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The Importance of the Hijrah

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ‘HIJRAH’

Al-Azhar Magazine - February 1973

The migration of the Prophet from Mecca to Medina was a very important event in the history of Islam. This happened in 622 A.D. Because of the importance of that journey it is regarded as the beginning of the Islamic calendar. The Prophet had spent thirteen years in Mecca calling its people to Islam, using every means he had to help them accept his call. But for their part, they used every means to stop him from continuing his call.

When they could find no other way to stop him they had a meeting in a conference hall in Mecca called ‘ Dar al nadwa’ to discuss the effective way to stop him from calling people to his mission. The people of Mecca decided in that meeting to kill the Prophet, and they quickly started to put this decision into action. When the decision to kill the Prophet was made by the people of Mecca he warned of it through a revelation from God.

God ordered him to leave Mecca and go to Medina on the night they planned to kill him. The Prophet started to prepare for this journey and he went to Abu Bakr one day at noon and informed him what they were to do. He instructed him to make arrangements for the journey and to find someone who had experience of the desert. The day before the night of the departure the Prophet called his cousin, Ali IbnAbiTalib and asked him to get ready to sleep in his house that night in place of the Prophet.

That night the Prophet went to his bed as usual and during the night the young men came and took their places standing outside his front door, their hands placed on their swords. They were ready to kill him as soon as the Prophet came out.

It is related that when the Prophet wanted to leave the house God caused these young men to feel so tired that they went to sleep while standing in their positions and Muhammed came out without their knowledge, reciting these verses of the Quran:

سٓ (١) وَٱلۡقُرۡءَانِ ٱلۡحَكِيمِ (٢) إِنَّكَ لَمِنَ ٱلۡمُرۡسَلِينَ (٣) عَلَىٰ صِرَٲطٍ۬ مُّسۡتَقِيمٍ۬ (٤) تَنزِيلَ ٱلۡعَزِيزِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ (٥) لِتُنذِرَ قَوۡمً۬ا مَّآ أُنذِرَ ءَابَآؤُهُمۡ فَهُمۡ غَـٰفِلُونَ (٦) لَقَدۡ حَقَّ ٱلۡقَوۡلُ عَلَىٰٓ أَكۡثَرِهِمۡ فَهُمۡ لَا يُؤۡمِنُونَ (٧) إِنَّا جَعَلۡنَا فِىٓ أَعۡنَـٰقِهِمۡ أَغۡلَـٰلاً۬ فَهِىَ إِلَى ٱلۡأَذۡقَانِ فَهُم مُّقۡمَحُونَ (٨) وَجَعَلۡنَا مِنۢ بَيۡنِ أَيۡدِيہِمۡ سَدًّ۬ا وَمِنۡ خَلۡفِهِمۡ سَدًّ۬ا فَأَغۡشَيۡنَـٰهُمۡ فَهُمۡ لَا يُبۡصِرُونَ (٩)

(Ya Sin. By the wise Quran, Lo! Thou art of those sent on a straight path, A revelation of the Mighty, the Merciful, that thou mayst warn a folk whose fathers were not warned, so they are heedless. Already hath the word proved true of most of them, for they believe not.Lo! We have put on their necks carcans reaching unto the chins, so that they are made stiff-necked. And We have set a bar before them and a bar behind them, and (thus) have covered them so that they see not.”)                                                                                                    (36:1-9)

After the Prophet had left they noticed the time had passed and thought he had not yet come out of his house as he usually did. They were worried and looked through the keyhole. They saw someone sleeping in the bed. They decided to wait until day break as they didn’t know what happened when the sun rose they saw that the person asleep in the bed was not Muhammad ( peace be upon him) and they were filled with rage and went around looking for him everywhere, realising that their plot had failed. Then they started to search outside Mecca, offering reward of one hundred camels to anyone who could find the Prophet, alive or not.

News of the Prophet reached the people of Yathrib, and spread through the town, and he was expected there before his arrival. They wanted to be the first to see the Prophet, and each day they waited for him, and when he didn’t appear, they returned home at mid-day. One day, they had returned home at midday, thinking the Prophet would not arrive, when a Jew who had climbed a date tree saw the Prophet and his companions coming. He called to the people of Yathrib, telling them:”Your man has arrived”: This was a feast day among the people of Yathrib, when they saw the Prophet was with them.

From that day the Prophet settled in Medina and because of the importance of that day it is regarded as the beginning of the history of Islam. Immediately after Hijrah, the Prophet started the reorganization of the community. The first Muslim state was founded and governed by the Prophet. The city of Medina is said to have been established by an Amalekite chief, whose name it bore until the advent of Prophet. The Jews fled from Babylonian, Greek and Roman prosecutors or avengers entered Arabia and established in the northern part of Hijaz. The most important of the Jewish colonies were Banu-Nadirat Khaibar, the Banu-Kuraiza at Fidak, and the Banu-Kainuka near Medina itself. They had domineered over the neighbouring Arab tribes, and lived in fortified cantons, until the establishment of two Kahtanite Arab tribes, Aus and Khazraj, at Medina (Yethrib).

These two Arab tribes were quarrelling among themselves and the Jews were exploiting this situation for their own end. This was the condition of Medina, which is situated about 11 days journey (by foot) to the north of Mecca, when the Prophet reached the city.  In order to develop a disciplined, model and living community the Prophet Muhammad established a harmonious equilibrium between the spiritual and the temporal. He taught a new system of law which dispensed imperial justice in which even the head of the state was as much a subject to it as any commoner, and in which religious tolerance was so great that non-Muslim inhabitants of Muslim countries equally enjoyed complete juridical, judicial, cultural and religious freedom. He paid more thought to the poor than to anybody else.

The Prophet Muhammad set a noble example and fully practised all that he taught to others. From the moment his advent into Medina the Prophet established a brotherhood between the ‘Ansar and Muhajireen’, and united them in closer bonds. The two tribes of Aus and Khazraj forgot their mortal feuds in the brotherhood of faith. They rallied round the standard of Islam and formed the nucleus of the Muslim community. The old divisions were effaced, and the members of the community, as a whole, linked together in sorrow and happiness.

For the better reorganization of the community as well as the development of the state, the Prophet invited the representatives of the inhabitants of the region : the Muslims and the non-Muslims, and suggested the establishment of a city-state in Medina. He endowed the city, with their ascent, with a written constitution, in which he defined the duties and rights both of the citizens and rights both of the citizens as the head of the state. The Prophet Muhammad was unanimously hailed as the head of the proposed city-state. It is recalled that this is the first written constitution of its kind in the world. The administration of justice became henceforward the concern of the central organization of the community of the citizens, and abolished the customary private justice. The document laid down principles of defence, foreign policy, social justice, and recognised definitely liberty of religion particularly for the Jews to when the constitutional act afforded equality with Muslims in all that concerned life in this world. The document recognised that the Prophet Muhammad would have the final word in all differences.

From the time Hijrah the Prophet stands in the full blaze of day upon whom the light of History has ever shown. The details of his life are carefully noted and handed down to succeeding generations. His purity and nobleness of character, his intense and earnest belief in God’s Mercy brought round him many a devoted heart. When the moment of the severest trial comes, like the faithful mariner, he remains steadfast at his post until all his followers are safe. The nobility of his character, his strong friendship, his courage, his earnestness and enthusiasm for the truth he came to preach had revealed the hero and master whom it was alike impossible to disobey and impossible not to love As the men of Medina came to know Muhammad (peace be upon him) they devoted themselves to him body and soul, and the enthusiasm caught fire and spread among the tribes of Arabia, till all the peninsula came to the feet of the Prophet of the God. Now we can see the preacher who mended with his own hands his clothes, and often went without bread, was mightier than the mightiest sovereigns of the earth. We can see him now  the ruler of human hearts , supreme commander, chief lawyer, and yet without any self exaltation. He walks so humbly and so purely, that the people turn round and point: there goes ‘Al-Ameen’ – the true, the upright, the faithful- friend, and God’s peace and blessing be upon him.

 
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