Every year the Muslim community of Mauritius commemorates with fanfare and dignity the Yaum un-Nabi (Prophet’s Day), which is the celebration of both the birth and death anniversaries of Muhammad (pbuh) – the Prophet of Islam, the last of the revealed religions. The Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) birth and death occurred on the same date.
The Yaum un-Nabi celebration is held in all the mosques throughout the island. However, the largest and the most important function is hosted by the Halka-e-Kidria at the Aleemiah College at Highlands, Phoenix, and which has become a major cultural annual event of the Mauritius Muslims.  It is little wonder then that the Yaum un-Nabi celebration always draws a big crowd and is always graced with the presence of such distinguished and honoured guests like the President of the Republic,  the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition as well as politicians and community dignitaries including many learned scholars of Islam (aleems)) both from Mauritius and from overseas. This, naturally,  gives the event. a very special cachet. Eloquent speeches are made by the guests of honour and the scholars on the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and due tributes are paid to his memory and the indelible impact his Message on the unity of God and love, peace and justice has had – and continue to have – on humanity and civilization.
The Yaum un-Nabi celebration this year at Aleemiah College was no different. It was a cultural event as dignified and intellectually stimulating as it was meant to be. However, this year the event somehow drew special attention because in his  message of felicitation to the memory of the unlettered Prophet of Islam, Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam not only extolled his perennial message of love and peace, equality and justice but also applauded his great qualities as a leader of men, a politician and statesman when he invoked the Constitution of Medina, which the Prophet himself had drawn up as « a neutral outsider » to bring peace and unity among the warring tribes of Yathrib (which would later become  known as Medina or City of the Prophet). In fact, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who was admired for his probity and austere character, was invited by the tribal chieftains to come to Yathrib and serve as « the chief arbitrator » among their tribes that had been at each other’s throats for the past two hundred years. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) accepted their invitation and arrived in Medina to join a group of his followers in 622 A.D. who had already ‘migrated’ there to escape persecution by the Quraish tribe of Mecca. He was received with great adulation and reverence by the tribal leaders. Muhammad (pbuh), with the Charter of Medina, as the Constitution of Medina is also known, would thus set up the first ‘Islamic state’, which comprised the small band of his Muslim followers from Mecca (the Ansar), the Jews and the Christians and also the pagans. Accordingly, Muhammad (pbuh) spelled out in the document the rights and responsibilities of all the tribesmen and the relationships of the different tribes of Medina towards each other. The small ‘City State’, which was actually a confederation of the Arab tribes of Medina, was, in fact, the first Muslim community which,  under the caliphate, would eventually morphed into a vast Islamic empire that would deeply influence world culture and civilization as we know it to-day.
Prime Minister Ramgoolam’s speech came on the heels of the heated debate that had been going on in the Mauritius media following the release of the Carcassone Report on proposed reforms to the Constitution. In fact, one of the major recommendations contained in the Report was the abolition of the Best Loser System (BLS) and its replacement with a form of Proportional Representation (PR) – a proposal which the bulk of the Muslim community, understandably, had taken strong issue with as the PR was not deemed a viable alternative to the constitutional safeguards that the BLS provided them and the other minority communities of Mauritius.
The  BLS, as everyone knows, was inscribed in the Constitution of Mauritius in 1967 at the insistence of Sir Abdul Razack Mohamed, leader of the Comité d’Action Musulman  (CAM), with the blessings of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the Father of the Mauritian Nation,  to ensure the minority communities of Mauritius the constitutional guarantee for adequate representation in Parliament – a function, which the BLS has fulfilled admirably since its inception more than forty years ago, despite what  its few detractors may say. The BLS has ensured Mauritius and its multicultural society political and social stability – a fact no one can dispute.  
Prime Minister Ramgoolam could not have picked a more appropriate time and place to talk about the Constitution of Medina – a document, as observed earlier, was drawn up by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to ensure peace, harmony and unity among diverse warring tribes of Medina. Prime Minister Ramgoolam knew what he was talking about. As head of the Government, he knew that one of his main tasks was to make sure that unity, peace, harmony and social and political stability in the country were not ever disrupted by the introduction of any constitutional measures that would tamper with the already acquired safeguards of any section of the population. Prime Minister Ramgoolam knew what Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) accomplished in Medina with his Medina Charter. There is no doubt that it was the protection of those individual rights  of equality, freedom and justice and peace that was in the PM’s mind as he weighed on the recommendations of the Carcasonne Report.  Any new Constitution of Mauritius should satisfy and be acceptable to all segments of the population – which was what the Constitution of Medina did to the Medinan tribes fourteen hundred years  ago.
It is a fact that the Muslim community has a vested interest in the BLS as it ensures them, as a minority group, the constitutional guarantee of adequate representation in the legislature. The opinions expressed during the debate on the BLS at times created confusion in the public and some leaders, in order not to antagonize any section of their constituents, appeared to talk from both sides of their mouth on the issue. Prime Minister Ramgoolam certainly felt it imperative to clear the air and let the nation know where he stood. Accordingly, he felt it relevant and proper to invoke the Constitution of Medina. at the Yaum un-Nabi celebration where there was a large majority of Muslims in the audience, to assure them  that any reform of the Mauritius Constitution would only come about if it was acceptable to all segments of the Mauritius population.
Unfortunately, a small section of the audience appeared to have missed the real intent of Prime  Minister Ramgoolam. They construed it all as politicking and showed their displeasure at him for daring to talk about the subject at all. The Yaum un-Nabi, they contended, was  a cultural event and not the right forum to talk politics. Too bad!
Sure, there is a group of Mauritians who strongly demand that the BLS be abolished. One of the reasons they put forward is that it is a system that has impeded the evolution of a ‘true’ Mauritian nation as it encourages ‘communalism’. But is not communalism one of the realities of modern Mauritius? It is no secret that, when all is considered and done, all things political in Mauritius smack of communalism. So much so, ‘communalism’ is one of the many paradoxes of multicultural Mauritius. To deny it is to ignore one of the forceful realities of this beautiful country. The BLS in the Constitution of Mauritius reflects a Mauritian social reality, which the Fathers of our Constitution knew and recognised – which explains well why the System has functioned so well in the context of Mauritius politics..  
The Constitution of Medina – or the Charter of Medina  (Sahifat al-Madina) – that Prime Minister Ramgoolam referred to was a major historic document in the history of Islam. It was a document drawn up by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself and to which all the Medinan tribes adhered. The Medina Constitution was the first written constitution in Islam. It recognized Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as head and also ensured peace and order among the warring tribes of Medina .
The Medina Constitution called upon all the members of the tribes that comprised Jews, Christians, Muslims and pagans to submit to one single authority – that of the umma (community) and not to the tribal Sheik as was customary. Further, it guaranteed  the members security and freedom to practise their respective faiths and conferred certain rights to women who, until then were generally regarded as ‘property’. He proclaimed Medina as a sacred sanctuary (haram) where violence of any kind was prohibited. Loyalty to the community (umma)  was stressed and in times of attacks, every member was obligated to support and defend the umma. Furthermore, it also provided for a levy or tax to be paid by all members, irrespective of whether they were Muslims, Jews or Christians, for the overall support of the umma. It also established a system of justice to help resolve disputes among the members. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), to whose authority every one submitted, was « a just and wise administrator » – a fact that was vouched for even by his enemies. So much so, the City of Medina became a paradigm that has remained to this day the ideal of a model Islamic State – something that has ever been dreamed of by many a Muslim leader but which has not been truly achieved because the values on which the Prophet  Muhammad (pbuh) based the ‘ideal Muslim state’ in Medina, has meant different things to different leaders.
Prime Minister Ramgoolam deserved congratulations for his courage to have dared to talk about the Constitution of Medina – a historic document that helped Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) translate the Islamic ideal and values into reality and make of Islam a world religion and the subsequent establishment of the vast Islamic empire that impacted so deeply all facets of civilization. So much so, those few who, remonstrated against the Prime Minister at Aleemiah College, should, in hindsight, feel a trifle embarrassed for their  unbecoming behaviour. It is a known fact that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was much more than just a Prophet and Messenger of God. He was an inspired guide to Humanity and his Message was universal and encompassed all facets of human life – including politics. The Constitution of Medina is definitely illustrative of his mettle as a great leader and a great statesman.