It was 1420 years ago when the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. embarked
on the journey with his faithful companion Abu Bakr. His detractors, the leaders of the
Qurayshi tribes in Makkah plotted to kill him by sending a squad of assassins hand picked
from the nine clans. They knew they had to dispose of him before he gathers force that
would eventually defeat them. But Allah the Almighty deceived these evil schemers and the
prophet left his house with his nephew Ali gallantly being the decoy, he went out
unnoticed by the gang of assassins.
The prophet and Abu Bakr proceeded in a southern direction instead of going directly towards Madinah. They sheltered in a cave. As is frequently recounted to children all over the world, webs were cast by spiders at the mouth of the cave providing camouflage to become a symbol of the hijrah celebrations. Abu Bakr's daughter brought food and water, and another companion provided reconnaissance and information.
Once however, a troop of the Quraysh came close to the mouth of the cave. There was concern felt by Abu Bakr as they were only two whereas there were many of the Quraysh. Whence, Muhammad s.a.w. said as was recorded in Surah Tawbah in the al Qur'an: "Do not worry; for Allah is with us." - la tahzan innallaha ma'ana.
Back to the present and on the night of the 20th September 1998 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim was arrested. He was arrested spectacularly by a special forces team in a commando styled raid in his house in front of many relatives, friends, supporters and journalists. Along the way he was blindfolded and upon arrival at the police headquarters he was handcuffed. In his dark and lonely cell, he was assailed and pummelled with near fatal blows. In the subsequent inquiry, what was overheard in his lips as he was recovering in agony over the injury was "Allah is with us" - innallaha ma'ana. The chief police officer himself admitted eventually although belatedly to committing the despicable unprovoked attack against a defenceless man. Anwar Ibrahim is still imprisoned and has been sentenced to 6 years for crimes he steadfastly decries and defiantly challenges against great odds.
We leave that part although it is the present and the very core of the reform struggle here to again look at the hijrah. Whatever the outcome, with forbearance and strive, Allah's plan will prevail and we hope and pray that the example and lessons of Prophet Yusuf a.s. would bring that happy ending to the whole tragic episode.
The choice of the route of the hijrah and the preparations were strategies in achieving the struggle of the cause of Islam. There were no easy ways or quick short cuts. Previous emigration attempts such as the visit to Taif brought much pain to the prophet tempting the angels to intervene to demolish the city to smithereens.The emigration to Abbysinia was helpful to the weak and the meek of Makkah to escape the persecution which was becoming more severe. They obtained asylum from the Christian King Najashi. However for Islam to flourish and for the ummah to become a living political community, it needed nationhood.
In retrospect, asylums provided justly are nothing to be ashamed of in the West. Many fighters and leaders of the Islamic movements seek shelter in the West to flee oppression of their native lands. This flight is to obtain that freedom to continue the cause to seek justice and freedom for their countries from tyranny. Even Imam Khomeini in his struggle against the Shah operated from Paris after being forced out of Iraq.
The prophet's journey reached Madinah and the first thing he did was to build a Masjid at Quba symbolising the very centre of operations of the ummah to be focussed in servitude to Allah - 'ubudiyyah. He made bonds of brotherhood amongst the muhajirin - the emigrants and the ansar - the helpers. The City itself and its multi-racial inhabitants consisting Jews and Christian as well as other non-Muslim Arabs were united under a charter which Prof. Muhammad Hamidullah asserted as the first written constitution in the world. The hijrah and the existence of Madinah provided the base and model for Islam to be practised in nationhood and to spread out to the world without the hindrance and ignorant opposition of the pagan Quraysh.
Muhammad s.a.w. after 10 years did return triumphantly to reopen the City of Makkah to Muslims and eventually for Islam to be undisputed the religion of the Arab lands. He returned without vengeance but full of mercy and kindness.
Back to the present time, indeed the ummah needs to move on to find a base for reforming itself. There are too many displaced Muslims as recent as of now in the cold hills and bare fields of Kosova, Albania and Macedonia. Pursued and savaged by wicked Serbian thugs. We must return the true spirit of the jihad and commemorate the hijrah by adopting its significance, its meanings, its strategies to save Kosova, save justice and save the ummah.
Hamdan Muhammad Hassan
15 April 1999.
[Currently, he is a Senior Civil Engineer at the University Science of Malaysia. He is involved in youth activities with the Muslim Youth Movement in Malaysia. He is also the President for the Muslim Staff Association in his university.]