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The Hijra and other earlier Muslim migrations
Date Thursday 17 June — Friday 2 July 622 Julian Calendar[1]
Location Arabian Peninsula
Also known as The Flight of Mahomet;[2][3] The Migration of Mohammad; The Migration; Hijrah; Hegira
Participants Muhammad and his followers
Outcome Renaming Yathrib as "the City (of the Prophet)" (Medina); Enmity between the Aus tribe and Khazraj tribes dampened (tribes converted to Islam); Muhammad made political leader and united the new Muslims

The "Hijra" (Arabic: هِجْرَةhijrah), also Hijrat or Hegira, is the migration or journey of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina in June 622 CE.[4]

Hijra of Muhammad

In 622 CE, warned of a plot to assassinate him, Muhammad secretly escaped out of Mecca with Abu Bakr.[5] Muhammad and his followers immigrated to the city of Yathrib, 320 kilometres (200 mi) north of Mecca, in several steps. Yathrib was soon renamed Madinat un-Nabi, literally "the City of the Prophet", but un-Nabi was soon dropped, so its name in English is Medina, meaning "the city".[6] The Muslim year during which the Hijra occurred was designated the first year of the Islamic calendar by Umar in 638 or 17 AH (anno hegirae = "in the year of the hijra").[6] In the following chronology[6] the city will be referred to as Medina, and the region surrounding it as Yathrib.
Day Islamic Date
(Gregorian equiv.)
Day 1
26 Safar AH 1
(17 June 622)
Left home in Mecca. Hid three days in the Cave of Thawr south of Mecca.
Day 9
1 Rabi' I AH 1
(21 June 622)
Left the environs of Mecca. Traveled north to the region of Yathrib.
Day 16
12 Rabi' I AH 1 [7]
(2 July 622)[8]
Arrived at Quba' near Medina.
Day 20
16 Rabi' I AH 1 [9]
(6 July 622)
First visit to Medina for Friday prayers.
Day 30
26 Rabi' I AH 1
(16 July 622)
Moved from Quba' to Medina.

NB, Al-Biruni alone is in disagreement with Alvi, Ibn Sa'd, Abu Ja'far and Ibn Hisham on the above dates.[10][11] The hypothetical dates in the retro-calculated Islamic calendar extended back in time differ from the actual dates as they would be on the modern international Gregorian calendar. The Hijra is celebrated annually on 1 Muharram, the first day of the Muslim year, causing many writers to confuse the first day of the year of the Hijra with the Hijra itself, erroneously stating that the Hijra occurred on 1 Muharram AH 1[6] (i.e. 18 April 622) or even the hypothetical Gregorian date from retro-calculating 26 Rabi' I in AH 1 to 16 July 622 even though it (Hijra) actually occurred on 12 Rabi' I (i.e. 2 July 622).

Thus it is important to remember that whenever the tabular Islamic calendar invented by Muslim astronomers is extended back in time it changes all these dates by about 88 days or three lunar months as the first day of the year during which the Hijra occurred, 1 Murhamman AH 1, would be mistaken from Monday 19 April 622 to Friday 16 July 622. The Muslim dates of the Hijra are those recorded in an original lunisolar Arabic calendar that were never converted into the purely lunar calendar to account for the three intercalary months inserted during the next nine years until intercalary months were prohibited during the year of Muhammad's last Hajj (AH 10).

First Hijra

Technically, the first Hijra occurred in 615 when a group of Muslims was counseled by Muhammad to escape persecution in Mecca and travel to Ethiopia (Abyssinia at the time), which was ruled by a Christian king, the Negus. Muhammad himself did not join this emigration. In that year, his followers fled Mecca's leading tribe, the Quraysh, who sent emissaries to Ethiopia to bring them back to Arabia. The nascent movement faced growing opposition and persecution. When Muhammad and his followers received an invitation from the people of Yathrib, they decided to leave Mecca.

Muslim account of Muhammad's Hijra


In Mecca, at the pilgrimage season of 620, Muhammad met six men of the Khazraj tribe from Medina, propounded to them the doctrines of Islam, and recited portions of the Quran.[12][13] Impressed by this, the six embraced Islam,[14] and at the Pilgrimage of 621, five of them brought seven others with them. These twelve informed Muhammad of the beginning of gradual development of Islam in Medina, and took a formal pledge of allegiance at Muhammad's hand, promising to accept him as a prophet, to worship none but one God, and to renounce certain sins such as theft, adultery, and murder. This is known as the "First Pledge of al-Aqaba".[15][16][17] At their request, Muhammad sent with them Mus`ab ibn `Umair to teach them the instructions of Islam. Biographers have recorded the considerable success of Mus`ab ibn `Umair in preaching the message of Islam and bringing people under the umbrella of Islam in Medina.

The next year, at the pilgrimage of 622, a delegation of around 75 Muslims of the Aws and Khazraj tribes from Medina came, and in addition to restating the formal promises, they also assured Muhammad of their full support and protection if the latter would migrate to their land. They invited him to come to Medina as an arbitrator to reconcile among the hostile tribes.[18] This is known as the "Second Pledge of al-`Aqaba",[19][20] and was a 'politico-religious' success that paved the way for his and his followers' immigration to Medina.[21] Following the pledges, Muhammad encouraged his followers to migrate to Medina, and in a span of two months, nearly all the Muslims of Mecca migrated to Medina.

During the early seventh century, Medina was inhabited by two types of population: the Jews and the pagan Arabs. The Jews there had three principal clans – Banu Qaynuqa, Banu Nazir, and Banu Qurayza. The Arab pagans had two tribes – Aws and Khazraj. At that time, the Jews there had the upper hand with their large settlement and huge property.[14] Before the encounter between Muhammad and the six men from Medina in 620, there ensued a terrible battle between Aws and Khazraj, known as the Battle of Bu'ath, in which many leading personalities of both the sides died and left Yathrib in a disordered state.[22] Traditional rules for maintaining law and order became dysfunctional, and, without a neutral man with considerable authority over things, stability seemed unlikely.[23] As the pagan Arabs of Medina lived in close proximity of the Jews, they had gained some knowledge about their scriptures,and had heard the Jews awaiting the arrival of a future prophet. It is because of this knowledge, taken together with their need for an adjudicator, that the six men who met Muhammad at the pilgrimage season of 620 readily accepted his message, lest the Jews should steal a march over them.[14][19]

The Migration

Upon receiving divine direction to depart from Mecca, Muhammad began taking preparation and informed Abu Bakr of his plan. On the night of his departure, Muhammad's house was besieged by men of the Quraysh who planned to kill him in the morning. At the time, Muhammad possessed property of the Quraysh given to him in trust, so he handed it over to Ali and directed him to return it to its owners, and asked him to lie down on his bed assuring him of God's protection. It is said that when Muhammad emerged from his house, he recited the ninth verse of sura Ya-Seen of the Quran and threw a handful of dust at the direction of the besiegers, causing the besiegers to be unable to see him.[24] [25] Soon Muhammad joined Abu Bakr, left the city, and the two took shelter in a cave outside the city. Next morning, the besiegers were frustrated to find Ali in Muhammad's place. Fooled and thwarted by Muhammad's plan, they rummaged the city in search for him,[26] and some of them eventually reached the threshold of the cave, but success eluded them. When the Quraysh came to know of Muhammad's escape, they announced heavy reward for bringing Muhammad back to them, alive or dead. Unable to resist this temptation, pursuers scattered in all directions. After staying for three days, Muhammad and Abu Bakr resumed their journey and were pursued by Suraqa bin Malik. But each time he neared Muhammad's party, his horse stumbled and he finally abandoned his desire of capturing Muhammad.[14] After eight days' journey, Muhammad entered the outskirts of Medina around June 622 CE,[27] but did not enter the city directly. He stopped at a place called Quba, a place some miles from the main city, and established a mosque there. After fourteen days' stay at Quba, Muhammad along with Abu Bakr started for Medina, participated in his first Friday prayer on the way, and upon reaching the city, was greeted cordially by its people.


The Islamic prophet Muhammad's followers suffered from poverty after fleeing persecution in Mecca and migrating with Muhammad to Medina. Their Meccan persecutors seized their wealth and belongings left behind in Mecca.[28]

Beginning in January 623, some of the Muslims resorted to the tradition of raiding the Meccan caravans that traveled along the eastern coast of the Red Sea from Mecca to Syria. Communal life was essential for survival in desert conditions, as people needed support against the harsh environment and lifestyle. The tribal grouping was thus encouraged by the need to act as a unit. This unity was based on the bond of kinship by blood.[29] People of Arabia were either nomadic or sedentary, the former constantly traveling from one place to another seeking water and pasture for their flocks, while the latter settled and focused on trade and agriculture. The survival of nomads (or Bedouins) was also partially dependent on raiding caravans or oases, thus they saw this as no crime.[30][28]

According to Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar), a modern Islamic hagiography of Muhammad written by the Indian Muslim author Safi ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, Muhammad ordered the first caravan raid led by Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib (Muhammad's uncle) seven to nine months after the Hijra. A party of thirty to forty men assembled at the seacoast near al-Is, between Mecca and Medina, where Amr ibn Hishām (Abu Jahl), the leader of the caravan was camping with three hundred Meccan riders.[31][32][33][34]

Ubaydah ibn al-Harith was the commander of the second raid. This raid took place nine months after the Hijra, a few weeks after the first one at al-Is.[31][32][33][34]

See also


  1. ^ Chronology of Prophetic Events, Fazlur Rehman Shaikh (2001) p.51-52 Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd.
  2. ^ "Dates of Epoch-Making Events", The Nuttall Encyclopaedia. (Gutenberg version)
  3. ^ Mahomet is an archaism used for Muhammad... See Medieval Christian view of Muhammad for more information.
  4. ^ Chronology of Prophetic Events, Fazlur Rehman Shaikh (2001) p.52 Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd.
  5. ^ Moojan Momen (1985),An Introduction to Shi'i Islam: History and Doctrines of Twelver Shi'ism, Yale University Press, New edition 1987, p. 5.
  6. ^ a b c d F. A. Shamsi, "The Date of Hijrah", Islamic Studies 23 (1984): 189-224, 289-323 (JSTOR link 1 + JSTOR link 2).
  7. ^ Al-Biruni states it was the 8th. cf. Chronology of Prophetic Events, Fazlur Rehman Shaikh (2001) p.51 Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd.
  8. ^ Al-Biruni's date would give 28th June 622
  9. ^ Al-Biruni states it was the 12th
  10. ^ Chronology of Prophetic Events, Fazlur Rehman Shaikh (2001) pp.51-52 Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd.
  11. ^ Caussin de Perceval writing in 1847 as reported in 1901 by Sherrard Beaumont Burnaby, Elements of the Jewish and Muhammadan calendars (London: 1901) 374–5.
  12. ^  
  13. ^  
  14. ^ a b c d Shibli Nomani. Sirat-un-Nabi. Vol 1. Lahore
  15. ^ Khan (1980), p.70
  16. ^ Holt, Lambton, and Lewis (2000), p. 40
  17. ^ Sell (1913), p. 71.
  18. ^  
  19. ^ a b Holt, et al (2000), p. 40
  20. ^ Khan (1980), p. 73.
  21. ^ Sell (1913), p. 76.
  22. ^ Holt, et al (2000), p. 39
  23. ^ Holt, et al (2000), p. 39-40
  24. ^  
  25. ^ "Ya-Seen Nineth Verse". Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  26. ^ Muir (1861), vol. 2, p.258-9
  27. ^ Fazlur Rehman Shaikh (2001). Chronology of Prophetic Events. London: Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd. pp. 51-52
  28. ^ a b John Esposito, Islam, Expanded edition, Oxford University Press, p.4-5
  29. ^ Watt (1953), pp. 16-18
  30. ^ Loyal Rue, Religion Is Not about God: How Spiritual Traditions Nurture Our Biological,2005, p.224
  31. ^ a b Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar (Free Version), p. 127.
  32. ^ a b Mubarakpuri, When the Moon Split, p. 147.
  33. ^ a b Haykal, Husayn (1976), The Life of Muhammad, Islamic Book Trust, pp. 217–218,  
  34. ^ a b Hawarey, Dr. Mosab (2010). The Journey of Prophecy; Days of Peace and War (in Arabic). Islamic Book Trust.  Book contains a list of battles of Muhammad in Arabic. English version here

External links

  • Incident of the cave
  • article on the Hijrah
  • Articles, audios on the Hijrah
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