The first hijra: Migration to Abyssinia
(International Board of Islamic Research and Resources)
Negus (Al-Najaashii), the emperor of Abyssinia, was an enlightened believer.
Deep inside he embraced a rational and pure Christianity, void of deviation, fanaticism, and narrow-mindedness.
He was renowned and highly admired for his justice. Hence, the Prophet (PBUH) chose his country for his Companions'
immigration. Now, the Quraish were afraid lest they should not be able to convince him of their viewpoint. Therefore,
their two delegates carried many expensive gifts for the bishops and archbishops of the church and were advised not to meet
Al-Najaashii until they had given those presents to the bishops and convinced them of their viewpoint so that they would support
them before Al-Najaashii.
As soon as the two delegates arrived in Abyssinia, they met the spiritual leaders
and lavished the gifts on them. Then they sent Al-Najaashii his presents. Afterwards, they began to
incite the priests and bishops against the Muslim immigrants and asked them to support them in their plea
to Al-Najaashii to expel them. A day was set for the Muslims to meet Al-Najaashii and confront, before his eyes,
their spiteful and mischevious enemies.
On the appointed day, Al-Najaashii sat on the throne in awesome dignity, surrounded by the bishops and his retinue. Right in front of him in the vast hall sat the Muslim immigrants, enveloped by Allah's calmness, tranquility, and mercy which He had sent down upon them. The two Quraish delegates stood to reiterate their accusation which they had presented before Al-Najaashii in a private meeting right before this huge audience.
They said, "Your Majesty, you well know that a group of fools have turned renegade and have taken asylum in your country. They did not embrace your religion, but rather invented their own religion that neither of us know. We are people of high rank who are related to their fathers, uncles, and tribes, so that you would surrender those wretched renegades to us."
Al-Najaashii addressed the Muslims saying, "What is that religion that made you abandon your people's religion and refuse to embrace our religion?" Ja'afar stood to perform the task for which he had been chosen by mutual consultation immediately before this meeting. Ja'far stood up slowly and gracefully, looked with appreciation at the hospitable king and said, "0 your Majesty, we used to be a people of ignorance. We worshipped idols, ate dead animals, committed great sin, severed family relations, and acted according to the law of the jungle. We used to believe that survival was only for the fittest until Allah sent from among us a Prophet (PBUH) who was known for his noble descent, honesty, trustworthiness, and chastity. He invited us to worship Allah alone and abstain from worshipping stones and idols. He ordered us to speak nothing but the truth and to render back our trusts to those whom they are due. Moreover, he ordered us to keep our ties of kinship intact, be good to our neighbors, and abstain from what is forbidden. He also ordered us not to commit evil, nor to say false statements, nor to eat up the property of orphans, nor to accuse chaste women of wrong-doing without proof or witness.
Hence, we believed in him and in Allah's message to him. We worshipped Allah alone. We rejected that which we used to associate with Him as His partners. We allowed as lawful what is halaal and prohibited as unlawful what is haraam. Consequently, we were harassed and abused by our people, who tried to turn us away from what Allah had sent down to the Prophet (PBUH) so that we may return to idol worshiping and the evil and unlawful deeds we used to do. We were oppressed, abused and straitened in a way that prevented us from the proper worship of Allah. They even tried to force us to turn apostate. Therefore, we fled to your country and asked for asylum to escape oppression and tyranny."
When Ja'far finished his glorious words which were as clear as daylight, Al-Najaashii was gripped by compassion and grace. He addressed Ja'far saying, "Do you have a scroll on which you have written the words of your Prophet?" Ja'far replied, "Yes." Al-Najaashii ordered, "Read it aloud." Ja'far recited a number of verses from Surat Maryam in such a slow, sweet, subdued, and captivating voice that it made Al-Najaashii and all his bishops cry.
When he wiped his tears he swiftly said to the Quraish delegates, "These words, of what had descended on 'Isaa (Jesus), come from the very same source as that of 'Isa. You are free men in a free land. I will never surrender you to them."
The meeting was over. Allah had helped the Muslims and made their feet firm; whereas the Quraish delegates were bitterly defeated. Yet 'Amr Ibn Al-'Aas was a resourceful, crafty man who could neither accept defeat nor despair easily. Therefore, no sooner had he returned to their residence than he sat turning the matter over in his mind. Then he addressed his comrade saying, "By Allah, I will go to Al-Najaashii tomorrow and I will pluck the Muslims out from this land once and for all." His comrade replied, "You must not do that, for despite their disobedience, they are still related to us." 'Amr said, "By Allah, I will tell An-Nayaashii that they claim that ''Isa Ibn Maryam is a slave like the rest of Allah's slaves." Thus the web was spun by the shrewd delegate so as to lead the Muslims unawares right into the trap. The Muslims were put in a tight comer, for if they said that 'Isa was Allah's slave, they would incite the king and bishops against them, and if they denied the fact that he was human, then they would turn from their religion.
On the following day, 'Amr hastened to meet the king and said, "Your Majesty, those Muslims utter an awful saying against 'Isa." At once, the bishops were agitated by this short but fatal sentence. They asked the Muslims once again to meet the king so as to clarify their religious standpoint concerning 'Isa.
When the Muslims found out about the new plot, they discussed the possibilities, then agreed to say nothing but the truth as said by the Prophet (PBUH), regardless of the consequences. Once again, the audience was held and Al-Najaashii started it by asking Ja'far, "What does your religion say about 'Isa?" Ja'far, stood once again like a gleaming lighthouse and said, "We say what has descended on our Prophet (PBUH): he is Allah's Messenger, His word which He bestowed, and a spirit created by Him." Al-Najaashii cried out in assent and said that the same words had been said by ''Isa to describe himself, but the lines of bishops roared in disapproval. Nevertheless, the enlightened, believing Al-Najaashii declared, "You are free to go now. My land is your sanctuary. Anyone who dare to abuse or mistreat you in any way will be severely punished." He addressed his retinue and pointed towards the Quraish delegation declaring, "Give them back their presents, for I do not want them.
God did not take a bribe from me when He restored my kingdom; therefore, I will not be bribed against Him!"
After the Quraish delegates had been utterly disgraced, they headed back to Makkah.
The Muslims headed by Ja'far went on with their secure life in Abyssinia. They settled in the "most hospitable land of the most hospitable people".