A Summary of the Period of Makkah
When the Messenger of God migrated to Madinah, the period of thirteen years in Makkah ended. It will be useful to summarize this period, which has an important place in the history of Islamic tabligh (conveying the message), and especially to examine the tabligh of the Prophet in this period.
When the Messenger of God was appointed as a prophet in AD 610 by God Almighty, the Arab community of that time was undergoing the darkest and wildest period of history along with the rest of the world. The duty the save the community he lived in and the humanity from the oppression and savagery was given to the Prophet.
God Almighty, who sent him as a prophet, taught him how to act while spreading, living and making others live Islam. The Prophet acted in accordance with those instructions.
It was certain that conveying the message, which aimed to introduce a new system, was not going to be so easy. It was going to be especially difficult in the community of Arabs, who were extremely fanatical and stubborn about their savage customs, living at that time.
The Messenger of God, who knew the properties, characteristics and thoughts of the community he was living in very well, did not start to convey the message as soon as he was appointed; he did not declare his prophethood and the religion of Islam openly. Some time had to pass and some favorable conditions had to occur for it.
The Messenger of God started to convey the message of Islam to the people who were closest to him first. He first informed Hazrat Khadija, his wife, about his cause. Hazrat Khadija confirmed his prophethood and became a Muslim. Then, he called Hazrat Ali, who was his relative and had been together with him since he was four or five, to Islam. He embraced Islam, too. After that, he conveyed the message of belief and Islam to some people that he trusted very much outside his family. The most important one among them was Hazrat Abu Bakr. Many people accepted Islam through Hazrat Abu Bakr.
The Prophet himself acted very cautiously during the period of secret call to Islam; he also urged the first Muslims to act very cautiously. When Abu Dharr al-Ghifari embraced Islam, the Prophet gave him this advice:
“O Abu Dharr! Now keep it a secret and return to your homeland! Come and join us when you hear that we have started conveying the message openly.” (1)
The Prophet gave Abu Dharr that advice because Abu Dharr openly declared that he was a Muslim in Masjid al-Haram too early due to the excitement originating from his belief; he was saved from the mortal blows of the polytheists by the help of Hazrat Abbas. (2)
The Messenger of God continued the secret call like that for three years. During this period, only about thirty people embraced Islam.
This period ended when the following verse was sent down: “And admonish thy nearest kinsmen!” (3) After that, the Prophet started to call his close relatives to Islam and belief in accordance with the divine order. First, he brought Banu Muttalib together and informed them about Islam.
Then, he expanded the circle of the people he called to Islam and addressed Makkans from Safa hill. He called them to believe in the oneness of God and to confirm his prophethood. They did not accept his call; besides, Abu Lahab dared to insult him. However, the Prophet continued to call people to believe in the oneness of Islam and to confirm his prophethood without a break with full effort.
God Almighty determined the style of the acts of the Prophet in the duty of spreading and practicing Islam with the verses He sent down.
The verses that were sent down in Makkah had especially two main aims: To make people believe in their minds, hearts and spirits in 1) the existence and oneness of God, 2) resurrection, that is, reviving after death...
The Prophet concentrated on these two main aims and worked hard to realize them. He called people to believe in the existence and oneness of God and he told them that they would resurrect after death and that a new life would start after the grave.
Apart from those mentioned above, the Prophet had some other issues to settle. However, those were the most important ones. Unless they were settled and unless these two fundamental issues were accepted by the people in their minds, hearts and spirits, it was not possible to settle the other social issues. As a matter of fact, he started to settle the other issues one by one after that and became successful.
As a result of the commands he received from God, the Prophet used all of his energy to establish the fundamental understanding that was missing in the structure of the community, that is, to call people to believe in God and to obey Him absolutely. It was impossible to make the truth settle in the hearts of the people unless the belief of polytheism was eliminated from the minds of the people. The cause of Islam would not be successful when the foundations were not sound.
Therefore, the Messenger of God addressed the noblest feelings of the humanity and their sense of ethics, teaching them that the only Creator and Owner of this universe was God (Allah). He showed them that there was no power to obey and to surrender except His will. When he conveyed this message to the people, he did not feel the need to make some concessions or to depend on some dominant powers. He presented the belief of “oneness” to humanity directly. He addressed them as follows: “Say ‘La ilaha illallah’ (There is no god but Allah) and be saved.”
Naturally, this call of the Messenger of God was not liked and approved by the strong, rich and influential people that dominated the community. They did not want to abandon the illegitimate pleasures of the world that were like honey that was seemingly sweet but spiritually poisonous. Obviously, they wanted to keep their way of life in order to protect their worldly interests. Therefore, they started to oppose the Prophet.
At first, they tried isolating the Prophet from the community, leaving him alone, ignoring what he was telling them and making fun of him. However, the circle of the believers that was around him and the great truth was expanding day by day. They panicked when they saw it. This time, they changed their method. They started counter propaganda. They dared to slander him. They called him a “magician, soothsayer and poet”. However, none of them was effective. They saw that the number of the believers was increasing despite their slanders and accusations.
This time, they started open aggressive acts. They prevented the Messenger of God and Muslims from performing prayers in the Kaaba; they threw dirty things on them; they threw thorns on the places where they will sit and on the ways that they used. They persecuted the weak, poor and lonely Muslims by oppressing and torturing them. Some of them died due to their tortures and became martyrs.
It was difficult to put up with this situation. Besides, the number of the Muslims was very few and they were weak. Therefore, they could not oppose the tortures and insults. Such a situation could have destroyed them.
Despite all of those difficulties and unfavorable conditions, the Messenger of God continued to convey the message of the religion of Islam without a break. He was also exposed to the tortures and insults of the polytheists like the other Muslims. However, he showed patience in accordance with the command he received from God and never gave up conveying the message of Islam.
God Almighty always advised Muslims who were exposed to all kinds of tortures, oppression and insults to be patient through the verses that He sent. For instance, one of the chapters that were sent down first is the chapter of al-Asr. In this chapter, “those who teach one another the truth and patience” are praised.
Sometimes, God Almighty ordered and advised the Prophet to be patient directly: “So patiently persevere: for verily the promise of God is true: nor let those shake thy firmness, who have (themselves) no certainty of faith.” (4)
In another verse, the Prophet is addressed as follows:
“Therefore do thou hold Patience― a Patience of beautiful (contentment).” (5)
Due to those commands, the Prophet did not retaliate against the unjust treatment he received in the period of Makkah and he ordered and advised believers not to act impulsively and without thinking against the tortures they were exposed to and not to react physically. An obvious example for this situation is the advice he gave to the family of Yasir.
One day, the family of Yasir was exposed to tortures altogether. When the Prophet saw them, he said to them, “Show patience, O family of Yasir! Your reward is Paradise.” (6) Once, Habbab b. Arat (may God be pleased with him), who had great difficulty in putting up with the tortures he was exposed to, complained to the Prophet; the Prophet said to him,
“Among the nations before you a believing man would be put in a ditch that was dug for him, and a saw would be put over his head and he would be cut into two pieces; yet that torture would not make him give up his religion. His body would be combed with iron combs that would remove his flesh from the bones and nerves, yet that would not make him abandon his religion. By God, this religion will prevail till a traveler from Sana (in Yemen) to Hadramaut will fear none but God, or a wolf as regards his sheep, but you (people) are hasty!” (7)
During the second pledge of Aqaba, when one of the Muslims of Madinah said, “O Messenger of God! If you wish, we will draw our swords tomorrow and attack the people in Mina.”, the Prophet said, “No! We were not ordered to act like that.”
As it is seen, the greatest weapon of Muslims in the period of Makkah was “patience” despite everything. As a matter of fact, the positive results of the patience appeared in a short time. A positive atmosphere in favor of Muslims formed. Thanks to this positive atmosphere, some people became Muslims. Hazrat Hamza became a Muslim like that.
One day, Hazrat Hamza heard that Abu Jahl and some polytheists insulted the Prophet. He got very furious and went directly to Abu Jahl, who was sitting with a group of people near the Kaaba. He hit Abu Jahl’s head with his bow and said, “Did you curse and insult him? I am in his religion, too. I say what he says. If you have the courage, do what you have done to him to me!” Then, he went over to the Prophet and embraced Islam. (8)
At a certain time, the polytheists increased their oppression and persecution so much that the Prophet had to look for a place in Makkah to worship easily and to spread Islam freely. He used the house of Arkam b. Abi’l-Arkam as a center and continued to spread his cause there. Many people became Muslims there.
When the notables of polytheists saw that the Prophet did not give up conveying the message of Islam despite all what they had done, they wanted to settle the issue through Abu Talib, the Prophet’s uncle. They said to him, “O Abu Talib! Either make your nephew give up his cause and speaking ill of our gods or do not stand between us and him!” When Abu Talib went to the Prophet to tell him about what the polytheists said, the Prophet said,
“O uncle! By God, if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left in return for my giving up this cause, I would not give it up. Either God spreads it all over the world and my duty ends, or I will die in this way!” (9)
The polytheists understood that they would not be able to make the Prophet give up his cause through threats, oppression and persecution. They changed their methods again. They offered goods, property, wealth, rank and leadership to the Prophet. However, they saw that the Prophet did not heed any of them and continued to spread Islam in the same way.
We had stated that the Messenger of God and Muslims showed patience against the persecutions, insults, tortures and assassinations of the polytheists. However, there was a limit for the patience, too. The persecutions and tortures that were inflicted upon Muslims had reached the limit. Therefore, the Messenger of God advised them to migrate to Abyssinia. He said, “Go to Abyssinia. There is a just ruler there. Nobody is persecuted there. It is a land of justice and honesty. Stay there until God creates a way out of this situation!” (10)
Thereupon, the Muslims migrated to Abyssinia in two groups in order to practice and spread their religion. In this phase, as usual, the Prophet gave importance to quality rather than quantity, in other words, to obtain qualified and influential people. His prayer, “O God! Strengthen this religion with Umar Ibn Khattab or Amr b. Hisham [Abu Jahl]” is an obvious example for it.
Both Umar Ibn Khattab and Abu Jahl were among the notables of the community and both were among the most severe enemies of Islam and the most ardent opposers of the Prophet. If one of them embraced Islam, most of the barriers in front of Islam would be eliminated. As a matter of fact, a short time after the Prophet’ prayer, Hazrat Umar became a Muslim; thus, Islam became known and got strength. The polytheists had to loosen some of the persecutions and tortures against Muslims. Muslims did not feel obliged to hide and to perform prayers in fear and secretly.
After a while, the polytheists used the death of Abu Talib, the Prophet’s uncle, who protected him, as an opportunity. They increased their persecution. The Messenger of God was in a very difficult situation due to the activities against him. He rarely left his house. Thus, he went to Taif in order to find a more secure place to spread the religion of Islam. However, he could not find a suitable environment in Taif despite his efforts. The people of Taif did not accept his call; what is more, they stoned him, harming his body. However, the Prophet, who was sent as a mercy for all creatures, did not curse them; instead, he prayed as follows: “I want from my Lord to create descendants who will serve Islam from them.”
Another important activity of the Prophet in Makkah in the first years of Islam was to meet secretly the tribes that came to Makkah for hajj, to read the Quran to them and to inform them about the principles of Islam. The Qurayshi polytheists followed him when he was visiting the tribes and tried to prevent the tribes from listening to him by slanders and accusations.
However, their efforts did not turn out to be successful. The cause of the Prophet that expanded through conquering the hearts spread outside Makkah and started to shine in the horizon of Madinah.
Thanks to Hijrah, a new era started for Muslims.
1. Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 4, p. 214-219; Muslim, Sahih, V. 7, p. 156.
2. Ibn Sa’d, ibid., V. 4, p. 219.
3. ash-Shuara, 214.
4. ar-Rum, 60.
5. al-Maarij, 5.
6. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 1, p. 342.
7. Bukhari, Sahih, V. 2, p. 321.
8. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 1, p. 311-312; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, V. 3, p. 9-12.
9. Ibn Hisham, ibid., V. 1, p. 244-245; Suhayli, Rawdu’l-Unf, V. 1, p. 170-171.
10. Ibn Hisham, ibid., V. 1, p. 344; Tabari, V. 2, p. 222.
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