Yathrib lay 300 miles north to Makkah. The city had Jews as well as Arab tribes. The two Arab tribes – Khazraj and Aws – were always at loggerheads with each other. The area was war-stricken. In addition, Jews and Arabs would also quarrel. The city, unlike Makkah which at least trade relations, was self-dependent. They relied heavily on their own cultivation, but war was the order of the day. This made for a deadly combination.
In 620, party of few men from Khazraj tribe came to Makkah for pilgrimage. They saw the Holy Prophet preaching and thought he was the prophet or messiah the Jews talked about. But soon they were so impressed by the message that they returned next year more men.
Next year, 6 men along with 5 more (2 from Aws) met the Holy Prophet secretly. They promised (pledged) to follow Allah’s religion. They planned to take the message to their hometown. This was called “the first pledge of Aqabah”.
In 622, about 75 Yathribi Muslims came to Makkah to formally invite the Holy Prophet to take refuge in Madinah.
Thereupon, the Holy Prophet after reciting some verses and repeating the earlier pledge asked them to obey him and fight for him. This was called “the second pledge of Aqabah”.
It is estimated that about 100 families (300 persons) left for Madinah. Only few were left among them Ali, Abu Bakr, and the Holy Prophet himself.
Upon hearing the news, the Quraish decided to kill the Prophet before migrating but fortunately couldn’t.
After travelling for a while, the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr reached Quba on 22nd September 622. They stayed there for two weeks and then proceeded to Madinah.
For complete Islamic history notes click here.