Why did Muslims migrate to Abyssinia?
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) gave us a comprehensive paradigm for coexistence. The Muslims emigrants’ stay in Abyssinia provides one such good example. When some of the early Muslims were subjected to the coercion of the Quraysh to abandon their religion, they were forced to emigrate to Abyssinia. In so doing, they resorted to a method that has been used by many prophets of God who preceded Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). The Holy Quran mentions in many verses how many prophets before him migrated with their followers to escape the persecution and torture they suffered at the hands of the disbelievers. But we have to stop at this point and contemplate the events surrounding the Muslims’ first migration to Abyssinia and learn from the lessons it contains. When the conditions of the Muslims reached the point where they could no longer tolerate the persecution of the Quraysh, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered them to take their families and go to Abyssinia. However, he himself did not go with them but migrated to Medina after a number of years.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not think of migrating from Mecca, except after he:
1-Exhausted all the means of inviting the people of Quraysh to Islam.
2-Made sure that his Companions were safe and that they have all migrated and safely settled in Medina. He did not migrate until Islam had entered each house in Medina and after the city had become a safe homeland for the Muslim community and Islam.
Like Mecca, Abyssinia was not a Muslim society. But it king, Negus, preserved the rights of the Muslim minority, and gave them protection and freedom of faith. Abyssinia was a described as a land where no one was oppressed and this is what prompted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to encourage Muslims to migrate there.
Muslims lived in Abyssinia as a minority yet they enjoyed a secure and safe life and rights and freedom in a non-Islamic country.