The camel has, since olden times, proved to be a very useful animal for desert journeys. It has shown to be dependable and sturdy animal for desert transport. The reason is that it has been created with certain special features which are not to be found in any other animal. It can walk in the hot desert under scorching sun for days and days without feeling tired or thirsty and arrive at the intended destination with his rider – the traveller. Hence the Arabs have named this animal as the ‘Ship of the Desert’.
It was this same animal which had fulfilled in excellent manner the task of conveying the Prophet of Islam from Mecca to Madina. It had also served well in the cause of Islam.
The Prophet, tired of the tortures by the disbelieving Quraish, decided to migrate from Mecca to Madina. He had hidden himself in the cave of Thaur to protect himself against the enemies who wanted to kill him.
Imam Ali (R) sent three camels with a guide to the cave. The Prophet, mounting one of the camels, left the cave in the dark of the night, destined for Madina. On the way, several miracles took place which showed that God’s help was always there to protect the Prophet against the attacks of his enemies.
The distance between Mecca and Madina is about three hundred fifty kilometres. In those days, it used to take eleven days to travel between the two places. But in this instance, the camel carrying the Prophet took only eight days to reach Madina. The Prophet (s) travelled at night, resting during the day-time. He was doing so to protect himself against the desert heat as well as to keep from being seen by the enemies.
On the eighth day, the Prophet along with his companions reached a place known as Quba, just two kilometres outside Madina. There he rested for several days, awaiting Imam Ali (R) and family members. After their arrival they proceeded to enter the city. On seeing the date trees on the outskirts of the holy city, they felt happy and relieved to have finally come out safe from the tortures of their enemies.
The people of Madina keenly awaited his arrival. Suddenly someone from the top of a hill announced that the Prophet had arrived. On hearing this, the people became wild with extreme joy and recited “Allahu Akbar!”, “Allahu Akbar!” – “God is Great!”, “God is Great!”
The Prophet dismounted the camel just outside Madina and sat down under a date tree. People rushed forward to greet and welcome him to their city. He was loved by all and everyone was keen to salute him. After the traditional welcome ceremony, the Prophet mounted his came to enter the holy city. All around, there were expressions of great joy. The children got together and in loud voices chanted the following welcoming poem:
طلع البدر علينا
ṭala‘a ‘l-badru ‘alaynā
Oh the white moon rose over us
من ثنيات الوداع
min thaniyyāti ‘l-wadā‘
From the valley of al-Wadā‘
وجب الشكر علينا
wajaba ‘l-shukru ‘alaynā
And we owe it to show gratefulness
ما دعى لله داع
mā da‘ā li-l-lāhi dā‘
Where the call is to Allah.
أيها المبعوث فينا
’ayyuha ‘l-mab‘ūthu fīnā
Oh you who were raised among us
جئت بالأمر المطاع
ji’ta bi-l-’amri ‘l-muṭā‘
Coming with a word to be obeyed
جئت شرفت المدينة
ji’ta sharrafta ‘l-madīnah
You have brought to this city nobleness
مرحبا يا خير داع
marḥaban yā khayra dā‘
Welcome best caller to God’s way