The Hijrah route is something that is fondly shared and talked about amongst Muslims.
‘Hijrah’ directly translates to ‘migration’ in Arabic. The Hijrah was a significant moment in Islam as it is a turning point in history.
It is when Muslims went from a persecuted minority to a majority community that would shape the political, cultural and spiritual landscape of the Arabian Peninsula.
Idolatry was ripe in Makkah during this time. It was so prominent that idols littered the inside and surroundings of the Kaba.
When the persecution of the Muslims residing in Makkah grew intense, Allah commanded the Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] to emigrate so that they could establish Islam in a land where they could worship Him freely.
The move resulted after the Quraysh, the powerful ruling tribe at the time, had plotted to kill the Prophet.
The Messenger [pbuh] saw in a dream that he was immigrating to that city.
It was narrated from Abu Musa that the Prophet [peace and blessings be upon him] said:
‘I saw in a dream that I was emigrating from Makkah to a land in which there are date palms, and I thought that it was Al-Yamamah or Hajar, but it turned out to be Madinah, Yathrib.’ (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
The Prophet’s message of monotheism threatened their lifestyle. If the people of Makkah began following one God, the physical wealth the Quraysh possessed would be redundant in an Islamic society due to the importance of equality and good character as opposed to monetary wealth.
With the word spreading that people were eagerly awaiting the Prophet [pbuh] in Madina, fear struck the hearts of the Quraysh that the Prophet [pbuh] would attempt to join his followers and build a new society.
The Quraysh gathered to discuss his fate. Iblis (satan) was present at the meeting, dressed as an old man, and persuaded them to send a group of assassins to kill the Prophet [pbuh] in his home.
Allah had other plans, and the beloved Messenger [pbuh] slipped past unnoticed. The assassins could believe this and scattered along the hijrah route in order to find the Prophet [pbuh].
The beloved Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] walked this route with his companion, Abu Bakr, to Yathrib (Medina), which was the chosen land of hijrah.
The Prophet [pbuh] and his companion hid in a cave atop Mount Thawr for three days to escape the Quraysh and were saved by a spider that had spun its web on the opening of the cave.
‘If you won’t help him, Allah has already helped when the disbelievers expelled him from Makkah. They were two in the cave when he said to his companion, “Do not worry. Allah is with us.” So, Allah comforted him and helped him with armies that you didn’t see, and He foiled their plan, Allah’s plan is supreme. Allah is Almighty, Wise.’ [9:40]
Upon arriving in Medina after their gruelling journey, a celebration erupted.
Soon after, Masjid Al Nabwi was established, which became a focal point for education and Islamic learning in Medina.
A constitution of rights was established, where religious freedom was to be honoured, no matter what faith.
The impact of this ruling was profound as Medina was maybe one of the first nations to implement having different faiths live side by side.
‘The settled people of Madinah have firm faith, love the emigrants who came to them, and they don’t envy what was given to the emigrants. In fact, they give them preference over themselves, yet they are poor themselves: anyone who is saved from the greed of his selfish desires, is successful’. [59:9]
The themes that the hijrah carries are still prevalent today.
The journey from the past remains relevant to this day because of migration and forcible movement.
Those who flee their home to escape war and persecution should be welcomed. This is reinforced in Surah Al Nisa of the Quran.
‘Whoever migrates in the path of Allah will find a place of refuge somewhere in the land and worldly abundance and whoever sets out from home to migrate for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, and dies on the way, Allah will grant him his reward. Allah is Forgiving, Kind’. [4:100]
The journey of hijrah has been recounted many times, and a collection of old and new literature, art and recollections have been compiled.
One such Artist who is bringing a modern twist to the Hijrah art archive is Salwa Najma. She created a Hijrah route map in the style of Tolkien’s middle earth map, as seen in the movie franchise, Lord of the Rings.
Makkah to Madinah map, Tolkien style is pretty much complete
Prints will soon be available on my website isA pic.twitter.com/2gJcun4CNT
— Salwa Najm (@salwanajmart) January 7, 2023
The Ithra Centre in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, is celebrating the Islamic new year with a new exhibition called ‘Hijrah: In the Footsteps of the Prophet’.
Among the must-see installations is a recreation of the spiderweb, the caves, and even a life-sized replica of the camel upon which the prophet rode into Madinah.
You can access the virtual exhibition here.