Category: Holidays » Islamic holidays
The Hegira or Hijrah (Arabic: هِجْرَة), also romanized as Hijra and Hejira, is the migration or journey of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Yathrib, later renamed by him to Medina, in the year 622 CE. In June 622 CE, after being warned of a plot to assassinate him, Muhammad secretly left his home in Mecca to emigrate to Yathrib, 320 km (200 mi) north of Mecca, along with his companion Abu Bakr. Yathrib was soon renamed Madīnat an-Nabī, literally "the City of the Prophet", but an-Nabī was soon dropped, so its name is "Medina", meaning "the city". The Hegira is also often identified erroneously with the start of the Hijri calendar which was set to Julian 16 July 622.
The first Hegira is dated to 615 or Rajab (September-October) 613 when a group of Muslims counseled by Muhammad to escape persecution in Mecca arrived at the court of a Christian king, the Negus in Ethiopia (who ruled Abyssinia at the time). Muhammad himself did not join this emigration. In that year, his followers fled Mecca's leading tribe, the Quraysh, who sent emissaries to Ethiopia to bring them back to Arabia. The nascent movement faced growing opposition and persecution. When Muhammad and his followers received an invitation from the people of Yathrib, they decided to leave Mecca.
In Mecca, at the pilgrimage season of 620, Muhammad met six men of the Khazraj tribe from Medina, propounded to them the doctrines of Islam, and recited portions of the Quran. Impressed by this, the six embraced Islam, and at the Pilgrimage of 621, five of them brought seven others with them. These twelve informed Muhammad of the beginning of gradual development of Islam in Medina, and took a formal pledge of allegiance at Muhammad's hand, promising to accept him as a prophet, to worship none but one God, and to renounce certain sins such as theft, adultery, and murder. This is known as the "First Pledge of al-Aqaba". At their request, Muhammad sent with them Mus`ab ibn `Umair to teach them the instructions of Islam. Biographers have recorded the considerable success of Mus`ab ibn `Umair in preaching the message of Islam and bringing people under the umbrella of Islam in Medina.
The next year, at the pilgrimage of 622, a delegation of around 75 Muslims of the Aws and Khazraj tribes from Medina came, and in addition to restating the formal promises, they also assured Muhammad of their full support and protection if the latter would migrate to their land. They invited him to come to Medina as an arbitrator to reconcile among the hostile tribes. This is known as the "Second Pledge of al-`Aqaba", and was a 'politico-religious' success that paved the way for his and his followers' immigration to Medina. Following the pledges, Muhammad encouraged his followers to migrate to Medina, and in a span of two months, nearly all the Muslims of Mecca migrated to Medina.
During the early seventh century, Medina was inhabited by two types of population: the Jews and the pagan Arabs. The Jews there had three principal clans – Banu Qaynuqa, Banu Nazir, and Banu Qurayza. The Arab pagans had two tribes – Aws and Khazraj. At that time, the Jews there had the upper hand with their large settlement and huge property. Before the encounter between Muhammad and the six men from Medina in 620, there ensued a terrible battle between Aws and Khazraj, known as the Battle of Bu'ath, in which many leading personalities of both the sides died and left Yathrib in a disordered state. Traditional rules for maintaining law and order became dysfunctional, and, without a neutral man with considerable authority over things, stability seemed unlikely. As the pagan Arabs of Medina lived in close proximity of the Jews, they had gained some knowledge about their scriptures,and had heard the Jews awaiting the arrival of a future prophet. It is because of this knowledge, taken together with their need for an adjudicator, that the six men who met Muhammad at the pilgrimage season of 620 readily accepted his message, lest the Jews should steal a march over them.
According to Muslims tradition, when he received divine direction to depart from Mecca, Muhammad began taking preparation and informed Abu Bakr of his plan. On the night of his departure, Muhammad's house was besieged by men of the Quraysh who planned to kill him in the morning. At the time, Muhammad possessed property of the Quraysh given to him in trust, so he handed it over to Ali and directed him to return it to its owners, and asked him to lie down on his bed assuring him of God's protection. It is said that when Muhammad emerged from his house, he recited the ninth verse of sura Ya-Seen of the Quran and threw a handful of dust at the direction of the besiegers, causing the besiegers to be unable to see him. Soon Muhammad joined Abu Bakr, left the city, and the two took shelter in a cave outside the city. Next morning, the besiegers were frustrated to find Ali in Muhammad's place. Fooled and thwarted by 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.
When the Quraysh came to know of Muhammad's escape, they announced heavy reward for bringing Muhammad back to them, alive or dead. Unable to resist this temptation, pursuers scattered in all directions. After staying for three days, Muhammad and Abu Bakr resumed their journey and were pursued by Suraqa bin Malik. But each time he neared Muhammad's party, his horse stumbled and he finally abandoned his desire of capturing Muhammad. After eight days' journey, Muhammad entered the outskirts of Medina around June 622 CE, 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 fourteen-days' stay at Quba', Muhammad along with Abu Bakr 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.
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