Introduction

In the early days of Islam, Muslims were persecuted by their neighbors for rebelling against the religious and socioeconomic structures of their society. Many of the Muslims fled for their lives. This flight from persecution is also known as hijrah in Arabic. Muslims initially fled Mecca to Christian Ethiopia, and then a second, larger group fled Mecca for Medina, a city with a significant Jewish population. Learn about these hijrahs in this interactive map.

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1st Hijrah - Axum (Ethiopia)

The first Hijrah (migration due to persecution) occurred in approximately 614 CE. A small group of Muslims sought and found refuge amongst the Coptic Christians of Ethiopia.

When their Meccan oppressors pursued them, the Meccans demanded an audience with the Nagus, even attempting to bribe the ruler, with the intent of returning the Muslims to Mecca to face punishment for their perceived heresy. The Nagus, upon learning about the Muslims' respect and reverence for Jesus and Mary, instead granted the fleeing Muslims safety in his kingdom. Some of the Muslims even lived out their lives amongst their Christian brothers and sisters.

2nd Hijrah - Medina

After the climate in Mecca became increasingly hostile and violent toward the Muslims, the 2nd Hijrah occurred, this time in 622 CE to Medina.

Muhammad's reputation as a just arbiter led the residents of Medina to request he and the remaining Muslims in Mecca immigrate to Medina in order to resolve disputes amongst the various tribes. The two largest religious groups were Jews and polytheistic Arabs. In return the Muslims would receive safety and room to grow in peace. Muhammad successfully brokered treaties between the various tribes, including the Compact of Medina, a social and defense compact that united the Muslims, Jews, and polytheistic Arabs of Medina.
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