Uploaded on Jan 4, 2012
In Islamic history and tradition, Ethiopia (Abyssinia or Al-Habasha) is known as the "Haven of the First Migration or Hijra." For Muslims, Ethiopia is synonymous with freedom from persecution and emancipation from fear.
Ethiopia was a land where its king, Negus or Al-Najashi, was a person renowned for justice and in whose land human rights were cherished.
The meaning and the significance of "Hijra" is embodied in the Islamic calendar. Since its inception, the Islamic calendar represents a history of perpetual struggle between truth and falsehood, faith and blasphemy, freedom and oppression, light and darkness, and between peace and war.
The first migration [Hijra] of the Companions and relatives of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to Ethiopia celebrates the birth of freedom of expression and beliefs, whereas, the Second Migration of the Prophet Muhammad to the Madinah celebrates the end of oppression.
History has shown that the first migration to Ethiopia and the second migration to Madinah have indeed laid down the foundation on which Islam, as a universal religion, was built. Ever since that experience, the Muslim community, wherever they settled, shifted from the positive of minority to majority, from weakness to permanent strength, from tribalism to universal brotherhood that knows no defined political boundaries.
The Quran says: "O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly the most honored of you in Godâ€™s sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware (Quran 49:13).
With this spirit in mind, Bilal ibn Rabah, an Ethiopian slave living in Makkah, became a leading companion of the Prophet Muhammad. It was not a coincidence that his native land, Ethiopia, was the country chosen by the Prophet when his followers needed protection and freedom form oppression.
"And dispute you not with the People of the Book, except with means better, unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong; But say, we believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you: Our God and your God is one; and it is to Him we bow in Islam: (Quran 29:46).
Muhammad Haykal, author of the "Life of Muhammad" said that the Prophet Muhammad trusted that his followers and relatives would be better off if they migrated to a country whose religion was Christianity-a scriptural religion whose Prophet was Jesus son of Mary. He was not afraid that his followers would convert and give up their faith in favor of any other established religion.
He was more convinced that Islam would be more protected in its infancy in a fertile and prosperous land ruled by the Scripture than among the ignominious pagans of Arabia.
The companions and relatives of the Prophet were prepared to sacrifice and suffer all sorts of hardship and alienation rather than give up their own conviction and freedom. The Prophet gave his companions the following letter to give the king when they reached Ethiopia.
"In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, Most Gracious, From Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah to the Negus Al-Asham, king of Abyssinia.
Peace, I praise Allah, who is the King, the Holy, the Peace, the Faithful, the Watcher, and I bear witness that Jesus, son of Mary, is the Spirit of Allah and His Word, Which He cast to Mary the virgin, the good, the pure, so that she conceived Jesus. Allah created him from His Spirit and His Breathing as He created Adam by His Hand and His Breathing. I call you to Allah, the Unique without partner, and to His obedience, and to follow me and believe in that which came to me, for I am the Messenger of Allah.
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