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As Muslims all over the world celebrate the Hijrah occasion at a time when many challenges still hinder development

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By Kamal Badr

and prosperity in many parts of the Muslim world, one cannot help but asking, what have Muslims learnt from the concept of Hijrah, which forced the early Muslims, led by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to leave Makkah for Madinah? Have they gone beyond the notion of “just do what the Prophet did, and migrate” or they still resign themselves to the status quo that is characterized by lethargy and passivity, with failure to live the true meanings of Hijrah?

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The Prophet’s migration is full of important lessons for the Muslim Ummah in many aspects, one of which is sticking to the concept of “truth”, and since truth is enlightening, as they say, finding the paths which lead to upholding truth is in itself empowerment.  This is part of what the early Muslims earned through their migrations, first to Abyssinia, and later to Madinah.

As we know, their ordeals in Makkah were due to an adamant adherence to what they perceived as “truth”, and this strong belief emboldened their spirit, giving them an effective immunity against the waves and torrents of subjugation and persecution.  So the Muslims would not have left Makkah if not for the fact that the incessant evil schemes from the opponents were becoming more dangerous and might lead to a total annihilation, especially when they attempted to get rid of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

At the time that the life in Makkah was becoming unbearable for Muslims to protect their identity and belief, Madinah was beckoning to them with its blissful breeze and cooling their hearts, though it was blowing from afar.  Through this encouraging sign, the Muslims found a channel that would help them continue upholding the truth and getting a permanent break-away from what they saw as falsehood and deception.  And this gave them empowerment.

 

Factors of Migration for Early Muslims

In the language of migration today, the main and only “push” factor for the Muslims to migrate from Makkah was persecution and their inability to preserve their identity as believers, especially when the pagans of Makkah had vehemently announced a total war against the new faith and its people.  With regard to Madinah, one can point to several “pull” factors that facilitated the migration, such as the hospitable and friendly atmosphere of Madinah, with few exceptions relating to the Jews who had uneasy feelings towards the “new arrivals”.

But, in line with what was mentioned above, the main pull factor for this migration was peace and safety in addition to a chance of upholding the truth.  So one cannot point to wealth or material gain as one of the pull factors here, especially with fact that many Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) left behind their life fortunes while migrating, like the case of Suhaib Ar-Rumi and others.

From the above, it’s clear that while migration today has become a tool for making fortunes for the migrants, as well as a golden opportunity for the host countries to drain the developing world of its vital resources. The Islamic notion of migration is quite different in the sense that it has a balanced approach to regulating the relationships between the migrants and the states that host them. It takes both of them away from the abysmal purpose or goal of creating a society of what can be described as “the most takers and most givers”, where migrants are not willing to integrate or the host country adopts a policy of subjugation and segregation against the migrants.  Islam aims at creating a society of inter-correlating rights and duties which should ultimately lead to guaranteeing benefits for all.

 

Forming an Integrated Society

Topping the list of the migration’s objectives should be the preservation of the Muslim identity, but this also should be in a positive sense.

As we can see in his practice upon arrival in Madinah, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not seek to have the Muslims become a parasite on the society, trying to consume and exhaust the benefits that the host state provided, despite the fact that the generosity and hospitality shown were extremely abundant.  On the contrary, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) sought, first and foremost, to demonstrate to the host people that the newcomers were not there to overtake the land or expropriate its resources, nor did they have any purpose of granting themselves any kind of preferential treatment at the expense of the original inhabitants.

By crafting document that many experts, ancient and contemporary, describe as the first Bill of Rights or Charter or perfect standard for the modern constitutions, the early Muslims, led by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) transformed the migration into a proper vehicle for the creation of a well-integrated society where migrants and host people live side by side in peace and prosperity.  And this later became a guiding principle for the early Muslims in their other migrations as they sought to spread the light of da`wah elsewhere in the Arabian Peninsula and other regions.

So while we celebrate Hijrah today, it’s not enough to merely recount the history of Hijrah and point to its routes and heroes. Rather, we need to look and review our pattern of living today, wherever we are, through the periscope of the principles laid down by the noble Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) for this important phase in the history of Islam.  Muslims in diaspora need to keep reminding themselves their aims and objectives of their migration should not be confined to material gains which automatically rid them of an important factor that makes their Hijrah very unique.  Topping the list of their migration’s objectives should be the preservation of their Muslim identity, but this also should be in a positive sense.  It should be a tool for being a proactive citizen and a productive member of the society rather than twisting the meaning of the identity to form a dormant pattern of living or a ghettoization which will further add to the problems facing them as minorities.
Kamal Badr holds a masters degree in international studies from Al-Azhar University. His dissertation was “Modes of Reparation: Comparative Study on International Law & Shari`ah.” He is currently a PhD candidate on the Migrants’ Human Rights between Shariah and International Law at Al-Azhar University. You can reach him at: kamalfunsho@gmail.com or kamal.badr@onislam.net

 

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