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Hijrah – More Than a Physical Journey

“The caravan departs, and the traveler enters into a foreign land. He becomes separated from the habits and customs associated with his homeland.  This allows him to ponder carefully over his situation. He seeks the most important thing that helps in his journey to Allah that deserves his life’s pursuance.” (The Magnificent Journey by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah)

The first hijrah (that began the Islamic calendar) was a journey to new opportunity that we are reaping the results of to this day, as the Muslim community outside of Makkah prospered.

Today the hijrah is still a journey, a migration we can all take. However, few of us think of this migration in any other terms than a change of physical location.

But migration of the heart, or a hijrah to Allah, is a much greater and more fundamental journey we must all take. As Ibn Qayyim suggests, only in this journey, this leaving the familiar, does one begin to examine his own purpose.

When thinking about any journey, there are always four components that need to be fulfilled. A journey or a migration must have a path, a traveler, provision, and guidance. In the migration or hijrah of the heart, these same four components are also necessary.

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The Path

O Allah! I seek refuge from Your wrath in Your acceptance, from Your punishment in Your pardon, and from You in You! (Muslim)

In order to have a path, you have to have two points: a point of origin and a point of destination. The migration of the heart is the only journey that will start and end in the same place. And the point A and point B is Allah. This is the essence of tawhid– the worship of the one true God.

We must flee from everything that Allah dislikes to everything that Allah loves. We must escape Allah’s displeasure by seeking Allah’s mercy. There is only one God, there is only one refuge.

This path and the oneness of it is perfectly explained in Ibn Al-Qayyim’s, The Magnificent Journey:

“There is nothing in the universe that one would flee or seek protection from but is created and originated by Allah. Hence, one would flee from that which emanates from Allah’s decree, will and creation, to that which emanates from His mercy, goodness and seeking refuge in Him from Him!”.

And so the path is clear. We must flee unto Allah.

The Traveler

Be in this world as though you were a stranger or a traveler. (Al-Bukhari)

If we are to be travelers in this world, we must understand what that means. What makes one a traveler is not knowing the correct path or that the path is singular.

What makes someone a traveler is the attachment of the heart. To undertake any journey we must love the destination more than the origin.

In the hijrah of the heart, we must love Allah and seek his pleasure more than we love anything that distracts us from that. If we begin to attach our heart to the life of this world, we will lose sight of our destination, fail in our journey, and nullify our traveler status.

“One’s nafs, his whims and his Satan keep calling him to that which is against what he loves and is satisfied with [Allah]. One continues to be tested by these three things, calling him to avenues that displease his Lord” writes Ibn Qayyim.


Faith wears out in the heart of any one of you just as clothes wear out, so ask Allah to renew the faith in your hearts. (Al-Hakim)

When we find ourselves on a physical journey, there are many dangers and obstacles to overcome and provisions might dwindle. Sometimes there will even be doubt that we can make it safely with enough food, money, fuel, etc.

What prevents us from turning back is our love of and need for the destination. And provision is a key in reaching our goal.

In the hijrah to Allah, we find that there are many trials and obstacles like in any physical journey. And provision is similarly necessary to stay on track and not turn back. But in the journey of the heart, provision cannot be anything physical like money or fuel. The fuel the heart needs is iman, faith.

When faith increases, the sights are set on the goal, love of The Creator increases, and the journey becomes easy. When faith is high, there is more than enough provision to make the trip.

But when faith decreases, the heart gets distracted by the creation, anxious over little things, and the journey seems difficult. In order for the traveler to stay on the path he or she must maintain a high level of provision or faith.

Ibn Qayyim writes:

“This hijrah becomes strong or weak [in the heart] depending on the state of iman”.


Your companion, Muhammad, is neither astray nor being misled. Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only the Revelation with which he is inspired. (53:2-4)

There are many forks in the path, so Allah has sent messengers to mankind to show us which avenues to avoid and which one to stay on.

The final messenger, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) lived the life of the traveler in the most perfect way. He is an example for us. He is our GPS. When we worry that the way is not clear, all we must do is turn to the Prophet’s life as an example and find the direction back to the path to Allah.

“What is surprising is that you might find a man talking at great length and going into very fine details regarding the [physical] hijrah […] But for the hijrah of the heart […] you find he does not seek any knowledge regarding it, nor does he develop any intention to undertake it! Thus he turns away from that for which he has been created […]” writes Ibn Qayyim.

So this new hijrah year, before we even think about a physical migration, let us truly understand Ibn Qayyim’s words, our love for Allah, the Messenger’s guidance, and understand fully what the hijrah of the heart is. Let’s make sure we know what the path is.

Let’s renew our intention to be travelers in this journey to Allah, renew our faith, and take the best of guidance, so that we can reach our goal successfully.

(From Discovering Islam’s archive)

About Theresa Corbin
Theresa Corbin is the author of The Islamic, Adult Coloring Book and co-author of The New Muslim’s Field Guide. Corbin is a French-creole American and Muslimah who converted in 2001. She holds a BA in English Lit and is a writer, editor, and graphic artist who focuses on themes of conversion to Islam, Islamophobia, women's issues, and bridging gaps between peoples of different faiths and cultures. She is a regular contributor for and Al Jumuah magazine. Her work has also been featured on CNN and Washington Post, among other publications. Visit her blog, islamwich, where she discusses the intersection of culture and religion.