Every Monday in Ramadan 2021, we'll be sharing a Story of Hope from the Qur'an and Sunnah with you. Follow us on social media or subscribe to our email newsletter (enter your email on the left) to receive these inspirational stories straight to your inbox!
Last week, our Story of Hope was about Halimah (ra), the foster mother of our Prophet (saw), who received immense blessings after taking in a blessed orphan. Today's Story of Hope is about the Ansar of Madinah, whose sincere generosity towards a group of displaced Muslims is remembered to this day.
1: The Year of Sorrow
When the Prophet (saw) carried the beautiful message of Islam to the Quraish, many of them rejected this faith and mocked its Messenger (saw). They persecuted the weaker Muslims and made it difficult for them to worship Allah (swt). Life in Makkah was therefore very painful for both the Prophet (saw) and the Muslims.
It was even more distressing that the people who were persecuting them were their own families, who were angered by the Muslims' rejection of the old way of living and their commitment to worshipping only One God.
Eventually, the situation worsened to the point where the Prophet (saw) and the Muslims were being boycotted by the Quraish. No one would buy from them or sell to them and they were banished to the outskirts of Makkah, where they would often go without food for days.
This devastating boycott lasted for over two years. An even more painful test came after it ended. In the same year, the Prophet (saw) lost both his beloved wife, Khadijah (ra), and his uncle and protector, Abu Talib. The grief of the Prophet (saw) and the Muslims was so intense that, to this day, we know this as 'The Year of Sorrow'.
Both Khadijah (ra) and Abu Talib had been by the Prophet's side since the earliest days of Islam. Khadijah (ra) was the first Muslim and his closest companion, while Abu Talib had protected him from the worst of the Quraish's persecution. After their loss, the Prophet (saw) left Makkah in search of new allies among the Arab tribes, but faced constant rejection. When he travelled to the town of Ta'if, people actually sent their children into the streets to stone him until he left the city. This intensified the sorrow of the Prophet (saw), who loved children dearly - so much that he could only make du'a that Allah would have mercy on the people of Ta'if, despite their cruelty.
After this year of grief, oppression and terrible distress, Allah sent the Muslims a beautiful and unexpected gift: the Ansar.
2: A sincere invitation
The word Ansar means 'The Helpers'. Today, we use it to refer to the community who lived in Yathrib at the time of the Prophet (saw).
When six men from Yathrib made pilgrimage to the Ka'bah, they met the Prophet (saw) and listened to his message. Although they were idol-worshippers, there was also a Jewish community in Yathrib, so these six men were familiar with the idea that a Final Messenger would one day be sent to humankind. They accepted Islam and carried its message back to their families in Yathrib.
Soon afterwards, the Prophet (saw) told the Muslims of Makkah, 'I have been shown the place of your emigration. I saw a well-watered land, rich in date palms, between two tracts of black stones' [Bukhari]. He was referring to Yathrib.
In the Hajj season of the next year, twelve men from Yathrib travelled to Makkah and pledged their allegiance to the Prophet (saw). Today, this is known as the First Pledge of 'Aqabah.
Following this historic pledge, the Prophet (saw) sent Mus'ab (ra) to Yathrib, to teach them about Islam. Many people were guided to Islam through Mus'ab, and the next year, seventy-three men and two women made the pilgrimage to Makkah and pledged their allegiance. They were the delegates of their people and their promise is called the Second Pledge of 'Aqabah.
This delegation invited the Prophet (saw) to come and live with them, to unite the tribes of Yathrib and to illuminate the city. And the Prophet (saw) accepted this sincere invitation.
It was the beginning of a beautiful and blessed relationship. The Prophet (saw) never forgot the sincerity of the Ansar and their eagerness to welcome him into their lives.
He (saw) even said, 'But for the Hijrah (i.e. if I were not an Emigrant), I would have been one of the Ansar. And if the people took their way through a valley or a mountain pass, I would select the valley or mountain pass of the Ansar (i.e. I would stay with them above other people). The Ansar are Shi'ar (inner garments) and the people are Dithar (outer garments)'. [Bukhari]
The above hadith shows how beloved the Ansar were to the Prophet (saw) and how much he appreciated their support.
3: The Hijrah
After the Second Pledge of 'Aqabah, the Prophet (saw) began encouraging the Muslims to emigrate to Yathrib. The emigration of the Muslims from Makkah to Madinah is today known as the Hijrah, and they are called the Muhajirun, or the Emigrants.
The Quraish did their best to hinder the Hijrah. They had rejected Islam and they didn't want the Muslims to settle somewhere else and spread its message. So the Muslims often emigrated at night, secretly leaving Makkah in small groups until only a few of them were left.
The Prophet (saw) and Abu Bakr (ra) were among the last Muslims to leave. The Quraish had actually conspired to kill the Prophet (saw) on the same night that he planned to leave, and they awaited him outside his house. But Allah concealed the Prophet (saw) from their eyes and he passed by them safely. Meanwhile, his cousin Ali (ra) lay in the Prophet's bed reciting Qur'an, and the Quraish assumed the Prophet (saw) was still in the house.
This was the first of many dangers the Prophet (saw) and Abu Bakr (ra) faced on the journey to Yathrib.
The Quraish had offered a reward of a hundred camels to whoever brought the Prophet (saw) back to Makkah, even if they had to kill him to do so. Therefore, the Prophet (saw) and Abu Bakr (ra) took difficult routes as they crossed the desert and, with Allah's protection, avoided the conspiracy of the Quraish.
4: A joyous welcome
At last, the Prophet (saw) reached Yathrib. As he approached the city, people ran to meet him, saying, 'The Prophet of Allah has come! The Prophet of Allah has come!'
The Prophet (saw) and Abu Bakr (ra) heard the sound of drums beating and children singing:
The people of Yathrib eagerly invited the two travellers into their city. As the Prophet (saw) rode his camel, the streets of Yathrib filled with light. Anas ibn Malik (ra) narrated, 'On the day in which the Messenger of Allah (saw) entered al-Madinah, everything from it was illuminated…' [Tirmidhi]
From now on, this blessed city would be known as Madinah al-Munawwarah, the Illuminated City. It marked a new chapter in the spread of Islam. The Prophet (saw) established a community centred around Allah’s worship, where the beautiful lessons of the Qur’an and Sunnah were followed.
Truly, Allah is the Most Wise and hardship always follows ease!
After enduring persecution, boycott, starvation and the pain of the Year of Sorrow, the Muslims of Makkah settled into this city of beautiful date palm trees and enjoyed the company of the Ansar, who welcomed them as their own brothers and sisters.
Later, the Muslims would date their Islamic calendar from the first year they spent in Madinah and the joyous welcome they were given for the sake of Allah. Umar (ra) said, 'The Hijrah has separated truth from falsehood, so calculate dates from it'. [Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani]
5: The legacy of the Ansar
After the Hijrah, the Ansar lived side-by-side with the Muhajirun, the Emigrants, wholeheartedly welcoming the people who had left everything behind. Although this story is well-known, we don't often reflect on just how much sacrifice the Ansar made in this world for the sake of the Allah!
SubhanAllah, the Ansar opened their homes to the people displaced by persecution, sharing their food, their clothes and their wealth with them. Some Ansar even offered to give their Muhajir (emigrant) brothers half of their businesses! They saw that these Muslims were in need of support and did not hesitate to offer them unconditional help for the sake of Allah. They did not hold back; truly, they followed the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) in their generosity, kindness and soft-heartedness.
The love and devotion the Ansar extended inspires us to this day. Allah describes the Ansar of Madinah as those 'who give preference [to others] over themselves, even if they themselves are in need. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful'. [The Noble Qur’an, 59:9]
Alhamdulillah, Allah is pleased with both the people who left their homes for His sake, and the community who opened their homes to refugees for His sake!
‘And the first forerunners (in Islam) among the Emigrants (Muhajirin) and the Helpers (Ansar) and those who followed them with good conduct – Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him...' [The Noble Qur'an, 9:100]
Here are a few ways we can keep the legacy of the Ansar alive today:
One: Give shelter to our displaced brothers and sisters! You can build a house for a displaced Syrian family for £1,200 or give any amount to the Syria Housing Fund.
Two: Volunteer for your community. The Ansar gave the Muhajirun their time, energy and wealth - and our volunteers, the Ansar Team, strive to follow in their footsteps! You can help us fundraise, organise events, distribute relief to the homeless and so much more. Join the Ansar Team this Ramadan!
Three: Feed our neighbours. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, The Open Kitchen - our community kitchen in London - has become even more essential, serving daily cooked meals to low-income families and rough sleepers. By donating to The Open Kitchen, you can ensure our neighbours don't go hungry during this crisis.
Four: Support war-torn communities in blessed Yemen. The Ansar were actually descended from the tribes of Yemen, and both the Yemenis and the Ansar supported the Prophet (saw) when he needed it most. He loved them so much that he even said, 'The best of men are the men of Yemen, belief is Yemeni, and I am Yemeni'. [Ahmad]
Just like the Ansar, the people of Yemen are also mentioned in the Qur'an, as Allah is pleased with them:
Don't miss out on keeping the legacy of the Ansar alive this Ramadan! We pray Allah is pleased with our efforts, that He strengthens the brotherhood and sisterhood of this Ummah, and that He gives us more opportunities to do good and gain His pleasure, amin!
Muslim Hands is an award-winning charity, established in 1993 to provide emergency relief and tackle the root causes of poverty. If you enjoyed this article, check out our Stories of Hope Gift Pack - it's the perfect gift to inspire your child this Ramadan!