Hijrah: Portraits & Lessons


Hijrah is the migration of the prophet and his companions from the city of Makkah to Madinah as instructed by Allah to escape the severe persecutions in Makkah. Allah made it a means of victory in which Islam will be established. With the Fear of Allah, the early believers protected their true belief and guidance in the hardest period, their victory became a story of faith for later believers to take lessons.

وَمَنْ يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَلْ لَهُ مَخْرَجًا (٢) وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لا يَحْتَسِبُ وَمَنْ يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا (٣)

(2) …And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out (3) And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.[1]

Earlier, some companions had migrated to Abyssinia, however, the hijrah to Madinah in which the prophet himself participated was considered as the most successful one. The discussion in this section will be mostly about the hijrah to Madinah.


Some background to the story

The true promise of Allah: Allah has revealed true belief and guidance to mankind as He promised after the expulsion of our parents from paradise[2]. About 313 messengers from among the many prophets were commissioned to convey this message of true belief and guidance. Many of these messengers came in close succession.

The final Light appeared in Makkah: After the disappearance of Isa (i.e. Jesus), there was a long absence of another messenger for about 400 years before prophet Muhammad was commissioned as the next and final messenger.  This final messenger emerged at the center of the earth (i.e. Makkah)[3] when the world was covered with darkness of disbelief and obvious misguidance; oppression and conflicts flourished. However, some traces of the divine Light among people of the Book (i.e. Jews and Christians) did not agree to the existing corruption. This was necessary to facilitate easy comprehension that the final Light (i.e. Islam) as a conclusion of the previous divine messages.

The Light challenged and defeated darkness: Conflict between the truth and darkness is as old as man. Whenever the light of truth and guidance is spread, the darkness and misguidance of falsehood will challenge it. However, the sure victory belongs to the truth and its bearers.

Portraits from the story

When persecution became severe: During the first three years of the prophet’s mission as messenger the message was conveyed in secret and this made confrontations with the disbelievers minimal. But open proclamation of the message after the third year resulted in serious confrontations with the disbelievers and intensified persecution of the believers.

Some believers sought to escape: Believers who belonged to the lower strata of the society were most exposed to severe persecution beyond the bearable; some other[4] believers of higher status, but who did experience severe harshness,   could also not bear the tribulations. They sought the prophet to intervene and he advised them to leave Makkah and seek asylum under the Christian king of Abyssinia.

Many were left behind: Most of the believers were prevented from the migration to Abyssinia; others chose to remain with the prophet in Makkah and bear with the sufferings. The migration to Abyssina was not an instruction but an advice to find a temporary way out of the trial.

While the new home is being prepared: Mus’ab ibn Umayr was a young and vibrant Muslim, he passionately learnt the Qur’an until he became knowledgeable enough to be the first ambassador of the messenger with global mission.

He took the message of Islam to the people of Madinah until all households embraced the religion. Madinah was now prepared and the new Muslims were joyfully ready to accommodate their fellow Muslims from Makkah.

Waiting for the moment: Allah will always test the believers, and when their sincerity and determination is confirmed, He will make a way out for them into victory and success. After thirteen years since the persecution started with the message, Allah gave the instruction to all believers capable of making the journey to leave to the newly prepared city of faith and security.

The Migration: The believers left Makkah to Madinah in groups to fulfill a requirement of their faith: whenever Allah and His messenger gave an instruction, the believers have no option but to execute the command. However, not all the believers had the opportunity to migrate, most women and children were prevented from making the journey.

Display of weakness in faith: For other believers, the limit of their faith was made evident with the hijrah.  They could not afford to leave their prestigious city of birth for an unpopular town elsewhere. The economic and other benefits associated with the pilgrimage to Makkah and the natural affinity to their popular homeland was too attractive for them to forsake. Additionally, an existing law will prevent believers who migrated from returning except with a noble personality as guarantor.

For the Light to reach the world: The migration became obligatory not only to demonstrate the submission and sacrifice of the believers, but also as lessons for later generations and a necessity to work out the plans of Allah; in addition to establishing a state for the propagation of Islam. This final divine Light was meant for the whole world. Since the messenger could not live forever, therefore, it become obligatory to establish a vibrant state as a capital and a base from which the final light will be spread to the world.

And all praise is to Allah: He made the messenger and believers who preceded us in submission and sacrifice as excellent examples to all sincere and right thinking individuals.


The Lessons

  1. Patience at the time of trial and hardship is a requirement to success thereafter.
  2. With every hardship there is ease.
  3. To whom much is given much more is expected. A person with more capacity to perform better than others must discharge responsibilities given accordingly.

The prerequisite to achieve the obligatory is also an obligation. The hijrah was made obligatory because it was obligatory for establishment of Islam.

[1] Surat-ul-Talaq (Q65:2-3)

[2] See Surat-ul-Baqarah, verses 30-38

[3] Makkah as the center of earth: see http://islamqa.info/en/102590

[4] The third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan was among the elite, but his natural gentleness could not withstand the hostilities, he joined the group to Abyssinia. Abubakr was also leaving Makkah before he was advised to return, he loved to practice the religion without restrictions.