The historical path of Tai Ji Men dizi and the personal story of Dr. Hong remind Muslims of al-Hijrah, the migration of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ from Mecca to Medina.
by Davide S. Amore*
*A paper presented at the seminar “California Land of the Free: A Call to Freedom and the Tai Ji Men Case,” co-organized by CESNUR, Human Rights Without Frontiers, and Action Alliance to Redress 1219 on October 8, 2023 at the Hilton San Jose, San Jose, California.
Al-Hijrah, or the migration of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ from Mecca to Medina, is one of the most significant events in the history of Islam. This episode marks not only a crucial turning point in the Prophet’s ﷺ life but also the beginning of the Islamic calendar and the consolidation of the early Muslim community. The Hijrah represents an example of perseverance, faith, and determination, leaving a lasting impact on the practice and understanding of Islam.
Mecca, in the 7th century, was a multifaceted city located in the Arabian Peninsula. It was a major commercial and religious centre, with the Ka’bah at the heart of its spiritual activities. However, Mecca was also a hostile place for the Prophet ﷺ and early Muslims. Their monotheistic message and criticism of idolatry posed a threat to the existing social and political order. Consequently, Muslims faced persecution and harassment from the Quraysh, the dominant tribe in Mecca.
Faced with increasing hostility, Muhammad ﷺ received divine inspiration urging him to migrate to Medina, a city located approximately 320 kilometres north of Mecca. The migration was not just an escape from persecution but a response to a plea for help from the people of Medina, who had heard of the Prophet’s ﷺ message and welcomed him warmly.
In September 622 AD, Allah’s Messenger ﷺ and his followers secretly migrated to Medina. This migration, known as the “Hijrah,” marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar and symbolizes the definitive break between Muhammad and Mecca.
Once in Medina, the Prophet ﷺ played a pivotal role in organizing the local Muslim community. He established a constitutional agreement known as the “Constitution of Medina,” guaranteeing equality and the protection of religious and civil rights for all religious communities in the city. This Constitution marked the start of a society based on justice, religious tolerance, and cooperation among different tribes and faiths.
The migration of the Prophet ﷺ and the Muslims to Medina allowed them to live and practice their faith freely and contributed to the spread of Islam. During his time in Medina, Muhammad ﷺ served as a political, religious, and military leader, uniting local tribes under the banner of Islam and defending the Muslim community against Quraysh attacks.
The Message of Hijrah
Hijrah represents a testament to the unwavering faith of the early Muslims and their determination to follow God’s message. It also underscores the importance of individual action and responsibility in upholding justice and human rights. The decision to migrate was a difficult but necessary choice to preserve faith and ensure the survival of the Muslim community.
Furthermore, Hijrah holds deep symbolic significance. It represents the transition from persecution to religious freedom, from division to cohesion, and from oppression to justice. These fundamental principles of Hijrah continue to be central to the understanding of Islam and the aspiration of Muslims to live in harmony with others and uphold justice.
It is therefore easy to find a parallel with what happened to Dr. Hong and his dizi (disciples). Like the story narrated so far, the Tai Ji Men case shows a similar parable. After an initial development in the homeland, persecution suddenly begins, initiated by those who evidently felt a certain annoyance at the message of equality, conscience and justice preached by them.
Nonetheless, the dizi did not lose heart and, guided by their Shifu (Grand Master), some resisted valiantly in Taiwan, while others sought elsewhere what they could not obtain at home. Some crossed the ocean and found here, in California, that freedom from tax and other harassment that they would have well deserved—and which we hope they will soon be able to obtain—at home.
Hijrah is much more than a physical migration from one place to another; it is an event laden with spiritual and historical significance. This migration marks the beginning of a new phase in Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ life and the spread of Islam. His decision to migrate to Medina has had a lasting impact on Islamic history and has left a legacy of faith, courage, and determination for Muslims worldwide.
The same is true for those Tai Ji Men dizi who, after all the oppression suffered, have either made their spiritual migration to a new dimension of peace, love, and resistance, or have found their raison d’être elsewhere, which has also materialized in the grand opening of Santa Clara and Pasadena academies in these days. Thus, some of them have gained new lifeblood that will allow them to face further challenges in their homeland.
In other words, the Tai Ji Men are also experiencing their Hijrah. Therefore, Hijrah could be a source of inspiration for those seeking truth, justice, and religious freedom.