In Part 2, we mentioned some of the early converts to Islam who embraced the religion immediately after the start of the revelation. They were all people close to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), whom he trusted.
For the first three years, the Prophet (peace be upon him) only invited those whom he thought were likely to accept Islam. He spent his time with these few early Muslims teaching them about Islam and the Qur’anic verses and chapters revealed to him through the Angel Gabriel.
New converts today can learn an important lesson from this wise prophetic example: if you want to tell your family and friends about your conversion to Islam but suspect you may meet strong resistance from them, don’t publicly announce it to them all at once.
Instead, start by choosing those family and friends you think may be more likely to respect your decision.
Islam: A Religion of Knowledge & Brotherhood
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the world’s best teacher. He cared very much for his followers and made sure no student was left behind. To him, there was no difference between converts; they were all equal: rich or poor, free or slave, white or black.
The method by which Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught the message of Islam to his companions had a ripple effect that has transcended the centuries to make Islam the world’s fastest growing religion today. Seeking divine knowledge is extremely important in Islam. As Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
Scholars are the inheritors of the prophets. (Hadith in At-Tirmidhi & Abu Dawud)
As mentioned in Part 1, the first words Allah revealed from the Quran were “Read.”
That is why Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) spent those first three years focused on teaching new Muslims all the divine knowledge revealed to him. He made sure they grew in faith and knowledge, as they were the pioneers who would spread the faith in Arabia and beyond to invite the whole world to Islam. As their faith grew, their bond of brotherhood also grew.
This was also a very important stage of private da’wah (call to Islam), as it did not result in any conflict between the Muslims and the people of Makkah.
No persecution, no ridicule, and no torture. If someone reverted to Islam it was not public knowledge; it was their own business. And the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not start the public da’wah phase till Allah (SWT) commanded him to do so.
Another point to remember is that except for a small number of wealthy early converts, such as Abu Bakr, Uthman, and Abdel Rahman ibn Auf, most of the early converts were from the poor and weak of Makkah. Bilal, Khabab, and Sumayyah did not have status or strong families to defend and support them.
So it was a blessing that for three years these early converts received intensive training from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), which made their faith very strong. When the phase of private da’wah ended, most of them experienced a great deal of suffering, and some of them, including Bilal, were cruelly tortured by the chiefs of Makkah.
When Should New Converts Tell Their Parents?
We have a second important lesson for new converts today: if you think that publicly declaring your conversion to Islam may put your life at risk or cause you extreme hardship, then out of wisdom you should delay your public shahadah till your conditions change and you are in a better position to deal with any negative consequences you may face.
One example is that of a new teenage convert living with parents who may kick them out of home if they discover their conversion to Islam. If this new Muslim, who may be still at school and not financially independent, is unable to face that hardship at this stage of their life, then it would be wise to delay telling their parents and keep their Islam private for a while.
Prayer & Ablution
In turn, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) first taught Lady Khadijah how to pray, then taught the other new converts. Prayer was finally made compulsory several years later, on the night journey, when the five prayers became obligatory for Muslims.
At this early stage, prayers were only two units (raka’at); two in the evening and two in the morning, as Allah said in the Qur’an:
So be patient, [O Muhammad]. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth. And ask forgiveness for your sin and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord in the evening and the morning. (40:55)
The Call to Islam Goes Public
The divine command for public da’wah eventually came three years after the first verse (Read) was revealed, when the Angel Gabriel revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) the following verse:
Then declare what you are commanded and turn away from the polytheists. (15:94)
This verse was followed by another, more explicit, verse:
And warn, [O Muhammad], your closest kindred. (26:214)
When this second verse was revealed, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) invited his family and immediate tribe of Banu Hashim to a meal at his home. There were around 40 adults, including his uncles Abu Lahab and Abu Talib.
Ali ibn Abi Talib, his cousin, prepared the meal. Just as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was about to tell the group about his prophethood, Abu Lahab sensed that he (peace be upon him) was going to announce it publicly.
To avoid giving him the chance, he left early before they had finished eating. Others also left with him, but the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not give up.
Several days later, he (peace be upon him) invited them all to another meal. Before they left, he (peace be upon him) said to them:
Oh my fellow tribesmen, I do not know of any Arab before me who went to his people with a message that was better than what I am coming to you with. I am coming as a messenger from Allah that if you leave idols, Allah will give you all the good of this world and the Jannah in the next…
His uncle, Abu Lahab, became very irritated upon hearing these words. He said in a very harsh tone:
“This seems to be an unworthy message. We have the way of our forefathers. Who does this young man think he is to oppose our ways?”
Ali stood up and said he would support the Prophet (peace be upon him), but at this point his other immediate relatives neither accepted nor rejected him.
A few days later, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) went public to the whole city of Makkah.
What happened when he went to Mount Safa and declared his prophethood?
The next article in this series will continue this topic, in sha’ Allah, including the people’s reactions to his declaration.
Please stay tuned…
Suggested Activities for New Converts Following this Series
1- Telling Your Family & Friends About Your Conversion to Islam
How to Tell Your Family You Have Embraced Islam
New Muslims’ Challenges with Family
About to Convert, Concerned About My Family
How Can I Choose Between My Parents & Islam?
2- Prayer is One of the Five Pillars of Islam
In this third part of the series, the Angel Gabriel taught Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) how to pray and perform ablution.
Check these resources to learn more about Prayer in Islam, one of the five pillars of Islam:
Prayer: The Spiritual Ritual (Folder)
How Do Muslims Pray?
How Prayer Makes Us Better Muslims
5 Tips That Helped Me Connect with Allah in Prayer
Is Praying in Arabic Difficult for You?
How I Came to Love Prayer as a Muslim
3- Learn the Importance of Knowledge in Islam
Converts: Seeking Knowledge is Power
Reverts: 4 Steps Will Help in Your Path of Knowledge
Baby Steps in Your Journey to Islam
Take Knowledge from the Knowledgeable
4- Send us your questions on this series to: [email protected]
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 for 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.
The Sealed Nectar by Sheikh Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarkpuri
Seerah of Prophet Muhammad – 12: Declaration of Prophethood (video by Dr. Yasir Qadhi)
Prophet Muhammad: The World’s Best Teacher