Today is 1st Muharram and marks the new year in Islam. It also marks one of the most significant events in Islamic history – the Hijrah (migration) of Muslims from Mecca to Medina.
The Islamic Hijri calendar was adopted during the Khilafah of Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) after a case was brought to the Khalif about a contract one man had with another stating that an amount owed became due in the month of Sha’baan. Umar asked, ‘which Sha’baan? The Sha’baan of this year we are in or last year or next year? Recognising the problems this issue could cause, Umar (RA) summoned the Sahabah and consulted them about adopting a calendar which would assist them with such contracts.
Someone suggested adopting the Persian calendar, whilst someone else suggested adopting the Byzantine calendar, Umar declined both. Others suggested dating the new year from the birth of the Messenger (saw), or from the beginning of revelation, or from the Hijrah, or from his (saw) death. The Sahabah reached the unanimous decision to start the Islamic calendar from the Hijrah and made the first month of the Islamic year Muharram.
This was no coincidence as the Sahabah understood the greatness of the Hijrah in Islam. Many understate the Hijrah by claiming the Muslims only migrated to escape from the persecution of Quraysh. However the Hijrah was undertaken to establish the Islamic State in Medinah with Muhammad (saw) entering the city as the leader of the Muslims. It was a migration from Batil to Haqq, and from Kufr to Islam.
“The Hijrah has separated truth from falsehood, therefore, let it become the Epoch of the Era.” (Fath Al-Bari, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani)
The Hijrah not only reshaped the Arab Peninsula, but also had its impact on worldwide civilizations. Throughout the history of Islam, the migration was a transitional line between the two major eras, regarding to the message of Islam; the era of Makkah and the era of Madinah. In its essence, this signified a transition from one phase to another, as follows:
1. Weakness to strength
Transition from the position of weakness, where the non-believers of Makkah, particularly the people of Quraysh, humiliated, tortured and killed Muslims, to a position of strength where Muslims were able to defend themselves and were able to defeat their adversaries.
2. Individual Da’wah to State Da’wah
Transition from spreading Islam through individual Da’wah, in which the focus was only on Quraysh and the tribes surrounding Makkah to the spreading of Islam through institutionalized Da’wah initiated by the state, where the Muslim State began reaching out to Persia, Egypt, and the Byzantine Empire.
3. No power to regional power
Transition from a position where Muslims represented a small group of people, surrounded by enemies and threatened by death, to the position of a regional power with a strong central leadership. After the Hijrah, the Messenger (saw) was surrounded by a large number of followers and allies.
4. Small group of Muslims to an Islamic Ummah (nation)
Transition from being a small Islamic group of believers, to being the Islamic Ummah (nation) encompassing Muslims from various nations and backgrounds.
5. Islam implemented as a comprehensive religion
Transition to a phase in which Islam was not only personal acts of worship, but a way of life encompassing politics, economy, social interactions and every other aspect of life. This was the first time when Islam was looked upon as a comprehensive religion.
Following the destruction of the Islamic state in 1924 the Muslim Ummah lost much of this. The Muslims moved from a position of strength to weakness, a position of power to subjugation, a position of international da’wah to individual da’wah, from implementing Islam completely to merely fulfilling individual worships.
The early Muslims gained a position of strength and dominance following the Messengers (saw) establishment of the Islamic State in Medinah. This position can be gained once again, but only through the reestablishment of the Islamic State and the resumption of the Islamic way of life.