Compiled by Hafsa Ahsan
The political system implemented by the Prophet (sa) makes an enlightening study. His political decisions were based on consultation with his Companions (rta). In his book “Advisors of the Prophet (sa).” Abdul Aziz Shanawi has detailed the profiles of all the Companions (rta) who gave wise counsel to the Prophet (sa). Following is a brief look at some of these individuals and their advice.
Sad Ibn Ar-Rabi (rta)
Sad Ibn Rabi (rta) belonged to the Khazraj tribe of Madinah. The Prophet (sa) consulted Sad (rta), when his uncle Al-Abbas Ibn Abdul Muttalib sent him a letter from Makkah, informing him that after the Battle of Badar, the Quraish were preparing another army for attacking Muslims.
Sad Ibn Ar-Rabi (rta) said: “O Messenger of Allah! I indeed hope that there is goodness in that (i.e. for the Muslims to overcome them in battle).” The Prophet (sa) requested Sad (rta) to keep the contents of the letter a secret.
Abdullah Ibn Jahsh (rta)
Abdullah Ibn Jahsh (rta) was the first Muslim to receive a flag for a military expedition. He was also the first one to assign one-fifth of the war booty to the Prophet (sa), which later became a rule, following the revelation of the following verse:
“And know that whatever of war-booty that you may gain, verily one-fifth (1/5th) of it is assigned to Allah and to the Messenger, and to the near relatives [of the Messenger (Muhammad)], (and also) the orphans, Al-Masakin (the poor) and the wayfarer…” (Al-Anfal 8:41)
Abdullah Ibn Jahsh (rta) was included in those Companions, who were consulted by the Prophet (sa) after the Battle of Badar. At the time, the Prophet (sa) wanted advice on how the seventy prisoners, taken during the war, should be treated.
Salman Al-Farsi (rta)
Prior to the Battle of Ahzab, the Prophet (sa) consulted his Companions on how the Muslim army should defend itself. Most of the Companions were reluctant to offer any advice. Salman Al-Farsi (rta) came forward and advised that the Muslims should dig a trench on the northern side of Madinah. He felt that the western and eastern sides were well-protected by rough terrain and volcanic rocks. A mountain and a cluster of date palm trees defended its southern side. This valuable counsel proved to be vital for the victory of Muslims in this battle.
Al-Hubaib Ibn Al-Mundhir (rta)
Before the Battle of Badar, both the Muslim and the Quraish armies hastened towards the wells of Badar. Obviously, the army which would have control of the water supply would be at a greater advantage. The Muslim army arrived at the wells first. At that point, Al-Hubaib Ibn Al-Mundhir (rta) asked the Prophet (sa), if Muslims had been commanded by Allah (swt) to camp at this spot. When the Prophet (sa) replied in the negative, he offered his advice. He informed the Prophet (sa) that the well closest to the Quraish army did contain plenty of water. He suggested that Muslims should make a reservoir over that well and destroy all other wells. The Prophet (sa) implemented this suggestion.
Al-Hubaib Ibn Al-Mundhir (rta) also gave some critical advice before the Battle of Khyber. When the Muslim army arrived at Khyber, they camped near the fortress of An-Natat. Al-Hubaib (rta) approached the Prophet (sa) and said that the people of An-Natat had excellent shooting skills. Being in a fortress gives them the advantage to shoot at the Muslim army from a height. They can also launch a surprise attack, as there is a thick cluster of date palm trees to conceal them. The Prophet (sa) then commanded Muhammad Ibn Maslamah (rta) to find another spot for the Muslim army, which was far away from the An-Natat fortress.
Usamah Ibn Zaid (rta)
The Prophet (sa) consulted Usamah (rta) at one of the most crucial times for him and his family. The hypocrites of Madinah had levelled a most serious allegation against his wife Aisha (rta). There was no proof of her innocence or her guilt. The Prophet (sa) consulted Ali Ibn Abi Talib (rta) and Usamah Ibn Zaid (rta). Usamah Ibn Zaid (rta) replied: “O Messenger of Allah, as for your family (wives), I know only good things about them. As for what the people say, it is a lie and completely false.”
Sad Ibn Muadh (rta)
Sad Ibn Muadh (rta) pledged his and the Ansars’ allegiance to the Prophet (sa) before the Battle of Badar. He also advised the Prophet (sa) to build a trellis, which could serve as the headquarters for the Muslim army. “Then, when we meet the enemy, if Allah (swt) honours us, and we come out victorious over the enemy that will be what we truly love and want. But if it is the other outcome (i.e., defeat)…you can return to those (Muslims), who are behind us (in Madinah),” he said.
During the Battle of Ahzab, Sad Ibn Muadh (rta) was chosen to be one of the delegates for the peace negotiations with the tribe of Ghatafan. This tribe was offered one-third of Madinah’s crops, if they returned without fighting the Muslim army. Sad Ibn Muadh (rta) opposed this deal. He (rta) informed the Prophet (sa) that in their pre-Islamic days, Ghatafan tribe was unwilling to eat even a single of Madinah’s fruits, unless they received it as guests or buyers. He (rta) said: “So now that Allah (swt) has honoured us with Islam, guided us to it, and honoured us with you, will we simply give them our wealth? By Allah (swt), we will give them nothing save the sword, until Allah (swt) judges between us and them.” The Prophet (sa) went forth with the counsel of Sad Ibn Muadh (rta).
Naufal Ibn Muawiyah (rta)
During the Battle of Hunain, Naufal Ibn Muawiyah (rta) advised the Prophet (sa). The Muslims had besieged their enemies, who had locked themselves in an impenetrable fortress with supplies, which would last them a year. When the Prophet (sa) consulted his Companions, Naufal Ibn Muawiyah (rta) said: “O Messenger of Allah, when a fox is in a hole, if you stand over it, you will get it. And if you leave it (where it is), it won’t hurt you.” The Prophet (sa) ordered Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (rta) to announce that they were leaving.
Sad Ibn Ubadah (rta)
During the Battle of Ahzab, Sad Ibn Ubadah (rta) was chosen to be one of the delegates for the peace negotiations with the tribe of Ghatafan. He (rta) offered his advice and said: “Then they will have nothing from us other than the sword.” The Prophet (sa), hence, told the men of Ghatafan tribe: “Return, for between us and you is the sword.”
When the Companions (rta) gave advice, they first asked the Prophet (sa), if a particular decision had been commanded by Allah (swt). It shows their level of submission to Allah (swt) and his Messenger (sa). It also indicates that they did not look for any personal benefit in crucial political decisions.