After three years of Prophethood, fearlessly calling to and teaching people Islam with skilled tactics, God ordered Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, to make a public call. God revealed ayah (214) of ash-Shu^ara’ in which God ordered Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to warn his relatives, calling them to Islam.
[وأنذر عشيرتك الأقربين]
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ went on the top of as-Safa, a mountain in Makkah, and called the different clans by their names. They came in a hurry. The Prophet said, ”If I were to tell you that there was an enemy ready to attack you, would you believe me?” They said, ”Yes. We never experienced except truthfulness from you.”
He said, ”I am a warner to you of a very severe torture (if you do not hold the proper belief).”
Abu Lahab, one of the Prophet’s uncles, cursed him. He was mad, claiming that our Prophet was wasting their time and trying to destroy their lifestyle.
Shortly after that incident, God revealed the surah called al-Masad, in which it is mentioned that both Abu Lahab and his wife will receive severe torture in Hellfire.
The news of this surah reached the wife of Abu Lahab, Umm Jamil, who was a very wicked woman. When Umm Jamil heard this surah, she came to the area of the Ka^bah with stones in her hand. She addressed Abu Bakr threatening to harm the Prophet ﷺ, by saying, ”l heard your friend has dispraised me, and l will show him’‘. Abu Bakr asked her, ”Do you see anyone with me?” She said, ‘‘No. Are you mocking me?”. She continued to dispraise the Prophet ﷺ , who was sitting next to Abu Bakr. After she left, the Messenger of God ﷺ , told his Companion, ”Some angels blocked her from seeing me and saved me from her evil.”
Once, one of the leaders of the blasphemers, ^Uqbah lbn Abi Mu^ayt, saw the Prophet praying next to the Ka^bah. He took the clothes of the Prophet ﷺ and strangled him. Abu Bakr came and pushed him away from the Prophet ﷺ , and said, ”Do you kill a man because he says: God is my Lord?”
One of the main leaders of the blasphemers was a man called Abu Jahl. This was the name that the Muslims gave to him meaning, ”the very ignorant person”.
When our Prophet ﷺ , started calling people to Islam, Abu Jahl became a big enemy of the Muslims, mocking and torturing them. Once, Abu Jahl urged a cohort of his to put the stinking innards of a camel on the back of our Prophet ﷺ, while he was prostrating in prayer. It was done, while Abu Jahl and his friends mocked our Prophet ﷺ. Brave, little Fatimah, the daughter of our Prophet ﷺ, removed that filth off her father, who completed his prayer. Fatimah was only about ten years old at the time.
The Prophet ﷺ, carried out God’s order to call his relatives as well as other tribes to Islam. He degraded their idols, which angered them. They all agreed to consider him as their enemy. The uncle of the Prophet, Abu Talib, protected him from the harm of Quraysh’s blasphemers and others. This angered the idol worshippers of Makkah and a group of their leaders said to Abu Talib, ”Your nephew has insulted our idols and slandered our religion. Either you stop him or you give him up to us. After all, you follow the same religion that we do”. Abu Talib talked to them gently and they left him.
The Prophet ﷺ continued with his mission and the hatred of the idolaters to the Prophet ﷺ, increased. They went again to Abu Talib and said, ”You have an age, status, and honor among us. We had asked you to stop your nephew, but you did not. We swear by God we will not be patient with his insulting our fathers and idols. Either you stop him or we will fight both of you until one side is victorious.”
Abu Talib found it hard for himself to be away from his people, and his heart was neither inclined to embrace Islam nor to let the Messenger of God down. However, he said to the Prophet, ”O nephew, your people told me so and so. Avoid getting yourself and me killed. Do not put on my shoulders that which l cannot bear.” The Messenger of God ﷺ thought that his uncle was letting him down and pulling out his support for him. He said, ”O uncle, I swear by God, were they to put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left to leave out calling to Islam, I would not do so until God makes Islam victorious, or l die while conveying it.” Then the Prophet ﷺ wept. His uncle called him and said, ”Come back my nephew. Say what you like. I swear by God that l will not give you up”.
When Quraysh realized that Abu Talib was not going to give up his nephew, they increased their persecution and torture of the Muslims under their hands. The Messenger of God ﷺ used to address the people saying, ”O people, God orders you to worship Him and not to associate anything with Him.” Abu Lahab would walk behind him and say, ”This man wants you to leave the religion of your fathers”.
The blasphemers met at their Hajj1 season to agree on something to say about the Prophet. Some said, ”We will say that he is a fortune teller”. Others wanted to say that he was insane; and others wanted to say he was a magician. Others wanted to say that he was a poet. However, they all agreed that he was not any of these things. Finally, they agreed to say that he brought forth a religion that separates between the person and his father, brother, tribe, and his wife.
As a result of warning against him, the Prophet ﷺ became very famous among the various Arab tribes. Many of his own people were against him at that time. Yet, he was trying to save them from Hellfire, by God’s Will. An Arab tribe at his time believed that God had married an elite woman of jinn and that they gave birth to angels. Of course the truth, which our Prophet ﷺ, declared, was that God was not a man, and He never took a wife. God had no children. Additionally, angels were neither male nor female. Our Prophet ﷺ was unshakeable in his mission to spread the truth about God and His attributes. The threats of misguided people did not scare him.
After making the public call, two brave men who were respected in Makkah became Muslim: Hamzah (the Prophet’s uncle) and ^Umar Ibnul-khattab. ^Umar was set on killing the Prophet after the public call. Yet, after he read some verses of the Qur’an that his Muslim sister had, he went to our Prophet. God changed ^Umar’s heart and he professed his Islam to our Prophet ﷺ.
The harm of the blasphemers against the Prophet ﷺ and his Companions intensified. In the fifth year of Prophethood, the Prophet told some of his Companions to go out to the land of Abyssinia (Ethiopia, East Africa). During the fifth and sixth year of Prophethood, two groups (95 men and 22 women) immigrated to Abyssinia, one left several months before the other. Among them were ^Uthman and his wife Ruqayyah (our Prophet’s daughter), az-Zubayr, ^Abdur-Rahman Ibn ^Awf, ^Abdullah Ibn Mas^ud, and Ja^far ibn Abi Talib.
Ashamah An-Najashiyy (Negus), the king of Abyssinia, was a Christian, but he welcomed the Muslims and honored them. He allowed them to stay in his country and practice their Religion. Word of this reached the blasphemers of Makkah. As a result, the idolaters of Quraysh sent two men with gifts to Ashamah requesting that he hand over the Muslims to them. Their effort was fruitless. The king sent after the Muslims. Ja^far ibn Abi Talib pointed out the teachings of the Prophet ﷺ about Jesus, peace be upon him, namely, that he was the slave of God and His Messenger. Moreover, he recited some of the Qur’an, which caused the king to cry. He protected them and did not allow the blasphemers to hurt them.
This honorable king embraced Islam. He received a letter from our Prophet and became one of the upright Muslims. A few years after embracing Islam, the king died. On the same day, the Messenger of God ﷺ said, ‘‘Today your brother, an-Najashiyy died. He is a righteous man”. He ordered the Muslims to perform the funeral prayer (in absentia) for an-Najashiyy, which the Messenger ﷺ led.
1They would do some of the actions that we do nowadays in Hajj, but they did it with their wrong belief. Hajj had been done by Prophet Isma^il peace be upon him, but through the years its performance had become perverted.