At the beginning of his mission, Muhammad – hereinafter called the Prophet – opened his soul only to those who were attached to him and tried to free them from the gross practices of their forefathers. After Khadijah, his cousin’ Ali was the next companion. The Prophet used often to go into the desert around Mecca with his wife and young cousin that they might together offer their heart felt thanks to the Lord of all nations for His manifold blessings. Once they were surprised by Abu Talib, the father of ‘Ali. He said to the Prophet: “O son of my brother, what is this religion you are following?” “It is the religion of Allah of His Angels, of His Messengers and of our ancestor Abraham,” answered the Prophet. “Allah has sent me to His servants, to direct them towards the truth, and you, O my uncle, are the most worthy of all. It is meet that I should thus call upon you and it is meet that you should accept the truth and help in spreading it.”
Abu Talib replied: “Son of my brother, I cannot abjure the religion of my fathers; but by the Supreme Lord, while I am alive, none shall dare to injure you.” Then turning towards ‘Ali, the venerable chief asked what religion was his. Ali answered: “O father, I believe in Allah and His Prophet and go with him.” Abu Talib replied: “Well my son, he will not call you to anything except what is good, therefore you are free to go with him.”
After ‘Ali, Muhammad’s adopted son Zaid became a convert to the new faith. He was followed by Abu Bakr, a leading member of the Quraish tribe and an honest, wealthy merchant who enjoyed great consideration among his compatriots. He was but two years younger than the Prophet. His adoption of the new faith was of great moral effect. Soon after, five notables presented themselves before the Prophet and accepted Islam. Several converts also came from lower classes of the Arabs to adopt the new religion.
Proliferation of Islamic Knowledge by our Prophet
For three weary long years, the Prophet labored very quietly to deliver his people from the worship of idols. Polytheism was deeply rooted among the people. It offered attractions, which the new faith in its purity did not possess. The Quraish had personal material interests in the old worship, and their prestige was dependent upon its maintenance. The Prophet had to contend with the idolatrous worship of its followers and to oppose the ruling oligarchy, which governed its destinies.
After three years of constant but quiet struggle, only thirty followers were secured. An important change now occurred in the relations of the Prophet with the citizens of Mecca. His compatriots had begun to doubt his sanity, thinking him crazy or possessed by an evil spirit. Hitherto he preached quietly and unobtrusively. He now decided to appeal publicly to the Meccans, requesting them to abandon their idolatry. For this he arranged a gathering on a neighboring hill and there spoke to them of their folly in the sight of Allah in worshipping pieces of stone which they called their gods. He invited them to abandon their old impious worship and adopt the faith of love, truth and purity. He warned them of the fate that had overtaken past races who had not heeded the preaching of former prophets. But the gathering departed without listening to the warning given them by the Prophet.
Having thus failed to induce his fellow citizens to listen to him, he turned his attention to the strangers arriving in the city on commerce or pilgrimage. But the Quraish made attempts to frustrate his efforts. They hastened themselves to meet the strangers first on different routes, to warn them against holding any communication with the Prophet, whom they represented as a dangerous magician. When the pilgrims or traders returned to their homes, they carried with them the news of the advent of the bold preacher who was inviting the Arabs loudly – at the risk of his own life – to abandon the worship of their dear idols.
Persecution perpetrated by the Makkan Tribe of Quraish
Now the Prophet and his followers became subject to some persecution and indignity. The hostile Quraish prevented the Prophet from offering his prayers at the Sacred House of the Ka’ba; they pursued him wherever he went; they covered him and his disciples with dirt and filth when engaged in their devotions; they scattered thorns in the places which he frequented for devotion and meditation. Amidst all these trials the Prophet did not waver. He was full of confidence in his mission, even when on several occasions he was put in imminent danger of losing his life.
At this time Hamza, the youngest son of Abdul Muttalib, adopted Islam. Hamza was a man of distinguished bravery, an intrepid warrior, generous and true, whose heroism earned for him the title of the “Lion of Allah.” He became a devoted adherent of Islam and ever lost his life in the cause.
The Prophet continued preaching to the Arabs in a most gentle and reasonable manner. He called thepeople, so accustomed to iniquity and wrong doings, to abandon their abominations. In burning words which excited the hearts of his hearers, he warned them of the punishment which Allah had inflicted upon the ancient tribes of ‘Ad and Thamud who had obstinately disobeyed the teachings of Allah’s messengers to them. He adjured them by the wonderful sights of nature, by the noon day brightness, by the night when it spreads its veil, by the day when it appears in glory to listen to his warning before a similar destruction befell them. He spoke to them of the Day of Reckoning, when their deeds in this world will be weighed before the Eternal Judge, when the children who had been buried alive will be asked for what crime they were put to death.
Almighty Allah said: Nay, they wonder that there has come to them a Warner (Muhammad) from among themselves. So the disbelievers say: “This is a strange thing! When we are dead and have become dust (shall we be resurrected)? That is a far return.” We know that which the earth takes of them (their dead bodies), and with Us is a Book preserved (i.e., the Book of Decrees).
Nay, but, they have denied the truth (this Qur’an) when it has come to them, so they are in a confused state (can not differentiate between right and wrong). Have they not looked at the heaven above them, how We have made it and adorned it, and there are no rifts in it? And the earth! We have spread it out, and set thereon mountains standing firm, and have produced therein every kind of lovely growth (plants).
An insight and a reminder for every slave turning to Allah (i.e., the one who believes in Allah and performs deeds of His obedience, and always begs His pardon). And We send down blessed water (rain) from the sky, then we produce therewith gardens and grain (every kind of harvests that are reaped). And tall date palms, with ranged clusters; a provision for (Allah’s) slaves. And We give life therewith to a dead land. Thus will be the resurrection (of the dead). Denied before them (i.e. these pagans of Makka who denied you, O Muhammad) the people of Noah, and the dwellers of Rass, and the Thamud, and ‘Ad, and Pharaoh, and the brethren of Lot, and the dwellers of the Wood, and the people of Tubba, everyone of them denied their Messengers, so My Threat took effect.” ( 50: 2-14 Quran)
Almighty Allah also declared: All praises and thanks be to Allah Who Alone created the heavens and the earth, and originated the darkness and the light, yet those who disbelieve hold others as equal with their Lord. He it is Who has created you from clay, and then has decreed a stated term (for you to die). And there is with Him another determined term (for you to be resurrected), yet you doubt (in the Resurrection).
And He is Allah (to be worshipped Alone) in the heavens and on the earth, He knows what you conceal and what you reveal, and He knows what you earn (good or bad). And never an Ayah (sign) comes to them from the Ayat (proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of their Lord, but that they have been turning away from it.
Indeed, they rejected the truth (The Qur’an and Muhammad) when it came to them, but there will come to them the news of that (the torment) which they used to mock at. Have they not seen how many a generation before them We have destroyed whom We had established on the earth such as We have not established you? And We poured out on them rain from the sky in abundance, and made the rivers flow under them. Yet We destroyed them for their sins, and created after them other generations.” ( 6:1-6 Quran)
As the number of believers increased and the cause of the Prophet was strengthened by the conversions of many powerful citizens, the Prophet’s preaching alarmed the Quraish. Their power and prestige were at stake. They were the custodians of the idols, which the Prophet had threatened to destroy; they were the ministers of the worship, which he denounced; in fact their existence and living wholly depended upon the maintenance of the old institutions. The Prophet taught that in the sight of his Lord all human were equal, the only distinction recognized among them being the weight of their piety.
Allah the Exalted said: O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you in the Sight of Allah is that believer who has At Taqwa (one of the Muttaqun, pious and righteous persons who fear Allah much, abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden), and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained. Verily! Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” ( 49:13 Quran).
The Quraish would have none of this leveling of distinctions, as it reflected upon their long inherited privileges. Accordingly, they organized a system of persecution in order to suppress the movement before it became firmly established. They decided that each family should take upon itself the task of stamping out the new faith on the spot. Each household tortured its own members or adherents or slaves who were supposed to have connected themselves with the new religion. With the exception of the Prophet, who was protected by Abu Talib and his kinsmen, and Abu Bakr, and a few others who were either distinguished by their rank or possessed some influence among the Quraish, all other converts were subjected to different sorts of torture. Some of them were thrown into prison, starved, and then flogged. The hill of Ramada and the place called Bata thus became scenes of cruel torture.
Quraish fear spread of Islam – Try in vain to blackmail Prophet
One day the Quraish tried to induce the Prophet to discontinue his teachings of the new religion, which had sown discord among their people. ‘Utba Ibn Rabi’a, was delegated to see the Prophet and speak to him. ‘Utba said: “O son of my brother, you are distinguished by your qualities; yet you have sown discord among our people and cast dissension in our families; you denounced our gods and goddesses and you charge our ancestors with impiety. Now we are come to make a proposition to you, and I ask you to think well before you reject it.” “I am listening to you, O father of Walid,” said the Prophet. “O son of my brother, if by this affair you intend to acquire riches, honors, and dignity, we are willing to collect for you a fortune larger than is possessed by any one of us; we shall make you our chief and will do nothing without you. If you desire dominion, we shall make you our king; and if the demon which possesses you cannot be subdued, we will bring you doctors and give them riches until they cure you.” When ‘Utba had finished his discourse, the Prophet said: “Now listen to me, O father of Walid.” “I listen.” He replied. The Prophet, recited to him the first thirteen verses of Surah Fussilat, which maybe interpreted as follows:
In the Name of Allah The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful.
Ha Mim (These letters are one of the miracles of the Quran, and none but Allah Alone knows their meanings). A revelation from Allah the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. A Book whereof the Verses are explained in detail; – a Quran in Arabic for people who know. Giving glad tidings (of Paradise to the one who believes in the Oneness of Allah, Islamic Monotheism) and fears Allah much (abstains from all kinds of sins and evil deeds) and loves Allah much (performing all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained), and warning (of punishment in the Hellfire to be the one who disbelieves in the Oneness of Allah), but most of them turn away, so they listen not.
And they say: “Our hearts are under coverings (screened) from that to which you invite us, and in our ears is deafness, and between us and you is a screen, so work you (on your way); verily we are working (on our way).
Say (O Muhammad): “I am only a human being like you. It is inspired in me that your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (God – Allah), therefore take the Straight Path to Him (with true Faith – Islamic Monotheism) and obedience to Him, and seek forgiveness of Him. And woe to Al-Mushrikeen; (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, etc., those who worship others along with or set up rivals or partners to Allah etc.) Those who give not the Zakat and they are disbelievers in the Hereafter. Truly, those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah and in His Messenger Muhammad – Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds for them will be an endless reward that will never stop (Paradise).
Say (O Muhammad): “Do you verily disbelieve in Him Who created the earth in two Days and you set up rivals (in worship) with Him? That is the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists).
He placed therein (the earth) firm mountains from above it, and He blessed it, and measured therein its sustenance (for its dwellers) in four Days equal (all these four days were equal in the length of time), for all those who ask (about its creation). Then He Istawa (rose over) towards the heaven when it was smoke, and said to it and to the earth: “Come both of you willingly or unwillingly.” They both said: “We come, willingly.” Then He completed and finished from their creation as seven heavens in two days and he made in each heaven with lamps (stars) to b e an adornment as well as to guard (from the devils by using them as missiles against the devils). Such is the Decree of Him the All Mighty, The All Knower.
But if they turn away, then say (O Muhammad): “I have warned you of a Sa’iqa (a destruction awful cry, torment, hit, a thunder bolt) like the Sa’iqa which overtook ‘Ad and Thamud (people).” ( 41:1-13 Quran).
When the Prophet had finished his recitation, he said to ‘Utba: “This is my reply to your proposition; now take what course you find best.”