In his role as diplomat and statesman – and using his experience as a former merchant – Muhammad concluded many treaties with the tribes of Medina and northern Arabia. The use of written contracts was widespread in Medina and elsewhere in Arabia, even though literacy was rather rare. Recipients of his written documents had a vested interest in preserving them, especially when the documents recognized their right to, say, a grazing area or a well. At a later stage many documents were still available to historians who included them in their history books. But obviously many other documents were lost. Luckily, the so-called Constitution of Medina was among those preserved. Ibn Ishâq placed it among the events of the first year after the hijra that brought Muhammad from Mecca to Medina towards the end of September 622. Muhammad was then roughly 54 years old.
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 Ibn Ishâq’s biography is only available in the abridged and censored version prepared by Ibn Hishâm (d. ca. 218/833). A somewhat different version of the text of the ‘Constitution’ is found in Abû ‘Ubayd’s Kitâb al-amwâl.
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