Before Muhammad (SAW) became a Prophet, he used to get very upset seeing his people lost in sins and he did not know the way to guide them on the right track. He thus took to the mountains near Makah, where he spent days praying and worshiping, asking Allah to show him the right track and beg Him for mercy.
He was made Prophet when he was forty years old, on 17th day of Ramadhan, thirteen years before L-Hijra the year he emigrated to Madina, which marks the beginning of the Islamic year. This was on the beginning of July of the year 610 After Christ. When Muhammad (SAW) was in his meditation in the cave called Hiraa near Makah, the Angel Jibril came and said to him: “O Muhammad the Prophet of all beings, Read!”
Muhammad had not received formal education, so he said: “I am not able to read.”
Jibril said to him again: “Read!”
Muhammad again said: “I am not able to read.”
Jibril said to him:
Proclaim! (or Read!) In the name of your Lord and Cherisher, Who created – Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood: Proclaim! And your true Lord is Most Bountiful, – He Who taught (the use of) the Pen, Taught man that which he knew not.
After this episode, Muhammad (SAW) returned home to his wife Khadija (RAA) trembling in a fit of fear by seeing Jibril for the first time and from what he heard from him. He said to his wife: “Cover me! Cover me!”
Later on after he cooled off from the fear, he explained to his wife what had happened to him, and she said: “By Allah! He would not do anything to you but for the better, and I give you the good tidings that you are truly the Prophet of Allah.”
From then on Muhammad (SAW) became the Prophet, and the first words of the Holy Book (The Quraan) to be recorded were those of Surat Alaq (Iqraa).
Muhammad (SAW) then started preaching to his people, advising them not to worship idols but turn to the one God (Allah) who deserves to be worshiped. He told them to stop doing bad things and not to sin. However, it was not easy for him as he had a lot of resistance and torture from his people. At the beginning only a few people believed, his wife being the first. Among them were his cousin Ali bin Abi Taalib (RAA), who was very young at that time, Zaid bin Haarith (RAA) and the family of Abu Bakr Ssiddiq (RAA).
At the beginning Muhammad (SAW) started preaching in secrecy and did not publicly tell the people of him being a Prophet. He continued like this for three years. The few who submitted to Islam could not show themselves publicly and could not pray in public for the fear of the Quraishis who were the ones very much against Muhammad (SAW) right from the beginning. Therefore, whenever his people wanted to pray, they went to the villages of Makah where there were no Quraishis and worshipped in secret. It was also necessary for them to be in one group with Prophet Muhammad (SAW) so that he could teach and guide them. Hence, they used to amass together in the house of L-Arqam bin L-Arqam, one of those who submitted to Islam.
After this, Allah sent him an inspiration that he should no longer keep it a secret; he should publicly tell the people the truth of him being the Prophet of Allah. Therefore, one day he stood on top of the Safaa hillock in Makah and shouted at the top of his voice: “O people of Adul Muttalib! O people of Fahar! O people of Kaab! If I told you that there were horses on top of this hillock that were about to jump and attack you, would you believe me?”
They all said: “Yes we would believe you.”
He then said: “I am therefore warning you of a severe punishment from Allah if you do not follow me.”
Abu Lahab shouted and said: “Hell with you! You are calling us here only to tell us this rubbish.”
Here Surat Lahab Chapter111 (the Father) of Flame was sent down:
Perish the hands of the Father of Flame! Perish he!
Abu Lahab “Father of Flame” was the nickname of an uncle of the holy Prophet. He was called so for his fiery hot temper and his reddish complexion. He was one of the most constant enemies of early Islam.
Muhammad (SAW) continued preaching and calling his people to the true religion, but he still met with a lot of resistance from his own people. These people said to him: “O Muhammad! If you want to be the king we will make you king, and if you want wealth we will give all the wealth you want.”
He said to them: “I do not need your wealth nor do I want to be king. I am but a Prophet of Allah to you, calling you to leave the worship of idols that do not hear or help you in anything. O my people! Listen to me, worship the one God who created you and who cherishes you.”
A delegation from the Quraishy went to his uncle and said to him: “O Abu Taalib! Your nephew has insulted us and defamed our gods, we ask you to tell him to call off what he is doing. This is a big shame to us all.”
Abu Taalib replied them with nice words so as not to upset them, then he called Muhammad (SAW) and said to him: “O the son of my brother! The elders have come to complain to me about what you are doing, therefore please do not put a burden on my head that I can not carry.”
He said: “O my uncle! By the name of Allah! Even if they had kept the sun on my right and the moon on my left so that I leave what I am doing, I will not do that until my Lord commands me to do so, or I die.”
Abu Taalib said: “O my nephew! Go your way and say anything you want, I will never hand you over to the Quraishy.”
The Quraishy started torturing those who believed and followed Muhammad (SAW); they used all sorts of tortures so as to break down their faith. They surrounded the village where Muhammad (SAW) and his people lived, and told the people not to sell anything to them or buy from them until they die from hunger. One day as Muhammad (SAW) was in his prayers; these people came and slaughtered a camel near him. They then took out its bowels and poured over his head as he was bowing down.
A group of those who submitted to Islam ran away from these people and went to Ethiopia leaving Muhammad (SAW) with a handful of his people in Makah. However, after three months they returned, as they could not live away from home, also because they had no force as they were just few. When they returned some of them could not re-enter Makah as the Quraishy had made a rule that no one was allowed to enter Makka unless he or she had a sponsor. For example a man would only be allowed to bring in his wife, or his son and so on.
Again another group consisting of eighty-three men and eighteen women immigrated to Ethiopia. This time when the Quraishy saw this happening, they sent Amru bin L-Aas and Umara bin L-Waleed (before they became Muslims) to Nnajashiy, the king of Ethiopia. They took with them presents for the king, and requested him to evict the followers of Muhammad (SAW) and send them back to their country. But the delegation went back without success, and the Muslims lived in Ethiopia in peace until the time when Muhammad (SAW) emigrated to Madina.
Three years before Muhammad (SAW) emigrated to Madina, his beloved wife, Khadija (RAA) died; he mourned her death and he became very sad. After her death, he married Sawdah bint Zaama L-Amriyah L-Qurashiya (RAA), who was also a widow. One month later, he married Aisha (RAA) the daughter of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (RAA) who was seven years old and a virgin, but only slept with her after they moved to Madina.
One month after the death of his wife Khadija (RAA), his uncle, Abu Taalib who was the only one who protected him from the Quraishy, died. Although Abu Taalib never objected whatever his nephew said and believed him in everything, he never submitted to Islam. Muhammad (SAW) loved his uncle dearly, and naturally wanted him to die in the new faith, but the pagan Quraishy leaders persuaded him to remain true to the faith of his fathers. This was an incident of disappointment and grief to him, thus Allah sent the following verse 56 of Chapter 28 to tell Muhammad:
It is true you will not be able to guide everyone, whom you love; but Allah guides those whom He will and He knows best those who receive guidance.
Muhammad (SAW) called the year when his wife and uncle died, the ‘Year of Grief.’ After the death of his uncle, the Quraishy became stronger and went on troubling Muhammad (SAW) even more. They used to tell him: “You want to make all the gods as one god? You must be crazy!”
Reference: The Twenty Five Prophets
By: Sheikh Nasser bin Issa bin Saeed Al Kindi
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