Below is a translation from an excerpt taken from a book published last month, called The Messenger of Allah and Management of Tensions in Medina (رسول خدا و مدیریت تنشهای مدینه), by Hussain Qadhikhani (a history teacher in Qom), Pages 125-127
This is a really interesting book as it outlines the various phases of the development of an Islamic community and government in Medina, alongside the challenges it faced and what steps the Prophet (p) took in each and every scenario.
Don’t give your enemies an excuse!
One of the ways, the enemies use to push their agenda, is by misusing some of the actions of their opponents. Therefore, one must try wholeheartedly to not give such an opportunity to their enemies.
The Muslims in the beginning of Islam – when the Prophet (p) would be busy speaking, and would be narrating verses and teaching the divine laws – would at times request the Prophet (p) to speak a bit slowly so that they could comprehend the message properly and that if anyone had a question they would have an opportunity to ask.
At the time of making this request, the Muhajireen would use the command-tense رَاعِنَا – taken from the root-word رعى which in this context means “give us a moment”. This practice of the Muhajireen continued even in Medina, but an issue arose. The meaning and connotation of this word was understood differently by the Jews of Medina. The meaning that they would understand from the word was رعونة which was something along the lines of thoughtless and foolish. It has been reported that this term was a type of profanity for the Jews.
The Jews began using this word as a form of mockery and sarcasm and would say رَاعِنَا in the presence of the Prophet (p) while intending the meaning they had in their minds, rather than what the Muslims would intend by it. Some Muslims of Medina, who were aware of what the word meant to the Jews, could not handle this disrespect anymore and ended up in a verbal argument with the Jews. It has been reported that one of the Ansar by the name of Sa’d bin ‘Ibadah condemend the Jews and said that if any one uses this word against the Prophet (p), he will hit them.
In regards to this event, Allah (swt) speaks directly to the believers and commands them to start using the command-tense انظُرْنَا وَ اسْمَعُوا instead of رَاعِنَا (Baqarah:104).
Another incident was when some of the Muslim ladies would attend the congregational prayers at the mosque, in order to pray behind the Prophet (p), on their way back some irreligious individuals would abuse these ladies. So Allah (swt) revealed the following verse:
[33:59] O Prophet! say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their over-garments; this will be more proper, that they may be known, and thus they will not be given trouble; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
Muslim women were asked to dress in a way that would protect them from potential abuse, until the root-cause of this abuse was eradicated.
Looking at these verses, we can conclude that it is necessary to pay close attention to those messages which are conveyed through one’s actions and words. This is because at times it is possible for another group to use one’s actions and words for their own goal and agenda.