New Hijrah year begins October 25. The Prophet arrived in Medina on 8 Rabi al-Awwal after 12 days of an arduous journey from Makkah. A few years after this historic event, when the issue of having an Islamic calendar was being discussed by Caliph Omar, he chose this historic event as the starting point of the calendar. However, he did not change the divinely set sequence and order of months, thus Muharram remained the first month of the year. The night of the Hijrah (migration) was terrible. On the advent of the New Year it is appropriate to talk about that event. Excerpts from an upcoming book
POINTERS | MUHAMMAD TARIQ GHAZI
[dropcap]P[/dropcap]olytheists were all set for the last strike; simultaneously The Scribe started writing down their ultimate shame. A gang of assassins had gathered outside the house of the Prophet, peace be upon him. However, they were cultured and honorable men. So they did not storm the house. Such move was not sign of unbelief, it symbolized hypocrisy which would show up after about 35 years when the Third Caliph Osman Ibn Affan was assassinated.
Those planning to assassinate the Prophet were unbelievers, they were not hypocrites; those who assassinated Caliph Osman were not unbelievers, they were hypocrites. Unbelief is sin, hypocrisy is disease. The assassin gang in Makkah had gathered in the dead of the night, indicating that their conscience did not approve of their plot and they planned to commit a bad deed secretly in the darkness of night.
On the contrary, murderers of Caliph Osman had scaled the walls and jumped from the roof of his house in broad daylight and, except for a few, were not ashamed of their misdeed. These two examples of character explain some historical facts. Some of those outside the Prophet’s house would later become shining stars of faith; while the other assassin gang did not contribute anything to civilization.
The polytheist assassins sitting outside on dirt road had uneasy hearts, but inside the house, a confident Prophet was preparing to go on a historic journey. He asked his cousin and Companion Ali Ibn Abi Talib, later the fourth Caliph, to sleep on his bed covered with his green Hadrami shawl.
Muhammad Ibn Ka‘ab al-Qurazi reported that the assassins were talking in hushed voices. Abu Jahl ridiculed the idea that there would be life after death and the wicked would be punished in the Hell. Just then the Prophet emerged from his house quietly reciting the Surah Ya-Seen (36). He took fistfuls of dirt and sprinkled it on the head of each assassin. When he came near Abu Jahl, he said, “Yes, I say that, and thou shalt be one of the denizens of Hell”.
After daybreak, someone found the assassin gang snoozing on the ground.
He awakened and informed them that the Prophet was already gone and before that he had thrown dirt on their heads. Struck by disbelief, they peeped into the house and found Ali on the bed. (Ibn Hisham, Seerah 1:530) They were not just disappointed, they were ashamed of themselves.
It was a hot day in the first week of September when the Prophet left his house and arrived at the house of his friend and Companion Abu Bakr, later the first Caliph. From there the two went to Thawr Cave in a 4,610-feet high mountain south of Kudayi in Misfalah locality of Lower Makkah. That was away from the normal caravan route to Yathrib or Medina. They stayed there for three days.
When Quraishi trackers failed to trace footprints, they took Abu Bakr’s freed slave Amer Ibn Fuhayrah with them. Abdullah Ibn Urayqit was already hired as travel guide who took them from an unusual route in order to keep away from their pursuers. The Quraishi agents were still monitoring the usual route to the Sham.
People in Yathrib had already got the news of the Prophet’s departure and they were eagerly waiting for their most honored guest. Every day large number of people would gather at Thaniyat al-Wada‘, the hills where caravans were seen off. They would return to their home when sun was high and heat would become unbearable in a treeless, rockland. They were the devotees who had never seen the one who was already dearest to them, dearer than their parents and children.
This love was and is unique. No single human being is loved universally so much as the followers of the Prophet love him. That is because they are commanded to do so by Allah and by the Prophet himself. Miraculous side of this is that people love him voluntarily from the depths of their hearts, not under any pressure. They are always ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of the Prophet.
They deserved this love for the man they had never met, because only three months ago a group of 75 men and women representatives of Yathrib had vowed at the Second Aqabah Assembly to protect the Messenger of Allah “like our own families”. Their excitement was shared even by the local Jews who had also been waiting for the man whose like had never visited the town in its thousands of years of history.
It was Monday, 8 Rabi al-Awwal, 19 September 622. Groups of people had gathered at the Thaniyat al-Wada‘ as usual. The Prophet must have already arrived through the common route according to their estimate. However, the journey was taking longer time since his four-man caravan was travelling by a rarely used route. Afternoon heat became unbearable. Their anxiety was growing by the hour about the well-being of the Prophet, as they began dispersing again with heavy hearts. Just then a Jew, who was sitting atop a date-palm tree are plucking dates, called out loud:
“O Bani Qaylah, that great man is here.”
Within minutes hundreds of men and children of the tribes of Aws and Khazraj rushed to the spot to greet their guest. They found four men standing under the shades of a date-palm. The people did not recognize their guest. Abu Bakr realized that. He spread a sheet over to provide shade to the Messenger of Allah and also make it apparent to the onlookers to know who the Leader was and who were the followers.
Baraa Ibn Azib Ansari said, according to a narration recorded by Imam Bukhari (Al-Jami‘ As-Sahih 5:58:262), that “I did not witness people of Medina elated so much as on that day; even the girls and maidservants were showing great happiness, greeting each other with ‘lo, he’s here”, and just before his arrival I was reciting Surah Al-Ala and other chapters of Mufassalat (the last chapters of the Quran).