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5. The Emigration to Al-Madinah

When the Muslims received authorization from Muhammad (pbuh) to emigrate to Al-Madinah, they began to flee in droves under the cover of night for fear that they might be discovered by Quraish. Those who fled Makkah were from that day forward named "Al-Muhajireen" (The Emigrators). When they departed from Makkah they left behind all of their wealth, their livestock, and their homes. The people of Quraish wasted no time in claiming this property and their zeal in amassing their newfound wealth helped to occupy them from setting out in pursuit of the Muslims who had fled with only the clothes on their backs, enough provisions for their trip, and an undying love of God burning brightly in their hearts.


Although the Muslims had forsaken all of their worldly possessions to the people of Quraish, still, this did not prevent many of them from being captured and tormented by Quraish.


Hind the daughter of Abi-Umayya Huthaifah ibn Al-Mugeerah Al-Qurasiyya Al-Makhzoomiyya (more popularly known as Um-Salama) was one such victim. She was married at the time to Abdullah ibn Abdulasad, one of the first ten converts to Islam. They had a son named Salama. Upon receiving the authorization to emigrate to Al-Madinah, Abdullah collected some provisions, placed his wife and son on the back of their camel and set out for Al-Madinah.


As they reached the outskirts of the city some of the men of the tribe of Makhzoom (the tribe of Um-Salama), saw them. They came running and said: "Although we may be powerless to stop you, still, you shall not be allowed to take our daughter and travel throughout the land with her," and they wrenched the reins of the camel from his hands.


As this was going on, a group of men from the tribe of Um-Salama's husband Abdullah, the tribe of Abdulasad, became enraged by this display and shouted: "By God, if you take her you shall not take his son, the son of our tribe" and they wrenched the boy away. Both tribes then began to pull on the boy until they dislocated his arm. Finally, the tribe of Makhzoom took Um-Salama and the tribe of Abdulasad took her son Salama, and they both left Abdullah with no recourse but to flee to Yethrib alone.


After that, Um-Salama would go out every day to the edge of the city and weep over the loss of her son and her husband until well into the night. This continued for about a year until the tribes finally had mercy upon her, returned her child to her and allowed them to catch up with her husband.


Another example is that of Suhaib Al-Roomi of the Arab tribe of Numair. As a child he had been taken captive by the Romans in one of their raids on the city of Al-Thani in Iraq. After spending many years as a slave in the service of the Roman nobles he escaped and returned to Arabia. He came to Makkah as an emigrant barely remembering a single word of Arabic. Due to his heavy accent and his bright red hair he was given the nick-name of "Al-Roomi" (The Roman). Suhaib spent many years in Makkah bartering and trading, and eventually he managed to amass substantial wealth. During his stay in Rome, Suhaib had once heard a Christian priest commenting to a Roman noble that the time was near when a final prophet of God would be coming from the land of Arabia and would confirm the message of Jesus (see chapter 6). When Suhaib later heard of Muhammad's message he inquired after him and ultimately, he accepted Islam.


When Muhammad (pbuh) authorized the emigration to Al-Madinah Suhaib collected his belongings, and set out for Al-Madinah. However, the nobles of Quraish had heard of his intentions and prevented him from leaving the city. They then set up a continuous guard to ensure that he would not leave the city, nevertheless, through his cunning he later managed to elude them and leave.


It was not long after that Quraish learned that Suhaib had tricked them and escaped, so they sent out their best riders on their fastest horses in heated pursuit of him. Somewhere along the road to Al-Madinah they caught up with him. Upon seeing them Suhaib dismounted, pulled out his bow and arrows and called to them: "O people of Quraish. By Allah, you know that I am a very skilled archer. By Allah, you shall not reach me until I kill with each arrow in my quiver a man among you, and then I shall smite you with my sword until it falls from my hand."


The detachment of Quraish replied: "You came to us as a lowly emigrant with no money. Now that you have prospered by way of us you wish to leave? By Allah, we shall not allow you to leave with your life and your wealth!" Whereupon Suhaib replied: "If I were to deliver my wealth to you, will you let me be?" They replied "Yes." So Suhaib revealed to them the location where his wealth was buried and they retrieved it and let him go.


When Suhaib reached Quba (a city located two miles from Al-Madinah), Muhammad (pbuh) saw him and hastened to greet him saying: "You have indeed prospered in your trade O father of Yahya, you have indeed prospered in your trade."


When Suhaib heard these words he replied: "By Allah, no one has beat me to you [with this news]. You have not been informed of it except by way of [the angel] Gabriel."


All of the Muslims in Makkah emigrated in secret and under the cover of night out of fear of the persecution of Quraish. All, that is, except Umar ibn Al-Khattab. Umar was a powerful man and greatly respected by Quraish. He was ambidextrous and highly skilled in matters of war. When he resolved to emigrate he stood up in the middle of the holy mosque in Makkah in front of it's nobles and proclaimed: "I have resolved to emigrate. Let he who wishes his parents to lose their child or wishes to make his children orphans, let him meet me behind this hill," and he departed. Of course, no one followed him.


After Muhammad (pbuh) authorized the Muslims to emigrate to Al-Madinah, all able bodied Muslims departed until there was no one left behind except himself, his close friend Abu-Bakr, his cousin Ali, and those who had been persecuted and imprisoned.

When Quraish saw that Muhammad (pbuh) had found a strong ally and a tribe that would protect him and his followers from their persecution they began to fear that he might leave and join them. They decided that extreme measures were necessitated in order to prevent this from happening. It was time for Muhammad to die.


The nobles of Quraish met in "Dar-Alnadwa" and plotted as to how they shall execute this deed. They decided that the best strategy was to choose a young and capable representative from each of their tribes and to dispatch these representatives to his home. They would all then strike Muhammad (pbuh) with their swords simultaneously such that his blood would be distributed between all of the tribes. In this manner, the children of AbdulManaf would not be able to take vengeance against all of the tribes of Quraish combined.


Gabriel visited Muhammad (pbuh) and informed him of this plot, so Muhammad requested from his cousin Ali that he take his place in his bed and he informed him of this plot. He consoled him not to worry, no harm shall befall him.


When the young men of Quraish collected outside Muhammad's home, Allah momentarily took away their sight. Muhammad (pbuh) then scooped up a handful of dust, sprinkled it upon their heads, and then departed. As he did this he read the first verses of Yaseen(36):

"YaSeen. By the Qur'an full of Wisdom, Truly you [O Muhammad] are one of the messengers. On a straight path. [This is] a Revelation sent down by the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful, that you may warn a people that which their forefathers were warned, but they are heedless"


until he reached the verse


"And We have set a barrier before them and a barrier behind them, and [thus] we have covered them so that they see not."


A man then passed by them and said "what are you waiting for here?" They replied "For Muhammad" He responded "He has already departed and left dust on your heads." They then placed their hands upon their heads and found the dust. So they peered inside the house and saw Ali in the bed and thought he was Muhammad The next morning Ali got up out of the bed and they realized that Muhammad (pbuh) had indeed escaped just as that man had told them. They quickly set out in his pursuit.


Muhammad (pbuh) set out with Abu-Bakr towards Yethrib. When the two reached the cave of Thor at the edge of Makkah, Abu Bakr said: "Wait O messenger of Allah while I inspect it [for dangerous creatures]." Once he had inspected it he asked Muhammad (pbuh) to enter. While they were inside the cave, the dispatchment of Quraish reached them. As they walked about all around the cave Abu Bakr became terrified and said: "O Messenger of Allah, if one of them were but to look beneath his feet he would see us." Muhammad (pbuh) turned to him and said:


"O Abu Bakr, what shall you think of two [men] the third of whom is God? [through guidance and protection]"


In this regard the following verses were later revealed:


"If you help him not [it matters not], for Allah helped him when those who disbelieved drove him forth, the second of two; when they two were in the cave, when he said unto his comrade: Grieve not. Verily! Allah is with us. Then Allah caused His peace of reassurance to descend upon him and supported him with troops you did not see, and made the word of those who disbelieved the nethermost, while Allah's Word is the highest. For Allah is Exalted in Might, Wise."

(Qur'an 9:40)


Muhammad (pbuh) and Abu-Bakr remained inside the cave for three days while Abdullah the son of Abu-Bakr brought them news of the plotting of Quraish. His daughter, Asma, would also bring them food every day. After three days, they took a guide by the name of Abdullah ibn Arqat and set out for Makkah. At times Abu-Bakr would walk behind Muhammad (pbuh) and at others he would walk in front of him. Finally, Muhammad (pbuh) asked him about that and Abu-Bakr explained that at times he would fear that an attack would come at Muhammad from behind, so he would walk behind Muhammad (pbuh) to protect him. At other times he would fear an attack from in front of them so he would walk in front of him for the same reason.


When Quraish realized that Muhammad (pbuh) had eluded they announced a reward of one hundred camels for anyone who would capture him and return him to them. Suraqa ibn Malik ibn Ju'ushum heard of this reward and set out in pursuit of Muhammad (pbuh).


Suraqa was a skilled tracker and Muhammad (pbuh) and Abu Bakr had spent three days in the cave before departing, eventually he caught up with them. However, as he began to close in on them his horse tripped and fell. He then got up and mounted his horse, and again it tripped and fell. When this happened a third time his horse began to sink into the ground and a strong wind began to blow. When Suraqa saw this he realized that he would not be allowed to capture them. So he called out to them: "I am Suraqa ibn Ju'ushum. Will you allow me to speak to you? By Allah, I promise not to harm you" They asked him what he wanted and he replied: "I want you to write a pact for me that shall be a sign between me and you." Muhammad (pbuh) commanded that this pack be written and Suraqa took it and left. As he departed, Muhammad said to him: "conceal our location" and they parted ways.


Suraqa never spoke to anyone about what had happened until many years later, after the Muslims captured Makkah. At that point, Suraqa returned to Muhammad (pbuh) with the pact in his hand and embraced Islam.


When Muhammad (pbuh) drew near Al-Madinah, he came upon the city of Quba (two miles away from Al-Madinah). Ever since the beginning of the emigration of the Muslims to Al-Madinah, the citizens of the city had been waiting with the utmost anticipation for his arrival. They had received word that he had left Makkah and was en route to them. Every day a party of them would go out to the outskirts of the city at daybreak and look for him, they would stay there waiting for him until the midday heat would force them indoors.


Muhammad (pbuh) and Abu Bakr first arrived on Monday the 12th of Safar (the third lunar month). Muhammad was fifty three years old at the time. When they arrived the citizens had already returned home for the afternoon. The first person to see him called out at the top of his lungs announcing his arrival.


Muhammad (pbuh) and Abu Bakr were men of similar age. Most of the citizens of Al-Madinah had never seen Muhammad (pbuh) in person, so they could not tell which one was him. When Abu Bakr realized this he stood over Muhammad (pbuh) and shaded him with his coat whereupon the people recognized Muhammad (pbuh).


It is estimated that about five hundred people greeted them on that day and the people clamored on the roof tops trying to get a glimpse of him and crying: "Which one is him? Which one is him?" while the children and the slaves filled the streets shouting "God is great! God's messenger has come! God is great! Muhammad has arrived!"


The people then joined together in singing:


The full moon (Muhammad) has risen upon us

From the direction of "Thaniyyat al-Wada'a"

And all thanks [to Allah] is incumbent upon us

So long as a caller calls to Allah

O you who were sent among us

You have come with a heeded command

You have brought favor upon the city

Welcome, O best of callers


Fig. 10 The Mosque of Quba. The first Mosque built in Islam. Here it has been expanded greatly

since it's simple beginnings at the time of Muhammad (pbuh)


Muhammad (pbuh) remained in Quba four days. During his stay he laid the foundations for the first masjid (mosque) to be built in Islam, the masjid of Quba. After these four days he departed on Friday and prayed the Friday (congregational) prayer in Bani Salim ibn Ouf.


When Muhammad (pbuh) entered the city of Al-Madinah all of it's people vied for the honor of having him as their guest in their home and they would call to him: "stay with us and under our protection." Some of the people would also take hold of his camel's reins in order to guide it to their homes. However, each time Muhammad (pbuh) would respond to them with the words: "Leave it (my camel) be, for it has been commanded [where to go]"


Muhammad (pbuh) released the reins of his camel and allowed it to roam freely. The people all followed the camel through the city hoping against hope that it might stop at their home. Each time it would come upon one of their homes it's owner's heart would soar; perhaps I shall be the one. And each time it passed by a home their hearts would plummet, for they had lost the honor of the best of guests, the messenger of God. Finally the camel of Muhammad (pbuh) came to a stop and sat down at a location in the city where the Masjid of the Prophet stands today.


The nearest home to that location was the home of Khalid the son of Zaid Al-Najjari Al-Khuza'i, more popularly known as Abu-Ayyoob. Abu Ayyoob carried Muhammad's belongings into his home, cleared out the top (second) floor for him and left the bottom floor for himself and his wife. He did this out of respect for the messenger of Allah so that he would not reside above him. Muhammad (pbuh), however, objected and told him that he received many visitors each day and he feared that they would cause Abu-Ayyoob distress by passing back and forth to reach him. Abu-Ayyoob finally consented and took the top floor. However, a few nights later Abu-Ayyoob accidentally struck a jar of water during the night and spilled it all over the floor. He and his wife hastened to soak it up with their sheets fearing that it might leak through and drip on Muhammad (pbuh). In the morning Abu Ayyoob pleaded with Muhammad to allow him to take the lower floor and Muhammad (pbuh) consented.


The land that Muhammad's camel had come to a stop upon was at that time owned by two orphans from Banu Al-Najjar named Sahil and Suhail, the children of Amr. This land was used as a "Marbad" (a place to dry their dates). Muhammad (pbuh) asked them to sell it to him but they insisted that he accept it as a gift. Muhammad (pbuh) refused to take it without paying for it and insisted on paying for it until they finally sold it to him. He then commanded that the masjid be built on that spot. This masjid was later named "The masjid of the Prophet Muhammad"


Muhammad (pbuh) worked with the Muslims in the construction of this masjid, transporting the bricks, and laying them in place. All the while he would recite:


O my lord, verily the true reward is that of the hereafter

So forgive the "Ansar" and the "Muhajereen"


Fig. 11 The "Prophet's Mosque" in Al-Madinah. Here it has been expanded greatly from it's humble beginnings at the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)


As he was doing this, the Muslims would work with him chanting and reciting poetry while they raised the construction of the masjid. This continued for approximately eleven months until the masjid was finally completed.


As mentioned previously, those Muslims who emigrated from Makkah were from that day forward called the "Muhajereen" (the "Emigrators"). The Muslims who received them in Yethrib were named the "Ansar" (The "supporters"). The city of Yethrib was also later renamed to "Al-Madinah Al-Munawara" (The illuminated city) and this has remained it's name to this day, however, this name is sometimes shortened to "Al-Madinah" only (I have referred to it as such in this book in many places).


Muhammad (pbuh) paired the Muhajereen and the Ansar together in brotherhood. The Ansar competed with one another to be host to one of the Muhajereen. They would split everything they owned in half and allow their guest to choose which half they would prefer. Muhammad (pbuh) then commanded that a pact be written between the Muhajereen and the Ansar wherein he outlined a contract of peace with the tribes of the Jews within the city and confirmed their right to free practice of their religion and protection of their wealth. He also outlined their rights and their obligations and then all parties pledged to uphold this pact and observe it. For the details of this treaty see "Al-Seerah Al-Nabawiyya" by Ibn Hisham.


Not long after the masjid was built, the Muslims began to go to it five times a day to attend the five daily prayers. The Jews had a horn they use to call to prayer, and the Christians had a bell, however, Muhammad (pbuh) did not like these methods. Someone suggested raising a flag, however, he disliked this idea too. Not long after, Abdullah ibn Zayd received a vision at night revealing to him how to call the people to prayer. He came to Muhammad (pbuh) and recounted to him what he had heard and seen in his dream. Muhammad (pbuh) told him that this was a revelation from God and then he ordered Bilal the Ethiopian to call to the five daily prayers as Abdullah had been taught. To this day, in Muslim countries throughout the world, when the time of prayer arrives we can hear the "Adhan" recited all over the city from the tops of the masjids. It translates loosely to:


Allah is the Almighty! Allah is the Almighty!

Allah is the Almighty! Allah is the Almighty!

I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship other than Allah!

I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship other than Allah!

I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah!

I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah!

Welcome, and come unto prayer!

Welcome, and come unto prayer!

Welcome, and come unto prosperity!

Welcome, and come unto prosperity!

Allah is the Almighty! Allah is the Almighty!

There is no deity worthy of worship other than Allah!


Sixteen months after Muhammad (pbuh) arrived in Al-Madinah, he was commanded to change the direction of prayer of the Muslims from the holy mosque in Jerusalem to the Kaaba in Makkah. From that day forward all Muslims have directed their prayers towards the Kaaba in Makkah.


Within the boundaries of the city of Al-Madinah there lived a number of tribes of the Jews. Most notable among them were the tribes of Quraidha, Qainuqaa, and Nadheer. One of the most learned Rabbis in the tribe of Qainuqaa was a man by the name of Al-Husain the son of Salam. When Muhammad came to Al-Madinah Al-Husain accepted him and became a Muslim. Muhammad then changed his name to Abdullah (servant of God). Thus, he became known as Abdullah ibn Salam. Let us leave it to Abdullah himself to tell us his story.

Abdullah ibn Salam narrated:


"When I first heard of the messenger of Allah (from the news that came to me from Makkah), I recognized his description, his name and his time, all of which we (the Jews) had been anticipating. This caused me great joy, however, I kept silent until the messenger of Allah came to Al-Madinah. When he arrived in Quba, among the children of Amr the sons of Ouf, a man came and informed us of his arrival. At the time I was at the top of one of my date palms working on it and my aunt, Khalida the daughter of Al-Harith, was sitting beneath me on the ground. When I heard the news of his arrival I shouted the praise of my Lord. When my aunt heard me she rebuked me saying: 'Fie upon you! If you had heard of the arrival of Moses the son of Umran you would have done no more than this' So I replied to her: My aunt, verily he is the brother of Moses the son of Umran and upon the same religion. He was sent with that which was sent with Moses. My aunt queried: 'My cousin, is he the prophet whom we were told would come at this hour?' I replied, yes. Then she said: 'It is good then.' So I departed to meet the messenger of Allah and accepted Islam. I then returned to my family and told them to embrace Islam, and they did"


Abdullah continues:


"I kept the news of my acceptance of Islam a secret from the Jews. I then went to the messenger of Allah and told him: O messenger of Allah. Verily, the Jews are a slanderous people, and I ask that you conceal me in your home so that they shall not see me, then ask them about my stature among them before they learn of my acceptance of Islam. For if they were to learn of this news they shall slander me and revile me. So the messenger of Allah hid me in part of his home and asked that they come assemble before him. They then spoke to him and asked him questions. Finally, he asked them: 'What sort of man is Al-Husain the son of Salam among you?' They replied: 'Our master, the son of our master. He is our Rabbi and scholar.' When they were through, I stepped out before them. I then told them: O children of Israel, seek refuge in Allah and accept that which he has brought you. For by Allah, you know that he is the messenger of Allah, you find it written in the Torah that is with you in both name and description. Verily I bear witness that he is the messenger of Allah. I accept him, believe him and recognize him. They said 'You lie!' Then they slandered me excessively. So I asked the messenger of Allah: Did I not tell you that they are a slanderous people? A treacherous, lying, trespassing people? So I publicized my acceptance of Islam and that of my family. My aunt also embraced Islam and became a devout Muslim."


Safiyah bint Huyay once narrated the following story regarding her father and uncle, who were Jews:


"When the Messenger of Allah arrived at Quba, my father Huyay ibn Akhtab and my uncle Abu Yaser went to him after morning prayer while it was still dark and they did not return until sunset. They returned tired and demoralised, and were walking slowly. I went near them but they did not even turn towards me due to their sadness. Then I hear my uncle say to my father, 'Is he the one?' He replied: 'Yes, by Allah'. My uncle said: 'Do you know him and confirm him?' He said: 'Yes'. My uncle said: 'How do you feel about him?' He said: 'By Allah! Hatred and enmity as long as I live.'"


The people of Quraish continued to display animosity and hatred towards the Muslims in Al-Madinah however, Muhammad (pbuh) continued to console them to


"Stay your hands and Perfect your prayers."

(Qur'an 4:77)


After the Muslims had learned how to pray and how to humble themselves in the following of the commands of Allah and the obeying of His messenger, they were then given sanction to fight, however, it was not mandated upon them. This sanction was delivered in the following verse:


"Sanction [to fight] is given unto those who are fought against because they have been wronged; and Allah is indeed able to grant them victory"

(Qur'an 22:39)


Muhammad (pbuh) began to send out detachments to different tribes in the area. Although these detachments did not always do battle with these tribes, their main objective was to instill a healthy respect for the might of the Muslim nation so that their neighbors would think twice about abusing them or terrorizing them. Among these detachments was that of Abdullah ibn Jahsh.


In the second year after the emigration, Muhammad (pbuh) sent Abdullah ibn Jahsh and his detachment to a location near Makkah in order to collect intelligence and bring news of Quraish's actions. While they were there, a caravan of Quraish passed by and after long consultations the Muslims decided to attack it and take it. They did this in Rajab, one of the four "forbidden months" that the Arabs had for many centuries recognized as being unlawful for one to fight in them. When they attacked the caravan they killed one man and captured two others. They then drove the caravan to Al-Madinah and presented it to Muhammad (pbuh).


When Muhammad (pbuh) saw what they had done he said: "I did not command you to fight in the forbidden month!. I did not command you to fight in the forbidden month!" and he refused to take anything from that caravan.


All of the Muslims then severely rebuked and chastised them until they felt that indeed they had lost. At this point the following verse was revealed:


"They question you (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month. Say: Warfare therein is a great [transgression], but to turn [people] from the path of Allah, and to disbelieve in Him and in the Inviolable Place of Worship, and to expel His people thence, is [even] greater with Allah; for persecution is worse than killing..."  (Qur'an 2:217)


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