Hijrah which means “exodus or migration” plays significant role in the growth of Islamic civilization and its culture. Furthermore, it was opening of new Islamic calendar authoritatively agreed by Umar (R), the second Islamic caliph. Hijrah was a divine command to migrate to Madīna because of physical, mental, social and religious worries problematized by Makhan pagans in 622 CE. It facilitated the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his disciples to grow and be fortified not only in Madīna but also in Makkah and partially in other parts of Arabian Peninsula. Hijrah progressively incorporated all devotees contrary to belief of infidels and pagans that resulted in different historic combats. Unfortunately, copious numbers of people deceptively do consider Islam as expanded through wars and swords as interpreted by extremists but let it be clear that Islam does not endorse confrontations and weapons nevertheless for self-defence and self-protection as mentioned in Qur’ān “Do not kill a soul which Allāh has made sacred except through due process of law”. Every classical religion has the sense of migration if it was small or large scale.
Hijrah is not of a modern theme to be studied or discussed but going through the different so-called classical divine religious testaments which certainly provide bespeaks and its cogent evidences. There is a long chapter named exodus in Bible. Indicating the migration, Qur’ān says “And those who migrate in the cause of Allāh and are then slain or die, certainly will Allāh provide them with a goodly sustenance, and verily Allāh is the best of providers”. And the prophetic traditions also signal its mentioning like “actions are by motives so each man will have what he intended. Thus, he whose migration was to Allāh and His messenger, his migration is to Allāh and His Messenger; but he whose migration was for something worldly thing he might gain, or for a wife he might marry, his migration is to that for which he migrated”.
Islamic history verbalizes of migrations of many another prophets prior to Muhammad ﷺ such as Ādam, Ibrāhim, Lūth, Yūnus and Mūsa. The Prophet Adam (A), the father of humanity, migrated from paradise to earth so the tradition of Islām deliberates all human beings as migrants. Therefore, the elemental homeland of humankind is heaven, while the earth is a momentary rearrangement. This appears to be central in prophetic words as well. He associates himself to a traveller who stays for short time to rest under the shadow of a tree and then continues on his journey.
Why the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ selected Madīna while it was supposed as ill-centred and disease dominant area? Was Madīna safer than Abyssinia and Arabian cities? What are lasting benefits of Hijrah being experienced in contemporary world? Does Islam provision to propagate Islām in new places without any concern and apprehension? These are some of central questions to be deliberated and reflected.
Madīna, the most cherished city of Muslim world, was known by diverse terms before and after the prophetic migration like Thoiba, Tāba, Taibatu Al-Tāba, Yathrib, Madīna, Madīna al-Nabi and lastly Al-Madīna Al-Munawwarah. It is one of olden cities of Saudi Arabia that was governed by Jews. City was populated and inhabited earlier the migration of Muhammad. Madīna turned into the political hub of Muslim world additionally is numbered second Islamic holiest city following the Makkah. To include all motivations in the article is not doable and additionally it is possible to get other proper motives too. Despite being the ill centred city and disease dominated area, the Prophet had chosen to migrate to it for several reasons:
- It was not of self-decision of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ but of divine command that cannot be circumvented
- Migrated to Madīna before the order of prohibition of journey to disease dominated areas
- Prohibition was to places where deadly diseases were prevalent not of normal
- Newly embraced Muslims were waiting the arrival of the Prophet ﷺ in Madina
- Neighbouring deadly tyrannies caused for migration as Islam orders for self-protection
- Migration was the habit of each and every apostle that was to be followed.
- Madīna was more appropriate for the establishment of new-angled Islamic country
Abyssnia (Ethiopia in modern history) was paramount important to Muslims because its monarch Negus supported Muslims. Negus was against the persecution and execution owing to his religious belief. So he provided satisfactory asylum to Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ entreated hundred plus disciples to live progressively without producing any infuriation. Answering the question, Abyssinia was far away from Madīna that needed much more expenditure and utensils to migrate. Undoubtedly, Madīna was safer than Abyssinia because Madīna was expected to be governed by Muslims in contrast of Abyssinia as it had a monarch named Negus. Following the demise of Negus, doubtfully chaotic situation might have occurred but not in Madīna. The Prophet’s ﷺ followers migrated to Abyssinia only to keep themselves safe so that Islām might not be completely eradicated in case genocide was committed against Muslims in Makkah.
Migration to Madīna turned the possibility of establishment of powerful political system as well as stabilization of Islamic society and faith which is being experienced after fourteen centuries also. Footprints of prophetic political system are largely sensed and experienced in Arabian countries while partially worldwide. Wisdom of brotherhood succeeding the migration to Madīna still can be experienced in and around of Makkah and Madīna. Migrants were made brothers to inhabitants of Madīna as Muhammad ﷺ said “Every Muslim is the brother each other”. One of all-important teachings was universal brotherhood as indicated in traditions “A Muslim is brother of a Muslim. He does neither wrong him, nor puts him to disgrace, nor does he hate him…..every Muslim’s blood, property and honour are sacred to another Muslim”. The belief articulated above is not only applicable to Muslims at individual level but also at national and international levels. A Muslim country, therefore, would regard other Muslim countries as brother nations and would extend every sort of help to his brothers in every field of life such as defence, economic development, education etc. If there is conflict between two brotherly Muslim countries, it is imperative for other Muslim countries to arrange reconciliation between the two.
Social service has a special status in Islam. Prophet Muhammad emphasized on spending wealth on the poor and needy people of the society, which is considered as the requirement of someone’s faith, entitles of the paradise, saving him from the torment of fire. Prophet Muhammad focused on social security as he promotes it in different Hadith
“He is not a Momin in true sense that eats his fill, while his neighbour next door goes hungry.
“The one who closes the door on his neighbour fearing for his family and wealth is not a Momin.
Likewise many other securities were promoted in Islam by Prophet Muhammad like information security, financial security, border security and economic security and so on. Individualistic as well public security was provided at the same time with equal consideration to the people. No personal security privileges were given to Muhammad ﷺ and caliphs. They did not claim for that, as offered currently to the high officials of states.
Hijrah paved the way for inter-community and interfaith dialogues particularly in Arab and worldwide in general. It lessened and caused for the end of hatred and violence in Madīna, if not; even a single believer could not be increased and added. Every member of each religion could securely survive with Muslim because the Prophet ﷺ trained to live peacefully with everyone. He himself went to Jewish home for invitations as well borrowed things from non-believers. Treaties and agreements were performed between Muhammad ﷺ and non-believers. Religious pluralism was promoted by Muhammad ﷺ to boost the social security and individualistic protection. Likewise, Qur’ān encourages the religious pluralism as seen in the verse “You have your own chosen religion and I have mine”. Prophetic interfaith and religious pluralism caused for the embracing of Islām.
In nutshell, migration is very important chapter of Islamic history which helped to grow Islām internationally to annex the boundaries as developed numerous lasting prints felt nowadays too.
- Quran and Hadīths
- F. A Shamsi , “The Date Of Hijra”, Islamic Studies
- Edward Shell, The Life Of Muhammad, Madras, 2013
- Philip K Hitti, History of Arabs, London, 1946
- Sherrad Beaumont Burnaby, Elements of the Jewish and Muhammadan calendar, 1901
- Tariqh Ramadhan, In the Footsteps of the Prophet, Oxford University Press
- Watt, W. Montgomery, Mohammad: Prophet and statesman, oxford university press
- Lewis , The Arabs History, 2003
Md Naushad Ansari is a full time senior lecturer of Assam off Campus, Darul Huda Islamic University. He has written and published numerous timely research articles in English and Urdu. He is currently pursuing post-graduation in sociology from Indira Gandhi National Open University.