When the iniquitous decision had been made, Gabriel was sent down to Muhammad (Peace be upon him) to reveal to him Quraish’s plot and give him his Lord’s Permission to leave Makkah. He fixed to him the time of migration and asked him not to sleep that night in his usual bed. At noon, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) went to see his Companion Abu Bakr and arranged with him everything for the intended migration. Abu Bakr was surprised to see the Prophet (Peace be upon him) masked coming to visit him at that unusual time, but he soon learned that Allâh’s Command had arrived, and he proposed that they should migrate together, to which the Prophet (Peace be upon him) gave his consent.
To make the necessary preparations for the implementation of their devilish plan, the chiefs of Makkah had chosen eleven men: Abu Jahl, Hakam bin Abil Al-‘As, ‘Uqbah bin Abi Mu‘ait, An-Nadr bin Harith, Omaiyah bin Khalaf, Zama‘a bin Al-Aswad, Tu‘aima bin ‘Adi, Abu Lahab, Ubai bin Khalaf, Nabih bin Al-Hajjaj and his brother Munbih bin Al-Hajjaj. All were on the alert. As night advanced, they posted assassins around the Prophet’s house. Thus they kept vigil all night long, waiting to kill him the moment he left his house early in the morning, peeping now and then through a hole in the door to make sure that he was still lying in his bed. Abu Jahl, the great enemy of Islam, used to walk about haughtily and arrogantly jeering at Muhammad’s words, saying to the people around him: “Muhammad claims that if you follow him, he will appoint you rulers over the Arabs and non-Arabs and in the Hereafter your reward will be Gardens similar to those in Jordan, otherwise, he will slaughter you and after death you will be burnt in fire.” He was too confident of the success of his devilish plan. Allâh, the All-Mighty, however, in Whose Hands lie the sovereignty of the heavens and earth, does what He desires; He renders succour and can never be overpowered. He did exactly what He later said to His Prophet:
“And (remember) when the disbelievers plotted against you [O Muhammad (Peace be upon him)] to imprison you, or to kill you, or to get you out (from your home, i.e. Makkah); they were plotting and Allâh too was planning, and Allâh is the Best of the planners.” [8:30]
At that critical time the plans of Quraish utterly failed despite the tight siege they laid to the Prophet’s house, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and ‘Ali were inside the house. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) told ‘Ali to sleep in his bed and cover himself with his green mantle and assured him full security under Allâh’s protection and told him that no harm would come to him. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) then came out of the room and cast a handful of dust at the assassins and managed to work his way through them reciting verses of the Noble Qur’ân:
“And We have put a barrier before them, and a barrier behind them, and We have covered them up, so that they cannot see.” [36:9]
He proceeded direct to the house of Abu Bakr who, immediately accompanied him and both set out southwards, clambered up the lofty peak of Mountain Thawr, and decided to take refuge in a cave.
The assassins who laid siege to the house were waiting for the zero hour when someone came and informed them that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had already left. They rushed in and to their utter surprise, found that the person lying in the Prophet’s bed was ‘Ali not Muhammad (Peace be upon him). This created a stir in the whole town. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) had thus left his house on Safar 27th, the fourteenth year of Prophethood, i.e. 12/13 September 622 A.D.
Knowing already that Quraish would mobilize all its potentials to find him, he played a clever trick on them and instead of taking the road to Madinah in north side of Makkah as the polythiest would expect, he walked along a road least expected lying south of Makkah and leading to Yemen. He walked for 5 miles until he reached a rough rocky mountain called Thawr. There his shoes were worn out, some said he used to walk tiptoe in order not to leave a trail behind him. Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him) carried him up the mountain to a cave called after the name of the mountain, Cave Thawr. Abu Bakr first entered to explore the cave and be sure that it was safe, closed all holes with pieces torn off from his clothes, cleaned it and then asked the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to step in. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) went in and immediately laid his head in Abu Bakr’s lap and fell asleep. Suddenly Abu Bakr’s foot was stung by a poisonous insect. It hurt so much that his tears fell on the Prophet’s face. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) immediately applied his saliva on Abu Bakr’s foot and the pain went off on the spot. They confined themselves to this cave for three nights, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. ‘Abdullah, the son of Abu Bakr would go to see them after dusk, stay the night there, apprise them of the latest situation in Makkah, and then leave in the early morning to mix with the Makkans as usual and not to draw the least attention to his clandestine activities. ‘Amir bin Fuhairah, while in the company of other shepherds of Makkah tending his master Abu Bakr’s flock, used to stole away unobserved every evening with a few goats to the cave and furnished its inmates with a plentiful supply of milk.
Quraish, on the other hand, were quite baffled and exasperated when the news of the escape of the two companions was confirmed. They brought ‘Ali to Al-Ka‘bah, beat him brutally and confined him there for an hour attempting desperately to make him divulge the secret of the disappearance of the two ‘fugitives’, but to no avail. They then went to see Asma’, Abu Bakr’s daughter, but here also their attempts went in vain. While at her door Abu Jahl slapped the girl so severely that her earring broke up.
The notables of Makkah convened an emergency session to determine the future course of action and explore all areas that could help arrest the two men. They decided to block all avenues leading out of Makkah and imposed heavy armed surveillance over all potential exits. A price of 100 camels was set upon the head of each one. Horsemen, infantry and tracers of tracks scoured the country. Once they even reached the mouth of the cave where the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and Abu Bakr were hiding. When he saw the enemy at a very close distance, Abu Bakr whispered to the Prophet (Peace be upon him): “What, if they were to look through the crevice and detect us?” The Prophet (Peace be upon him) in his God-inspired calm replied:
“Silence Abu Bakr! What do you think of those two with whom the Third is Allâh.”
It was really a Divine miracle, the chasers were only a few steps from the cave.
For three days Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and Abu Bakr lived in the cave and Quraish continued their frantic efforts to get hold of them.
Someone called ‘Abdullah bin Uraiquit, who had as yet not embraced Islam, but was trusted by Abu Bakr, and had been hired by him as a guide, reached the cave after three nights according to a plan bringing with him Abu Bakr’s two camels. His report satisfied the noble ‘fugitives’ that the search had slackened. The opportunity to depart was come. Here Abu Bakr offered the Prophet (Peace be upon him) the swift animal to ride on. The latter agreed provided that he would pay its price. They took with them the food provisions that Asma’, daughter of Abu Bakr, brought and tied in a bundle of her waistband, after tearing it into two parts, hence the appellation attached to her: “Asma’ of the two waistbands.” The Prophet (Peace be upon him), Abu Bakr and ‘Amir bin Fuhairah departed, and their guide ‘Abdullah bin Uraiquit led them on hardly ever trodden ways along the coastal route. That was in Rabi‘ Al-Awwal, 1st year A.H., i.e. September 622 A.D. The little caravan travelled through many villages on their way to Quba’. In this context, it is relevant to introduce some interesting incidents that featured their wearying journey:
One day they could find no shelter from the scorching heat so Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him) cast a glance and found a little shade beside a rock. He cleaned the ground, spread his mantle for the Prophet(Peace be upon him) to lie on and himself went off in search of food. He came across a shepherd, a bedouin boy, who was also seeking a shelter. Abu Bakr asked him for some milk and took it to the Prophet (Peace be upon him), cooled it with some water and waited till the Prophet (Peace be upon him) woke up and quenched his thirst.
Whoever asked Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him) about the identity of his honourable companion, he would reply that he was a man who guided him on his way. The questioner would think that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was a guide, in terms of roads, whereas Abu Bakr used to mean guide to the way of righteousness.
Quraish, as we have already mentioned, had declared that whoever would seize Muhammad (Peace be upon him) would receive a hundred camels as reward. This had spurred many persons to try their luck. Among those who were on the lookout for the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and his companion in order to win the reward was Suraqah, the son of Malik. He, on receiving information that a party of four, had been spotted on a certain route, decided to pursue it secretly so that he alone should be the winner of the reward. He mounted a swift horse and went in hot pursuit of them. On the way the horse stumbled and he fell on the ground. On drawing a lot so as to divine whether he should continue the chase or not, as the Arabs used to do in such circumstances, he found the omens unpropitious. But the lust for material wealth blinded him altogether and he resumed the chase. Once more he met with the same fate but paid no heed to it. Again he jumped onto the saddle and galloped at a break-neck speed till he came quite close to the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Abu Bakr’s heart agitated and he kept looking back while the Prophet (Peace be upon him) remained steadfast and continued reciting verses of the Qur’ân.
The repeated stumbling of Suraqah’s horse and his falling off awakened him to the situation, and he realized that it was a constant warning of Allâh for his evil design which he contemplated against the Prophet (Peace be upon him). He approached the travelling group with a penitent heart and begged of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) forgiveness in all humility. He addressed the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and his companion, saying: “Your people (the Quraishites) have promised a generous reward to anyone who captures you.” He added that he offered them provision but they declined his offer. They only asked him to screen off their departure and blind the polytheists to their hiding place. Then the Prophet (Peace be upon him) forgave him and confirmed it with a token written by ‘Amir bin Fuhairah on a piece of parchment. Suraqah hurried back to Makkah and tried to foil the attempts of those who were in pursuit of Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and his noble companions. The sworn enemy was converted into an honest believer.
In a version by Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with him), he said: “We emigrated while the Makkans were in pursuit of us. None caught up with us except Suraqah bin Malik bin Ju‘sham on a horse. I said: ‘O Messenger of Allâh, this one has caught up with us.’ The Prophet (Peace be upon him) replied:
‘Don’t be cast down, verily, Allâh is with us.’”
The party continued its journey until it reached to solitary tents belonging to a woman called Umm Ma‘bad Al-Khuza‘iyah. She was a gracious lady who sat at her tent-door with a mat spread out for any chance traveller that might pass by the way. Fatigued and thirsty, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and his companions wanted to refresh themselves with food and some milk. The lady told them that the flock was out in the pasture and the goat standing nearby was almost dry. It was a rainless year. The Prophet (Peace be upon him), with her permission, touched its udders, reciting over them the Name of Allâh, and to their great joy, there flowed plenty of milk out of them. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) first offered that to the lady of the house, and he shared what was left with the members of the party. Before he left, he milked the goat, filled the container and gave it to Umm Ma‘bad. Later on, her husband arrived with slender goats hardly having any milk in their udders. He was astonished to see milk in the house. His wife told him that a blessed man passed by the way, and then she gavedetails about his physical appearance and manner of talk. Here Abu Ma‘bad realized on the spot that the man was the one whom Quraish were searching for and asked her to give full description of him. She gave a wonderful account of his physique and manners, to which we will go in detail later in the process of talking about his attributes and merits.
Abu Ma‘bad, after listening to his wife’s account, expressed a sincere wish to accompany the Prophet (Peace be upon him) whenever that was possible, and reiterated his admiration in verses of poetry that echoed all over Makkah to such an extent that the people therein thought it was a jinn inculcating words in their ears. Asma’, daughter of Abu Bakr, on hearing those lines, got to know that the two companions were heading for Madinah . The short poem opened with thanks giving to Allâh having given them (the Ma‘bads) the chance to host the Prophet (Peace be upon him) for a while. It then gave an account of the bliss that would settle in the heart of the Prophet’s companion whosoever he was; it closed with an invitation to all mankind to come and see by themselves Umm Ma‘bad, her goat and the container of milk that would all testify to the truthfulness of the Prophet (Peace be upon him).
On his way to Madinah , the Prophet (Peace be upon him) met Abu Buraidah, one of those driven by their lust for the reward of Quraish. No sooner did he face the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and talk with him, than he embraced Islam along with seventy of his men. He took off his turban, tied it round his lance and took it as a banner bearing witness that the angel of security and peace had come to imbue the whole world with justice and fairness.
The two Emigrants resumed their journey. It was during this time that they met Az-Zubair at the head of a caravan returning from Syria. There was warm greeting and Az-Zubair presented to them two white garments which they thankfully accepted.
On Monday, 8th Rabi‘ Al-Awwal, the fourteenth year of Prophethood, i.e. September 23rd. 622, the Messenger of Allâh arrived at Quba’.
As soon as the news of Muhammad’s arrival began to spread, crowds came flocking out of Madinah . They would come every morning and wait eagerly for his appearance until forced by the unbearable heat of the midday sun to return. One day they had gone as usual, and after a long wait and watch they retired to the city when a Jew, catching a glimpse of three travellers clad in white winding their way to Madinah , shouted from the top of a hillock: “O you people of Arabia! Your grandfather has come! He, whom you have been eagerly waiting for, has come!” The Muslims immediately rushed holding their weapons, (to defend him). The joyful news soon spread through the city and people marched forward to greet their noble guest.
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “The shouts of ‘Allâhu Akbar’ (Allâh is Great) resounded in Banu ‘Amr bin ‘Auf. Muhammad’s (Peace be upon him) elation correspondingly increased, but with rare sense of timing and propriety, called a halt. Serenity enveloped him and the ? evelation was sent down:
“... then verily, Allâh is his Maula (Lord, Master or Protector), and Gabriel, and the righteous among the believers, - and furthermore, the angels - are his helpers.” [66:4]
‘Urwah bin Az-Zubair said: They received the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him), and went with them to the right. There Banu ‘Amr bin ‘Awf hosted him. That was on Monday, Rabi‘ Al-Awwal. He sat down silent, and Al-Ansar (the Helpers), who had not had the opportunity to see him before, came in to greet him: It is said that the sun became too hot so Abu Bakr stood up to shade him from the hot sun rays. It was really an unprecedented day in Madinah . The Jews could perceive concretely the veracity of their Prophet Habquq, who said: ‘God has come from At-Taiman, and the Qudus one from Faran Mount.’
Muhammad (Peace be upon him) stayed in Quba’ with Kulthum bin Al-Hadm, a hospitable chief of the tribe of ‘Amr bin ‘Awf. Here he spent four days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday . It was during this period that the foundation of Quba’ Mosque was laid on the basis of pure piety. ‘Ali hung back in Makkah for three days to return the trusts, on behalf of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), to their respective owners. After that he started his emigration journey to catch up with him at Quba’.
On Friday morning, the Prophet (Peace be upon him), sent for Bani An-Najjar, his maternal uncles, to come and escort him and Abu Bakr to Madinah . He rode towards the new headquarters amidst the cordial greetings of his Madinese followers who had lined his path. He halted at a place in the vale of Banu Salim and there he performed his Friday prayer with a hundred others. Meanwhile the tribes and families of Madinah , the new name for Yathrib and a short form of ‘The Messenger’s Madinah (City)’, came streaming forth, and vied with one another in inviting the noble visitor to their homes. The girls of the Madinese used to chant beautiful verses of welcome rich in all meanings of obedience and dutifulness to the new Messenger.
Though not wealthy, every Ansar (Helper) was wholeheartedly eager and anxious to receive the Messenger in his house. It was indeed a triumphal procession. Around the camel of Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and his immediate followers, rode the chiefs of the city in their best raiment and in glittering armour, everyone saying: “Alight here O Messenger of Allâh, abide by us.” Muhammad (Peace be upon him) used to answer everyone courteously and kindly: “This camel is commanded by Allâh, wherever it stops, that will be my abode.”
The camel moved onward with slackened rein, reached the site of the Prophetic Mosque and knelt down. He did not dismount until it rose up again, went on forward, turned back and then returned to kneel down in the very former spot. Here, he alighted in a quarter inhabited by Banu Najjar, a tribe related to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) from the maternal side. In fact, it was his wish to honour his maternal uncles and live among them. The fortunate host, Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari, stepped forward with unbounded joy for the Divine blessing appropriated to him, welcomed the Noble Guest and solicited him to enter his house.
A few days later, there arrived the Prophet’s spouse Sawdah, his two daughters Fatimah and Umm Kulthum, Usama bin Zaid, Umm Aiman, ‘Abdullah — son of Abu Bakr with Abu Bakr’s house-hold including ‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her). Zainab was not able to emigrate and stayed with her husband Abi Al-‘As till Badr Battle.
‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: “When the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) arrived in Madinah , both Abu Bakr and Bilal fell ill. I used to attend to their needs. When the fever took firm grip of Abu Bakr he used to recite verses of poetry that smacked of near death; Bilal, when the fit of fever alleviated, would also recite verses of poetry that pointed to clear homesickness.” ‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) added:
“I briefed the Prophet (Peace be upon him) on their grave situation, and he replied: O Allâh, we entreat You to establish in our hearts a strong love for Madinah equal to that we used to have for Makkah, or even more. O Allâh, bless and increase the wealth of Madinah and we beseech You to transmute its rotten mud into wholesome edible fat.”