Hijra in the Quran
The word Hijra and its derivatives are mentioned in many verses of the Quran. The majority of these verses contain praises and promise rewards to those who emigrated for the cause of God and to those who aided them.
The emigrants are given the highest honor and praise for having made a great sacrifice in the cause of God. He says, “And those who emigrated for [the cause of] God after they had been wronged - We will surely settle them in this world in a good place; but the reward of the Hereafter is greater, if only they could know” (Quran 16:41).
God the Almighty promises those who leave their homes for His sake a mercy specially from Himself, His good pleasure, gardens of eternal delight and the ultimate reward of Divine propinquity. It is due to sacrificing one’s own kith and kin, wealth and property, businesses and homeland as well as everything that proves to be a hindrance in God’s cause that one earns the ultimate reward. God says, “The ones who have believed, emigrated and striven in the cause of God with their wealth and their lives are greater in rank in the sight of God. And it is those who are the attainers [of success]. Their Lord gives them good tidings of mercy from Him and approval and of gardens for them wherein is enduring pleasure. [They will be] abiding therein forever. Indeed, God has with Him a great reward. O you who have believed, do not take your fathers or your brothers as allies if they have preferred disbelief over belief. And whoever does so among you - then it is those who are the wrongdoers” (Quran 9:20-22).
God also promises mercy and forgiveness to those who suffered hardships and exile and fought in His cause with patience and constancy. He says, “Those who believed and those who suffered exile and fought (and strove and struggled) in the path of God,- they have the hope of the Mercy of God. And God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful “ (Quran 2:218) and, “Then, indeed your Lord, to those who emigrated after they had been compelled [to renounce their religion] and thereafter fought [for the cause of God] and were patient - indeed, your Lord, after that, is Forgiving and Merciful” (Quran 16:110).
The promise of provisions and paradise is another grant to those who migrated for God’s cause. He says, “And those who emigrated for the cause of God and then were killed or died - God will surely provide for them a good provision. And indeed, it is God who is the best of providers. He will surely cause them to enter an entrance with which they will be pleased, and indeed, God is Knowing and Forbearing” (Quran 22:58-9).
God’s reward is to all of those who have left their homes and suffered harm in His cause. Both males and females are promised God’s acceptance into paradise—no distinction is made between them. God says, “And their Lord responded to them, "Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another. So those who emigrated or were evicted from their homes or were harmed in My cause or fought or were killed - I will surely remove from them their misdeeds, and I will surely admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow as reward from God, and God has with Him the best reward” (Quran 3:195).
The sacrifice of one’s home and kin for the sake of God the Almighty and His Messenger does not go unrewarded and, in addition, God encourages Muslims to migrate for comfort and prosperity. He says, “And whoever emigrates for the cause of God will find on the earth many [alternative] locations and abundance. And whoever leaves his home as an emigrant to God and His Messenger and then death overtakes him - his reward has already become incumbent upon God. And God is ever Forgiving and Merciful” (Quran 4:100).
Those who made the sacrifice of adopting voluntary exile from their homes for the sake of Islam and those who gave them asylum are granted the same status—they become members of one society. God says, “Indeed, those who have believed and emigrated and fought with their wealth and lives in the cause of God and those who gave shelter and aided - they are allies of one another. But those who believed and did not emigrate - for you there is no guardianship of them until they emigrate. And if they seek help of you for the religion, then you must help, except against a people between yourselves and whom is a treaty. And God is Seeing of what you do” (Quran 8:72) and, “And those who believed after [the initial emigration] and emigrated and fought with you - they are of you. But those of [blood] relationship are more entitled [to inheritance] in the decree of God . Indeed, God is Knowing of all things” (Quran 8:75).
The duty of a Muslim is to move from a place where he/she is persecuted and suppressed for their religion, even if this involves forsaking home and brethren. God says, “When angels take the souls of those who die in sin against their souls, they say: “Indeed, those whom the angels take [in death] while wronging themselves - [the angels] will say, "In what [condition] were you?" They will say, "We were oppressed in the land." The angels will say, "Was not the earth of God spacious [enough] for you to emigrate therein?" For those, their refuge is Hell - and evil it is as a destination” (Quran 4:97).
God’s forgiveness is not only promised to those who migrated for the sake of God, but it is also a grant of mercy to those who received them in their homes and shared their wealth with them. God says, “And let not those of virtue among you and wealth swear not to give [aid] to their relatives and the needy and the emigrants for the cause of God, and let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that God should forgive you? And God is Forgiving and Merciful” (Quran 24:22).
The emigrants were not the only ones who made sacrifices for the sake of God and His Prophet. The sacrifices made by the those who received the Prophet and the companions into Medinah by helping the emigrants establish homes and livelihoods in their new home were of no small value. Indeed, the love they showed secured for them a reward of great measure, one that is only possible from God. He says, “But those who have believed and emigrated and fought in the cause of God and those who gave shelter and aided - it is they who are the believers, truly. For them is forgiveness and noble provision” (Quran 8:74).
God praises the people of Medinah who accepted Islam and who took in the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the emigrants who came to them as refugees. They did not welcome the refugees as a duty; but their generous hospitality was out of devotion, affection and love. God says, “And [also for] those who were settled in al-Medinah and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul - it is those who will be the successful” (Quran 59:9).
The Quran does not only mention the term hijra and its derivatives in reference to the physical hijra of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his followers. It goes beyond this to the metaphorical scope of the concept of hijra. God the Almighty orders men to suspend sexual relations with their wives as a means of punishment to disobedient wives. He says, “Men are in charge of women by [right of] what God has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what God would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, God is ever Exalted and Grand” (Quran 4:34).
A similar meaning is found in the next verse wherein the Prophet Abraham’s father rejects his message and invitation to Truth. The spiritual lesson from this is that even if the father rejects the light, the son will never do so even if has to forfeit his father’s love and renounce his home. There is no sanctity associated with a particular place just because it is the place of one’s birth. The most important thing is religion and the freedom to practice it. The Quran states, “(The father) replied: "[His father] said, "Have you no desire for my gods, O Abraham? If you do not desist, I will surely stone you, so avoid me a prolonged time” (Quran 19:46).
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is instructed to put spiritual and emotional distance between him and the disbelievers, though he must not do so grudgingly. He must, at all times deal with them kindly and with mercy, and dissociate himself from them in a dignified manner. God tells him, “And have patience with what they say, and leave them with noble (dignity)” (Quran 73:10).
Both the physical and metaphorical sense of the term hijra are expounded in two verses describing the disbelievers’ abandonment of the Quran, treating it as foolish nonsense. God says, “In arrogance: talking nonsense about the (Quran), like one telling fables by night” (Quran 23:67) and, “Then the Messenger will say: "O my Lord! Truly my people took this Quran for just foolish nonsense” (Quran 25:30).
Hijra in the Sunnah
The command to embark on a hijra did not end with the Prophet’s migration to Medinah. It is true that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said after he arrived in Medinah, “There is no hijra after the Conquest (of Mecca)” i.e. there is no need for people to leave Mecca after it has become an abode of Islam since Muslims are no longer persecuted in it for their religion. However, migration continues to be part of man’s life. We are not entirely deprived of its benefits and rewards as it will continue to be an obligation in its metaphorical sense, the hijra of the heart, until the Last Day as attested to in the following hadiths:
“Hijra will never come to an end until repentance comes to an end” (Ahmad).
The idea of the spiritual dimension of hijra is encapsulated in the hadith which states:
“The migrator is the one who avoids what God the Almighty has prohibited” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
“A Muslim is someone who spares people the harm of his tongue and hand, and a migrator is someone who migrates from what God has forbidden” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).