As soon as the Muslims, under the leadership of the Prophet, achieved a sense of stability in Al-Madeenah, they had to prepare for a long and hard struggle against both the Quraish and other enemies. The leaders of the Quraish were not satisfied with persecuting Muslims within Makkah; they also didn’t want Muslims to establish a presence and to become strong outside of Makkah. Quraish’ s leaders feared that if Islam spread throughout Arabia, it would mean an end to their rule in Makkah, an end to the tribal system of law that dominated Arabia, an end to their religion and to the customs of their forefathers. In short, they knew that, if Islam gained a strong foothold in Al-Madeenah, somewhere down the road Muslims would set their sights on Makkah.
We have hitherto discussed the many attempts the Quraish made to prevent the Prophet from even reaching Al-Madeenah, and as soon as he arrived there, they made it amply clear that they were as much the enemies of those who harboured the Prophet – the native inhabitants of Al-Madeenah – as they were enemies of the Prophet himself.
One incident that clearly establishes their attitude towards Al- Madeenah’ s inhabitants involves Sa’d ibn Mu’aadh one of the leaders of the Ansaar. Prior to the advent of Islam, Sa’d ibn Mu’aadh was a friend of Ummayyah ibn Khalaf, one of Makkah’s chieftains. Whenever Ummayyah visited Al- Madeenah, he stayed there as a guest of Sa’d and vice-versa. Their cordial friendship continued until the early days of Islam. For when the Messenger of Allah arrived in Al-Madeenah, Sa’d set out towards Makkah, with the intention to perform ‘Umrah (the lesser pilgrimage); once he arrived there, he stayed in the house of Umayyah ibn Khalaf. Sa’d & said to Umayyah, “See if you can find a time when (the Masjid) is empty, so that I might perhaps make Tawaf around the House (i.e., the Ka’bah).” Umayyah took him out during the middle of the day, and they were met on the way by Abu Jahl, who said, “O Abu Safwaan (i.e., Umayyah), who is this with you?” He said, “This is Sa’d Abu Jahl said to Sa’d
“How is it that I see you walking around Makkah in safety, when you have granted refuge to those that have changed their religion! You claim that you will support and help them. Lo! By Allah, had it not been for the fact that you are with Abu Safwaan, you would not have safely returned to your family.”
Raising his voice, Sa’d responded, “By Allah, if you prevent me from this (from performing pilgrimage here in Makkah), I will prevent you from that which you will find even more severe upon you than that: Your road through Al-Madeenah (i.e., I will prevent you from passing through Al-Madeenah on your way to doing business in Ash-Sham)” According to the narration of Al-Baihaqee, Sa’d responded to Abu Jahl’s threat with the following words: “By Allah, if you prevent me from performing circuits around the Ka’bah, I will cut off your trade (routes) to Ash-Sham (Syria and surrounding regions).” This narration proves that Abu Jahl considered Sa’d ibn Mu’aadh to be an enemy of the Quraish, for he made it amply clear that had he not arrived in Makkah under the protection of a Makkan chieftain, he would have been killed. Abu Jahl was announcing a policy shift regarding how Makkah’s chieftains treated the people of Al-Madeenah; for prior to the establishment of a Muslim country in Al-Madeenah, no native of Al-Madeenah needed a guarantee of protection in order to enter Makkah. Quite the opposite, the leaders of the Quraish loathed even the idea of there being any hostility between them and the people of Al-Madeenah, since they depended on cordial relations with them in order to safely traverse their lands on their way to doing business in Ash-Sham, which they relied on for their livelihood. In fact, the leaders of the Quraish were known to have said, “By Allah, we do not detest fighting any Arab people as much as we detest (the idea of) fighting you (i.e., the people of Al-Madeenah) .” This story also proves that, until Abu Jahl showed open hostility to the people of Al-Madeenah, Makkan trading caravans would travel safely through Al-Madeenah on their way to Ash-Sham. The newly-formed Muslim country made no attempts to stop them from passing through, which means that they didn’t initially treat them as enemies, overtake any of their caravans, or place any economic embargo upon them. Therefore, it was the leaders of the Quraish who first declared war on the people of Al-Madeenah, and not the other way around. They treated Muslims as enemies of war, forbidding them entry into Makkah, unless they entered under the protection of a Makkan chieftain. But that was not the only incident which proves that the Quraish were the first to declare war.
On another occasion, but still only shortly after the Prophet arrived in Al-Madeenah, the Quraish tried to incite a civil war in Al-Madeenah. ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Ka’ab ibn Maalik related from one of the Prophet’s Companions & that the disbelievers of the Quraish wrote a letter to ‘Abdullah ibn Ubai and other members of the Aus and Khazraj tribes that still worshipped idols. This occurred when ibn Ubai and others like him still professed their polytheistic beliefs, for a short while later those among this group that didn’t sincerely embrace Islam, professed to embrace Islam while still harbouring disbelief in their hearts; hence they became known as “the Hypocrites.” In their letter, which was sent prior to the Battle of Badr, Quraish’ s leaders wrote the following message:
“You have indeed granted refuge to our companion (i.e., the Prophet), and we indeed swear by Allah that you will fight him and expel him (from Al-Madeenah) or we will all come to you (with a large army), until we fight those among you who fight, and take captive (as slaves) your women.”
‘Abdullah ibn Ubai and his fellow polytheists then gathered all the men they could find in order to fight the Prophet. When news of their intentions reached the Prophet, he went to them and said, ” Quraish’ s threat has had a profound effect upon you, but (know this): what they have planned for you (in terms of them coming to fight you) is not greater than the plotting that you are doing against your own selves (i.e., by fighting Muslims, among whom are your own relatives), for you want to fight your children and your brothers!” When they heard this from the Prophet they dispersed, abandoning the idea of fighting the Prophet and his Companions
Here is a wonderful example of what a great leader and teacher the Prophet was, in terms of how he was able to bring an end to an incipient rebellion in its very early stages. He reached with his words the very depths of their hearts, for hewas appealing to that which they valued most: tribal and familial loyalty. He wanted to make them understand the shame involved in the internecine fighting that they wanted to instigate. After the Quraish declared war – both in speech and in action – on the Islamic country of Al-Madeenah, and after they stole all of the wealth that Makkah’s Muslims left behind once they migrated to Al-Madeenah, Allah permitted Muslims to fight. It was only natural, considering the open hostility that the Quraish showed, for Muslims to do what was necessary to both ensure the stability of Al-Madeenah and to take decisive action against the Quraish.