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1 UCLA J. Islamic & Near E. L. 103 (2001-2002)
Reflections on the Constitution of Medina: An Essay on Methodology and Ideology in Islamic Legal History

handle is hein.journals/ucjicneal1 and id is 109 raw text is: REFLECTIONS ON
THE CONSTITUTION OF MEDINA:
AN ESSAY ON METHODOLOGY AND
IDEOLOGY IN ISLAMIC
LEGAL HISTORY
Anver Emon*
The Constitution of Medina (the wathiqat al-Madina) is a document
reportedly drawn up by the Prophet Muhammad (d. 11/632),' upon his mi-
gration from Mecca to Medina. The document establishes rights and obliga-
tions among the Ansar (Helpers) of Medina, the Muhajirun (Emigres) who
left Mecca with the Prophet, and the Jewish tribes of Medina as they em-
barked upon a new journey of co-existence and cooperation in the nascent
Muslim polity founded in Medina.2 The only documentation of the Constitu-
tion, however, exists in literary references by historians living centuries after
the document's supposed creation. Indeed, two authors living within two
centuries after the Prophet's death reproduce the text in full. Yet, there is no
original document or archaeological evidence testifying to it, and little evi-
dence exists concerning the nature of government that existed in this early
period of Islamic history. Nonetheless, as the scholarly literature shows, his-
* J.D. UCLA School of Law, M.A. University of Texas at Austin; currently a doctoral
candidate in Islamic legal history at UCLA. This article started as a seminar paper in a course
taught by Professor Michael Morony, to whom I owe many thanks for his generous comments.
I wish to thank Professor Khaled Abou El Fadl for his invaluable insights into the Islamic
tradition and for teaching me how to be sensitive to what it has to say, and my parents, Akhtar
and Rashida Emon, for being patient with me as I try to listen.
I To indicate dates, I will utilize both the Islamic and Gregorian dating systems.
2 The migration from Mecca to Medina occurred in 622 CE and is considered a turning point
in the nature and direction of the early Muslim community. With the migration, the Muslim
community transformed from being a purely moral and spiritual community into a political
one. It is in the context of this transformation that the Constitution of Medina was drafted and
that it gains its significance. I MARSHAL G.S. HODGSON, THE VENTURE OF ISLAM: CON-
SCIENCE AND HISTORY IN A WORLD CIVILIZATION 172-74 (1977); HUGH KENNEDY, THE
PROPHET AND THE AGE OF THE CALIPHATEs 33-35 (1986); IRA M. LAPIDUS, A HISTORY OF
ISLAMIC SOCIETY 27 (1991) (1988).

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