the significance of hijrah (the migration of prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) from makkah to madinah) is not limited to the islamic history or to the muslims. the hijrah not only reshaped — socially and politically — the arab peninsula, but also had its impact on worldwide civilizations.
throughout the history of islam, the migration was a transitional line between the two major eras, regarding to the message of islam; the era of makkah and the era of madinah. in its essence, this signified a transition from one phase to another, as follows:
- transition from the position of weakness, where the non-believers of makkah — particularly the people of quraish — humiliated, tortured and killed muslims, to the position of strength. this is where muslims were allowed to defend themselves and were able to defeat their adversaries.
- transition form spreading islam through individual dawah (inviting others to islam) to the spreading of islam through institutionalized dawah, initiated by the state.
- transition from a position where muslims represented a small group of people, surrounded by enemies and threatened by death, to the position of a regional power with a strong central leadership. this was one that was surrounded by a large number of followers and allies.
- transition of dawah from regionalism, in which the focus was only on quraish and the tribes surrounding makkah, to the phase of universalism. this is where the muslim state began reaching out to persia, egypt, and the byzantine empire.
- transition from being a simple islamic group of believers, to being the islamic ummah (nation). this is which was an organized islamic state, with a central leadership and other organizations.
- transition, which is most significantly for early muslims, to the phase in which islam was not only the act of worship, but a way of life. this was encompassing politics, economy, social interactions and every other aspect of life. this was the first time when islam was looked upon as a comprehensive religion.
this contrast between the two periods is clearly noticeable in the quranic discourse. muslim scholars describe the part of quran that was revealed in makkah as the makkan quran, and that which was revealed in madinah as the madani qur'an.
although both parts are intermingled in the quran and constitute one divine script, the discourse of both parts is clearly distinguishable. whereas the part revealed in makkah concentrated on tawhid (the oneness of allah/monotheism), the part revealed in madinah covered rules regarding islamic life in general.
there is no doubt whatsoever that the migration of prophet muhammad to madinah was the crucial event, which established the islamic civilization. this was a civilization that thrived for many centuries.