Story No. 277 – Service to Islam on the Night of Migration (Shab-e-Hijrat)
The second great occasion on which Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) offered his services to the cause of Islam was when Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) was forced to leave his birth place, Makkah to avoid persecution, making somebody stay in his place in such a way that his enemies would believe that he was still in his house and thus he might safely go away in the darkness of the night.
There is no doubt to it that every body loves his soul and very rarely gets ready to sacrifice it for another person but because of the fact that Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) loved the soul of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) even more than his own one, hence, he got prepared to lay his life for him on the night of migration (Shab-e-Hijrat).
This departure to Madinah (formerly known as Yathrib) is called migration (Hijrah), and the Muslim era is named after this event. It took place during 622 AD thirteen (13) years after Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) started preaching Islam.
People of Madinah were favourably inclined towards Islam and some who had embraced this new religion had promised every kind of support to Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw). Many Muslims who had left for Madinah were warmly welcomed by the people of Madinah (Ansar/Helpers). Quraish, realizing that Islam was gaining a good support with a firm hold in Madinah and those who had fled Makkah were being happily settled there, decided to strike at the very root. Their hatred of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) was so intense that nothing would satisfy them but his death. They gathered at Nadwa and decided that a few people from each clan of Quraish would jointly attack Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) and strike him with their swords at one and the same time. Thus no individual of any single clan would be responsible for his death and Bani Hashim would not be able to kill any person or fight against any single clan and as they were not strong enough to fight against all the clans of Quraish, at the same time they would be forced to be satisfied with blood-money (Diyat). They further decided to besiege the house of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) during the night so that he may not go away and then to kill him next morning.
Thus about forty (40) men got ready and encircled the house of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw). Allah (SWT) revealed to His Prophet Muhammad (saw) of the intrigue planned against him and ordered him to leave Makkah the very same night. It was a serious and dangerous occasion. Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) was ordered by Allah (SWT) to leave Makkah immediately in such a way that none of his enemies might suspect his departure and if possible, none of his friends might know of it. The walls of his house were barely seven feet high and anyone placing a stone and standing upon it could easily peep into the house. Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) knew the house was surrounded. Whom could he ask to sleep in his bed covering himself with his coverlet, such a person should not expose his identity till dawn (till Holy Prophet was out of danger) and should be unarmed, so that he might not rouse the suspicion of peeping enemies; he should thus be willing to bear the brunt of the enemies anger in the morning and be ready to be killed. To whom but to Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib (as), the staunch and loyal supporter of Islam, could Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) turn at this most perilous moment. Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) informed Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) of the whole plan and of the positive danger of taking his place, saying that the least could be expected of those enemies, would be death.
Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) asked: “If I take your place, and leave you alone to go through the enemies, will your life be safe?”
Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) replied: “Yes. Allah (SWT) has promised me a safe passage through them.”
Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) bowed down his head before Allah (SWT) as a sign of thanksgiving. He lied down on the bed of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) and covered himself with Holy Prophet’s coverlet. In fact, Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) used to say later that the best sleep he had ever had was on this night (Shab-e-Hijrat).
Night of Migration (Shab-e-Hijrat)Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) after making arrangements to return the properties entrusted to him by several nonbelievers, came out of his house and started proceeding towards a mountain cave of Thawr (Noble Qur’an 9:40) in the south of Makkah with Hazrat Abu Bakr in the darkness of night.
In the morning Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) was found out by the enemy only when one of them pulled the coverlet. When they wanted to attack him knowing that he was Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) and not Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), only then the enemy sheathed his sword.
And among men is he who sells himself (soul) to seek the pleasure of Allah; and Allah is Affectionate to the servants. (Noble Qur’an, 2:207)
It is held unanimous by the scholars of both the Islamic Schools, that this verse was reveled for Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib (as), when he readily slept in the bed of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), when the latter to the will of Almighty Allah (SWT) had to migrate from Makkah to Medinah. The one who would agree to offer himself instead of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) who was wanted by the enemy must essentially have:
The safety of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) preferred to his own safety
Implicit faith in the duty of a man to earn the pleasure of Almighty Allah (SWT) and His Prophet Muhammad (saw), at any cost, even at the cost of his own life
The courage of surrendering himself willingly with the utmost peace of mind, to sleep under the swords, ready to fall upon him
The confidence and faith in Almighty Allah’s (SWT) protection
On the night of Hijrah, Allah (SWT), the glorious revealed to Jibril (Gabriel) and Mikail (Michael) that, I have established brotherhood between you two and have ordained the life of one longer than the life of the other. Now, are you willing to make a present of the extra length of life to the other?
But each preferred the longer life for himself. Then Almighty Allah (SWT) revealed:
Why not follow the example of Ali ibn Abu Talib. I have established brotherhood between him and Muhammad. He is now sleeping on the bed of Muhammad in order to save his life by sacrificing his own. Now descend both of you to the earth and protect him from his enemies.
Both the angels descended. Jibrail took up his position near Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib’s (as) head and Mikail near his feet. Jibrail was crying out aloud Excellent. Excellent O son of Abu Talib! There is none like you. Almighty Allah (SWT) is making boast of you before the angels.
And it was on this very occasion that the above verse was revealed.