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The Constitution of Medina (Arabic: صحیفة المدینه‎), also known as the Charter of Medina, was drafted by the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It constituted a formal agreement between Muhammad and all of the significant tribes and families of Yathrib (later known as Medina), including Muslims, Jews, and pagans.[1][2] The document was drawn up with the explicit concern of bringing to an end the bitter inter tribal fighting between the clans of the Aws (Aus) and Khazraj within Medina. To this effect it instituted a number of rights and responsibilities for the Muslim, Jewish, and pagan communities of Medina bringing them within the fold of one community—the Ummah. [3]

The precise dating of the Constitution of Medina remains debated but generally scholars agree it was written shortly after the Hijra (622).[4] It effectively established the first Islamic state. The Constitution established: the security of the community, religious freedoms, the role of Medina as a haram or sacred place (barring all violence and weapons), the security of women, stable tribal relations within Medina, a tax system for supporting the community in time of conflict, parameters for exogenous political alliances, a system for granting protection of individuals, a judicial system for resolving disputes, and also regulated the paying of Blood money (the payment between families or tribes for the slaying of an individual in lieu of lex talionis).



In the last years of Muhammad in Mecca, a delegation from Medina, consisting of the representatives of the twelve important clans of Medina, invited Muhammad as a neutral outsider to Medina to serve as the chief arbitrator for the entire community.[5][6] There was fighting in Yathrib mainly involving its Arab and Jewish inhabitants for around a hundred years before 620.[5] The recurring slaughters and disagreements over the resulting claims, especially after the battle of Bu'ath in which all the clans were involved, made it obvious to them that the tribal conceptions of blood-feud and an eye for an eye were no longer workable unless there was one man with authority to adjudicate in disputed cases.[5] The delegation from Medina pledged themselves and their fellow-citizens to accept Muhammad into their community and physically protect him as one of themselves.[7]

After emigration to Medina, Muhammad drafted the Constitution of Medina, "establishing a kind of alliance or federation" among the eight Medinan tribes and Muslim emigrants from Mecca, which specified the rights and duties of all citizens and the relationship of the different communities in Medina (including that of the Muslim community to other communities specifically the Jews and other "Peoples of the Book").[5]


Scholars do not possess the original document but rather a number of versions can be found in early Muslim sources. The most widely read version of the Constitution is found in the pages of Ibn Ishaq's Sirah Rasul Allah (see wikisource), while alternative copies are located in Sayyid al-Nas and Abu ‘Ubayd's Kitab al-Amwal. Most scholars accept the authenticity of the document.

Montgomery Watt suggests that the constitution must have been written in the early Medinan period. He supports his view by arguing that had the document been drafted later, it would have had a favorable attitude towards Quraysh, and given Muhammad a prominent place. Hubert Grimme believes the Constitution was drafted in the post-Badr period, while Cetani argues that the document was complete before the Battle of Badr.[8]

According to R.B. Serjeant, verses 101-104 of sura 3 of the Qur'an make reference to the Constitution. He proposes that this section of the Qur'an underwent recension (a hypothesis first proposed by Richard Bell). In its first recension, this text sanctioned the establishment of a confederation. In its second, it admonished the Aws and Khazraj to abide by their treaty. In its third, in conjunction with the proceeding verses, it is an encouragement of Muhammad's adherents to face the Meccan forces they eventually fought at Uhud. He states that even if this proposal of three recensions be unacceptable, it must be affirmed that these verses make reference to the two different treaties.[9]


The Constitution was not a treaty in the modern sense, but a unilateral proclamation by Muhammad, Bernard Lewis states.[10] One of the constitution's more interesting aspects was the inclusion of the Jewish tribes in the Ummah, the Jewish tribes were "one community with the believers," but they "have their religion and the Muslims have theirs."[11]

Legal Scholar L. Ali Khan says the Constitution of Medina was a social contract derived from a treaty and not from any fictional state of nature or from behind the Rawlsian veil of ignorance. The contract was built upon the concept of one community of diverse tribes living under the sovereignty of one God.[12]

Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri has written a book called the Constitutional Analysis of the Constitution of Madina which states an analysis and review of the Constitution. He has categorised the headings of the articles according to the modern legal constitutions consisting of 63 articles.[13]

The Medina Constitution also instituted peaceful methods of dispute resolution among diverse groups living as one people but without assimilating into one religion, language, or culture.[14] Welch in Encyclopedia of Islam states: "The constitution reveals his Muhammad's great diplomatic skills, for it allows the ideal that he cherished of an ummah (community) based clearly on a religious outlook to sink temporarily into the background and is shaped essentially by practical considerations." [15]


Significance of the Ummah

Another important feature of the Constitution of Medina is the redefinition of ties between Muslims. The Constitution of Medina sets faith relationships above blood-ties and emphasizes individual responsibility [16]. Tribal identities are still important, and are used to refer to different groups, but the “main binding tie” for the newly-created ummah is religion [17]. This contrasts with the norms of pre-Islamic Arabia, which was a thoroughly tribal society, although Searjant postulates the existence of earlier theocratic communities [18]. According to Denny, “Watt has likened the Ummah as it is described in the document to a tribe, but with the important difference that it was to be based on religion and not on kinship” [19]. This is an important event in the development of the small group of Muslims in Medina to the larger Muslim community and empire [20].

Rights of non-Muslims

The non-Muslims included in the ummah had the following rights:[21]

  1. The security (dhimma) of God is equal for all groups,[22]
  2. Non-Muslim members have equal political and cultural rights as Muslims. They will have autonomy and freedom of religion.[23]
  3. Non-Muslims will take up arms against the enemy of the Ummah and share the cost of war. There is to be no treachery between the two.[24]
  4. Non-Muslims will not be obliged to take part in religious wars of the Muslims.[25]



  1. ^ See:
    • Reuven Firestone, Jihād: the origin of holy war in Islam‎ (1999) p. 118;
    • "Muhammad", Encyclopedia of Islam Online
  2. ^ Watt. Muhammad at Medina and R. B. Serjeant "The Constitution of Medina." Islamic Quarterly 8 (1964) p.4.
  3. ^ R. B. Serjeant, The Sunnah Jami'ah, pacts with the Yathrib Jews, and the Tahrim of Yathrib: Analysis and translation of the documents comprised in the so-called "Constitution of Medina." Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 41, No. 1. 1978), page 4.
  4. ^ Watt. Muhammad at Medina. pp. 227-228 Watt argues that the initial agreement was shortly after the hijra and the document was amended at a later date specifically after the battle of Badr (AH [anno hijra] 2, = AD 624). Serjeant argues that the constitution is in fact 8 different treaties which can be dated according to events as they transpired in Medina with the first treaty being written shortly after Muhammad's arrival. R. B. Serjeant. "The Sunnah Jâmi'ah, Pacts with the Yathrib Jews, and the Tahrîm of Yathrib: Analysis and Translation of the Documents Comprised in the so called 'Constitution of Medina'." in The Life of Muhammad: The Formation of the Classical Islamic World: Volume iv. Ed. Uri Rubin. Brookfield: Ashgate, 1998, p. 151 and see same article in BSOAS 41 (1978): 18 ff. See also Caetani. Annali dell’Islam, Volume I. Milano: Hoepli, 1905, p. 393. Julius Wellhausen. Skizzen und Vorabeiten, IV, Berlin: Reimer, 1889, p 82f who argue that the document is a single treaty agreed upon shortly after the hijra. Wellhausen argues that it belongs to the first year of Muhammad’s residence in Medina, before the battle of Badr in 2/624. Wellhausen bases this judgement on three considerations; first Muhammad is very diffident about his own position, he accepts the Pagan tribes within the Umma, and maintains the Jewish clans as clients of the Ansars see Wellhausen, Excursus, p. 158. Even Moshe Gil a skeptic of Islamic history argues that it was written within 5 months of Muhammad's arrival in Medina. Moshe Gil. "The Constitution of Medina: A Reconsideration." Israel Oriental Studies 4 (1974): p. 45.
  5. ^ a b c d Watt, The Cambridge History of Islam, p. 39
  6. ^ Esposito (1998), p. 17.
  7. ^ Alford Welch, Muhammad, Encyclopedia of Islam
  8. ^ Watt (1956), p. 225-6
  9. ^ R. B. Serjeant, The Sunnah Jami'ah, pacts with the Yathrib Jews, and the Tahrim of Yathrib: Analysis and translation of the documents comprised in the so-called "Constitution of Medina." Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 41, No. 1. 1978), page 8.
  10. ^ Bernard Lewis, "The Arabs in History," page 42.
  11. ^ Jonathan Berkey, The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near East, 600-1800, Cambridge University Press, p.64
  12. ^ See
  13. ^ Constitution of Madina
  14. ^ Ramadan, Hisham M. (2006). Understanding Islamic Law: From Classical to Contemporary. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 0-7591-0990-7.  
  15. ^ Welch, Encyclopedia of Islam, Muhammad article
  16. ^ Williams, John Alden. Themes of Islamic Civilization. p. 12
  17. ^ Denny, Frederick. "Umma in the Constitution of Medina." "Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 36, No. 1 (Jan., 1977), p 44. The University of Chicago Press
  18. ^ R.B. Serjeant, p.4
  19. ^ Denny, Frederick. "Umma in the Constitution of Medina." "Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 36, No. 1 (Jan., 1977), p 44. The University of Chicago Press
  20. ^ R. B. Serjeant p.4)
  21. ^ Ahmed (1979), p. 46-7
  22. ^ Article 15, as quoted in Ahmed (1979), p. 46-7
  23. ^ Article 25, as quoted in Ahmed (1979), p. 46-7
  24. ^ Article 37, as quoted in Ahmed (1979), p. 46-7
  25. ^ Article 45, as quoted in Ahmed (1979), p. 46-7

See also

Further reading

  • Ahmad, Barakat (1979). Muhammad and the Jews. Vikas Publishing House.  
  • Karsh, Efraim (2006). Islamic Imperialism : A History. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10603-3.  
  • Watt, Montgomery (1956). Muhammad at Medina. Oxford University Press.  
  • Wensinck, Arendt Jan (1908). Muhammad and the Jews of Medina. Leiden.  

External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010
(Redirected to Medina Charter article)

From Wikisource

Wikisource:Historical documents

Ibn Ishaq says: The Prophet then wrote a contract between the muhajirun and the ansar with which he concluded a covenant and a truce with the Jews, confirmed them in their religion and their property, and imposed obligations on them and guaranteed them certain rights.

In the name of Allah, the compassionate Rahman. This is a writing of Muhammad, the Prophet, between the believers and the Muslims of Quraysh and Yathrib and those who follow them and are attached to them, and who fight together with them in war.

1. They are one community to the exclusion of [other] people.

2. The muhajirun of Quraysh [remain] in their condition. They pay jointly blood-wite and ransom their captives. [This is carried out] in an upright and just [manner] among the believers.

3. Banu ‘Awf [remain] in their condition; they pay jointly their previous blood-wite. Every group ransoms their captives. [This is carried out] in an upright and just [manner] among the believers.

4. Banu al-Harith [remain] in their condition, etc. as section 3.

5. Banu Sa‘idah ….(as section 3).

6. Banu Jusham …(as section 3).

7. Banu al-Najjar…(as section 3).

8. Banu ‘Amr ibn ‘Awf…(as section 3).

9. Banu al-Nabit… (as section 3).

10. And Banu al-Aws … (as section 3).

11. The believers shall not fail to give just assistance to a debtor among them for redemption money or blood-wite.

12. No believer shall enter into alliance with the client of a believer without the latter’s consent.

13. The God-fearing believers act [act] against those of them who cause an act of injustice or fraud or hostility or harm among the believers. Their hands are all against him even if he is the son of one of them.

14. No believer shall kill a believer on account of an unbeliever; neither shall he help an unbeliever against a believer.

15. The protection of Allah is one; the protection granted by the least of them is binding on all. The believers protect each other to the exclusion of [other] people.

16. Whoever of the Jews follow us [receive] help and support without being wronged and without the one helping the other against them.

17. The peace of the believers is one. No peace shall be made with a believer apart from an[other] believer when there is fighting in the way of Allah. However, [peace must be concluded] on the basis of mutual equality and justice.

18. In every expedition made with us the parties shall take turns with one another.

19. The believers exact vengeance for the blood of one another [that is shed] in the way of Allah.

20. The God-fearing believers are under the best and most correct guidance. No polytheist may grant protection to the property or person of Quraysh; neither shall he protect him against a believer.

21. When evidence has been given that someone killed a believer then he is killed in retaliation for him unless the person entitled to revenge is satisfied [with blood-wite]. The believers are against him as one man. They must take action only against him.

22. No believer who understands what is said in this document and who believes in Allah and the last day shall give assistance to a wrongdoer or to give him shelter. If anyone helps him or shelters such a person, upon him be the curse and wrath of Allah on the day of resurrection. No price or substitute shall be accepted from him.

23. Whenever you differ about anything it is to be referred to Allah and Muhammad.

24. The Jews pay a share of the expenses of the believers so long as they are at war. [Same as section 38]

25. The Jews of the Banu ‘Awf are one community with the believers. To the Jews their religion and to the Muslims their religion. [This applies] to their clients and to themselves with the exception of anyone who has done wrong or committed treachery, for he harms only himself and his family.

26. To the Jews of Banu al-Najjar [applies] the like of what does to the Jews of Banu ‘Awf.

27. To the Jews of Banu al-Harith … (as section 26).

28. To the Jews of Banu Sa’idah … (as section 26).

29. To the Jews of Banu Jusham … ( as section 26).

30. To the Jews of Banu al-Aws … (as section 26).

31. To the Jews of Banu Tha’labah … (as section 26). With the exception of anyone who has done wrong or committed treachery, he harms only himself and his family.

32. Jafnah are a subdivision of Tha‘labah. They are like them.

33. To Banu al-shutbah [applies] the like of what does to the Jews of Banu ‘Awf. Honesty without treachery [is demanded].

34. The clients of the Tha‘labah are like them.

35. The friends of the Jews are like them.

36. No one of them shall go out [to war] without Muhammad’s consent. But no one shall be prevented from taking vengeance for wounds. Whoever acts on his own account [involves] himself and his family, except him who has been wronged. Allah is the truest [fulfiller] of this [document].

37. The Jews must bear their expense and the Muslims must bear their expenses. They help one another against those who make war against the people of this document. Between them is good understanding, honourable dealing, and honesty, not treachery. No one is responsible for his confederate. Help [is to be given] to whoever is wronged.

38. The Jews pay a share of the expenses of the believers so long as they are at war. (A repeat of 24)

39. The Valley of Yathrib is sacred for the people of this document.

40. The guest is as his host except he who causes harm or acts treacherously.

41. No woman can be treated as a guest except with the consent of her family.

42. Whenever there is disagreement among the people of this document and trouble to t be anticipated, the matter is to be referred to Allah and Muhammad. Allah is the most scrupulous and truest [fulfiller] of this document.

43. No protection is to be given to the Quraysh or to those who help them.

44. They help one another against those who attack Yathrib.

45. Whenever they are summoned to conclude and to accept a peace treaty, then they shall conclude and accept it. And whenever they [the believers] summon to the like of that, then they have the right for this vis-à-vis the believers except whoever makes war on account of religion. Everyone has his share from their side which is directed towards him.

46. The Jews of al-Aws, their clients and they themselves, have the same rights as the people of this document, in pure honesty on the part of the people of this document. Honesty without treachery [is demanded].

47. Every person who becomes guilty loads the guilt only upon himself. Allah is the most just and truest [fulfiller] of the contents of this document. This writing does not protect him who practices evil or treachery. He who goes out as well as he who remains is safe in the city except he who does wrong or acts treacherously. Allah is a protector of whoever is good and faithful, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.

Alternate translation:

  1. This is a document from Muhammad the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), governing relations between the Believers and Muslims of Quraysh and Yathrib and those who followed them and worked hard with them. They form one nation - Ummah.
  2. The Quraysh Mohajireen will continue to pay blood money, according to their present custom.
  3. In case of war with any body they will redeem their prisoners with kindness and justice common among Believers. (Not according to pre-Islamic nations where the rich and the poor were treated differently).
  4. The Bani Awf will decide the blood money, within themselves, according to their existing custom.
  5. In case of war with anybody all parties other than Muslims will redeem their prisoners with kindness and justice according to practice among Believers and not in accordance with pre-Islamic notions.
  6. The Bani Saeeda, the Bani Harith, the Bani Jusham and the Bani Najjar will be governed on the lines of the above (principles)
  7. The Bani Amr, Bani Awf, Bani Al-Nabeet, and Bani Al-Aws will be governed in the same manner.
  8. Believers will not fail to redeem their prisoners they will pay blood money on their behalf. It will be a common responsibility of the Ummat and not of the family of the prisoners to pay blood money.
  9. A Believer will not make the freedman of another Believer as his ally against the wishes of the other Believers.
  10. The Believers, who fear Allah, will oppose the rebellious elements and those that encourage injustice or sin, or enmity or corruption among Believers.
  11. If anyone is guilty of any such act all the Believers will oppose him even if he be the son of any one of them.
  12. A Believer will not kill another Believer, for the sake of an un-Believer. (i.e. even though the un-Believer is his close relative).
  13. No Believer will help an un-Believer against a Believer.
  14. Protection (when given) in the Name of Allah will be common. The weakest among Believers may give protection (In the Name of Allah) and it will be binding on all Believers.
  15. Believers are all friends to each other to the exclusion of all others.
  16. Those Jews who follow the Believers will be helped and will be treated with equality. (Social, legal and economic equality is promised to all loyal citizens of the State).
  17. No Jew will be wronged for being a Jew.
  18. The enemies of the Jews who follow us will not be helped.
  19. The peace of the Believers (of the State of Madinah) cannot be divided. (it is either peace or war for all. It cannot be that a part of the population is at war with the outsiders and a part is at peace).
  20. No separate peace will be made by anyone in Madinah when Believers are fighting in the Path of Allah.
  21. Conditions of peace and war and the accompanying ease or hardships must be fair and equitable to all citizens alike.
  22. When going out on expeditions a rider must take his fellow member of the Army-share his ride.
  23. The Believers must avenge the blood of one another when fighting in the Path of Allah (This clause was to remind those in front of whom there may be less severe fighting that the cause was common to all. This also meant that although each battle appeared a separate entity it was in fact a part of the War, which affected all Muslims equally).
  24. The Believers (because they fear Allah) are better in showing steadfastness and as a result receive guidance from Allah in this respect. Others must also aspire to come up to the same standard of steadfastness.
  25. No un-Believer will be permitted to take the property of the Quraysh (the enemy) under his protection. Enemy property must be surrendered to the State.
  26. No un-Believer will intervene in favour of a Quraysh, (because the Quraysh having declared war are the enemy).
  27. If any un-believer kills a Believer, without good cause, he shall be killed in return, unless the next of kin are satisfied (as it creates law and order problems and weakens the defence of the State). All Believers shall be against such a wrong-doer. No Believer will be allowed to shelter such a man.
  28. When you differ on anything (regarding this Document) the matter shall be referred to Allah and Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).
  29. The Jews will contribute towards the war when fighting alongside the Believers.
  30. The Jews of Bani Awf will be treated as one community with the Believers. The Jews have their religion. This will also apply to their freedmen. The exception will be those who act unjustly and sinfully. By so doing they wrong themselves and their families.
  31. The same applies to Jews of Bani Al-Najjar, Bani Al Harith, Bani Saeeda, Bani Jusham, Bani Al Aws, Thaalba, and the Jaffna, (a clan of the Bani Thaalba) and the Bani Al Shutayba.
  32. Loyalty gives protection against treachery. (loyal people are protected by their friends against treachery. As long as a person remains loyal to the State he is not likely to succumb to the ideas of being treacherous. He protects himself against weakness).
  33. The freedmen of Thaalba will be afforded the same status as Thaalba themselves. This status is for fair dealings and full justice as a right and equal responsibility for military service.
  34. Those in alliance with the Jews will be given the same treatment as the Jews.
  35. No one (no tribe which is party to the Pact) shall go to war except with the permission of Muhammed (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). If any wrong has been done to any person or party it may be avenged.
  36. Any one who kills another without warning (there being no just cause for it) amounts to his slaying himself and his household, unless the killing was done due to a wrong being done to him.
  37. The Jews must bear their own expenses (in War) and the Muslims bear their expenses.
  38. If anyone attacks anyone who is a party to this Pact the other must come to his help.
  39. They (parties to this Pact) must seek mutual advice and consultation.
  40. Loyalty gives protection against treachery. Those who avoid mutual consultation do so because of lack of sincerity and loyalty.
  41. A man will not be made liable for misdeeds of his ally.
  42. Anyone (any individual or party) who is wronged must be helped.
  43. The Jews must pay (for war) with the Muslims. (this clause appears to be for occasions when Jews are not taking part in the war. Clause 37 deals with occasions when they are taking part in war).
  44. Yathrib will be Sanctuary for the people of this Pact.
  45. A stranger (individual) who has been given protection (by anyone party to this Pact) will be treated as his host (who has given him protection) while (he is) doing no harm and is not committing any crime. Those given protection but indulging in anti-state activities will be liable to punishment.
  46. A woman will be given protection only with the consent of her family (Guardian). (a good precaution to avoid inter-tribal conflicts).
  47. In case of any dispute or controversy, which may result in trouble the matter must be referred to Allah and Muhammed (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) of Allah will accept anything in this document, which is for (bringing about) piety and goodness.
  48. Quraysh and their allies will not be given protection.
  49. The parties to this Pact are bound to help each other in the event of an attack on Yathrib.
  50. If they (the parties to the Pact other than the Muslims) are called upon to make and maintain peace (within the State) they must do so. If a similar demand (of making and maintaining peace) is made on the Muslims, it must be carried out, except when the Muslims are already engaged in a war in the Path of Allah. (so that no secret ally of the enemy can aid the enemy by calling upon Muslims to end hostilities under this clause).
  51. Everyone (individual) will have his share (of treatment) in accordance with what party he belongs to. Individuals must benefit or suffer for the good or bad deed of the group they belong to. Without such a rule party affiliations and discipline cannot be maintained.
  52. The Jews of al-Aws, including their freedmen, have the same standing, as other parties to the Pact, as long as they are loyal to the Pact. Loyalty is a protection against treachery.
  53. Anyone who acts loyally or otherwise does it for his own good (or loss).
  54. Allah approves this Document.
  55. This document will not (be employed to) protect one who is unjust or commits a crime (against other parties of the Pact).
  56. Whether an individual goes out to fight (in accordance with the terms of this Pact) or remains in his home, he will be safe unless he has committed a crime or is a sinner. (i.e. No one will be punished in his individual capacity for not having gone out to fight in accordance with the terms of this Pact).
  57. Allah is the Protector of the good people and those who fear Allah, and Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the Messenger of Allah (He guarantees protection for those who are good and fear Allah).


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