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 Islam assumed a clandestine form so that the Makkans should not be enraged by the unexpected surprise.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) naturally initiated his sacred mission right from home and then moved to the people closely associated with him. He called unto Islam 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 (Peace be upon him), immediately responded and quite readily embraced the true faith. They are known in the Islamic literature as the early converts.
Muqatil bin Sulaiman said: “Salât (prayer) was established as an obligatory ritual at an early stage of the Islamic Call, a two rak‘ ah (unit of prayer) Salât in the morning and the same in the evening;
“And glorify the praises of your Lord in the ‘Ashi (i.e. the time period after the mid-noon till sunset) and in the Ibkar (i.e. the time period from early morning or sunrise till before mid-noon).” [40:55]
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 (Peace be upon him) and took no heed of his teachings. At first, they thought that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was merely a religious philosophist like Omaiyah bin Abi As-Salt, Quss bin Sa‘idah, ‘Amr bin Nufail and their ilk who used to philosophize on godship and religious obligations.
FIRST REVELATION REGARDING REVELATION THE PREACHING:
"And warn your tribe [O Muhammad (Peace be upon him) ] of near kindred." [26:214].
In obedience to Allâh's Commands, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) rallied his kinsmen of Bani Hashim with a group of Bani Al-Muttalib bin 'Abd Munaf. The audience counted forty-five men.
After the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) became sure of Abu Talib's commitment to his protection while he called the people unto Allâh, he stood up on Mount As-Safa one day and called out loudly: "O Sabahah! * " Septs of Quraish came to him. He called them to testify to the Oneness of Allâh and believe in his Messengership and the Day of Resurrection. Al-Bukhari reported part of this story on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas 9May Allah be pleased with him). He said: "When the following verses were revealed:
The Prophet's voice kept reverberating in Makkah until the following verse was revealed:
"Therefore proclaim openly (Allâh's Message — Islamic Monotheism), that which you are commanded, and turn away from Al-Mushrikûn (polytheists)." [15:94]
He then commenced discrediting the superstitious practices of idolatry, revealing its worthless reality and utter impotence, and giving concrete proofs that idolatry per se or taking it as the media through which an idolater could come in contact with Allâh, is manifest falsehood.
During those days, Quraish had another serious concern; the proclamation of the Call had only been a few months old when the season of pilgrimage was soon to come. Quraish knew that the Arab delegates were coming within a short time. They agreed that it was necessary to contemplate a device that was bound to alienate the Arab pilgrims from the new faith preached by Muhammad (Peace be upon him). They went to see Al-Waleed bin Al-Mugheerah to deliberate on this issue. Al-Waleed invited them to agree on a unanimous resolution that could enjoy the approbation of them all.
The series of persecutions started late in the fourth year of Prophethood, slowly at first, but steadily accelerated and worsened day by day and month by month until the situation got so extremely grave and no longer tolerable in the middle of the fifth year, that the Muslims began to seriously think of feasible ways liable to avert the painful tortures meted out to them.