Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Productivity Lessons from the Hijrah (Part 1)

With the beginning of each Islamic year, our scholars and Imams remind us of the story of the momentous Hijrah (migration) of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companion Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) from Makkah to Medina which they undertook over 1400 Years ago. This Migration was a very special journey and a turning point for Islam and Muslims in that it was chosen to mark the beginning of the Islamic calendar.
Although there are many lessons that one can extract from the Hijrah, I just wanted us to focus on some of the productivity-related lessons one can learn from the Hijrah.

Perhaps the first lesson that strikes me, and is often not talked about, is the difficulty and magnitude of the decision to migrate itself. We tend to think that this migration was a simple 3-day journey by camel between 2 cities, and don’t give much thought to its implications in those days. Living amidst the globalised tourist industry, we tend to forget the difficulty of taking a journey to a completely new territory which you’re not accustomed to the terrain, culture, or people. By all scales, the migration itself as an act was not that easy. How many of us are truly ready to leave our homes, our families, our businesses and just go to a new town and start from scratch?

So, the question is why? Why did the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) migrate? The standard answer is that the migration occurred to escape persecution from Makkah and save the Prophet’s life (peace be upon him) from an evil assassination plot. But I believe there’s another reason, one that derives an important lesson about the Hijrah: staying in Makkah with the persecution from the Makkan people was unproductive for the Prophet (peace be upon him) because the environment was not conducive for the message which he (peace be upon him) carried, Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) had to find a way out, he (peace be upon him) had to find a venue for his message to flourish. In essence, the migration was not about saving his life, but it was about saving the message and fulfilling his mission! The evidence of this is that immediately after reaching Madinah, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) didn’t relax but immediately went through an all-embracing process to establish a faithful and strong society by building a mosque, establishing a market, managing the politics of the new town, and so on.

So there’s a deep lesson here about the Hijrah that is subtle but important – it is that the Hijrah is a process of transfer to a better situation to enable you to be productive and active vicegerent on Earth. It is not meant to be a means to find a comfortable place where one would relax and stop being productive. Rather, it is a search for an environment more favorable to continuous and constructive productivity for Allah’s sake.

Think how you can apply the above to your life? What do you need to ‘migrate’ from in order to live a productive lifestyle in conformity with your purpose of worshipping Allah (Subhanhu wa Ta’ala)? It doesn’t have to be migration from place to place, but it could be migration from a non-halal job to a halal one, or migration from sins to repentance, or from evil deeds to good deeds.
There are other lessons of productivity from the Hijrah including the relationship between trust in Allah (Subhanhu wa Ta’ala) and taking the required action and using the means Allah has provided, but we’ll tackle this in our next post about the Hijrah insha’Allah!