It began in 610 CE
The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S became the Rasul (Messenger) of Allah (God) in the year in 610 CE, thirteen (13) years before the Hijrah, when he was about forty (40) years of age.
Soon after becoming the last Rasul (Messenger) of Allah (God), he began inviting people to Islam. For the first three years the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S invited people to the path of Allah (God) secretly and invited only his close relatives and friends to Islam.
In the year 10BH (Before Hijrah) (614 CE), Allah (God) commanded His Messenger, Muhammad S to declare Islam publicly.
The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S began inviting everyone to Islam, without caring for the consequences. Leaders of the Quraysh tribe, one of the most respected and powerful tribes of Arabia, did not like it.
The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S also belonged to the most respected family of the Quraysh tribe. Most of the Quraysh were settled in and around the city of Makkah. This powerful Quraysh tribe consisted of many strong and influential families.
They used to worship idols. The chief of Quraysh was Abu Talib bin 'Abdul Muttalib, an uncle of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S, took him under his loving care after the death of his grandfather ĎAbdul Muttalib. 'Abdullah bin ĎAbdul Muttalib, the father of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S, died at a very young age, a few months before his birth. Besides being the chief of the Quraysh, ĎAbdul Muttalib was also the caretaker of the Ka'bah, the most important place of worship in Arabia.
Backdrop of the Problem with the Quraysh
Long ago, the Ka'bah was constructed in Makkah by two prominent Rusul (Messengers) Ibrahim A (Abraham) and his elder son Isma'il A (Ishmael), ancestors of the last Rasul (Messenger) of Allah (God).
The Ka'bah was the first House for the worship of Allah (God), the One and Only Creator and Sustainer of the universe. The city of Makkah was built around the Ka'bah.
With time, people forgot the message of Islamic Monotheism taught by Ibrahim A (Abraham) and Isma'il A (Ishmael). They began praying to other gods and deities besides Allah (God) and almost every tribe in Arabia devised their own idols for worshipping.
During these changes, the Ka'bah still remained the central place of worship and the tradition of annual Hajj (Pilgrimage to the Ka'bah) continued from the times of Ibrahim A (Abraham) and Isma'il A (Ishmael). The annual event of Hajj (Pilgrimage to the Ka'bah) continued to bring a lot of pilgrims into Makkah.
The pilgrims also brought a lot of business to Makkah with them, benefiting the Quraysh, who were the caretakers of the Ka'bah.
Hashim, the great-grandfather of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S, had organized the trading business by sending large trading caravans to out of Makkah. He had also made treaties with all tribes and kingdoms on the route of his caravan for its safe passage through their territories.
This remakable achievement converted Makkah, the spiritual capital of Arabia, into the trading capital as well.
Makkah became the most sought after destination for pilgrimage and trading. Reputation and prosperity of the Quraysh went on increasing year after year. In order to keep their visitors happy, they went along with their sentiments. The Quraysh themselves as well as visitors of the Ka'bah installed many idols in and around it.
In the times of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S, the Ka'bah had over 300 idols. It meant good business for the Quraysh.
Islam recognized and worshipped Only Allah (God), and was against the idols and ideals of Quraysh. Islam began attracting some members of the Quraysh tribe. Although in its initial phase, Islam was spreading at a very slow pace, its very concept caused a lot of alarm bells in the Quraysh camps, because it threatened their spiritual leadership position.
They shivered at the thought of replacing hundreds of gods, revered by a multitude of tribes, with only One. It meant a reduction in their income in the same proportion. Quraysh elders and chiefs were unanimous in opposing Islam.
Initially, they tried to lure the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S, away from his 'newly found' religion. Then they tried to intimidate him.
With the failure of this strategy also, they decided to stop Islam fiercely and aggressively and waged an all out war. There were no holds barred, and Arabs who were famous for respecting their kinship, who used to wage bloody battles that lasted for ever, to defend and take revenge of their tribesmen, went after their own in the most brutal and barbaric manner.
The Quraysh began attacking the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S and his handful of Sahabah (Companions). Although the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S belonged to the most respected clan Banu (Family of) Hashim of the Quraysh tribe; the opponents of Islam did not care for his lineage or family's social status and began abusing, ridiculing and torturing him at every opportunity. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S tolerated all hostilities and abuse without showing any sign of weakness or retaliation and continued spreading the Word of Allah (God).
Slowly, invitation of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S, to the True Path began showing results. The number of his Sahabah (Companions) was increasing slowly and steadily.
Every year, pilgrims from allover Arabia used to come to Makkah for the pilgrimage of Ka'bah. The main pilgrimage was known as Hajj (Annual pilgrimage to Makkah), a tradition started by Ibrahim A (Abraham). These pilgrims used to setup numerous camps in and around Makkah. Some of the camps used to be at 'Ukaz, Majannah, Mina and Dhul Majaz.
Messenger of Allah S continued the Mission
The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S used to go to those camps and meet people in their camps to introduce Islam to them and invite them to it. Abu Lahab bin 'Abdul Muttalib, an uncle of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S and a prominent Quraysh leader, was one of the worst enemies of Islam and Muhammad S. He followed his nephew to these camps. After the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S used to give the message of Allah (God) to people, Abu Lahab bin 'Abdul Muttalib used to approach the same people to tell them that his nephew was a liar.
Abu Lahab bin 'Abdul Muttalib also used to hit the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S with stones. His behavior was very strange for those times, where families were very closely knit and united. Elders of the family loved their young and they would do any thing to protect their family. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S was very patient and he never reacted to the excesses of his uncle.
The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S continued to call people to the right path with extreme patience and perseverance. Year after year, he approached all tribes with the message of Allah (God). People made fun of him, ridiculed him, called him crazy, but he did not loose his patience. Quraysh continued insulting and torturing him and his Sahabah (Companions).
Slow but Steady - From 3 to 300 in 3 years
For the first few years, Islam remained a faith of only very few persons. The first person to accept Islam was Khadijah bint Khuwaylid R, wife of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S. The next two Muslims were also from his household. First youth to convert to Islam was 'Ali bin Abu Talib R, his cousin who was being raised in his house and Zayd bin Harithah R his freed slave whom he had adopted as his son. Both were very young at that time.
These three were the first people to answer the call of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S.
First adult male to convert to Islam was Abu Bakr R, a friend of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S. Abu Bakr R introduced Islam to many of his friends from the upper most sections of Makkan social order.
Poor and oppressed of Makkah were attracted to Islam because it made every human being equal, and advocated human rights. Islam gave the very first message of social equality with the message of universal brotherhood.
One of the early converts was Khubab bin al Arrat R, a slave. One day the Quraysh tortured him on the bed of burning coal for accepting Islam. People pressed his chest with their legs pinning him to down on the fire-bed until it cooled down to ashes. He was repeatedly asked to forgo his new religion Islam but he tolerated this barbaric and inhumane torture and remained faithful to Islam.
Bilal R, another slave was also tortured by the Quraysh. His master, Umayyah bin Khalaf used to put him on the burning sands of Makkah during noon-hours with a large his chest, so that he could not move and suffer in the worst manner. Bilal R also remained firm on Islam.
Yasir R and his wife Sumayyah R were tortured by Quraysh. Sumayyah R was the first martyr of Islam. They were the parents of 'Ammar R, all among the early converts of Islam.
There were many more poor and down trodden who embraced Islam along with many of their more fortunate brethren.
Young people were also attracted by Islam in its initial phases.
slowly, in the first three years, the number of Muslims reached about three hundred.
The First Migration
Most Muslims wanted to get away from the hardships brought over them by the Quraysh. They saught permission of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, to get away from Makkah. He suggested migration to Habash (Ethiopia) to them.
With the permission of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad , the first Hijrah (Migration) took place in the year 9BH (Before Hijrah) (Before Muhammad S migrated to Madinah). The first batch of fifteen migrants, eleven men and 4 women, reached the coast where they found two merchant boats ready to sail to Habash (Ethiopia).
Muslims of Makkah continued going to Habash (Ethiopia) to save themselves from the torture of Quraysh. Their numbers increased to eighty-three (83). King Najjashi (Negus), the just Christian king of Habash (Ethiopia) welcomed the Muslim immigrants. He allowed the Muslims to live in Habash (Ethiopia) in peace. The Quraysh of Makkah did not like it. Quraysh wanted to bring those Muslims back to punish them. They sent two of their leaders 'Amr bin al 'As and 'Abdullah bin Abu Rabi'ah to Habash (Ethiopia) to bring the Muslims back, with gifts for king Najjashi (Negus). The two requested the King to hand over the migrant Muslims to them they were their absconding criminals who had insulted the religion of their forefathers and joined a new religion.
When king Najjashi (Negus) asked the Muslims about their new religion, Ja'far bin Abu Talib R explained their new faith to the King. He explained that they were ignorant, they also used to worship a multitude of idols, and did a lot of immoral things, buried their daughters alive, were not just in their dealings, and did not care for their relatives or neighbors. Then Allah (God) sent a Rasul (Messenger), Muhammad S to them. Ja'far bin Abu Talib R contuinued explaining that now they pray only to One Allah (God), the Only Creator abd Sustainer of the universe. Now they speak the truth, take care of their families, friends and neighbors, help the needy and the poor, and always follow the right path.
King Najjashi (Negus) told the Quraysh ambassadors that he did not see any thing wrong with their religion. The Quraysh tried their final trick on the Christian king by attempting to turn him hostile towards the Muslims. They told the King that Muslims do not respect 'Isa A (Jesus) as the Son of God. The trick seemed to have worked because it had angered the king, who asked the Muslims to clarify their position on 'Isa A (Jesus) immediately.
'Isa A (Jesus) and Islam
The leader of immigrant Muslims, Ja'far bin Abu Talib R recited a few Ayah (Verses) from Surah Maryam (Mary) of the Qur-an. He explained to the King and his court that Muslims believe that Allah (God) does not have any children or parents and they believe in 'Isa A (Jesus) as a Rasul (Messenger) of Allah (God), just like Muhammad S. He also told them that the Qur-anic Ayah (Verses) further mentions that pious and innocent Maryam (Mary) gave birth to 'Isa A (Jesus) without a father only By the Decree of Allah (God).
Najjashi (Negus) carefully listening to him and he wept when Ja'far bin Abu Talib R was reciting from the Qur-an. He told the Muslims that both Islam and Christianity are two sides of the same coin and gurenteed for their safety in his kingdom. He declared them as his guests and announced that they were free to live in his kingdom for as long as they wished. He returnd all gifts brought by the Quraysh, who had to return to Makkah empty handed.
Immigrant Muslims lived in peace in Habash (Ethiopia). Most of them returned to Makkah after hearing a rumor that all Quraysh there had accepted Islam. Upon reaching close to Makkah, they found out that it was not true. This time around, the Quraysh of Makkah tortured them severely forcing many of them to return to Habash (Ethiopia).
The Quraysh were under the impression that these Muslims would not be able to settle down in Habash (Ethiopia) and would soon return to Makkah, their home, begging for their mercy. Instead, the Muslim migrants got a very friendly treatment there.
This off-shore diplomatic victory for the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S and his continuous perseverence for propagating the religion of Allah (God), further angered the Quraysh. They boycotted from Makkah, the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S and his clan of Banu (Family of) Hashim, a powerful Quraysh clan, for showing allegiance to him, in the year 7BH (Before Hijrah) (615 CE). They were forced to live in a mountain-pass called Shi'b Abu Talib outside Makkah. Entire Banu (Family of) Hashim left their houses and suffered with the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S for three years althogh none of them had accepted Islam till that time. Abu Lahab bin 'Abdul Muttalib, an uncle of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S, was the only person from Banu (Family of) Hashim who did not join them and his behavior of joining the boycotting Quraysh was strange and abnormal.
Banu (Family of) al-Muttalib, another Quraysh clan, also joined their close allies Banu (Family of) Hashim and went with them.
During the boycott, no one was allowed to talk to or trade with Muslims and members of Banu (Family of) Hashim or Banu (Family of) al-Muttalib, who suffered for three years of living in the open, under the hot sun of Arab desert. Most of the times they went without much food or other provisions.
This boycott ended three years later, in the year 4BH (Before Hijrah) (618CE). The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S lost two of his great supporters before the boycott ended. He lost his wife, a true friend and companion, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid R after a happy marriage of twenty-five (25) years. She was the first person to become a Muslim, who believed in his mission without any hesitation and gave him her total support. She gave strength and reassurance to him whenever he needed it. She also gave six children to him. The death of Khadijah R was a great loss to the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S. A few months later, his Uncle Abu Talib died. Abu Talib was an important chief of the Quraysh of Makkah, and a true mentor who also shileded the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S from the Quraysh.
Tragedy Strikes the Messenger S
Within a very short duration, the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S lost two of his staunch supporters. The atrocities of Quraysh increased and they tried their best to crush Islam. They continued to torture the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad and his Sahabah (Companions).
Apparently, there was very little hope left for the mission of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S in Makkah. He tried to take the message of Allah (God) to people of Ta'if at a distance from Makkah. People of Ta'if also did not listen to him and treated him very badly. They made fun of him and sent their children to hit the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S with stones. He was hurt both physically and emotionally. Dejected, with a broken heart, he returned to Makkah.
The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S did not loose patience and continued praying to Allah (God).
He remained totally committed to spreading the Word of Allah (God). Every year many pilgrims used to come to the Ka'bah for pilgrimage. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S continued his old practice of visiting different tribes who had come for the pilgrimage and inviting them to the path of Allah (God).
The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S used to invite pilgrims to the True Path, during the boycott also. Those pilgrims had also seen the torture on him and his companions. They also saw the injustice of Quraysh on Muslims. Many pilgrims developed sympathy with him.
The city of Madinah was known as Yathrib before the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S settled there. There were two main Arab tribes Aus and Khazraj in Yathrib. Besides these two tribes of Arabs, several Jewish tribes also lived there.
Both us and Khazraj had a long history of rivalry and were in almost perpetual fight with each other. The Jewish tribes benefited from their animosity and gained control of the economy of the area.
In the month of Rajab (Seventh month of Islamic Calendar) of the year 3BH (Before Hijrah) (619 CE), the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S met a group of pilgrims from the from Khazraj tribe of Yathrib (Madinah).
Six of them embraced Islam when the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S invited them to it.
The first Muslims from Yathrib were Abu al Hathim bin Taihan R, Abu Umamah As'ad bin Zurarah R, 'Awf bin Harith R, Rafe' bin Malik bin 'Ajlan R, Qutaybah bin 'Amir bin Hadidah R and Jabir bin 'Abdullah bin Rabbab R.
During the next pilgrimage, twelve more people from Yathrib (Madinah) met the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S at 'Aqabah near Makkah and became Muslims. All of them took Ba'yt (Pledge of Allegiance) with him. This event is remembered as Ba'yt 'Aqbah Ula (The First Pledge of Allegiance at a Place called 'Aqbah).
These new Muslims requested the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S for a teacher from whom they can learn Islam. He sent a Sahabi (Companion) named Mus'ab bin 'Umayr R to Yathrib (Madinah). During his stay, Mus'ab bin 'Umayr R worked very hard in and around Yathrib (Madinah) to further Islam and it reached almost every household in Yathrib (Madinah) area. Sa'd bin Mu'adh R, the chief of the Aws tribe, also accepted Islam because of his efforts. Islam brought the two warring factions together.
During the pilgrimage of 1BH (Before Hijrah) a group of seventy-two (72) people belonging to the Aws and Khazraj tribes from Yathrib (Madinah) came to meet the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S at 'Aqbah, the same place where twelve people from their city had earlier pledged allegiance to him. These seventy-two people also accepted Islam and pledged their allegiance to him. This event is known as Ba'yt 'Aqbah Thaniyah (Second pledge of allegiance at a place called 'Aqbah).
The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S selected twelve Naqib (Leaders) from that group, nine (9) from the Khazraj tribe and three (3) from the Aws tribe. All of these Naqib (Leaders) were leaders of their own clans. Following their leaders, most of the people of Yathrib (Madinah) accepted Islam.
It was a turning point for Islam. Muslims and Islam found a base in Yathrib (Madinah), while Quraysh continued to heap atrocities, abuses and torture on the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S and his Sahabah (Companions).
Muslims of Makkah knew that many people have accepted Islam in Yathrib (Madinah). A group of Muslims asked the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S for permission to migrate to Yathrib (Madinah).
Soon Allah (God) granted them permission for it and Muslims began to migrate there.
Only the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S, Abu Bakr R, 'Ali bin Abu Talib R and a handful of other Muslims remained in Makkah