The Holy Prophet of Islam's Hijrat to Madinah
The Pledges of Aqabah
During the Haj season, tribes from all over Arabia came to Makka to perform their pilgrimage. Although their worship was not anything like the Haj that Islam has taught us, they regarded the Holy Ka'ba as an important building. The Holy Prophet (S) took advantage of this time of the year by meeting the visitors and introducing the teachings of Islam to them.
The people of Madina, which was called Yathrib in those days, also used to come to Makka every year. The two main tribes in Madina were the Aws and the Khazraj. They were great enemies of each other and many battles had been fought between them.
In the eleventh year after the beginning of the Holy Prophet's (S) mission, he met 6 people from the tribe of Khazraj in Makka during the Haj season. When he spoke to them about Islam, they were very interested because they had heard from the Jews of Madina, that one day there would be a Prophet who would come from Arabia. The Jews knew this because it was written in their Holy Book, the Tawrat, which had been revealed to Prophet Musa (A). The people of Khazraj believed that this was the very same Prophet and so they became Muslims. On their return to Madina they made efforts to teach people about Islam and soon many people wanted to know more about this new religion.
In the following year, 12 people came to Makka to meet the Holy Prophet (S). The meeting took place at 'Aqabah and resulted in the first Islamic agreement. After embracing Islam, they took a pledge not to associate anyone with Allah, not to steal and not to bury their daughters alive. They promised not to slander one another and to perform good deeds."
The Holy Prophet (S) promised them that if they acted according to the pledge they would be rewarded with Paradise by Allah. This agreement is called the "First Pledge of 'Aqabah". The 12 people returned to Madina, their hearts filled with faith. They wrote back to the Holy Prophet (S) asking him to send someone to Madina who could teach them more about Islam.
The Holy Prophet (S) sent Mus'ab bin Umayr and Ibne Umme Maqtoom to teach them.
The missionaries did their work so well that there was a great change in thinking in Madina. The people eagerly awaited the Haj season so that they could meet the Holy Prophet (S) and personally declare their readiness to help Islam.
The next year a Haj caravan consisting of 500 people, mainly from the tribe of Khazraj, left Madina for Makka. It included 73 Muslims, two of whom were women. The rest of the people were those who wanted to find out more about the religion before becoming Muslims. They met the Holy Prophet (S) on the 13th of Zilhaj at 'Aqabah.
During the meeting, the Holy Prophet (S) addressed them and recited verses from the Holy Qur'an. The words of the Holy Prophet (S) made a great impression on all the listeners and they all were ready to express their faith in Islam at his hands. Everyone swore the oath of allegiance (Bay'at) at the hands of the Holy Prophet (S). This event is known as "the Second Pledge of 'Aqabah."
The Holy Prophet (S) then promised the people that he would soon come to Madina himself. Once the ceremony was over, the people left for their homes.
A point to note is the fact that so many people of Madina had accepted Islam after only a few years of being introduced to the religion, while in 13 years of preaching only a few Makkans had become Muslims. There can be two reasons for this:
The people of Madina had heard about an Arabian Prophet from the neighbouring Jewish tribes. The Jews claimed that when that Prophet would appear he would preach Judaism. In any case, the Aws and Khazraj tribes were more prepared to believe the Holy Prophet (S) when he claimed to have been appointed by Allah.
The people of Aws and Khazraj were tired of the endless quarrels between their tribes, who had been at war on and off for over 120 years. They looked forward to the arrival of an authority who would bring peace to their region.
The time was now ripe for the Holy Prophet (S) to leave his home in Makka. Life in that city was becoming more and more difficult for the Muslims, who faced endless persecution at the hands of the Quraish.
THE HIJRAT TO MADINA
When the Quraish realised that the Muslims now had the support of the people of Madina, they were very disturbed. In order to crush the spirit of the Muslims, they increased their efforts at persecuting and harassing them.
The companions of the Holy Prophet (S) complained to him about the harsh treatment they were receiving at the hands of the unbelievers. He asked them to give him a little time to make a decision. After a few days, he advised all the Muslims to migrate to Madina secretly, and await his arrival there.
When the order to migrate was given, the Muslims left Makka one by one, giving excuses for their departure. Because they were afraid of the reaction of the Quraish, they kept their destination secret. As a result, most of them had to leave their possessions and wealth behind.
The Quraish suddenly realised that the Muslims were all leaving Makka. They managed to detain a few, but by that time the majority had already escaped and were on their way to Madina. In Makka there only remained the Holy Prophet (S) and his family, Imam Ali (A) and a few old and ill Muslims. Final arrangements were being made for these last few Muslims also to leave.
The Quraish were enraged at this mass escape. They knew that the Muslims would now become a danger to them. At the meeting assembly of Daar-un-Nadwa, where all important decisions were made, the Quraish decided that the only action that would stop the spread of Islam would be the murder of the Holy Prophet (S).This idea was popular and the only problem was the revenge that the Bani Hashim, the family of the Holy Prophet (S), would take on the killer. Finally, Abu Jahl suggested that instead of sending a single man to kill the Holy Prophet (S), they should send one young man from each tribe. That way, the Bani Hashim would find it impossible to lay the blame on any one person.
This plan was approved and 40 young men were selected to carry out the cowardly deed.
On the same night that the Quraish planned to kill the Holy Prophet (S), he was commanded by Allah to leave Makka for Madina. The angel Jibraeel (A) informed the Holy Prophet (S) of the wicked intentions of the Quraish. The Holy Prophet (S) said to Imam Ali (A),
"Sleep in my bed tonight and cover yourself with the green sheet that I use when I sleep."
He then instructed Imam Ali (A) to follow him to Madina after he had returned the property that certain people of Makka had left with the Holy Prophet (S). Imam Ali (A) was quite content to obey the orders he had been given because he knew that his actions would mean the safety of the Holy Prophet (S).
He used to say in later years that in spite of the deadly danger, he slept peacefully the whole night.
As night approached, the house of the Holy Prophet (S) was encircled by the 40 men of Quraish. They decided to wait till the morning before carrying out their assignment.
When half the night was over, the Holy Prophet (S) left his house to begin his journey. As he came out of the house he threw some sand towards the men who were waiting to kill him and recited the following verse:
And We have set before them a barrier and behind them a barrier and We covered them over so that they do not see.
Surae Ya Sin, 36 : 9
The Holy Prophet (S) continued on his way without raising the suspicions of the men who waited for him. In the morning the men burst into his house and made for the bed making a great noise as each tried to be first to strike a blow. On hearing the commotion, Imam Ali (A) calmly raised his head from the pillow and threw the green sheet aside.
The sight of Imam Ali (A) stopped the would-be killers in their tracks.
"Where is Muhammad?", they demanded.
Imam Ali (A) replied,
"Did you hand him to me, so that I may deliver him back to you? Anyway, he is not in the house at present."
The Quraish were frustrated at their failure but they left Imam Ali (A) unharmed because they had no quarrel with him. They left the house, regretting their decision to wait till the morning.
Meanwhile the Holy Prophet (S) was undergoing further adventures on his journey to Madina, knowing that he was safe from the enemy because he had the protection of Allah. In the Holy Qur'an, Allah says:
Remember how the unbelievers plotted against you. They wanted to take you captive or kill you or banish you. They devised plans - but Allah too made a plan, and Allah is the best planner. Surae Anfaal, 8 : 30
While Imam Ali (A) lay on his bed, the Holy Prophet (S) began his journey out of Makka. Before he had left the city, he met Abu Bakr on the way and took him along with him. The Holy Prophet (S) knew that the Quraish would waste no time in pursuing him once they learnt of his departure, so he took refuge in the cave of Thaur, which was to the south of Makka on the way to Madina.
The sacrifice of Imam Ali (A), when he took the place of the Holy Prophet (S) on the night of migration, pleased Allah so much that He revealed the following verse:
And among men there is one who sells his soul to seek the pleasure of Allah; and truly Allah is affectionate to His (such) servants. Surae Baqarah, 2 : 207
When the Quraish found out that the Holy Prophet (S) had left Makka, they sent men to block all routes leading to Madina. They also hired some men who could trace the location of travellers by their footprints. It was declared that whoever gave correct information about the hiding-place of the Holy Prophet (S) would be rewarded with 100 camels.
One of the best trackers of the Quraish, a man named Abu Karz, traced the footprints of the Holy Prophet (S) to the cave of Thaur. However, when some men came near the mouth of the cave, they saw that its entrance was blocked by a spider's web and some wild pigeons had laid eggs in a nest at the entrance.
The men knew that the spider and pigeons would not have made their homes there if there had been anyone in the cave. Also, if the web had been there from before, it would have been damaged if someone had entered the cave. They therefore returned without looking inside. By this miracle Allah protected His beloved messenger.
The Holy Prophet (S) remained in the cave for three days and nights. On one of these nights Imam Ali (A) came to visit him. The Holy Prophet (S) told him to arrange for camels for Abu Bakr and himself.
He also directed him to announce in Makka the following day that if anybody had left something in trust with the Holy Prophet (S), or had loaned him anything, he should claim it from Imam Ali (A).
He further instructed Imam Ali (A) to make arrangements for the Fawaatim (The three Fatimas - Fatima az-Zahra (A), Fatima binte Asad and Fatima binte Zubayr), as well as any other members of Bani Hashim who wished to leave Makka. Imam Ali (A) was to escort these people personally to Madina.
On the fourth day Imam Ali (A) sent three camels to the cave along with a reliable guide named 'Urayqit. The Holy Prophet (S) and Abu Bakr then left with the guide for Madina, travelling along the coastal route so as to avoid the Quraish riders.
It is from this night that Muslims mark the beginning of the Islamic Era or the Hijra calendar. This is because the migration marked the beginning of centralisation of Muslims in Madina and the setting up of the first Muslim state.
The journey to Madina was a distance of some 400 kilometres and they travelled mostly at night and rested during daytime. Despite their care, they were spotted by a man who went immediately to the Quraish and reported what he had seen.
In order to claim the reward alone for their capture, a man called Saraqah convinced the Quraish that the man had seen some other people and that it would be a waste of time to follow them. He then went to his house, armed himself and rode a swift horse to the spot where the Holy Prophet's (S) party had been last seen.
Saraqah was a strong man and his approach made Abu Bakr very worried. However the Holy Prophet (S) told him the same thing he had said to him when they had nearly been discovered in the cave of Thaur:
...Do not be afraid, Allah is with us...
Surae Tawba, 9 : 40(Part)
In the meantime, the Holy Prophet (S) prayed to Allah to be protected from the mischief of Saraqah. Suddenly, the man was thrown violently from his horse. He realised at once that it was not an accident but rather a warning due to his bad intentions.
He therefore turned to the Holy Prophet (S) and asked for his forgiveness and offered to help him in any way he could. The Holy Prophet (S) told him to return to Makka and stop people from pursuing them. Saraqah then returned to Makka, telling whoever he met on the way that there was no trace of the Holy Prophet (S) on that route.
On the 12th of Rabiul Awwal the Holy Prophet (S) arrived at Quba, just outside Madina. Here he awaited the arrival of his cousin Imam Ali (A).
The village of Quba was the centre of the tribe of Bani Awf. The Holy Prophet (S) stopped at this place and stayed at the house of the chief of the tribe. At Quba, a large number of Muslims were waiting to escort him into Madina, which was not very far away.
The Holy Prophet (S) stayed there for a few days while he waited for the arrival of Imam Ali (A). During this time, he laid the foundation of a mosque for the Bani Awf. This was the first mosque of Islam.
Meanwhile in Makka, Imam Ali (A) declared to the people that whoever had left any belongings in trust with the Holy Prophet (S) should come and claim it back. He stayed in Makka for three days until everything had been returned to its rightful owner. Then he gathered the women of the household of the Holy Prophet (S) and any Muslims who still remained in Makka and prepared to leave. The group left for Madina at night.
The spies of the Quraish came to know about the migration of this last group of Muslims and pursued them. They caught up with Imam Ali (A) at a place called Zajnaan. The Quraish insisted that the Muslims should return to Makka and hot words were exchanged between the two groups.
The women were getting very nervous at the presence of the Quraish and finally Imam Ali (A) realised that he had no alternative but to defend the Muslims by force. He therefore turned to the Quraish and said,
"Whoever wishes that his body be cut into pieces and his blood to be shed should step forward".
Seeing the look in the eyes of Imam Ali (A) the Quraish changed their attitude and let them go.
Imam Ali (A) managed to guide his group into Quba three days after the arrival of the Holy Prophet (S). His feet were swollen and bleeding, a sight which brought tears to the eyes of the Holy Prophet (S).
One day after the arrival of Imam Ali (A), the Holy Prophet (S) proceeded to Madina. Both the Muhajirs (the Muslims who had migrated from Makka) and the Ansar (the Muslims of Madina) lined the streets of Madina eagerly awaiting the first appearance of the Holy Prophet (S). When his camel came down at a place called Thaniyatul Wida and set its foot on the land of Madina, he came into view of the waiting people. They greeted him warmly and began singing in joy:
"The moon rose for us from Thaniyatul Wida. It is our duty to be thankful for this blessing till the day when even one person, who prays to Allah and worships Him, is left on the face of the earth".
The arrival of the Holy Prophet (S) in Madina was a cause for great celebration among the Muslims. As his camel entered Madina, the chiefs of various tribes hurried forward to hold the reins of the animal, each insisting that the Holy Prophet (S) be his guest and stay at his house.
The Holy Prophet (S) took care of this delicate problem by saying,
"Let the camel walk. I shall stop wherever it kneels down."
Everybody looked eagerly to see where the camel would finally stop.
The camel stopped and bent its knees in a large piece of land which belonged to two orphan boys, Sahl and Suhayl. The land was used for drying dates and agriculture. The nearest house was that of Abu Ayyub Ansari. His mother grabbed the opportunity and quickly took the possessions of the Holy Prophet (S) to her house.
The competition for who should take the Holy Prophet (S) for a meal began, but the Holy Prophet (S) cut short all the arguments by asking,
"Where are my belongings?"
When he was told that Abu Ayyub's mother had taken them, he went towards that house. Abu Ayyub was delighted to have the honour of being the host of the Holy Prophet (S), who stayed with him for about seven months, until his house next to the mosque was ready.
The Holy Prophet (S) wished to build a mosque over the plot where his camel had stopped. The orphans whose property it was wanted to make the land a present to him but he refused the offer, and paid the price of the plot, which was 10 dinars in gold.
After the purchase, the ground was cleared of the trees and a mosque, 54 yards in width by 60 yards in length, was built over it with clay and mud. The roof was made with palm-wood and covered with palm branches and leaves. To one side, apartments were built for the Holy Prophet (S) and his family and on the other side rooms were provided for about 70 of the poorer people of Madina who had no house of their own. These rooms were called "Suffa".
The construction work was shared equally between the Muhajir (those who had migrated from Makka) and the Ansar (the local people of Madina).
The Holy Prophet (S) also shared in the work although Ammar bin Yasir, an early convert and faithful companion, seldom allowed him to do anything and used to do the Holy Prophet's (S) share himself.
Ammar was the first person to begin work on the foundation of the mosque. One day the Holy Prophet (S) affectionately dusted his body clear of mud and told him,
"O Ammar you will be killed by a group of oppressors while you will be inviting them to truth."
This prophecy was well known, and 38 years later, Ammar was killed fighting on the side of Imam Ali (A) against Muawiya in the Battle of Siffin. At that time many of Muawiya's men realised that they were on the wrong side and left him.
Although the mosque was very simple in structure, it was the best in the whole history of Islam. It became the centre of Muslim activity in Madina. The daily and Friday prayers were held there. From this mosque the Holy Prophet (S) taught people about the religion of Allah and thousands became Muslims.
The mosque was called Masjidun Nabawi and still stands in Madina today, although it is very much larger.
Before the migration of the Holy Prophet (S), Madina was called Yathrib, but after his arrival it became known as Madinatun Nabi (The City of the Prophet) or Madina for short.
The Muslim Hijra Calendar began from that year. Today, it is over 1400 years since those early days of the arrival of the Holy Prophet (S) in Madina.
May Allah give us the strength to remain firm on the path of religion as taught by our Holy Prophet Muhammad Mustafa - peace be upon him and his family.