How People of Medina Hosted Muslim Migrants

The Ansar opened their homes and their hearts to the Muslim migrants, sharing with them their wealth, their homes, and their food.
The Ansar opened their homes and their hearts to the Muslim migrant.

By Dr. `Ali As-Sallabi

Being persecuted and tortured, the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions (may Allah be pleased with them) had to leave their homelands to other places where they can practice and promulgate their religion freely. Some of them migrated to Abyssinia, and some others, including the Prophet (peace be upon him), chose to move to Al-Madinah, which marked a new phase in the Islamic history. This migration represented a matchless historical experience, in terms of sacrifice, brotherhood and love of Islam, which can never occur again.

The Ansar (Muslims of Medina) opened their homes and their hearts to the Muhajirun (Muslim migrants), sharing with them their wealth, their homes, and their food, with utmost love and generosity. Many of the Ansars’ homes were used to accommodate members of the Muhajirun’, these are some examples:

1) The house of Mubashir ibn `Abdul-Mundhir ibn Zanbar at Quba’

A number of Muhajirun stayed there: `Umar ibn Al-Khattab, his family, some of his fellow clansmen, his daughter Hafsah, and her husband,  and `Ayyash ibn Abu Rabi`ah.

2) The house of Khubaib ibn Isaf

Khubaib was the brother of Balharith ibn Al-Khazraj, and his house was situated in As-Sunh. Those who stayed with him were Talhah ibn `Ubaidullah ibn `Uthman, his mother and Suhaib ibn Sinan.

3) The house of As`ad ibn Zurarah, which was situated among the homes of the Banu An-Najjar clan

It is said that Hamzah ibn `Abdul-Muttalib stayed in As`ad’s house.

4) The house of Sa`d ibn Khaithamah

Khaithaman was a brother of the Banu An-Najjar, and his house was called the Bachelors House, since unmarried Muhajirun men stayed there.

5) The house of `Abdullah ibn Salamah at Quba’

All of the following Muhajirun stayed there under the hospitality of `Abdullah ibn Salamah: `Ubaidah ibn Al-Harith, his mother Sakheelah, Mistah ibn Uthathah ibn `Abbad ibn Al-Muttalib, At-Tufail ibn Al-Harith, Tulaib ibn `Umair, and Al-Husain ibn Al-Harith.

6) The house of the Banu Jahjaba clan

The host there was Mundhir ibn Muhammad ibn `Uqbah, and his Muhajirun guests were Az-Zubair ibn Al-`Awam, his wife Asma daughter of Abu Bakr, Abu Sabrah ibn Abu Ruhm, and Abu Sabrah’s wife Umm Kulthum daughter of Suhail.

7) The house of the Banu `Abdul-Ashhal clan

The host there was Sa`d ibn Mu`adh ibn An-No`man. His Muhajirun guests were Mus`ab ibn `Umair and his wife Hamnah daughter of Jahsh.

8) The house of the Banu An-Najjar clan

The host there was ‘Aws ibn Thabit ibn Al-Mundhir. His guests were `Uthman ibn `Affan and his wife Ruqayyah daughter of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him).

True, the Muhajirun left behind their homes and wealth; but the Ansar did not let them remember that reality, bestowing upon them such wonderful hospitality as made them feel welcome and at ease in their new surroundings.

What is truly striking about the Muhajiruns’ early days in Al-Madinah is that, even though many people -from different tribes and backgrounds- shared the same home, one cannot find in any history book even a single example of a difference of opinion or quarrel that took place in those houses. Imagine the chaos that results when women from different families and backgrounds have to share the same house for months at a time; yet that is precisely what happened in Al-Madinah, minus the chaos. To the contrary, the meanings of sacrifice, sharing, and loftiness pervaded Al-Madinah’s streets and homes. Peace reigned in that fledgling country even before the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) arrived there. Everyone worked for the benefit of everyone else. Throughout the annals of history, no immigrant population has ever lived in such harmony with the native dwellers of a land as did the Muhajirun with the Ansar. And it was nothing other than Islam and faith in Allah M that brought them together.

We must keep in mind that it was many people from Al-Ansar, and not just a few among them, who opened their doors to guests from the Muhajirun. Furthermore, the Muhajirun stayed on as guests not for days but for months, and so on a daily basis throughout that period, their hosts from Al-Ansar spent their wealth and gave their time in the service of their guests.

We must also remember that the Muhajirun had previously set an example for the Ansar, in terms of how to sacrifice wealth and comfort for the cause of Islam. For the Muhajirun had not previously been poor; to the contrary, they owned wealth and houses; yet they left all of that behind in Makkah, seeking the pleasure of Allah (Glory be to Him). They were as the Qur’an described them to be:

(And there is also a share in this booty) for the poor emigrants, who were expelled from their homes and their property, seeking Bounties from Allah and to please Him. And helping Allah (i.e., helping His religion) and His Messenger. Such are indeed the truthful (to what they say). (Al-Hashr 59: 8)

One of the outstanding features of the new Muslim society was a lack of distinction according to class or rank or tribe. The most telling example of this new reality was the fact that Salim, the freed slave of Abu Hudhaifah, was leading the Muslims in prayer. He deserved to lead because he knew the most Qur’an. We must remember that others more wealthy and of nobler lineage were present in Al-Madinah; tribal chieftains of Al-Ansar and many of Makkah’s most prominent members were in Al-Madinah, yet they chose a freed slave to lead them in prayer, showing that it was piety and knowledge, not wealth and status, that they valued most.

It behooves us to compare the two lands of migration, Abyssinia and Al-Madinah. The main distinction between the two lands was that – and this was something new to the Muhajirun – the Muhajirun were able to spread Islam throughout Al-Madinah, whereas the Muslims in Abyssinia were more akin to political refugees than to propagators of their religion. True, Muslims in Abyssinia enjoyed the freedom to practice their religion; nonetheless, they were strangers and were isolated from Abyssinia’s Christian society. If they had a palpable impact on Abyssinia’s people, it was an impact that was incomplete and lacked comprehensiveness. To be sure, the Muslims in Abyssinia enjoyed a better atmosphere than they had enjoyed in Makkah, but still, they weren’t free to spread the message of Islam.

Meanwhile, the Muhajirun enjoyed both freedoms: the freedom to practice their religion and the freedom to spread it to others. And so no sooner did the Muslims in Abyssinia hear news about the migration to Al-Madinah than they headed there themselves, either directly or through Makkah – except for those who were ordered to remain there. Only one city or country had as of then become a completely Islamic society, and that was Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah.


Source: Taken with modifications from the author’s Noble Life of Prophet Muhammad.

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