Oleh Imam Shamsi Ali*
AS the Muslims worldwide are entering into the new year, Islamic year or mostly popularly called the Hijriyah year, they are reminded of many Islamic historical events. Among all events, the most important one is the Hijrah of Rasul or the migration of the Peophet Muhammad (solla Allahu ‘alaih) from Makkah, his birth place, to Al-Madinah, his place of death.
Therefore, the change of year in Islam is not a mere time change. It is a time to remember and reflect upon the history connected to it. And as I have mentioned repeatedly in the past, history in Islam is not only a matter of events to memorize, but more importantly it is about lessons to learn (‘ibrah).
There is no doubt that the Hijrah of Rasul (migration) has important meanings in Islam. Hijrah symbolizes “harakah” (movement) which is essential for our life. No life is without movement. Everything in life is about movement (harakah). In the expression of the Quran: “wa kullun fii falakin yasbahuun” (each is traveling in an orbit of their own).
Hijrah also symbolizes “self change”(taghyiir) that has become an essential foundation for our collective development. Allah the Almighty underlines that in a verse: “verily Allah will not change the situation of any nation until that nation change themselves”.
Therefore the most important meaning of Hijrah as self change is for a “communal development” of this Ummah. In other words, for this Ummah to raise up and and develop, change is necessary.
Taking a look at the journey of the development of this Ummah, we can see several stages:
First was the beginning of “Risalah” (Islamic message) with the appointment of Muhammad Ibnu Abdullah as the final prophet and messenger of Allah. This began with the revelation of the Qur’an “Iqra’”.
Second was the individual development of the Ummah. Amazingly this began with extraordinary challenges, such as the boycott of Makkans against the immediate family of the Prophet. This resulted in the death of his beloved wife Khadijah and his beloved uncle Abu Talib. The individual development was directly symbolized by the “Isra Mi’raj” of Rasulullah and the gift of daily prayers.
Third was collective development of the Ummah. This began with the Hijrah of Rasul from Makkah to Madinah. As we mentioned before, The Prophet’s migration to Madinah was not only because of the resistance and the challenges he faced from the people in Makkah. His Hijrah was in fact a part of his journey to develop a community or nation (Ummah). And Madinah (formerly known as Yathrib) was the best choice to start that societal life of this Ummah.