By Shaykh Abdool Rahman Khan
The Muslim New Hijri Year of 1442 began on August 20th, 2020. This year both the Common Era (CE) and the Al-Hijrah (AH) have a lot to record that later generations would wonder how did how did humanity cope with so many calamities? Calamities that have never been witnessed in modern times!
وَإِذْ يَمْكُرُ بِكَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِيُثْبِتُوكَ أَوْ يَقْتُلُوكَ أَوْ يُخْرِجُوكَ ۚ وَيَمْكُرُونَ وَيَمْكُرُ اللَّهُ ۖ وَاللَّهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ
“And (remember) when the disbelievers plotted against you (O Muhammad SAW) to imprison you, or to kill you, or to get you out (from your home, i.e. Makkah); they were plotting and Allah too was planning, and Allah is the Best of the planners.” (8:30)
Hijrah 1442/August 2020
What can we say about the events leading up to the 1 st Muharram 1442? We are entering 1442 AH with a pandemic that is still wreaking havoc across the world mowing in its path hundreds of thousands of lives and leaving tens of millions affected by an invisible virus known as the COVID-19.
This pandemic as opined by some seems to be a sign of the Last Days. It is something for us to think about because of its humongous impact it has on the way we live our lives. It has brought big powerful nations down on their knees.
For Muslims it affects the way we do our congregational Salaah, the way we would greet each other, how we would have our social activities. It affects how we say goodbye to love ones, how we pray Salaatul Janaazah and moreover how Muslims at large could not perform Hajj and Umrah except for a handful of selected pilgrims in 2020. A picture that was circulated on social media of one, just one of the cleaners praying alone in the Mataaf area does speak volumes.
But dismal as this may be, it is still not equal to the struggles that Rasoolullah SAS and his Companions endured in Makkah. They were persecuted, boycotted, at times beaten if they were heard reciting The Quran and some met with martyrdom. Eventually they were forced out of their hometown leaving everything behind and made the momentous journey to Al-Madinah. This event was used to mark the Muslim calendar. This is known as The Hijrah.
The Reality of Hijrah
Hijrah is not a story telling of Rasoolullah SAS. It is a painful feeling leaving the comfort zone and in this case it was Makkah the most blessed land of Allah SWT. Hijrah is leaving this most beloved land of Allah SWT for the sake of Allah SWT. It is a deal to swap faith for homeland. Hijrah is the nobility of the goal and purpose over the nobility of the place. How painful it must have been for Rasoolullah SAS to leave Makkah with the Ka’bah knowing that he will never be able to make it his home again. As he was leaving he turned back to Makkah and said:
“You are the most beloved land to Allah, and you are the most beloved land to me. Had the polytheists not forced me out of you, I would never have come out and left you.” (Tirmidhi)
But it was not a Hijrah from Makkah rather a Hijrah to return to Makkah victorious with the Deen and the right Aqeedah to prevail. This is the reality of the Hijrah!
Prior to the Hijri Calendar
The Arabs prior to Islam did not have a calendar and that was one of the criteria of having a civilization. Islam brought about that new civilization. In fact, the Arabs used to remember the year by a major event like “The Year of the Elephant” or the “Year of Rebuilding the Ka’abah”. But they did not have a systematic calendar as we do today. But with the advent of Islam, Muslims eventually became known to the entire world and a new civilization in born. Allah SWT mentions this in His Book Al-Quran:
لَقَدْ أَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكُمْ كِتَابًا فِيهِ ذِكْرُكُمْ ۖ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ
“We have certainly sent down to you a Book in which is your mention. Then will you not reason?” (21:10)
Beginning of the Islamic Calendar
The Hijri calendar was introduced in 638 C.E. / 17 AH by no other than the Second Khalifah `Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab (RA). Now that the Muslim Ummah has been fully established there was a dire need to have a calendar to document its history. There were many different methods and events that were suggested but after much thought and consultation the event of The Hijrah was unanimously decided upon.
Reason for the Hijrah
The reason for choosing the Hijrah date was obvious. First off, it was the Hijrah that has led to the foundation of the first Muslim state and it became the turning point in Islamic and world history. Secondly, the Hijrah epitomizes the sacrifice for the cause of truth and for the preservation of the Revelation. Quraish wanted to suppress the truth using all forms of oppression and persecution but Allah SWT wants His Prophet and His Deen to prevail. Thirdly, every time the New Hijri Year begins it is not about celebration inasmuch it is about a reminder that he struggle between Truth and Evil is eternal. Allah SWT mentions in The Quran that Quraish opposed the truth not only by words but by action. They did not remain silent or stood by idly. In fact they spent their hard earned wealth trying to stop others from worshipping Allah SWT. He SWT says:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ لِيَصُدُّوا عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۚ فَسَيُنفِقُونَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ عَلَيْهِمْ حَسْرَةً ثُمَّ يُغْلَبُونَ ۗ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَىٰ جَهَنَّمَ يُحْشَرُونَ
“Indeed, those who disbelieve spend their wealth to prevent [people] from the way of Allah. So they will spend it; then it will be for them a [source of] regret; then they will be overcome. And those who have disbelieved – unto Hell they will be gathered.” (8:36)
Leading up to the Hijrah
During the thirteen years of the Da’wah in Makkah, Rasoolullah SAS and Sahaabah were confronted with rejection, defiance and even physical harm from Quraish. Rasoolullah SAS realized that remaining in Makkah would only make the Da'wah more challenging. He also realized the harm inflicted upon him and his Companions so three years prior to the Hijrah Rasoolullah SAS began his plan. This is a great quality of Rasoolullah SAS and that is proper planning at the same time having trust in Allah SWT.
He would go to the Ka’bah at the time of Hajj and meet people and tell them about Islam. While aiming for the big tribes it was the Will of Allah SWT that he stumbled upon six pilgrims who were from Yathrib (old name of Al-Madinah). He told them about Islam and they were interested. The following year twelve people came from Yathrib and he had a first pledge with them known as – Al- Aqabatil ‘Oolaa. Subhan Allah! Come to think about it!These twelve new Muslims from Yathrib would be the gate for Islam to spread globally.
Hijrah is not about numbers it is about dedication and sincerity and Allah SWT causes the rest to happen. After all this is His Deen and He tests us only but He will let His Deen prevail by His Power. Hijrah is not about long speeches. Rasoolullah SAS explained Islam to them and made an oath with them with the following points:
Don’t kill children
Don’t invent things that are not true.
Along with six points he SAS sent Umair (a young man) and Abdullah bin Umm Makhtoom (a blind man) and to provide the daily guidance and they were to report after a year. After one year had passed 73 persons came from Yathrib to Makkah and swore allegiance to Rasoolullah SAS. They then returned and began spreading the message of Islam.
The Hijrah of the Companions
It was not easy for Companions to leave Makkah unnoticed. One such case was that of Umm Salamah (RA). She waited for almost 16 months until finally her cousins begged Quraish and they gave her back her son and let her go to Al-Madinah.
Among the last group that made the Hijrah were Uthman bin Talhah, Khalid bin Al-Waleed and ‘Amr bin Al-Aas were the last three to convert prior to Fahtu Makkah. Also Al-Abbaas (RA) the uncle of Rasoolullah SAS and his family barely reached Al-Madinah when preparations were already in progress to return to Makkah
The Hijrah of Rasoolullah SAS and Abu Bakr (RA)
It was most difficult for Rasoolullah SAS to do the Hijrah as all eyes were set on him. But by the Power of Allah SWT he walked in front of their faces and they did not see him due to drowsiness that overtook them and left Ali (RA) to sleep in his bed that night. When Quraish learnt that he SAS has finally left they exerted the maximum effort to seize him and his companion Abu Bakr (RA). They searched in all directions and could not find them and so they even announced a reward of one hundred camels for anybody who could seize either or both of them alive or dead.
However, it was Allaah’s plan to protect them, for some men from the Quraish reached the very cave where the Prophet (SAS) and Abu Bakr (RA) were hiding – but were unable to spot them. Abu Bakr (RA) saw their feet and he whispered to for Rasoolullah SAS
‘O Messenger of Allaah, if any of them looks down at their feet, they will see us.’ The Prophet SAS replied, confidently:
“What do you think about two companions, of whom Allaah is the third? (i.e. in terms of assistance)”.
Allah SWT captures this moment saying:
إِلَّا تَنصُرُوهُ فَقَدْ نَصَرَهُ اللَّهُ إِذْ أَخْرَجَهُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا ثَانِيَ اثْنَيْنِ إِذْ هُمَا فِي الْغَارِ إِذْ يَقُولُ لِصَاحِبِهِ لَا تَحْزَنْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَنَا ۖ فَأَنزَلَ اللَّهُ سَكِينَتَهُ عَلَيْهِ وَأَيَّدَهُ بِجُنُودٍ لَّمْ تَرَوْهَا وَجَعَلَ كَلِمَةَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا السُّفْلَىٰ ۗ وَكَلِمَةُ اللَّهِ هِيَ الْعُلْيَا ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
“If you help him (Muhammad SAW) not (it does not matter), for Allah did indeed help him when the disbelievers drove him out, the second of two, when they (Muhammad SAW and Abu Bakr) were in the cave, and he (SAW) said to his companion (Abu Bakr): “Be not sad (or afraid), surely Allah is with us.” Then Allah sent down His Sakinah (calmness, tranquility, peace, etc.) upon him, and strengthened him with forces (angels) which you saw not, and made the word of those who disbelieved the lowermost, while it was the Word of Allah that became the uppermost, and Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.” 9:40
In this instance of the Hijrah Rasoolullah SAS once again showed his Ummah the importance of planning. He SAS had such detailed planning at the time of the Hijrah itself while doing Tawakkul in Allah SWT. From securing his camels to food and water, who will be with him, who would provide information as to the whereabouts of Quraish to hiring a trusted guide who would take them safely out of Makkah to the way to Al-Madinah were all in the plan of Rasoolullah SAS. Too often Muslims think things will just happen and allow themselves to drift away in negligence and naivety.
After a long tedious journey Rasoolullah SAS and Abu Bakr (RA) made it safely to Al-Madinah by the help of Allah SWT.
As we begin a New Hijri Year we need to do Hijrah
- We must emigrate from disobedience to obedience of Allah. Rasoolullah SAS was asked:
…Which migration is excellent? He said: The one by which you abandon that which your Lord dislikes…
This means that among the things that should be shunned are the following:
- shun negligence in religious matters and migrate to adherence;
- emigrate from sins to submission to Allah;
- emigrate from laziness and false hopes to diligence, seriousness and striving in what pleases Allah;
- emigration of our hearts from affinity to this mundane life to the love of the Hereafter.
In conclusion the reminder we have in our New Hijri Year 1442 is that we cannot allow evil to prevail over good, oppression over justice, hate over love and internment over freedom. These challenges sound even louder and clearer this year 1442/2020 over many Hijri New Years. This pandemic teaches all humanity to be humble. It has taught Muslims how even in crisis we can still reach out with the message of Islam. Our celebration of this Hijri New Year would be and always would: Stand up for Truth!