Hijrah: A Celebration of Light
The time to celebrate is due. The Hijrah, or emigration from Makkah, of the Prophet Muhammad—beloved by more than a billion Muslims worldwide—has come to remind the tired souls of Muslims that their faith is not only luminous light that takes them out of the darkness of misguidance; the more faith, the more light in the hearts. Writing about the Hijrah as a Muslim, I often find myself at a loss for words to express my feelings.
Our celebration is that of optimism. Ours is a state of optimism which, in nature, is the warmth and liveliness with which dark objects receive illumination; its poem—even in a literary sense—is related to the sparkling and thrill of the breaking of light:
O the Full Moon rose over us
From the Valley of Wada`
And we owe it to show gratefulness
Where the call is to Allah
Its timing is also related to light, that of the revival of the astronomical crescent. Its significance is of the division between two stages: the darkest times and the better ones, the story of all faiths and specifically that of Islam. Blessed is `Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second rightly guided caliph, for making the Islamic lunar calendar start with this event.
It was the tightest and heaviest of times. After the death of the Prophet’s uncle and protector, Abu Talib, the Quraysh council decided to scatter the blood of the beloved Prophet among the Arab tribes by getting a knight from every tribe to kill him. Even Banu Hashim, his clan, could not protect the Prophet anymore. The Muslims were experiencing the hardest of times. Then the Angel Gabriel went at an unusual time to relay divine guidance, to tell the Prophet what to do.
The Qur’an describes how Allah helped the Prophet escape from his murderers as a blocking of light: [And We have made before them a barrier and a barrier behind them, then We have covered them over so that they do not see] (Ya-Sin 36:9).
As our faith, or authentic “insight”, tells us, it will all be all right, even in the darkest moments of our worldly life. Better times are always due!
From imminent physical danger to the Prophet’s life and the darkest moments, Allah guided His Messenger to the nucleus of the everlasting radiance of the Islamic being and civilization in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, the Luminous City!
During the physical Hijrah, one more existential end was approached closely. Even then, optimism, the effective expression of our faith, was revealed on the tongue of our beloved Prophet in front of Abu Bakr’s momentary fear of the enemies’ near discovery of their hiding spot, a scene described in the Qur’an:
[If you will not aid him, Allah certainly aided him when those who disbelieved expelled him, he being the second of the two, when they were both in the cave, when he said to his companion: Grieve not, surely Allah is with us. So Allah sent down His tranquility upon him and strengthened him with hosts which you did not see, and made lowest the word of those who disbelieved; and the word of Allah, that is the highest; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.] (At-Tawbah 9:40)
The narrative of faith in our personal lives should be no different than that of the Prophet and his Hijrah. Iman, or faith, is light. Iman is optimism. The Hijrah reminds us of that.
The situation of the Ummah could be at a bad moment, that of agony, melancholy, grief, tragedy, wherever one looks. So be it. Still, everything is under Allah’s absolute control. Everything is happening in accordance to His plan. As our faith, or authentic “insight,” tells us, it will all be all right, even in the darkest moments of our worldly life. Better times are always due! If a lesson is to be drawn from that optimism, it is that of patience and forgetting haste and anger. Looking inward to ourselves and see where we were wrong and try to change it ourselves:
[Whatever benefit comes to you (O man!), it is from Allah, and whatever misfortune befalls you, it is from yourself, and We have sent you (O Prophet!), to mankind as a messenger; and Allah is sufficient as a witness.] (An-Nisaa’ 4:79)
That which comes from Allah is to be met with gratitude. And even all the mistakes done by us are to be dealt with through both our self-examination—not blaming others—and, more importantly, our absolute reliance on Allah to help us. Rage, vengeance, paranoia, dismay, ideology, zealousness, political rumpling, puritanism, and hatred will only harm us; by this, we are making more veils—more veils that will hinder us from receiving light, light from the Light.
For more on the Hijrah, check our special page, A Migration of the Hearts.It is difficult. It is meant to be so. The actual Hijrah as the Qur’an narrates it is that of doing what is difficult in a disciplined, faithful, mature, cautious, and sincere manner:
[Lo! I suffer not the work of any worker, male or female, to be lost. Ye proceed one from another. So those who fled and were driven forth from their homes and suffered damage for My cause, and fought and were slain, verily I shall remit their evil deeds from them and verily I shall bring them into Gardens underneath which rivers flow—A reward from Allah. And with Allah is the fairest of rewards.] (Aal `Imran 3:195)
Let us not forget that. If we all just focus on one, simply one, bad character trait or thing around us and work on changing it for a year or longer—this is the way that brings us closer to lighting our souls. As for the Ummah, the genuine and faithful existence of the Ummah of the beloved Prophet should be an echoing of his words to Abu Bakr: “What do you think of two when Allah is their third?” What do you think of a people when Allah is with them?
By Tarek A. Ghanem*
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