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4 Things You Need to Know about Hijrah in The Prophet’s Era

by Ustaz Abdul Rahman Rahuni

The month of Muharram has recently concluded. However, the month of Muharram and the Hijrah of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ will always be engaging topics of conversation. Consequently, it is a privilege for us to discuss the month of Muharram and this Hijrah.

When Does Hijrah Occur?

Before leaving Mecca and seeking refuge in the Thur cave, the Prophet PBUH started to leave his home at the end of Safar and headed in the direction of the house of Abu Bakar as-Siddiq. At the start of Rabi’ul Awwal, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and Abu Bakar left for Medina after three days, using Abdullah Bin ‘Uraiqith as a guide to a different route to Medina.

The Prophet  Muhammad ﷺ arrived in Quba on the eighth of Rabi’ul Awwal and stayed there for four days before travelling to Medina al-Munawwara. While travelling, the Prophet  Muhammad ﷺ and his group stopped to perform Friday prayers near Bani Salim Bin ‘Auf.

Hijrah entourage [Photo: Pexels/Abdelaziz Baba]

How Many Times Has Hijrah Occurred?

Hijrah in the time of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ happened three times. Before the large-scale emigration to the city of Medina, the Muslim community moved to Ethiopia twice. Ethiopia was selected as the location of the Hijrah because its king was a righteous man who did not oppress his people. Even the Muslims who immigrated to Ethiopia found a good place to live.

The first Hijrah to Ethiopia only involved a small group of companions. When the pressure from the Quraysh kuffar increased, a second Hijrah was made to Ethiopia. After that, more than 100 of the Prophet  Muhammad ﷺ companions were involved. The third Hijrah, the Hijrah to Medina, took place, converting Medina into an Islamic state.

Hijrah and Hijrah Calendar of the Prophet Muhammad

When 1 Muharram arrives, we will recall the events of the Hijrah. Perhaps some of us believed that the Hijrah of the Prophet  Muhammad ﷺ occurred on Muharram 1. The Prophet  Muhammad ﷺ migrated to Medina during the month of Rabi’ul Awwal, so 1 Muharram is not the date of his migration.

The Hijri calendar was established during the reign of Umar bin al-Khattab. The origin of the calendar is the subject of numerous legends. During his reign as caliph, Umar received a letter from Abu Musa al-Asy’ari stating that his letters lacked a date, making it difficult for him to carry out the instructions. Umar then gathered his companions to discuss the situation.

According to another tale, Umar al-Khattab once received a required document dated Sya’ban. It was unknown whether this refers to Sya’ban last year, this year, or next year. Then, a decision was made regarding the setting of the calendar.

In the following tale, a man from Yemen explained that in his culture, dates are written in years and months. Then he stated, “This is a good development.” A calendar was then created.

However, when discussing the setting, they held divergent opinions regarding the beginning of the Hijrah calendar’s calculation. Some argue that the year of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ birth, the year of his Hijrah or the year of his death should be used.

Umar chose to begin the count in the year of the  Prophet Muhammad ﷺ migration because Hijrah is the dividing line between right and wrong. After that, they had divergent opinions regarding which month the year’s calculation began. Then Umar selected the month of Muharram, a haram (noble) month and the month following the pilgrims’ return from Mecca.

Hadith of Hijrah Disclaimer

[Photo: Pexels/Michael Burrows]

There is a hadith where Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “There is no emigration (after the conquest of Makkah), but only Jihad (striving in the path of Allah) and some intention. So when you are summoned to go forth (for Jihad), go forth.”

[Narated by Sunan Abi Dawud 2480]

This hadith appears to refute the need for these people to emigrate after the opening of the city of Mecca. The meaning of the hadith, however, is that Muslims living in Mecca at the time of al-fath no longer need to emigrate to Medina and leave Mecca, as Mecca has already become an Islamic city. Muslims are no longer tortured and subjected to oppression because there are so many of them.

Nonetheless, if there is a need for a person to emigrate at this time, Islam continues to recognise the act.

Contributed by Abdul Rahman Rahuni

Ustaz Abdul Rahman Rahuni. The author is a graduate of the Islamic University of Madinah studying in the field of Islamic Sharia. He is currently an instructor at Sekolah Menengah Ugama Islamiah, Tawau, Sabah.