The Arabic word Hijra means migration. It marks the beginning of the new year in the Islamic calendar and refers to the migration of Muhammad (SAW) and his companions, from Mecca to Madina. The Hijra was a great historical event marking a significant change in Islamic history. The early Muslims gained a position of strength and authority following the Hijra. The Hijri calendar was adopted during the Khilafah (successorship) of Umar Ibn-Khathab (RA). Umar (RA) rejected many other suggestions to start the Islamic calendar, including the birth and death of the Muhammad (SAW). He stated, “The Hijra has separated truth from falsehood, therefore, let it become the Epoch of the Era” (Fath Al-Bari, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani). Muhammad (SAW) publicly preached Islam in Mecca for more than a decade when the opposition was at its peak. The believers were harassed, abused and even cruelly tortured. Afraid for their safety, Muhammad (SAW) sent a group of Muslims to Abyssinia (now known as Ethiopia) where the Christian ruler extended protection to the Sahabahs. Shortly after that, Muhammad (SAW) sent seventy others to Yathrib (later re-named Madina) with the hope of establishing a new beginning for Islam.
When Muhammad (SAW) set off for Yathrib with his closest friend, Abu-Bakr as-Siddique (RA), the leaders of Mecca decided to have him killed. They put a bounty on his head and sent people in pursuit. Muhammad (SAW) and Abu Bakr (RA) hid in a cave where Allah protected them from their assassins. Allah says, "It does not matter if you believers do not support him, for Allah did in fact support him when the disbelievers drove him out of Mecca, and he was only one of two. While they both were in the cave, he reassured his companion, ‘Do not worry; Allah is certainly with us’. So, Allah sent down His serenity upon the Prophet, supported him with forces you believers did not see, and made the word of the disbelievers lowest, while the Word of Allah is supreme. And Allah is Almighty, All-Wise." (Quran, 9:40)
The early Muslims made great sacrifices to move to Madina (Hijra) to begin the first ever Islamic community. Allah says,“As for those who emigrated in the cause of Allah after being persecuted, We will surely bless them with a good home in this world. But the reward of the Hereafter is far better, if only they knew." (Quran, 16:41) Muhammad (SAW) and his followers were joyously welcomed by the people of Madina (the Ansar or “helpers”). Muhammad (SAW) established a concept of brotherhood among the Muslims and unity with the non-Muslim communities, including the Jewish tribes.
The Hijra from Mecca to Madina marked the Muslims' transition from one stage to another on several different levels. They went from a position of weakness to one of strength. In Mecca, they were humiliated and abused at the hands of Quraysh, in Medina they were the ones with power. They went from spreading Islam individually in Mecca, to converting whole nations at a time in Medina. From implementing Islam individually in Mecca, to implementing a full, comprehensive, political, and economic system that governed a nation in every aspect of life. From being a small group of believers in Mecca to, becoming the heart of an Islamic nation encompassing Muslims in multiple countries.