By Javed Iqbal

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was the last Prophet and no Prophet will come after him. He was blessed with innumerable qualities, sagacity and skills. Planning and strategy were his salient qualities. The above two terms are inter-related and sometimes used in the same meaning. According to the Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, strategy means the skills of training and art of managing things. The translation of this word into Arabic is hikmah, which gives the most proper and adequate meaning. It means applying wisdom and taking decisions at the proper time.  In the Holy Qur’ān (2:269), it is said: “And whoever is given wisdom is, in fact, given great wealth.” It means strategy in the right sense is soundness of decision and perfect judgment. In another place, in the Holy Qur’ān, the description of Hazrat Ibrahim’s prayer is given thus, “My Lord, endow me with knowledge and wisdom and join me with the righteous.” (The Qur’ān – 26:83)

Once Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said a man of wisdom should make a just division of his time. He should reserve some time for remembering his Lord, some for his own retrospection and some for contemplating the creatures and the objects of the universe. A wise person should allocate a portion of his time to earn his livelihood. In the same way, a man of proper intellect should feel the nerve of situations to know what is happening in this world. These are the wise teachings of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. We should follow and adopt his model in the proper way.

Once, before the advent of Prophethood, a serious incident of strife and differences arose. It was the question of fixing Hajr-e-Aswad (Sacred Black Stone) onto the wall of Ka’abah. The leaders of all the tribes wanted to have the honour of doing this job. After all, Muhammad ﷺ was selected to do this job. He asked for a white big sheet and put the black stone thereon. He then asked the leaders of all the tribes to hold the sheet and carry it together to the wall of Ka’abah. Thus he beautifully, tactfully and wisely solved the problem, satisfying all the tribal leaders. This judicious step was widely appreciated everywhere. This is one of the examples of Prophet Muhammad’s strategy and wisdom.

On another occasion, the Prophet ﷺ invited his family and other relatives, who numbered about 45, to dinner and talked about the message of Allah and Tawheed

Another instance of his strategy and planning follows like this. When some extraordinary incident would occur in Makkah, it was customary for a person to come nude early in the morning and climb on the Mount Safa and report the incident to the people. The Prophet ﷺ adopted the same strategy but with clothes on and asked the people, “If I say there is an army behind the mountain that intends to attack you, would you believe me? The people responded, “We’ll believe you; for you’ve never told a lie.”  Then he conveyed the message of Allah to them.

The Prophet’s strategy at the time of Hijra was also reasonable, systematic and realistic which yielded success. Before moving to Madinah, the Prophet ﷺ handed all the assets and deposits of people over to Hazarat Ali, who would deliver them to their owners. Then he appointed a non-Muslim as his guide for the Madinah journey. He first took shelter in the Cave of Thawr, which was in the opposite direction of Madinah, thinking that the Quraish people would not come on that route immediately.

When the emigrants arrived in Madinah, they were welcomed by the Ansar as brothers. Madinah had a small Jewish community.  He struck a deal with them to maintain peace in the town.

Another example of his sagacity is about sending envoys to foreign land for Dawah work. He used to select a person as the leader of the delegation who was bold, courageous, articulate and good-looking as well as familiar with the language and culture of the people of that area. 

Furthermore, the Prophet ﷺ was very conscientious about keeping his promises and sticking to his schedule. This is the spirit of planning and strategy at its most fundamental level. He used to visit Abu Bakr al-Siddiq’s house in the morning or evening and Hazrat Fatima’s after the prayer of Asar. We can be convinced of the Prophet’s intellect and forethought if we study his life.

What can we learn from the Prophet’s methods in the current situation, particularly in our country?

Before the Prophethood, Muhammad ﷺ was invited to sign a pact known as Hilf al Fudul, an alliance or confederacy created by the Makkans in the year 590 CE, to establish justice for all through collective action, even for those who had no connections to the powerful.

The salient points of the pact included that they:

  1. Won’t deprive each other of their rights;
  2. Will get the rights of the weaker from the powerful, as well as from the local to the traveller; and
  3. Will uphold the ideals of justice and collectively intervene in conflicts to restore justice.

Hilf al Fudul was hosted at the house of Abdullah ibn Jada’an in Makkah. Recalling this pact, the Prophet ﷺ once stated in Madinah that he would do so once again if he got a chance.

We may learn from it and reach out to non-Muslims, especially minorities and their organisations, who are speaking up against oppressors and tyrants and fighting for a just society. We can also think about common issues to make sure we’re on the same page.

Muslims as individuals and as their organisations should take inspiration and lessons from the Prophet’s planning and strategies adopted during hard times in Makkah and some good times in Madinah.

However, it is regrettable that the book of the life of the Prophet ﷺ is rarely found in Muslim homes, and Muslim organisations are similarly uninterested in drawing lessons from the life of the Prophet ﷺ. And the result is that we are lacking in foresight and broadmindedness.

I will quote a Hadith which holds a mirror to Muslims and their organisations. Hazrat Anas relates that the Prophet ﷺ said, “There is no faith for one who cannot be trusted. There is no religion for one who cannot keep a promise.” (Musnad Ahmad)

In the light of this saying of the Prophet ﷺ, we can examine our individual and collective behaviour. 

Since the advent of communal and fascist forces in the garb of so-called cultural nationalism, Muslims and other minorities are at the receiving end. In terms of cultural nationalism, it is a hollow slogan disguised as Hindutva, a term coined by Savarkar in 1923, despite the fact that Hindu culture is not a defined one. The lifestyle, meals and interactions are all examples of culture. If cultural nationalism means that people should adopt a 1,000-year-old culture without rhyme or reason, even 1% of people will not approve of it.

What we are witnessing today in the country is extreme intolerance and provocations. In such dire scenario, Muslims should learn from Prophet Muhammad’s life, which the Qur’ān describes as the best example for humankind. His planning and strategies are more relevant and applicable in today’s time.

[As told to Abdul Bari Masoud]

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