Hegira: Muhammad's Flight to Medina
Muhammad was 25 when he married Khadija and gained a good amount of money in Mecca. He was also well respected within the Meccan religious community. For 15 years, this did not change.
But when he was 40, Muhammad heard the word of God while on a retreat in the hills outside Mecca. The angel Gabriel appeared to Muhammad and told him that he was God's chosen messenger. Further, Muhammad received his first revelation from God.
When Muhammad told Khadij, his wife, what he had learned, she converted to Islam. Muhammad received revelations again and again, and he began to preach the new religion. The first audiences were his family and friends. Then, he started speaking in public.
At first, Muhammad was largely ignored. But as his following and respect grew, the religious leaders in Mecca tried to discourage Muhammad from preaching this new religion. The threat of violence led Muhammad to flee Mecca.
While his faith and following were growing, word was spreading of this new religion and its prophet. Tribes of people living in the city of Yathrib, about 200 miles north of Mecca, invited Muhammad to live with them.
It must have been difficult for Muhammad to leave his home, but leave he did. He fled from Mecca in the middle of the night. It was the hegira. The year was 622.
The name of the city of Yathrib was changed to Medina, "the city of the prophet." Muhammad's following grew ever larger. Word of his popularity reached Mecca and elsewhere in the Arabian Peninsula. Many people embraced the new religion; many others did not. Fighting broke out.
The fighting lasted for several years, until 630, when the forces of Muhammad and Medina defeated the forces of Mecca. The message and mission of Islam now spread more quickly than ever.
Muhammad died in 632, but not before the whole of the Arabian Peninsula was united in devotion to Islam.
What began as a desperate dash to freedom in the middle of the night had become a powerful religious movement that would soon claim followers around the globe.
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