Section Four : From Hegira To the Universal Invitation

Chapter One : Emigration to Yathrib

The Basis of Islam's Influences in Yathrib

Wadi al-Qura is a long valley along with the trade route from Yemen to Damascus. Along this valley, which runs from the north to the south, there were numerous oases surrounded by grass and pastures.[^1] The caravans made use of them on their trips along this valley. On one of these oases, five hundred kilometers north of Mecca, there was the old city of Yathrib which was later called Madinat al-Rasul (the city of the Messenger) after the Holy Prophet's emigration to it and then al-Madinah (Medina).

The structure and social conditions of Yathrib was quite different from those of Mecca whose people were engaged in agriculture and orchard keeping. There lived in this city three great Jewish tribes of Banu’l-Nazir, Banu-Qaynuqa` and Banu-Qurayzah.

The two famous tribes of Aws and Khazraj are originally from the Yemen (i.e. descendants of Qahtan); but after the destruction of the Ma'rib Dam, they migrated from the south to live in Yathrib along with the Jewish inhabitants.

During the years of the Holy Prophet’s promulgation of Islam in Mecca, some events occurred in Yathrib which paved the way for his emigration. These events had made this city the center for the propagation of Islam. Among these events were the following:

The Jews had owned the fertile lands around the city; they had created numerous palm groves, enjoyed wealth and excelled all others economically.[^2] Once in a while, some quarrels occurred between them and the tribes of Aws and Khazraj. The Jews used to threaten them, saying, “In the near future, there shall come a new prophet whom we will follow and with his help we will root you out, just like the peoples of `ad and Iram.”[^3]

Because the Jews enjoyed a higher cultural status and they were respected by the idolaters, who believed in whatever the Jews would tell them, the issue of prophethood had rooted in the minds of the tribes of Aws and Khazraj.

Since older times, wars and bloodshed took place between the tribes of Aws and Khazraj. The last of these conflicts was the war of Bu`ath. These conflicts had resulted in a lot of casualties and damages on both sides who, because they had suffered greatly, looked forward to ceasefire and compromise.

However, there was no impartial person to carry out such a mission. `Abdullah Ibn Ubayy, who was not of the elderly chiefs of Khazraj, had announced his impartiality during the battle of Bu`ath and desired for a ceasefire and reconciliation so that he might govern both of them. He had prepared for the coronation ceremonies.[^4] However, the encounters of Aws and Khazraj with the Holy Prophet in Mecca changed the direction of events dramatically and `Abdullah Ibn Ubayy lost his chance.

The First Muslim Group of Yathrib

Through their pilgrimages to Mecca, the people of Yathrib had known about the Holy Prophet's mission since the early years of his open invitations to Islam. Some of them had met him in Mecca and become Muslims; but later on, they had either died or been killed.[^5] They had never been able to invite anybody into Islam. In the eleventh year of prophethood, the Holy Prophet met six of the elderly chiefs of Khazraj during the season of Hajj and invited them to Islam.

They told each other, “Be aware; this is the same prophet predicted by the Jews. Now we should not fall behind them in accepting his religion.” Then, they accepted Islam by telling the Holy Prophet, “We have left our people in the worst form of enmity. We hope that God will make them conciliate through you. Now, we will return to Yathrib and start inviting them to Islam. If they accept this religion, there will be nobody dearer to us than you.”

Upon their return to Yathrib, this group invited people to Islam. Not long after, the name of Islam was heard in every house of Yathrib and the Holy Prophet's name was uttered by everybody.[^6]

The First Treaty of `Aqabah

By the twelfth year of the prophethood, twelve people of Yathrib swore allegiance to the Holy Prophet at the foot of the `Aqabah of Mina[^7] at the time of Hajj.[^8] Among this group, ten people were from Khazraj and two others from Aws. This showed that these two groups had set their quarrel aside and showed interest in coming under the banner of Islam. They swore that they would not associate anybody with God, steal, engage themselves in adultery, kill their own children, accuse one another, and they would obey the Holy Prophet in performing good deeds.[^9]

The Holy Prophet promised them heaven as a reward for their keeping this treaty.[^10] After the Hajj ceremony, they returned to Yathrib and asked the Holy Prophet to appoint a teacher to teach them the Holy Qur'an and the principles of Islam. The Holy Prophet sent Mus`ab ibn `Umayr to them.[^11] Due to his hard work in propagation, a great number of people accepted the Islamic faith.

In Mecca, the chiefs opposed Islam; but the youth and the deprived ones accepted it as religion. However, in Yathrib, it was the other way round; the chiefs pioneered to adopt Islam and people naturally followed their suit. This was one of the factors for the spread of Islam in this city.

The Second Treaty of `Aqabah

In the thirteenth year of prophethood and at the Hajj ceremony, a group of seventy-five people, eleven of whom were from Aws and two women, entered Mecca.

On the twelfth of Dhu’l-Hijjah, the second treaty of `Aqabah was concluded with a lot of precautions. The signers pledged that if the Holy Prophet emigrated to their city, they would protect him like their own relatives and children and fight anybody who would fight against him. For this reason, this treaty came to be called bay`at al-harb (the pledge of war). At the end of this meeting, the signers elected twelve representatives to manage their affairs upon their return to Yathrib.[^12]

The initial Stages of emigration to Yathrib

Despite all the precautions that the Holy Prophet and the people of Yathrib had taken, Quraysh found out the secrets behind this treaty.

Consequently, they endeavored to arrest the treaty signers. Since those who paid homage to the Holy Prophet had left Mecca in time, they could flee to safety except for one who was arrested.

After the departure of the people of Yathrib, Quraysh increased their pressure on Muslims, because they realized that the Holy Prophet had safeguarded a stronghold in Yathrib; they therefore increased their pressures on Muslims. Once again, life in Mecca had become intolerable.[^13] For this reason, the Holy Prophet ordered Muslims to emigrate to Yathrib, telling them, “Go to Yathrib; God will provide you with brethren and a safe place.

”[^14] For two and a half months, (i.e. from the middle of Dhu’l-Hijjah up to the end of safar)[^15] Muslims gradually headed for Yathrib despite all hardships that Quraysh put in their way. Hence, no Muslim remained in Mecca except for the Holy Prophet, Imam `Ali, Abu-Bakr and some others. In the history of Islam, those Muslims who emigrated to Yathrib are called muhajirun (Emigrants) and those who helped out the Holy Prophet in Yathrib are called ansar.

Conspiracy of murdering the Holy Prophet

After the settlement in Yathrib of Meccan Muslims, the chiefs of Quraysh realized that Yathrib had turned into a strong shelter for the Holy Prophet and his followers, and that people of Yathrib were ready to fight for their faith. For this reason, they feared the Holy Prophet's emigration. This matter caused the Quraysh to face several problems:

(1) Muslims were no longer under their domination and control, because Yathrib was an independent city and Quraysh had no power there. (2) Since people of Yathrib had convened a war treaty with the Holy Prophet, he might then start a siege on Mecca for revenge.[^16] (3) Even without a probable war, Quraysh were still at a loss, because Yathrib was a lucrative market for their merchants and they would face economic disasters through losing control over this city. (4) Yathrib was on the trade route from Mecca to Damascus and Muslims could easily make this route unsafe and vulnerable; they might also jeopardize trade as a whole.

These worries forced the chiefs of Quraysh to gather at Dar al-Nidwah (the consular center) for further consultation and deliberations. Some proposed that the Holy Prophet be exiled or imprisoned. However, these two proposals were rejected for certain reasons. Finally, they decided to murder him although such an act would not look very simple, because Banu-Hashim would seek revenge. To avoid such expected vengeance, they decided to appoint one young man from every tribe so that they could murder him in his bed.

In this way, Banu-Hashim could not rise to avenge because the assassination would have taken place with several men from different tribes; and Banu-Hashim could not fight all these tribes; so, they would have to receive ransom and blood-money and the story would come to an end. To carry out their plot, chiefs of Quraysh selected the first night of Rabi` al-Awwal. God refers to their conspiracy with the following words:

And when those who disbelieved devised plans against you that they might confine you, slay you, or drive you away; and they devised plans and Allah too had arranged a plan; and Allah is the best of planners. (8:30)

The Prophet's Migration

Through Divine revelation, the Holy Prophet knew about the conspiracy of Dar al-Nidwah; he was then ordered by God to leave Mecca. He informed Imam `Ali (a.s) about his plan and ordered him to replace him in bed that night and cover himself with his bedspread. Imam `Ali (a.s) immediately accepted this mission.

Accompanied by Abu- Bakr, the Holy Prophet headed for Thawr Cave to the south of Mecca that night and stayed there for three days until chiefs of Quraysh despaired of finding him. He wanted to find a safe time to continue his migration. God, in the Holy Qur'an, refers to the Holy Prophet's loneliness and to the worries of his companion. Despite all precautious actions that the chiefs of Quraysh had taken, they could not locate the Holy Prophet:

If you will not aid him, Allah certainly being the second of the two, when they were both in the cave, when he said to his companion: Grieve not, surely Allah is with us, So Allah sent down His tranquility upon him and strengthened him with hosts which you did not see, and made lowest the word of those who disbelieved; and the word of Allah that is the highest; and Allah is Mighty, Wise. (9:40)

A Great Sacrifice

That night, Imam `Ali (a.s) replaced the Holy Prophet in bed. The armed forces of Quraysh besieged the Holy Prophet's house. In the morning, they drew their swords and entered the house in a rampage, but they found Imam `Ali, not the Holy Prophet, in the bed. Realizing that they had been betrayed, they charged against `Ali. Drawing his sword, he stood opposite against and refused to tell them where the Holy Prophet was.[^17]

Anybody who would replace the Holy Prophet in bed had little chance to survive. However, `Ali, who had replaced the Holy Prophet in bed many times before that event, such as he had done when they were besieged in Abu-talib Col, in purpose of securing his safety, sacrificed his life to protect the Holy Prophet's. Referring to this bravery and sacrifice of Imam `Ali, Almighty God says:

And among men is he who sells himself to seek the pleasure of Allah; and Allah is Affectionate to the servants. (2:207)

Exegetes of the Holy Qur'an agree that this verse was revealed on account of the sacrifice and bravery of `Ali at that night, which is called laylat al-mabit.[^18]

Referring to the conspiracy of Quraysh during that dangerous night, Imam `Ali, in one of his sermons, describes his mental condition as follows:

The Prophet ordered me to spend that night on his bed (while he would be leaving for Medina) and use my life as a shield for the protection of his life. I accepted it on the spot. I would be glad to die for him. The Prophet left me and I slept on his bed. The Quraysh armed forces entered, hoping to murder him. When they charged at the room where I was staying, I stood up, drew my sword and protected myself. This is the issue of which God is aware and people know.”[^19]

The Prophet's Arrival at Quba

Prior to his departure from Mecca, the Holy Prophet asked Imam `Ali to give back people's deposits[^20] and prepare for the departure of his daughter, Fatimah, and some other men and women from Banu-Hashim, who had not yet departed Mecca.[^21]

On the fourth of Rabi` al-Awwal (the 14th year after prophethood), the Holy Prophet left Thawr Cave for Yathrib.[^22] Eight days after that, he arrived at the district of Quba, on the outskirts of Yathrib, where the tribe Banu-`Amr ibn `Awf lived.[^23] He waited there for a few days, waiting for `Ali's arrival. During this time, he established a mosque there.[^24]

After the Holy Prophet's migration, `Ali (a.s) stayed for three days in Mecca and carried out his obligations and tasks.[^25] He then accompanied his mother Fatimah bint Asad and Fatimah daughter of the Holy Prophet and Fatimah daughter of al-Zubayr ibn `Abd al-Muttalib and two others to Quba where they joined the Holy Prophet.[^26]

Arrival at Yathrib

Upon the arrival of `Ali at Quba, the Holy Prophet headed for Yathrib with a group of Banu’l-Najjar (his maternal uncles). On their way, he performed the first Friday Prayer at the resort of Banu-Salim ibn `Awf. Upon their arrival at Yathrib, they were passionately welcomed by people. The heads and chiefs of the tribes took the rein of the Holy Prophet's palfrey and begged him to stay with them. He answered, “Let the camel proceed; it has a mission to perform; wherever it sleeps, I will stay.”

By this decision, the Holy Prophet most probably wanted not to give the honor of being the host to any special group so that he could avoid future conflicts. His discretion was similar to one concerning the place of the installation of the Black Stone of the Kaaba.

Finally, the camel came to rest in the district of Banu’l-Najjar, on a piece of land belonging to the two orphans, close to the house of Abu-Ayyub Ansari (Khalid ibn Zayd Khazraji). All people were now crowding around the Holy Prophet; they asked him to give them the honor to be their guest. Abu-Ayyub took the Holy Prophet's baggage to his own home and the Holy Prophet followed. He stayed there until the Masjid al-Nabi (The Prophet’s Mosque) was established and there was a room built next to it for the Holy Prophet to live in.[^27]

The Start of the Hijri Calendar

The Prophet's migration was the basis of a great change; it was a focal point in the progress of Islam. Due to this historic event, Muslims were free from shackles and they could live freely and run gatherings. This was of utmost significance at that time. If this migration had not occurred, Islam would have been strangled in Mecca and it would have never had any chance to grow. After the migration, Muslims could establish their political and military organization and Islam grew in the Arabian Peninsula.

However, the following two questions require answer: Who established this calendar for the first time? Since when was it put into effect? Muslim historians unanimously agree that this feat was done by `Umar ibn al-Khattab after consultation and deliberations with the Holy Prophet's grand companions.[^28] However, another research indicates that the initiator for this feat was the Holy Prophet himself.

Some great Muslim historians have written that the Holy Prophet, after his migration to Yathrib in Rabi` al-Awwal, ordered that events should be referred in relation to this day.[^29] The documents for this claim are some of the Holy Prophet's letters, documents and communications which are handed down to us and dated from the above date. There are two samples here:

(1) The Holy Prophet signed a treaty with the Jews of Muqna ending with the following statement: Written by `Ali ibn Abi-talib in the ninth year of Hegira.[^30]

(2) In a treaty with the Christians of Najran, we read the following: The Holy Prophet ordered `Ali to write down: This treaty is signed in the fifth year of Hegira.[^31]

Based on some documents, the recording of events and affairs up to the fifth year of Hegira took place on the basis of months alone. Here are some such documents:

Abu-Sa`id Khidri says: Fasting during the month of Ramazan was enacted as obligatory one month after the change of the kiblah (i.e. the direction faced in prayers) during the eighteenth month of Hegira.[^32]

`Abdullah Ibn Unays, the commander of the army sent to war against Sufyan ibn Khalid writes: I left Medina on Monday, the fifth of Muharram; the fiftieth month of Hegira.”[^33]

Muhammad ibn Maslamah, recounting the campaign against the tribe of Qurta,[^34] writes: I left Medina on the tenth of Muharram and returned on the last night of Muharram, the fiftieth month after Hegira, after a leave of nineteen days.”[^35]

For these reasons, the founder of the Hijri calendar was the Holy Prophet;[^36] and since, in the reign of `Umar, there appeared some disagreements on the exact dates of some historical events,[^37] he formalized this calendar on the sixteenth year of Hegira, and in place of Rabi` al-Awwal—the month in which the Holy Prophet arrived in Medina—he appointed Muharram as the starting point of the Hijri calendar.[^38]