Significance of Hijrah


A religion contains within itself entirely all that it needs for its later growth and development. The ‘Hijrah’ migration of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and those of his Sahaaba (radhiyallaahu nhum) who were ‘the first to lead the way’ from Makkah Mukarramah to Madinah Munawwarah in order to settle down there was not only an important event but a turning point in the history of Islam which evidently contributed to the progress and generation of Islamic heritage.

Undoubtedly the Hijrah took place according to Allah Almighty’s Will; since the Prophet of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would take no such step except under Allah’s instructions in Whose Knowledge migration must have been the required course. In the eyes of the Muslims, the birth of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and 40 years later, the beginning of the revelation of the Noble Qur’an were two events of singular importance but the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) signified neither of the events as the commencing epochs of a calendar reckoning. Before the Hijrah to Madinah Munawwarah, a number of companions of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had migrated to Abyssinia and were there when the Hijrah took place. But the migration to Abyssinia too was not made the starting point of the Islamic calendar. Thus, after the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), having signified the beginning of the calendrical reckoning from Hijrah (migration from Makkah to Madinah), the second Khalifah, Hazrath Umar (radhiyallaahu nhu) made it compulsory for the dates to be inscribed on all official correspondence.

Basically, the Hijrah institutionalised three important aspects of life: social, economic and political. In the social aspect when the first revelation was made to Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) a period of 12 years was devoted by him to inculcate religion in the minds of individuals while no pattern of a collective life based on true religious concepts could be presented to the world. The situation in Makkah Mukarramah during the earlier part of the Prophet’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) career was that in a household while the father was a believer, the son was an infidel, or the wife a believer and the husband an infidel. There were only a few houses where the entire family were Muslims. The status of the Muslim individuals in Makkah Mukarramah gave rise to the misconception that Islam, or believing in the Noble and in the prophet was one’s personal affair; it pertained only to the hereafter and had nothing to do with collective life. It was only after Hijrah that people began to see clearly that Islam is a way of life which pays attention to and reforms every facet of human existence, giving directions regarding almost every moment of one’s conscious time. The Hijrah also made the Arabs in particular to see as to what was a Muslim household and a Muslim society. Hence, only after this event could the world see the aspect of social decency and decorum under Islam.

A second reason for the importance of Hijrah is in view of its economic aspect. The economic effects were due to the permanent migration to Madinah Munawwarah by the Muslims. The matchless hospitality of the people of Madinah Munawwarah to the migrating Muslims not only provided a shelter and a new peaceful home for the newcomers but the Ansars (of Madinah) with a noteworthy passion of self-sacrifice accepted the incoming Muslims with great zeal and love. When, after Hijrah, the companions and the followers of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) shifted from Makkah Mukarramah to Madinah Munawwarah, trade came into contact with agriculture and artisanship, resulting in an economic revolution for the place. The migrants from Makkah having been taught and reformed by Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) himself for nearly 13 years, were not carefree and irresponsible men; they were God-fearing and righteous. The Ansars helped the migrants to the extent of being ready to divide all their belonging between themselves and the Muhaajirs. But the latter were not prepared to accept a status of mere idle dependants; so every one of them adopted ways and means to earn righteously for their own selves and did not like to be permanent burden on others. Initially, the Muhaajirs worked as labourers in the fields and gardens and construction works. Later they, being traders, started small trading activities which brought them into an economic competition with the Jews of Madinah Munawwarah.

One aspect of the economic revolution was that the Muhaajir traders paid the right price to the growers for their produce since Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had forbidden the practice of acquiring products on reduced prices in return of loans given to the artisans or to the cultivators. Thus, it was only after Hijrah that agriculture, industry and trade freely helped one another to bring about an integrated, balanced and unfettered economy for the Muslims.

The third reason which made the Hijrah a very important event is the political freedom for the Muslims. Before Hijrah, the Muslims had no say in any matter, internal or external. They were a minority, against whom the hearts of the majority were full of enmity – the Muslims were an insignificant part of a set of dominating unbelievers in Makkah Mukarramah. The Hijrah made the Muslims masters of their internal affairs, external relations and matters relating to war and peace. There was great understanding among the Muslims. For instance, in case a difference occurred between the Muslims and non-Muslims, the final decision was to be made by the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). This showed that an autonomous Muslim set up was coming into existence. This was a beginning of a city-state which, within the lifetime of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) or within a period of 10 years, expanded so as to encompass the entire Arabian Peninsula. It is thus evident that the event of Hijrah turned a few hundred persons into a highly successful society. The expansion of Muslim dominations during the following centuries is a historical record. All this was possible due to the shaping of events as the result of Hijrah.

Source: Al-Jamiat Publications