In the early period of emergence of Islam, we find two people who offered great sacrifices in its cause. One was KhadijahR.A and the other Abu BakrR.A. Before embracing Islam they were among the richest people in Makkah. They left the world in utter poverty after having spent all they had in the cause of Islam.

When UmarR.A bin Khatab accepted Islam, he invited his family to it. He also led to the conversion of several people of his tribe (Banu Adi) to Islam. When the Quraysh saw the number of Muslims increasing they grew more worried. They resorted to crueller tactics (which the Holy Qur’an has mentioned as "Fitnah") to deter Muslims from Islam.

The new Muslims included slaves and the poor. These converts had not become as steadfast as the early Muslims. They were thus unable to withstand hardships brought upon them by the Quraysh. The Quraysh restricted the people from buying or selling anything to the Muslims. They imposed economic and social boycott on them. They even prohibited Makkans from entering into marriages with them.

Makkah was the land of trade. These restrictions began to cripple the lives of the Muslims. Some new Muslims could not cope with such pressures and they thus revoked Islam. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) knew that if a quick remedy was not sought, the Quraysh would compel other Muslims to revoke Islam as well.

He took a decision, which had never been taken by any of the earlier Prophets for their followers. He decided to stay in Makkah himself and face every wrath of the Quraysh and send the rest of the Muslims to Abyssinia.

Abyssinia (today’s Ethiopia) was ruled by a king who did not interfere in any religion, unless that religion offered resistance to other religions. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) advised the Muslims to leave Makkah for Abyssinia and return only when the situation in Makkah for Muslims had improved. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) advised them to leave in small groups without alarming the Quraysh.

The first migrants were: Ja’far bin Abi Talib (Abu Talib’s son who had been raised by the Prophet’s (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) uncle AbbasR.A, his wife Asma who navigated the waters of the Red Sea and reached Abyssinia (that is why Asma is called "The navigator woman"). UthmanR.A bin Affan, the Prophet’s (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) son-in-law and RuqayyahR.A’s husband (she was wedded to UthmanR.A after she had been divorced by Abu Lahab’s son), Zubayr bin Alawan, Abdullah bin Masood, Abd-ur-Rahman bin Awf, Abu Hazeefah, Sahlah daughter of Suhail bin Umar, A’amir bin Rabbiya and his wife Lailah Bint Abu Kheeshah, Hatib bin Umar, Suhail bin Baidal, Musa’b bin Umair, Abu Salmah and his wife Umm-e-Salmah Bint Umayyah and Uthman bin Madhaoon.

These people secretly sailed out to Abyssinia. This was the first Muslim contingent to leave Makkah and was to be followed by the other contingents later.

When the Muslims held talks with the king of Abyssinia, Ja’far represented them. Asma, wife of Ja’far, gave birth to a baby boy on the day when they arrived in the capital of Abyssinia. Asma volunteered to breastfeed the royal baby, which was accepted. Hence, as was the custom, both the babies became foster brothers. After the first group, the second group of Muslims also migrated to Abyssinia by boat, thus totalling the number of migrant Muslims to one hundred and nine.

Soon the migration of Muslims became known to the Quraysh. They sent Umro bin Al-A’s and Um’arah bin Walid to the court of Najashi and asked him to hand over the Muslims so that they could be taken back to Makkah. When they reached his court, Umro bin Al A’s said, "O King of Abyssinia, the people under your protection have refuted the religion of their ancestors. They call them false. O king, these people who are under your protégé today will turn up tomorrow against you. It is, thus, in your interest to hand them over to us, so that we could dispatch them to their clans as they are wanted by them".

The King summoned the Muslims in his court and said, "These two people have come from Makkah and accuse you as culprits. They want you to be sent back to Makkah where your clans and families are waiting. What do you have to say for yourselves?"

Ja’far bin Abi Talib stepped forward and began, "O King of Abyssinia, ask them have we stolen anything, conducted a robbery or committed a murder? Or done any other crime in Makkah or else-where in the Arabian lands?"

When inquired by the king, the two persons denied such wrong doing by Muslims. Ja’far continued, "O King of Abyssinia! We worshipped idols in the past and let our lives be consumed by fun and sport. To inflict cruelty upon the weak and the poor was our pastime. We were wrapped in abysmal darkness when Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) bin Abdullah was born among us. He led us to righteousness and instructed us to shun idolatry. He called us to Allah Almighty. He showed us to be merciful and told us to abstain from evil and shelter the weak and poor".

Ja’far continued saying: "O King, we were a people steeped in ignorance, worshipping idols, eating un-sacrificed carrion, committing abominations, and harming the weak without reason until Allah sent us a Messenger from out of our midst, one whose lineage we knew well. His veracity, worthiness of trust and his integrity was also known to us. He called us unto Allah, that we should testify to His Oneness and worship Him and renounce what we and our fathers had worshipped in the way of stones and idols; and he commanded us to speak truly, to fulfil our promises, to respect the ties of kinship and the rights of our neighbours, and to refrain from crimes and from bloodshed. So we worship Allah alone, setting naught beside Him, counting as forbidden what He hath forbidden and as licit what He hath allowed. Our people turned against us, and have persecuted us to make us forsake our religion and revert from the worship of Allah to the worship of idols.

"We believed him, but O King! these, who have come to arrest us are idol-worshippers. They worship idols of stone and wood, inflict barbarism upon the weak. These people have persecuted, pelted and injured our Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)".

The king on hearing statements from both sides, ordered that the gifts that had been brought by Umro-Bin-Ala’s and Um’arah bin Walid be returned. He addressed them all and said that those who had come to his domain for protection were very dear to him as they worshipped, like him, One Allah. He would not allow those representatives to take them away to be persecuted by the Quraysh.

When they left the court, Najashi showed his interest in finding out more about the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). Ja’far recited few Quranic verses (now present in the 19th Surah) regarding Jesus and Mary.


Relate in the Book
(The story of) Mary,
When she withdrew
From her family
To a place in the East.


She placed a screen
(To screen herself) from them;
Then We sent to her
Our angel, and he appeared
Before her as a man
In all respects.


She said: "I seek refuge
From thee to (Allah)
Most Gracious: (come not near)
If thou dost fear Allah."


He said: "Nay, I am only
A messenger from thy Lord,
(To announce) to thee
The gift of a holy son."


She said: "How shall I
Have a son, seeing that
No man has touched me,
And I am not unchaste?"


He said: "So (it will be):
Thy Lord saith, ‘That is
Easy for Me: and (We
Wish) to appoint him
As a Sign unto men
And a Mercy from Us’:


He said: "I am indeed
A servant of Allah:
He hath given me
Revelation and made me
A prophet;
(Surah Maryam; V-16-21 & 30)

Najashi, a Christian, could not help from weeping, and others in his court cried too. He then said, "Your Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is truthful and magnificent. You can stay freely in my country as long as you wish and no one can turn you out".

When Christian priests heard their king taking side with the Muslims, they turned against him. He asked them to assemble in a hall and then he took a parchment and wrote on it, "He testifieth that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is His slave and His Messenger and that Jesus the son of Mary is His slave and His Messenger and His Spirit and His Word which He cast unto Mary". Then he put it beneath his gown and went out to his people who were assembled to meet him. When his people saw this they were satisfied.

Two of the Muslims who had migrated to Abyssinia were so impressed by the grandeur of the churches that they revoked Islam for Christianity. One of them was Ubaidullah bin Habash who had reached there with his wife, Umm-e-Habibah (daughter of Abu Sufyan). Before his acceptance of Islam Ubaidullah was considered as "Hanif", because he had spent his life in search of truth. In his vanity of knowing the truth had accepted Islam, but on reaching Abyssinia he revoked Islam.

The other Muslim who adopted Christianity was Sukran bin Umro. He had also migrated along with his wife - "Sawdah". When Sawdah saw her husband revoking Islam, she returned to Makkah again. Later, as it will be mentioned in the coming pages, she was wedded to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).

When the Quraysh observed Muslims escaping their clutches and living freely in Abyssinia, they made the life of the Muslims in Makkah miserable. Abu Jahal contrived to hold individual meetings with the Muslims. If any Muslim belonged to the nobility, Abu Jahal made him feel guilty of refuting his ancestral practices and religion. "La’at", "Man’at" and "Uzah" - the three huge idols placed in Holy Ka’bah were held in great esteem by the Makkans. Abu Jahal would ask them, how they could abandon them. If a Muslim was a trader or a merchant, Abu Jahal threatened him of severing all business transactions and credit facilities. Traders can well imagine what impacts could such a threat bring to a trader. Thus due to these threats, Muslims who were not so steadfast were deterred from their paths.

If a Muslim was a commoner (or the Alnas- as Arabs named the defenceless), Abu Jahal subjected him to severe lashing. The situation created by Abu Jahal spread panic among the Makkans and those who wanted to enter Islam now avoided it. Only one person among the merchants of Makkah sided openly with the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and Islam without any fears for his life, and that was none other than Abu BakrR.A. The Quraysh closed all the credits, and no one transacted his bills of exchange with Muslims. They also refused to repay debts to Muslim creditors. In spite of all these hardships Abu BakrR.A did not deter from loyalty to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). He bequeathed everything to Islam without any hesitation. He even bore all the expenses of migrants to Abyssinia.

Abu BakrR.A was the sole treasurer of Islam in its early period. All treasuries have sources of income but in Islam there was none. Abu BakrR.A bore all the expenses for the cause of Islam without expectations for any returns. Unlike others, Abu BakrR.A did not migrate as he did not want the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) to be left alone. He always supported the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and never left his company. A time came when his life was in danger, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) advised him to migrate. He then departed with great grief and migrated towards Yemen - a country in the South of Arabia.

Without letting the Quraysh know of his journey, he reached an area where a large tribe lived. The chieftain "Rafai" was greatly surprised to find Abu BakrR.A leaving Makkah in secret. He knew Abu BakrR.A well so asked him, "O Abu BakrR.A, Are you absconding from your city". Abu BakrR.A replied that he had accepted the new religion Islam. The Quraysh were planning to murder him, thus he had fled from the city to save his life. Rafai told him that he would tell the Quraysh that he had accepted Abu BakrR.A under his "right of protection", "Haqq-e-Jawwar", and then they would not harm him.

This was an old custom according to which a tribe could provide a person, its protection. Then if any other person tried to harm such a protected person, he would have to confront the whole tribe. The Rafai tribe was a war veteran and it dwelt near Makkah. To avoid enmity with this tribe, the Quraysh decided to leave Abu BakrR.A alone.

Abu BakrR.A then built a small mosque in his home. He began reciting Holy Quranic verses in a loud and melodious voice every evening. Historically Abu BakrR.A is the first Muslim who has recited the Holy Qur’an loudly and melodiously. Before him the other Muslims also recited the Holy Qur’an but not aloud due to fear.

Arabic scholars know that although Holy Quranic verses are not poetic in a literal sense but many short ones like, Surah Ikhlas, Sure Alq, Surah Lahab and Surah Kafirun are quite appropriate for recitation and melodious. All these verses were revealed in Makkah and bear metre and rhyme.

As verses revealed in Makkah were rhythmic, therefore when Abu BakrR.A recited them melodiously anyone passing his house could not help himself from stopping and listening to the verses.

An Arab cannot ignore a well versed and well-spoken act of speech. Colman Hort, a European scholar, states that nature has gifted the Bedouin with four things: a camel, a tent, a sword and versification. A balanced and appropriate portion of versification is vitally important to an Arab. And if uttered properly, can enchant an Arab.

The first Arab anthem is named as "Haddi" that was originated by the people riding on camels back. They conceived it from camel movements. If one rides a camel in a desert, the rhythmic and wavy movements of the camels body will tire him greatly. That is why the people unfamiliar to camel riding are struck by nausea and vomiting. This is similar to the wavy motion of a boat in the sea which causes sea-sickness.

Arabs used to hum verses synchronised with the camels movements. This led to the composition of Haddi - the Arabic anthem. At first, this humming helped alleviate fatigue. Later on they realised that their camels also enjoyed with them the melody of verses. They would walk more gaily and rhythmically. The camel enjoys this ecstasy even in this age of mechanisation just like they did fourteen hundred years ago.

With the onset of darkness and the spread of silence over Makkah, Abu BakrR.A used to resume recitation of the Holy Qur’an. His recitations attracted the people in great numbers. They were spell bound by the beauty of the verses.

When the Quraysh observed this, they sent a message to the chieftain of Kafai to prohibit Abu BakrR.A from reciting aloud. They considered such large gatherings detrimental to the law and order situation in Makkah. After accepting gifts from the Quraysh, the chieftain sent the message to Abu BakrR.A and added that if he continued with his recitations his right for "Haqq-e-Jawwar" would be withdrawn.

Abu BakrR.A replied that he would neither ignore his religion nor stop reciting the Holy Qur’an aloud. If pressed, he would surrender himself, like the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), to the sanctuary of Allah.