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Seerah for New Converts

Hardships Faced by New Converts: Makkah Rejects Prophet Muhammad

(Part 4)

At the conclusion of Part 3 of this series, we summarized how Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) invited his relatives and tribe members to a meal at his home to present Islam to them for the first time in public.

One of his uncles, Abu Talib, responded to his invitation by saying:

“We love to help you, accept your advice, and believe in your words. These are your kinspeople whom you have gathered and I am one of them, but I am the fastest to do what you like. Do what you have been ordered. I shall protect and defend you, but I can’t quit the religion of ‘Abdul-Muttalib (Abu Talib’s father).” (The Sealed Nectar)

But the reaction of his other uncle, Abu Lahab, was very harsh. It was even worse when, some days later, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) went to Mount Safa in Makkah to convey the message of his prophethood in public.

On Mount Safa

As reported in a Hadith in Sahih Al-Bukhari, Ibn Abbas said:

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When the following verse was revealed: {And warn your tribe (O Muhammad) of near kindred.} (26:214), the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) ascended Mount Safa and started to call:

O Bani Fahr! O Bani ‘Adi (two sects of Quraish).

Many people gathered and those who couldn’t, sent somebody to report to them. Abu Lahab was also present.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

You see, if I were to tell you that there were some horsemen in the valley planning to raid you, would you believe me?

They said:

“Yes, we have never experienced any lie from you.”

He (peace be upon him) said:

I am a warner to you before a severe torment.

Abu Lahab promptly replied:

“Perish you all the day! Have you summoned us for such a thing?”

The following verse was immediately revealed on that occasion:

Perish the two hands of Abu Lahab… (111:1)

The hostile reaction Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) faced did not deter him from calling people to Islam. In fact, Allah’s command for him to go public was reinforced when this verse was revealed:

Therefore, proclaim openly (Allah’s Message — Islamic Monotheism) that which you are commanded, and turn away from Al-Mushrikun (polytheists). (15:94)

Calling to Islam Despite Resistance

After this event, the Prophet (peace be upon him) started preaching everywhere – in public venues and in front of the Ka’bah. When visitors came to Makkah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would be waiting for them. He spoke to people in the marketplace and on every feasible occasion.

However, most of the people of Makkah opposed him. They were outraged at the idea that their time-honored ideological Makkan life could be turned upside down. They could not bear to hear someone suggest that polytheists and idolaters were straying people.

The first thing they did to try and stop Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from preaching was to appeal to the highest authority who was protecting him, his uncle Abu Talib. They said to him:

“Oh Abu Talib, this is your nephew cursing our idols, preaching a new message. Surely you cannot let this happen?”

Abu Talib did not want a confrontation, so he gave them some gentle words and let them go on their way. But as the number of new converts increased, so did the pressure to stop Muhammad (peace be upon him). They threatened Abu Talib and tried to bribe him to remove his protection of Muhammad (peace be upon him).

But Abu Talib refused after his nephew told him:

O my uncle! By Allah, if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left on condition that I abandon this course, until Allah has made me victorious, or I perish therein, I would not abandon it. (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)

More Tactics to Stop Islam & the Persecution of Converts

As the gradual spread of Islam continued after Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) declared his prophethood in public, the people of Makkah did not know how to confront this new wave of conversions.

By the start of the fourth year of the Qur’anic revelation, they were not merely accusing Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) of being a magician and spreading false propaganda. In desperation, they went one step further.

The persecution of new converts reached the stage of torture in some cases, like that of Bilal.

“Bilal, the slave of Omaiyah bin Khalaf, was severely beaten by his master when the latter came to know of his conversion to Islam.

Sometimes a rope was put around his neck and street boys were made to drag him through the streets and even across the hillocks of Makkah. At times, he was subjected to prolonged deprivation of food and drink; at others, he was bound up, made to lie down on the burning sand, or under the crushing burden of heavy stones.

Other similar measures were employed in order to force him to recant. All of them proved to be in vain. He persisted in his belief in the Oneness of Allah. On one such occasion, Abu Bakr was passing by; moved by pity, he purchased and emancipated him from slavery.”

It was not only men; female converts to Islam also faced many hardships because of their new faith. Sumayyah, the mother of Ammar, and her Muslim family members were persecuted and tortured. In fact, she was the first female martyr in Islam.

“(Ammar ibn Yasir), along with his mother and father, embraced Islam in its early phase. They were repeatedly made to lie on the burning sand and were beaten severely. ‘Ammar was at times tossed up on embers.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was greatly moved by the atrocities being perpetrated upon ‘Ammar and his family. He always comforted them and raised his hand in prayer and said: ‘Be patient, you will verily find your abode in the Paradise.’ Yasir, the father, died because of repeated torture.

Sumayyah, ‘Ammar’s mother, was bayoneted to death by Abu Jahl himself, and thus merited the title of the first female martyr in Islam.” (The Sealed Nectar)

The Patience of Muslim Converts

It is not easy to convert to Islam when most people where you live are against the idea. It takes a lot of courage today to go out in public as a visible Muslim when the media is so full of attacks on Islam as a religion and on many Muslims as individuals.

But when the faith is strong and one is sure they have found the truth, it is our basic human right to follow the truth, even when others disagree. This is a core principle of freedom of faith, and nobody can stop us from being Muslims and from practicing Islam.

The first converts were fortunate to have direct access to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a teacher and a mentor, so they had all the moral support they needed. They were very patient in the face of all this hostility and were ready to endure some hardships for the sake of the truth they had found.

Today, new converts to Islam can benefit from the inspiration of that early generation and draw important lessons on how to cope with misunderstandings and sometimes with hostility from some non-Muslims they meet in public.

At the same time, their new Muslim community must provide them with the support they need and must offer them sound advice to help them gradually integrate into the Muslim community. New converts to Islam have many rights that should be provided by their fellow Muslim brothers and sisters, some of which are suggested in this document entitled A Draft Declaration of Basic Rights of Converts to Islam.

Meanwhile, new converts are encouraged to be patient when dealing with misconceptions and negative reactions from their non-Muslim families and friends.

Patience is an important virtue which Allah (SWT) loves, as He says in the Qur’an:

…. Allah loves the patient. (3:146)

And after hardship there will be ease; so persevere, and do your best to learn and practice Islam, while making du’a that Allah (SWT) always guides you to His Straight Path.

The next article in this series will continue to shed light on the events of Year 4, and the new challenges Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his followers faced in Makkah.

Please stay tuned…


Seerah For New Converts (Special Folder)


Suggested Activities for New Converts Following this Series

1- Converts Today Dealing with Misunderstandings

Check these links on some contemporary issues new converts to Islam deal with today.

2- One of the Six Articles of Faith in Islam is Belief in Allah’s Prophets

In this fourth part of the series, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) declared his prophethood in public as commanded by Allah (SWT).

Check these resources to learn more about God’s Prophets in Islam, one of the six articles of faith:

3- Truthfulness & Journeys to Islam in Search of the Truth

4- Send us your questions on this series to: [email protected]


Series Background

As this is a special series for new converts to learn about Islam in a comprehensive way through learning the Seerah (Biography of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) in a gradual chronological way, we will add a few more resources of other areas of Islamic knowledge related to each part of the Seerah at the end of each article as extra learning resources.

We will add new videos to this series as we progress from Year 1 to Year 23 in sha’ Allah.

The references used in each article are given for further details, so please feel free to send us any questions you may have to this e-mail: [email protected].

You may also wish to join our Facebook Group, Islam 101, for further learning and also to interact with fellow new converts and those who are new to Islam here.


Article References:

The Sealed Nectar by Sheikh Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarkpuri

Seerah of Prophet Muhammad – 12: Declaration of Prophethood (video by Dr. Yasir Qadhi)