By Dr. Muhammad b. Lutfî al-Sabbâgh
The Prophet (peace be upon him) showed us the importance of planning. He was meticulous in his planning, and in that way, he taught those around him how important it is to plan one’s course of action.
One good example of this was how he planned his emigration from Mecca to Madinah. He decided on the route he was going to take, set a date for his departure, and he made sure to have a reliable guide and sufficient provisions. He arranged the matter with Abû Bakr, and made sure that they could leave from Mecca undetected.
All of this planning, and all of the precautions that the Prophet (peace be upon him) took, did not contradict with his utmost reliance upon Allah in any way. This is because a Muslim is supposed to take all the lawful and practical steps available and then place all of his or her trust in Allah to bring about the desired results. That is the true meaning of relying on Allah.
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked whether it is better to tie up one’s camel or trust in Allah to keep it from running off, the Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “Tie up the camel and trust in Allah.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (2517)]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) had the utmost faith in Allah, but this never prevented him from planning sensibly for what he wanted to achieve. This is a lesson for those who wish to disseminate the message of Islam to others. It is vital to have a well-thought-out program before embarking upon this noble work. In doing so, we are following our Prophet’s example.
The worst thing we can do is simply react to what goes on around us, responding to those who criticize Islam without planning or forethought. It is imperative that we understand the circumstances we are dealing with, and thereby respond judiciously and productively to what takes place in the world. We need to take a long view.
We can see how the Prophet (peace be upon him) took the long view when he went to the city of Tâ’if to spread the message of Islam. After presenting Islam to the leaders of the city in a polite and respectful manner, the city’s elders replied by setting the street urchins upon him, commanding the urchins to drive him out of town by pelting him with stones. He bore this patiently, and merely continued in his plan to call the various tribes of Arabia to Islam. Members of these tribes were always coming to Mecca for the pilgrimage, and he would present himself to them during the pilgrimage season.
In spite of the persecution that he and his followers were facing daily in Mecca, he persisted in representing Islam to all the tribes of Arabia. He kept to his plan until finally he met with a delegation from the tribe of Khazraj coming from the city of Madinah. The members of this delegation recognized him to be the Messenger of Allah. This would lead ultimately to the emigration of the Muslims from Mecca to Madinah.
The Prophet’s foresight had surely paid off. When he had seen how his own people – the tribe of Quraysh in Mecca – were so violently opposed to his message, he realized the need for a practical plan that would bring him the support that he needed. He carefully planned how and when he would meet with each of the tribes, in spite of the fierce opposition of Quraysh, and he succeeded in meeting with all of them.
Likewise, after gaining the support of the delegation from Khazraj, even more careful planning was needed in order for him to meet with a subsequent delegation from Madinah representing both of its tribes, the other being the tribe of `Aws. This second meeting, which took place duringthe pilgrimage season of the following year, included seventy-five citizens of Madinah, representing men and women from both tribes. They pledged their loyalty and support for the Prophet (peace be upon him) and invited him and his followers to come to Madinah.
Arriving at this goal took many years of persistence and planning. It meant the end of persecution for the Muslims and the beginning of a new era.