MUHAMMAD TARIQ GHAZI | Special to Caravan
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ass migration is a human peculiarity. Large numbers of people have been moving from place to place for various reasons: natural calamities like famine and drought, floods and storms, earthquakes and landslides, in addition to man-made disasters like wars, massacres, genocides, economic blockades, social boycotts and exclusion of defenseless and voiceless communities, etc.
A little less than 1500 years ago Muslims, a minority in Makkah, the City of Peace, endured incessant physical torture, economic exclusion, social boycott by their own kith and kin. Many were forcibly evicted from their home and hearth, properties and businesses.
Finally they were welcomed by the people of a town that was destined to be known one day as the blessed City of the Prophet, peace be upon him. Reception of the Immigrants by the Ansar and experience of the Muhajirin in The Madinah remains an incident that was never again repeated in human history. The rest of the humanity was not as fortunate as the Muhajirin from Makkah.
Another unique feature of this mass migration was that the newcomers did not displace the local population, causing another human misery – a common occurrence throughout human existence.
History of calamities is long and painful. Macedonian monarch Alexander did not earn the title of ‘great’ without leaving a trail of massive devastation behind him. Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf, Abu Abdullah As-Saffah and Abu Muslim Khorasani are notorious for organizing massacres of thousands of innocent people, a large number of them being scholars of great repute, including Sahabah and the men of succeeding generation.
Mongol chieftains Genghis and Hulagu completely destroyed the world’s most illustrious civilization causing immeasurable human tragedy. Spain’s crusadist rulers Ferdinand and Isabella and their crusadi Cardinal Ximénez de Cisneros and his cohort Archbishop Talavera have the dubious honor of masterminding the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Jews and displacing a far greater number of peaceful and productive people from flourishing cities of Andalusia.
They presided over a crusadist genocide of more than 50,000 Muslims in one day, on All Saints’ Day in 1570CE by murderous gangs, according to British historian Stanley Lane-Poole. After 1857 War of Independence, British general and bureaucrats massacred about 24,000 Muslim scholars, in addition to many more thousands of Indians in spite of the efforts of Hakim Ahsanullah Khan, (later Sir) Syed Ahmad and Debendranath Tagore.
The Second World War, primarily a conflict of economic interests among Europe’s colonialist nations, broke all previous records of reciprocal savagery ending in the death of an estimated 25 million combatants; the numbers of non-combatant “innocent civilian” casualties being abnormally higher.
The twentieth century, nicknamed the Century of Genocides, witnessed unprecedented massacres and genocides in every continent where an estimated total of more than 59 million innocent people died for no fault of theirs: the largest casualties being in Asia followed by Africa. These histories of satanic side of human nature displaced millions of people. The Second World War produced 12,000,000 refugees in Europe alone.
These cold facts are provided without emotions by historians who generally ignore human misery caused by forced displacement of people. Alexander headed an army of 100,000 when he launched an offensive war. Few of those troops who could survive a 12-year war could return to their homes and families, a vast majority had lost their identity in the Balkans, Greece, Anatolia, Egypt, the Levant, Iran, Iraq, Turk-arazi, Afghania.
In his 7-year campaign against the Achaemenid Empire Alexander demolished the Persian civilization, captured treasures of Darius III and let his troops plunder the city for several days, following which the Persian capital was put to fire. Nobody knows what happened to the dispersed survivors of that ill-fated city.
Those who had been wallowing in their wealth on the day before the battle were made paupers overnight. That was repeated in the Levant, Iraq, Afghania, and Turkarazi. History fails to record tales of that human misery.
Abu Mansur Abd al-Malik Tha‘labi (961-1038CE) clubbed Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf, with Abu Harb, Abu Muslim Khorasani and Babak Khurrami in a group of four who massacred a minimum of 100,000 persons each. Umayyad governor of Iraq Hajjaj did not merely kill 100,000 persons, he destroyed 100,000 families. On the other hand, Abu Abdullah as-Saffah, meaning ‘Murderer’, who founded the Abbasid dynasty, and his agents-provocateur let a reign of terror loose against scions of the Bani Umayyah and others living in Iran and Khorasan.
Wanton massacres in every center of civilization run over by Genghis and Hulagu caused such disruption of life from Transoxania to Baghdad that millions of people fled town to jungles in search of a shelter that was not available. The Mongols did not claim to be civilized tribes. They were proud to be savage, yet modern lords of civilization are equally proud to make slavish dash to the descendants of Genghis to bow at the altar of inhumanity.
It is this era that prides in genocides – and wholesale displacement of millions – in such proportions that dwarf all the massacres combined from the time Abel was assassinated until 31 December 1900.
Human history has more instances of displacing rather than rehabilitation of the dispossessed. In an ethnic cleansing move Stalin forcibly moved 1.5 million people, mostly Turk Muslims, to Siberian wasteland.
Half century later his successors caused displacement of more than six million Pashtuns, Tajiks and Uzbeks during the invasion of Afghanistan. In 1948 the United Nations uprooted 725,000 Palestinians who were turned refugees in their own homeland. Khmer Rouge potentate Pol Pot killed or displaced 2.5 million of his own Cambodian people.
In Algerian struggle for independence French troops killed a million people, while lives of a similar number was claimed by the civil strife following the annulment of an election result. In African country of Burundi ethnic Hutus massacred up to 200,000 Tutsis.
The British plan for independence of South Asia uprooted 10 million people, with one million of them being massacred. US invasion of Iraq dislocated two million Iraqis, while three million Syrians have been dislodged as a result of a foreign-funded violent rebellion and retaliation by the regime.
All these massacres and genocides, except the war-related casualties during Alexander’s campaign, occurred after the resettlement of the Muhajirin in the Madinah.
After the Second World War the United States provided assistance to rebuild totally shattered European economies, but the aid was conditional against spread of communism, another European ideology that opposed capitalism and private industrialism.
On the contrary the Ansar had not demanded anything in return.
In none of these and similar incidents the refugees or immigrants were offered such material assistance and moral support as to regain their previous economic and social stature, or even improve it within a short time.
The Ansar of the Madinah stand out distinctively among all the peoples of the world of any era of history to provide assistance to the Muhajirin at a scale that the newcomers were able to forget the miseries and torment meted out by the pagan forces.
That was the Hijrah of the Ansar, no less significant than the Hijrah of those who were displaced by their relatives from their ancestral city of Makkah.
The first gesture of the Ansar was to accommodate the immigrants. They had opened their doors and arms to house all the Muhajirin and their families. They had numbered in thousands. They offered the newcomers everything they owned. The process of Mawakhat – Fraternization – was to make brothers and the Ansar took the Muhajirin as their own brothers and sisters. Although behavior of every Ansari was ideal, some of them set such astonishing examples that still have no parallel in history.
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