Dr S Shafiq Ahmed
An important aspect of the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was his creative leadership. For example, in the year 605 when the Prophet’s age was 35 (5 years before the Prophetic Mission), reconstruction of the Kaaba was undertaken by the Quraish clan of Makkah. It was necessary as the walls of Kaaba were deformed and had developed many cracks in a devastating flood and a fire incident. Due to the historical importance and high reverence associated with the Hajer Aswad (The Black Stone), all the clans of Quraish eagerly wanted to have the honour of putting the stone into the wall of Kaaba. Elders of many of these clans tried to use their influence to win this honour, but none of the elders conceded in favour of the other(s). This disagreement continued for four to five days and culminated in a serious dispute that threatened tribal war. Finally, one of the clan elders suggested that the first person who passes through the gate of Kaaba early next morning shall be authorised to settle this dispute. Early next morning, it was none else than Prophet Muhammad (SAW). He was told about the dispute and asked to decide. The Prophet (SAW) asked them to bring him a cloak. After placing the Hajer Aswad on the cloak, the Prophet (SAW) asked each clan elder to take hold of an edge of the cloak and lift it in unison. On reaching the Kaaba site, the Prophet (SAW) himself put the Hajer Aswad into the wall of Kaaba. In this way, each clan of the Quraish was involved to its satisfaction and the dispute was resolved amicably.
Biographers of the Prophet have highlighted the above event in different ways. Some have emphasised the Prophet’s wisdom and foresight, while others have pointed to his trustworthiness and reliability among the Quraish. Scholars of politics and law deduct from it an example of peaceful management of disputes. All agree that the incident shows the Prophet’s success in bringing elders of different clans to an agreement through a practical way. Making the elders of all the clans hold the cloak together and carry the Black Stone to Kaaba together shows the Prophet’s inclusive policy, i.e, involving all the parties concerned. Such a policy of inclusiveness is very much needed in the present world to sort out the many issues and disputes confronting humankind. Most importantly, the leaders and scholars among Muslims need this policy for the eternal welfare of mankind, especially the Muslims. To follow this policy, leaders and scholars should emphasise the similarities, commonalities and agreements among different groups to pave the way for mutual cooperation and support.