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Migration to Abyssinia

This article is about Hijra of some companions of Prophet Muhammad (s) to Abyssina. For other event called Hijra, see Hijra (disambiguation).

Migration to Abyssinia was an event in which some Muslims in Mecca migrated to Abyssinia in the early years of bi'that at the command of the Prophet Muhammad (s) in order to escape the brutal oppression of the polytheists. The Quraysh sent 'Amr b. al-'As and 'Abd Allah b. Abi Rabi'a to Abyssinia in order to extradite the emmigrants, but the King of Abyssinia - known as Negus—was impressed by the remarks of Ja'far b. Abi Talib, the head of the migrants, and thus he did not surrender them to the polytheists. Some Muslims passed away in Abyssinia, and some of them had children there; 'Abd Allah b. Ja'farLady Zaynab (a)'s husband—was born in Abyssinia.

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Reason

After bi'that (the first revelation of the Prophet (s)), some people in Mecca believed in the Prophet (s). In reaction to this, heads of Quraysh began torturing and persecuting people who converted to Islam. Thus the Prophet (s) told Muslims to migrate to Abyssinia, because its ruler—Ashama b. Abjar—was a just and pious Christian. The migration took place surreptitiously; two commercial ships took the emigrants to Abyssinia with half the price. There were two migrations by Muslims to Abyssinia. According to al-Ya'qubi, in the first migration 12 men went to Abyssinia, and in the second 70 men (not including women and children) migrated there.

First Migration

In the first migration, 11 men and 4 women went to Abyssinia. The polytheists chased them, but they could not find them. The Muslims were still in Abyssinia when they heard that polytheists of Quraysh had converted to Islam; so they returned to Mecca. When they arrived near Mecca, they found out that the news about Quraysh's conversion to Islam was false, but they could not go back to Abyssinia. So they entered Mecca individually or by refuge to some polytheists.

'Uthman b. Maz'un entered Mecca under the refuge of one polytheist. But when he saw that other Muslims were being persecuted, he asked that polytheist to remove the refuge so that he could be persecuted too. When he was being tortured, he expressed gratification.

Migrants of the First Migration

  • Abu Sabra b. Abi Ruhm b. 'Abd al-Ghura al-'Amiri from Banu 'Amir b. Lu'ayy

Second Migration

Once again the Prophet (s) ordered Muslims to migrate to Abyssinia under the leadership of Ja'far b. Abi Talib. This time the migrants were 83 people.

Migrants

Some of the famous migrants in the second migration are:

  • Ja'far b. Abi Talib: he was the leader of the migrants in the second migration. He later came to be known as Ja'far Dhu l-Janahayn and Ja'far al-Tayyar. His wife was Asma' bt. 'Umays and his children were 'Abd Allah, Muhammad, and 'Awn.

Quraysh's Reaction

After the second migration of some Muslims to Abyssinia, heads of Quraysh sought to counteract. Since they had commercial transactions and friendly relationships with people and the government of Abyssinia, they sent 'Amr b. al-'As and 'Abd Allah b. Abi Rabi'a, with some presents, to Ashama b. Abjar, the king of Abyssinia, in order to convince him to hand the migrants over to them. 'Amr b. al-'As told the king that the migrants were silly slaves who abandoned their religion, and he wants them back. The king preferred to ask the migrants themselves. So he gathered the religious seniors of his country and in their presence, he asked the Muslims about the reason why they migrated to Abyssinia. Ja'far b. Abi Talib replied:

We were ignorant idolaters, we used to eat the meat of dead animals, we used to shed bloods, and we used to commit adultery, until God sent us a prophet whose genealogy we know and in whose truthfulness and honesty we trust. He has called us to God and monotheism and prohibited idolatry, he called us to truthfulness and relations with our family and goodness to our neighbors. However, these people were being hostile to us and want to force us back to idolatry. Thus we migrated to your lands and preferred you over others.

The king said: I swear to God that I will never return you to them. Thus the two polytheists felt abased.

Ashama b. Abjar's Conversion to Islam

The next day, 'Amr b. al-'As went to Ashama b. Abjar once again. He talked to him about the disagreement of Muslims with Christians about Jesus in order to convince him to extradite the Muslims to Mecca. Not only did he fail to do so, but the king converted to Islam because of Ja'far's remarks about Jesus.

Return of the Migrants

The migrants gradually returned from Abyssinia. Those who had returned after the first migration stayed in Mecca and then migrated with other Muslims to Medina. Some of them returned to Medina prior to the Battle of Khaybar and others returned after the Conquest of Khaybar.

The Prophet (s) sent 'Amr b. Umayya al-Damri to the king of Abyssinia in order to facilitate their return. The last migrants returned from Abyssinia in 7/628-29 simultaneous with the Conquest of Khaybar. Asma' bt. 'Umays, 'Abd Allah b. Ja'far and his brothers Muhammad and 'Awn were among the last migrants. When Ja'far went to the Prophet (s), he kissed the point between his two eyes and said: "I do not know which to express my happiness for: the Conquest of Khaybar or the return of Ja'far."

Migrants Who Passed Away

Some migrants to Abyssinia passed away and were buried there:

  • 'Ubayd Allah b. Jahsh from Banu 'Abd Shams who converted to Christianity and stayed there until he died
  • 'Umar b. Umayya b. Harith from Banu Asad
  • Hatib b. Harith and his brother Huttab b. Harith both from Banu Jumah
  • 'Abd Allah b. Harith b. Qays from Banu Sahm
  • 'Urwa b. 'Abd al-'Uzza
  • 'Udayy b. Nadla from Banu 'Udayy
  • Musa b. Harith b. Khalid from Banu Tamim.

People Who Were Born in Abyssinia

  • Muhammad b. Abi Hudhayfa
  • Sa'id b. Khalid b. Sa'id
  • Zaynab bt. Abi Salama
  • 'Abd Allah b. Muttalib b. Azhar
  • Musa b. Harith b. Khalid
  • 'Aisha bt. Harith b. Khalid
  • Fatima bt. Harith b. Khalid
  • Zaynab bt. Harith b. Khalid

References