Kifah MustaphaThe Mother of All Migrations
 
“Al Hijrah”  The Migration
It was a consensus among companions of the Prophet (PBUH) led by Omar (RAA) during the time of his ruling as Caliph to start the Islamic calendar by the great migration from Makkah to Madinah, known as “Al Hijrah.”
 
Among other suggestions was to start it from the birth of Mohammad (PBUH) since it represented the birth of the man who brought Islam and was a mercy to mankind. Another suggestion was to begin from the time Mohammad (PBUH) received revelation at the age of 40 since it marked the connection and celebration of the Word of God brought down to earth. Even beginning from the prophet’s death (PBUH) was also a suggestion. At the end, people ultimately agreed on “Al Hijrah” as the beginning since it was an event all Muslims were part of. It was an incident that represented the birth of a new chapter in Islam and Muslim life. And with such a choice, it eliminated the possibility for people to praise their prophet (PBUH) in a different way other than being a man and a messenger of God.
 
Obeying God and His Messenger
“Al Hijra” was about the response to the orders of God.  Muslims had trust in God’s orders that it would bring benefit to them and keep harm away, for He (SW) is the most aware and All-Knowing with All-Wisdom.
 
“Al Hijra” represented the test of their faith, the preservation of the community, and it planted the seed for a brighter future for Islam and Muslims. Thirteen years of living Islam in Makkah paved the way for such a decision to be taken, and Muslims acted upon it without any hesitation and migrated. The verse came questioning the lack of those who will hesitate to offer such a sacrifice to safeguard their faith even if it meant leaving their place of residence! God (SW) said: {as for those whose souls the angels take while they are wronging themselves [in the midst of unbelief, the angels] will say to them: In what [state of faith] were you [in life]? They will say: We were [utterly] helpless in the land. [The Angels] will say: Was God’s earth not spacious [enough] for you to migrate therein, [away from unbelief]? It is these, then, whose [final] abode shall be Hell- and what an evil destination it is} 4:97.
 
Al Hijra and Prophets before
“Al Hijra” was not something new. Prophets and messengers have always migrated for their right to worship God and to safeguard their faith. Stories of migration helped companions of the Prophet understand the types of sacrifices they had to offer for the sake of preserving their faith. In the Quran, God spoke about Abraham’s migration: {so [his nephew] Lot believed in him, whereupon [Abraham] said [to his people]: Indeed, I am migrating to my Lord. For, indeed, it is He [alone] who is the Overpowering [One], the All-Wise} 29:26.
 
Prophet Jacob and his family migrated to Egypt, and Prophet Moses and his people migrated from Egypt to the desert and then to Palestine. All these stories were meant to keep the faith of the companions of the Prophet high and bring tranquility to their hearts while facing all kinds of challenges around them. God (SW) said: {yet all that We relate to you, [O Mohammad,] from the tidings of the messengers [who preceded you], is but to set firm your [own] heart. For in this [surah], the [revealed] truth has come to you- along with an [inspired] admonition [for the unbelievers to turn to God], and a reminder [of the way of God and His messengers] for the believers} 11:120.
 
“Al Hijra” and worshiping God
People have many reasons for migrating like money, education, adventure or even safety. Migrating for the sake of worshiping God is by far the most honorable one because it relates to the essence of your existence. We read in the Quran about our purpose in life which is “to worship God;” {and [know that] I have not created [either] Jinn or human beings [for any other end] but [to know and] worship Me [alone]} 51:56. If we are prevented from that, it becomes an obligation to seek a place for the preservation of our purpose in life. The order for Muslims to migrate was to ensure the protection of their faith and the right to worship God freely. To bring attention to the importance of worshiping God, He (SW) declared that persecuting people against their faith is by far worse than killing! God (SW) said: {for persecution is [far] more grievous than killing} 2:51.
 
Muslims migrating toward Abyssinia or Yathrib were trying to practice their faith. Abyssinia represented a land of justice where Muslims were able to worship God freely. The Prophet (PBUH), directing people to migrate to Abyssinia, said: “[why not] leave to the land of Abyssinia for in it is a king in which no one [under his rule] shall be wronged.”[1]  In Yathrib (later named Madinah), the Muslim community grew large by the dedication of Musa’b son of Omair teaching Islam. When the Prophet (PBUH) arrived in Madinah, the city was already established to be a minaret of justice, equality and freedom, and such themes were the values that represented the concept of worshipping God next to (Tawheed) or monotheism.
 
Al Hijra and sacrifice
The prophet (PBUH) when leaving Makkah said: “by Allah I know you [Makkah] are the best land of God and the most beloved to Him and if it wasn’t that your people [forced] me out I would not have left.”[2] All those who left Makkah had to sacrifice their place of birth and residence. Another dimension of sacrifice was in relation to money and wealth. The great companion Suhayb “the Roman” was followed by pagans demanding his wealth when he took the migration trip. He told them about the place of his wealth and gained his safety to follow the prophet to Madinah, and when the prophet (PBUH) saw him, he said: “Aba Yahya [a] winner in his trade [you are].”[3]  Allah (SW) revealed a verse in such a great sacrifice: {yet there are among people those who would give their [very] souls in seeking the good pleasure of God- and God is all-kind to [all His] servants} 2:271.
 
Being separated from family was a third dimension of sacrifice during Al Hijrah. Abu Salamah had to migrate with his wife and child for the sake of Allah, but his wife’s family forced her to stay in Makkah with her child leaving Abu Salamah to migrate alone! Abu Salamah’s family came to his wife and demanded the child to stay with them! A family torn apart with a mother who would cry standing by the road leading to Madinah for a whole year away from her husband and son but she couldn’t leave!  A husband and a father in Madinah alone! And a son away from his parents! All these stories of sacrifices relate the price Muslims were willing to take for the sake of saving their purpose in life, worshipping God.
 
Al Hijra and protection
“Al Hijrah” was a reminder of God’s guardianship. At the cave of Thawr, Abu Bakr told the Prophet (PBUH) in fear of being seen: “if someone looked by his feet he will see us!” The Prophet (PBUH) replied: “what do you think O Abu Bakr of two in which Allah is their third!”[4]  When the pagan Suraqa son of Malek came pursuing to kill the prophet to win the ransom, the Prophet (PBUH) told Abu Bakr: “do not grieve, for, indeed God is with us.”[5] Suraqa would later give up on pursuing the killing of the Prophet (PBUH) and became a Muslim!
 
Al Hijra and Tawakkul
“Al Hijra” was a lesson about planning and depending on Allah (Tawakkul) which included using the means needed to do something and then relating all matters to God. You can see that in how the Prophet (PBUH) planned for his trip. Ali his cousin sleeping in his bed in Makkah, two camels prepared by Abu Bakr for the long trip, leaving at noon when heat kept everyone indoors, going south instead of north in the opposite direction to Madinah, staying in the cave of Thawr for three days until things calmed down, having a shepherd bring his sheep to cover tracks, Asma’ daughter of Abu Bakr bringing food, trusting a pagan to lead him to Madinah and keeping secrecy during the trip in which Abu Bakr would not speak the prophet’s name but to only say he is a guide etc. All this was a plan for a trip that the Prophet (PBUH) took with full faith that God (SW) will protect him! It is indeed “Tawakkul” which brings together the use of means available and relying on God in all your matters.
 
Al Hijrah the trip that changed the world
From such a trip 1433 years ago, Islam became a reality in many parts of the world with followers of diverse ethnicities, cultures, colors and languages. All followers shall remember “Al Hijrah” the trip that changed the world and was the reason for them to become Muslims.
 
Muslims should honor the prophet (PBIH) by believing in him, practicing his Sunnah and looking up to him as the role model for all the matters of life. Muslims should honor the prophet’s companions by learning from their experiences, understanding Islam through their understanding and remembering them in (Dua) supplications.
 
In many parts of the world people are still migrating for all kinds of reasons. Palestinians are still in millions as refugees away from their homeland, Somali people are migrating to seek a life free from drought and hunger, Syrians are migrating for safety, and the list is long!
 
“Al Hijrah” changed the world for the Prophet (PBUH) and his followers and brought them back to Makkah safe and secure. I pray that present migrations will bring better conditions for people migrating and that the whole world can celebrate soon by going back to their homes safe and secure.  Ameen.
 
Sh. Kifah Mustapha
 
[1] Hadith narrated by Albani
[2] Hadith narrated by Ibn Abdel Birr
[3] Hadith narrated by Al Wadi’ie
[4] Hadith narrated by Al Bukhari
[5] Hadith narrated by Al Bukhari