In the shades of the Hijra
By Wael Hamza, in the beginning of the Hijri year of 1431
Hijra, the migration of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) from Mecca to Medina, is a prominent event in the history of Islam, and marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. A few years after the death of the Messenger (pbuh) and at the time of Omar Ibn Al-Khattab (ra), a debate took place among the leadership of the Muslims of what year Muslims should use to mark the beginning of the calendar. There were many important events to start the calendar with. The Arabs at the time used to use “the Year of the Elephant” as a year where they refer events to. During this year, the Prophet was born and it would have made a perfect sense for Omar and his council to continue using this year. Probably they wanted something that is related to Islam, an Islamic event that is. But why didn’t they choose other important and probably more memorable events such as the birth of the prophet, the death of the prophet, the time he got the first revelation, the battle of Badr, the event when Mecca became a Muslim city, or any other important events. However, Omar chose the year where the prophet completed a wave of migration from Mecca to Medina, the new home for Islam and the home from which Islam illuminated the whole universe.
We should not let this choice pass by us. We should think and reflect why they made such a choice. We should contemplate on the great event and find out how it stood strongly against all the other candidate events to mark the beginning of the Muslim calendar. More importantly, we ought to learn from this great experience and find out what made this great event that great. We also need to apply lessons in our lives as Muslims in general and American Muslims in particular.
In this article, I will try to list some of these lessons while telling some stories that took place during or before the hijra. My focus will not be on the stories. Rather, it will be mostly on how the stories were relevant to making the event of hijra a great event, the people who migrated great people, the place of migration a great place, and the hosts of Medina great hosts. I will also focus on how we can consider those who migrated and those hosts as our role model and how we can contribute to great events in history like they did.