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Hijrah 1441 is here

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Hijrah 1441

“If you do not help the Prophet, (it does not matter) the Almighty did help him when the unbelievers drove him out of his town, the second of the two, while the two were in the cave and (the enemy came to the opening of the cave) he said to his companion (Abu Bakr, later the first of the rightly guided caliphs), “Do not worry, the Almighty is with us…” (Quran 9; 40)

Thus the Muslim world begins a new year – one thousand four hundred and forty-one years (1441) after the migration of Prophet Muhammad (upon him be blessings and mercies of the Almighty) from Makkah to Madinah. Each year, we always want to plumb the inner portals of the Hijrah event both for the Muslim world and the Otherworld. We always seek to know, using al-Jurjani’s style, the meaning and the meaning of Hijrah in Islamic annals and in contemporary existential realities of Muslim life all around the world.

Brethren, each time a new year begins in the Islamic calendar, I always experience a conflict. I always find myself torn between a past I could not give a detailed account of how I spent it and a future the portents of which practically lies outside my control. I am afraid of the reality of my existence; that the passage of the past year has meant the passage of life in my life. Thus the Hijrah, for me, is in a continuum. The onset of the new year means I have migrated with life into life; certain elements in my existence have equally migrated!

Brethren! Sunday the 2nd of September, 2019 would be the 1st Muharram, 1441 AH. This means three hundred and sixty-five days have been deducted from my account, from my life. It means I could neither migrate back to the past nor effect any changes in my records which are being guarded jealously by the honourable angels!

Let us side-step the eschatological in the Hijrah for the existential. Brethren in Islam! It was Ibn Khaldun who says “the past resembles the future just like water resembles water”. This is particularly true of the event which made the Hijrah a categorical imperative.

In other words, the Hijrah was a history and the history of history; it was about women and men of history. The Hijrah was about the struggle between truth and falsehood; it was about the triumph of truth over falsehood. The Hijrah was about the departure and arrival of Islam. It was about the return of Islam as a “hero” after if it was first declaimed as a rebel. Thus in this sense, the Hijrah should not be viewed as an event with relevance only to the past. Thus I make bold to say that Nigeria, my country and yours, is, today, like Makkah of over a thousand four hundred and thirty-five years ago.

Nigeria is the Makkah of today awaiting the emergence of its own Muhammad. Hardly would historians of Islam, both Christians and Muslims, be faulted should they suggest that there is a strong necessity for Nigerians to migrate from this “Makkah” to that “Madinah”; that the need for Nigeria to migrate has become urgent and important. But where should Nigeria and Nigerians migrate to? Is it to London like that of Mustafa Saeed’s in Tayyib Salih’s novel, Season of Migration to the North”? Is it to America as has been the case going by the long queues of visa applicants at the American consulate? No! The real emigration that Nigerians and Nigeria should embark upon is that migration from non-performance and lack of development to that of consolidated and comprehensive development and growth in all spheres of life. For Nigerians to migrate with their country to their own “Madinah” there is, therefore, an urgent need for the emergence of a “Muhammad” for this country.

While we are waiting for that important migration, it is important that Muslim members of the Nigerian polity use the occasion of the beginning of the new Hijra Calendar to do self-assessment. This country has not risen because its Muslim elements have chosen to take back seat and therefore failed to measure up to their Quranic destiny. This country has not risen because Muslims are not standing while others are sitting; Muslims are not outstanding while others are standing. Let us use this occasion to seek more closeness to the Almighty and seek His forgiveness. Our Prophet says O son of Adam! so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam! were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you…

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