Friday, March 23, 2007
"Hijrah is the exile of the conscience and of the heart from false gods, from alienation of all sorts, from evil and sins. Turning way from the idols of one's time (power, money, the cult of appearances, etc); emigrating from lies and unethical ways of life; liberating oneself, through the experience of breaking away, from all the appearances of freedom paradoxically reinforced by our habits--such is the spiritual requirement of hijrah.
Physical hijrah, the founding act of the first Muslim community and the axis of its experience, is now over and will not happen again, as Aishah forcefully explained to those in Medina who wanted to relive the experience. Umar ibn al-Khattab was later to decide that this unique event would mark the beginning of the Islamic era, which begins in 622.
What remains and is open to everyone through the ages and for eternity, is the experience of spiritual exile, which brings the individual back to him-or herself and frees him or her from illusions of self and of the world. Exile for the sake of God is in essence a series of questions that God asks each individual being: Who are you? What is the meaning of your life? Where are you going? Accepting the risk of such an exile, trusting the One, is to answer: Through You, I return to myself and I am free."
From In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad