Migration to Madinah | 1AH


After the hajj pilgrimage, the new converts from Yathrib returned home to await the arrival of the Muslim fugitives. In Makkah Muhammad began to persuade the believers to migrate, but stopped short of commanding it. It was an irrevocable and frightening step and anybody who felt it to be beyond his or her strength, was free to remain behind.

During  the summer in 622 CE, about seventy Muslims set off with their families to Madinah, where they were lodged in the houses of the Ansar, the Muslims of Madinah, until they could set up their own homes.

When Quraysh realised the plan, they sought to prevent certain individuals from leaving; though they fell short of a concerted effort to detain the Muslims. They saw the departure of Muhammad  as a serious threat, fearing that under his wise and farsighted leadership, the people of Yathrib might even seek to attack Makkah, or at least, cut off their trade route to Sham. Hence, the Quraysh decided that there was really no alternative but rid of themselves of this nuisance once and for all. They concluded at the Nadwah (meeting house) that the best solution would be for each one of their clans to delegate a strong youth and arm him with a sharp sword so that they would all kill Muhammad  together with one stroke; and therefore, the responsibility for his death would be equally divided amongst them all, thus making vengeance on the part of Banu ‘Abd Manaf, the clan of the Prophet, virtually impossible.

When the iniquitous resolution had been passed, the angel Gabriel came to Muhammad  and revealed to him their plot. He then gave him God’s permission to leave Makkah, bidding him to leave that night and not sleep in his bed. At noon, the Prophet went to inform his companion Abu Bakr who at once knew that the time had come to leave Makkah. His daughter, ‘Aisha, saw the delight in her fathers eyes at the prospect of accompanying the Prophet as they sat and made their plans. The Prophet then returned to his house and told ‘Ali that he was about to leave for Yathrib and that he should stay behind in Makkah in order to give back all the goods which had been entrusted to the Prophet. As night advanced, the Quraysh posted assassins around the Prophet’s house. Thus they kept vigil all night long, waiting to kill him the moment he left his house early in the morning.

The Prophet and ‘Ali were soon aware of their presence; and the Prophet took up a cloak in which he used to sleep and gave it to ‘Ali, telling him to sleep in it and that no harm would come to him. Just before dawn, Muhammad left without being noticed; he cast a handful of dust at the assassins and managed to work his way through them reciting verses of the Noble Quran, “And We have put a barrier before them, and a barrier behind them, and We have covered them up, so that they cannot see.” Then together along with Abu Bakr they left for Madinah southward towards the cave of Thawr.
For three long days, the pair remained in the cave and the Quraysh persistently looked for them without avail. Nobody knew of their hiding place in the cave except the family of Abu Bakr. On the third day the silence of their mountain sanctuary was broken by the faint sound of men’s voices gradually drawing closer. As they approached their hideout the Prophet looked at Abu Bakr, and said: “Do not fear; God is with us.” They could now hear the sound of footsteps which drew nearer and then stopped: the assassins were standing outside the cave. They then turned back; all in agreement that there was no need to enter the cave, since no one could possibly be there. To their amazement the two climbed up to the mouth of the cave to find its entrance covered with a spiders web.

When they felt certain that Quraysh had called off the hunt for them in the vicinity, Muhammad and Abu Bakr commanded their servant to bring them their camels for a final escape. Together with their servant and guide they headed south towards Madinah taking unknown paths to cover their tracks.

Meanwhile, Quraysh declared a hundred camels as a reward for whoever would bring back Muhammad, dead or alive. Such an immense sum spurred many individuals to try their luck, from amongst them was Suraqah ibn Malik. Upon hearing that the Prophet  had been spotted, he decided to pursue him, secretly mounting a swift horse and riding northwest. As he caught sight of them his horse began to stumble and continued to do so a number of times. He conceded that this was indeed a bad omen, however, with the prize in mind he obstinately continued. Now so close that he could hear the Prophet reciting verses of the Quran the two forelegs of his horse began to sink into the sand causing Suraqah to fall off; awakened to the situation,he realized his inability in the face of divine protection. He approached the travelling group with a penitent heart and begged of the Prophet  for forgiveness in all humility. The Prophet forgave him and asked him to keep their matter a secret. Suraqah hurried back to Makkah a Muslim and tried to foil the attempts of those who were in pursuit of Muhammad.

For seven consecutive days they travelled with great haste under the cover of night until they reached the quarters of Banu Sabin, close to Madinah. Their fears lessened and for the first time, their hearts delighted with the hope and assurance of victory. They had almost reached their destination.

During Prophet Muhammad’s  long and exhaustive trip, the news reached his companions in Yathrib that he had emigrated from Makkah in order to join them. Aware of the enmity of Quraysh and of their attempts to follow and seize the Prophet, the Muslims waited anxiously for his arrival and looked forward to hearing the details of his escape. Many of them had never seen the Prophet  before, although they had heard a great deal about his message and resolution.  For many days before his arrival, they would go out to the outskirts of the city at dawn to spend the morning seeking signs of the Prophet’s arrival at a place called al-Harrah. Abu Bakr and Muhammad  had now reached the town of Quba on the outskirts of Madinah were they stayed for a few days. During this interval, he founded a Mosque and before he left for Medina, ‘Ali had joined his party.

On Monday 27 September 622 CE, as the Muslims awaited the arrival of Muhammad, a Jew of Yathrib announced to them,”O People of Arabia, your man has finally arrived.” A joyous cry swept Madinah as the news soon spread through the city and people left their homes wearing their best attire to receive their noble guest. Yathrib, would now be known as Madinah (which is a shortening of Madinatu Nabi, or City of the Prophet).

A number of notables invited the Prophet to stay with them but the Prophet  respectfully declined and for fairness allowed his camel to stroll freely through the city. It continued until it stopped at an enclosure belonging to two orphans of Banu al Najjar which he bought from them. There, the Prophet’s Mosque was built in earnest, along with the his living quarters.

The Emigrants and residence built the Mosque from the trunk of palm trees that were used as pillars to support a roof of palm branches, and a greater part of the courtyard was left open. But the Emigrants and the Helpers, as the residence of Madinah would now be known, needed a more formal bond than simply a song and a shared activity. The Prophet enjoined upon the two parties a tie of brotherhood, pairing each of them into a bond that would supersede past tribal ties; the Quraysh, the Madani tribes of Aws and Kasraj, now formed one Ummah. Islam was building a force for unity and seeking to eradicate all  division.

Lessons & Wisdoms:

After the second pledge at Aqabah, were the people of Yathrib swore an oath of allegiance for the duties of war, the Prophet began to encourage his followers in Makkah to emigrate to Yathrib. The Muslims of Quraysh began to emigrate in considerable numbers and it was not long before all his closest Companions had left Makkah except  Abu Bakr and Ali. The Qurashites did what they could to stop the emigrations and succeeded in preventing a few who they managed to coerce into denouncing Islam. God revealed then to them that the door of repentance was still open and so when news reached them of this they renewed their Islam and waited for their opportunity to escape.
The following lessons can be drawn from this episode of the biography:
1) The first migration to Abyssinia which occurred nine years ago, was a practical form of training the disciples; they learnt firsthand the hardship of having to leave behind their homeland.

2) Though the pledge of protection was secured by the Prophet, he chose not to migrate in haste but rather wait for Divine Instructions. One of the wisdoms behind the delay was to allow the appointed preachers in Madinah time to gather momentum and spread the message amongst it’s people such that a great many of them would long for the Prophets arrival.

3) The Prophet utilized every means at his disposal to avoid being detected and to make his migration a success; but he never once feared for his well-being. Such action is part and parcel of having true reliance on God, as His help and aid is for those who strive by taking the means but then place their trust upon Him for the desired outcome. When there is no recourse to a means than reliance upon God is still required. This is like the time when Abraham was thrown into a fire and God caused the fire to become cool for him.

4) The migration to Madinah was perhaps the most significant occurrence in the history of mankind. In later years the Muslims would conquer a multitude of lands but it would all begin with Madinah. This year was thus chosen to demarcate the beginning of the Islamic calendar.

5) The arrival of the Prophet signified the end of one phase of his Call and the beginning of an entirely new phase. The focus of his Call would now be to establish a flourishing community of principled Believers who would uphold the Islamic teachings and propagate them to the rest of the world.

6) Upon reaching Madinah the Prophet enjoined bonds of brotherhood upon the Emigrants with the Helpers, the new converts of Madinah, and thus unified them. The unity of the Ummah, Muslim Nation, was to reflect the Divine Unity, which Muslims were also commanded to build in their own personal lives.

The first task the Prophet undertook in Madinah was the construction of the mosque which made public the religious practices of Islam. This clearly shows us that the mosque is one of the most important facets of an Islamic society. Though the Prophet’s mosque was primarily setup for worship it had a number of other functions, such as:

– A shelter for the poor, as a special section of the mosque called as-Suffah was made for them.

– A refuge for women

– A place for educational activities

– A place where prisoners were often kept, though not for punishment but rather rehabilitation.

– A place for medical treatment, as in the case of those injured in war

– A place to conduct meetings with foreign delegates and dignitaries

– A place for military planning

– A place for the masses to visit their leader

So why is it the case now that many mosques’ are used only for prayer?

Edicts & Rulings:

The Prophet spoke of a dream in which the migration to Yathrib was foretold to him. He said to his wife ‘Aisha, “I have been shown the land to which you will migrate: it has palm trees between the two lava fields; the two stony tracts.” – The dreams of the Prophets are part of Revelation from God.

The Quranic chapter al-Ankaboot is generally recognised as being one the last chapters to be revealed during the Makkan phase. We find that the Muslims were instructed to preach and debate with the People of the Book with wisdom and good manners as they were now their neighbours in Madinah:

Only argue with the People of the Book in the kindest way, except in the case of those of them who do wrong‚ saying, ‘We have faith in what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to you. Our God and your God are one and we submit to Him.’

Despite all the worldly means that the Prophet and Abu Bakr took to ensure their migration was kept as secret as possible, they in no way depended or relied upon the ability of their own efforts; on the contrary, their hearts were firmly reliant upon God, hoping for his Help and Support. Muhammad & Abu Bakr received reassurance from the Heavens when they feared the Quraysh were about to spot them hiding in the cave of Thawr. The following Quranic verse from the chapter at-Tawba speaks of a Divine help and support that came to their aid:

when these two were [hiding] in the cave, [and] the Apostle said to his companion, “Grieve not: verily, God is with us.” And thereupon God bestowed upon him from on high His gift of inner peace, and brought utterly low the cause of those who were bent on denying the truth, whereas the cause of God remained supreme: for God is almighty, wise
God also revealed to the Prophet at this time verse 80 from the chapter of al-Isra:
Say: ‘My Lord, make my entry (into Madinah) sincere and make my leaving (Makkah) sincere and grant me from Thy Presence an authority to aid (me).”

It is reported that at this point the regular prayers of  zuhr, asr, and isha were changed from being units of two to units of four.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: