Hijra – The Migration of the Vanguard of Islam
Al-Azhar Magazine – February 1975
Islam requires a constant, unceasing struggle against evil. For such struggle it may be necessary to forsake home and unite and organise and join brethren in an effort to overthrow the fortress of evil. The duty of the Muslim is not only to enjoin good but to prohibit evil. According to the teachings of the Holy Quran the Muslims must shun evil company where they cannot put it down, but organise a position from which they can put it down.
The Vanguard of Islam – those in the first rank – are those who dare and suffer for the Cause, and never give up. The first historical examples are the ‘Muhajireen’(Those who forsook their homes in ‘Makka’ and migrated to ‘Madina’). The Prophet Muhammad (peacebe upon him) was the last to leave the post of danger. The Islamic calendar dates from the Hijra of the Prophet, which accomplished in the thirteenth year of his mission (622 AD).
In fact the Hijra was neither a flight nor an act of weakness. Referring to this wider meaning of Hijra the Holy Quran says:
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ تَوَفَّٮٰهُمُ ٱلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَةُ ظَالِمِىٓ أَنفُسِہِمۡ قَالُواْ فِيمَ كُنتُمۡۖ قَالُواْ كُنَّا مُسۡتَضۡعَفِينَ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِۚ قَالُوٓاْ أَلَمۡ تَكُنۡ أَرۡضُ
ٱللَّهِ وَٲسِعَةً۬ فَتُہَاجِرُواْ فِيہَاۚ فَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ مَأۡوَٮٰهُمۡ جَهَنَّمُۖ وَسَآءَتۡ مَصِيرًا (٩٧) إِلَّا ٱلۡمُسۡتَضۡعَفِينَ مِنَ ٱلرِّجَالِ وَٱلنِّسَآءِ
وَٱلۡوِلۡدَٲنِ لَا يَسۡتَطِيعُونَ حِيلَةً۬ وَلَا يَہۡتَدُونَ سَبِيلاً۬ (٩٨) فَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ عَسَى ٱللَّهُ أَن يَعۡفُوَ عَنۡہُمۡۚ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ عَفُوًّا غَفُورً۬ا
(٩٩) ۞ وَمَن يُہَاجِرۡ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ يَجِدۡ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ مُرَٲغَمً۬ا كَثِيرً۬ا وَسَعَةً۬ۚ وَمَن يَخۡرُجۡ مِنۢ بَيۡتِهِۦ مُهَاجِرًا إِلَى ٱللَّهِ
وَرَسُولِهِۦ ثُمَّ يُدۡرِكۡهُ ٱلۡمَوۡتُ فَقَدۡ وَقَعَ أَجۡرُهُ ۥ عَلَى ٱللَّهِۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ غَفُورً۬ا رَّحِيمً۬ا (١٠٠)
It means:“Lo! As for those whom the angels take (in death) while they wrong themselves, (the angels) will ask: In what way were ye engaged? They will say: We were opposed in the land. (The angels) will say : Was not Allah’s earth spacious that ye could have migrated therein? As for such, their habitation will be hell, and evil journey’s end; except the feeble among men, and the women, and the children, who are unable to devise a plan, are not shown a way. As for such, it may be that Allah will pardon them. Allah is Clement, Forgiving. Whose migrateth for the cause of Allah will find refuge and abundance in earth, and whose forsaketh his home, a fugitive unto Allah and His messenger, and death overtaketh him, his reward is then incumbent on Allah. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful” (4:97-100)
It is obvious that the duty of Muslims was to leave such places, even if it involved forsaking their homes, and join and strengthen the Muslim community among whom they could live in peace, and with whom they could help in fighting the evils around them. The above verses clearly indicate that they must organise a position includes not only local position, but moral and material position, and God’s earth is spacious enough for this purpose.
Another significance of the Hijra was that it leads to the formation of the nucleus of the new community at ‘Medina’. The Holy Quran says:
وَٱلسَّـٰبِقُونَ ٱلۡأَوَّلُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُهَـٰجِرِينَ وَٱلۡأَنصَارِ وَٱلَّذِينَ ٱتَّبَعُوهُم بِإِحۡسَـٰنٍ۬ رَّضِىَ ٱللَّهُ عَنۡہُمۡ وَرَضُواْ عَنۡهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمۡ جَنَّـٰتٍ۬ تَجۡرِى
تَحۡتَهَا ٱلۡأَنۡهَـٰرُ خَـٰلِدِينَ فِيہَآ أَبَدً۬اۚ ذَٲلِكَ ٱلۡفَوۡزُ ٱلۡعَظِيمُ
It means: “And the first to lead the way, of the Muhajireen and the Ansar, and those who followed them in goodness – Allah is well pleased with them and they are well pleased with Him, He hath made ready for them Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. That is the supreme triumph.” (9: 100)
This verse mentioned all who took part in the foundation of the Pivot of the first Muslim community- the Muhajireen (those who migrated to Medina), the Ansar (the helpers, the citizens of Medina who invited them, welcomed them, and gave them aid) and then those who followed them in good deeds.
Under the magnetic personality of the Prophet the ‘Muhajireen’ and the ‘Ansar’ became like blood brothers, and they were so treated in matters of inhabitance during the period when they were cut off from their kith and kin. The Hijra was a voluntary exile. If a community suffers voluntary exile on account of persecution and oppression, and some its weaker brethren stay behind, holding fast to faith but not prepared for the higher sacrifice, the exiles have still a duty to help their weaker brethren. The exiles, being at open war against those who oppressed them, would be free to fight against such oppressors.
After his entry to the Medina the first step the Prophet took, was to build a mosque for the worship, and to educate the people. Also some houses for the accommodation of the emigrants were soon erected. When the Prophet and his Companions settled at ‘Yathrib’, this city became known as ‘Madina Munawwara’- the illuminated city – or in short, Medina – the city. It was then ruled by two Arab tribes namely ‘Aws’ and ‘Khazraj’. These two tribes were constantly quarrelling among themselves. After the Hijra, the tribes, forgetting entirely their old feuds, were united together in the Bond of Islamic fraternity. Their old divisions were soon effaced, and the ‘Ansar’ became the common title of all the Medinites. The Prophet, in order to unite both the Muhajireen and the Ansar in closer bonds, established between them a ‘brotherhood’ which linked them together as children of the same parents, and admitted them into the universal brotherhood of Islam.
The Hijra was a part of the Movement in itself. At all stages of the migrations – the early migration to Abyssinia, then to Medina, before the Prophet himself left his home in Makka, and went to Medina, and the migration of those who followed him – the approval or the advice of the Prophet was always obtained, either specifically or generally. The Hijra is entitled to the highest honour, in this world and hereafter, when it fulfils the two conditions: (1) it must be in the Cause of God, and (2) after such an oppression as forces the sufferer to choose between God and man, and good and evil.
The following verses refer to the necessary conditions of a meritorious and honourable Hijra:
وَٱلَّذِينَ هَاجَرُواْ فِى ٱللَّهِ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ مَا ظُلِمُواْ لَنُبَوِّئَنَّهُمۡ فِى ٱلدُّنۡيَا حَسَنَةً۬ۖ وَلَأَجۡرُ ٱلۡأَخِرَةِ أَكۡبَرُۚ لَوۡ كَانُواْ يَعۡلَمُونَ
It means : “ And those who became fugitives for the cause of Allah after they had been oppressed, We verily shall give them goodly lodging in the world, and surely the reward of the Hereafter is greater, if they but knew.” (16:41)