Ebrahim Moosa - Radio Islam International | 03 Safar 1439/24 October 2017
Almost with a twinkling of an eye, we have already arrived at the second month of the new Islamic Year 1439. In the month that passed, we commemorated the important occasion of Ashura and also reflected on other significant events in Islamic history.
And whilst almost every Islamic month is laden with a number of special days of spiritual or historical import, what is equally significant is that the Islamic calendar itself is calibrated according to a spiritual and historical event itself of overarching importance.
Introduced by Sayyiduna Umar ibn al Khattab RA during his Khilafah, the Islamic lunar calendar is dated to begin with the onset of the Hijrah, the ground-breaking migration undertaken by the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and his companions from Makkah to Madinah, and wields great symbolism through this choice.
As one Islamic scholar has reflected, “…the Islamic Era did not start with victories of Islamic wars, nor with the birth or death of the Prophet SAW, nor even with the Revelation of the Quraan itself. It starts with Hijrah, or the sacrifice for the cause of Truth and for the preservation of the Revelation. It was a Divinely inspired selection. Almighty Allah wanted to teach man that struggle between Truth and evil is eternal!”
Yet, despite the centrality of this journey to the Islamic experience, Muslims, in general, have failed to study its details and significance to a degree concomitant with its importance.
A 2013 bilingual book however took major strides in addressing this deficit. In Makkah to Madinah, A Photographic Journey of the Hijrah Route, Shaykh Abdullah Alkadi, a descendant of Bani Hashim and multifaceted scholar, leveraged his knowledge of both the Sirah and geography to meticulously trace the footsteps of the Beloved of Allah SAW in perilous desert terrain from Makkah to Madinah.
His book is the prize of numerous field journeys between the two Holy Cities and visually catalogues almost 70 scientifically identified landmarks on the Hijrah route. “Through this visual journey,” Alkadi writes, “the Hijrah will become more real, more recognisable, and more familiar; like home”.
“When most visitors come to the Hijaz,” he adds, “their destinations are Makkah and Madinah, and whether they travel between these two cities by plane or by land they do not get a real sense of the Hijrah. The actual Hijrah Route is off the highway, off the beaten tract – it is truly the road less taken”.
The beautifully presented book truly brings the Hijrah to life and is an invaluable contribution to affording the Ummah a tangible means of appreciating the immense sacrifices undertaken by the Prophet SAW and the earliest generations of Muslims aimed at establishing the Deen.
The following are 13 interesting landmarks from the Hijrah route, gleaned from Alkadi’s work:
- House of Sayyidina Abu Bakr as Siddiq RA
After leaving his home in Makkah, the Prophet SAW headed to the home of his closest companion Sayyidina Abu Bakr as Siddiq RA to make final preparations for their journey. Today the Makkah Towers commercial complex mark the spot of what was the first khalif’s original home.
- Cave of Thaur
This cramped up hollow was the refuge of the Prophet SAW and Sayyidina Abu Bakr for three whole days. The cave is found at the peak of Mount Thaur, which lies south east of the Ka’bah with an elevation of 748m above sea level.
- Plain of Hudaybiyah
During the early stages of the Hijrah, the Prophet SAW also passed close to Hudaybiyah, today known as al-Shumaysi. This area was later to become the place where the famous Treaty of Hudaybiyah would be negotiated with the Quraish.
- Lava Tract of Dajnan and Lava Spur of al-Ghamim
The Nabi of Allah SAW passed through these lengthy volcanic plains in succession on the first day following his departure from the Cave of Thaur. It was after the treaty of Hudaybiyah in the year 6AH that Surah al Fath would be revealed in the same location of al Ghamim.
- The Town of Usfan
The Prophet SAW traversed west of this town, on the second day of travel following his departure from Thaur. Ayah 102 of Surah an-Nisa was later revealed at this location. In it, Allah SWT gives specific instructions for performing Salaah when under the threat of harm.
- The Tents of Umm Ma’bad
One of the most remarkable incidents of the Hijrah occurred here, where a hospitable old woman Umm Ma’bad afforded the two spiritual travellers time to rest in one of her tents. A miracle of the Prophet SAW was witnessed here, when an emaciated goat of the host started producing an abundance of milk just upon encountering the Prophetic touch. Stemming from this brief desert interaction, Umm Ma’bad provided a description of the Prophet SAW that continues to marvel with its comprehensiveness:
- Valley of Kulayyah
Here, the Qurayshi tracker, Suraqah bin Malik, in pursuit of a reward of 100 camels, attempted to capture the Prophet SAW. However, the legs of his horse recurrently sank into the sand as he attempted his action. Fearing the worst, Suraqah requested protection from the Prophet SAW, and was granted it. He later embraced Islam.
- The Caravan Stop of Al-Juhfah
This is the miqat for Hujaaj coming Shaam or Egypt, and today contains ruins of a palace built by the Abbasids. Accounts mention the Prophet SAW experiencing some sadness here about leaving home. In response, Allah SWT revealed to him Ayah 85 of Surah al Qasas in consolation.
- Ghadir Khum
This creek is a seasonal pool of rainwater that is dry during the summer. The Prophet SAW passed here on the third day of Hijrah following the seclusion in the cave. It was at this location, after the Hajjatul Wadaa that the Prophet SAW extolled the virtues of Sayyidina Ali RA before his companions.
- The Valley of al-Qahah
This is one of the longest valleys in the Hijaz that has formed part of ancient trade and pilgrim routes. It is said that all of the Prophets, as well as wise men and scholars, have used this route throughout history to make their way to Makkatul Mukarammah.
- The Valley of Al-Arj
Arj means winding, or meandering path. The Nabi of Allah SAW passed by this town numerous times during his life. Onward to Makkah for the conquering of the city in 8AH, the Prophet SAW, in this valley, noticed a dog nursing her pups in the middle of a narrow section of the road. To avoid this creation of the Almighty any potential harm, the Messenger of Mercy assigned one of his men to guard her as the huge Muslim army marched through.
- Jabal Warqan
A beautiful mountain that the Prophet SAW encountered towards the latter part of the Hijrah. Later, the Prophet SAW mentioned it as one of the mountains from Paradise.
- Madinah Munawarrah
The approach to the illuminated city was laden with beauty and fertility. Amongst the landmarks encountered by the Nabi SAW and As Siddiq RA in the final leg of their journey was the Valley of Aqiq close to the Abyar Ali Miqat, the mountain of Hamra al Asad that played a significant role after the Battle of Uhud, the Meadow of Khakh and the beautiful neighbourhood of Al Usbah.
Alkadi’s book indisputably brings the Hijrah to life in a manner never attempted before. Through his striking pictures, one relives key moments of the journey, soaking in the marked beauty of the Arabian desert, whilst also appreciating the unquantifiable sacrifices made by the Prophet SAW and his companions to navigate such demanding terrain solely for the purpose of upholding the Command of Allah, and establishing and preserving the Ummah.
Find out more about Makkah to Madinah, A Photographic Journey of the Hijrah Route here