Dar-e-Arqam – The first formal centre established by Holy Prophet to preach Islam

Significance of choosing Dar-e-Arqam

Dar-e-Arqam is a place which was used by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) as a hidden location where he could quietly carry on his divine mission. He used the place for few years during the initial period of Islam to preach teachings of Islamic faith, establish contacts and devise strategy.

Dar-e-Arqam was in fact the house of Arqam bin Abi Arqam Qureshi Makhzumi, who was a young companion and close confidant of the Prophet (PBUH). He was 16 when the Messenger of God chose his house as a secret headquarters. He was among those companions who believed in the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad at the very beginning. It becomes evident from the authentic history books, which have documented in detail the initial period of Islam, that just about thirty people had embraced Islam at the time Prophet (PBUH) selected the house of Hazrat Arqam to be quietly used for the propagation of Islam. This house was located at the foot of Mount Safa. It was situated at a distance from the gatherings and meeting places of Quraish. Generally there was no hustle and bustle and comings and goings around this house because there was no market place and no other inhabitation near this locality. Access to this house was easy because it was not too far from the centre of Makkah. This house was not even situated on a high place. Although Mount Safa was not too high, but being situated at the foot of Safa it was difficult for those coming in and going out of Makkah to check the movement of people who were visiting this house. One more point which is of utmost significance is that Hazrat Arqam belonged to the tribe of Bani Makhzum. During the period of pre-Islamic times this tribe and Bani Hashim clan had unfriendly relations with one another. In this background it was unimaginable for the tribes living in Makkah that the Prophet (PBUH) would make the house of Hazrat Arqam as a centre for propagating Islam.

In this regard, it is also noteworthy that Hazrat Arqam was not holding any major position among the Quraish. Then choosing the house of a younger person instead of a relatively well-known, mature and prominent older figure was a reflection of the vision of the Prophet (PBUH). Common people generally keep an eye on the houses of those who have attained prominence in the society and the people visiting such houses do become a matter of discussion in every street and every corner.

Maintaining secrecy at the highest level

By going through the details of the part of history which surrounds around the Dar-e-Arqam, it can easily be perceived that secrecy was maintained up to the maximum possible degree. Even the young and the women folk associated with the Holy Prophet (PBUH) would seriously follow the set of principles regarding confidentiality and accordingly take precautionary measures in this respect.

History also tells us about the extraordinary precautions taken in the construction of Dar-e-Arqam. Small holes were made in its door in such a way that anyone coming from outside can easily be recognized by looking through these hollow spaces, while the outsider could not see what is going on inside the house. The episode of Hazrat Umar comes to mind when he went to Safa and knocked the door of Dar-e-Arqam. Before opening the door, one of the companions of the Prophet (PBUH), by looking through one of these ‘magical’ holes, identified Hazrat Umar who had girded his sword. The Prophet (PBUH) was informed about the coming of Hazrat Umar. It is amazing that the technology nowadays used in modern houses was brought into play in those years. One aspect of precaution is that in case of any emergency such a course of action be adopted which is relevant to the circumstances. So, the Prophet (PBUH) advanced towards Hazrat Umar and firmly caught hold of the hilt of his sword as well as his hands and arms.

Universal aspect of choosing Dar-e-Arqam

The Prophet (PBUH), by making Dar-e-Arqam as the focal point of his struggle, not only provided a proof of his superior wisdom and divine insight but the lesson and message given to the future generations through it includes various important aspects and features, which have left deep impressions on the Islamic history and struggles. It also becomes clear that Islam was not only based on some religious and devotional rules and regulations, but also possessed a wider message and goal. Otherwise, there was no need to adopt such secrecy for so many years for the stability of Islam, for grooming his initial companions and laying foundations for planning future course of action. Similarly, there was no need for the enemies of Islam to resort to different kinds of machinations and acts against the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) unless they felt there was likelihood that Islam would prosper owing to its universality.

Message of Dar-e-Arqam for Muslim Ummah

The matter of secrecy becomes all important and profound when the movement is all-inclusive, when the message is of the utmost importance, when the situation is too serious, when the enemy is too superficial and narrow-minded and when preparing people for a cause is critically important. The Prophet (PBUH) had come as the last messenger from God to mankind. It depended on the success of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) to make the endeavous of all the past prophets fruitful and meaningful. The Prophet (PBUH) had to safely transfer onwards the legacy of all the prophets.  The religion was to be completed and perfected by the Prophet of Islam (PBUH). Acting as a visionary and sagacious leader, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was mindful of all the aspects including hot-tempered nature of Arabs, linkage the economy and leadership of the elders of Quraish had with different forms of idolatry, benefits of Quraish that were protected in the belief of polytheism and expected damage the interests of Quraish would witness in case the monotheistic movement succeeded.

Apart from ensuring the safety of his companions, the Prophet (PBUH) was also conscious of their grooming and self-purification. It was also among the obligatory duties of the Prophet (PBUH) to provide spiritual as well as ideological training to his companions besides making them comprehend the secrets and objectives of the divine movement according to their intellectual capacities. The Prophet (PBUH) had to provide guidance and leadership simultaneously bearing in mind the principles of security and forward progress. In these conditions, the Prophet (PBUH) would speak his mind where it was necessary to do so and he would keep his mission secret where the situation demanded concealment.  Therefore, the Prophet (PBUH) openly declared his prophetic mission by standing on top of a high rock on Mount Safa. On the other hand, he exercised extreme caution by adopting the strategy of making Dar-e-Arqam a secret place for the propagation of Islam. Similarly, by ordering his followers to migrate to Habashah (present-day Ethiopia), the Prophet (PBUH) on one hand saved them from the persecution of the Quraish and on the other the message of Islam reached across the borders by this act. The migration to Habashah also proved that the Prophet (PBUH) is the link in the chain of prophethood starting from Hazrat Adam as well as the inheritor of past prophets. By examining these different aspects, it becomes clear that by ignoring other measures taken by the Prophet (PBUH) it is not possible to determine the significance of the game plan adopted as a result of choosing Dar-e-Arqam as a secret place. The importance and value of this initiative can be gauged by taking into consideration other steps at the same time.

When the enemies were only thinking of repression, the divine leader, despite having limited resources, was swiftly carrying his movement forward with sagacity and deep insight and continuously taking various kinds of safety measures in this respect.  For this the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) was busy in transforming apparently weak and insignificant people into a formidable force in such a way that it was difficult for his enemies to pay attention towards this fact. Reposing trust and confidence in younger people and making possible for them to take responsibilities of vital duties as well as utilize the services of women, who were the weakest segment of that society, to accomplish very important tasks is not less than a miracle of the Prophet (PBUH).

Although, the remains of Dar-e-Arqam have been demolished, but by peeping through the window of its history, we can deduce that it is contrary to the divine conduct and behaviour of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to divulge every details of his plans, to demonstrate harsh, violent and rapid reaction in the face of every problem or event, to show unnecessary and excessive concern about every issue and to weaken every plan of action by creating an uproar about it. Nowadays, the political leaders of the Ummah are seeking guidance and counsels from the enemies by allowing them to sit in their ‘Darun Nadwah’ [house which functioned as a house of Parliament for the Quraish and it was from here that they plotted to kill the Prophet (PBUH)]. Philosophical and wise principles, which we have inherited from Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) and other prophets, are waiting to be followed in letter and spirit. We need to put our heads together and ponder how in the early Islamic era the Prophet of Islam (PBUH), although having minimum means and resources, succeeded against a resourceful and influential enemy. We must think over why Muslims have become disgraced and discredited people today despite being rich in material as well as human resources and this declining journey does not seem to be ending. Instead of drawing lessons about secrecy and confidentiality from the history of Dar-e-Arqam, we have thrown everything open for all to see. It is beyond doubt that Muslims can’t emerge from the present distressed state and regain strength and hounour without having firm belief in Allah and fixing superior goals. Salvation of humanity from ruthless capitalism, which is the torchbearer of materialistic civilization, is only possible by adopting God-fearing culture and civilization.