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The Utopian Medinan Ummah

The Utopian Medinan Ummah

For contemporary Muslims, the community based in Medina under the leadership of Muhammad represents a utopian ideal where social and political authority are manifested in a person who receives communications from God. In other words, the ummah in Muhammad’s time fuses state and religion, a perfect synthesis of secular and divine sovereignty. The Qur’ān repeatedly reminds the ummah to “obey God and His messenger,” (Q: 3:32, 132; 4:59; 5:92, etc.) confirming the legitimacy and sacral nature of Muhammad’s earthly authority. With Muhammad in place as leader, conformity to sharī‘ah, God’s divine ordering of the universe which necessarily encompasses the proper conduct of human beings, occurs organically. In such a community, a Muslim recognizing the Prophet’s leadership and abiding by his decisions means that he or she necessarily complies with Divine Will. In visualizing its structure, it is perhaps useful to conceive of the utopian Medinan community as consisting of three concentric circles. The inner-most circle represents the state and it is entirely encompassed within a larger society, which determines its membership through adherence to a particular religious tradition (Islam).

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