Concept of Hijrat and its modern interpretation
By: Muhammad Asgar Khan
Hijrat is a mammoth sacrifice and deed that is solely undertaken for the sake of Islam. Hijrat is defined as emigration from home or place to another land or place for the sake of Allah. Its context and cause however, are different and should be understood deeply and minutely. Hijrat during the time of Prophet (PBUH) was circumstantial due to unbearable cruelties and obstacles made by Mushrekeen-e-Mecca (Non-believer in Mecca). Also, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did not emigrate at his own but he was compelled to emigrate as he had the responsibility to protect Islam.
Today the concept of Hijrat is not applied on anyone according to authentic Islamic principles and doctrines. Those migrating to Syria or Iraq for joining ISIS must realise that by doing such act, they are not performing Hijrat but committing great sin. After migrating they kill innocent people which is strictly forbidden in Islam.
The Quranic verse (4:97) motivates people, who are being oppressed and deprived, to emigrate from their places and houses to the land which is peaceful and prosperous, a place where they can earn their livelihood properly and respectfully. However, this phenomenon in modern terminology is referred to as globalisation. People migrate from their countries to other countries in search of livelihood, prosperity, peace and better facilities. In search of livelihood and better life, migration from one place to another place is permitted and constituted in Islam.
On the other hand, some people migrate from their peaceful countries to join extremist and radical groups to kill innocent people in the name of jihad and safety of Islam; they try to compare their emigration with that of Prophet’s (PBUH) emigration which is an absolute misunderstanding and erroneous comprehension.
As far as Indian Muslims are concerned, though, it is pertinent to mention that they did have choice to emigrate to Pakistan at the time of partition, yet their ancestors opted to stay in India as they knew that their religion, culture, creed, home, land and livelihood are entirely safe in India. In the prevailing scenario and in the light of Islam, Indian Muslims should not emigrate to another country for joining radical groups and people who falsely claim to protect Islam. Extremists name this as emigration for jihad which is not even remotely related to the original Hijrat. Hijrat for doing Jihad has a flawed notion as armed jihad can only be announced by a ruler of an Islamic nation.
Similarly, Hijrat in Islam had different meaning and context in 7th century and today. Therefore, all Indian Muslims should understand the meaning of Hijrat and Jihad rationally and proficiently for making their community prosperous and safe. By doing this they will be able to defend their own motherland India rather than joining extremist people with violent mind sets.
Indian Muslims have to understand that the first bond between Islam and India occurred with the establishment of a mosque in Kerala during the Prophet’s era (631 CE). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was aware of India as he said that ‘a pleasant breeze is blowing from India’.
Presently, there are about 172 million Muslim residents in India constituting nearly 14.2 percent of total population (as per census 2011). It means that India has more Muslims than any other country in the world except Indonesia and Pakistan. Muslims are spread all over India, they range from Azim Premji of Wipro to Dilip Kumar. Three Muslims have become Presidents and there are countless others who have occupied the highest posts – Idris Hasan Latif was Air Force Chief of Staff and Zafar Saifullah was Cabinet Secretary etc. Additionally, Mohd. Hidayatullah, Aziz Mushabber Ahmadi, Mirza Hameedullah Beg and Altamas Kabir held the office of the Chief Justice of India on various occasions since Independence and many more. Yet, the community is largely uneducated and poor.
The question arises as to why Muslims are cut off from commercial and academic trends?
The way to tackle the situation lies with the Muslims of India. The focus has to be on quality education, business, industry and most importantly, gender equality within the community. It depends only upon the Muslims how they uplift their standard of living and support the Government which has launched several beneficial schemes for the Muslims.