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The hijrah is a physical journey undertaken by Prophet Muhammad (saw) and his companions from Makkah to Madinah. It is a story of planning, patience, endurance, striving and eventual triumph in the face of seemingly extreme hopelessness.

The Prophet, an Arab born on the soil of Mecca, lived at a time when the people were in a state of marked corruption and decay and in the grips of the worst form of idolatry. No society was considered more degrading and more debased than that society before it accepted Islam. Hence the period before Islam became known as the Jahiliyyah period or the period of ignorance.

When the Prophet began delivering the Da’wah to his people, they ridiculed his teaching and refused to accept changes for the better. They drank alcohol but Islam says alcohol consumption is forbidden. They practiced infanticide but Islam says this practice is cruel and should be stopped. They treated women as mere chattels but Islam gave women honour and right. All these made the pagans feel that their culture and traditions were being destroyed by the teaching of Islam. However, there were people who saw the beauty and rationale of Islam and began accepting it. When it happened, the Prophet began to meet with intense interference and hostility from the pagans.

When the pagans could not stop the Prophet from spreading his teachings, they applied another tactic. They turned to the group of converts and forced the individuals to abandon Islam. But when these converts remained firm and constant, they were abused and tortured.

Unable to induce the Prophet from giving up his mission, the pagans approached his uncle and guardian, Abu Talib, and urged him to force his nephew to stop preaching Islam. There were even willing to offer the Prophet wealth and status in return for the stoppage of his preaching.

When his uncle told this to the Prophet, he said:” O Uncle, if they could place the moon on my left hand and the sun on my right, I would still not give up the mission entrusted upon me by Allah.” Since the Prophet did not fall for the enticing offer of wealth and status, the persecution of the Muslims intensified. Many were tortured, many were killed.

For 13 years the Prophet carried on with his mission patiently, bearing all the agony and hardship of the persecution. At one point, the Prophet even sent some of his followers to safety, to Abyssinia, a country whose devout Christian king gave them refuge. Then one day, some visiting traders from Yathrib (Madinah), an oasis town some 500 km north of Makkah, having listened to the Prophet’s teaching, embraced Islam.

Returning to their town, they spread the news of a Prophet who has risen among the Arabs. The following year, these same Yathribites returned, bringing another group of their fellow-citizens. All pledged their loyalty to the Prophet. When they left, they even took with them a companion of the Prophet to teach their fellow-citizens back home the fundamentals of Islam. As a result, Islam spread in Yathrib.

Meanwhile, the pagans, having thoroughly failed to persuade the Prophet from abandoning his preaching, became even more furious when they learned about the spread of Islam among the inhabitants of Yathrib. They now threatened to killhim and his followers in Makkah.

On the appointed night when the assassins burst into the Prophet’s room to pounce on the Prophet and drive their swords into his heart while he was asleep, they received a rude shock. Only Ali (RA) was in the room. The Prophet was nowhere to be found. He and Abu Bakar (RA) had left the place unnoticed by the assassins waiting outside.

On 2 July 622, the Prophet stepped onto the soil of Madinah. Here the Prophet gave form and continuity to the Muslim community and the state with all the various elements of social, political and economic life he had been commanded by Allah to establish. Here also, the parts of the Qur’an constituting legislation on various matters were put into practice.

From here, Islam flourished and rapidly spread throughout Arabia. He passed away in Madinah where he left for Muslims two permanent and unchangeable sources of guidance for all time-the Qur’an and his Sunnah. Whoever holds fast to these sources of guidance shall be successful; an assurance the Prophet gave the Muslims in his Farewell Pilgrimage.

Prepared by Abdul Muhaemin Karim