The first term that we should define is “migration(Alhijjra)[1]

Lexical Meaning

Migrate – According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary[2]:

Definition of migrate
1: to move from one country, place, or locality to another:

  • Thousands of workers migrate to this area in the summer.

2: to pass usually periodically from one region or climate to another for feeding or breeding:

  • The whales migrate between their feeding ground in the north and their breeding ground in the Caribbean.

3: to change position or location in an organism or substance:

  • filarial worms migrate within the human body

The Oxford Dictionary[3] is similar but also includes the following definition:

Change or cause to change from one system to another.

 ‘customers are migrating from mainframes to client-server environments’

 ‘save time by efficiently migrating data to secondary storage systems’

 Transfer (programs or hardware) from one system to another.

‘the system will allow users to migrate applications across environments’

Practical Meaning of Migration

In the Islamic sense when talking about migration, and within the context of this document, almost all the above definitions are included.  It may be a geographical migration, from a country where one is restricted from practicing their Islamic rituals, for example, to one where one can.  But it also may be a non-geographical migration such as the definition given in the Oxford Dictionary and the example of computing.  In Islam however, it is the positive change that is made from a life of ignorance and disbelief to a life that is upheld with the values and  teachings of the Prophet Muhammad] within an Islamic Surrounding, just as with the early Muslims that submitted to Islam and migrated to The Holy City of Medina, where the Prophet], established an Islamic Government.

The Holy Qur’an states:

وَمَن يُهَاجِرْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ يَجِدْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مُرَاغَمًا كَثِيرًا وَسَعَةً ۚ وَمَن يَخْرُجْ مِن بَيْتِهِ مُهَاجِرًا إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ يُدْرِكْهُ الْمَوْتُ فَقَدْ وَقَعَ أَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

Whoso emigrates in the way of God will find in the earth many refuges and plenty; whoso goes forth from his house an emigrant to God and His Messenger, and then death overtakes him, his wage shall have fallen on God; surely God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. [4:100].

This Ayah breaks down the importance of migration in to two:

The first – “Whoso emigrates in the way of God will find in the earth many refuges and plenty” – is an indication of the migration in the worldly life and its importance, and that once an intention is made and action follows, that there will be plenty of safe and possible options on the map of the world that one can migrate to should one choose to take this path to settle in.[4]

The second – is that of the hereafter and spiritual benefits of migration.  “whoso goes forth from his house an emigrant to God and His Messenger, and then death overtakes him, his wage shall have fallen on God; surely God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.”  So it is indicates that regardless of whether or not the migrant reaches the destination intended in order to fulfil their obligations, the victory is theirs in all cases.  And despite the obvious reality that it is Allahﷻ that will be giving the reward, the Ayah emphasises this with “his wage shall have fallen on God”[5].

In defining migration in the book “Attaa’rub after migration” by the Imam Ali Foundation, and in referencing the above ayah, the describe the incident of the migration a a pivotal point between two stages of the Islamic propagation, the Meccan and Medinian stage. It had such a significant impact that its effects extended from the prophetic era towards the lives of Muslims in every age and in every place.  His traditions are not limited in its applications upon Muslims in the beginning stages of the Islamic world, but rather, an example and a role model to us today and for the future, and this is no different.  What resulted from the migration of the prophet] is a practical example for us in todays world, since it is indeed the Final Message and he is the best of role models.

History describes two major geographical migrations that took place during the time of the Prophet].  One from Mecca to Habasha and the other from Mecca to the holy city of Medina.[6]  A third one also took place after the agreement of Hudaibiyah,[7] where another migration took place again from Mecca to Medina until the time of the Liberation of Mecca, where migration from Mecca to Medina stopped as it was liberated and came under the control of Muslims.  This explains the narration of the Prophet] – “There is no Migration after the Liberation”.[8]

This does not mean there is no longer the need to migrate – but rather, the subject of the need to migrate from Mecca to Medina has now ended.  Wherever there are circumstances that reflect the scenario in which Muslims found themselves in while in Mecca, however, and under the governance of polytheists, the issue of migration re-opens.

Non-geographical migrations also occurred. Therefore, the applications extend beyond a geographical migration. It has meanings and applications into our etiquettes, our theological beliefs, which can be personified in the state of a person who develops and morphs from one form into another, better form.  From a state of ignorance and blindness in all aspects of life.  To one of understanding of the reality of life and what awaits mankind after the worldly life. 

The application of what can be learnt from the migration can be applied to our current modern day life just as it was applied at the beginning of Islam, and by those who live in both Islamic and Non-Islamic countries.  The migration was not only a material migration from one land to another, but it is also a moral migration from one state to another, from a state of weakness to one of strength, from a state of minority to a state of a majority, from a state of differentiation to a state of unity, from a state of stagnation to a state of development, and most importantly, from a state of ignorance with regards to our obligations and responsibilities to one of knowledge and awareness.

The meaning of migration in the context in which we are focusing on is the move from non-Islamic countries to Islamic countries, and this is the materialistic migration, but the spiritual and moral migration is to move oneself Islamicly from one stage to another so that the second stage is one that is better than the first, for which the content discussed is applicable. [9]

Next article will Insha-Allah focus on the meaning of the word taa’rub.

[1] الهجرة

[2] Merriam Webster Dictionary – cited 26/03/19.

[3] Oxford Dictionary cited 26/03/19

[4] (Al-Amthal: Ayotallah Makarim Shirazi) V3 P272

[5] (Al-Amthal: Ayotallah Makarim Shirazi) V3 P272

[6] (التعرب بعد الهجرة – العتبةالعلوية المقدسة)

[7] (Al-Amthal: Ayotallah Makarim Shirazi) V5 P131

[8] لا هجرة بعد الفتح

[9] (التعرب بعد الهجرة – العتبةالعلوية المقدسة)