Embarking on Hijrah was a tough task for the earliest Muslims. Having been going through all kinds of persecution, harassment, assaults killings, the believers had to leave Makkah. Even the migration itself was done in utter secrecy. Many of the companions and other believers left Makkah in unannounced.
However, the story behind leaving Makah or Hijrah are copious, just as the seerah was not entirely in one book; several narration of the events of Hijrah can be found in many books written by scholars but the most authentic in the narration of hijrah and of course other Islamic issues is the hadiths.
It was only Umar (r.a) who with boldness made his emigration public, all others had to leave Makah either at nights or in the most secretive manner. Umar (r.a) packed his bags, he wore his shield, and armed himself with his arrows, bows and sword and went to the Kaaba and did Tawaaf seven times. Having prepared as a traveller, he made a public announcement thus: “O’ people of Makkah, whoever amongst you wishes that his mother loses him tonight, or becomes orphans or that his wife becomes a widow, I am going on Hijrah and let him meet me outside of Makkah.” He was the only one who made his Hijrah public and challenged anybody to stop him. Even the mighty among the polytheists at that time could not dare him.
Like I said earlier, the Hijrah story is pitched together from different stories. This is because the seerah is not written down in one story. There are different reports of the Hijrah just like we have on other topics, Isra’a Miraj, etc. I am only going to dwell on the authentic narration of Aisha (r.a) in Sahih Bukhari.
The commandment to Migrate to Madinah came to the Prophet twice, one was the commandment for the sahaba to leave at the heat of persecution. That was in the Zhul Hijjah of the 12th year of Prophethood. The other however came in the Safar of the following year which was the 13th year of Prophethood.
First we also need to know that Aisha was born and grew up as a Muslim. She knew her parents as Muslim, Abubakr (her father). Asmau’s mother (the first daughter of Abu-Bakr) was divorced because she did not accept Islam and Abubakr then married Aisha’s mother. So, as at the time of Hijrah, Aisha (r.a) who was seven years old at that time said: “I don’t remember any except that my parents were Muslims. … “I don’t remember any day except Prophet Muhammed come visiting us in the morning or evening that when the Prophet was given the permission to migrate, he came to our house inn the scorching heat of the day to give Abu-Bakr the news.
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Upon hearing this, Abu-Bakr prepared two camels instead of one. As you know, the camel is the ship of the desert. You’ve got to prepare it for extra food, water and keep it for a while to save some calories for the journey. In those days they give their camels salt which causes it to drink a lot of water and store extra in its abdomen for a journey. Give it special diet to store fats too.
Two things happened, One the Prophet declined the offer of the camel saying if he must ride on Abu-Bakr’s camel,, he must pay for it as he wanted to have the full reward of carrying out Allah’s commandment. Secondly, he told Abu-Bakr to wait on his migration with him because at that point, Allah had not commanded the Prophet himself to leave. The first commandment was only to ensure that the believers leaver Makkah safely.
Aisha (r.a) “When Abubakr asked for the permission to migrate with him, he asked the prophet (s.a) for permission and the Prophet said: “Wait. For I hope at Allah SWT will give us permission.”
Abubakr asked: “O’ Prophet of Allah, are you hoping for the permission of my companionship. The Prophet said Yes.” This proved that the Prophet never did anything except with the permission of Allah. He never undertook any decision except with the permission of Allah. You see, first every Muslim was allowed to migrate but not yet for the Prophet. He had to wait until Allah gave him the permission for himself to leave Makkah. This event took place in the Dhul-Hijjah of the 12th year of the mission.
Abu-Bakr was said to have prepared his camels for 3 and half months. The next Muharram was the13th year of the mission. The second month of he 13th year – Safar, precisely Monday 26 of Safar, the Prophet migrated. Some have argued that the Safar should have been marked as the beginning of the Hijrah calendar, but suffice to say that the wisdom and divine inspiration of the sahaba made Muharram the beginning of the Islamic Hijrah year.
He was the last emigrant and he emigrated on a Monday. One of the speciality of the day (Monday) as enumerated in so many hadiths include the birthday of the Prophet, the first revelation as well as the migration.
How it happened
In the day-time of the Monday, Aisha narrated in the said hadith in the peak of the hit of the day, when everything was shut down, people always take a nap because there is nothing they can do, it is too hot. The prophet (s.a.w) also encouraged the Muslims to take a nap in the afternoon because of the excessive heat. Aisha said at this time we saw a figure approaching with heavy turban until we recognised that it was rosulallahi. The family knew that something very importat had happened or about to happen for him to be coming at such time.
He asked for permission to come in and Abu-Bakr granted. And He said remove everybody from the room. Aisha at this time was already engaged to the Prophet but the consummation had not yet occurred. Abu-Bakr said, it was only your family and nobody was here. Aisha and Asmau.
Then the Prophet said Allah has given me permission to emigrate. Abu-Bakr also asked Did Allah also permitted me to come with you? The Prophet answered: Yes! Abubakr cried! Tears of joy, indeed.
Aisha continued: “I never believed that people could cry out of happiness until I saw my own father crying.
The Abu-Bakr said: I had prepared two camels, one of them is yours. The prophet refused saying only if I paid you. The prophet is not known to take advantage of people. Asmau and Aisha did not immediately made their way to Madinah..
Permit a bit digression, Abu-Bakr was known to have have used all wealth in the spread of Islam. He as at the time he accepted Islam, he was said to have had 40,000 dirams and by the time he was migrating with the Prophet, he had spent 35,000 dirams out of which 90% of this was used to freeing slaves for Islam. He paid for every single slave he could find including Bilaal in Makkah for the sake of Islam. Again when he was migrating, he took the entire remaining 5,000 dirams with him in the company of the Prophet leaving nothing for Asmau and Aisha. This shows the amazing commitment to serve Allah not minding any material loss.
The blasphemers of the tribe of Quraysh noticed the continuous migration of the Companions to Madinah. So, they feared that the Prophet would do the same and leave Makkah. They held a meeting in Dar an-Nadwahand submitted to the opinion of `Amr Ibn Hisham (Abu Jahl) and collectively conspired to kill Prophet Muhammad, Sallallâhu `alayhi wa sallam. In order to avoid revenge from the family of the Prophet, (s.a.w), they decided to spread his blood among the tribes. So they schemed to have one man from every tribe strike the Prophet with their swords all at once, thus it would be hard to seek revenge from all the tribes. Angel Jibrîl peace be upon him descended and informed the Prophet about Quraysh’s scheme of killing him and ordered him not to sleep in his regular sleeping place. Jibril also conveyed to him Allâh’s permission to migrate. The Prophet ordered his cousin `Aliy Ibn Abi Talib to sleep in his place and to cover himself with the Prophet’s green shawl and to return the belongings of the people which they had kept with the Prophet for safe keeping; Ali carried out the order.
Fully relying upon Allāh the Exalted, the Messenger of Allâh left his house with his hands full of soil and he sprinkled the soil over the heads of the conspirators while reciting verses from Surah Yâ-sîn.
“We have made before them a barrier and a barrier behind them, so We have covered them over so that they cannot see.”
Thus, Allâh blocked His Prophet from their sight. In the morning they went into the Prophet’s house to kill him but instead they found `Ali sleeping in his place. They erupted in rage and fury out of humiliation and embarrassment, especially when they found the soil on their heads. In utter angry and nervousness, they left the house seeking to trail the Prophet.
Allâh revealed the support of His Prophet in an astounding glorious event when Prophet Muhammad, (s.a.w), and Abu-Bakr (r.a) hih in the cave of Thawr. Allâh ordered a tree to grow at the mouth of the cave to cover it and two wild pigeons were ordered to sit in front of the cave one of which laid eggs. A spider was inspired to weave a web at the mouth of the cave. When the men of Quraysh came holding their staffs and swords, they stood by the cave and looked around and they saw the pigeons with their eggs and the spider web. They figured that if the Prophet and his companion had entered the cave they would have destroyed the eggs and the web, so they turned back and left defeated. They never knew they were forty cubits away from the Prophet and his companion. This is one of the miracles of Islam that Allah will always protect Islam and His servants. May we never lack in Allah’s protection. Amin.