Monday, 29 March 2010

Why is 'Yathrib' used instead of Medinah? (in Surah Ahzab 33:13)

fAsalaam alaikum Warahmatulah Wabarakatuh

وَإِذْ قَالَت طَّائِفَةٌ مِّنْهُمْ يَا أَهْلَ يَثْرِبَ لَا مُقَامَ لَكُمْ فَارْجِعُوا ۚ وَيَسْتَأْذِنُ فَرِيقٌ مِّنْهُمُ النَّبِيَّ يَقُولُونَ إِنَّ بُيُوتَنَا عَوْرَةٌ وَمَا هِيَ بِعَوْرَةٍ ۖ إِن يُرِيدُونَ إِلَّا فِرَارًا

And when a party of them said: "O people of Yathrib! There is no stand (possible) for you (against the enemy attack!) Therefore go back!" And a band of them ask for permission of the Prophet ( SAW) saying: "Truly, our homes lie open (to the enemy)." And they lay not open. They but wished to flee.

[Ahzab 33:13]

Why is the word “Yathrib” used at [Ahzab 33:13] whereas in other places it’s always “Madinah” (e.g. Munafiqoon 63:8)?

Even more intriguingly, this surah is Madinan (revealed in Madinah), and the word Madinah is used later on in the same surah at verse 60 [Ahzab 33:60]!

One of the wisdoms for doing so (and Allah knows best) is that Madinah is a nickname (short for Madinat-un-Nabi – The City of the Prophet) given after Hijrah [emigration of the Prophet], and so the use of the the term “Madinah” by people signifies allegiance to the Prophet (sal Allah alaihi wasalam).

Now if we look closely at Ahzab 33:13, we see that it captures a part of the saying of the munafiqoon [hypocrites] at the time – they’re exposing their hypocrisy in the battle of/ Khandaq/Ahzab by calling on the people of Yathrib (not Madinah!) to give up and go home!

These were those who had lost their claim to power in the city as a result of Hijrah [emigration of Prophet Muhammad & his companions), and are using old associations to rouse the people, thereby making their nifaaq [hypocrisy] clear.

So the use of Yathrib is not a mistake or slip-up as people might assume, it’s actually perfectly positioned to suit the context of the situation.

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