A Meaningful Hijrah
Muslims around the world welcome another new year in the Islamic calendar. It was 1440 years ago that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the early Muslims migrated from the city of Mecca to Madinah which marked the 1st year of the hijrah calendar. For many Meccan Muslims at that point of time, the decision to migrate was done with a heavy heart as they had to leave their homeland to a new place where uncertainties were palpable. But their faith in and love for Islam diminished their doubts and worries. The Hijrah has tremendous significance not just to the Islamic world but also to the world civilization. This migration did not merely signify a final destination for the Muslims of Mecca at that point of time but instead it was also the beginning of a continuous effort to establish a strong and resilient Muslim ummah.
While many Muslims today prefer to discuss the Hijrah from the perspective of required personal transformations, it is also important to put into context the other dimensions on the impact of the migration of the early Muslims. These other dimensions include the reshaping of the political, economic and social aspects of the Muslim community which then became the central foundation for the Islamic civilization. In addition, this all encompassing impact of the Prophet Muhammad and his followers’ migration from their beloved Mecca furthers strengthened the viewpoint of Islam as a comprehensive religion and also a complete system of life for its adherents.
It was from this period in the Islamic history that an Islamic civilization was built, gained prominence and lasted for centuries. The strength of the nation at that time was not measured by the number of weaponry, soldiers and wealth, instead, the foundation of the religion i.e the framework of tawhid (Oneness of God) and the prophethood of Muhammad as the final Messanger of God cemented the whole life system. This was then epitomized through the characters of the Muslims in their political, economic and social affairs. Muslims today must therefore emulate the will, courage and strong conviction of the Muhajjirin (the Emigrants) in order to bring about the necessary changes and improvements to one self and the Ummah as a whole.
The Hijrah also offers among others, important lessons in leadership. When the Muslims from Mecca migrated to Madinah, they were wholeheartedly welcomed by the Muslims in Madinah. Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) abilities to unite two Muslim communities from Mecca and Madinah on the basis of faith and led a disintegrated society of different sects and religious beliefs portrayed excellent example of leadership. His position as the leader in Madinah, stemmed from the essence of power bestowed upon him by the society and also through divine authority. The Prophet (peace be upon him) took the position of leadership as a trust from the people of Madinah and also from Allah the Almighty. Therefore, lesson to be learnt from this is the importance of upholding the concept of ‘amanah’ or trust and ‘adl or justice among leaders. These two approaches were evident in Prophet Muhammad’s dealings and affairs with the people of Madinah under his leadership. Allah the Almighty says in the Holy Quran:
“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as witnesses to fair dealings and let not hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be Just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah for Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do. (Chapter 5, Verse 8)
There are also lessons to be learnt from Hijrah through the model of the Madinah society during the leadership of the Prophet (Peace be upon Him). He brought closer a diversified society of different tribes, cultures and religions. People of Madinah were taught to be more kind, compassionate and giving towards one another regardless of faiths and tribes. The kinship formed between the Muslims from Mecca with the Muslims of Madinah, the end of intertribal conflicts between the tribes of Aws and Khazraj in Madinah and the acceptance of other religious communities as part of the Madinah society paved way for the establishment of a strong nation and stability under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him). This is in accordance to what Allah the Almighty says about Prophet Muhammad in the Quran:
“And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.”
(Chapter 21, Verse 107)
For a multi-racial and multi- religious country like Malaysia, there is so much to learn from this historical episode. As we progress further in our path as a nation, Malaysians should be more integrated and stronger as a society. Respect and mutual understanding should be the essence of the relationships among fellow Malaysians and should not perceive each other with prejudice and indifference. Aforementioned, the understanding of Hijrah must go beyond the story of migration between geographical locations. It must include the lessons and guidance in nation-building, leadership, tolerance, charity and unselfish conducts that could lead to the needed transformations of self, mindset and way of life as how the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) has taught us. Only then Hijrah becomes more meaningful and will not just be as a mere topic of history- telling exercise everytime the Islamic New Year is celebrated.