Migration to Abyssinia is an important event of Islamic History. Through this migration (Hijrah), several Muslims saved themselves from the persecutions of Quraysh tribe of Makkah. The favorable experience of this migration paved the way for a far more fruitful Muslim Migration to Madinah which later proved to be the prelude for formation of Islamic Caliphate.
Situation Before Hijrah
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) started preaching of Islam secretly in 610 AD. After three years, he publically started teaching Islam and declared his Prophethood. Quraysh became extremely annoyed by his pious teachings as it was against the way of their forefathers. They started mistreating those few people who accepted Islam and life became very difficult for Muslims in Makkah.
First Hijrah to Abyssinia
At that time, Muslims heard about a kind-hearted king of Abyssinia (now in Ethiopia and Eritrea), Najashi. On seeing the difficulties of people and cruelty of Quraysh, Muhammad (PBUH) allowed few Muslims to migrate towards Abyssinia. In 613 AD, 15 Muslims migrated to Abyssinia including 11 men and 4 women. Prominent Muslims including Usman bin Affan, his wife and daughter of Muhammad Ruqayyah (RA), Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas (RA) and others were the part of this migration. It was the first phase of Migration to Abyssinia and known as the First Migration to Abyssinia (First Hijrah).
Return & Second Phase
After few days of migration, a rumor reached in Abyssinia that the people of Makkah have embraced Islam. Most of the migrants returned to Makkah and found that it was false news and the hardships of Quraysh had reached on even higher levels. The experience of first migration was positive and it prompted even more people to migrate towards a peaceful land away from the tyranny of Makkans. It marks the second migration to Abyssinia in 615 AD. This time the number of immigrants was far higher than the first one. Total 101 Muslims migrated this time to Abyssinia with 83 men and 18 women. Ja’far bin Abi Talib (RA) was the head of this group of immigrants.
Efforts of Quraysh and their Failure
Quresh became unhappy with the peaceful life of several Muslim. They wanted to take them back as they might not create problems for them later. For this purpose, they sent a delegation to the court of the King of Axum to persuade him return of the emigrant Muslim.
First they argue that the immigrants are the disbelievers of the old faith of Makkah and want to destabilize the area with new alien faith. But the head of Muslims Ja’far (RA) told the fact that there was tyranny, immorality and injustice among the Arabs while the noblest among them (Muhammad (PBUH)) was given prophethood who teach them oneness of Allah, morality, justice and other good deeds and now the majority wants few of us believers of the true faith to return to our satanic deeds. This speech was very touchy and Najashi refused to return them back to the delegation of Quraysh.
After the first failure, now the Qurash use another trick. They told the king (a Christian) that the Muslims disbelieve the trinity. At that critical moment, Jaf’ar (RA) recited the verses of Holy Qur’an about Virgin Mary and the miraculous birth of Holy Christ (PBUH). The king now realized that Muslims respect the personalities of Christ (PBUH) and his virgin mother Mary and the Quraysh are only trying to create differences among them for their own purpose with these kinds of accusations. He totally refused the demand of delegation and let the Muslims live there with peace. The emigrants remained there till the Muslim Migration to Madinah (622 AD) and later went directly to Madinah.
Importance in Islamic History
This migration to Abyssinia was not only saved several Muslims from tyranny of Quraysh but it was also a prelude to the more productive Migration to Madinah. Its goods affects proved to be the first success of Muslims against Quraysh.