The First Stage - Strife In The Way Of The Call
Three Years Of Secrete Call:
It is well-known that Makkah was the centre for the Arabs, and housed the custodians of Al-Ka’bah. Protection and guardianship of the idols and stone graven images that received veneration on the part of all the Arabs lay in the hands of the Makkans. Hence the difficulty of hitting the target of reform and rectitude in a place considered the den of idolatry. Working in such an atmosphere no doubt requires unshakable will and determination, that is why the call unto Islaam assumed a clandestine form so that the Makkans should not be enraged by the unexpected surprise.
The Early Converts:
The Prophet naturally initiated his sacred mission right from home and then moved to the people closely associated with him. He called unto Islaam whomsoever he thought would attest the truth which had come from his Lord. In fact, a host of people who nursed not the least seed of doubt as regards the Prophet , immediately responded and quite readily embraced the true faith. They are known in the Islaamic literature as the early converts.
Khadeejah, the Prophet’s spouse, the mother of believers, was the first to enter the fold of Islaam followed by his freed slave Zaid bin Harithah, his cousin, ‘Alee bin Abee Talib, who had been living with him since his early childhood, and next came his intimate friend Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (Abu Bakr the truth verifier). All of those professed Islaam on the very first day of the call. Abu Bakr, and from the first day he embraced Islaam, proved to be an energetic and most zealous activist. He was wealthy, obliging, mild and upright. People used to frequent his house and draw nigh to him for his knowledge, amity, pleasant company and business. He invited whomever he had confidence in to Islaam and through his personal efforts a good number of people converted to Islaam, such as ‘Uthmaan bin ‘Affan Al-Umawi, Az-Zubair bin ‘Awwam Al-Asadi, ‘Abdur-Rahmaan bin ‘Awf, Sa’d bin Abee Waqqas, Az-Zuhri and Talhah bin ‘Ubaidullah At-Tamimy. Those eight men constituted the forerunners and more specifically the vanguard of the new faith in Arabia. Among the early Muslims were Bilal bin Rabah (the Abyssinian), Abu ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah from Bani Harith bin Fahr (the most trustworthy of the Muslim Nation), Abu Salamah bin ‘Abd Al-Asad, Al-Arqam bin Abee Al-Arqam from the tribe ofMakhzum, ‘Uthman bin Maz’oun and his two brothers Qudama and ‘Abdullaah, ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Harith bin Al-Muttalib bin ‘Abd Munaf, Sa’id bin Zaid Al-‘Adawi and his wife Faatimah - daughter of Al-Khattab (the sister of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab), Khabbab bin Al-Aratt, ‘Abdullaah bin Mas’ud Al-Hadhali and many others. These were the Muslim predecessors. They belonged to various septs of Quraysh. Ibn Hisham, a biographer, counted them to be more than forty.
Ibn Ishaq said: “Then people entered the fold of Islaam in hosts, men or women and the new faith could no longer be kept secret.
The Prophet used to meet and teach, the new converts, the religion in privacy because the call to Islaam was still running on an individual and secret basis. Revelation accelerated and continued after the first verses of “O you wrapped in garments. The verses and pieces of Soorah (chapters) revealed at this time were short ones with wonderful strong pauses and quite fascinating rhythms in full harmony with that delicate whispering setting. The central topic running through them focused on sanctifying the soul, and deterring the Muslims from falling prey to the deceptive glamour of life. The early verses used as well to give a highly accurate account of the Hell and the Garden (Paradise),leading the believers down a new course diametrically opposed to the ill practices rampant amongst their compatriots.
As-Salat (The Prayer):
Muqatil bin Sulaiman said: “Salaat (prayer) was established as an obligatory ritual at an early stage of the Islaamic Call, a two rak’ah (unit of prayer) Salaat in the morning and the same in the evening;
Ibn Hijr said: “Definitely the Prophet† used to pray before ‘The Night Journey’ but it still remains a matter of controversy whether or not the prayer was established as an obligatory ritual before imposing the rules of the usual five prayers a day. It is related that obligatory prayer was established twice a day, in the morning before sunrise and after sunset. It is reported through a chain of narrators that when the Prophet received the first Revelation, Gabriel - the angel, proceeded and taught him how to observe Wudu (ablution). When the Prophet† had finished, he took a handful of water and sprinkled it on his loins.”
Ibn Hisham reported that when it was time for prayers, the Messenger of Allaah and his Companions went into a mountain valley to pray secretly. Abu Talib once saw the Messenger of Allaah and Alee praying, he asked them what they were up to. When he got to know that it was obligatory prayer, he told them to stay constant in their practice.
The Qurayshites Learn About The Call:
This stage of the Call, even though conducted in a clandestine manner and on an individual basis, its news leaked out and assumed a public interest all over Makkah. In the beginning, the Makkan leaders did not care much about Muhammad and took no heed of his teachings. At first, they thought that Muhammad† was merely a religious philosophist like Omaiyah bin Abee As-Salt, Quss bin Sa’idah, ‘Amr bin Nufail and their ilk who used to philosophize on godship and religious obligations. But this attitude of indifference soon changed into real apprehension. The polytheists of Quraysh began to watch Muhammad’s movements closely and anxiously for fear of spreading his Call and producing a change in the prevalent mentality.
For three underground years of activism, a group of believers emerged stamped by a spirit of fraternity and cooperation with one definite objective in their mind: propagating and deeply establishing the call unto Islaam. For full three years Muhammad† had been content to teach within a rather narrow circle. The time had, however, come to preach the faith of the Lord openly. The angel Gabriel had brought him down a further Revelation of Allaah’s Will to confront his people, invalidate their falsehood and crush down their idolatrous practices.