His grasp of detail was wonderful; without haste and without coercion he subdued the turbulent factions within Medina, and his own perfervid followers to discipline as despotic as it was salutary; Mahomet became what circumstances made him; by reason of his mighty gift of moulding those men and forces that came his way, he impressed his personality upon his age; but the material fashioning of his energy, the flower of his creative art, drew its formative sustenance from the soil of his surroundings. The time for admonition, with the voice of one crying in the wilderness, the time for praise and poesy, for the expression of that rapt immortal passion filling his mind as he contemplated God, all these were past, and had become but a lingering brightness upon the stormy urgency of his later life.
Now his flock demanded from him organisation, leadership, political and social prevision. Therefore the full force of his nature is revealed to us not so much as heretofore in the Kuran, but rather in his institutions and ordinances, his enmities and conciliations. He has become not only the Prophet, but the Lawgiver, the Statesman, almost the King.
His first act, after his establishment in the house of Abu Ayub, was the joining together in brotherhood of the Muhajerim and Ansar. These were two distinct entities within Medina; the Muhajerim (refugees) had either accompanied their master from Mecca or had emigrated previously; the Ansar (helpers) comprised all the converts to Islam within the city itself. These parties were now joined in a close bond, each individual taking another of the opposite party into brotherhood with himself, to be accorded the rights and privileges of kinship. Mahomet took as his brother Ali, who became indeed not only his kinsman, but his military commander and chief of staff. The wisdom of this arrangement, which lasted about a year and a half—until, in fact, its usefulness was outworn by the union of both the Medinan tribes under his leadership —was immediate and far-reaching. It enabled Mahomet to keep a close surveillance over the Medinan converts, who might possibly recant when they became aware of the hazards involved in partnership with the Muslim. It also gave a coherence to the two parties and allowed the Muhajerim some foothold in an alien city, not as yet unanimously friendly. And the Muhajerim had need of all the kindliness and help they could obtain, for the first six months in Medina were trying both to their health and endurance, so that many repented their venture and would have returned if the Ansar had not come forward with ministrations and gifts, and also if their chances of reaching Mecca alive had not been so precarious.
The climate at Medina is damp and variable. Hot days alternate with cold nights, and in winter there is almost continuous rain. The Meccans, used to the dry, hot days and nights of their native city, where but little rain fell, and even that became absorbed immediately in the parched ground, endured much discomfort, even pain, before becoming acclimatised. Fever broke out amongst them, and it was some months before the epidemic was stayed with the primitive medical skill at their command.