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the Message Continues ... 4/89



Newsletter for January 2009


Article 1 - Article 2 - Article 3 - Article 4 - Article 5 - Article 6 - Article 7 - Article 8 - Article 9 - Article 10 - Article 11 - Article 12



By Imam Dr. Zijad Delic
Following the season of Hajj - which signifies a time of forgiveness, mercy
and renewed opportunities for unity among Muslims - the new year of 1430
Hijri is about to begin. With this new year of Hijrah, Muslims recall the
Prophet’s Hijrah (or migration) to Madinah (Medina), an event that gave the
world a new chance.
Historically and factually, the Islamic term of Hijrah refers to the
departure of Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah from Makkah Al Mukarramah,
his birthplace and city, to the neighboring city of Yathrib; but from the
time of his arrival there on September 24, 622 CE, Yathrib became known as
Madinah Al Munawwarah.
In literal or general terms Hijrah means a self-separation from one’s dear
ones, or from one’s country; in fact, a kind of exile. In the figurative
sense, however, Hijrah denotes a shunning of bad habits. It also includes
reviewing one’s entire cultural and traditional heritage to find what is
wrong with it, and where corrupt ideas and misunderstandings might lie.
Under the caliphate of ‘Umar (r.a) the historical Hijrah was considered to
be of such great importance that its date was declared as the true
beginning of Islamic history. Early Muslims could have chosen the birth or
death of the Prophet-Messenger Muhammad (s), or the beginning of the divine
revelation of the Qur’an to him as the beginning of their lunar calendar.
But instead they chose the Hijrah, through which believers learned to
divide the Truth (Haqq) from falsehood (batil), as ‘Umar (r.a) said when a
Sahabi suggested the Hijrah as the best beginning of the Islamic calendar.
In fact, this new way of measuring years was introduced as early as 638 CE.
The Hijrah: Learning from the Past
The event of the Hijrah should not be discussed only from its historic
perspective, for Muslims have always been encouraged to contemplate Hijrah
on a far deeper level, attempting to discern through its philosophy the
solution for our problems and to find ways in which to restore our dignity
in the present day. Thus, in both its concrete and conceptual senses, the
Hijrah has provided a source of renewal and betterment for individuals and
societies from early times to our current era.
One can imagine it as a running river from which true believers along the
continuum of history have been able to quench their spiritual thirst,
helping them to bridge the gap between past and present and guide them to
make the best choices among what life offers.
The Hijrah: A Source of Hope
With the advent of the new Hijri year, Muslims are drawn to contemplate the
lessons of how that great event changed the face of the world, asking God
Almighty to bestow mercy and peace on our society and the global village.
They compare the strong and enlightened state of Muslims following the
original Hijrah to this new and less-certain reality that we live in today.
And they try through Hijrah to derive the impetus to work for the
betterment of the global Ummah, in spite of the divisions and lost
potential that mark so much of the Ummah and the entire world.
Why is this so? The Hijrah meant a great deal to early Muslims, for it was
a turning point in the history of Islam. It was not simply a flight from
persecution, as is often said by those who are ignorant of its true
meaning, but rather a separation of believers from Jahiliyyah (ignorance),
Zulm (oppression), Fahishah (immorality) etc. and their reorientation
towards the new light - the Noor of Allah. It was a point in history which
transformed Muslims from a state of weakness into strength, from
instability into stability, from disunity and oppression to the
establishment of a just system never before experienced.
Thus the Hijrah has a direct bearing on our purpose as Muslims here in
Canada. As Canadian Muslims, we are obliged always to struggle towards the
highest ideals and values; that is, to realize our religious identity, our
position in Canadian society; and to fulfill our opportunities to help
ourselves, this beautiful country, and the world.
Indeed, the Hijrah could help each of us attain those beautiful qualities
possessed by the true believer and citizen of the world.
The Hijrah is thus a continuing process and we must all take part in it,
for the aim of our collective Hijrah is to move towards the "new Madinah" -
to a more Islamic way of life in all things. For Allah has given us a
precious opportunity to establish ourselves in Canada so that we can live
in peace, harmony, and kinship, sharing the message of Islam with others as
did Muhammad (S) the Messenger in Madinah.
Messages of the Hijrah for Contemporary Muhajir:
What are the messages of the Hijrah? What can we learn today from this
pivotal event in Islamic history?
The Hijrah institutionalized three important aspects of life: i) the
social/religious dimension, including the establishment and construction of
religious identity; ii) the economic dimension, or helping one another and
alleviating need in material ways); and
iii) the political dimension, especially concerning freedom of religion and
human rights.
i) Identity Construction:
During the first twelve years of the revelation of the Qur’an, the Message
focused on strengthening Iman (faith), but as yet the people had no pattern
of a collective life based on true religious concepts. It was only after
the Hijrah that people began to see clearly that Islam is a complete way of
life which pays attention to every aspect of human activity, providing
direction for every moment of one’s conscious time. And it was only after
the Hijrah that non-Muslims could see Islam’s example of social decency and
ii) Helping one another:
For us living in Canada the economic aspect of the Hijrah (helping one
another) is of major importance. Ansar (helpers) provided not only shelter
and a peaceful home for the migrating Muslims - or Muhajirs (emigrants) --
but out of love for their new brothers and sisters, helped them in all ways
and by all means. This was a time when trade came into contact with
agriculture and artisanship, resulting in a local economic revolution.
Muhajirs from Makkah were not carefree or irresponsible individuals. Having
been taught and reformed by the Messenger for twelve years, they were aware
of Allah and were righteous. The welcoming Ansar were ready to divide all
their belongings and share with the Muhajirs, but the latter did not want
to live among them as idle dependents; so each one adopted ways and means
to earn righteously for themselves and their families.
Initially, the Muhajirs worked as field and construction laborers. Later,
they started small trading businesses which eventually brought them into
economic competition with the existing merchants of Madinah. It was only
after the Hijrah that agriculture, industry, and trade freely converged to
bring about an integrated, balanced, and unfettered economy for the city’s
iii) Freedom of religion and respect for human rights:
The third reason why the Hijrah is so important is due to the freedom
Muslims attained in Madinah. Before the Hijrah, early Muslims had no say in
any matter, internal or external. The Hijrah turned those few hundred
followers of Muhammad into a highly successful society - in fact, the best
community that ever appeared on the face of earth (Khayra Ummatin Ukhrijat
The Hijrah: A New Direction towards the Sphere of Halal and Justice for all
As seen above, the true Muhajir of our time is one who will accept the
truth by heart and who will follow it, stand for it and live by its
principles. The true Muhajir is one who will emigrate from the sphere of
Haram (all that is bad and unlawful) to the sphere of Halal (where all is
good and lawful). This is our priority and the only way to preserve our
Islamic identity.
The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) said: "The true emigrant (Muhajir) is
the one who leaves [behind] all that is forbidden by Allah." {Bukhari}
While an important element of Hijrah, as explained by the Prophet (pbuh),
is to "avoid and desert the unlawful things," the lessons to be gained from
Hijrah go far beyond that, including:
1. The assertion of a unique identity for Muslims, distinguishing them as a
community which is able to coexist with all other people on earth,
regardless of their religious and philosophical backgrounds.
2. The refusal to live indefinitely as a misunderstood element of humanity
and to correct this obstacle of injustice through all possible ethical and
democratic means; an injustice to ourselves is also an injustice to society
and in the world. The Canadian Muslim community is one whose faith is
derived from peace and whose collective efforts are devoted to achieving
peace with God, inner peace for each individual, and peace among ourselves
and all others.
3. The mandate to live as a model of interaction and co-existence with
other non-Muslim communities on the basis of a mutuality of interests, or
the common good.
This is the right time to make our Hijrah to Islam; to find ourselves, our
place and our position in society as its valuable citizens; to find our
brothers and sisters in Islam and in humanity who need help. It is an
excellent time to find Muhajirs and Ansars, so that we can help and support
each other as the first generation of Sahabah (companions) did. Then with
the help of our brothers and sisters in humanity we could make Canada - our
home - the world’s best role model for social and cultural health.
(This article was slightly edited for this site)
Imam Dr. Zijad Delic is CIC’s National Executive Director in Ottawa.)
courtesy: Canadian Islamic Congress Friday Online Magazine




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