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“Umar” Ramadan Series: Review and Synopsis of Episode 10

Synopsis: The episode starts in the year 622 and shows the hijra (migration) of the Muslims from Mecca to Yathrib/Medina. As we are shown scenes of groups of Muslims migrating to Yathrib, we are then taken to another Meccan council where Abu Jahl is asserting that the migration of the Muslims to a rich, Arab city makes the situation very different than their former migration to Abyssinia since this time ALL the Muslims were moving there. In other words, states Abu Jahl, this Hijra is a real cause for concern because the concentration of the numbers of the Muslims in Yathrib will make them a real political force. He says it is also worrying that the ‘Aws and the Khazraj have joined Muhammad, empowering the new religion further. Abu Sufyan talks about the economic implications of the empowerment of the Muslims in Yathrib (Medina lies on the road of the caravan route between Mecca and Syria), while ‘Utbah reminds everyone that the situation came to this because of their own overly harsh treatment of the Muslims. Abu Jahl then suggests that the only solution is to prevent as many Muslims from migrating to Yathrib as possible (by physically imprisoning them) and by killing Muhammad.  Subsequently, many Muslims are shown migrating in secret.

The next scene shows ‘Umar praying at the Ka’ba…with a lot of dark and angry looks directed at him, but to which he pays little heed. Following the completion of his prayer, he declares to the crowd his intention to migrate to Yathrib and challenges anyone to stop him. We then see ‘Umar and other members of his household preparing to migrate to Medina. Prominent Muslims (from the main tribes of Quraysh) are shown as being prevented by their families from migrating (due to their imprisonment).

The next scene shows Abu Jahl with the Quraysh planning the assassination of the Prophet. He suggests that each tribe should put forward one of their most prominent sons, each to be armed with a sword, who would then strike the Prophet all at the same time…thus, absolving one tribe of all the blame; rather ALL the tribes would bear the blame, thus deterring Banu Hashim from seeking retribution. The next scene shows this plan being carried out…however, as they prepare to strike, they realize it was ‘Ali that was sleeping in the Prophet’s bed and that the Prophet had already departed. This throws Abu Jahl into a real panic and he is later shown offering a bounty of 100 camels for any Meccan who captures Abu Bakr and Muhammad on their way to Yathrib.  The next scene shows Abu Bakr and the Prophet migrating together, and a Meccan finds them in the desert and vows that no harm will come to them by him and that he merely seeks to warn them about the bounty. In response, Abu Bakr conveys to the man (from the Prophet) that he will wear the bracelets of Chosroes, the Persian emperor, one day. The man looks elated. As he rides back, he encounters a group of Meccan horsemen who he tells to turn back since there was nothing to be found in that direction and he looked everywhere but could not find them (Abu Bakr and the Prophet).

In Quba (just outside Medina), we see ‘Umar, Bilal, and other prominent Muslims anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Prophet to the city. Suddenly, Abu Bakr and the Prophet (not shown) appear and the people are elated. The next scene shows ‘Ali migrating on how own to Medina and emphasizes the strenuous journey he faced; he walks, rather than rides on horseback. Before long, his feet are bleeding and he is almost collapsing from exhaustion. He then arrives in Quba. The first person he sees is ‘Umar, who greets him heartily. Next, we see the Prophet (only his camel is shown) and the other prominent Muslims entering Medina, greeted by the song “Tala’a al-Badr ‘alayna” and palm branches being waved. Meanwhile, in the background an exchange takes place between one prominent notable of Medina (Abb Allah ibn Ubayy ibn Sulul) and the head of one of the Jewish tribes (the Banu Qurayza I think) and they both agree to oppose the new religion brought by the Prophet. The next scene shows the construction of the mosque of Medina with all the prominent Sahaba taking part in its building. It is also implied the Prophet himself partook in the construction. As they all finally stand in the mud and palm structure (the new mosque), ‘Umar announces the mu’akha/brotherhood agreement declared by the Prophet, in which each Muhajir (Meccan) would take as his “brother” one of the Ansar (Medinian Muslims). The next scene shows the Constitution of Medina being read out which declares the Muslims and non-Muslims of Medina to be a single “umma” or community, with rights and obligations to maintain so they could live in harmony. The chiefs of the Jewish tribes of Medina are elsewhere shown reacting bitterly to this document, claiming it limits their rights and grants the Prophet unprecedented authority in a land which was not even his. One of the chiefs also attacks the absurdity of the idea that the Prophet brought a divinely-revealed scripture, as Moses did.

Review: This episode was alright, although not as engaging as the last two. I thought they did a good job showing the various complications that arose as a result of the hijra, but they did very little to show the danger of the journey itself. With the exception of ‘Ali, hardly any of the Sahaba are shown suffering on the journey or lamenting the fact that they had to depart from their homeland. This struck me as rather unrealistic. That said, I thought the representation of ‘Ali in this episode was done excellently…his bravery, courage, intellect, and strength of will all come out very clearly. He’s developing into one of the more interesting characters of the show. I thought some elements of the episode were rather confused and some scenes made very little sense in the broader scheme of things. I wasn’t sure what to make of the representation of the Jews of Medina…I thought it was premature to depict them as scheming and plotting the VERY MOMENT that the Prophet sets foot in Medina. The traditional texts certainly don’t present things in this way. But, in any case, I guess I’ll have to wait and see in what direction they will take this before commenting further. I’ll end on a positive, less critical note: the scene of the construction of the mosque, with Abu Bakr, ‘Ali, Hamza, ‘Uthman, and ‘Umar all partaking in its building and working together was definitely well done and definitely captured the harmony of the early Muslim community.

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2 Comments

  1. zubair says:

    Salam dear brothers and Sisters! Please can somebody identify and tell me the name of this nasheed/song that the characters were singing in episode 10 while they where building the prophets Masjid, it was harmonious and beautiful and also motivational! (NOT TALA AL BADRU). Jazakllhu Khair!

    • Christophe says:

      Salam alaykoum Zubair wa jama’a,

      Same question about the same episode. If you find the answer, do not hesitate to post it there.

      Jazaka lâhu khayr.

      Shams

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