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The secret phase of Da‘wah

Monday 03/08/2009

In an environment long predominated by paganism, people from the Arab tribes were brought up on fanaticism and chauvinism that were a staple of the times of Jaahiliyyah (ignorance). The hallmarks of the heavenly religions were lost; human nature and concepts suffered a major decline to the extent that wrong was considered to be right, and vices, virtues. Therefore, the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), had no option but to delay the public proclamation toward Islam. He had to initially do Da’wah (calling others to Islam) secretly, to avoid conflict, which might have caused the failure of his mission.

Hence, the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), started by inviting only his family and those closest to him to Islam. The very first person he preached to, was his wife Khadeejah, may Allah be pleased with her. She not only was the first to believe in him, but also the first person to listen to the Divine revelation directly from him and to know, through her uncle Waraqah bin Nawfal, that the Scriptures bear witness to the validity of his Prophethood.
 
The Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), then called his cousin ‘Ali ibn Abu Taalib, may Allah be pleased with him, to embrace Islam and the young man immediately agreed. He,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), also preached to his slave Zayd ibn Haarithah , may Allah be pleased with him, and his daughters, Zaynab, Umm Kulthoom, Faatimah and Ruqayyah, may Allah be pleased with them, who all obtained the honor of forming the first household to enter into the fold of Islam.
 
Later, the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), started inviting his friends and acquaintances to the faith. Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, did not hesitate for a moment in believing in him. The Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), acknowledged this favor of Abu Bakr, when he remarked: “Whenever I invited someone to Islam, he would have qualms and ruminate, except Abu Bakr.[Ibn Is-haaq]
 
Abu Bakr’s, may Allah be pleased with him, adoption of Islam was of great benefit to the religion and in Da’wah to it. The Quraysh held him in great esteem due to his extensive knowledge and hospitality, and because he was of the most prominent merchants in Makkah. Hence, when he invited others to Islam, many responded positively, such as ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan, Talhah ibn ‘Ubaydillaah, Az-Zubayr ibn Al-‘Awwaam, Sa‘d ibn Abu Waqqaas, ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf, ‘Uthmaan ibn Math‘oon, Abu Salamah ibn ‘Abd Al-Asad, Abu `Ubaydah ibn Al-Jarraah, Al-Arqam ibn Abu Al-Arqam, Khabbaab ibn Al-Aratt, and ‘Ammaar ibn Yaasir and his mother, may Allah be pleased with all of them.
 
Every one of those, in turn, hastened to call to Islam whomever he or she trusted, resulting in new converts, such that, in that period, they totaled more than forty men and women, according to historians. It is these, who are mentioned in the verse (which means): {And the first forerunners [in the faith] among the Muhaajiroon and the Ansaar} [Quran 9:100].     
 
There seem to be contradictory reports about the exact figure of these first Muslims, but that is due to the fact that the Companions had concealed their adoption of Islam.
 
If we scrutinize the names of these early converts, we shall find that they ranged from various subtribes within and outside Quraysh. They descended from Banu Umayyah, Banu Asad, Banu ‘Abd Ad-Daar, Banu Jumah, Banu Zuhrah, Math-hij, Daws and others. This clearly indicated the unique characteristics of this new faith and its divergence from the ethnic bigotry of previous times; for, if Islam was no different, the Banu Haashim, the tribe of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), would have been the most superior of people, exclusively forming a majority of followers of this new faith.
 
It is also noteworthy that most of the early converts were from the notables, with only thirteen slaves among them. This disputes allegations that Islam manifested as a class struggle, resulting from a revolution against the rich, or as an attempted escape from slavery. Rather, it was a message steeped in bringing people out of darkness into light, by regulating their lives in accordance with a divine methodology. It is a pure creed, which aims at correcting the relationship between the human race and its Creator.
 
The Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), persisted in doing Da‘wah in secret, for more than three years; at the house of Al-Arqam ibn Abu Al-Arqam, he continued to imbue his followers with monotheism, faith and good morals.
 
During that period, prayers were legislated: two units in the morning and two in the evening, as Allah Says (what means): {And exalt with praise of your Lord in the evening and the morning.} [Quran 40:55]. The Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, used to discreetly perform their prayers in the valleys and cols, lest they would be exposed.
 
People continued to flock to Islam until they formed a substantive crowd. Only then was it time for them to preach in public and face the confrontations, in spite of the harm, torture and sacrifices that entailed. So, Allah The Almighty ordered His Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) to publicly proclaim the message, Saying (what means): {And warn, [O Muhammad], your closest kindred.} [Quran 26:214]

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