Constitution of Medina: Is it true, or merely a redaction? (7th C.-03)

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Published at : 11 Dec 2020
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Many of you have asked about the ‘Constitution of Medina’, that since it was written by Muhammad in 622 AD, it must prove his existence in the 7th century.

1) Let’s look at its CONTENT to begin with:
-“Believe in God and the last days”
-“Accept God and Muhammad as the ultimate arbiter”
-“Help one another fight mutual enemies”
-“Contribute to the war effort” .

2) Muslims CLAIM that it:
-Is made up of 47-67 Articles
-Attributed to between 622-624 AD, or soon after Muhammad moved to Medina
-It is the “oldest constitution for Mankind”
-It is the “oldest example of multi-faith/multi-culturalism”
-It is an “egalitarian document guaranteeing religious liberty and equality”
-It is evidence for the historicity of 7th century Islam

3) What’s very clear is that it is Pro-Jewish
-Article 16 = Jews will be helped and will be treated with equality
-Article 17 = No Jew will be wronged
-Article 18 = The enemies of the Jews who follow us will not be helped…
-Article 29 = The Jews will contribute towards the war when fighting alongside the Believers.
-Article 30 = The Jews will be treated as one community, with their religion respected.
-Article 31 = Bani Al-Najjar, Bani Al Harith, Bani Saeeda, Bani Jusham, Bani Al Aws, Thaalba, Jaffna, and Bani Al Shutayba are all Jewish signatories to the Constitution.
•-Article 34 = Jews allies will be given the same treatment as the Jews…
-Article 37 = The Jews must bear their own expenses (in War) and the Muslims bear their expenses.
-Article 43 = The Jews must pay (for war) with the Muslims…
-Article 52 = The Jews of al-Aws, have the same standing, as other parties to the Pact
Its Significance: It is favorable to Jews, and from the hands of Muhammad himself!
-A Jewish ‘Ashtiname’ document
-Jews should be touting it everywhere…
-So, where are Jews today supporting it, and why not?
a) Yet, no record of this in any Jewish historical documents from that time or area!
b) No archaeological evidence for the existence of Jews in Medina and its vicinity:
-One tomb inscription at Hegra = Madain Saleh (42/43 AD), in Nabatæan Aramaic reads: ‘This is the tomb which Shubaytu son of ‘Ali’u the Jew made...’  
-In nearby Tayma, there is a similar tomb from 203 AD, refers to a local headman
-In al-’Ulā, we also find such Jewish tomb inscriptions in the same language, as with one from 307 AD 
-In Hegra in 356/7 another tomb inscription of a local headman
-Significance: They are north of Medina, and close enough, so they should have known about it.
-These ‘are important texts for north Arabian Jewry, of members of the elite of the society.’ 
-A dissemination of their religious beliefs & practices among the population, or at least knowledge of it, but there is nothing.
-Hoyland says: “not a single clearly Jewish inscription’ that has yet been found ‘at Mecca, Yathrib or Khaybar despite quite a number of epigraphic surveys conducted at all three sites.’
-Hoyland: “... it is only Muslim tradition that informs us of a Jewish community in Yathrib”.

4) It contradicts the Sira and the Hadith on the Jews:
-Sahih Al-Bukhari 5.362

5) The Isnads are all confused
-Variants of different versions of the Constitution (Abu Ubayd vs Ibn Ishaq-8th c.) include different isnads.
-They received their isnad from Egyptians, not Medinans, and from the 9th c.
-Why rely on Isnad, if the they had an extant document?

6) The Qur’an doesn’t refer to it
-No reference to the ‘constitution’ or ‘covenant’ in the Qur’an, nor in the Hadith
-R.B. Serjeant disagrees : Believes it can be found in Surah 3:101-104
-Yet, the Qur’an is hostile to Jews: (Surah 1:7; 4:56; 5:51; 9:29)
-Later Caliphs did not follow the ‘constitution’ but followed the Qur’an when treating Jews.

7) The authority for Muhammad goes against Judaism
-The first and last articles proclaims Muhammad the prophet and arbiter between them and God
-Jews were to ‘follow’ the Muslims  and ‘obey’ Muhammad
-Muhammad arbitrates every dispute
-What Jew would sign a pact like this?

8) Late Dates
-Fred Donner: “The Constitution of Medina. The original documents are now lost, but the text is preserved in the Sira of Muhammad ibn Ishaq (died 767), Abu ‘Ubayd al-Qasim ibn Sallam (died 838)”.
-Frederick M. Denny: “ibn Ishaq preserved this ancient document, which does not appear in any other historical source, It seems to consist of separate documents from differing times in Medina”.
-Dr Pat Andrews: “If there is no extant archaeological evidence for Jews in Yathrib/Medina, then it is impossible that the so-called “Constitution of Medina” is historically valid; rather, it is a legendary, apocryphal construct”.
Comparison: like the 1812 War between the US & the UK was written in 2012, or the 1815 Battle of Waterloo was written in 2015

© Pfander Centre for Apologetics - US, 2020
(27,550) Music: "ukulele fun", by Rafael Krux (from filmmusic-io - License CC BY)
Constitution of MedinaTreaty of MedinaThe Umma Document

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