Hijrah, a journey full of determination and sacrifice

Dear brothers and sisters. The beginning of each Islamic year calendar begins with the story of the migration of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Surely, that migration was not an easy one, but full of obstacles and serious challenges. It occurred during a period when the chiefs of the ancient city of Makkah decided to execute the Messenger of God, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Initially, I will mention Prophet’s story of migration and next week, God-willing, I will talk about some of the lessons derived from this historical event.

Our master, cAbdullāh ibn cAbbās (118/736) narrates, ” Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was in Makkah and he was commanded to emigrate, while this verse was revealed to him:[1]

And say, “My Lord, cause me to enter a sound entrance and to exit a sound exit and grant me from Yourself a supporting authority.”[2]

As mentioned earlier, the chiefs of Makkah decided to kill the Messenger of God and to do that they selected one person from each major tribe, so they could eliminate Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) by piercing his blessed body. This task had to be carried by all at the same time, so this way Prophet’s family would be unable to seek revenge and fight back with all major tribes. This plot of theirs was quickly revealed to Prophet from the All-Knowing God,

And [remember, O Muhammad], when those who disbelieved plotted against you to restrain you or kill you or evict you [from Makkah]. But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners.[3]

After the Prophet (pbuh), became aware of their plot, God instructed him to emigrate. Upon leaving his house, he faced the assassins. At that moment, God commanded him to take a handful of dust from the ground and throw it in their faces while chanting the Quranic verse from Sūrah Yāsīn.

And We have put before them a barrier, and behind them a barrier and covered them, so they do not see.[4]

The Almighty God blinded them at the moment in such a way that the Prophet (pbuh) escaped easily from their sight. Once they came into their senses and their vision came back, a person stopped by and saw them confused and asked them, “Where to?” They said, “To Muhammad”. He told them that Muhammad (pbuh) has left after throwing dust over their heads. Then, they touched their heads and found dust on it. Quickly, they ran to Prophet’s room and while panicking, they confirmed that the Prophet was not there. As instructed by the Prophet, his cousin, our master Ali (may God be pleased with him) was sleeping in Prophet’s bed, wearing one his cloaks. When they saw him, they got shocked. They could not cope up with the reality in front of their eyes. Killing the young Ali would not have brought them any benefit, so they left him.

The famous Muslim historian, Muhammad ibn Is-hāq (150-159/761-770) reported that the mother of the believers, cĀishah (may God be pleased with her) explained the moment when the  Messenger of God came to her house, “Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) came to the house of Abu Bakr[5] (may God be pleased with him) in an hour that he usually wouldn’t come. He said, “God has commanded me to leave and emigrate.” Our master, Abū Bakr said: Can I be your companion, o Messenger of Allah? He replied affirmatively. cĀishah continued,” By Allah, I have not witnessed any person crying out of joy, as I saw Abu Bakr (may God be pleased with him) cry aloud that day.”

The blessed Prophet (pbuh), together with Abu Bakr began their long journey. They had to pass through the sandy desert in order to get to the city of Yathrib, which upon the arrival of the Prophet was called Medina, the city of light. On their way, both of them stayed for three days in a cave called Thawr. cAbdullāh, the son of Abū Bakr was responsible for bringing news and detecting the plots of the idolaters from the city of Makkah, while his servant, cĀmir ibn Fuhayra grazed the cattle to hide the traces, so this way the migrants would remain undetected. A man called cAbdullāh ibn cUrayḳit, who was still an idol worshiper, was paid to lead their way to Medina.

Later, the leaders of Makkah announced to their citizens that anyone who would bring Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) dead or alive would get a reward of 100 camels. Many people rushed to capture him.

They reached very close while Prophet and his companion were in the cave. In that instance, Abu Bakr became anxious, not about himself, but about the Prophet (pbuh) and his message. The Messenger of Allah reminded him that they were not alone, but Allah was with them. Allah, the Almighty commanded pigeons to build a nest and stay there together with a spider that completed a net at the entrance of the cave, before they could come to the cave and find the Prophet. These two miracles were clearly miracles form Allah to his obedient servants. God described that moment in the Quran with the following words,

If you do not aid the Prophet – Allah has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out [of Makkah] as one of two, when they were in the cave and he said to his companion, “Do not grieve; indeed Allah is with us.” And Allah sent down his tranquility upon him and supported him with angels you did not see and made the word of those who disbelieved the lowest, while the word of Allah – that is the highest. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.[6]

Going through the wilderness of the desert, Abu Bakr recalled times when he and the Prophet were looking to find shaded places because the heat reflected so much light into sand. It reached to a point where it could blind them.

Suraqa bin Mālik, a young rider from Makkah, motivated to get the reward, spotted both of them and came close, but his horse got stuck in the sand and nothing could extricate the horse. This occurred twice and finally Suraqa realized that it was not a coincidence, but a sign for him, therefore, he accepted Islam. Before departing, Prophet (pbuh) asked him to him to cover the traveling tracks, so this way they will remain undetected.[7]

Along the way, Prophet and his companion stopped by a tent that belonged to an honorable lady called Umm Ma cbad al-Khuzāī. She and her husband were known for their hospitality to the travelers. She welcomed them, but sadly, she had a goat that did not produce milk, otherwise she had not much to offer them. After asking for permission, Prophet (pbuh) with his blessed hands began to milk the goat and instantly the milk started flowing. He gave some milk to Umm Macbad, some to his companion Abū Bakr, some for himself and he then left and a container filled with milk for Umm Macbad’s husband.  Before the blessed Prophet left her tent, he invited her to Islam and she accepted it. After the two travelers were gone, her husband arrived. Umm Macbad began to describe to her husband what happened earlier. While talking to him, she also described the appearance and the Prophetic character of the Messenger of God. This is known to be the most complete description about the beloved Prophet of God. Ḥubaysh bin Khālid narrates it with the following words,

ظَاهِرُ الْوَضَاءَةِ أَبْلَجُ الْوَجْهِ حَسَنُ الْخُلُقِ لَمْ تَعِبْهُ ثُجْلَةٌ وَلَمْ تُزْرِ بِهِ صعْلَةٌ وَسِيمٌ قَسِيمٌ فِي عَيْنَيْهِ دَعَجٌ وَفِي أَشْفَارِهِ وَطَفٌ وَفِي صوَتِهِ صَحَلٌ وَفِي عُنُقِهِ سَطَعٌ. وَفِي لِحْيَتِهِ كَثَاثَةٌ أَحْوَرُ أَكْحَلُ أَزَجّ أَقْرَنُ شَدِيدُ سَوَادِ الشّعْرِ إذَا صَمَتَ عَلاهُ الْوَقَارُ وَإِذَا تَكَلّمَ عَلاهُ الْبَهَاءُ أَجْمَلُ النّاسِ وَأَبْهَاهُ مِنْ بَعِيدٍ وَأَحْسَنُهُ وَأَحْلاهُ مِنْ قَرِيبٍ. حُلْوُ الْمَنْطِقِ. فصل لا نَزْرٌ ولا هَذَرٌ كَأَنّ مَنْطِقَهُ خَرَزَاتُ نَظْمٍ يَنحدرنَ، رَبْعَةٌ لا تَقْتَحِمُهُ عَيْنٌ مِنْ قِصَرٍ ولا تَشْنَؤُهُ مِنْ طُولٍ. غُصْنٌ بَيْنَ غُصْنَيْنِ فَهُوَ أَنْضَرُ الثلاثَةِ مَنْظَرًا، وَأَحْسَنُهُمْ قَدًا. لَهُ رُفَقَاءُ يَحُفّونَ بِهِ. إن قَالَ اسْتَمَعُوا لِقَوْلِهِ. وَإن أَمَرَ تَبَادَرُوا إلَى أَمْرِهِ مَحْفُودٌ مَحْشُودٌ. لا عَابِسٌ وَلا مُفْنِدٌ.

“I saw a man who is handsome, of glowing countenance, and of good proportions, with neither a large stomach nor a small head. He is smart of appearance, with balanced features, deep black eyes, and long eyelashes. His voice is not coarse. He has a long neck, a full rounded beard, and thick eyebrows that meet each other. When he is silent, he is stately and composed, and when he speaks, his appearance is impressive.

“He is the most beautiful and striking man from a distance and the best and most beautiful from close up. He is well spoken, clear in what he says, saying neither too much nor too little, his words flowing forth like a perfect string of pearls.

“He is neither too tall nor overly short, a stately man in the company of two other stately men, and he is the most prominent among them and the most well-respected.

“He has companions who surround him. If he speaks, they listen to him, and if he commands, they hasten to fulfill his command. He is well served and attended, though he is neither stern nor argumentative.” [8]

Back in Makkah, the relatives of two companions were worried because days went by without hearing anything about their safety and well-being. Asma, the daughter of Abu Bakr (may God be pleased with him and her) mentioned that three days went by and we didn’t hear anything about them and then a voice was coming from the lower part of the city reciting poetry, but no one was able to see the reciter. It was a jinni.[9] These were the couplets,

جَزَى اللَّهُ رَبُّ النَّاسِ خَيْرَ جَزَائِهِ رَفِيقَيْنِ حَلَّا خَيْمَتَيْ أُمِّ مَعْبَدِ

هُمَا نَزَلَا بِالْبَرِّ ثُمَّ تَرَوَّحَا فَأَفْلَحَ مَنْ أَمْسَى رَفِيقَ مُحَمَّدٍ

“May the Lord of mankind send his particular blessings

On the two companions who visited the tent of Umm Macbad.

They came in goodness then left,

Successful is he who becomes a companion of Muhammad (pbuh)[10]

After hearing these couplets, Asma (may God be pleased with her) and others knew that Prophet and his companion were heading towards Yathrib.

Before arriving to Yathrib, they stopped at a place not far from Yathrib, called Ḳubbā. There, they build a small mosque, performed many prayers and went on with their journey.

Finally, the blessed Prophet and his determined companion arrived in the city of Yathrib, which later became Madina. The entrance of the city was illuminated by the light of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Children from across the city came out reciting poems and singing with joy upon his arrival. Crowds of his lovers were gathered to see his radiant face. For some, it was the first time when they began witnessing their initial sparks of light in their hearts and for others it was a reconnection with that illumination that enlightened their path towards the eternal joy.

(Friday lecture held on November 25th 2011 at Greenway Masjid – by Imam Didmar Faja

[1] Abdullah Ibn Abbas: Tanvir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1992, pg. 304.

[2] Q. (17:80).

[3] Q. (8:30).

[4] Q. (36:9).

[5] Aisha’s father.

[6] Q. (9:40).

[7] Ibn Hisham: Sirah al-Nabiyy, Dar al-Sahabah al-Turath bi Tanta, 1995 v. 2, pg. 112-3.

[8] Ali Bin Abi Bakr al-Haythami: Majma’a al-Zawaid wa manba’a al-Fawaid, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Bayrut, 2001, vol. 6, pg. 50.

[9] Ibn Hisham: Tahdhib Sirah ibn Hisham: Muassah al-Risalah, Beirut, 1999, pg.95.

[10] Ali Bin Abi Bakr al-Haythami: Majma’a al-Zawaid wa manba’a al-Fawaid, pg. 50.