The Flight to Abyssinia and Ostracism in the Gorge
of Ibn-Abi Talib:
The hardships and sufferings borne by the Muslims were ever on
the increase. The Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) at last permitted
them to emigrate to some other place. Abyssinia at that time was
ruled by a Christian King (who later on embraced Islam), famous
for his mercy and equity. In Rajab of the fifth year of the Mission,
the first group emigrated to Abyssinia. The group comprised about
twelve men and five women. The Qureysh pursued them to the port
to capture them, but their vessels had left the shore. When the
group reached Abyssinia, they heard the rumour that the whole tribe
of the Qureysh had accepted Islam. They were naturally very much
pleased at the news and returned to their country. On approaching
Mecca, they learnt that the rumour was false and the persecutions
were going on unabated. Some of them decided to return to Abyssinia
and the rest entered Mecca, seeking the protection of a few influential
people. This is known as the first migration to Abyssinia. Later
on, a bigger group of eighty-three men and eighteen women emigrated
to Abyssinia (separately). This is called the second emigration
to that country. Some Sahabah took part in both the migrations.
The Qureysh did not like the emigrations, and the thought of peace
enjoyed by the fugitives gave them no rest. They sent a delegation
to Abyssinia with handsome presents for the king, his courtiers
and the clergy. The delegation first met the chiefs and the priests
and, by offering them presents, succeeded in winning the court officials
to their side. Having thus made their way to the royal court, they
prostrated themselves before the king and then presenting the gifts
put their case before him. They said:
"0, king! A few foolish lads of our community have
renounced their ancestral faith, and have joined an absolutely
new religion, which is opposed to our as well as your religions.
They have come and settled in your country. The nobility of Mecca,
their own parents and kith and kin have sent us to take them back
to their country. We beseech you to make them over to us."
The king replied:
"We cannot make over the people who have sought
our shelter, without proper investigation. Let us call them to
our presence, and hear them out. If your charge of apostasy against
them is genuine, we shall make them over to you."
The king thereupon summoned the Muslims to his court. They were
at first greatly distressed and did not know what to do, but Allah
gave them courage, and they decided to go and place the true facts
before the king. On appearing before him, they greeted him with
'Salaam'. Someone from the courtiers objected that they had not
prostrated before the king according to the rules of the land. They
"Our Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) has forbidden us
from prostrating before any one except Allah."
The king then asked them to submit what defense they could make
to the charges brought against them. Ja'far (Radhiyallaho anho)
rose and addressed the king thus:
"0, king! we were an ignorant people. We neither knew Allah
nor His Prophets A.S. We worshipped stones. We used to eat carrion
and commit all sorts of undesirable and disgraceful acts. We did
not make good our obligations to our relatives. The strong among
us would thrive at the expense of the weak. Till at last, Allah
raised a Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) for our reformation.
His noble descent, up right conduct, integrity of purpose, and
pure life are only too well known amongst us. He called upon us
to worship Allah, and exhorted us to give up idolatry and stone-worship.
He enjoined upon us right conduct, and forbade us from indecency.
He taught us to tell the truth, to make good our trust, to have
regard for our kith and kin, and to do good to our neighbours.
From him we learnt to observe Salaat, Fasting, Zakaat and good
conduct; and to shun everything foul, and to avoid bloodshed.
He forbade adultery, lewdness telling of lies, misappropriating
the orphan's heritage, bringing false accusations against others,
and all other indecent things of that sort. He taught us the Qur'an,
the wonderful book of Allah. So we believed in him, followed him
and acted up to his teachings. Thereupon our people began to persecute
us, and to subject us to tortures, thinking that we might abjure
our faith and revert to idolatry. When, however, their cruelties
exceeded all bounds, we took shelter in your country by the permission
of our Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam)."
The king said:
"Let us hear something of the Qur'an that your Prophet (Sallallaho
alaihe wasallam) has taught you."
Hadhrat Ja'far (Radhiyallaho anho) recited a few verses from the
beginning of Surah "Maryam", which touched the hearts
of the king and the priestly class so much that tears flowed down
their cheeks and wetted their beards. The king remarked:
"By Allah, these words and the words revealed to
Moosa ('Alayhis Salam) are the rays of one and the same light,"
and he told the Qureysh embassy that he would by no means hand
over the refugees to them. Then, disappointed and disgraced, they
held a counsel. One of them said:
"I have hit upon a plan that is sure to draw the king's wrath
upon their heads."
Although the others did not agree to such a drastic step (for after
all they were their own flesh and blood), yet he would not listen.
The next day, they excited the king by telling him that those heretics
denounced 'Isa ('Alayhis Salam) and did not believe in his Divinity.
The Muslims were again summoned to the court. They were much more
distressed this time. When the king inquired about their belief
in 'Isa ('Alayhis Salam), they said:
"We believe in what Allah has revealed about him
to our Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam), i.e. he is a servant
and Prophet of Allah, and is His word, which He conveyed to the
virgin and pure Maryam."
Negus said: '"Isa ('Alayhis Salam) himself does not say anything
The priests then began to murmur in protest, but the king would
not listen to them. He returned to the delegation the presents they
had brought for him, and said to the Muslims:
"Go and live in peace. If anybody ill-treats you, he will
have to pay heavily for it."
A royal declaration was also issued to that effect. This enhanced
the prestige of the Muslims in the country, and the Qureysh delegation
had to return crestfallen.
This failure of the Qureysh embassy to Abyssinia, and the triumph
of Muslims over them, led to an increase in the exasperation of
the idolaters; the conversion of 'Umar (Rad-hiyallaho anho] to Islam
added fuel to fire. They grew more and more embittered, till things
came to such a pass that a large number of the Qureysh chiefs conspired
to kill Muhammad (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) outright and deal
summarily with the whole affair. But this was not so easy. Banu
Hashim to which clan the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) belonged,
were strong in number and still stronger in influence. Although
all of them were not Muslims, yet even the non-Muslims among them
would not agree to, or tolerate the murder of the Prophet (Sallallaho
The Qureysh, therefore, decided to place a social ban on the Banu
Hashim, and their chiefs drew up a document to the effect that none
of them or their clans would associate with, buy from or sell to
those who sided with the Banu Hashim, unless and until they surrendered
Muhammad (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) for the death penalty. All
of them signed this document on 1st Moharram of 7th year of the
Mission, and the scroll was hung up in the Ka'abah in order to give
it full sanctity.
Then, for three long years, the Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam)
was shut up with all his kinsfolk in the glen, which was a sub-section
of one of the gorges that run down to Mecca. For three long years,
nobody could see them nor could they see anybody. They could not
purchase anything in Mecca nor from any trader coming from outside.
If any person was found outside this natural prison, he was beaten
mercilessly and if he asked for anything it was flatly refused.
Soon their stock of food was exhausted and they were reduced to
famine rations. Their women and, more specially, the children and
suckling babies would cry with hunger, and this was harder on them
than their own starvation. During the last part of this period,
their sole subsistence was the little food that the husbands of
Hashimite women married into other clans managed to smuggle into
the glen in the darkness of night.
At last by the Grace of Allah, after three years the scroll was
eaten up by white ants and the ban was removed. The severity of
the afflictions, which they bore during this period of ostracism,
cannot be imagined. But the Sahabah not only remained steadfast
in their faith, but also kept busy in spreading the light of Islam
amongst their comrades in distress.
Look! How much the Sahabah have suffered in the path of Allah and
for the cause of Islam. We claim to follow their footsteps, and
dream of the material progress and spiritual elevation which was
theirs, but how much have we suffered in the true cause? what sacrifice
have we offered for the sake of Allah in His path? Success is always
proportionate to the sacrifice. We wish to live in luxury and comfort,
and are too eager to race shoulder to shoulder with the non-Muslims
in enjoying the good things of this world, forgetting the Hereafter,
and then at the same time we expect to receive the same help from
Allah which the Sahabah received in their time. We cannot beguile
anybody but ourselves by working like this. As the Poet has said,
'I am afraid, 0 wayfarer, that you will not reach the Ka'aba because
the path that you are following goes (in the opposite direction)
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