When Khadija had married Muhammad (peace be upon him) she had already the premonition that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was to be the prophet of God. Now that this premonition was fulfilled, Khadija felt very happy. She hastened to offer allegiance to Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the prophet of God.She was the first person to believe in the mission of Muhammad (peace be upon him). She assured him that God had chosen him for this high office because of his lofty character. She wanted him to be at rest for a great destiny awaited him.
After Khadija, Ali and Zaid b Harith, a freed slave of the Holy Prophet, and the daughters of the Holy Prophet accepted the new faith. His two sons died in infancy in Makkah before his migration to Madinah.
Outside the Prophet’s family, Abu Bakr a rich merchat of Makkah and a bosom friend of the Holy Prophet accepted Islam. Other prominent members of the Quraish who accepted Islam at the instance of Abu Bakr included :
The notable thing about the new converts to Islam was that they were fully aware of the high character of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and could vouchsafe for his truth and integrity.
Some time in 613 C.E., the Holy Prophet was enjoined by Allah to extend the invitation to the public at large. The Holy Prophet mounted the hillock of Mt Safa in Makkah, and by an open proclamation invited the Quraish to the faith of Islam. He wanted them to abandon idolatry, to worship God, to believe in the Unity of God, to believe in the Day of judgement, to believed his mission, to believe in the equality of man, to do good and avoid evil. He wanted them to be righteous, to fulfil their trusts, to help those in distress, and to avoid frivolities.
It was the message of the elevation of mankind, the lifting of humanity in the scale of values. The Quraish who had collected to listen to the Holy Prophet were too stone hearted to appreciate the message, or to distinguish the truth from falsehood. They melted away without making any response to his call. In the idiom of the Holy Quran they were deaf and dumb, deprived of the power of hearing and speech.
Invitation to the Banu Hashim
Thereafter the Holy Prophet invited the Banu Hashim, the men of this tribe to a feast, and offered them the new faith. He had hoped that his kith and kin would respond to the call and would feel proud that one of them had been chosen as the messenger of God. These hopes were, however, not realised. Like the Quraish, the Banu Hashim disregarded the call of the Holy Prophet, and pitied him for having lost his senses in asking them to abandon the worship of their idols which their forefathers had worshipped.
Ali then a boy of about thirteen and a cousin of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), was the solitary person among the Banu Hashim who declared that he would stand by the Holy Prophet and would support him through thick and thin.
Abu Lahab, an uncle of the Holy Prophet adopted a hostile attitude, and threatened the Holy Prophet with stern action in case he persisted in his call.
Persecutions of the Quraish
The call to Islam created a stir in the society of Makkah and aroused a storm of opposition. Islam meant a complete break with the past, a repudiation of the beliefs, customs and conventions of their forefathers. This was violative of the code of tribal honour. The society of Makkah was based on slave economy. The Quraish apprehended that if Islam gained ground such economy would be disrupted. Islam stood for fair dealings in trade ; that was something which directly hit the vested interests. The Quraish saw in Islam a veritable danger to their power and economy. The Quraish accordingly took Islam as a challenge to themselves.
In the attack against Islam the Quraish commissioned the poets to produce abusive poems and lampoons satirising and ridiculing the Holy Prophet and Islam These hysterical efforts failed to arrest the growth of Islam in any way.
The Quriash launched a propaganda campaign dubbing the Holy Prophet as an impostor, a mad man, a soothsayer, a Kahin, a magic worker and son on. All such allegations being void of reality failed to have any effect.
When the propaganda campaign failed, the Quraish decided to resort to violence and persecute the Muslims. Some of the slaves had been attracted by Islam. The owners of such slaves subjected them to severe tortures. In spite of these hardships the Muslims remained firm in their faith. Some of the Muslims like Abu Bakr purchased the slaves and set them at liberty. The Quraish wanted the Holy Prophet to show miracles in case he was a prophet of God. The Holy Prophet said that he was an ordinary human being charged with a message, and he was not a miracle worker.
Exasperated the Quraish launched a campaign of physical persecution of the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet went to the Kaaba, and called the people to Allah. That led to an uproar, and he was attacked by the hostile crowd. He was released from the clutches of the hostile Quraish by his followers with great difficulty. On another occasion when the Holy Prophet was offering prayers in the Kaaba, a Quraish rolled his sheet round the neck of the Holy Prophet with a view to strangulating him. The Holy Prophet managed to escape with some difficulty.
Whenever the Holy Prophet passed through the streets of Makkah he was ridiculed and jeered at by the Quraish. Dirt and filth was thrown on him. His path was strewn with thorns and brambles. He was pelted with stones and subjected to other indignities.
In spite of these persecutions and tortures, the Holy Prophet continued with his mission with great steadfastness of purpose and firmness of faith. Those who believed in him held fast to him, and there was no wavering in their faith. On the other hand the persecutions of the Quraish had the effect of further strengthening and fortifying their faith.
House of Al Arqam
In view of the hostile attitude of the Quraish the Holy Prophet felt that the house where he lived in the heart of the town was not safe. Some time in 614 C.E., the Holy Prophet shifted the house of Al Arqam, one of the early converts. The house was situated on Mt Safa away from the town. It enjoyed natural protection and access thereto could be properly guarded. It was a spacious house which was used by the Holy Prophet as his residence as well as the head quarter of the Muslim movement. Some of the momentous events which shaped the history of Islam
took place in this house.
Inducements to the Holy Prophet
Seeing that in spite of tortures, oppression and persecutions there was no slackening in the missionary efforts of the Holy Prophet, the Quraish changed their strategy, and tried to win him by offering him inducements. They said that if he wanted money, they could load him with any amount of money that he wanted. They said that if they wanted women, they could procure fr him the most beautiful women in Makkah. They declared that if he wanted to rule, they could offer him the crown of Makkah. The Holy Prophet spurned all such offers. He said that even if they could place the sun and moon on his hands, he would not swerve a bit from the mission that had been assigned to him by God. He brought home to them the point that he was merely serving his master, Allah, and could not be moved by any consideration of self-aggrandisement.
Migration of the Muslims to Abyssinia
As the persecutions of the Quraish grew in intensity, the Holy Prophet advised some of his followers to migrate to Abyssinia, the ruler of which country was known for his justice and tolerance. In 615 C.E. the Muslims migrated to Abyssinia in two batches. The first batch consisted of about a dozen persons, while the second batch comprised of about eight person.
Some hostile Quraish followed the Muslims to Abyssinia, and tried to persuade the Christian kind Negus to turn out the Muslim refugees from his kingdom. The king summoned the Muslims to his court, and put them searching questions about their faith. Ja’afar son of Abu Talib acting as the spokesman of the Muslims explained the message of Islam in eloquent terms. The king was much impressed with the soundness of the new faith, and refused to oblige the Quraish by turning was the Muslims from his dominions. He assured the Muslims that they could reside in Abyssinia as long as they desired, and they would be fully protected.
Impressed with the lofty bearings of the Muslims, some of the Christians of Abyssinia visited Makkah. They saw the Holy Prophet, and being impressed with the message of Islam, lost no them by the Quraish that they would not abandon their faith of Christianity for the new faith of Islam.
Conversion of Hamza and Umar to Islam
In 616 C.E. the Muslims gained strength with the conversion of Islam of such stalwarts as Hamza and Umar. Hamza was an uncle as well as a foster brother of the Holy Prophet. Hamza was a man of powerful build, and his conversion added to the strength of the Muslims in physical terms. Umar was a fiery young man of the ‘Adi clan, and he had been foremost in his hostility of Islam. The conversion of Hamza and Umar had a great psychological effect. It was indicative of the innate truth of Islam, which had the strength of disarm its hostile opponents. Heretofore the Muslims had prayed in private behind closed doors. After the conversion of Hamza and Umar, the Muslims became enough to pray publicly in the Kaaba. That was a great challenge for the Quraish.
Social boycott of Banu Hashim
When the Quraish mission returned from Abyssinia and reported its failure the Quraish of Makkah were exasperated. When the Quraish saw that the Muslims had acquired the courage to offer prayers publicly in the Kaaba they were infuriated. They held a council of war, and decided to take stern action to root out Islam.
A deputation of the Quraish waited Abu Talib, and wanted that his nephew Muhammad (peace be upon him) should be handed over to them. They said that in lieu thereof they could give him the most handsome young man among the Quraish whom he could adopt as his son. Abu Talib spurned the offer. The Quraish thereupon asked Abu Talib that he should at least prevail on his nephew not to condemn their gods. Abu Talib said that he would speak to his nephew on the point. Abu Talib summoned the Holy Prophet, and advised him not to invite the hostility of the Quraish. He said that he was free to hold Whatever faith he liked, but it was not necessary that he should condemn the god that their forefathers had worshipped. The Holy Prophet took these words to mean that under the pressure of the Quraish, his uncle was inclined to withdraw his patronage from him. With tears in his eyes, the Holy Prophet said that even if he was abandoned by the entire world, he could not betray the cause of Allah, and give up the mission that had been entrusted to him by Allah. Abu Talib was greatly moved by the firm resolve of his nephew, and as a manifestation of his deep love and affection for Muhammad (peace be upon him), he said, “Nephew do whatever you like and be sure your uncle will always stand by you and will never forsake you“.
When the Quraish waited on Abu Talib again to hear his decision he told them that he could not place his nephew at their mercy, and that he would protect him at all costs. He further brought home to them that his nephew bore a lofty character, and he would never say anything that was not the truth, and that no one could prevent him from telling what he considered to be the truth. He advised them that they should let Muhammad (peace be upon him) alone. If what he said was not the truth, the falsehood would vanish by itself. If on the other hand what he said was the truth, it was not desirable to suppress it.
That brought matters to a head. The war of the Quraish was no longer directed against Muhammad (peace be upon him) alone; it was now directed against Banu Hashim the clan of Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Quraish held another council of war, and decided to enforce the social boycott of the Banu Hashim. That implied that no one among the Quraish could have any dealing with Banu Hashim.
The Holy Prophet and such of the Hashimites who chose to protect him as a matter of tribal honour were forced to seek shelter in a glen outside Makkah which came to known as Abu Talib’s glen. In this glen the Hashimites lived in a state of semi confinement. The Quriash guarded the approaches to the glen and took steps to ensure that food grains and other articles of every day use were not allowed to be imported by the Hashimites.
The Year of Sorrow
The social boycott brought great misery to the Hashimites. The Hashimites had friends and relatives among the other sections of the Quraish and they felt concerned at the miseries of the Hashimites. It was flt that such boycott was against the traditions of Arab hospitality. A movement grew among the Quraish for the lifting of the boycott. The boycott was formally lifted in 619 C.E. The boycott failed to achieve the purpose for which it was enforced. Although the Holy Prophet suffered untold miseries because of the boycott and the blockade, that did not any way affect his faith in his mission.
Abu Talib and Khadija suffered most because of the confinement and they died soon after the lifting of the boycott. Abu Talib was more than a father to the Holy Prophet. With the passing away of Abu Talib the leadership of the Hashimites passed on to Abu Lahab who was hostile to the Holy Prophet and Islam. At this stage the Holy Prophet lost the protection of his own clan, and that created great difficulties for him.
Khadija had been a source of great comfort and support for him, and her passing away was a irreparable loss for the Holy Prophet. The passing away of Abu Talib and Khadija was a great blow for the Muslims in general and the Holy Prophet in particular. The year 619 C.E. accordingly came to be called by the Muslims as “The Year of Sorrow”. That was a turning point in the life of the Holy Prophet. He was no longer to rely on any human support, he had depend solely on God for help and support.
Journey to Taif
In the Year of Sorrow things for Islam appeared to be very gloomy. In Makkah the Quraish were hostile to the Holy Prophet and Islam. The Holy Prophet had lost the protection of his own clan. The process of conversion to Islam had slowed down. That made the Holy Prophet turn to other tribes outside Makkah. None of the tribes responded to the call of the Holy Prophet.
The Holy Prophet then decided to try his luck with the people of Taif. The Holy Prophet proceeded to Taif, a town some sixty miles from Makkah. He approached the leaders in Taif and invited them to Islam. They rejected the offer. The Holy Prophet tried to address the common people of Taif. They refused to listen to him. He was ridiculed, pelted with stones, and expelled from the town. The Holy Prophet bleeding on account of the injuries received at Taif returned to Makkah, as a sore disappointed man.
In 620 C.E. when things for Islam appeared to be very dark, and the Holy Prophet felt very much disconsolate and depress, he was one night taken up to the Heavens for an audience with god. Because of this novel and extraordinary spiritual experience, the Holy Prophet felt assured that his difficulties would ere long vanish, and his mission would ultimately be crowned with success. After the ascension, the Holy Prophet felt lifted out of the depths of depression.
Protection of Bani Naufal
The Holy Prophet approached some of the tribes to five him the necessary protection. Some tribes refused to entertain the proposal. Some tribes stipulated that hey would give him the protection provided the undertook that they would be his successors in prophet-hood. The Holy Prophet said that as the prophet-hood emanated from God it was not for him to nominate any successor to his prophet-hood. Ultimately Al Mut’im b ‘Adi head of the Bani Naufal proclaimed the protection of the Holy Prophet, and he laid down no conditions for such protection.
Pledges of ‘Aqbah
Although the Holy Prophet was not able to achieve much of success with the tribes outside Makkah his fame spread far and wide. In Yathrib (Madinah) the people heard of him, and they felt the curiosity to see him. The Jews in Yathrib declared that according to their Scriptures that was the time when a prophet of God was to appear in Arabia, and he was to usher in an era of reform, peace, progress and prosperity. The people of Yathrib were divided into two clans, the Aus and Khazraj. Although they descended from a common ancestor, a constant strife prevailed among them. In 617 C.E. there was actual war among the two clans, which came to be known as the war of Bu’ath. Thereafter though there was cessation of hostilities, but no formal peace had been declared, and a sense of general tension prevailed in Yathrib. Under the circumstance, a general feeling grew among the people of Yathrib that if they could bring some neutral person of authority to live in their midst, that would be in the interests of the city. When these people came to know of the advent of the Prophet, they came to feel that if the Prophet could be prevailed upon to come to Yathrib that would usher in a new era of peace and prosperity for Yathrib.
In 620 C.E. six men from Yathrib visited Makkah. They saw the Holy Prophet who invited them to Islam Five out of these six men accepted Islam In 621 C.E. some more persons came from Yathrib. They met the Holy Prophet at Aqabah, and were converted to Islam. They expressed the desire that some scholar should be deputed to go with them to Yathrib who should preach the new faith to the people of Yathrib. The Holy Prophet deputed Mus’ab b Umayr to accompany these people to Yathrib, and preach Islam there. In Yathrib the mission of Mus’ab b Umayr proved successful and many people in Yathrib were converted to Islam.
In 622 C.E. a larger delegation came from Yatrib to perform the annual pilgrimage. It comprised of seventy-three men and two women, who were new converts to Islam. They met the Holy Prophet at ‘Aqabah, and took a pledge known as the Second Pledge of ‘Aqabah. The Holy Prophet was invited to come to Yathrib and live in their midst. They undertook to protect him and resort to war against his enemies. For this reason the second pledge of Aqabah came to known as “Baya’tul Harb” as well.
After the delegation from Yathrib had left, the Holy Prophet asked his followers to migrate to Yathrib in batches. When the Quraish came to know that the people of Yathrib had accepted Islam, and that the Muslims of Makkah had started migrating to Yathrib they felt much concerned. They held a council of war, and decided to murder the Holy Prophet. The plan was that the young men representing all the tribes of the Quraish should besiege the house of the Holy Prophet at night and assassinate him in the early hours of the morning when he came out of his house.
The Holy Prophet forestalled the move of the Quraish, and escaped from the Makkah secretly with his boon companion Abu Bakr.They remained hidden in a cave in Mt. Thaurr outside Makkah for three days. The Quraish scoured the countryside in pursuit of the Holy Prophet. One of the search parties came to the edge of the cave where the Holy Prophet and his companion had found shelter, but a spider wove its at the mouth of the cave, and seeing it the Quraish turned away. After three days with the slackening of the vigilance of the Quraish, the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr escaped from the cave and took the way to Yathrib. They travelled by unfrequented paths, and suffered considerable hardship on account of scarcity of water and severity of heat. After six days’ arduous journey the Holy Prophet and his companion reached Quba, and suburb of Yathrib on the 23rd September 622 C.E.