The Vanguard of Migration
(in the cause of allâh)
after the endorsement of the second ‘aqabah pledge and the establishment of a petite muslim state in a vast desert surging with disbelief and ignorance — the most serious gain in terms of islam —, the prophet [pbuh] gave his leave for the muslims to migrate to madinah, the nascent muslim state.
migration to madinah, in terms of personal interests, was no more than material waste and sacrifice of wealth, all in return for personal safety only. even here, the migrant could not expect full security; he was liable to be robbed or even killed either at the beginning or end of his departure. the future was foggy, pregnant with various unpredictable sorts of sorrows and crises.
bearing all this in mind, the muslims began to migrate, while the polytheists spared no effort in hindering and debarring them, knowing beforehand that such a move implied unimaginable threats and unthinkable destructive dangers to their whole society:
- the first one to migrate was abu salamah, a year before the great ‘aqabah pledge. when he had made up his mind to leave makkah, his in-laws, in a desperate attempt to raise obstacles, detained his wife and snatched his son and dislocated his hand. umm salamah, after the departure of her husband and the loss of her son spent a year by herself weeping and lamenting. a relative of hers eventually had pity on her and exhorted the others to release her son and let her join her husband. she then set out on a journey of 500 kilometres with no help whatsoever. at a spot called at-tan‘im, ‘uthman bin talhah came across her and offered to give her a ride to madinah. she, along with her son, joined abu salamah in the village of quba’, a suburb of madinah. [ibn hisham 1/468]
- another instance of the atrocities of the polytheist makkans, as regards migration, is suhaib. this man expressed his wish to migrate and of course this was a source of indignation to the disbelievers. they began to insult him claiming that he had come into makkah as a worthless tramp, but their town was gracious enough and thanks to them he managed to make a lot of money and become wealthy. they gave orders that he would not leave. seeing this, he offered to give away all his wealth to them. they eventually agreed to release him on that condition. the prophet heard this story and commented on it saying:
"suhaib is the winner, after all." [ibn hisham 1/477]
- then, there was the story of ‘umar bin al-khattab, ‘ayyash bin abi rabi‘a and hisham bin al-‘asi, who agreed to meet at a certain place one morning in order to leave for madinah; ‘umar and ‘ayyash came but hisham was detained by the makkans.
shortly afterwards abu jahl, and his brother al-harith came to madinah to see their third brother ‘ayyash. they cunningly tried to touch the most sensitive area in man, i.e. his relation with his mother. they addressed him claiming that his mother had sworn she would never comb her hair, nor shade herself off the sun unless she had seen him. ‘ayyash took pity on his mother, but ‘umar was intelligent enough to understand that they wanted to entice ‘ayyash away from islam so he cautioned him against their tricks, and added "your mother would comb her hair if lice pestered her, and would shade herself off if the sun of makkah got too hot for her." these words notwithstanding, ‘ayyash was determined to go and see his mother, so ‘umar gave him his manageable docile camel advising him to stick to its back because it would provide rescue for him if he perceived anything suspicious on their part. the party of three then set forth towards makkah. as soon as they covered part of the distance, abu jahl complained about his camel and requested ‘ayyash to allow him to ride behind him on his camel. when they knelt down to the level of the ground, the two polytheists fell upon ‘ayyash and tied him. they rode on into makkah shouting at people to follow their example with respect to ‘fools’. [ibn hisham 1/474; bukhari 1/558]
these are just three self-explanatory models of the makkans’ reaction towards anyone intending to migrate. nevertheless, the believers still managed to escape in successive groups and so rapidly that within two months of the second ‘aqabah pledge, entire quarters of makkah were deserted. almost all the followers of muhammad had migrated to their new abode, except abu bakr, ‘ali, the prophet [pbuh] himself, and those helpless noble souls who had been detained in confinement or were unable to escape. the prophet [pbuh], together with abu bakr and ‘ali, had made all the necessary preparations for migration but was waiting for leave from his lord. [za'd al-ma'ad 2/52]
it is noteworthy that most of the muslims who had migrated to abyssinia (ethiopia), came back to madinah to join the rest of the muslims there.
the situation was no doubt critical in makkah but muhammad [pbuh] was not at all perturbed. abu bakr was, however, urging the prophet to depart from that town. he was also eagerly waiting for an opportunity to accompany muhammad [pbuh] on this eventful journey. but the prophet told him that the time had not yet come; the lord had not given him the command to migrate. in anticipation of the command of allâh, abu bakr had made preparations for the journey. he had purchased two swift camels and had fed them properly for four months so that they could successively stand the ordeals of the long desert journey. [bukhari 1/553]