Migration to Abyssinia

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The migration known as the first Hijarat was made in two groups totalling more than a hundred persons. According to Islamic tradition, eleven male and five female Sahabah, the Muslims who originally converged in Mecca, sought refuge from Quraysh persecution in the Kingdom of Aksum in the seventh Islamic month (Rajab) of 7 BH (614–615 CE) in the first batch. This act is known as the first migration to Abyssinia; Abyssinia in this incident because of the Arabic word Al-Habasha, whence "Abyssinia" is derived. They returned after three months to Arabia due to misinformation, only to find that the persecution had not halted. "The hardships and sufferings borne by the Muslims were ever on the increase. Muhammad at last permitted them to emigrate to some other place. Abyssinia at that time was ruled by a Christian King, Aṣḥama ibn Abjar, (who according to Muslim tradition, later embraced Islam), famous for his mercy and equity. In Rajab of the fifth year of the mission, the first group immigrated to Axum. The group comprised about eleven men and four women. The Qureysh pursued them to the port to capture them, but their vessels had left the shore. When the group reached Axum, they heard the rumour that the whole tribe of the Qureysh had accepted Islam. They were naturally very much pleased at the news and returned to their country. On approaching Mecca, they learnt that the rumour was false and the persecutions were going on unabated. Some of them decided to return to Axum and the rest entered Mecca, seeking the protection of a few influential people. This is known as the first migration to Axum. Later on, a bigger group of eighty-three men and eighteen women immigrated to Axum (separately). This is called the second immigration to that country. Some Sahabah took part in both the migrations."[1]

Hijarat to Abyssinia (613, 615)[edit]

  • Migrations in two batches (613, 615):

Rafiq Zakaria noted:

Unable to bear the hardships, a group of 15 Muslims, on the advice of Muhammad, migrated to Axum (in 613) where a benign Christian ruler, king Negus gave the shelter.

Two years after (in 615) the first migration, a second group of about a hundred of the persecuted Muslims led by Jafar, brother of Ali, left for Axum.[2]

Some reports noted migrations were made to Axum in three batches.

History[edit]

The Hijra and other earlier Muslim migrations.

The party of migrations (613-15) included famous persons as Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, Abd-Allah ibn Jahsh, Uthman ibn Affan and his wife Ruqayyah bint Muhammad. The first batch was led by Abd-Allah ibn Jahsh. Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas did not return to Arabia straight away but went to Chittagong port (now in Bangladesh), and then to Kamrup-Manipur (now in northeast India)in 615 and reached China with other companions including two Sahabahs. Waqqas reached China in 616, preached for sometime in Canton and elsewhere among the Hui Chi (later Hui Hui) and then returned to Arabia.[3]

Prelude[edit]

After the conversion of many prominent Meccans, the companions of Muhammad began to offer prayers publicly in 613. In turn, the Quraysh intensified their opposition by torturing the Muslims. Muhammad told his followers to leave for Axum, where "a king rules without injustice, a land of truthfulness-until God leads us to a way out of our difficulty."

After persecution and torture, Muhammad ordered his companions to migrate to Axum. Hamza embraced Islam in 616 with Umar (the second Caliph of Islam).

First migration[edit]

In seventh Islamic month (Rajab) of 7 BH (614–615 CE),[4] eleven men and four women undertook the first migration.[5] The group was headed by a companion called Uthman bin Maz'oon.

They snuck out of Mecca on a dark night and headed for the sea where two boats happened to be sailing for their destination, Axum. News of their intended departure reached Quraish, so some men were despatched in their pursuit, but the Muslims had already left Shuaibah Port towards their secure haven where they were received warmly and accorded hospitality by the Negus, Aṣḥama ibn Abjar, also called al-Najashi, (Arabic: النجاشي). Among these emigrants were Uthman and Ruqayyah.[6]

Returning[edit]

Gradually, the number of emigrants increased in Axum. Only a few days had passed in peace, when a rumour reached them that the Meccans had finally embraced Islam. On hearing this, most of the Muslims decided to return to Mecca. When they reached the city, they came to know that the report was false. The Meccans began to persecute even more severely those persons who had returned from Axum. In spite of this, however, about a hundred Muslims managed to leave Mecca and settled in Axum. The Meccans however did their utmost to check the tide of emigration, but all in vain.

Contrary to the view of an alleged rumor of mass conversion reaching them, some Islamic writers state the return of some of those who had migrated to Axum was in the following context; "The return of the emigrants: is far from being the result of what they heard about the conversion of the Makkans to Islam, for at that time there were no communication means to flash the news from Makka to Abyssiania in one month, not to say a few days. The fact of the matter was that Ja’afar ibn Abi-Talib and Umar ibn al-Kattab accepted Islam. And gave a great boost to the spirit of the Muslim community. Stunned by that conversion, the Makkans needed a respite to rethink their strategy towards the Muslims. There prevailed, for a time, an atmosphere of calm and restraint. This encouraged some Muslims to return to Makka and be with their people instead of living far way. Together with this factor, was another, very important local development in Axum. Negus, who welcomed, and gave hospitality to, the fleeing Arabs, was himself under attack. His faith was questioned, his subjects revolted and the Muslims felt that they should not bother the man. Some of them returned, others went into hiding until the ruler succeeded in putting down the rebellion. Al-Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal reports in his Musnad a long tradition on the authority of Umm Salamah (who was among the emigrants living there at that time, and who later on became the wife of the Prophet) what they felt during that rebellion."[7]

Second migration, 615[edit]

The second migration consisted of 79 men and 9 women. According to some reports the number is 83 men and 18 women (The number differs largely). This group was headed by Ja'far ibn Abī Tālib, who was also the only person from the Banu Hashim clan who migrated to Axum.

Quraish delegation[edit]

The migration of the Muslims to the Axumite empire, and their reception at the friendly court of that country, alarmed the Quraysh. They entertained the fear that Muslims might grow in strength, or find new allies, and then, some day, might return to Mecca to challenge them. To head off this potential threat, such as they saw it, they decided to send an embassy to the court of the king of Axum to try to persuade him to extradite the Muslims to Mecca.

The Muslim refugees who had expected to be left in peace, were surprised by the arrival, in the Axum capital, of an embassy from Mecca, led by a certain 'Amr ibn al-'As. 'Amr had brought rich presents for the king and his courtiers to ingratiate himself with them.

When the king gave audience to the emissary of the Quraysh, he said that the Muslims in Axum were not refugees from persecution but were fugitives from justice and law, and requested him to extradite them to Mecca. The king, however, wanted to hear the other side of the story also before giving any judgment, and summoned Ja'far ibn Abī Tālib to the court to answer the charges against the Muslims.

Ja'far made a most memorable defense. Following is a summary of his speech in the court of Axumin answer to the questions posed by the Christian king.

O King! We were ignorant people and we lived like wild animals. The strong among us lived by preying upon the weak. We obeyed no law and we acknowledged no authority save that of brute force. We worshipped idols made of stone or wood, and we knew nothing of human dignity. And then God, in His Mercy, sent to us His Messenger who was himself one of us. We knew about his truthfulness and his integrity. His character was exemplary, and he was the most well-born of the Arabs. He invited us toward the worship of One God, and he forbade us to worship idols. He exhorted us to tell the truth, and to protect the weak, the poor, the humble, the widows and the orphans. He ordered us to show respect to women, and never to slander them. We obeyed him and followed his teachings. Most of the people in our country are still polytheists, and they resented our conversion to the new faith which is called Islam. They began to persecute us and it was in order to escape from persecution by them that we sought and found sanctuary in your kingdom.

When Ja'far concluded his speech, the king asked him to read some verses which were revealed to Muhammad. Ja'far read a few verses from Sura Maryam (Mary), the 19th chapter of the Qur'an. When the king heard these verses, he said that their fountainhead was the same as that of the verses of the Evangel. He then declared that he was convinced of his veracity, and added, to the great chagrin of 'Amr bin Aas, that the Muslims were free to live in his kingdom for as long as they wished.

But 'Amr bin Aas bethought himself of a new stratagem, which, he felt confident, would tilt the scales against Ja'far. On the following day, therefore, he returned to the court and said to the king that he (the king) ought to waive his protection of the Muslims because they rejected the divine nature of Christ, and claimed that he was a mortal like other men. When questioned on this point by the king, Ja'far said:

Our judgment of Jesus is the same as that of Allah and His Messenger, viz., Jesus is God's servant, His Prophet, His Spirit, and His command given unto Mary, the innocent virgin.

The king said: "Jesus is just what you have stated him to be, and is nothing more than that." Then addressing the Muslims, he said: "Go to your homes and live in peace. I shall never give you up to your enemies." He refused to extradite the Muslims, returned the presents which 'Amr bin Aas had brought, and dismissed his embassy.

End[edit]

The Muslims finally returned from Axum in 7 A.H., but to Medina and not Mecca.

List[edit]

The first march (Hijira) in 615 CE had a group of eleven men and four women. The list of the Sahhbas who migrated to Axum in the first march includes the following.

The above list[10] clearly shows that it was prepared after returns from Abyssinia and did not include those gone for overseas preaching and trading purposes.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://hujra.forumwise.com/hujra-thread32.html[dead link]
  2. ^ Rafiq Zakaria, 1991, Muhammad and The Quran, New Delhi: Penguin Books, pp. 403-4. ISBN 0-14-014423-4
  3. ^ http://www.indianmuslims.info/history_muslim in manipur; http://drkokogyi.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/origin-of-some-of-the-muslims-in-manipur-arakan-and-panthay-burmese-chinese-muslims/;www.e-pao.net/epSubPageSelector.asp%3;[dead link]
  4. ^ Sahabah Migation to Abyssina
  5. ^ witness-pioneer.org
  6. ^ The Sealed Nectar The Second ‘Aqabah Pledge on sunnipath.com
  7. ^ http://www.bismikaallahuma.org/archives/2005/those-are-the-high-flying-cranes/
  8. ^ He is traced to be the religious ancestor of Muslims in Manipur and China- see Muslims of Manipur- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  9. ^ He is father of Zainab and a father-in-law of Muhammad. In some accounts relating to Sahabahs in China, he (Jahsh) is noted as Geys. Muslims of Chams (Cambodiya) trace ancestry to a father-in-law of Prophet Muhammad, who is none other than Jahsh (Geys)- see T.W. Arnold, The Preaching of Islam,p.294 nt.8
  10. ^ a b c For list 4-15