The Constitution of Medina & The Concept of the Welfare State [Introduction and Salient Features]


The Islamic civilization has been a source of light and guidance for humanity for centuries. Humankind is aware that it is Islam that is the guarantor of mutual survival and the protector of permanent world peace.

In the global context, the construction of an exemplary society rests on a solid foundation that necessitates the enactment of essential laws to govern life’s affairs in a just and effective manner. The prosperity or decline of any region is contingent upon its constitutional framework. The enforcement of a benevolent law, grounded in welfare, has the potential to transform the world into a utopia. Conversely, in the absence of the rule of law in society, the distinction between humanity and cruelty becomes blurred. The establishment of the rule of law hinges on the realization of ideal peace and tranquility, economic prosperity, and love and tolerance within a society.

As a religion in harmony with nature, Islam presents a comprehensive life system, addressing and fulfilling all the needs of humanity—a complete code of life. The practical embodiment and elucidation of Islam’s universal principles are exemplified through the noble conduct of Prophet Muhammad a. Every facet of the Holy Prophet’s biography abounds with innumerable facets of guidance for mankind.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad a, the last of the Prophets f, laid the foundation of a civilized society by organizing the people of Medina into a chain of discipline and connection immediately after the migration. The basis of Islamic law is the commandments and orders of Allah Almighty and His Prophet Muhammad a, and then those in authority. Referring to this matter, the Quran says:

﴿يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ أَطِيعُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُواْ ٱلرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِي ٱلۡأَمۡرِ مِنكُمۡۖ فَإِن تَنَٰزَعۡتُمۡ فِي شَيۡءٖ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ وَٱلرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمۡ تُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأٓخِرِۚ ذَٰلِكَ خَيۡرٞ وَأَحۡسَنُ تَأۡوِيلًا﴾

"O believers! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (a) and those in authority among you. If you dispute among yourselves in any matter, refer it to Allah and the Messenger ﷺ (for the final judgement) if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best and fairest resolution." [Q.4:59]

Life, whether individual or collective, is in need of a law and constitution for order and discipline. In human history, Islam has the honour and distinction of being the first to give a clear, complete and comprehensive constitution to human consciousness.

Before the migration of the Prophet a, the people of Medina were living in an environment of intense conflict and social division. Moral values were lost and the existence of a stable state under a constitution was missing. The long wars in Medina, especially the long war of Bu¢¥th fought between al-Aws and al-Khazraj, forced the people of Medina to think that they had to take some necessary steps to end the constant bloodshed and looting.

When the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ came to Medina, he paid attention to some pressing and immediate matters to end the local quarrels and chaos and to improve administrative matters and highlight the features of the future state’s administrative structure. He first established the relationship of brotherhood between the Helpers and the Emigrants. This not only solved the economic problems of the Emigrants, but also created a positive, constructive and healthy atmosphere at the local level, which removed all obstacles in the implementation of the future administrative and state structure.

After the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ came to Medina, it became clear that Medina would emerge from the state of chaos, division and lawlessness into a well-organized society. He made the formation of a constitutional state and its agreed constitution a top priority. The Constitution of Medina is a significant and fundamental milestone in the political, contractual and constitutional struggle of the Prophet Muhammad a. The articles of the Constitution of Medina, along with the determination of the sovereignty of the state, are also witnesses to his Prophetic foresight and perfection of constitutional skills.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ took such steps from the beginning that paved the way for the approval of a constitution and the establishment of the state of Medina, which marked the beginning of a new scientific, political, intellectual, constitutional, civilizational, cultural, economic and social era in the history of humanity. This led humanity out of the age of dispersion and into the constitutional era. The fundamental milestone that led to the beginning of this new era was a historical constitution that determined the rights and duties of rulers and subjects. This constitution was compiled and approved with the consultation of all participants. In this way, the first regular written constitution, called the Constitution of Medina, came into existence.

The Constitution of Medina, the first written constitution in the world, is not only unique in its distinction, but also a manifestation of the highest constitutional qualities in terms of its content. If the Constitution of Medina is analysed in the light of modern constitutional standards and regulations, then all the basic qualities that should be in an ideal constitution are seen in the Constitution of Medina.

On this subject, Dr Hassan Mohi-ud-Din Qadri has written a voluminous book titled “The Constitution of Medina & The Concept of the Welfare State (A Comparative Analysis of the Constitution of Medina and Contemporary Western Constitutions)” in two volumes with 1,100 pages approximately. This unique research has also been published in Arabic and Urdu. This book has a total of 7 chapters:

1. Introduction: Formation of Western and Islamic Political Law

2. The Authentic Medinan Charter—Its Text, Articles, and the Evaluation of its Narrators

3. Analysis of the Medinan Constitution

4. The Forming of a State in the Medinan Constitution and Modern-Day Legislations

5. The General Principles of Governance in the Medinan Constitution and the Modern Legislations

6. Human Rights in the Constitution of Medina and Modern Legislations

7. State Powers between the Medinan Charter and Modern Constitutions

By comparing the Constitution of Medina with modern constitutions, it has been made clear that the Constitution of Medina covers all the details, including the nature and status of the state, the constitutional status of the individuals of the state, the rights and duties of the state, the rights and duties of the citizens of the state and other state matters. This is a unique work of its kind in the history of Islam on this subject.

Copyrights © 2024 Minhaj-ul-Quran International. All rights reserved