The Hijra was a carefully planned migration to Madinah by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his followers around 12 September 622. It follows assassination attempt made on the Prophet (pbuh) and failed bounty placed on him and his followers by his own Quraysh tribe.
Hijra marks the beginning of the Islamic era, a new way of life, and is denoted in Islamic calendar by A.H. (After Hijra e.g. 10 A.H.) as designated by Umar (RA) in 638 or 17 A.H.
With the increasing popularity of the Prophet (pbuh) threatening their dominance, the pagan leaders of Quraysh gathered in An-Nadwah's house to hatch a plan to stop the tidal wave of Islam from spreading. Many ideas were put forward and rejected by the community, finally Abu Jahl, Prophet's cousin and staunch enemy, came up with the cunning plan of getting a band of young men, one from each tribe, to simultaneously strike the Prophet with their sword. This way, the blood-money would be spread amongst all the tribes and they'll settle for a mutually beneficial, mind-based settlement.
[Muhammad was well acquainted with the situation in Medina. Earlier, before the Hijrah, the city had sent envoys to Mecca asking Muhammad to mediate a dispute between two powerful tribes. What the envoys saw and heard had impressed them and they had invited Muhammad to settle in Medina. After the Hijrah, Muhammad's exceptional qualities so impressed the Medinans that the rival tribes and their allies temporarily closed ranks as, on March 15, 624, Muhammad and his supporters moved against the pagans of Mecca.]
Quraish murder plot revealed by Angel Jibrail (AS)
When the radical decision to kill the Prophet had been made, angel Jibrail (AS) was sent down to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to reveal to him Quraysh’s plot and give him his Lord’s Permission to leave Makkah. Jibrail (AS) fixed the time of departure and asked him not to sleep that night in his usual bed.
At noon, the Prophet (pbuh) went to see his Companion Abu Bakr (RA) and informed him regarding the migration. Abu Bakr (RA) was surprised to see the Prophet (pbuh) masked coming to visit him at that unusual time, but he soon learned that Allâh’s Command had arrived, and he proposed that they should migrate together, to which the Prophet (pbuh) gave his consent.
The chiefs of Makkah had chosen eleven men to carry out the preparation for the assassination:
- Abu Jahl,
- Hakam bin Abil Al-‘As,
- ‘Uqbah bin Abi Mu‘ait,
- An-Nadr bin Harith,
- Omaiyah bin Khalaf,
- Zama‘a bin Al-Aswad,
- Tu‘aima bin ‘Adi,
- Abu Lahab,
- Ubai bin Khalaf,
- Nabih bin Al-Hajjaj
- Munbih bin Al-Hajjaj, brother of Nabih bin Al-Hajjaj
All were on the alert.
As night advanced, they posted assassins around the Prophet’s house. They kept vigil all night long, waiting to kill him the moment he left his house early in the morning, peeping now and then through a hole in the door to make sure that he was still lying in his bed.
They were really confident of their plan. However, Allâh, the All-Mighty, in Whose Hands lie the sovereignty of the heavens and earth, does what He desires.
And (remember) when the disbelievers plotted against you (O Muhammad [pbuh]) to imprison you, or to kill you, or to get you out (from your home, i.e. Makkah); they were plotting and Allâh too was planning, and Allâh is the Best of the planners.
Surah 8 Al-Anfal (The Spoils of War), ayat 30
Once the Prophet (pbuh) was permitted to leave Makkah from Allah, he knew the wait was over and it was time to leave his beloved but hostile hometown.
Ali (RA) used as foil
On 12/13 September 622, the fourteenth year of Prophethood, the Prophet was inside his house along with his cousin 'Ali (RA), Abu Talib's son and one of the four righly guided Caliphs. He told ‘Ali (RA) to sleep in his bed and cover himself with his green mantle and assured him full security under Allâh’s protection and told him that no harm would come to him. The Prophet [pbuh] then came out of the room and cast a handful of dust at the assassins and managed to work his way through them reciting verses of the Noble Qur’ân:
And We have put a barrier before them, and a barrier behind them, and We have covered them up, so that they cannot see.
Surah 36 Yasin (Ya-Sin), ayat 9
He proceeded direct to the house of Abu Bakr (RA) who immediately accompanied him five mile southwards into the lofty peak of Thawr Mountain. Some say, they walked tiptoe in order not to leave a trail behind them. There, with their shoes all worn out, they took refuge in a cave named after the mountain itself, Cave Thawr.
The assassins who laid siege to the house were waiting for midnight when someone came and informed them that the Prophet [pbuh] had already left. They rushed in and to their utter surprise found that the person lying in the Prophet’s bed was ‘Ali not Muhammad [pbuh]. This created a stir in the whole town. Despite their meticulous planning and tight siege the Quraish failed dramatically in their attempt.
Hide-n-seek in the Cave of Thawr
Knowing already that Quraish would mobilize all their efforts in finding them, the Prophet (pbuh) cleverly decided to take the unconventional south road of Makkah leading to Yemen as oppose to the road to Madinah in the north of Makkah as the polytheist would expect.
Once they reached the Thawr mountain, Abu Bakr (RA) carried him up the mountain to the Cave Thawr. Abu Bakr (RA) first entered to explore the cave and be sure that it was safe. He then closed all holes with pieces torn off from his clothes, cleaned it and then asked the Prophet (pbuh) to step in. The Prophet (pbuh) went in and immediately laid his head in Abu Bakr’s lap and fell asleep. Suddenly Abu Bakr’s foot was stung by a poisonous insect. It hurt so much that his tears fell on the Prophet’s face. The Prophet (pbuh) immediately applied his saliva on Abu Bakr’s foot and the pain went off on the spot (as reported in Mishkat al-Masabih).
They confined themselves to this cave for three nights, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
‘Abdullah, the son of Abu Bakr would go to see them after dusk, stay the night there, and keep them updated on the latest situation in Makkah. He would then leave in the early morning to mix with the Makkans as usual and not to draw the least attention to his clandestine activities.
‘Amir bin Fuhairah, a servant shephard of Abu Bakr, supplied the Prophet (pbuh) and Abu Bakr (RA) with food and milk for nourishment, and travelled the footstep of the two nobles with his sheep in order to cover the tracks.
Quraish's last ditch attempt to find the 'fugitives'
Quraish, on the other hand, were quite baffled and exasperated when the news of the escape of the two companions was confirmed. They brought ‘Ali (RA) to Al-Ka‘bah, beat him brutally and confined him there for an hour attempting desperately to make him divulge the secret of the disappearance of the two ‘fugitives’, but to no avail.
They then went to see Asma’, Abu Bakr’s daughter, but here also their attempts went in vain. While at her door Abu Jahl slapped the girl so severely that her earring broke up.
The notables of Makkah convened an emergency session to determine the future course of action and explore all areas that could help arrest the two men. They decided to block all avenues leading out of Makkah and imposed heavy armed surveillance over all potential exits. A price of 100 camels, a fortune in those days, was set upon the head of each one. Horsemen, infantry and tracers of tracks scoured the country.
At one point they came close to finding the Prophet (pbuh) and Abu Bakr (RA). When he saw the enemy at a very close distance, Abu Bakr whispered to the Prophet [pbuh]: "What, if they were to look through the crevice and detect us?"
Silence Abu Bakr! What do you think of those two with whom the Third is Allâh.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) reassures Abu Bakr (RA), Bukhari 1/516; Mukhtasar Seerat Ar-Rasool p.168
The chasers were only a few steps from the cave, but through the Will of Allah still manage not to find them. For three days Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Abu Bakr (RA) lived in the Thawr cave whilst Quraish continued their frantic efforts to get hold of them.
Free to escape
After the three nights, Abu Bakr (RA) got ‘Abdullah bin Uraiquit to fetch his two camels so they could escape. ‘Abdullah bin Uraiquit, who had as yet not embraced Islam but was trusted by Abu Bakr (RA) and hired by him previously as a guide, informed the two noble 'fugitives' that the search had slackened.
The opportunity to depart had finally come.
Abu Bakr (RA) had offered the Prophet (pbuh) the fastest camel, but the Prophet (pbuh) only agreed provided that he would pay its price. They had food supplied to them by Asma', daughter of Abu Bakr, who tied it in a bundle of her waistband, after tearing it into two parts, hence the appellation attached to her: "Asma’ of the two waistbands".
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Abu Bakr (RA) and ‘Amir bin Fuhairah (Abu Bakr's servant) were then lead by their guide ‘Abdullah bin Uraiquit along a rare coastal route so as not to be suspected by the Quraish. Whilst passing through many villages on their way to Quba', Madinah, Abu Bakr (RA) would identify the Prophet as a 'guide' when questioned by someone. They understood this to mean a travel guide when in fact Abu Bakr meant it as guide to the way of righteousness.
Suraqah's attempt to catch his bounty
Quraish's ransom of hundred camels had spurred many bounty hunters to try their luck. One such person was Suraqah, the son of Malik ibn Ju'sham. Upon receiving information that a party of four had been spotted on a certain route, he decided to pursue them secretly in order to win the reward for himself. He mounted a swift horse and went in hot pursuit of them. On the way the horse stumbled and he fell on the ground.
He drew on a lot, as was the custom of the pagan Arabs, to seek divine guidance as to whether to continue with the chase. He found that the omens were not on his side - but, blinded by material wealth and his lust for greed, he resumed the chase.
Once more he met with the same fate but paid no heed to it. Again he jumped onto the saddle and galloped at a break-neck speed till he came quite close to the Prophet (pbuh). Abu Bakr’s heart agitated and he kept looking back while the Prophet (pbuh) remained steadfast and continued reciting verses of the Qur’ân.
The repeated stumbling of Suraqah’s horse and his falling off awakened him to the situation, and he realized that it was a constant warning of Allâh for his evil intention which he contemplated against the Prophet (pbuh). He approached the travelling group with a remorseful heart and begged the Prophet (pbuh) for forgiveness.
Your people (the Quraishites) have promised a generous reward to anyone who captures you.
Suraqah ibn Malik ibn Ju'sham
Suraqa offered them provision but they declined his offer. They only asked him to screen off their departure and blind the polytheists (hunters) as to their whereabouts. Then the Prophet (pbuh) forgave him and confirmed it with a token written by ‘Amir bin Fuhairah on a piece of leather (or bone). Suraqah hurried back to Makkah and tried to foil the attempts of those who were in pursuit of Muhammad (pbuh) and his noble companions.
The sworn enemy was converted into an honest believer
Bukhari 1/516, 1/554; Za'd Al-Ma'ad 2/53
Sadness at leaving home
The Prophet was around 53 years old when he was forced to leave Makkah - the land of his ancestors.
‘Aishah said: "When the Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] arrived in Madinah , both Abu Bakr and Bilal fell ill. I used to attend to their needs. When the fever took firm grip of Abu Bakr he used to recite verses of poetry that smacked of near death; Bilal, when the fit of fever alleviated, would also recite verses of poetry that pointed to clear homesickness."
‘Aishah added: "I briefed the Prophet [pbuh] on their grave situation, and he replied: O Allâh, we entreat You to establish in our hearts a strong love for Madinah equal to that we used to have for Makkah, or even more. O Allâh, bless and increase the wealth of Madinah and we beseech You to transmute its rotten mud into wholesome edible fat."
Arrival at Quba, Madinah
On Monday 23 September 622, the Messenger of Allâh arrived at Quba’, on the outskirts of Madinah.[Rahmat-al-lil'alameen 1/102]
As soon as the news of Muhammad’s arrival began to spread, crowds came flocking out of Madinah . They would come every morning and wait eagerly for his appearance until forced by the unbearable heat of the midday sun to return. One day they had gone as usual, and after a long wait and watch they retired to the city when a Jew, catching a glimpse of three travellers clad in white winding their way to Madinah, shouted from the top of a hillock:
O you people of Arabia! Your grandfather has come! He, whom you have been eagerly waiting for, has come!
The Muslims immediately rushed holding their weapons, (to defend him). The joyful news soon spread through the city and people marched forward to greet their noble guest.
The shouts of ‘Allâhu Akbar’ (Allâh is Great) resounded in Banu ‘Amr bin ‘Auf. Muhammad’s [pbuh] elation correspondingly increased, but with rare sense of timing and propriety, called a halt. Serenity enveloped him and the ñevelation was sent down
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: ":[Za'd Al-Ma'ad 2/54]
... then verily, Allâh is his Maula (Lord, Master or Protector), and Gabriel, and the righteous among the believers, - and furthermore, the angels - are his helpers.
Surah 66 At-Tahrim (The Prohibition), ayat 4[Za'd Al-Ma'ad 2/54; Ibn Hisham 1/493
‘Urwah bin Az-Zubair said: They received the Messenger of Allâh [pbuh] , and went with them to the right. There Banu ‘Amr bin ‘Awf hosted him. That was on Monday, Rabi‘ Al-Awwal. He sat down silent, and Al-Ansar (the Helpers), who had not had the opportunity to see him before, came in to greet him: It is said that the sun became too hot so Abu Bakr stood up to shade him from the hot sun rays.[Bukhari 1/555] It was really an unprecedented day in Madinah . The Jews could perceive concretely the veracity of their Prophet Habquq, who said: ‘God has come from At-Taiman, and the Qudus one from Faran Mount.’
Foundation of Masjid al-Quba
Muhammad [pbuh] stayed in Quba’ with Kulthum bin Al-Hadm, a hospitable chief of the tribe of ‘Amr bin ‘Awf. Here he spent four days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday . It was during this period that the foundation of Quba’ Mosque was laid on the basis of pure piety. ‘Ali hung back in Makkah for three days to return the trusts, on behalf of the Prophet [pbuh], to their respective owners. After that he started his emigration journey to catch up with him at Quba’.[Za'd Al-Ma'ad 2/54; Ibn Hisham 1/493]
On Friday morning, the Prophet [pbuh], sent for Bani An-Najjar, his maternal uncles, to come and escort him and Abu Bakr to Madinah . He rode towards the new headquarters amidst the cordial greetings of his Madinese followers who had lined his path. He halted at a place in the vale of Banu Salim and there he performed his Friday prayer with a hundred others [Bukhari 1/555] .
Warm welcome extended by people of Madinah
Meanwhile the tribes and families of Madinah , the new name for Yathrib and a short form of ‘The Messenger’s Madinah (City)’, came streaming forth, and vied with one another in inviting the noble visitor to their homes. The girls of the Madinese used to chant beautiful verses of welcome rich in all meanings of obedience and dutifulness to the new Messenger.
Though not wealthy, every Ansar (Helper) was wholeheartedly eager and anxious to receive the Messenger in his house. It was indeed a triumphal procession.