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This is a sub-article to Muhammad before Medina and Muhammad in Medina

According to Islamic tradition, twelve male and twelve female Sahaba, the Muslims who originally converged in Mecca, sought refuge from Quraysh persecution in the Kingdom of Aksum (modern-day Ethiopia) in seventh Islamic month (Rajab) of 7 BH (614615 CE). This act is known as the First migration to Abyssinia; Abyssinia in this incident because of the Arabic word, al-Habasha, whence "Abyssinia" is derived. They returned after three months to Arabia due to misinformation, only to find that the persecution had not halted.





After the conversion of Hamza, the companions of Muhammad began to offer prayers publicly. In turn, the Quraysh intensified their opposition by torturing the Muslims. Muhammad told his followers to leave for Ethiopia, where "a king rules without injustice, a land of truthfulness-until God leads us to a way out of our difficulty."

First migration

In seventh Islamic month (Rajab) of 7 BH (614615 CE) [1], eleven men and four women undertook the first migration [2]. The group was headed by a companion called Uthman ibn Mazoon.

They sneaked out of Mecca on a dark night and headed for the sea where two boats happened to be sailing for their destination, Ethiopia. News of their intended departure reached Quraish, so some men were despatched in their pursuit, but the Muslims had already left Shuaibah Port towards their secure haven where they were received warmly and accorded hospitality by Negus, King of Abyssinia, also called al-Najashi, (Arabic: النجاشي). Among these emigrants were Uthman and Ruquyyah. [3]


Gradually, the number of emigrants increased in Abyssinia. Only a few days had passed in peace, when a rumour reached them that the Meccans had finally embraced Islam. On hearing this, most of the Muslims decided to return to Mecca. When they reached the city, they came to know that the report was false. The Meccans began to persecute even more severely those persons who had returned from Abyssinia. In spite of this, however, about a hundred Muslims managed to leave Mecca and settled in Abyssinia. The Meccans however did their utmost to check the tide of emigration, but all in vain.

Second Migration

The second migration consisted of 79 men and 9 women. According to some reports the number is 83 men and 18 women (The number differs largely). This group was headed by Jafar ibn Abu Talib, who was also the only person from the Banu Hashim clan who migrated to Abyssinia.

Quraish Delegation

The migration of the Muslims to Abyssinia, and their reception at the friendly court of that country, alarmed the Quraysh. They entertained the fear that Muslims might grow in strength, or find new allies, and then, some day, might return to Makkah to challenge them. To head off this potential threat, such as they saw it, they decided to send an embassy to the court of the king of Abyssinia to try to persuade him to extradite the Muslims to Makkah.

The Muslim refugees who had expected to be left in peace, were surprised by the arrival, in the Abyssinian capital, of an embassy from Makkah, led by a certain Amr bin Aas. Amr had brought rich presents for the king and his courtiers to ingratiate himself with them.

When the king gave audience to the emissary of the Quraysh, he said that the Muslims in Abyssinia were not refugees from persecution but were fugitives from justice and law, and requested him to extradite them to Makkah. The king, however, wanted to hear the other side of the story also before giving any judgment, and summoned Jaafer ibn Abi Talib to the court to answer the charges against the Muslims.

Jaafer made a most memorable defense. Following is a summary of his speech in the court of Abyssinia in answer to the questions posed by the Christian king.

"O King! We were ignorant people and we lived like wild animals. The strong among us lived by preying upon the weak. We obeyed no law and we acknowledged no authority save that of brute force. We worshipped idols made of stone or wood, and we knew nothing of human dignity. And then God, in His Mercy, sent to us His Messenger who was himself one of us. We knew about his truthfulness and his integrity. His character was exemplary, and he was the most well-born of the Arabs. He invited us toward the worship of One God, and he forbade us to worship idols. He exhorted us to tell the truth, and to protect the weak, the poor, the humble, the widows and the orphans. He ordered us to show respect to women, and never to slander them. We obeyed him and followed his teachings. Most of the people in our country are still polytheists, and they resented our conversion to the new faith which is called Islam. They began to persecute us and it was in order to escape from persecution by them that we sought and found sanctuary in your kingdom."

When Jaaffer concluded his speech, the king asked him to read some verses which were revealed to the Prophet of the Muslims. Jaafer read a few verses from Surah Maryam (Mary), the 19th chapter of Al-Qur’an al-Majid. When the king heard these verses, he said that their fountainhead was the same as that of the verses of the Evangel. He then declared that he was convinced of his veracity, and added, to the great chagrin of Amr bin Aas, that the Muslims were free to live in his kingdom for as long as they wished.

But Amr bin Aas bethought himself of a new stratagem, which, he felt confident, would tilt the scales against Jaafer. On the following day, therefore, he returned to the court and said to the king that he (the king) ought to waive his protection of the Muslims because they rejected the divine nature of Christ, and claimed that he was a mortal like other men. When questioned on this point by the king, Jaafer said: "Our judgment of Jesus is the same as that of Allah and His Messenger, viz., Jesus is God's servant, His Prophet, His Spirit, and His command given unto Mary, the innocent virgin."

The king said: "Jesus is just what you have stated him to be, and is nothing more than that." Then addressing the Muslims, he said: "Go to your homes and live in peace. I shall never give you up to your enemies." He refused to extradite the Muslims, returned the presents which Amr bin Aas had brought, and dismissed his embassy.


The Muslims finally returned from Abyssinia in 7 A.H. but to Madina and not Makkah.


Those emigrating to Abyssinia included:





  • Uday ibn Nadhala ibn Abd al-Uzza and his uncle Urwa ibn Abd al-Uzza[4] (both buried in Negashi Mosque, Wukro).

See also



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