Hijrah means migration. Hijrah for the sake of Allah was performed by Muslims when they moved from Makkah to Medina and marks the start of our calendar.
Scholars have different interpretations of hijrah. It can mean joining other muslims, it can mean migrating to a land where evil is less prevalent or there is less danger for muslims, or it can mean moving to a land of Islam.
But migration is not an easy task to perform. Most of us here have either embarked upon this task or are offspring of Muslims who have migrated at some point to the UK.
When we recall the events of the companions of the Prophet SAWS and their migration, we can only imagine the hardship endured with sacrifice of money, family and other belongings.
Allah SWT refers to this in the Quran for us all to ponder upon. Sura Al-Noor was revealed to those performing the Hijrah and it says:
Allah has made a promise to those among you who believe and do good deeds: He will make them successors to the land, as He did those who came before them; He will empower the religion He has chosen for them; He will grant them security to replace their fear.
‘They will worship Me and not join anything with Me’. Those who are defiant after that will be the rebels.
Dear brothers, this ayat of the Quran spells out the support that those performing the migration would have from their Lord. This provided solace to those performing the migration and Allah SWT talks of his unwavering support to the Prophet SAWS in Sura Tauba when He says:
Even if you do not help the Prophet, Allah helped him when the disbelievers drove him out: when the two of them were in the cave, he (i.e. Muhammed) said to his companion, ‘Do not worry, Allah is with us’, and Allah sent his calm down to him, aided him with forces invisible to you, and brought down the disbelievers plan. Allah’s plan is higher: Allah is almighty and wise.
Dear brothers, we can analyse from this ayat that there is no force greater than that of Allah SWT and when we make an intention, any intention including migration, for His sake then we should not be fearful and have full faith in His support to help us succeed.
The Quran is a guidebook for us all to take lessons from and the event of Hijrah is no exception. After the Prophet SAWS and his companions migrated to Medinah, it became the second most important city in Islam. No effort was spared into cultivating Medinah into a developed and civilized city.
So, with the migration a turning point in Muslim history, what lessons can be derive from these events in our everyday lives?
Firstly, the true spirit of citizenship. Muslim minorities in Europe, Americas and elsewhere for that matter around the world should be faithful and loyal citizens to the countries where they live. There is no conflict between faithful citizenship and preserving one’s faith. Muslims should be first in line in serving their communities and working for the interest of their communities. And that is regardless of whether that community is muslim or not.
Secondly, the lesson here is one of co-existence. The Prophet SAWS lived in Medinah with a large jewish community as well as other communities that had not accepted Islam. Principles were laid down which established cordial relations between muslims and non-muslims.
Therefore we should also not only peacefully co-exist with other communities here but also assist them in goodness as much as we can. In doing so, we are following the path of our beloved Prophet SAWS and his companions who worked for the interest and wellbeing of all communities living with them in Medina.
And lastly, development of the community is a lesson we must all take from the Hijrah. On arriving in Medina, the Prophet SAWS built his masjid to provide social and educational services for the community. We must follow in this direction also as a muslim minority in this land.
We should actively participate in the development of our local community. Islamic centres should provide educational and social services for all communities. Masjids need to be at the heart of this.
Dear brothers, we all know that we are facing an unprecedented attack on our image through the media. Everybody is being exposed to the same images and accounts in our name. However, we can play a vital role in our local community by developing and maintaining good and fair relations with people in our local area.
It can start with a smile. This is charity and it goes a long way. Smile even if you get a look of suspicion coming back at you. Offer a salutation like a good morning or a hello. Ask your neighbour how they are and be sincere in finding out the answer. Be polite even when the feeling isn’t returned.
Dear brothers, if we empathise with our non-muslim neighbours and co-workers, we see that the fault is not theirs in gathering the skewed and unfair perception of muslims. However, the responsibility is ours to go some way to changing that perception.
And that has to be one of our primary directives as people or offspring of people who have performed Hijrah of our own.
May Allah SWT enable us to appreciate the lessons of Hijrah of the Prophet SAWS. May Allah SWT enable us to understand the lessons of their Hijrah and may Allah SWT reward us for the efforts we make in our personal Hijrah.
Ameen wal hamdullilahi rabilalameen.