The Real Meaning of Hijrah (Hegira) for Muslims
Hijrah, or Hegira was the migration of Prophet Muhammad PBUH (year 622) from Mecca to Medina in order to escape persecution by the Kafir Quraish. The date represents the starting point of the Muslim era. Prophet Muhammad himself dated his correspondence, treaties, and proclamations after other events of his life. It was Sayyidina Umar bin Khattab RA, the second caliph, who in the year 639, introduced the Hijrah era.
Sayyidina Umar bin Khattab RA started the first year (After Hegira-ah) with the first day of the lunar month of Muharram, which corresponds to July 16, 622, on the Julian calendar.
The term hijrah has also been applied to the emigrations of the faithful to Ethiopia and of Muhammad’s followers to Medina before the capture of Mecca. Muslims who later quitted lands under Christian rule were also called muhājirūn (“emigrants”). The Khawārij (Kharijites), those Muslims who withdrew their support from the arbitration talks that called into question the right of the fourth caliph, Alī bin Abi Thalib, to the caliphate in 657 ce, used the term to describe those who joined them.
The most-honoured muhājiriin, considered among those known as the Companions of the Prophet, are those who emigrated with Muhammad to Madinah. Muhammad praised them highly for having forsaken their native city and following him and promised that God would favour them. They remained a separate and greatly esteemed group in the Muslim community, both in Mecca and in Medina, and assumed leadership of the Muslim state, through the caliphate, after Muhammad’s death.
As a result of the Hijrah, another distinct body of Muslims came into being, the Anshār (“helpers”); they were Medinah people who aided Muhammad and the Muhājiriin. The Anshār were members of the two major Medinese tribes, the feuding al-Khazraj and al-Aws, whom Muhammad had been asked to reconcile when he was still a rising figure in Mecca. They came to be his devoted supporters, constituting three-fourths of the Muslim army at the Battle of Badr (year 624). When no one of their number was chosen to the caliphate to succeed Muhammad, they declined in influence as a group and eventually merged with other Muslims who had settled in Medina.
According to Muslims tradition, after receiving divine direction to depart Mecca, Prophet Muhammad SAW began taking preparation and informed Sayyidina Abu Bakr Asshiddiq of his plan. On the night of his departure, Prophet Muhammad’s house was besieged by men of the Kaffir Quraysh who planned to kill him in the morning. At the time, Prophet Muhammad SAW possessed various properties of the Kaffir Quraysh given to him in trust; so he handed them over to ‘Ali and directed him to return them to their owners, and asked him to lie down on his bed assuring him of Allah’s protection. It is said that when Prophet Muhammad SAW emerged from his house, he recited the ninth verse of surah Ya Sin of the Quran and threw a handful of dust at the direction of the besiegers, rendering the besiegers unable to see him. Soon, Prophet Muhammad SAW joined Abu Bakr Ash-Shiddiq, left the city, and the two took shelter in a cave outside the city, protected by a spider’s web that Allah SWT has order the spider to create it. The next morning, the besiegers were frustrated to find Ali on Muhammad’s bed. Fooled and thwarted by Prophet Muhammad’s plan, they rummaged the city in search for him, and some of them eventually reached the threshold of the cave, but success eluded them as Prophet Muhammad is protected by Allah SWT. When the Kafir Quraysh came to know of Muhammad SAW’s escape, they announced heavy reward for bringing Prophet Muhammad back to them, alive or dead. Unable to resist this temptation, pursuers scattered in all directions. After staying for three days, Prophet Muhammad PBUH and Abu Bakar Ash-Shiddiq resumed their journey and were pursued by Suraqa bin Malik. But each time he neared Prophet Muhammad’s party, his horse stumbled and he finally abandoned his desire of capturing Prophet Muhammad PBUH. After eight days’ journey, Prophet Muhammad PBUH entered the outskirts of Medina around June 622, but did not enter the city directly. He stopped at a place called Quba‘, a place some miles from the main city, and established a mosque there. After a four-day stay at Quba’, Prophet Muhammad SAW along with Abu Bakr Ash-Shiddiq continued their migration to Medina, participated in their first Friday prayer on the way, and upon reaching the city, were greeted cordially by its people.
For us as Muslims, especially as the big family of Daarul Quran, wherever we stay, whether in Indonesia or overseas, the new year of Hegira means a deep contemplation of what we have done during the past years. Whether we shall become a better person, or remain an ungrateful person to Allah SWT depends on our determination and commitment to change our attitude and character in the new 1439 Hegira year.*****