Islamic world at crossroads 1437 years after Hijrah (2)
…he said to his companion “Do not worry, Allah is with us”… So Allah sent down his serenity on him and strengthened him with forces the like of which you have never seen…[Q9:40)
The Hijra, while referencing motifs of forsaking and repossessing, amplifies the secret codes for the attainment of excellence in life. It means to be deprived of the world is not like the same thing as forsaking the world. Both occurred with reference to the 70 individuals who made that journey during the first Hijra, the second was relevant to those who willingly left Makkah in order to populate Madina. The Hijra as a motif therefore essays the world as operating on a scale: it is either you are deprived of the world or you are made to forsake the world. In both instances, the world is meant to be forsaken not coveted. But the irony lies in the fact that those who forsake the world usually have the world come to them pleading that it be possessed; those who covet the world might or might never gain it; those who excessively covet the world are more likely going to lose it and lose their souls.
Further the Hijra had to do with the departure from a space: the departure from Makkah. The Prophet and his companions not only left Makkah in person, but also left Makkah behind. To leave Makkah behind meant leaving the city with its insuperable odour of greed, covetousness, self-conceitedness, oppression of the poor, and sexploitation of women. By leaving Makkah, the Prophet was indirectly calling attention to the existence of the “Makkahs” of today: the “Makkah” in the North and South of Nigeria; the “Makkahs” in Africa and Asia; the “Makkahs” which are awaiting the emigration of humanity; the “Makkahs” of corruption in the various houses of Assembly and the corporate world; the “Makkah” in the Stock Exchange Markets where sharp practices are the order of the day; the Makkah in the banking sector where directors feast on the meagre deposits of pauperized Nigerians; the “Makkah” in local government houses where council allocations are “cancelled” on a monthly basis.
But the Hijra of the Prophet from Makkah to Madinah did not and could not even have taken place the way it did without the resolution of matters which directly hinged on the personality of the Other Muhammad. In other words, two types of Muhammad were known to the Makkans before the Hijra: the Muhammad who claimed to be a Prophet and the Muhammad who was an embodiment of virtue and trustworthiness. The “first” Muhammad was hated for his declaration that there is no god but Allah; the second was loved for being virtuous, kind and a peace-maker; the first Muhammad was the one the Makkans believed had to be fought; the second was the one in whom the Makkans would entrust their loftiest treasures. But in reality, there was no separation between Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah, and the Muhammad who was an epitome of highest moral character. In other words, contrary to the wish of the Makkans, it was not possible for the Muhammad, son of Abdullah to be a Prophet ab initio if he could not measure up to the minimum standard of probity, honesty, and trustworthiness,
Thus on the night of his departure from Makkah, he asked his cousin to help him return the treasures which the Makkans had kept with him while they were relating to him as Muhammad son of Abdullah, not as Muhammad the Prophet of Allah. To emigrate for the sake of Allah, therefore, meant to be free of all of obligations which are capable of rendering the Hijra a nugatory; that even in a state of oppression, the religion of Islam demands equity from the oppressed to the oppressor even if the latter does not and would not come to equity with open hands. By ensuring that Ali b. Abi Talib stayed behind in order to assist him return the trusts to their owners, the Prophet was leaving behind a patrimony: that even in a state of attrition, the Islamic timeless values of honesty and trustworthiness cannot be sacrificed on the alter of spiritual vocation. In essence, to take what belongs to the unbelievers or the masses in an unjust manner is the very antithesis of the spirit of emigration.
Thus the journey to Madina became an open track with unknowable and inestimable possibilities. The Prophet began the journey in the full knowledge that he was leading humanity from service to humanity to the service of Allah. The Hijra essays the importance of the emergence of a global leader who would emigrate with humanity from the heinous theatre of ethnicity and profanity to the Eldorado of religiosity and equality. The distance between Makkah and Madina was strewn with fear and uncertainty; but the Madina, the destination, was a paradise awaiting those who were ready to overcome the temporary and empty ministrations of shaytan. Put differently, the distance between Makkah and Madina was like an open space and one in which the enemy was ready to appropriate; but it was also a closed space for those who had an unshakeable faith in Allah. Face to face with the enemies, the Prophet told his friend and companion, ‘don’t grief! Allah is with us”. Face to face with the challenges of life, and in between the Makkah of our lives and the Madina awaiting us, are we also ready to tell our companions: ‘don’t grief! Allah is with us?’. Face to face with the challenges of life and in-between our ‘Makkah’ of today – the ‘Makkah’ that is represented in yet to be fulfilled earthly desires- are we ready to look our spouses, friends, kith and kin in the eyes and say: ‘don’t grief! Allah is with us”?
Eventually he arrived his Madinah. The Prophet of Allah arrived Madinah after a tortuous journey across the arid desert of Arabia. But his arrival to Madinah only meant the beginning and the consolidation of what Islam can mean and what it could mean since every vocation is beset with the temptation of its purposes. His arrival to Madinah also meant the emergence of new identities within the nation of Islam. His arrival to Madinah equally meant the preparation for his return to Makkah. Now let us try to unpack the semiotics of these readings.
In the first instance, we mean to say that the Hijra is not a geographical space of question but one seemingly dedicated to the search for an answer. This is because the Hijra embarked upon by the Prophet and his companions is nothing but a geographical symbol of an obligation from which there can be no departing. In our world today, as was the case during the Prophetic era, there can be no Hijra from the observance of the five daily prayers; from the observance of fasting in the month of Ramadan; from pilgrimage to Makkah for those who can afford to do so; from perpetual testimony that Allah, in His essence, cannot be dualized let alone trinitized. It is settled in this religion that a Muslim would not wake up one day and say he is tired of being a Man and as such he should be assisted to migrate from being male to female or vice versa as is now common in “advanced” societies today where transgender practices is now the order of the day. We embark on migration from ourselves unto Allah; a Muslim does not and would not embark on migration from God to Satan.
Now in talking about “beginning” and “consolidation” of Islam after Hijra, it is with reference to those who would become Muslims by choice or chance; it is with reference to those who would find in Islam their lost treasures; it is with reference to those who would find in this religion answers to life long questions that had hitherto agitated their minds. Those who migrated from Makkah would experience the ‘consolidation’ of faith in their hearts upon their arrival to Madinah. Ironically, the arrival of emigrants to Madinah also called attention to those who still remained in Makkah the same way it called attention to the new ‘Makkahs’ in our world today. In other words, there are Muslims who still remain marooned in their own “makkkah” awaiting their emigration to their own “madinah”. Equally, there are groups of Muslim youth today who have given an erroneous reading to their circumstances and have concluded that Islam in their community is already in its Madinite phase whereas, in reality, they are still under the jackboot of the oppression of new ‘Abi Sufyans’ and ‘Abi Lahab’ of today.
In other words, every age and clime produces and nurtures its own oppressors. There cannot be an Abu Lahab unless a Muhammad is appointed against him. As soon as a Fir’awn emerges anywhere in the world, it is certain that a “Musa” would be commissioned by Allah to lead him either to the grace of our Creator or to His damnation. But the Musa that led Fir’awn to his perdition had to spend some years under the oppressive suzerainty of the latter. The point at issue here is that it is important for us all to recognise exactly what stage our ‘Islam’ is presently. To do this would mean we would be in a position to address ourselves to what constitute our opportunities, threats and challenges. Not to do this would mean we would engage in what I would call misreadings of reality: we would take our threat as an opportunity; we would take ignorance for knowledge and poverty for wealth. Is the event of the Boko Haram not an erroneous reading of the Makkah-Madina construct in Muslim weltanchauung in Nigeria of today? Is Islam in Pakistan today in its Makkan or Madinite phase?
Let us side step the above and recall the fact that the arrival of the Prophet to Madinah (upon him be peace) meant the establishment of an Islamic State; it meant that to practice Islam in its apolitical or non-political tenor is both incomplete and invalid; that it is a transaction in intellectual sophistry to say that Islam and politics are strange bed fellows. The arrival of the Prophet to Madinah also means that in all times and climes, Muslims would occupy either of the two realities: that of the governor or that of the governed.
The arrival of the Prophet to Madinah also meant the establishment of Islam as a social system where brotherhood and sisterhood, (is it brosterhood?) became nodus of religious practice. Or how else can we explain a trend in which women would be willing to share the most prized of all their “possession” with their fellow sisters.
Without being sexist, I am wondering whether this world is not in dire need of that social system in which women would, working with the Islamic script, invite their unmarried fellow sisters to legal wedlock with their husbands; where men would invite their brethren to share from their wealth.
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