Prophet Muhammad’s migration, called Hijrah in Arabic, from Makkah to Madinah in 622 CE marked the beginning of Islamic lunar calendar. He was born and raised in Makkah where he received revelations in a Hira, a cave just outside Makkah brought to him by Arch angel Gabriel.
Muhammad preached in Makkah for 13 years. His message was simple: Worship and follow commands of One God alone, and do not bow to idols which Makkans had created. His own tribesmen and relatives, except a handful, turned against him. Facing continuous torture and harassment including banishment to a ditch for three years with no access to food and water, Muhammad decided to migrate to Madinah, a city some 200 miles from Makkah. People of Madinah had met the prophet earlier giving him their oath to obey him and had invited him to live with them. We can summarize some of the highlights and lessons from this migration as follows.
Migrating from the place one is born and raised and where his family lives is in itself a hard decision to make. But like other prophets (Abraham and Moses, for example), Prophet Muhammad had to move to Madinah.
Travelling through the desert 200 miles while his enemies were in hot pursuit added more difficulties to the journey. He had to keep the news secret and avoided known routes.
Save the Message
Though Prophet Muhammad was leaving the land where he was being persecuted for his beliefs, it was not his life that was trying to save rather it was the message he was trying to save. For example, Zakariya asked God to give him an heir at an old age who could carry on the divine message, as mentioned in the Quran. Another example if of Abraham who asked God to give him a son to carry on the mission as his own people threw him in the fire.
Find Greener Pastures
The prophet moved from Makkah when spreading the message of Islam was no longer fruitful in that city. It is just wise to find better environment to be productive in one’s endeavor.
Rely on God
The prophet’s preparations and precautions tell a lot about the concept of ‘reliance on God’. Unlike widespread misconception within the Muslim community that God would do miracles to answer our prayers only, we see that the prophet himself took practical steps before relying on God. His companion, Abu Bakr, and him quietly prepared transport (camels) to keep his departure secret, asked a young companion, Amir bin Fuhaira, to hide their tracks, hired a guide, appointed people to provide them with food for three days they had planned to hide in a cave and appointed people to keep them updated about the developments among Quraish, his tribesman. The prophet asked Ali, his nephew and companion, to sleep in his bed in his stead to keep things unnoticeable. He left in midday in summer when most people took a nap, and he traveled South, in the opposite direction to mislead Quraysh.
Rely on Allah
Then he relied on Allah. When the Makkans approached the cave they were hiding in, Abu Bakr said: “O Prophet, if they look to their feet they’ll see us!” But the Prophet’s response was: “Don’t be Afraid, God is with us”.
Truthful and Trustworthy
The prophet asked Ali to return all the trust (things people had placed with the prophet to safeguard) to the rightful owners regardless of their faith. Despite opposition to his message, his enemies called him Truthful and Trustworthy. How true that even when he was in difficult situation because of the same people, he made sure their belongings go to them. It is our character that must support our message.
Turning Point in Islam
Migration has been the event that reshaped the Arabia socially and politically and later impacted the World. It was the turning point in the history of Islam since someone was willing to go to that length!
Example of a Leader
In Makkah, he was an individual. In Madinah, he was a leader and head of that city-state of a strong community of believers. He was not surrounded by opponents, rather by people willing to establish a society based on divine principles. That model served as an example to other.
He made treaties with non-Muslim tribes and made Madinah an example of plural society with interfaith relations, people having rights to their faiths.
The prophet established a mosque for the worship of One God which became center of their activities.
Dedication to Learning
Some 70 companions dedicated themselves to learning. They would live on an elevated place outside his home called Suffah, hence essentially establishing a school under prophet Muhammad.
The prophet established system of Mu’akhah or brotherly relationship among the locals and migrated Muslims in which the two supported each other
Aisha, his wife, is reported to have said that Madinah was the most polluted city with stinking water. The prophet ordered that city be cleaned and filth removed. People dug out some 50 wells and all had clean water available. People were urged to cultivate land and grow gardens. Anyone cultivating dead land got to own that
The Greater Good
We learn that wherever the believers go, they should work for both moral and material goodness of the society
Hijra marks the beginning of Islam as a community. Studying Muhammad will teach you invaluable lessons on the fundamental principles of Islam, but more importantly, principles of life itself.