No scene is more grand than the scene of the return of a victorious army to its homeland, and nothing is more pleasant to a soldier than victory over the enemy which protects his honour and ensures his safety and existence. It so happened that both of these things were apparent and visible at the time of the return of the victorious army of Islam from Tabuk.
After covering the journey between Tabuk and Madina the army of Islam arrived in Madina with great splendour. The soldiers of Islam were very much elated and the pride of distinction as a warrior and of predominance was apparent from their gait and conversation. The reason for this pride was also evident, because they had made a big power retreat; the power, which had defeated earlier its powerful adversary (Iran). The Muslims had frightened and over-awed the Romans and had also subjugated the frontiers-men of Syria and the Hijaz.
These persons had admittedly secured an honour by overpowering the enemy and were evidently justified in priding themselves over others, who had stayed on in Madina without a just cause. However, it was possible that this way of thinking and this victorious return might create undue pride in the narrow-minded persons, and might result in insult to some of those persons, who had stayed on in Madina for some good excuse, but their hearts were with the soldiers in the battlefield and they sincerely shared their weal and woe. Hence, the Prophet addressed the army of Islam, at a place near Madina where it had stayed for a short time, in these words: "There are some persons in Madina, who joined hands with you in this journey and kept step with you".
The Prophet was asked as to how it could be imagined that those, who stayed in Madina also participated in the journey with the army. He replied: "They, in spite of being very keen to take part in this sacred obligation (jihad), could not join on account of some good excuse".
By means of this brief speech the Prophet alluded to one of the instructional programmes of Islam and directed the people that good intentions and upright thinking take the place of pious deeds, and those people, who are deprived of doing good deeds on account of lack of strength or resources, can become partners of others in the matter of spiritual reward and recompense for good deeds.
If Islam desires outward reformation it is all the more keen on spiritual reformation and purity of thinking, because the real source of reformation is reformation of belief and the way of thinking, and all our actions originate from our thoughts.
Thus the Prophet removed the unjustified pride of the mujahids and guaranteed the position of the excusable persons, but he determined from that very moment that he would award exemplary punishment to those violators, who had no just excuse to offer, and would make their lives miserable. The following event is an example of such an action.
On the day general mobilization was proclaimed in Madina three Muslims named Hilal, Ka'b and Murarah came to the Prophet and requested that they might he excused from participating in the jihad. The reason mentioned by them was that their produce from the jungle and from their gardens had not yet been collected and was still half-ripe. They also promised the Prophet that when their produce was collected within a few days they would join the army of Islam at Tabuk.
Those persons, who do not differentiate between material gain and political independence, are the short-sighted people who consider the transient worldly pleasures to be at par with respectable life, which is passed under the banner of intellectual, political and cultural independence and at times even prefer the former to the latter.
The Prophet was obliged, after his return, to punish such persons and incidentally to prevent this disease penetrating into the minds of others as well. Not only that these persons had not participated in the jihad but they had also not kept the promise made by them with the Prophet. They were still busy in their trade and in accumulating wealth when suddenly the news of the victorious return of the Prophet spread in Madina.
These three persons, in order to make amends for their misconduct and to deceive other Muslims, went to welcome the Prophet like all others and paid their respects to him and congratulated him; but he did not pay any heed to them. On reaching Madina he addressed the people amidst all the rejoicing and tumult, and the first thing which he said was this: " O people! These three persons belittled the Islamic orders and didn't keep the promise they had made with me. They preferred worldly gains to the respectable life under the banner of Islam. Hence you should cut off all relations with them"
The number of the violators reached ninety, but as most of them belonged to the group of hypocrites and it could not be expected from them that they would join in jihad against the enemy, the pressure was directed towards these three Muslims of whom, Murarah and Hilal, had participated in the Battle of Badr and enjoyed a reputation amongst the Muslims.
The wise policy of the Prophet, which is an integral part Islam, had a wonderful effect. The trade and business of the violators came to a perfect standstill. Their commodities had no demand in the market. Their nearest ones cut off their relations with them and refrained from even conversing with them or visiting them. Social boycott by the people lowered the spirits and morale of these persons, so much that the spacious land of Madina was nothing more than a cage for them. Hence, it was fortunate that these three persons realized, through their intelligence and insight, that life in Islamic environments was not possible without whole-hearted association with the Muslims, and the life of an insignificant minority, opposed to the majority, could not last long, especially when the minority consisted of a group of mischievous, quarrelsome, and spiteful persons.
On the one side they had been called to account and on the other side the natural and instinctive force pulled them once again towards real faith, and they repented before Allah of their cowardly act. The Almighty also accepted their repentance and informed His Prophet of their being forgiven. Orders regarding the termination of the boycott were, therefore, promulgated immediately.
1 Seerah-i Halabi, vol. III, page 163; Biharul Anwar, vol. XX, page 219.
2 The contents of this sentence are an extract from the Qur'an wherein it has been said: "As though there was no place in the whole vast earth to hide them or in their souls to console them" (Surah al-Tawbah, 9:118).
3 (Seerah-i Halabi, vol. III, page 165 and Biharul Anwar, vol. X, page 119). The Prophet's instructive method serves as an example for us, Muslims, in the matter of insignificant minorities. Such opposition can be tackled only by sincerity, determination and unity. Waqidi has given a more detailed account of the three persons. (vide Mughazi, vol. III, pp. 1049 - 1056).
Taken From : The Message by Ayatullah Ja'far Subhani