• Raya Shokatfard

ISLAMIC NEW YEAR & MIGRATION: PAST AND PRESENT

Updated: Jul 12, 2020


By: Raya Shokatfard


Perhaps some of our forced migrations in recent years are due to our own shortcoming in our practice, belief and negligence of Allah’s commandments.


In a few days, Muslims mark another new (Hijri) year with significant importance in Islamic history.


Although the actual migration day was a bit different, the month of Muharram was chosen by consensus as the first lunar month.


The Hijri year is now the year-numbering system (or Calendar era) used in the Islamic calendar. It commemorates the emigration of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his followers to the city of Madinah in 622 CE. In Arabic, AH is symbolized by the letter H (ha’). The year 2014 AD corresponds to the Islamic years 1435–1436 AH.


Reflecting on the events that shaped the Muslim world, one will notice that most Muslim-related forced migrations, small or large, were against the people’s will and were an act of self-defense, survival or escape from perceived dangers.


The advent of Islam was marked by horrible persecutions of new Muslims by the inhabitants and chiefs of Makkah.


Many Muslims had to emigrate to Abyssinia, and later to Madinah to escape from the constant harassment by their enemies.


Prophet Muhammad was among the last that made the journey to Madinah. This migration turned out to be the starting point of establishing the first Islamic state.


Muslims suffered for thirteen years in Makkah, and later in Madinah they also encountered many battles with loss of lives on both sides. They endured with patience, courage and strong resolve to follow the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad. He was among them and was their leader and inspiration.


The end-result of all their patience and sacrifices was a glorious victory for the Muslims for the following centuries. Nothing would stand in their way, not even powerful kingdoms and empires like the Romans and the Persians. Their faith was their weapon and belief in the unity of God was their driving force.


A careful look at Islamic history around the world reveals that no force could defeat the Muslims until such time when they started differing among themselves, beguiled by worldly wealth and power or their betrayal of one another in favor of seeking power from external sources.


The Muslim history of Al-Andalus in Spain is a clear example.


An army of twelve thousand Muslims who arrived by ships overcame an army of over 70,000 Spanish soldiers. The faith of Muslims was unshakable. A few centuries later, they suffered humiliating defeat by the very kings that were once under their rule.


Why?

By then Islam, for most part, was just a name and was no longer manifested in the life of Muslim kings and rulers.


Soon, they fought for power against one another and even worse, they began seeking help from Christian kings who later turned against them and gave them a humiliating defeat.


Thousands were persecuted, forced to convert to Christianity and scores were expelled in the most disgraceful manners.


Have we learned any lessons from past victories and defeats?


Maybe not.


Perhaps some of our forced migrations in recent years are due to our own shortcoming in our practice, belief and negligence of Allah’s commandments.


We may have just clang on too much to the worldly life, power and our own images of what success should look like. But Allah showed us the truth of our intentions.


Yet other Muslims, of no fault or shortcoming of their own, simply fell victims to aggression of the enemies of Islam or rivalry within the Muslim ummah itself.


There are now millions of such forced migrations from Syria to countries like Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and basically all around the world. Is this the end of hope for those who lost their home, livelihood and worse yet many of their loved ones?


By no means!


What comforts a believer is knowing that life in this world is a test. Allah clearly informs us:

{Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods, lives and the fruits (of your toil) but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Those who, when misfortune strikes them, say: ‘Indeed we belong to Allah and to Him is our return. Those are the ones upon whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord and it is those who are rightly guided.} (2: 155-57)


Those who of no fault of their own have been subjected to hardships, sadness and affliction can have the glad tidings our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) gave to the believers. He said:

No fatigue, illness, anxiety, sorrow, harm or sadness afflicts any Muslim, even to the extent of a thorn pricking him, without Allah wiping out his sins by it.” (Al-Bukhari, 5641)


Would you believe that he also said:

When Allah desires good for someone, He tries him with hardships.” (At-Tirmidhi, 2396)


This does not mean that Allah wishes hardship for the believers, but having an easy life may not be the best way to reach Paradise. Yet, passing our test with hardship may make our outlook of life in this world different.


The life in the Hereafter is everlasting and is to be desired at any price over any hardship or tests in this world. Enduring such trials for a believer is a sweet foretaste of everlasting life to come.


Life for those who have lost homes, wealth and family members may be much more bearable than taste a safe and glamorous life in this world that is lacking faith and belief in God and the Hereafter.


Some may consider their hardship a form of punishment from Allah. If so, let us consider that we all have sinned in this world and deserve some punishment. But any punishment in this world is much more bearable than what may be waiting for us in the Hereafter. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:


If Allah wants good for His servant, He hurries on His punishment in this world, and if He wills ill for a servant, he holds back punishing him for his sin so He can give it to him in full on the Day of Resurrection.” (At-Tirmidhi, 2396)


We also know that no one can escape death. But how will we react to hardship and tests in this world?


Allah says:

{Every soul shall taste of death. And We will test you with evil and with good by way of trial. And to Us is your return.}(21: 35)


Testimony of a Refugee

In an interview in a Syrian refugee camp, a man was shown selling vegetables and fruits next to his tent. His family members were on the tent floor with hardly any possessions.


He said he was a wealthy man and he lost everything in the war. But he seemed to have a very positive attitude, wishing to look ahead and not the past.


He had a lot of hope in Allah to return to his homeland and start all over again. In the meantime, instead of always lamenting, he gave hope to his family and he himself kept a positive outlook in life.


So those who suffered forced migrations in recent years should have hope and trust in Allah, knowing that nothing is hidden from the Creator. He is Just and will manifest His justice in this world as well as the Hereafter.


Let us also realize that what is with Allah is much more precious than all the wealth and children one may have or lose in this world.


Allah says:

{Know that your wealth and your children are but a trial and that Allah has with Him a mighty reward.} (8: 28)


May Allah (SWT) be with all refugees around the world, return them safely to their lands and give them ease and peace after hardship and war.


Ameen

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First published on “Reading Islam” on  Monday, 20 October 2014

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    About Me

    Raya Shokatfard is an international speaker, film maker, and writer with a focus on women’s issues, Islam, and cultural issues. She holds BA and MBS degrees in Journalism and Mass Communication as well as a BA in Islamic Studies and an MD in TV Journalism.

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