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Emigrants

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Early Islam
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The Emigrants or Muhājirūn (Arabic: المهاجرون) were those Meccan Muslims who emigrated to Medina by the Prophet’s (s) instruction so as to evade the persecution by the Meccan polytheists. The Emigrants had a significant role in promoting Islam and suffered immensely in this regard. The Emigrants and their emigration had a significant role in the promotion of Islam.

Prior to Islam, there was hostility between the Meccans and the people of Yathrib (later called Medina). With the emigration of the Prophet (s) to Medina and the establishment of the bond of brotherhood between the Emigrants and the Helpers, this enmity almost came to an end. However, after the Prophet’s (s) demise, forms of rivalry between the two groups re-emerged and continued through the Umayyad period, an instance of which was the rivalry between the Helpers and the Emigrants in the event of Saqifa over the issue of the succession to the Prophet (s).

Imam Ali (a), Lady Fatima (a), Hamza b. ʿAbd al-Muttalib, and the first three caliphs were among the prominent Emigrants.

Definition

Main article: Hijra

The "Emigrants" (Muhājirūn) is a title for those Meccan Muslims who emigrated to Medina by the Prophet’s (s) instruction in order to flee the persecution by the polytheists of Mecca.[1] The Emigrants were one of the two major early Muslim groups—the other group being Anṣār (Helpers),[2] i.e., the Medinans who converted to Islam and supported the Prophet (s).[3]

The title “Emigrants” includes all the Muslims who emigrated to Medina prior to the conquest of Mecca in 8 AH, but those who emigrated to Medina prior to the Hudaybiyya treaty enjoyed a higher status.[4]

Status

According to Ayatollah Makarim Shirazi, the Prophet (s) held the Emigrants in high regard, as they had sacrificed their lives and possessions for his cause.[5]

The Quran has mentioned the derivatives of the root h-j-r (emigration) twenty-four times. Also, the Quran has mentioned the Emigrants beside those who do jihad and struggle for the sake of God,[6] praising them[7] for their patience, trust in God,[8] and genuine faith,[9] and promising them forgiveness[10] and admission to paradise.[11] However, according to Shiite scholars, the Quran indicates that this promise is only for those Emigrants[12] who remained faithful to their covenant with God. [13]

Being an Emigrant was considered a privilege in the early decades of Islamic history. Umar b. al-Khattab, for instance, would allot a greater share of the treasury to the Emigrants.[14] He also chose from the Emigrants the members of the council which he tasked with choosing the next caliph,[15] though he assigned to the Helpers the task of overseeing their work.[16]

First Emigrants

The Prophet (s) instructed his companions to emigrate to Medina before he himself did so.[17] According to al-Mas'udi, among the Muslims who arrived in Medina before the Prophet (s) were 'Abd Allah b. 'Abd al-Asad, 'Āmir b. Rabī'a, 'Abd Allah b. Jahsh, 'Umar b. al-Khattab, and 'Ayyash b. Abi Rabī'a.[18] According to al-Baladhuri, the first Emigrants were Mus'ab b. 'Umayr and Ibn Umm Maktum, who entered Medina before ʿAbd Allah b. ʿAbd al-Asad.[19] Based on his report, Musʿab b. ʿUmayr was sent on a mission to Medina in the twelfth year after biʿtha.[20]

The Polytheists’ Reaction to the Emigration

The polytheists of Mecca tried to prevent the emigration of the Muslims to Medina in different ways. They imprisoned some, and in the case of those who managed to emigrate, the polytheists prevented their families from joining them. It is reported that they allowed Suhayb al-Rumi to emigrate in exchange for his possessions.[21]

The Helper’s Support

Prior to his emigration, the Prophet (s) established the bond of brotherhood between the Emigrants and the Helpers.[22] According to the more widely accepted view, this brotherhood was formed between forty-five Emigrants and forty-five Helpers.[23] The Prophet (s) reportedly established brotherhood between Abu Bakr and Khārija b. Zayd, Umar b. al-Khattab and ʿItbān b. Mālik, Uthman b. Affan and Aws b. Thabit, Abu Ubayda al-Jarrah and Sa'd b. Mu'adh, Abd al-Rahman b. 'Awf and Sa'd b. Rabī', Talha b. Ubayd Allah and Kaʿb b. Malik, Zubayr b. Awam and Salama b. Salām, Salman al-Farsi and Abu Darda’, and Ammar b. Yasir and Hudhayfa b. Najjar (or, according to another report, Thabit b. Qays).[24]

The Helpers financially supported the Emigrants, who had left their possessions in Mecca. This support continued until 4 AH/625 CE, when the Prophet (s) divided the spoils gained in the Battle of Banu al-Naḍir among the Emigrants.[25]

Rivalry

According to some scholars, prior to the emigration of the Prophet (s) to Medina, there was hostility between the people of Medina (called Yathrib at the time) and Mecca, which came to an end with the establishment of brotherhood between the Emigrants and the Helpers. However, this hostility showed itself in the form of rivalry between the two groups, which is alluded to in the poems of Hassān b. Thabit and Nuʿman b. al-Bashir.[26] The Emigrants were proud that the Prophet (s) was from them, and the Helpers were proud that they had given refuge to the Prophet (s) and that his mother was from Medina.[27]

The rivalry between the Emigrants and the Helpers continued during the reign of Muʿawiya and Yazid as well, though in this period the terms “Emigrants” and “Helpers” were less used and the more widely used terms were "Qurashi" and "Yemeni."[28]

The event of Saqifa, according to historical sources, was a manifestation of rivalry between the Emigrants and the Helpers.[29] In that event, Habāb b. Mundhir, who was a Helper, raised his sword to assault the Emigrants, and Umar b. al-Khattab called Saʿd b. ʿUbada, an elder of the Helpers, a hypocrite. [30]

The Role of the Emigrants in Saqifa

After the demise of the Prophet (s), a group of the Helpers gathered in Saqifa and were about to choose Sa'd b. 'Ubada as the caliph and successor to the Prophet (s). However, when a number of Emigrants, including Abu Bakr, Umar, and Abu Ubayda al-Jarrah, joined them, disagreement and conflict broke out.[31] Abu Bakr, who was himself an Emigrant, spoke about the superiority of the Emigrants over the Helpers and that accordingly the caliph should be chosen from the former.[32] Habab b. Mundhir, who was from the Helpers, proposed that they should choose one ruler from the Emigrants and one ruler from the Helpers—a suggestion that was faced with Umar’s opposition. Then, Abu Bakr suggested that Umar or Abu Ubayda should accept the caliphate, but none of the two accepted; rather, they both stated that Abu Bakr should accept the caliphate and counted a number of merits for him. Then Umar and Abu Ubayda pledged their allegiance to Abu Bakr,[33] and after them the Banu Aslam clan, who were closely related to the Emigrants, entered Medina and pledged their allegiance to Abu Bakr.[34]

Prominent Emigrants

Among the prominent figures who emigrated from Mecca to Medina upon the Prophet’s (s) instruction were the following:

  • Imam Ali (a), the first Imam of the Shiʿa. On the night when the Prophet (s) decided to start his emigration to Medina, Ali (a) slept where the Prophet (s) used to sleep so that the polytheists think the Prophet (s) was home and the Prophet (s) could leave Mecca safely.[35] Moreover, the Prophet (s) asked Ali (a) to return to their owners the trusts that were entrusted to him and then move toward Medina after three days.[36]
  • Fatima (a), the daughter of the Prophet (s).[37] She emigrated to Medina together with some other women, including Fatima bt. Asad, three days after the Prophet (s) set out for Medina, and Ali (a) accompanied them.[38]
  • Umm Salama. Her tribe prevented her for a while from emigrating to Medina with her husband Abd Allah b. Abd al-Asad. Later when Abu Salama was martyred, she got married to the Prophet (s).[39]

Among other prominent Emigrants were Umar b. al-Khattab (the second caliph),[42] Uthman b. ʿAffan (the third caliph), Hamza b. Abd al-Muttalib, Uthman b. Mazʿun, Abu Hudhayfa, Miqdad b. Amr, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, and Abd Allah b. Masʿud.

Among prominent female Emigrants were Zaynab, Umm Kulthum, Ruqayya—the daughters of the Prophet (s)—Fatima b. Asad, Umm Ayman, Aʾisha, Zaynab bt. Jahsh, and Sawda bt. Zamʿa b. Qays.

See Also

Notes

  1. Maqrizī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ, vol. 9, p. 85; Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 1, p. 257.
  2. Maqrizī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ, vol. 9, p. 169.
  3. Maqrizī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ, vol. 9, p. 82.
  4. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 7, p. 261, 262.
  5. Makārim Shīrāzī, al-Amthal, vol. 8, p. 194.
  6. See: Qur'an 8:72-75; Qur'an 2:218.
  7. Makārim Shīrāzī, al-Amthal, vol. 8, p. 194.
  8. Qur'an 16:42.
  9. Qur'an 8:74.
  10. Qur'an 2:218; Qur'an 8:74.
  11. Qur'an 3:195.
  12. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 9, p. 374; Subḥānī, al-Ilāhīyāt, vol. 4, p. 445.
  13. See: Ṭūsī, al-Tibyān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 9, p. 329.
  14. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kabīr, vol. 3, p. 214.
  15. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 160.
  16. Yaʿqūbī, Tārīkh al-Yaʿqūbī, vol. 2, p. 160.
  17. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 2, p. 369.
  18. Masʿūdī, al-Tanbīh wa al-ishrāf, p. 200.
  19. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 1, p. 257.
  20. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 1, p. 257.
  21. Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-ghāba, vol. 2, p. 419.
  22. See: ʿĀmilī, al-Ṣaḥīḥ min sīrat al-nabīyy al-aʿẓam, vol. 5, p. 99.
  23. See: ʿĀmilī, al-Ṣaḥīḥ min sīrat al-nabīyy al-aʿẓam, vol. 5, p. 101; Maqrizī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ, vol. 1, p. 69.
  24. Dīyārbakrī, Tārīkh al-khamīs, vol. 1, p. 353.
  25. Maqrizī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ, vol. 1, p. 191-192.
  26. ʿAlī Jawād, al-Mufṣal fī tārīkh al-ʿarab qabl al-Islām, vol. 2, p. 134.
  27. ʿAlī Jawād, al-Mufṣal fī tārīkh al-ʿarab qabl al-Islām, vol. 2, p. 136.
  28. ʿAlī Jawād, al-Mufṣal fī tārīkh al-ʿarab qabl al-Islām, vol. 2, p. 134-136.
  29. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 220-221.
  30. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 220-221.
  31. Ibn al-Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 2, p. 325.
  32. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 219-220.
  33. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 220-221.
  34. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 205.
  35. Masʿūdī, al-Tanbīh wa al-ishrāf, p. 200.
  36. Masʿūdī, al-Tanbīh wa al-ishrāf, p. 200.
  37. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 2, p. 410.
  38. Ibn Shahrāshūb, Manāqib Āl Abī Ṭālib, vol. 1, p. 183.
  39. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 1, p. 469.
  40. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 2, p. 273-274.
  41. Muzaffar, al-Saqīfa, p. 60-65.
  42. Masʿūdī, al-Tanbīh wa al-ishrāf, p. 200.

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