It was a Monday of the month of Ramazan. Muhammad was in prayer in the cave Hira. Suddenly an angel appeared before him and asked him to “Read out.” Muhammad replied, “I cannot”. The angel then took hold of him in a tight embrace. Again he asked him to read out. The answer was the same. Then he embraced him a second time and then a third time and said.
“Read out in the name of thy Lord who created man from a blood clot. Read out and thy Lord is of great honour. He taught with the pen, taught man what he knew not.”
After this the angel disappeared. Muhammad was over awed. With trembling heart he went home. He asked the lady Khadija to cover him up. When she did as asked, he told her of his strange experience. He said that he was in mighty fear. The good lady replied,
“Fear not, be happy, God will not cause you any harm. For, you are kind to relations. You speak the truth, you bear the burdens of others. You possess virtues that have become lost. You respect your guests and you help all people in all right things.”
But Muhammad was not at ease. One day as he was returning home from the cave Hira, he heard a voice calling him. When he looked around, he had the vision of the same angel sitting on a chair perched high between the earth and the heavens. Muhammad was alarmed. So, he hurried home. Again he asked his wife to cover him up. Then he heard a mighty voice commanding him to stand up, give glory to the Lord and warn all men. From that day on he heard the voice very often.
He now knew that he had been raised a Prophet. He started in earnest his great work of calling men to the One True God, the Lord of the Heavens and Earth. First he worked quietly among his friends and relations. His wife, the good lady Khadija, was the first to believe him. Among his friends Abu Bakr, among his relations Ali and among slaves Zaid readily accepted him. Abu Bakr was a wise man and highly respected by the people of Mecca. Ali was a boy of eleven and Zaid was the Prophet’s freed slave. Five more joined the new faith through the efforts of Abu Bakr. They were Usman bin Affan, Abdur Rehman bin Auf, Saad bin Abu Viqas, Zubair bin al Awam and Talib bin Ubaidullah. In a short time, more were added to the list. Their names are: Abu Ubaida bin al Jarrah, Abdullah bin Jahsh, Ubaidullah bin Jahsh, Abu Salma bin Abu Asad, Abu Hafiza bin Utba, Abdullah bin Masood, Saeed bin Zaid, Usman bin Mazoon, and Bilal the Abyssinian. Umm-e-Fazal, wife of Abbas, Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr and Fatima bin Khattab were the only ladies beside Khadija, who were the first to believe. Most of the men were either slaves or poor.
The religion the Prophet taught was simple. The believers were asked to say,
“There is no God but Allah. He has no partner and Muhammad is His Prophet.”
They were required to obey the Prophet in all good things.
It was the fourth year of the Prophet’s call when God commanded him to warn his relations. The Prophet went straight to the top of Mount Safa. He called every clan of the Quresh by name. When they were assembled he said,
“If I tell you that a big army is in wait for you behind this hill, would you believe me?”
They all said,
“Yes, because you have spoken the truth always.”
The prophet then said,
“I warn you of the anger of God. Believe in Allah so that you may be saved.”
They laughed at him and walked away.
One day the Prophet asked Ali to call all their relations to a meal. When they were assembled, the Prophet addressed them thus,
“O children of Abdul Muttalib, I have come to you with a great thing. Nobody brought a greater good for his people. I invite you to God. If you believe me, you will have the best of this life and of the life after death. Now which of you will help me?”
They all laughed except Ali. Ali said,
“I will be with you.”
And he was with the Prophet till the end. From that day Islam was the talk of the town.
The prophet now began to call men to God openly. Muslims used to meet in a house called Dar-ul-Islam. They would pray and learn their new duties. Others would also come there to hear the Prophet. For three years this centre remained open to all new comers. Many more believed and became Muslims. They were Masab bin Omair, Abdullah bin Umme Maktum, Zaid bin Khattab, Jafar bin Abi-Talib, Omar bin Yaseer, Abu Moosa al Ashari.
The Quresh had made fun of the Prophet. But, as time went on, they began to fear Islam. They therefore decided to use force. Their chief leaders were Abu Jahl, Abu Lahb, Ommaiya bin Khalf and al Nazar bin Haris. First they tried to win over Abu Talib, the uncle of the Prophet. They asked him to give up Muhammad. Abu Talib told the Prophet that the Quresh were very angry with him. The Prophet replied,
“By God if they placed the sun on my right hand and the moon on my left hand, I will not give up my mission.”
As the Prophet started to depart, Abu Talib called him back. He was in tears. He said,
“Go ahead, nephew, I am with you as long as I live.”
Abu Talib then told Quresh to do what they pleased, he would stand by his nephew.
The Quresh then decided to punish the Muslims. Hakim bin Abila, the uncle of Usman bin Affan, tied him with a rope and beat him up. An uncle of Zubair bin al-Awam wrapped up his nephew in a mat and smoked him through his nose. Saeed bin Zaid and Labina, a slave girl, were beaten up by Omar bin al-Khattab. Abu Jahl beat Zinnira, another slave woman. The Quresh often used to hit Suhail bin Sanan. Bilal was a slave of Omaiyya bin Khalf. His master would order him to lie on hot sand. He could then cover his naked body with burning hot stones and drag him in the street. The Quresh did not stop at that. They made Khabab bin Alarat lie on coal fire. Abu Jahl speared old lady Samiya to death. Muslims bore their troubles patiently. They remained calm. Their faith in God and His Prophet was firm.