of this arrangement, one automatically supported his fellow tribesmen, regardless of whether they were in the right or in the wrong. Thus in some regards, the individual tribesman was considered more as a member of the tribe than an individual.

Each individual tribe had its own status and political reality, and depending on its situation, it waged war against or formed alliances with other tribes. War was a constant reality among Arabs; among the most famous of wars in their history was the war of Fijaar. But other than major wars, minor skirmishes or attacks were common place. A member of one tribe might attack a member of another tribe for personal motives, such as revenge; or one tribe attack another tribe for profit; the livelihood of some tribes actually depended upon the practice of attacking other tribes and taking all of their possessions by force. After such ruthless attacks took place, home and entire villages were left empty, as if no one had lived there the day before.

Most of the Companions of the Prophet had, by now, migrated to Al-Madinah. The few who remained behind included the young ‘Ali and the close companion Abu Bakr , who awaited the day when he could accompany the Prophet of God in his migration journey. Not before long, that day soon dawned.

Taken from the book, The Noble Life of the Prophet Vol.1

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