Refugees in Islamic History
In today’s post Sykes-Picot Middle East, borders have not only become cages that divide Muslims on arbitrary lines, but fellow Muslims have become foreigners and undesirable to one and other. This was not the case in the era after the establishment of the Islamic state by the Prophet (saw) in which the previous borders between tribes and nations were erased, allowing people to seek their livelihood and live where they wished in the Khilafah state. Those that lived outside this land and wished to migrate there were allowed to do so.
Islamic values, unlike British values are not affected by the political climate. This week when we saw two British values, “the rule of law” and “the opposition to capital punishment” go up in smoke at the hands of Cameron’s drone strike.
We look at three examples in history how Muslims, in response to Islam, dealt with the plight of refugees.
Migration from Makkah to Madinah
When Muslims of Makkah migrated to Madinah to help establish the first Islamic state, they mostly came with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Having faced severe persecution in Makkah by the Quraish they were unable to bring any wealth nor assets. The love and generosity shown by the hosts to the migrants remains an example for all times.
The Prophet (SAW) paired one migrant with a local (ansar) and made them brothers. They shared their homes and wealth with them. This established a firm bond of brotherhood and a solution for their immediate housing the welfare needs.
Abdur-Rahman (RA) was linked by the Prophet (SAW) with Sad ibn ar-Rabi’ah (RA). Sad in the spirit of generosity and magnanimity with which the Ansar greeted the Muhajirin, said to Abdur-Rahman: “My brother! Among the people of Madinah I have the most wealth. I have two orchards and I have two wives. See which of the two orchards you like and I shall vacate it for you and which of my two wives is pleasing to you and I will divorce her for you.” This was the result of the brotherhood and love Islam created in the hearts of men and women.
Refugees Caused by Famine
We are all familiar with the story about the women who pretended to cooked in order to appease her crying children one night. The Khaleefah of the Muslims, Umar (RA), used to patrol Medinah during the night. On one occasion he was attracted by the fire in the distance and came to enquire about the crying children he could hear. The mother and her family had migrated to Madinah al-Munawwarah during the time when a severe famine had hit the area. Although she had no food she pretended to cook in order to pacify her children who were starving from hunger. Umar (RA) went back to the bait ul maal (state treasury) and collected ingredients, cooked and fed the children and left only after he saw them in a state of happiness.
We learn from this
1. Migrants fleeing to Madinah in search of food were not turned away, many camps cropped up around Madinah
2. The hungry were fed from the state treasury. Umar (RA) was well aware of the obligation to provide from the state treasury and this wasn’t simply an act of charity to feed them.
Jewish Refugees Of Spain
Much has been written about the Jews who were expelled by the Christians from Spain. Even though they were not Muslims, the Khaleefah of the Muslims gave them abode in the Khilafah state.
In response to the Alhambra Decree, expelling the Jews from Spain by July 31, 1492, Sultan Bayezid II sent the Ottoman navy under the command of Kemal Reis to Spain in order to save Jews who were expelled. He sent out proclamations throughout the territory he held authority over that the refugees were to be welcomed. He granted the refugees the permission to settle in the Ottoman State and become citizens. He ridiculed the conduct of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile in expelling a class of people so useful to their subjects. ‘You venture to call Ferdinand a wise ruler,’ he said to his courtiers — ‘he who has impoverished his own country and enriched mine!’ Bayezid addressed a decree to all the governors of his European provinces, ordering them not only to refrain from repelling the Spanish refugees, but to give them a friendly and welcome reception. He threatened with death all those who treated the Jews harshly or refused them admission into Muslim land.
Islam has a proud history of dealing with refugees whether or Muslim and non Muslim. These are values enshrined in the Quran and Sunnah which the Muslims lost to Sykes-Picot in the aftermath of the demise of the Uthmani Khilafah. Brothers have now become foreigners in their own land and cages erected around their pathetic tribal states to keep one from the other.
May the Nasr of Allah come soon to bring relief to the oppressed and suffering, Ameen.