It happened today - September 24, 2015

The Prophet's Mosque in MedinaOn your list of things that didn’t make that day’s headlines, consider the authorities driving out a trouble-maker whose own family had stopped protecting him. The year was 622… or 1, depending how you’re counting. Because the location was the Arabian peninsula and the person was a middle-aged merchant turned monotheistic preacher named Muhammad.

Yes, you know the name. It became big news soon and has been ever since. And a key event in his life and in world history was his arrival in Medina on September 24th, after Mecca became far too hot to hold him.

In 621 he’d received a number of visitors from Medina saying they were now Muslims and would protect him. As the mood in Mecca turned increasingly hostile, Muhammad encouraged his hundred or so followers there to move to Medina in small groups and then, learning of a plot to murder him, he slipped out with a one of his disciples and by secret byways completed his “Hegira” to Medina on September 24.

At the time the authorities in Mecca were presumably mildly annoyed that he’d avoided their assassins. But they probably consoled themselves with the thought that oh well, no biggie, at any rate we’ve seen the last of that turbulent priest, now back to things that really matter. And if there’d been newspapers they’d have told you about the price of figs, a meeting of the merchant council, visitors to the pagan shrines etc. and not even consigned the disappearance of this annoying character to the back page briefs.

Within a couple of years, of course, they’d have needed the really big typeface to describe his deeds, as they still do today. But in 622 meh, cover the camel auction and forget that guy. We’ll never hear from him again.

It happened todayJohn Robson