Muslims in Mecca were still in trouble. The Quresh showed no mercy. But two strong men joined Islam. They were Hamza, an uncle of the Prophet and Umar bin al-Khattab, a fiery chief of great influence.
One day a slave girl told Hamza that Abu Jahl had abused his nephew, Muhammad, violently. She said,
“Muhammad did not say back a word.”
Hamza felt stung and deeply hurt. He made straight for the Kaaba. Abu Jahl was sitting there with some friends. Hamza hit him with his bow across his face and said:
“You abused Muhammad. Listen, I too believe in his religion. I say what he says. Have you anything to say now?”
Abu Jahl held his peace. He did not want to alienate Hamza. Hamza went straight to the Holy Prophet and accepted Islam. When Abu Bakr learnt this he was overjoyed. He went to the Kaaba. There he openly glorified God. The Quresh seized hold of him and beat him hard.
A few days later, Umar bin al-Khattab decided to slay the Prophet. He set out on his errand with a naked sword. On the way he was met by an acquaintance who asked him where he was going. He said,
“I am going to finish Muhmmad.”
The man told him to clean up his own house first, that his own sister and her husband had embraced Islam. Umar was furious. He turned to his sister’s house. When he reached there, he heard some one in the house reading the Quran. He went in and said,
“I hear you have given up your father’s faith.”
Then he fell upon his brother-in-law Saeed bin Zaid. His sister Fatima tried to come in between. She was wounded in the attempt. She then said,
“Yes, we are Muslims. So do what you like. We cannot give up Islam.”
As Umar saw his sister wounded and bleeding, he felt contrite and wanted to see what they had been reading. She said he should wash before he could see it. He did. When he read the Quran, he said.
“How wonderful, how pure.”
Khabbab, a companion of the Prophet, had been hiding inside the house. He at once came out and said,
“The Prophet’s prayer has been heard. He begged of God only yesterday to grant him one of the two, either Abu Jahl or Umar.”
Umar made straight for the house where the faithful met, the Darul Islam. When he knocked at the door, he was admitted by the Prophet himself. The Prophet said,
“What brings you here Umar? By Allah, I see you have not been made for the punishment of God.”
“O Prophet of Allah, I have come to embrace Islam.”
The Prophet said aloud:
“Allah-o-Akbar” (Allah is Great).
The companions repeated the cry so loud that the echoes were heard in the hills around Mecca. From that day onwards, Muslims started saying their prayers openly.
The Quresh begin to feel embittered against Islam more and more. They first tried to bribe the Prophet. They met him in the Holy House. All their chiefs were there – Abu Jahl, Walid bin Mughira, Omaya bin Khalf, Abu Sufiyan, Shaiba, Aswad bin Muttalib, Utba, Nazar bin al-Haris and Abul Bakhtari. They asked the Prophet to give up Islam. They said,
“If you want money, we can give you enough to make you the richest man amongst us. If you want to become a leader, we will make you our king. If you want to have a pretty wife, we can find you the most beautiful in all Arabia.”
The Prophet replied,
“O Quresh, I do not want any of these things. I am a Prophet of God. I have been sent to you with a message. If you hear me, it will be to your good. If you do not I will patiently wait on the Lord.”
The Quresh then asked him to change the dry sands of Mecca into green gardens. He said,
“I am only a Prophet and servant of God. But if you obey God, you will have the best of this world and of the life to come.”
The Quresh then said,
“Then bring on us the punishment of God.”
Finally they decided to finish him. Next day Abu Jahl stood outside the Kaaba with a big stone in his hand. But when he saw the Holy Prophet, he felt too frightened to use it.
The Quresh next decided to boycott the Prophet, his family and friends. They agreed in writing on the cruel step. The document was placed in the Kaaba. The Banu Hashim the family of the Prophet and the few Muslims who were with them at Mecca, camped in a pass in the hill. This place was called Shaab-i-Abi-Talib. The boycott lasted three years. Muslims had no provisions. They could not buy anything. Nobody would sell them any thing, not even food. At times they lived on leaves of tree. When children cried for hunger, the Quresh heard the cries and laughed. Some good men among them did not like this cruelty. But they were few and weak.
One day the Prophet said to his uncle Abu Talib,
“God has told me that the boycott paper has been eaten up. Only the name of Allah remains on it.”
Abu Talib went to the Kaaba. He said to the Quresh,
“How long will your oppression last? My nephew tells me that the boycott paper has been eaten up. See therefore whether he be right.”
They found the paper had been moth eaten. It has only Allah’s name left on it. The good men among them said,
“Let us end this boycott now.”
Abu Jahl said, “No.” But Mutam bin Adi took hold of the paper and tore into pieces. He and Hisham bin Amar with Zaheer bin Abi Ommaiya and Abul Bakhtari went up to the mouth of Shaab-i-Abi-Talib and set free the Prophet, his family and followers.
Now Islam had entered its tenth year. Abu Talib, the uncle of the Prophet, died soon after the end of the boycott. A few days later, Khadija, the wife of the Prophet, also passed away. The grief of the Prophet was great but his patience was greater. Abu Talib and Khadija had stood by him firm like two rocks till the end and now they were no more.
The Quresh had become very bold now. Often they threw refuse on the Prophet. One day when he was praying in the Kaaba, they placed a camel’s entrails on his back.
The same year the Prophet married Ayesha, the daughter of Abu Bakr.