Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim,
The Prophet’s uncle, Al-Abbas, remained in Makkah on the Prophet’s order while the Prophet and most of the Muhajireen were in Madinah. There were others too who would give information to the Prophet about the enemies when they were planning against him.
One such occasion was when the Quraish and other Arab tribes, the Jewish tribe of Ghatfan and their allies all came together and gathered under one banner to march forward and attack Madinah.
When the news of this plan reached the Prophet – now try to imagine this, it was not any ordinary piece of news, the worst enemies of Islam had consolidated into a single army, and that army was coming to destroy the existence of Islam from the earth. Allah Azza wa Jalla describes this situation in the Quran (translation):
[Remember] when they came at you from above you and from below you, and when eyes shifted [in fear], and hearts reached the throats and you assumed about Allah [various] assumptions. There the believers were tested and shaken with a severe shaking. [33:10-11]
So when this news reached the Prophet, he didn’t panic, didn’t wallow in worry. What he did was follow a very logical way of problem-solving:
- Call a meeting. As soon as the Prophet heard about the army, he called a meeting with the prominent members of the Ansar and Muhajireen.
- Have a look at the problem logically and unemotionally and generate possible solutions.
No matter how weird the idea might seem, the Prophet had made his Companions feel comfortable enough to voice it to him. Al-Sallaabee writes: ‘The Prophet always trained his Companions to feel free to express their views, even when their views were contrary to his.
Through the process of mutual consultation, the Companions were being trained to think about and come up with solutions for the problems of the Muslim nation. The Prophet allowed them to speak freely, since there is no point in seeking consultation when people are not free to speak their minds.’
In fact, in the Quran, Allah Azza wa Jall tells the Prophet to consult his companions.
So by mercy from Allah , [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah . Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]. [3:159]
That’s why, Salman al Farisi came up with this innovative idea of digging a trench around Madinah. It was a totally new war technique for the Arabs. Yet the Prophet realized that it was an effective technique in the given situation, and it was the most effective idea generated in the process of the shu’rah.
- Choose the best possible solution and put it into action.
Once the Prophet decided to go with Salman’s idea, the Prophet and the Sahaba went out and chose the best location for digging the trench, and started digging.
Also, once a decision was made, the Prophet would not give the matter any second thoughts. He would be firm in his decision. This is seen before the Battle of Uhud, when the Muslims were arguing whether to stay in Madinah and let the Quraish come inside their territory, or whether to march out to them. Despite his disinclination towards it, the Prophet chose the view of the group who wanted to go out and fight. After the Prophet went to dress for battle, Hamza radiyallahu anhu made them realize that they had imposed their opinion on the Prophet despite his inclination otherwise. Hamzah came to the Prophet and said, ‘O Prophet of Allah, the people blame one another (for going contrary to your view in the matter), and they say to you, ‘We will follow the course of action you want to take.’ But the Prophet replied, ‘Verily, when a Prophet attires himself in his battle-gear, it is not fitting for him to remove it until he fights.’ (Al Sallaabee: 1102)
So here is the problem-solving strategy we can follow:
- Have a look at the problem logically, without getting emotional
- Consult others
- Generate possible solutions
- Choose the best solution
- Stick to it
- Implement it as soon as possible
Sallaabee, Dr. ‘Ali Muhammad al-, the Noble Life of the Prophet, vol.2. Darussalam.