Hijrah – In the Footsteps of the Prophet

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In this chapter, the Prophet performs his hijrah journey and settles in Madina. The author discusses the spiritual meaning of hijrah, what tawakkul is in Islam and how the Prophet formed the first Islamic community.

Some interesting things I learned from this chapter:

1. During hijrah, the Prophet demonstrated a perfect example of tawakkul. There was careful planning for the trip. They headed towards Yemen first to mislead Quraysh, they hid in Thawr cave for a few days (while food and updated were delivered to them by Abu Bakir’s children) and they booked a trustworthy knowledgeable non-Muslim guide, Abdallah ibn Urayqat. When the Prophet and his companion where subjected to the test of vulnerability, when the Qurayshians were about to find them in Thawr cave, the Prophet said, “Have no fear, for God is with us.”

2. During hijrah, the Prophet made sure that he owed nothing to anybody. He bought his camel, Qaswa, from Abu Bakir. He refused gifts and he gave back all the deposits he held. I think this has to do with the concept of hijrah. 

3. The Prophet first reached the small village of Quba, where he stayed 3 days and started building the first mosque. Then he headed toward Yathrib, stopping at Ranuna valley to perform the first Friday prayer and start building the second mosque. As soon as he reached Yathrib, building a mosque also initiated. The author states, “Once built, the mosque becomes the axial space of the Muslim spiritual community in which it is situated, but it also expresses the reality of settlement, of acceptance of the hosting space, which is then turned into a space for oneself, a home.” Thus, a mosque tells of meaning, direction and settlement.

4. Exile helped form a clear distinction between Islamic principles and cultural practices. By accepting many of Yathrib’s customs, like the love for singing (some form of poetry reading) or the fact that women are more present in society, the Prophet teaches us to remain faithful to Islamic principles while learning to adopt a flexible and critical approach to culture.

5. Emigration to God can take place in our lives too, spiritually. Emigration or exile liberates oneself and opens the door to a lot of soul-searching. It is leaving all physical, not depending or relying on it, and returning to oneself, building some intimacy with God and pondering on life beyond space.

Through You, I return to myself and I am free.

6. The Prophet focused on spreading peace when he first arrived to Madina. He drew up a mutual assistance agreement between the Muslims and the Jews who lived in the oasis. The covenant text states, “They have the same rights and the same duties.” Contracts and written agreements are very important things in Islam.

7. The Prophet never forced anybody to convert. He treated the Muslims and Jews equally before the law. He respected them.

  • A young Jew stuck around the Prophet because he enjoyed his company. The Prophet never asked him to convert. On his death bed, the Jew asked his father to permit him to become Muslim, and he did.
  • A Muslim at some point thought he could blame a Jew for a theft he had committed. An 8 verse revelation was sent to denounce his act and reveal the Jew’s innocence.

8. Some people announced their Islam to gain political or social power, since Islam has become the upper hand. Those were the hypocrites, a danger from within. Abdallah ibn Ubbay from Khazraj and Abu Amir from Aws were suspected to be hypocrites. No action was taken against them, but people were weary when dealing with them.

9. The pact of brotherhood built extraordinary love and unity between the Muslims.

10. The Prophet was trying to think of a way to call for prayer. He thought of imitating the Jews and Christians by using a bell or a horn. Then, one day, Abdullah ibn Zayd came to the Prophet to tell him about a dream he had. The dream dictated the Islamic way of calling for prayer and the Prophet recognized that the vision was genuine. He asked Bilal to perform the call for prayer for his voice was beautiful.

Favorite Quote:

… at-tawakkul ala Allah: responsible exercising all the qualities each one of us has been granted and humbly remembering that beyond what is humanly possible, God alone makes things happen.