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21. The journey to Yathrib

The Makkans were never going to allow Muhammad (pbuh) to leave Makkah. In fact, in their meeting they had planned an evil plot to murder Muhammad (pbuh). They selected one person from each tribe to carry out this crime. They wanted to spread the blame of this murder to all the tribes in Makkah to prevent bloodshed.

Whilst the Makkans were planning their crime, Allah commanded the prophet (pbuh) to make the Hijra to Yathrib. Muhammad immediately went to the house of Abu Bakr and they planned the details of the Hijra. They decided to travel together during this long journey to Yathrib.

That night, the Makkans were prowling the streets around the Prophet’s house. A number of them kept guard close to the house, occasionally peering through the cracks in the door. They wanted to make sure they would capture the Prophet (pbuh) before he could escape from their evil grasp. They were hell-bent on killing our beloved Prophet (pbuh) so they were well armed with their knives and swords.

As it so happened, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had asked Ali, his beloved nephew and Sahabih, to sleep in his bed that night. The Makkans would assume Muhammad (pbuh) was still sleeping. He had assured Ali that he would be free from harm. Therefore, Ali slept in the Prophet’s (pbuh) place that night, with the green cloak covering his body.

The prophet (pbuh) took a hand full of dust and blew the dust in the direction of the waiting assassins. He recited some words of the Qu'ran and walked passed them. They were unable to see him as he walked past their very eyes. Therefore, Muhammad (pbuh) was able to leave his house in complete safety whilst the Makkans were still waiting outside for him.

The Prophet (pbuh) then headed towards Abu Bakr’s house, they got some things for the journey and then left Makkah for Yathrib. They also had the company of Abu Bakr’s daughter, asma, with them for the first part of their journey. They did not head directly for Yathrib but went in the opposite direction towards mount Thawr, in the south. They knew the Makkans would come after them when they discover Muhammad (pbuh) had escaped from them.

As they approached Mount Thawr, Asma left their company and both Abu Bakr and Muhammad (pbuh) proceeded up the mountain. They headed for a cave where they would hide in safety for three days. Abu Bakr went into the cave first to clean it out and to fill any holes that may contain dangerous creatures. He used cloth from his clothes to block the holes. As the two travellers entered the cave, they began to rest.

In Makkah, the word got out that the Prophet (pbuh) had left Makkah so the Makkans barged into the house of Muhammad (pbuh). They were surprised to find Ali sleeping in the Prophet’s bed so they beat him up. They had planned to kill the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) when he woke up in the morning so had watched the house all night.

They took Ali to the Ka'bahwhere they beat him again, trying in despair to get information out of him about the prophet's whereabouts. They called an emergency meeting of all the prominent Makkans. During this meeting, they put a large reward of 100 camels for anyone who could bring them Muhammad, dead or alive. In case Abu Bakr and Muhammad were still hiding elsewhere in Makkah, they posted guards at all the exits leading out of Makkah.

All the people in Makkah heard the announcement and many of them wanted to claim this reward. Groups of people left Makkah in search of the two companions. Many of the Arabs in the surrounding areas also headed out in search of Muhammad (pbuh) and Abu Bakr. In the meantime, they were safe in the cave in mount Thawr.

Amir bin Fuhairah was a shepherd who was a close friend of Abu Bakr. In fact, he had been a slave who Abu Bakr had purchased and set free. Amir herded his sheep all the way up to mount Thawr so the tracks they had left in the sand had been covered by the goat tracks. This meant that it was very difficult to find out the direction Muhammad (pbuh) and Abu Bakr had taken.

As the prophet (pbuh) rested with his head on Abu Bakr’s lap, Abu Bakr noticed one of the small holes he hadn’t plugged yet. Abu Bakr did not want to disturb the prophet (pbuh) so he stuck his toe into the entrance of the hole, preventing anything coming into the cave. Suddenly, a poisonous creature bit Abu Bakr’s toe causing him much pain. Abu Bakr tried his best not to disturb the prophet (pbuh) who was resting after their tiring journey.

Abu Bakr was suffering with the pain getting worse. A bead of sweat fell off Abu Bakr's forehead onto Muhammad (pbuh). The prophet (pbuh) woke up and noticed the pain Abu Bakr was in. He made a dua and put some saliva on the wound causing it to heal immediately. Then the two companions remained inside the small cave.

The Arabs were looking everywhere for these two travellers. They searched all the normal routes leading out of Makkah and also the less common routes. Suddenly, a group of bounty hunters were heard coming towards the cave. Their voices became louder as they approached the entrance. They were near the entrance of the cave when Abu Bakr expressed his concern to the Prophet (pbuh). The prophet (pbuh) simply replied, “What do you think of those two with whom the third is Allah.”

The Bounty Hunters saw that there was an undisturbed spiders web over the front of the cave. They had been ready to go in and explore the cave but now reconsidered. They muttered amongst themselves and decided that there was no one inside. They then walked away without exploring the cave. This was a first close encounter but Allah had saved them from harm again.

During their short stay there, Abdullah the son of Abu Bakr would come to the cave with some food and spend the night with them. Amir bin Fuhairah also came with some of the goats. He would bring them milk to drink.

After the three days were over, the search for the two companions had subsided quite a lot. Just as they had planned, they decided to make the trip to Yathrib. Their guide was Abdullah bin Uraiqit, who was also a trusted friend of Abu Bakr. He took them through the least common routes, near the Red Sea towards Yathrib.

For the journey, Abdullah had brought two camels with him which belonged to Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr had offered Muhammad (pbuh) the faster of the two camels. The prophet (pbuh) refused this gift but said that he would buy the camel of Abu Bakr. They fixed the price and the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) mounted the camel. They set off on their long and arduous journey to Yathrib through the deserts of Arabia.

There were many incidents that took place on this journey until they finally reached their destination. One of the closest was when they were tracked down by one of the Arabs, Suraqah bin Malik, who was attracted by the big reward.

Suraqah was sitting in a company of his tribesmen. He listened to them talking about three travellers moving towards Yathrib on some unused route. Suraqah assured them that they were some people he knew. He assured them that he had met that small group a few days earlier. Deep inside he hoped those traveller were Muhammad (pbuh) and Abu Bakr. He had the intention of catching up with them and claim this reward.

After a short while, Suraqah set off towards the group, with his horse galloping at full pace making up lost ground. As he got closer, his horse stumbled causing him to fall onto the ground. Suraqah consulted his arrows, which advised him not to continue. However, Suraqah continued moving towards the small group of travellers. Again he fell off the horse as its front legs sank into the sand. Suraqah was startled but again he continued.

From this, he realised that this was no normal group of people and that Muhammad was indeed someone special. He decided to talk to Muhammad (pbuh) and also requested for his protection. After one of the companions wrote this down. Suraqah left their company knowing that he had met a prophet of Allah. He also felt that Muhammad (pbuh) would surely conquer all Arabia.

There were many other incidents that go beyond the scope of these lessons. It is worth studying this in greater detail as personal study. It will be of immense benefit and interest to the reader, inshallah.

The Muslims in Yathrib had waited eagerly for their beloved Prophet (pbuh) to arrive for quite a few days now. Every morning they would come to one of the hillocks and look far into the desert for any sign of travellers coming towards Yathrib. When the sun became extremely hot, the Muslims would leave and return to their houses.

One of the Jews noticed a small group of people, wearing white clothes, coming in their direction. They assumed them to be Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions. The Muslims had already left so he shouted aloud, “Your Prophet (pbuh) is coming!” and the Muslims rushed out to meet him. There was great joy and much celebration and excitement. Muhammad (pbuh) and Abu Bakr had finally arrived in Quba, which was their main stop before going to Yathrib.

The Muslims in Yathrib were by no means wealthy and how would the society absorb such a large number of extra Muslims? Muhammad (pbuh) and the Muslims may have escaped from the grasp of the Makkans but even now the Makkans were annoyed. They were thinking about getting revenge and finishing things off, once and for all! How long would it be before the Makkans and their allies would cause trouble in Yathrib?

Yathrib was a city of illness how would the new guests fare in this new climate? Yathrib also had its own problems with a fragile peace existing between the different groups and tribes? How would they feel with the arrival of Muhammad (pbuh), the new leader of the Muslims? All will be revealed, Inshallah.