From Al-Bi'that Al-Nabawiyyah to the Hijrah
By: Allamah Syed Muhammad Husain Tabataba'i
In the gloomy atmosphere of the Arabian Peninsula that can literally be called "the swamp of misery" and the centre of corruption and in a world full of cruelty and injustice, the Almighty Allah appointed His Prophet (S) as a blessing for the people of the world and ordered him to invite the people to Tawhid and worshipping the One Allah. He also ordered him to call people to justice, righteousness, and strengthening their social relations. Allah also ordered him to rise in observance of truth and follow the path of the followers of righteousness and to lay the foundation of man's prosperity on the basis of faith, piety, cooperation, and self-sacrifice.
Initially, the Holy Prophet (S) was charged with the responsibility of inviting the people. Since the environment was full of obstinacy, ruthlessness, and injustice, the Prophet (S) talked his mission over only with people who were more or less susceptible to conversion. Thus a limited number of people believed in him and (according to narrations) the first man was 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (as), the son of his uncle and educated by the Prophet (S) himself, and the first woman was his wife Khadijah al-Kubra (as).
Then, Muhammad (S) was commissioned to invite his close relatives and companions (who were about forty people) to his house and described his divine mission. Then, by the order of Allah, the Holy Prophet (S) proceeded to an overt and public invitation, thus bringing forward the luminous torch of divine guidance from within the house to the arena of the world.
The reaction of the Arabs, especially the people of Makkah, was very severe against this invitation specifically after it was publicized. Unbelievers and polytheists responded negatively, savagely, and in a cruel way to this immaculate and pure invitation without using any proper logic whatsoever.
Sometimes, they called the Holy Prophet (S) a soothsayer and magician, while at times they called him lunatic and poet and used to make fun of him. Whenever he wanted to invite the people to the newly-grown religion of Islam or wanted to worship Allah, the people used to make noise and disrupt his actions.
They threw garbage and thorns on his head and used to beat and abuse him. Sometimes, they stoned him, while at times they tried to allure him by giving enticing and sweet promises such as of wealth and leadership, so that through these means they could shake up his resolution and determination. But the Holy Prophet (S) displayed no weakness and withdrawal. Sometimes, he regretted and became sad because of the ignorance and stubbornness of his people.
In this regard, Qur'anic verses were frequently revealed by which the Almighty Allah expressed His consolation to him and ordered him to be patient and forbearing. Sometimes, verses were revealed to prohibit the Holy Prophet (S) from showing the least willingness to the remarks of the people or from displaying any weakness and leniency.
Those who believed in the Holy Prophet (S) were severely tortured and punished by the kafirin. In many instances, they died under torture. Sometimes, the matter became so serious that they were tortured to the extreme and then they sought the permission of the Holy Prophet (S) to start a bloody movement and finalize their destinies. The Holy Prophet (S) said: "I do not have an order from the Almighty Allah in this respect. You must wait". A group of people took their belongings with them and left their homeland due to the heavy pressure on them.
After a while, things became much harder on the Muslims due to the extreme torture. The Holy Prophet (S) allowed his disciples to migrate to Ethiopia to be relieved of the torture and harassment of their people for a while. This group of people, led by Ja'far ibn Abi Talib, the brother of 'Ali (as) (Ja'far was one of the most trusted friends of the Holy Prophet [SA]), migrated to Ethiopia along with their families.
After being informed of the Hijrah of the Muslims, the Kafirin of Makkah sent two of their experienced men, along with a large number of gifts and souvenirs, to the king of Ethiopia, requesting the extradition of the immigrants of Makkah. Bu t with a speech delivered in the presence of the king of Ethiopia, Ja'far ibn Abi Talib explained the entirely illuminating personality of the Holy Prophet (S) and the sublime principles of Islam for the king, the Christian priests, and top authorities present at the time. He also cited several Qur'anic verses of Surah (Chapter) Maryam.
The immaculate statements of Ja'far ibn Abi Talib were so attractive that the king and the audience started shedding tears. Thus the king rejected the request of the people of Makkah and declined all gifts and souvenirs sent to him. The king issued instructions to provide all means of convenience, peace, and comfort for the immigrant Muslims in every respect.
After this event, the Kafirin of Makkah decided to break their relations with Banu Hashim (family of Hashim) who were the relatives of the Holy Prophet (S) and his followers. They also decided to totally stop all relations, discourse, and transactions with them. In this respect, they wrote a special agreement, got it signed by everyone, and left it in Ka'bah.
Banu Hashim, accompanied by the Holy Prophet (S), had to inevitably leave Makkah and take refuge in a valley known as "Shi'b Abi Talib" and lived there almost in utmost hardship and hunger. In this period, no one dared to come out of the Shi'b. During the days, they had to endure the burning heat and in the nights, they were faced with the wailing of women and children.
After three years, as a result of the obliteration of the agreement and because of the denouncement by the tribes settled around, the unbelievers dispensed with their agreement and Banu Hashim came out of their refuge.
But at that time, Abu Talib, who was the lone supporter of the Holy Prophet (S), and also Khadijah al-Kubra, the kind wife of the Holy Prophet (S), died. As a result, things became much harder for the Holy Prophet (S) and he was unable to appear in public or reveal his identity to anyone, or stay in a specific place. Altogether, he had no life-security.
A Trip to Ta'if
The year in which the Holy Prophet (S) and Banu Hashim came out of the Shi'b Abi Talib, was l3th year after al-Bi'that al-Nabawiyyah. The Holy Prophet (S) made a short trip to Ta'if (a city about 100 kilometers from Makkah) at that time and invited the people of Ta'if to embrace Islam. But the ignorant people of Ta'if attacked him from every place, abused and stoned him, and at last drove him out of the city.
The Holy Prophet (S) returned to Makkah from Ta'if and remained there for a while. But since he had no security of his life, he did not appear among the people. Since the circumstances were favorable to exterminate the Holy Prophet (S), the elders of Makkah assembled in Darun-Nadwah, which was like a consultative assembly and hatched up the final plot in a secret session to exterminate him once and for all.
The plot was designed to select one man from each Arab tribe. The selected men were then to rush into the house of the Holy Prophet (S) collectively and kill him. The purpose of selecting one representative from each tribe was to prevent the relatives of the Holy Prophet (S) from rising in revenge and from fighting with all those tribes who would direct the murder. Also the participation of one person from Banu Hashim would also keep the mouths of Banu Hashim shut regarding this matter.
This decision was finalized. About forty people from various tribes were nominated to kill the Holy Prophet (S). They surrounded his house at night, so as to enter it at dawn in order to carry out their plot, but the divine will was above the determination of these people and thwarted their plans. The Almighty Allah sent His revelation to the Holy Prophet (S), informed him of their intention, and ordered him to come out of Makkah at night itself and set out for Madinah.
The Holy Prophet (S) informed 'Ali (as) of the current situation, ordered him to sleep in his place, and gave him his last wills. He left the house at night and seeing Abu Bakr along the way, he took him also along and set out for Madinah.
Some of the dignitaries of Madinah had already met the Holy Prophet (S) in Makkah and had expressed their faith prior to his Hijrah. They had also made an agreement to support and vindicate the Holy Prophet (S), if he came to Madinah, just as they would defend their own life and honor.
The Hijrah of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) to Madinah
The Holy Prophet (S) reached a cave in Mount Thawr near Makkah and hid there for three days. After three days, he left the cave and continued his journey until he reached Madinah where he was welcomed by the people of Madinah.
On the other side, the infidels of Makkah who had surrounded the house of the Holy Prophet (S) at night, dashed inside at dawn, and went to his bed with their swords pulled out. They unexpectedly found 'Ali (as) sleeping in the bed of the Holy Prophet (S). As soon as they found out that the Holy Prophet (S) had left Makkah, they began searching for him around Makkah, but after a thorough search they returned with a great disappointment.
The Holy Prophet (S) stayed in Madinah where the people most willingly converted to Islam and wholeheartedly supported him. The city of Madinah turned into an Islamic city. Until then, this city was called "Yathrib", but after this occurrence, it assumed the name of "Madinat al-Rasul" (the City of Prophet) and became the first Islamic city. Of course, although munafiqin (hypocrites), the Arab minorities of Madinah who formed about one-third of the city's population, being scared of the majority, pretended to be Muslims.
The sun of Islam began shining in the clear sky of Madinah and began shedding its light. In the first place, the state of conflict which had existed for many years between the two main tribes of Aws and Khazraj turned into peace and compromise. The believers of Madinah encircled like butterflies around the candle of prophetic mission. Gradually, the tribes in the territory of Madinah embraced Islam and the divine precepts descended one after the other and were implemented.
Everyday one of the roots of corruption and indecent behavior was eradicated and replaced by piety and justice. Gradually, the followers of Islam, who had remained in Makkah after the Holy Prophet's (S) Hijrah and were under the harassment and severe torture by the unbelievers, left their homes and fled to Madinah where they were received with warm hospitality by their religious brethren.
Muslims who had remained in Makkah gradually migrated and gathered in Madinah. These people were called muhajirin (immigrants) and the believers in the city of Madinah were called "Ansar"(helpers).
There were many tribes of Jews in Madinah, its suburbs, Khaybar, and Fadak whose information and scholars constantly notified the Arabs of Madinah of the good tidings of the Holy Prophet's (S) mission. But when these tribes were invited to Islam after the Hijrah, they did not accept this invitation and turned away from Islam. Finally, a non-aggression treaty was signed between the Jews and Muslims with specific terms.
The rapid advancement of Islam seriously annoyed the unbelievers of Makkah and increased their wrath and animosity towards the Holy Prophet (S) and the followers of Islam. They were after a pretext to disrupt the unity of the followers of Islam. On the other hand, the followers of Islam, too, especially the Muhajirin of Makkah who were quite unhappy with the unbelievers, expected a divine permission to punish the cruel unbelievers for their evil deeds and to liberate their women, innocent children, and helpless old people living under persecution and torture in Makkah.