A response to the open letter written to the Khalifah Al-Baghdadi (Part 1 – Hijrah) – Abul-Khattab Al-Janubi

A piece by Abul-Khaṭṭāb Al-Janūbī

On the 24th of Dhul-Qaʿdah a letter was publicly released which was titled ‘An Open Letter to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’. The letter was written in the form of a series of refutations and advice to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the Amir of the Islamic State. Normally I believe that such a letter would have been instantly ignored and then forgotten by the majority of Muslims, however Western media hype and endorsement of the letter by a number of well-known figures meant that the letter was promoted and widely advertised, causing many from all around the world to come across the letter thus leaving doubts in some minds about whether or not the letter is to be taken seriously as well as if its content is correct or not. Therefore I hope to address some of the major errors mentioned in the letter in order to clarify that this letter is one of ignorance and disbelief, and that it serves only to further remind us that those who freely and consciously endorsed it after knowing of its content are apostates.

The First Issue – Hijrah (emigration)

The letter states the following (marked in red) regarding hijrah:

Emigration – You invited Muslims from across the globe to immigrate to lands under the control of the ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and the Levant. Abu Muslim Al-Kanadi, a soldier of the ‘Islamic State’, said: ‘Come and join us before the doors close.’ It suffices to repeat the words of the Prophet Muhammed ﷺ who said: ‘There is no emigration after the Conquest of Mecca, but jihad and its intention remain. And when you are called to war, march forward.’

What is written may seem ambiguous or unclear to some, and thus the additional text added in the summary of the letter summarises the point that the writers of the letter wished to make by clearly stating:

After the death of the Prophet ﷺ, Islam does not require anyone to emigrate anywhere.

Yes, the letter attempts to claim that hijrah has been abrogated based upon a single ḥadīth. It tries to suggest that hijrah is no longer a part of Islam, rather it is solely a thing of the past and any command to migrate is no longer relevant, all based upon this following ḥadīth of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ:

‏لاَ هِجْرَةَ بَعْدَ الْفَتْحِ وَلَكِنْ جِهَادٌ وَنِيَّةٌ وَإِذَا اسْتُنْفِرْتُمْ فَانْفِرُوا

“There is no hijrah after the conquest of Makkah, however Jihad and intention remain, and if you are called to go forth in fighting then go forth.” [Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī 2783]

The attempt to use this ḥadīth in isolation to suggest that hijrah has ended and no longer exists is quite shameful, especially coming from a group of people claiming to be scholars. What is perhaps ironic is that in their letter they warn against the exact thing that they have done here, and that is giving religious opinions without considering the entire Revelation, as well as considering what is general and what is specific. It is sufficient to quote the following authentic ḥadīth of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ to prove that hijrah has not ceased and will not cease until the Last Day:

‏ لاَ تَنْقَطِعُ الْهِجْرَةُ حَتَّى تَنْقَطِعَ التَّوْبَةُ وَلاَ تَنْقَطِعُ التَّوْبَةُ حَتَّى تَطْلُعَ الشَّمْسُ مِنْ مَغْرِبِهَا

“Hijrah will not end until repentance ends, and repentance will not end until the sun rises in the west.” [Sunan Abī Dāwūd 2479]

It cannot be denied that hijrah still exists and will continue to exist. The only confusion lies in the minds of those who are unaware of the context and explanation of the ḥadīth which states that there is no hijrah after the conquest (of Makkah). What has been ignored by those who wrote this letter is that the Messenger of Allah was not stating that the actual concept of hijrah itself has ended, but rather he stated that hijrah from Makkah to anywhere else has ended. His statement was something specific which is easily understood when looked at in its proper context, and the ḥadīth stating that hijrah will not end until the Last Day is general and is applicable for all times.

The reason why hijrah could no longer be made from Makkah was that Makkah had become a Muslim land and the very definition of hijrah in Allah’s Path is that it is to either migrate from a land of disbelief to a land of belief, or to migrate to another land where one is better able to practice their religion. Therefore upon the conquest of Makkah it was no longer possible to migrate from Makkah as it had become a land of Islam and the migrations made in the past from Makkah to other lands would no longer need to be made. This is the first and primary reason that hijrah from Makkah had ceased, that is because Makkah had become a land of Islam and so migration from it in Allah’s Path was no longer possible. Yazīd bin Abū Ziyād said about this – “There is no Hijrah from a land whose people have accepted Islam.”

The next reason that can be understood to be behind why hijrah was no longer possible is taken from the following ḥadīth of Mujāhid:

قُلْتُ لاِبْنِ عُمَرَ إِنِّي أُرِيدُ أَنْ أُهَاجِرَ إِلَى الشَّأْمِ‏‏ قَالَ لاَ هِجْرَةَ وَلَكِنْ جِهَادٌ، فَانْطَلِقْ فَاعْرِضْ نَفْسَكَ، فَإِنْ وَجَدْتَ شَيْئًا وَإِلاَّ رَجَعْتَ

“I said to Ibn ʿUmar, ‘I want to migrate to Sham. He said, ‘There is no migration, but there is Jihad. Go and offer yourself for Jihad, and if you find an opportunity for Jihad then remain and offer yourself for it, otherwise come back.'” [Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī 4309]

Ibn ʿUmar clarifies that it is not possible to migrate from Makkah or any of the lands of Islam to anywhere else, rather what is left in place of hijrah for those seeking reward is Jihad in the Path of Allah and so he urged Mujāhid to go forth and fight in Ash-Sham if he found an opportunity to do so (and how fitting is this advice for those who are confused in our times!). Thus we understand that travelling from one land of Islam to another land of Islam is not called hijrah but is rather only travelling, however if one were to go from the lands of Islam to the lands of disbelief then the aim should be to join those fighting the disbelievers in their Jihad, and this was the advice from the Prophet of Allah after the conquest of Makkah, that although hijrah from Makkah had ceased, the chance to partake in Jihad had not ceased and this would be available to all believers to do so. It is clearly understood therefore that when a person is living in the lands of Islam regardless of where he goes he cannot make hijrah as hijrah cannot be made from the lands of Islam to anywhere else, so any travel within the lands of Islam is only considered to be travel, and any ventures towards the lands of disbelief are also not hijrah as hijrah cannot be made from a land of Islam to a land of disbelief, rather such a venture should be one of Jihad and supporting the conquest of the lands of disbelief.

The Mother of the Believers, ʿĀ’ishah said about this:

لاَ هِجْرَةَ الْيَوْمَ، كَانَ الْمُؤْمِنُ يَفِرُّ أَحَدُهُمْ بِدِينِهِ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَإِلَى رَسُولِهِ ﷺ مَخَافَةَ أَنْ يُفْتَنَ عَلَيْهِ فَأَمَّا الْيَوْمَ فَقَدْ أَظْهَرَ اللَّهُ الإِسْلاَمَ فَالْمُؤْمِنُ يَعْبُدُ رَبَّهُ حَيْثُ شَاءَ وَلَكِنْ جِهَادٌ وَنِيَّةٌ

“There is no migration today. A believer used to flee with his religion to Allah and His Prophet for fear that he might face tribulation. As for today Allah has rendered Islam victorious; therefore a believer may worship his Lord wherever he should so wish, however Jihad and intention remain.” [Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī 3900]

This demonstrates the understanding that hijrah ceased to exist for those living in the lands of Islam as they were able to worship Allah freely and without restriction and therefore hijrah for those in those lands ended, and this does not at all contradict the saying of the Prophet of Allah ﷺ that hijrah would remain until the Last Day, as it would continue to be so that believers would migrate from the lands of disbelief to the lands of Islam and anyone who migrated to Makkah from a land of disbelief would still have completed hijrah, however after arriving in Makkah or any of the other lands of Islam then hijrah would have ended for them too. Thus hijrah itself never ceased except for those living in the lands where Islam ruled and one was able to worship Allah freely.

Thus the call of the Islamic State asking the believers to perform hijrah is not something that contradicts the words of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, rather it remains so that hijrah will be performed until the end of this world and is something that all believers living outside of the lands of Islam may perform. The one who was quoted as calling the believers to migrate was none other than an individual from Canada, a land which all will agree is not a land of Islam, and therefore none should criticise such an invitation to leave a land of disbelief to come to the lands of Islam nor try to suggest that hijrah has ceased completely. Such a statement is one of ignorance and error and contradicts the clear words of the Prophet’s Sunnah ﷺ.

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