الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ إِلَّا أَنْ يَقُولُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ
Al-ladhīna ukhrijū min diyārihim bi-ghayri haqqi illā an yaqūlū rabubna-llāh
Those who were expelled from their homes unjustly, only because they said, ‘Allah is our Lord’.
(Sūratul Hajj, No.22, Āyat 40)
One form of oppression is expelling people from the place that has always been their home. There is a place attachment which links a person to his hometown. Past experiences and memories make that place meaningful and most people have a strong link to their hometown. To leave can be difficult, especially when you are forced to do so by outside forces.
The verse above refers to the Muslims who were subjected to various forms of torture and difficulties. Because of this they were forced to leave their homes and migrate somewhere else. It shows the helplessness of the Muslims and the injustice they faced. Without any right or justification the disbelievers forced them to abandon their homes. Not by actually pushing them out but by giving them no choice but to leave. The physical torture, social and emotional pressures, financial restrains, all meant that the Muslims could not live in the place that was their home. They had to leave and go to a strange place, facing all the difficulties that that entails. They first went to Abyssinia and then to Madinah to make a new home for themselves.
The only reason the Muslims were forced to leave was their devotion to their Lord. Their belief in One God and their desire to worship and obey Him was not acceptable to the disbelievers. They were punished for it and were forced to choose between acquiescing and leaving.
According to a Hadith in Tafsīr Nūr al-Thaqalayn from Imam Muhammad al-Bāqir (a), this verse is about the Holy Prophet (s), Imam Ali (a), Hamza [the uncle of the Prophet] and it extends to Imam al-Husayn (a). The Tafsīr also quotes from Tafsīr Ali bin Ibrahim which says: It is [about] Husayn who was called to Damascus by Yazīd so he went towards Kūfa and was killed at Taff. Imam Husayn (a) had to leave his home along with his family members and travel to Makkah and then leave Makkah towards Kūfa. He was stopped on the way and forced to divert towards Karbala. This was part of the injustice inflicted upon him by Yazīd.
Muslims around the world are also facing this form of oppression today. Many have become refugees living in camps for years. According to UNHCR, ‘Nearly one person is forcibly displaced every two seconds as a result of conflict or persecution.’ A large percentage of these refugees are Muslims forced out of their homes because of their beliefs.
Let this verse remind you of the injustice meted out to believers, in history and today. They suffer for remaining steadfast on their beliefs. That is a lesson for us who are safe from that type of suffering. Other forms of difficulties should not make us waver in our faith or determination.
Sources: ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Abd ‘Ali b. Jumu’a al-‘Arusi al-Huwayzi, Tafsīr Nūr al-Thaqalayn