History of Hijrah: Migration for Peace and Justice


After Muhammad had preached publicly for more than a decade, the opposition to him reached such a high pitch that, fearful for their safety, he sent some of his adherents to Ethiopia, where the Christian ruler extended protection to them, the memory of which has been cherished by Muslims ever since. But in Mecca the persecution worsened. Muhammad’s followers were harassed, abused, and even tortured. At last, therefore, Muhammad sent seventy of his followers off to the northern town of Yathrib, which was later to be renamed Medina (“The City”). Later, in the early fall of 622, he learned of a plot to murder him and, with his closest friend, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, set off to join the emigrants. 

Photo: A colonnade of lofty arches surrounds the courtyard at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, after Mecca the second holiest city of Islam. 

In Mecca the plotters arrived at Muhammad’s home to find that his cousin, ‘Ali, had taken his place in bed. Enraged, the Meccans set a price on Muhammad’s head and set off in pursuit. Muhammad and Abu Bakr, however, had taken refuge in a cave where, as they hid from their pursuers, a spider spun its web across the cave’s mouth. When they saw that the web was unbroken, the Meccans passed by and Muhammad and Abu Bakr went on to Medina, where they were joyously welcomed by a throng of Medinans as well as the Meccans who had gone ahead to prepare the way. 

This was the Hijrah – anglicized as Hegira – usually, but inaccurately, translated as “Flight” – from which the Muslim era is dated. In fact, the Hijrah was not a flight but a carefully planned migration which marks not only a break in history – the beginning of the Islamic era- but also, for Muhammad and the Muslims, a new way of life. Henceforth, the organizational principle of the community was not to be mere blood kinship, but the greater brotherhood of all Muslims. The men who accompanied Muhammad on the Hijrah were called the Muhajirun – “those that made the Hijrah” or the “Emigrants” – while those in Medina who became Muslims were called the Ansar or “Helpers.” 

Muhammad was well acquainted with the situation in Medina. Earlier, before the Hijrah, the city had sent envoys to Mecca asking Muhammad to mediate a dispute between two powerful tribes. What the envoys saw and heard had impressed them and they had invited Muhammad to settle in Medina. After the Hijrah, Muhammad’s exceptional qualities so impressed the Medinans that the rival tribes and their allies temporarily closed ranks as, on March 15, 624, Muhammad and his supporters moved against the pagans of Mecca. 

Photo: The Ka’bah, spiritual axis of the Muslim world, stands in the courtyard of Mecca’s Sacred Mosque. 

The first battle, which took place near Badr, now a small town southwest of Medina, had several important effects. In the first place, the Muslim forces, outnumbered three to one, routed the Meccans. Secondly, the discipline displayed by the Muslims brought home to the Meccans, perhaps for the first time, the abilities of the man they had driven from their city. Thirdly, one of the allied tribes which had pledged support to the Muslims in the Battle of Badr, but had then proved lukewarm when the fighting started, was expelled from Medina one month after the battle. Those who claimed to be allies of the Muslims, but tacitly opposed them, were thus served warning: membership in the community imposed the obligation of total support. 

A year later the Meccans struck back. Assembling an army of three thousand men, they met the Muslims at Uhud, a ridge outside Medina. After an initial success the Muslims were driven back and the Prophet himself was wounded. As the Muslims were not completely defeated, the Meccans, with an army of ten thousand, attacked Medina again two years later but with quite different results. At the Battle of the Trench, also known as the Battle of the Confederates, the Muslims scored a signal victory by introducing a new defense. On the side of Medina from which attack was expected they dug a trench too deep for the Meccan cavalry to clear without exposing itself to the archers posted behind earthworks on the Medina side. After an inconclusive siege, the Meccans were forced to retire. Thereafter Medina was entirely in the hands of the Muslims. 

The Constitution of Medina – under which the clans accepting Muhammad as the Prophet of God formed an alliance, or federation – dates from this period. It showed that the political consciousness of the Muslim community had reached an important point; its members defined themselves as a community separate from all others. The Constitution also defined the role of non-Muslims in the community. Jews, for example, were part of the community; they were dhimmis, that is, protected people, as long as they conformed to its laws. This established a precedent for the treatment of subject peoples during the later conquests. Christians and Jews, upon payment of a yearly tax, were allowed religious freedom and, while maintaining their status as non-Muslims, were associate members of the Muslim state. This status did not apply to polytheists, who could not be tolerated within a community that worshipped the One God. 

Photo: Devout Muslims from all over the world gather for the pilgrimage for nearly fourteen centuries one of the most impressive religious gatherings in the world.

Ibn Ishaq, one of the earliest biographers of the Prophet, says it was at about this time that Muhammad sent letters to the rulers of the earth – the King of Persia, the Emperor of Byzantium, the Negus of Abyssinia, and the Governor of Egypt among others – inviting them to submit to Islam. Nothing more fully illustrates the confidence of the small community, as its military power, despite the battle of the Trench, was still negligible. But its confidence was not misplaced. Muhammad so effectively built up a series of alliances among the tribes his early years with the Bedouins must have stood him in good stead here- that by 628 he and fifteen hundred followers were able to demand access to the Ka’bah during negotiations with the Meccans. This was a milestone in the history of the Muslims. Just a short time before, Muhammad had to leave the city of his birth in fear of his life. Now he was being treated by his former enemies as a leader in his own right. A year later, in 629, he reentered and, in effect, conquered Mecca without bloodshed and in a spirit of tolerance which established an ideal for future conquests. He also destroyed the idols in the Ka’bah, to put an end forever to pagan practices there. At the same time Muhammad won the allegiance of ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, the future conqueror of Egypt, and Khalid ibn al-Walid, the future “Sword of God,” both of whom embraced Islam and joined Muhammad . Their conversion was especially noteworthy because these men had been among Muhammad’s bitterest opponents only a short time before. 

In one sense Muhammad’s return to Mecca was the climax of his mission. In 632, just three years later, he was suddenly taken ill and on June 8 of that year, with his third wife ‘Aishah in attendance, the Messenger of God “died with the heat of noon.” 

The death of Muhammad was a profound loss. To his followers this simple man from Mecca was far more than a beloved friend, far more than a gifted administrator, far more than the revered leader who had forged a new state from clusters of warring tribes. Muhammad was also the exemplar of the teachings he had brought them from God: the teachings of the Quran, which, for centuries, have guided the thought and action, the faith and conduct, of innumerable men and women, and which ushered in a distinctive era in the history of mankind. His death, nevertheless, had little effect on the dynamic society he had created in Arabia, and no effect at all on his central mission: to transmit the Quran to the world. As Abu Bakr put it: “Whoever worshipped Muhammad , let him know that Muhammad is dead, but whoever worshipped God, let him know that God lives and dies not.” 

 

This article has been incorporated from “ARAMCO and Its World: Arabia And The Middle East”, Edited by Ismail I. Nawwab, Peter C. Speers & Paul F. Hoye



By: nimah ismail nawwab, p hoye, p speers | Source: IslamiCity | Category: Articles, Faith, Featured | Topic: hijrah (migration), history, mecca, medina, peace | Values: justice | Views: 20,413 | Comments: 15

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15 Comments

  1. The road to the Hereafter is divided into two parts i.e the

    science of revelation which is the science of practical religion

    as mentioned by the Great Islamic Philosopher and Thinker Imam

    Ghazzali.The practical Religion are based on praise worthy and

    blame worthy qualities.As for the praise worthy which we need to

    inculcate and develop are these: patience,gratitude,fear and

    hope contentment,God Fear,generosity recognition of the gift of

    God under all circumstances,good faith,good conduct,truthfulness

    and sincerity.These attributes can not be acquired in written

    books but are rather gained by experience as a gift of God and

    non can grasp them except those who know God. The opposite blame

    worthy qualities which the Imam mentioned are as followed:fear

    of poverty,displeasure over pre-decree,envy,hypocrisy,flattery

    and hope for living long, pride show off,anger enmity,greed as

    well miserliness all are the blame worthy qualities.The Iman

    then included self-conceit,honoring the rich and looking the

    poor with contempt as blemish ,haughtiness,vanity,boasting,loss

    of fear of Allah,expression of piety,lukewarm support for the

    truth and secretly fostering enmity with outward show of

    friendship,and revenge,deceit,breach of trust,harsh

    treatment,contentment with the world,oppression,loss of shame

    and kindness are all described by the learned Imam as the faults

    of mind which are unfortunate roots of evil deeds and miseries.

    So therefore we have to make effort to protect ourselves from

    these evils.May bring Peace prosperity and justice to the Ummah

    during the 1436 Hijirah.

  2. Alhamdu Lillah Kano State Government declared Monday 4th November as work free day for the whole of the State to mark the beginning of Muharram 1435.I don’t know of any other States. If there is please somebody should inform us.

  3. Alhamdulillah,Hijirah is a lesson for every muslim,if we actually understand the examplary characters displayed by prophet Mohammad(saw)and the early muslims.

  4. I hope all our Sharia compliant States in Northern Nigeria would welcome the Muharram by declaring holiday like the 1st of January is made as a public holiday all over the world. I know the previous Kano State Government of Malam Shekarau used to declare Muharrram as holiday hoping the present Government and all other States would continue with the same tradition making the !st Muharram a public holiday so that everyone i.e non Muslims would know that we (Muslims) have entered our new year.

  5. Assalamualaikum.The rasulullah (s.a.w) has done his part to establish the deen and so have our righteous predecessors.Now comes our turn to support and uphold it by positive means.

  6. Jazakallah Brother Kris for the information given to me and not only me alone but for the benefit of other brothers and sisters that 1st of Muharamm is declared as Public holiday in Malaysia.We should continue to be sharing this kind of information in this era of Information technology making this site Islamicity as the real site for the whole Ummah making all of us coming together.Once more Jazakallah if anyone knows in their country they declare the same holiday in Muharram let him come forward and tell us like our brothe Kris who reminded us about Malaysia as I reminded you about Kano Nigeria.

  7. Assalamualaikum,

    My family and I would like to wish all Muslims a Happy New Year of Hijrah. We prayed that the Rahmah and Baraqah from ALLAH would be continous and overflowing. We pray for forgivesness of our past sins and for compassion in this world and the here after.

    We pray for a unity of the Muslim ummah, whether Sunnis or Syiahs, they are all our fellow Muslims and let ALLAH be the Only JUDGE of everything including on matters that we may disagree.

    We pray for good livelihood and sustenance, we pray for good lives and peaceful living. We pray for those Muslims who had given their lives in the path of ALLAH and those who had fallen while fighting for HIS ways and guidance and while defending the faith.

    We pray for a sharpening of intellect, and for us to acquire knowledge that will make us appreciate our Creator more and to love HIM more, and for ALLAH to love us and for ALLAH to open our hearts to always see the truth ( haq ) and to disregard and fight falsehood at all levels of our lives.

    We pray may ALLAH will open the hearts of the non Muslims to understand the message of the truth that we, the Muslims, who are HIS vicegerent are obligated to spread and preach.

    We pray that the oppressed Muslims would be alleviated from their sufferings and that ALLAH will open more Muslim hearts to be generous and charitable, and to be sensitive and helpful to the less fortunate.

    And we also pray for the goodness in this world and the hereafter. Wassalam,

  8. hijra of prophet muhammed from mecca to medina is a great opportunity for all the muslimn brothers and sisters and we need to take the importance of the month in getttingn near to almighty allah[S.W.T]

  9. Salam Alaikum, the article has great lessons for all Muslim nations and their Rulers, most of whom are not leaders to be guided by the teachings of Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and they should fear Almighty Allah in all their dealings in this world. These rulers, can they in all sincerity proclaim that all their actions and inactions are with piety? The Islamic scholars also should fear Allah and preach as well as teach all muslim youths all the ideals of Islam that makes the first set of Muslims to achieve a lot without necessary doing all they did for material gains.

    Ma Salam

  10. This was a very good article summarizing the Hijrah. BUT – it is not accurate regarding the role Christians and Jews played in the early community. First, they were full signatories of the constitution and pledged to fight together with everyone else to protect the community. And they did so, with the exception of only two of the Jewish tribes. Christians and Jews fought and died by the side of the Prophet, and rode with him in all his victories, AND entered Mecca with him after the final capitulation and victory over the Meccans! These people were not given the protected status you mention until centuries later, especially during the Ottoman Empire, not in the early years of the young community when, in accordance with the constitution, they were full partners in everything from decision making to ensuring their mutual safety by fighting together as allies.

    I’m also pleased that you mention that some of the Prophet’s first followers were sent to the Christian King of Ethiopia, who ensured their safety by refusing to turn them over to a delegation from Mecca that was sent to bring them back to what would have been a death sentence. The tragedy is that so-called Muslims today do not know these facts, have no idea that Christians and Jews died in fighting off the Meccans, may never have even heard of these events, and never read about them or were instructed by so-called Imams and teachers in our religeous schools. Little wonder then that people claiming to be Muslims, and therefore followers of the prophet, have attacked Christians and Jews, thrown grenades into church services, and engaged in horrific acts which are exactly opposite to the example we are supposed to set as people of the middle way.

    Please keep up the good work of informing your readers of events like the Hijrah. However, the detailed story of the cooperation between all members of that young community should not be so lightly glossed over.

  11. All Muslim Countries should declare 1st of Muharram as holiday to commemorate the beginning of the new ISlamic Year the Hegira.Kano State in Nigeria under the leadership of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau has been declaring 1st of Muharram as holiday for the past three years or so. We hope other Sharia States in Nigeria would follow the example of Kano making Malam Ibrahim as the Islamic Governor of the year for his commitment to the implementation of Sharia in the State. Similarly like the 1st of January all over the world every one is aware of the arrival of the new year,we should also make it a duty or rather habit in all Muslim Countries so as to be aware of the coming of 1st of Muharram heralding the new Hegira.Welcome the New Hegira 1429 May Allah bring Prosperity Barkah and all other Blessings which Rasululah sought for the Ummah and at the same time save the Ummah against any evil sought refuge by our Beloved Prophet Muhammad the Lamp of Guidance to the entire humanity.

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