By Luqman Sadiq
The term “Ansar” (Arabic: الأنصار) literally means “supporters” or “helpers.”
In the historical context of early Islam, the Ansar were the local inhabitants of Madinah who pledged their support to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and welcomed the early Muslim community, the Muhajirun (emigrants), when they migrated from Makkah to Madinah to escape persecution.
Also known as the Madinan Allies, the term “Ansar” is a testament to their role as helpers and supporters of the Prophet (pbuh) and the early Islamic community.
Ansar in the Quran
The term “Ansar” is mentioned several times in the Quran. Madinan Ansar were praised in Quran as righteous, devout, and hospitable individuals who welcomed the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions to Madinah and helped establish the first Muslim community. Some verses in the Quran that mention the Madinan Ansar are:
And of those who led the way – the first of the Emigrants (Muhajirun) and the Helpers (Ansar), and those who followed them in the best possible manner – Allah is well-pleased with them and they are well-pleased with Allah. He has prepared for them Gardens beneath which rivers flow; therein they will abide forever. That is the supreme triumph. (Surah Al-Tawbah, 9:100)
Surely Allah has relented towards the Prophet, and towards the Muhajirun (Emigrants) and the Ansar (Helpers) who stood by him in the hour of hardship, although the hearts of a party of them had well-nigh swerved. (Surah Al-Tawbah, 9:117)
The Quranic verses highlight their selflessness, generosity, and commitment for the cause of Islam. They serve as a model for later generations of Muslims and are remembered for their sacrifices and devotion to the faith.
Background: The Migration
In the early days of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his followers faced severe persecution from the Makkan leaders and tribes who opposed the Prophet’s message and the growing influence of Islam. Due to increasing persecution, they were forced to leave their homes in Makkah and migrate to Madinah in 622 CE. This migration is known as the Hijra and marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar.
When the Prophet (pbuh) was forced to leave Makkah with his followers and sought refuge in Madinah, the Ansar declared their support for the Prophet,
“We have left our homes and families behind and have come to you, O Prophet of Allah, to support you and defend you against your enemies. We are willing to stand by you and share in your struggles and hardships.”
This statement of the Ansar reflected their commitment to the cause of Islam and their willingness to sacrifice for the faith. Their support was not for material gain but based on their belief in the message of Islam and their commitment to the Prophet Muhammad. Their support and selflessness was key to the establishment and success of the early Muslim community in Madinah.
Arrival in Madinah
When the news of Muhammad’s (pbuh) arrival became public, crowds of Ansar poured out of Madinah. They would come every morning and wait for him until the unbearable heat of the midday sun forced them to leave. They intended to leave one day after a long wait and watch, when a Jew catching sight of three travelers dressed in white wending their way to Madinah, shouted from the hilltop: “Oh, Arabian people! He has arrived, whom you have been eagerly awaiting for!” The joyful news quickly spread throughout the city, and people marched forward to welcome their prestigious guest, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the Muhajirun.
Although not wealthy, every Ansar (Helper) was eager to receive the Messenger (pbuh) in his home. It was a triumphant procession where the chiefs of the city rode around Muhammad’s camel in their best raiment and glittering armor, everyone saying, “Alight here, O Messenger of Allâh, abide by us.”
Muhammad replied courteously, “This camel is commanded by Allâh; wherever it stops, that will be my abode.” The camel moved forward with a slackened rein until it arrived at the Prophetic Mosque and knelt. He did not dismount until it rose again, went forward, turned back, and returned to kneel in the same spot. He landed in a Banu Najjar neighborhood, a tribe related to the Prophet (pbuh) on the maternal side. The fortunate host, Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari, stepped forward, overjoyed at the blessing bestowed upon him, welcomed the Noble Guest, and invited him to enter his home.
The Ansar were primarily from two major tribes of Madinah: Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj, whom Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had been asked to reconcile when He was still a rising figure in Makkah.
Bonds of Brotherhood
Recognizing the sacrifices and the situation of both the Muhajirun and Ansar, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) established a bond of brotherhood (Mu’akhah) between them. Members from the Muhajirun were paired with members from the Ansar, fostering deep bonds of friendship, support, and sharing of resources.
Despite their own needs, many of the Ansar shared half of their properties and resources with the Muhajirun. Their selfless acts are often cited as examples of altruism and brotherhood.
They also stood by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the early Muslims, defending them against the powerful Makkan forces that sought to crush the fledgling Muslim community, thus playing a crucial role in the establishment of the early Islamic state in Madinah.
Charter of Madinah
The Ansar also played a significant role in the establishment of “The First Islamic Constitution.” This document, also known as the “Charter of Madinah” or “Constitution of Madina,” was a historical agreement that established the principles and rules governing the relationship between the various Muslim, Jewish, and pagan tribes in Madinah.
The Constitution of Madinah recognized the authority of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as the political and spiritual leader, and it outlined the rights and responsibilities of each tribe. The Ansar, as one of the main tribes in Madinah, were given a prominent place in the constitution and were equally entitled with the Muhajirun (people who migrated from Makkah) in the governmental bodies.
The Constitution of Madinah is considered to be one of the earliest examples of a written constitution and is seen as a model for how different religious and ethnic groups can coexist and cooperate in a diverse society. The role of the Ansar in the drafting and implementation of the Constitution of Madinah is a testament to their commitment for the cause of Islam and their willingness to work together with others for the greater good of the community.
Throughout Islamic history, the Ansar’s actions serve as a benchmark for selflessness, hospitality, brotherhood, and unwavering support for a just cause. They are an inspiration for Muslims and others to prioritize collective welfare over individual gains, promote unity, and stand firm in the face of adversity.
What do you think? Share your reflections below!
- Quran, Quran.com.
- Al-Bukhari, I., 2020. Sahih al-Bukhari:. English ed. s.l.:Mohee Uddin.
- Modudi, 1972. Tafheem ul Quran, Darussalam Publication.
- History of the Caliphs by al-Suyuti
- William Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at Madinah, Oxford, 1966.
- Al-Bara’ ibn Malik Al-Ansari: Allah & Paradise”. Archived from the original on 16 June 2010.
- Khatib Baghdadi, Tarikh Baghdad, vol.1, pg.177
- Mubarakpuri, Saifur Rahman Al (2005), The sealed nectar: biography of the Noble Prophet, Darussalam Publications, p. 244