By Ishola Balogun
A momentous event like the begining of Hijrah 1435, affords us the opportunity to attempt to track the passage of years again. How did it begin, and what was in place before itd advent? The Gregorian calendar derives its count from the olden days Before Christ, BC, Christ Era, CE and After Death, AD. All these recorded the number of years from the birth of the Noble Messenger of Allah, Isa ibn Maryam (a.s.) otherwise known as Jesus Christ. But Almighty Allah caused a change in the counting of passage of years with the advent of Islam and the revelation of Qur’an using the Arab nation.
From the time Allah annihilated the Yemen King Abrahah and his troops who came on elephants with a view to wiping out the traces of Islam and destroying the Holy Kaaba, the need for counting the passage of years became necessary. Although, it was only after the death of Prophet Mohammad (saw) that the Muslims led by Umar ibn Khattab started to record the passage of years from the year of the migration of the Prophet (saw) from Makkah to Madinah marking the ‘Hijrah’.
Why did the Muslims migrate from Makkah (where Islam was first announced) first to Abyssinia, and later to Madinah? It was no other reason than persecution and safety of their lives from the hands of the pagans and other unbelievers who vehemently declared a total war against the new faith and its people. They were not only looking for greener pastures, they desired a peaceful avenue to carry out da’wah and spread Islam. Not for wealth as evident in many of them like Shuaib Ar-Rumi among others who left estates and properties in Makkah and flee to Madinah.
Without bogging ourselves with the story of how the Prophet (s.a.w) had to get Ali ibn Abi Talib (r.a) to sleep in his bed, or how he had to hide in a cave, to avoid being harmed by his persecutors, the movement eventually became a transition from a position where Muslims represented a small group of people, surrounded by enemies and threatened by death, to the position of a regional power with a strong central leadership.
It was a transition from spreading Islam through individual Da’wah to institutionalised Da’wah, initiated by the state reaching out to other parts of the world. At that point, Islam became not only the act of worship, but a way of life; encompassing politics, economy, social interactions and every other aspects of life; becoming a comprehensive religion.
So, while we celebrate Hijrah today, it’s not enough to merely recount the history of Hijrah and point to its routes and heroes. Rather, we need to look and review ourselves, draw useful inference from the movement and make use of the tangible lessons inherent in this important phase in the history of Islam.
Essentially, we should not only look at the Hijrah as merely a movement, we should rather look at the overall ideological significance in terms of Islam and the Da’wah mission. It is critical for us, to realise that the event not only marked the beginning of our calendar, but more importantly it commemorates the establishment of the first Islamic state spreading to what it is today.
Secondly, we should be resolute in our duty to serve Allah even in the face of persecution. We should not allow circumstances to rattle us or resign ourselves to a status quo characterised by lethargy and passivity; rather, we should use available means and circumstance to better our situations without changing and losing our identity as Muslims.
As one particular environment becomes unbearable for your belief and identity as a Muslim, there are other areas ready to offer its blissful breeze that will cool the heart. Remember that hijrah was not based on expanding the frontiers of material gains, but anchored essentially on the preservation of the Muslim identity.
Thirdly, let hijrah bears on your behaviour and relationship to the next person. This is basically another dimension which the Prophet mentioned when he said: “A Muslim is someone who spares people the harm of his tongue and his hand, and a migrant is someone who migrates away from what God has forbidden”.
So, endeavour to migrate away from what God has forbidden, and not just physically by moving to a new place, but also spiritually and ethically, by choosing good over evil and ethics over corruption, and plyour resolve to confront headlong trials and struggle to stay on that path for God.
Fourthly, Hijrah teaches us that wherever Muslims go, they should bring goodness to the land. Muslims should work for both moral and material goodness of the society. The Prophet encouraged the immigrant Muslims to cultivate land, bringing about food surplus in Madinah where everyone had enough to eat. The Prophet established a Masjid; he worked (himself) in carrying stones for the building of that powerful structure.
He also established Madrasah (Islamic and educational institution for the community). The first one under his supervision was named Suffah. He also established Mu’akhah brotherly relations between the Muhajirun (Muslims who migrated from Makkah) and the Ansar (residents of Madinah who helped the Prophet and his Companions).
He was involved in cleaning the city; he dug well, providing water for the whole community. It was said that more than 50 wells were dug in the city of Madinah and there was enough clean water for everyone. The city which was known for vices like drunkenness, murder etc also became safe through his da’wah. So, do what you can to develop the society you are living in.
Again, the Prophet (s.a.w) carried out the commandment of Allah. As Muslims, we have to be conscious of Allah’s commandments and prohibitions in the Quran, the ability to distinguish between divine commandments and personal interest is required. You should seek to rise in rank in the sight of Allah by constantly working to be a better Muslim. Remember again, the hadiths of the Prophet which says: “A Muslim is someone who spares people the harm of his tongue and his hand, and a migrant is someone who migrates away from what God has forbidden” Happy new year!
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