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Hijrah Lessons for Muslim Minorities

The Emigration to Madinah (Hijrah)was a turning point in Muslim history that has many inspiring lessons, especially for Muslim minorities.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) and his Companions set wonderful examples that Muslims should learn from and translate into practice in all aspects of life.

After the Prophet and his Companions’ migrated to Madinah, previously known as Yathrib, it became the second most important city in Islam, after Makkah.

Though Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) never forgot his love for Makkah, he remained in Madinah until he breathed his last; he protected and developed it.

Prophet Muhammad and his Companions spared no effort to cultivate Madinah and turn it into a developed, civilized city.

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Muslims living in majority non-Muslim countries, whether emigrants or natives, have important lessons to draw from the Hijrah occasion.

True Spirit of Citizenship

Once settled in Madinah, Prophet Muhammad and his Companions from Makkah loved and cared about it the same way they were concerned about Makkah, their original home.

Out of his great love and care for Madinah, Prophet Muhammad declared it as a sacred, inviolable city, the same way Makkah had been a sacred city. Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) said,

“Verily [Prophet] Ibrahim declared Makkah sacred and supplicated (for blessings to be showered) upon its inhabitants, and I declare Madinah to be sacred as lbrahim had declared Makkah to be sacred.

I have supplicated (Allah for His blessings to be showered) in its sa’ and its mudd (two standards of weight and measurement) twice as did Ibrahim for the inhabitants of Makkah.” (Muslim, Sahih, hadith no. 1360)

Prophet Muhammad and his Companions exerted their utmost efforts to defend their country, Madinah, against foreign aggression and attacks. They fought all invading forces which attacked and targeted their city. In the 5th. year of Hijrah, for example, the Prophet and his Companions courageously defended Madinah against the allied tribes led by Quraish, which had gathered in large numbers to invade the city.

After the conquest of Makkah in the eighth year after Hijrah, Prophet Muhammad(peace and blessings be on him) and his prominent Companions returned back to Madinah to stay there until the end of their lives. Some people thought that the Prophet would return to Makkah after the Muslim victory. Yet, he (peace and blessings be on him), along with prominent Companions, went back to Madinah and continued serving it and working for its betterment.

Muslim minorities, in Europe, Americas and elsewhere around the world, should be faithful and loyal citizens to their countries where they live. There is no conflict between faithful citizenship and preserving one’s faith. Muslims should precede others in serving their communities and working for their interest and well-being.

Peaceful Co-Existence

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) and his Companions established good relations with other communities living in Madinah. There was a large Jewish community as well as some other Arab tribes who had not accepted Islam.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) prepared a mithaq (a covenant or a constitution) for organizing relations between these communities.

The covenant of Madinah laid down broad principles on which cordial relations would be established between Muslims and non-Muslims. Protection of life and property, and freedom of thought and of worship were guaranteed. Among the principles of the covenant are:

“The Jews and the Muslims, . . . each group must support the other against anyone who fights the people of this document (covenant of Madinah). Their relationship shall be one of mutual advice and consultation, and mutual assistance and charity rather than harm and aggression . . . Charity and goodness are clearly distinguishable from crime and injury, and there is no responsibility except for one’s own deeds. God is the guarantor of the truth and good will of this covenant. This covenant shall constitute no protection for the unjust or criminal.” (See Sirat Ibn Hisham, pp. 110-111)

Muslim minorities, therefore, should not only peacefully co-exist with other communities of their country, but they should also support and assist them in goodness as much as they can. In doing so, Muslims are following the path of the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) who worked for the interest and wellbeing of all communities living withthem in Madinah.

Developing the Community

On arriving in Madinah, the Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) built his masjid to provide social and educational services for the community. People used to gather to hold educational and spiritual sessions in the Prophet’s masjid. Social celebrations and gatherings—such as weddings—took place in the masjid. People discussed various concerns of the city in the Prophet’s masjid, which was not confined to the performance of Prayers.

Before Hijrah, Yathrib was a polluted city. When the Prophet’s Companions came from Makkah to Madinah, many of them fell sick. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked them to clean the city and rid it from its dirt. He (peace and blessings be oh him) supplicated Allah to bless Madinah and protect it against plagues and illness.

`Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “We came to Madinah and it was the most polluted land of Allah. The water there was most stinking.” (See Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami` As-Sahih, hadith no. 3926)

Moreover, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked his Companions to dig wells in different parts of the city. It is mentioned that more than 50 wells were dug in Madinah, and that afterwards there was enough clean water for everyone.

Also, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) encouraged the Companions to cultivate the land and grow gardens. He told them that any one who would cultivate any dead land, would own it. Many people started working and cultivating and soon there was enough food for everyone. (See Ar-Ruba`i, Fath Al-Ghaffar, 3:1294)

Muslim minorities should actively participate in the development of their communities. Islamic centers, particularly in the West, should provide educational and social services for all communities. Masjids should play a vital role in marinating good and fair relations with other communities. Muslims, following the example of the Prophet and his Companions, should exert their utmost efforts to promote and develop their countries.

 Noble Characters and Behavior

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) and his Companions were the most honest, faithful, trustworthy, loyal, and truthful people that the world has ever known. In Madinah, they dealt faithfully and honestly with all people, irrespective of their faith, race, or cultural background. They loved goodness and wellbeing for all.

The Companions refused to stay idle or be dependent on others; they rather engaged in work and trade to earn their lawful livelihood and benefit their community.

Ibrahim ibn Sa`d narrated from his father from his grandfather: `Abdur-Rahman ibn `Awf said,

“When we came to Madinah as emigrants, Allah’s Messenger established a bond of brotherhood between me and Sa`d ibn Ar-Rabi`.

Sa`d ibn Ar-Rabi` said (to me), ‘I am the richest among the Ansar (the people of Madinah who welcomed and helped the Prophet and his Companions), so I will give you half of my wealth and you may look at my two wives and whichever of the two you may choose I will divorce her, and when she has completed the prescribed waiting period (before marriage) you may marry her.’

`Abdur-Rahman replied, “I am not in need of all that. [Another narration of the hadith reads: May Allah bless you in your family and property.] Is there any marketplace where trade is practiced?’

He replied, “The market of Qainuqa`.”

`Abdur-Rahman went to that market the following day and brought some dried buttermilk (yogurt) and butter, and then he continued going there regularly.

Few days later, `Abdur-Rahman came having traces of yellow (scent) on his body. Allah’s Messenger asked him whether he had got married. He replied in the affirmative.

The Prophet said, ‘Whom have you married?’ He replied, ‘A woman from the Ansar.’ Then the Prophet asked, ‘How much did you pay her?’ He replied, ‘(I gave her) a gold piece equal in weigh to a date stone (or a date stone of gold)! The Prophet said, ‘Give a walimah (wedding banquet) even if with one sheep .'” (Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami` As-Sahih, hadith no. 2048)

The Qur’an praised and commended the morals and characters of the early Muslim community in Madinah, saying,

{And those who before them, had homes (in Madinah) and had adopted the Faith, show their affection to such as came to them for refuge, and entertain no desire in their hearts for things given to the (latter), but give them preference over themselves, even though poverty was their (own lot). And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls, they are the ones that achieve prosperity.} (Al-Hashir 59:9)

Muslims living in majority non-Muslim countries, should never hesitate to give priority to public interest and the social welfare of their communities over their own personal benefits. They should be good examples for others in faithfulness, trustworthiness, cooperation in goodness, honesty, etc., which are the traits of true Muslims.

In short, the Hijrah occasion revives noble morals and characters of Muslims. It could be once again a turning point in Muslims’ lives if they learn and implement its golden lessons: the universal messages of peace, love, human brotherhood, development, noble morals, and wellbeing.

About Dr. Wael Shehab
Dr. Wael Shehab has a PhD in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University. He is currently the Imam of the Downtown Toronto Masjid in Canada.