Hijrah as a Spiritual Journey

The journey of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) from Makkah to Madinah was as a template for an action that every single Muslim must take to fully develop Islam in his or her life.We may infer from certain Hadith that this “inner journey” involves our recognition, and pledge, that the Prophet himself becomes our guide even in preference to our own parents, especially if they deviate from Islāmic teaching. Inwardly, we must be willing to leave our village, our home culture, or even our homeland, if our Islam calls us to do so.

But Hijrah can be in our own hearts and minds as well. A woman who marries makes a Hijrah. She leaves the protection and safety of her own family for that of her husband. In a deep spiritual sense, she then becomes responsible for the spiritual elevation of her husband’s blood relatives, while he becomes responsible for hers.

A further implication of this concept is that we really need our spouses to fulfill the spiritual needs of our parents and ancestors. Good husbands do the same service for their wives’ previous relatives. It is for this reason that the woman’s “Hijrah” in marriage must be in full compliance with her family’s respect and acceptance.

Islam requires us all to leave our bad habits and thoughts, our “comfort zone”, and embrace new ideas and concepts. A modern idiom for “Hijraic thinking” might be “out of the box”. Therefore, even unmarried women undertake “Hijrah”, by means of education.

“Hijraic” parenting can be very difficult. The Hijrah teaches us that our children must sometimes do things that seem hurtful or wrong to us, such as the Quraish of Mecca must have felt about their Muslim convert children who fled to Abyssinia or Madinah.

Further, we must learn, as parents, how to give them the freedom to make such choices. We must not impose our own concept of “Hijra” upon them, or anyone else for that matter. It may, such as be positively dangerous for someone to move to an Arab country simply because this would be closer to Makkah and Madinah. The important thing is to find places that expand our hearts and develop our minds, and not putting us in danger because of lack of inter-cultural compatibility.

So the Prophet’s “Hijrah” is also a symbol, a symbol of education and spiritual growth. Those Muslims who convert within their own countries, and then never end to follow their previous cultural habits (such as we often see among white America converts) have not fulfilled what Ali Shariati would call one of the fundamental spiritual requirements for being “Muslim” – a true leave-taking of former ways and habits.

We must all find our “Madinah”s”. We must all find the path which causes our chests (hearts) to expand, as it says in Al Qur’an, and not become narrow and restricted. Qur’an asks, is Allah’s earth so narrow that we could not find relief from oppression?

Such a search must be every Muslim male’s strategy in life, and his wife’s duty would be to follow and support him wherever he feels compelled to go, for better or worse, to secure the forward advancement of his family’s spiritual growth. We pray for Allah’s blessing on all our forward movement in life, and for His protection from distraction or interruption of our soul’s real progress.

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