Migration of the Heart
The caravan departs, and the traveller enters a foreign land. He becomes separated from the habits and customs associated with his homeland. This allows him to ponder carefully over his own situation. He seeks the most important thing that helps in his journey to Allah, and that deserves his life’s pursuance.
The One in whose Hand is the guidance, guides him to this most important thing that he seeks: “Migration to Allah and His Messenger”. This migration is an obligation upon everyone at all times – it is the thing that Allah requires from His slave.
Migration is of two types. The first is the migration of the body from one land to another. The second is the migration of the heart to Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, and His Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. This is the only true hijrah (migration); it must precede the bodily hijrah, which is its natural outcome.
Fleeing Unto Allah
The hijrah requires an origin and a goal. A person migrates with their heart from loving other than Allah to loving Him alone. They migrate from fearing and hoping and relying on other than Allah, to fearing and hoping and relying on Him alone. And they migrate from calling upon, asking, surrendering to and humbling themselves before other than Allah, to calling upon, asking surrendering and humbling themselves before Allah alone.
This is precisely the meaning of:
“Flee unto Allah” (Surah Ath-Thariyat 51:50)
Indeed the tawhid required from a person is to flee from Allah unto Him! Under this heading of ‘from’ and ‘to’ falls the great reality of tawhid. Fleeing unto Allah includes turning to Him only for asking or worship or anything that proceeds from that. Fleeing from Allah includes believing in Allah’s Qadr and the understanding that whatever one hates or fears or flees from in the universe is from Allah alone and what He wills will surely happen, and what He does not will will never happen. Thus when a person flees unto Allah, they are fleeing unto Him from a thing that has occurred by His will. In other words they are fleeing from Him unto Him. One who understands this well can then understand the meaning of the Messenger’s words, peace be upon him:
“I seek refuge in You from You” (Recorded in Muslim)
“There is no shelter or escape from You except in You” (Recorded in al-Bukhari)
Understanding these two matters can stop one’s heart from being attached to other than Allah in love, hope and fear. This means that the heart would only fear Allah and would turn to Him alone, and would seek protection in anything else. This illustrates why the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said:
“A true migrator is one who abandons what Allah had prohibited.” (Recorded in al-Bukhari)
This is also why Allah mentions imaan and hijrah together in several places (see for example Surah al-Anfal 8:72, 74, 75 and at-Tawbah 9:20) the two of them being closely linked and requiring each other.
The Importance of Migration to Allah
In conclusion, the hijrah to Allah includes abandoning what He hates and doing what He loves and accepts. The hijrah originates from feelings of love and hatred. The migrator from one place to another must have more love for the place to which he migrated that from that which he has migrated, and these feelings are what led him to prefer one of the two places.
One’s nafs, or self, one’s whims and desires, and their shaitan, keep calling them to that which they love and are satisfied with. One continues to be tested by these three things, calling them to avenues that displease their Lord. At the same time, the call of imaan will continue to direct them to what pleases their Lord.
Thus one should keep migrating to Allah at all times, and should not abandon this hijrah until death. This hijrah becomes strong or weak in the heart depending on the state of imaan. The stronger and more complete the imaan, the more perfect the hijrah. And if the imaan weakens, the hijrah weakens too, until one becomes unable to detect its presence or have the readiness to be moved by it.