During the time of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), those who entered Islam were of two types: those who remained in their lands with the general populace practicing the basic tenets of the religion, and those who took it upon themselves to migrate and join the Prophet in his expeditions. There are ahadith that show that the Prophet treated these two groups differently from each other due to their difference in status. For example, Muslim and at-Tirmidhi report that when appointing a leader to a battalion, he would instruct him on how to deal with those of the enemy who became Muslims, saying: “…invite them to migrate from their lands to the land of the Muhajirin, and inform them that if they do so, they will have all the privileges and obligations of the Muhajirin. If they refuse to migrate, tell them that they will have the status of the Bedouins, and will be subjected to the commands of Allah like the rest of the believers…” This distinction was simply of one group deciding to take upon its shoulders certain responsibilities in contrast to the other whose inactivity limited them to a very individualistic, localized, benign practice of Islam. One can in essence say that the Prophet divided the practice of the Muslims at the time into two types: the religion of the Migrants (Din al-Muhajirin, whose adherents took upon their shoulders the responsibilities of aiding and giving victory to Islam), and the religion of the Bedouins (Din al-A’rab, whose adherents did not go beyond the basics).
Although the depiction is of a situation that existed over a thousand years ago, it is an eternal pattern that Muslims will be distributed amongst these levels in every era and in every place. So, one can notice this distinction even amongst the practicing Muslims of the East and West. The Din al-A’rab of the past can be compared to the Islam that is limited to the five pillars, eating zabihah, and keeping the local mosque clean. Considering how difficult it is in the West to come across even these Muslims, imagine what joy comes to the eye and heart to see those who go a step further and reach the level of adhering to Din al-Muhajirin – those whose concern spans the entire Ummah, driving them to get up and become active workers for Islam, to dedicate their every minute to the service of Allah however they can no matter what other responsibilities clutter their busy lives, to have their hearts beat with the rest of the Muslims – all this with their heads raised high and paying no regard to those around them who eat and live like cattle, as it was said:
هكذا الاحرار في دنيا العبيد
Such are the free in a world of the enslaved…
Tariq Mehanna فك الله أسره