Have you ever heard about “The Hijri Calendar?” Or do you know what is “Hijra?” Perhaps some of you may have heard these terms before. Anyway, I guess we will have a look from a new perspective here. To satisfy your curiosity, I’ll tell you a piece of information before we start! This calendar consists of 12 months based upon the moon movement, unlike the Gregorian Calendar which is based on the sun. These months were used by Arabs long years ago. However, Muslims were first to establish the calendar and start counting the years from the year of “Hijra.” What is the year of Hijra then?
The Year of Hijra
The Meaning of Hijra
It is an Arabic noun from the root “Hajara” which means to leave. The word Hijra means to leave a place to another one, which may be equivalent to the English word “migration.” The year of Hijra was the year when Muslims and Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him migrated and left their place “Makkah” to another place “Al-Madinah” in 622 A.C. This migration was recorded as a great event in history as it changed the world’s map those days.
Why Muslims Migrated?
Before Hijra, Muslims were severely tortured in Makkah by their pagan relatives. They were not free to worship God without being forced to worship false idols in their town. They needed a place where they can worship God without partners or idols, practice His true teachings, invite others to God’s teachings. Also, they needed to establish a country of justice and have the ability to defend themselves against those who would abuse them.
Hijra Is Not Only to Migrate!
As we have already known, Hijra is from the Arabic root Hajara which means to leave. But actually, Hijra doesn’t only mean leaving a place to another place. It also means to leave a condition for another one!
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) clarified this meaning as he said:
A Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are safe; and a Muhajir (The one who performs Hijra; Emigrant) is the one who refrains from what Allah has forbidden.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] (1)
The Importance of Hijra
Hijra is essential and vital to all human beings. Man ought to consistently fetch his good sides to enhance, and his bad sides to leave. Indeed, that’s what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) told us to do. He said:
Allah, stretches out His Hand in the night so that the sinners of the day may repent, and stretches His Hand in the daytime so that the sinners of the night may repent, until the sun rises from the west (on the day of judgement)” [Muslim] (2)
How to Perform Hijra
Hijra is not essentially leaving for another country or region. You could perform Hijra in your place by leaving sins, bad deeds, bad intentions, transgression, and all what Allah doesn’t like. Hijra is not a simple act; it comprises a number of important lessons we all need to know. So, let’s live by the emigrants’ side, listen to their story, and learn about the beauty of Hijra.
Hijra Is Not Escapism or Retreat!
One important thing we need to know is that Hijra was never an escape. Otherwise, it was getting ready for a greater task! Muslim emigrants in 622 A.C. were tortured and abused, and their rights were stolen. Yet they migrated to build a greater society where they would face international enemies not just their local tribe! Hijra was a great step in building identity, showing it off, telling people about it, and having the strength to defend against any transgression. We could perform Hijra nowadays as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) told us by leaving away anything that could tighten us in our place or take us backward in the way of God. We should be strong enough to have the right identity and take bigger tasks that would get us closer to God and change the world.
Hijra Is Priority and Needs Sacrifice
Hijra Was Too Difficult!
Indeed, Hijra was not an easy thing! The pagans of Quraish (Makkan tribe) were waiting to catch any Muslim who would migrate and perhaps kill him. It was easier for Muslims to accept the proposal of Quraish to offer them goods for leaving this religion. However, Muslims knew that the truth is worth sacrificing and working hard for it! Let’s imagine… Muslims who are hiding and escaping in the darkness of the night, sometimes walking slowly not to be found by pagans of Quraish, leaving away their memories, houses, money, relatives just for the sake of God!
The Real Motivation Behind Hijra
God was more beloved to them than any other transient goods.
And [yet], among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah” Qur’an (2:165) (3)
God is The Greatest. God is The Sustainer. No one rewards us other than Him. Every single breath is by His will. If He says to something “be,” it becomes. Moreover, He gives those who left things for His sake better than what they left.
Whatever you have will end, but what Allah has is lasting. And We will surely give those who were patient their reward according to the best of what they used to do.” Qur’an (16:96) (4)
Hijra With Loyal Companion Makes It Successful
It is always hard to perform a great task alone; you can do it, but it will still be hard. People always need encouragement, support and help. It is better to search for a loyal companion to accompany you through your Hijra journey to support each other and be in each other’s’ back.
The Prophet (PBUH) Accompanied Abu-Bakr
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) accompanied the most beloved man to him who is “Abu- Bakr.” The Prophet (PBUH) went to Abu-Bakr’s house one day and told him
I feel (am informed) that I have been granted the permission for migration.” Abu Bakr immediately replied, “I will accompany you, O Allah’s Messenger!” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “You will accompany me.” Abu Bakr then said “O Allah’s Messenger! I have two she-camels I have prepared specially for migration, so I offer you one of them. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “I have accepted it on the condition that I will pay its price.” (Sahih al-Bukhari) (5)
Abu-Bakr’s Loyalty and Sacrifice
Abu-Bakr was such a loyal companion who loved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) so much. He was ready to sacrifice himself for his sake. Abu-Bakr used to walk sometimes in front of the Prophet, and other times at his back. When the Prophet asked him he saying: “I remember people who are following you so I walk behind you to protect your back, and then I remember people who are waiting for you so I walk in the front.” And when they reached a cave, he insisted on going in first to check the cave’s safety before the Prophet (PBUH) could come in. May Allah be pleased with Abu-Bakr and people who follow his footsteps.
Hijra Requires Good Preparation And (Tawakkul)
Success is never a chance, and true success is not only transient success on Earth. However, it is success in our eternal life in the Hereafter as well. Do you know what achieves true success?
It is Tawakkul.
What Is Tawakkul?
Tawakkul comprises three important things. Firstly, to intend a deed that pleases God. Secondly, to do what you can and what is possible to achieve it. Thirdly, to rely upon God alone not on what you did. God promised those who performed tawakkul to help and support them.
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.” Qur’an (65:3) (6)
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a great model in tawakkul. God informed Prophet (PBUH) about Quraish’s secret plan to kill him at the night of the Hijra. So firstly, he decided not to stay in his bed and to go to Abu-Bakr’s house in the early night. Secondly, he asked “Ali-Ibn Abi-Talib,” one of his companions, to sleep in his bed that night so that when “Quraish” look into the door they think the Prophet is inside so he has the chance to walk several kilometers at the night before they discover his absence. Thirdly, he decided to go out from a backward door in Abu-Bakr’s house. Fourthly, he designed a route to Madinah different from the common route taken by Quraish. Fifthly, He walked 8 Km South to Yemen before joining the route to Madinah in the North to mislead anyone who would follow him.
Rest of Plan
Sixthly, He asked a guide to show him the routes in the desert and take their camels away during their stay to rest because camels in the desert were signs of people there. Seventhly, He asked a shepherd to follow them with his sheep to erase away their footprints. Eighthly, he arranged to stay three nights in a cave in southern Makkah on the way to Yemen so that when Quraish search in the desert after they find out his absence, they couldn’t find a trace of him. Ninthly, He asked “Abdulah,” the son of Abi- Bakr, to join them in the cave every night to tell them about the news, and go back to his bed before people wake-up. Tenthly, he asked “Asmaa” the daughter of Abi-Bakr to bring them food during their stay in the cave.
Don’t Lose Hope During Hijra Despite Difficulty
This point is so co-related with the previous point “tawakkul.” After you do what you can, just go and don’t fear anything. Allah is indeed with you and protects your steps even in the most difficult situations. In spite of the good preparation of the Prophet (PBUH) for the Hijra, there were some gaps in the plan, and that’s normal because people aren’t perfect. However, God fixes these gaps and guarantees its success. There are several difficulties that happened to the Prophet (PBUH).
1) Quraish Reached the Prophet’s House Before His Going Out!
Although the Prophet (PBUH) managed to go out in the early night before Quraish comes, they came earlier than he thought! God told him to go out in front of them and promised that they won’t see him. The Prophet (PBUH) went out reciting
And We have put before them a barrier and behind them a barrier and covered them, so they do not see.” Qur’an (36:9) (7)
No one could see him despite their open eyes! As if a barrier was on these eyes.
2) People of Quraish Reached the Cave While the Prophet Was Inside!
Abu Bakr narrated: I was in the company of the Prophet (PBUH) in the cave, and on seeing the traces of the pagans, I said, “O Allah’s Messenger, if one of them (pagans) should lift up his foot, he will see us.” The prophet (PBUH) said, “What do you think of two, the third of whom is Allah?” (Sahih- AlBukhari) (8)
The Prophet (PBUH) didn’t fear anyone because he relied upon the one who has all the strength and all the power; Allah. Although Quraish reached the cave, they didn’t look inside! It sounds really strange how come they leave the cave without searching inside, with the high possibility of the Prophet (PBUH) being inside, but no surprise, it is Allah’s plan.
3) A Man Called “Suraqah” Reached the Prophet on His Way!
Suraqah mentioned in a long narration what happened. He said that Quraish had specified a reward for the one who would get the Prophet (PBUH) dead or alive. One day a man came with the news that he saw two people walking in the desert in someplace. So Suraqah knew they were the Prophet (PBUH) and Abu- Bakr. However, he tried to convince the people they were someone else so that he could win. Suraqah took his horse and quickly went to the place. He saw them and got so near that he could hear the Prophet (PBUH) reciting the Qur’an. To his surprise, as he got near, his horse began sinking in the sand till it reached his knees! When he realized that there was divine protection, he told them about the reward Quraish specified and requested safety. Suraqah left them, hid their place, and fortunately embraced Islam afterward. (9)
4) A Tribe Called “Aslam” Waited for The Prophet on The Way to Catch Him!
Near Madinah, a tribe called Aslam waited for the Prophet (PBUH) aiming to get the reward. The Prophet (PBUH) didn’t lose his temper. Instead, he presented Islam, and surprisingly, they all accepted!
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) knew that as long as he prepared well and relied upon God, there is no room for fear, no room for panic! No matter how difficult the situation is, it will turn out for your good in this life and the Hereafter… why fear then?
Hijra is a great event in history. However, it is not a history that ended. It is repeated consistently as long as people aim to change for the better. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught us great lessons through his Hijra, and taught us that Hijra is not about your body leaving a place. Otherwise, it is about your heart leaving away sins, love of transient goods and landing in the land of righteous deeds, love of Allah, and all acts that please Him so that you achieve success in this transient world, and most importantly in the eternal Hereafter.
Share your thoughts about this topic. What do you intend to do as a kind of Hijra in your life?
(3) Verse (2:165) of Qur’an (English Interpretation of Meaning)
(4) Verse (16: 96) of Qur’an (English Interpretation of Meaning)
(6) Verse (65:3) of Qur’an (English Interpretation of Meaning)
(7) Verse (36: 9) of Qur’an (English Interpretation of Meaning)