How the Messenger (saw) called his qawm (nation) to Islam is amongst the most confused processes for anyone reviewing the early sources and literature. This has been noted by many researchers, Sallabee's introduction to his Seerah an example.
Ibn Ishaaq's Seerah seems to contribute to some of the confusion, interspersing historic narrations with his own opinions, or citing narrations that are open to various interpretations without citing supporting particularised narrations. Many subsequent Seerah writers uncritically adopt his narrative, which in turn then seeps into further works, discourse and activism, resulting in confusion. An example of this is the first three years being secret and the messenger proactively calling companions to Islam.
If this was not bad enough, ideological claims are then added to subsequent accounts whereby the Messenger allegedly called primarily to tawheed, missionaryism, preaching, personal purification, saving of souls as well as initiating welfare or charity through to revolutionary, systemic change or social reformation.
In terms of methodology, this review has considered the early books of Seerah, hadith and history, along with dozens of later Seerah texts by both Muslim and Orientalist writers in Arabic and English. The narrative that emerged has been checked against 89 Meccan suras and triangulated against the narrations of previous messengers.
Over several months, a clear pattern emerged of how the Messenger (saw) and those who proceeded him went about their call allowing a choronology to be constructed: in sum their call was to their nation through non-violent discursive means seeking "mana'a and nusrah on the basis of tawheed", embodying revelation amongst the nation and conveying it to mankind via diplomacy and warfare. Surprisingly the nature of "Islam" the deen emerges as a 'discursive tradition fused with power'.
Interestingly, a number of myths are unravelled in the process, a core one being the Messenger (saw) did not proactively approach individuals to call them to Islam as is typically believed - whilst family members may have been told about a new faith or belief, nothing happened beyond this, i.e., an individual call never became a mission. Likewise no proactive welfare or charity projects were ever undertaken by the Messenger or any of his companions - at best examples of reactive acts abound. Instead, he focused on calling his nation to collectively adopt Islam, the object of his call, to implement it, live by it and convey it to other nations - thereby 'saving lost nations'. Others include the aim of the messengers was seeking power whereby a divine living communal tradition can emerge, the messengers were sent to hostile nations and prophets to submissive one and so on.
This is not to say the Messenger (saw) neglected non-influential individuals who believed him or failed to help the needy. Rather his sole mission sought to win over society collectively, especially by persuading influentials (mala'un), who could ensure a transition for their followers to live by Islam and then invite other nations through diplomacy and warfare. Islam was a deen, as opposed to a personal faith, a collective social mode of living, an embodied tradition requiring power and institutions.
Dawa in Mecca
Meccan dawa comprised five steps:
1. Calling of the Clans to Islam
It seems the public call did not begin around year 3 or 4 as Ibn Ishaaq suggests, but far earlier, probably year 1. Many early companions like Abu Bakr, Bilal, Uthman, AbdrRahman bin Auf etc narrate how they enquired about Islam based on widespread rumours or overhearing discussions of elites who repeated the call. The only recorded events which could have led to this are the banquet and Mount Safa call. So it seems this would be the verse that would commence the call. Given there were a few early believers which would subsequently grow, it wouldn't make sense for this verse to appear in the third year but the first year. So when Allah ordered the Messenger (saw) to start warning people, he was ordered to start with his asheerah - see here for details:
وَأَنذِرْ عَشِيرَتَكَ الْأَقْرَبِينَ وَاخۡفِضۡ جَنَاحَكَ لِمَنِ اتَّبَعَكَ مِنَ الۡمُؤۡمِنِيۡنَ
And warn your closest clan and lower your wing to the believers who follow you... (Qur'an 26:215-216)
Ibn Athir reports when the ayah was revealed, the Messenger (saw) became very worried and sat at home like a sick man. His aunts came to visit him and he said to them:
"I do not have any complaint of sickness. However, Allah ordered me to warn my close relatives."
They said, "Well, call them, but do not invite Abu Lahab, for he will not respond to you."
Ali (ra) said the Messenger (saw) then told him:
"God has commanded me to warn my clan of near kindred. I was troubled by this, for I knew that when I broached the matter to them they would respond in a way which I would not like. I kept silent until Gabriel came to me and said, "Muhammad, if you do not do what you are commanded, your Lord will punish you." So prepare a measure of wheat for us, add a leg of mutton to it, fill a large bowl of milk for us, and then assemble the Banu Abd al-Muttalib for me so that I may speak to them and tell them what I have been commanded to tell them." (Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p.321; Ibn Hisham, Seerah Rasul Allah, p. 119)
Ali (ra) prepared a banquet and invited around 45 members of his clan Bani Hashim with some from Bani Al-Muttalib bin Abd Manaf also in attendance including Abu Talib, Hamzah, al-Abbas and Abu Lahab. The Messenger (saw) spoke to them and everyone left abruptly after eating with Abu Lahab responding by saying:
"These are your uncles and cousins, speak to the point, but first of all you have got to know that your kinspeople do not have the power to withstand all the Arabs and I am the most fitting person to stop you. You also should know your relatives are sufficient for you. If you remain steadfast in what you are doing, it will be easier for them than to face the other clans of Quraish supported by the other Arabs. Verily, I have never heard of anyone who has incurred more harm on his kinspeople than you." The Messenger kept silent and said nothing in that meeting. (Fiqh al-Seerah, pp. 77)
He invited a second time and said:
"A leader does not lie to his family. By Allah, besides Whom there is no other god, I am Allah's Messenger to you in particular and to the mankind in general. By Allah, you shall die even as you fall asleep; you shall be resurrected even as you wake up; you shall be called to account for what you are doing; and then it will be paradise forever or hell forever." (Fiqh al-Seerah, p. 77-78)
"O Bani Abd al-Muttalib, I don't know of any Arab youth who came to his people with a notion better than I came with. I came to you with the goodness of this world and the Hereafter. Allah (swt) ordered me to call you to Him. Who is going to support me regarding this matter, so that he will be my brother, my agent (wasi) and my successor (khalifah) among you?" (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 322, Ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil fi at-Tarikh, Vol. 1, p.259; Seerah Rasul Allah, p.119)
Tabari also narrates it with the wording, "Then he said, 'Banu Abd al-Muttalib, I have been sent to all men in general and to you in particular. Now that you have seen what you have seen, which of you will swear an oath of allegiance (bayah) to me to become my brother, my companion and my inheritor?" (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 322)
All of those in attendance rejected his proposal however his uncle Abu Talib told him he would provide him with protection (ijaara):
"We love to help you, accept your advice and believe in your words. These are your kinspeople whom you have collected and I am one of them and 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 deen of Abdul-Muttalib."
Abu Lahab then said to Abu Talib, "I swear by Allah this is a bad thing. You must stop him before the others do."
Abu Talib however answered, "I swear by Allah to protect him as long as I am alive." (Fiqh al-Seerah, pp.77-78)
Ibu Ishaq stated Abu Talib spoke the following verses on that subject:
By God, they'll never get their group to you until I'm laid to rest, buried in the ground.
Carry on with your work that is beyond reproach; rejoice, and may you be content in doing so.
You invited me, and I knew you were advising well; you spoke the truth, and you were ever trustworthy.
You offered a deen I knew to be the best deen of mankind.
Were it not for blame and anger, you'd find me giving it my favour openly. (Ibn Kathir, al-Sira al-Nabawiyya, Vol. 1, p.337)
Ismail ibn Iyas ibn Afif, a trader visiting Mecca adds further detail to what the Messenger (saw) presented. Ismail was speaking with Abbas, the Messenger's uncle, when he saw a man, a woman and child praying near the Ka'bah. On enquiring about them, Abbas told him it was his nephew Muhammad, his wife Khadija and cousin Ali (ra). Having been amongst those who had attended the banquet he summarised what he understood as the message:
The man was Muhammad ibn Abdullah, his nephew, who believed Allah had sent him as a Messenger and the treasures of the emperors of Rome and Persia would be opened for him … Ismail (ra) later said he wished he believed that day, as he would have been the fourth in Islam. (Ibn Ishaq, al-Seerah wa al-Maghazi, pp. 137-138)
This is supported by ahadith of other early converts like Ibn Abbassa who having heard rumours asked how many followed the messenger and were told just a few.
Allah then ordered him to address his call more widely to Quraysh (see here):
قُمۡ فَاَنۡذِرۡ وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرۡ
Arise and warn and magnify your Lord... (Qur'an 74:2)
Climbing mount Safa, the Messenger (saw) called the tribes of Quraysh to gather and began warning them and their family members of the impending day of judgement. He was rudely interrupted by his uncle Abu Lahab and Surah Masad was subsequently revealed condemning him and his wife for their behavior towards him:
He said: "O sons of so and so, O sons of so and so, O sons of Abd Manaf, O sons of Abd al-Muttalib. If I were to inform you there were horsemen emerging out of the foot of this mountain, would you believe me?"
They said: "We have not experienced any lie from you."
He (saw) said: "Well, I am a warner to you before a severe torment"
Abu Lahab then said: "May you be destroyed! Is it for this you have gathered us?" (Muslim 208)
2. Calling the Elites and Influentials
Following both rejections, the Messenger (saw) focused on the Quraysh leadership: Abu Talib, Abu Lahab, Ummayah bin Khalaf, al-Aas ibn Wa'il, al-Walid ibn Mughirah, Abu Jahl, Abu Sufyan, Utbah b. Rabi'ah, Shaybah bin Rabi'ah, Abu al-Bakhtari bin Hisham, al-Aswad bin al-Muttalib, Abu Jahl bin Hisham, Nubayh and Munabbih, the sons of al-Hajjaj, and others to accept his call and collectively submit (Islam). A similar pattern emerges when one considers all the previous Messengers, each Messenger focusing this call on the nation or its elites.
Whilst his own tribe had concerns about war, Quraysh did not - they had power, prosperity, security, prestige and good relations with tribes. They felt no good reason to give it up for an alternative way of life which introduced uncertainty and change. Initially they ignored him but as he began to critique their way of life their animosity grew. They complained to his uncle Abu Talib:
Abu Talib, your nephew has reviled our gods, denounced our deen, derided our traditional values and told us that our forefathers were misguided. Either curb his attacks on us or give us a free hand to deal with him, for you are just as opposed to him as we are, and we will deal with him for you. (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p.322; Seerah Rasul Allah, p.120)
In discussions between themselves they suggested various ideas to explain away his call when they saw they had no means of attacking him physically. They considered accusing him of sorcery, soothsaying, and madness, and of being a poet to distance those whom they feared might listen to him. The elites also attempted to bribe the messenger with wealth, women and power, pressurise him and negotiate with him. On one occasion they sent Utbah to discuss with him who came back saying:
"I heard speech that, by Allah, I have not heard the like of ever before. By Allah, it is not poetry; nor is it magic or soothsaying. Oh Quraysh, obey me and let me decide on the course of action we should take. Do not stand between this man and that which he is upon. Leave him be. For by Allah, the speech I heard from him will become great news indeed. If the Arabs get him, then it means others will have taken care of him for you. But if he is victorious over the Arabs, then his kingdom will be your kingdom and his honour will be your honour. Of all people, you will be the most highly favoured with him.'' Quraysh said: "By Allah, he bewitched you with his words..." Utbah said, "This is my opinion regarding him, but do as seems most befitting to you." (Ibn Ishaaq, al-Siyar wa al-Maghazi)
The elites repeatedly rejected his message, humiliating and mocking him and his companions, saying:
قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ مُلُوكُ الْأَرْضِ وَمَنْ يَغْلِبُ عَلَى كُنُوزِ كِسْرَى وَقَيْصَرَ، وَيُصَفِّرُونَ بِهِ وَيُصَفِّقُونَ
The kings of the earth have come who will own the treasures of Persia and Rome. They would then wolf-whistle (in mockery). (Bayhaqi, Dala'il an-Nubuwwah, Vol. 2, p. 317)
Even on the deathbed of his uncle around year 8, he received similar treatment:
"Oh my uncle! All I want these people to do is to accept a single statement that would make the Arabs serve them and make the non-Arabs pay them jizyah."
Taken aback they exclaimed, "Only one statement! By the oath of your father, we are prepared to accept ten such statements! What is this statement?"
Abu Talib also asked, "Oh my nephew! What is this statement?"
The Messenger (saw) replied, "Laa Ilaaha Illallah."
Upon hearing this, they hastily stood up and brushing down their clothing, they said, "Does he make all the gods into one god... This is something very strange." (Ahmed, Nisa'i, Tirmidhi, Ibn Abi Hatim)
3. Preparing his Group
Companions converting to Islam in the early years did so after hearing of rumours of the Messenger's (saw) call and discussions with the tribal leaders or seeing visions in dreams. None converted following a proactive missionary style approach or invitation by the messenger - this is a myth.
Companions brought those who heard such rumours to the Messenger (saw), for instance Abu Bakr brought Uthman (ra) who hard heard of him through his aunt. In the house of the companion al-Arqam, the Messenger (saw) used to secretly teach and worship with them, preparing a group who would help win over Quraysh's support base.
The Messenger (saw) used to publicly pray in front of the Ka'ba, performing tawaf and many would come and ask him about his call.
While the Messenger was praying in the Hijr of the Ka'ba, Uqbah bin Abi Mu'ait came. (Bukhari 3856)
The Messenger used to perform tawaf around the House (Ka'ba) holding the hand of Abu Bakr. (Ya'muri, Uyun al-Athar, Vol. 1, p. 123; Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, Vol. 7, p. 168)
When the companions had grown to around 38 men in number, Abu Bakr urged the Messenger (saw) to proclaim Islam openly:
"He replied, 'Oh Abu Bakr, we are only few in number.' However, Abu Bakr kept urging until the Messenger (saw) did appear openly. Then the Muslims separated off into different areas of the mosque, each man in his own tribe, and Abu Bakr arose to address the assembly, while the Messenger remained seated. He was the first man to make a speech calling people to God and to His Messenger. The polytheists were angry at Abu Bakr and the Muslims and caused violent fights all over the mosque. Abu Bakr was trampled underfoot and beaten." (Ibn Kathir, al-Sira al-Nabawiyya, Vol. 1, p.319)
As the message spread and increasing numbers of individuals began believing the messenger, Quraysh started to persecute many of these people. The Messenger (saw) encouraged some to migrate to Abyssinia where a just King (Negus) ruled. It is unclear if this was to avoid persecution, as none of the poor or slaves migrated, or if this was a backup plan in case dawa failed in Mecca as suggested by Sallabee.
Quraysh sent envoys seeking their return. The discourse with the King provides a detailed insight into how both sides understood the message. The Quraysh delegation, Amr ibn al-As and Abdullah ibn Abi Rabi'ah, claimed:
Some of our foolish people left the deen of their people and did not embrace the King's deen. Instead, they invented a new deen with which neither we nor you are acquainted. (Fiqh al-Seerah, p. 134)
and Jafar (ra) in response stated:
O King, we were a people living in ignorance: we worshipped idols, ate carrion, committed all manner of indecencies, treated our relatives and neighbours badly, and the strong among us oppressed the weak.
Then Allah sent to us a messenger from among us, whose lineage, truthfulness, trustworthiness and chastity we knew well. He invited us to believe in Allah's unity and not to associate partners with him, and to give up the worship of idols. He ordered us to be truthful in our speech, to fulfil our trust, to be kind to our kith and kin, to love our neighbours and keep away from the forbidden things and bloodshed. He forbade us immorality, lying and embezzling the orphan's wealth. He ordered us to establish prayer and fast. (Fiqh al-Seerah, p. 134; Ahmed)
A similar itinerary was narrated when the Medinites took a pledge with the Messenger (saw) in year 11, suggesting the myth of tawheed dominating the Meccan phase of revelation to be incorrect:
On the night of the first pledge of Aqabah, we pledged to the Messenger of Allah (saw) we will not associate any partners with Allah, we will not steal, we will not commit adultery, we will not kill our children, we will not make false accusations before our hands and feet and we will not disobey him in what was right... (Fiqh al-Seerah, p. 168)
4. Targeting Quraysh's Support Base
After a number of years without progress but increased hostility, the Muslims increasingly concealed their beliefs and prayed away from the public gaze. Many Seerah writers seem to confuse this period by claiming from the outset Meccan dawa was individualistic and secret - this is erroneous. Allah then ordered the Messenger (saw) to turn away from the elites and target their supporters via the following verse:
فَاصْدَعْ بِما تُؤْمَرُ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
Publicly proclaim what you are commanded and turn away from the polytheists (Qur'an 15:94-95).
Every related narration mentions the Messenger (saw) organised his companions and paraded them around the Ka'bah in full view of Quraysh and their followers creating shock and controversy. It was no longer an individual effort any more - the elites could be targeted by an individual, however their support based required a collective effort. (Tastalani, al-Mawahib al-Ludaniyah, Vol. 1, p. 134)
This meaning was also explicitly confirmed by the second-century linguist ibn al-Arabi, seventh century mufassir Qurtubi, and nineteenth century jurist Shawkani:
Declare what you have been commanded means: separate their solidarity and their public opinion (or power) by calling them to tawheed as they would be separated: some of them would accept, that would lead to breaking the jama'ah (solidarity) of the disbelievers. (Qurtubi, al-Jami' li-Ahkam al-Qur'an, Vol. 10, p. 61; Shawkani, Fath al-Qadeer, Vol. 3, p. 173)
5. Targeting Tribes
After nearly ten years of the Messenger's (saw) dawa in Mecca, the death of his uncle Abu Talib left him without personal support and protection and rejected his call.
When the Messenger (saw) called to Allah in his time of weakness and loneliness, he used to say: 'Allah has sent me and promised me He will make my deen overcome all other deens. My authority will defeat the power of Rome and Persia. I will defeat all kings and my kingdom and that of my followers will spread all over the earth.' (Qadi Abd al-Jabar, Tathbit Dala'il an-Nubuwwah, Vol. 2, p. 314)
Allah encouraged he seek support elsewhere:
وَقُلْ رَّبِّ اَدۡخِلۡنِىۡ مُدۡخَلَ صِدۡقٍ وَّ اَخۡرِجۡنِىۡ مُخۡرَجَ صِدۡقٍ وَّاجۡعَلْ لِّىۡ مِنۡ لَّدُنۡكَ سُلۡطٰنًا نَّصِيۡرًا
And pray: "My Lord! Cause me to enter wherever it be, with Truth and cause me to exit, wherever it be, with Truth and support me with authority from Yourself." (Qur'an 17:80)
Ibn Kathir cites:
Hasan al-Basri explained this ayah, His Lord promised to take the kingdom and glory of Persia and give it to him, and the Kingdom and glory of Byzantium and give it to him. Qatadah said, 'The Messenger of Allah knew he could not achieve this without the authority and power, so he asked for authority to help him support the Book of Allah, the laws of Allah, the obligations of Allah and to establish the Deen of Allah...'
So he began approaching dozens of tribes seeking mana'ah (protection) and nusrah (support) for Islam would ask the tribes to adopt his worldview of tawheed, help him convey it and defend him against any enemy, secure his dawa and implement its teachings.The first tribe the Messenger (saw) approached was Ta'if:
He sat down with them and called them to God, and spoke to them of the requests which he had come to them to make, that they should come to his aid in defense of Islam and take his side against those of his own tribe who opposed him. One of them said, "If God has sent you, I will tear off the covering of the Kabah"; another said, "Could God find no-one but you to send ?" and a third said, "By God, I shall never say a single word to you, for if you are a messenger from God as you say, you are too important for me to reply to you, and if you are lying against God, it is not right for me to speak to you." (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 327)
When they rejected him, he asked his uncle Abbas (ra) to help him identify influential tribes and would visit them with him at their homes and marketplaces. Abu Bakr (ra), an expert in Arabian lineages, would often accompany him, evaluating tribes that could support the responsibility and security of the dawa.
Abu Bakr asked, 'What are your numbers? Can you provide mana'ah? How does war look like with your enemies?'
(Assured they could provide mana'ah) he (saw) said, 'Testify there is no god but Allah, with no association; I am the Messenger of Allah. I ask you to provide me with shelter and support.' (Sohili, al-Rawd al-Aneef, Vol. 4, p. 36)
His uncle, Abu Lahab, would often walk behind him, shouting; "'Do not obey him. He is an apostate and a liar!" The tribes would invariably reply: "Your family and relatives know you best" and reject him.
Among the tribes visited by the Messenger (saw) were: Fazarah, Ghassan, Murrah, Hamfah, Sulaym, Abs, Banu al-Nadr, Kindah, Kalb, Adhrah, Hadarimah, Banu Amir ibn Sa'sa'ah and Muhsrib ibn Hafsah.
After the Messenger found no joy from the tribes close to Mecca, he (saw) used to present Islam to leaders of the more remote tribes during the Hajj seasons. They would say:
'The kings may hate this message you invite us to...'
The Messenger (saw) would reply, 'What do you think if I tell you that you will wait for a short period of time and Allah will give you their countries and wealth, and marry you with their women?' (al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, Vol. 3, pp. 176-177)
Bayharah bin Firas from the tribe of Amir bin Sa'sa'a was willing to support him but wanted power after his death as did other tribes - the messenger rejected such conditions:
Bayharah said, "By God, if I could take this young man from Quraysh I could conquer all the Arabs with him... Do you think that if we follow you and God gives you victory over your opponents we shall have the command after you?"
He replied, "Command belongs to God, who places it where He wills."
Bayharah said, "Are we to expose our throats to the Arabs in your defense and when you are victorious the command will go to someone else ? We do not need your deen." So they refused him. (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 330)
Finally, a group called Khazraj from Medina accepted Islam and invited their tribe and came the next year taking the pledge. They said:
'"We have left our people behind with so much enmity and evil among them. Perhaps Allah will unite them through you. We shall return to them and invite them to your affair, and we shall explain to them this faith which we have accepted from you. If Allah unites them under you, then there will be no man dearer to us than you!" Then they returned to their country, having believed and trusted.' (Fiqh al-Seerah, p. 167)
Musab (ra) was sent to Medina on the request of the Medinites to help reunite the warring clans of Aws and Khazraj there and invite leaders and laymen to Islam and prepare the polity for a new way of life. As a result of their activities and of the early Muslims there, within a year Medina transformed from a society tense with rivalries, hatred and division to people turning in unity to Islam.
When they went back to their people in Medinah, they told them about the Messenger and summoned them to Islam, so that it spread among them, and there was not a single dwelling among the dwellings of the Ansar in which the Messenger was not spoken of. (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 332)
Musab was able to win over tribal leaders including Sad bin Muadh who in turn won over his tribe to Islam:
At the people's assembly he said, "Banu Abd al-Ashhal, what do you recognize my position to be amongst you?" They replied, "You are our chief, the best of us in judgement and the most blessed of us in spirit." Then he said, "It is forbidden to me to speak to any man or woman of you until you believe in God and His Messenger." By evening there was not a man or woman in the dwellings of the Bani Abd al-Ashhal who had not accepted Islam.
Mus'ab remained with him calling people to Islam until there was not a dwelling place among the Ansar in which there were not Muslim men and women, except for some dwellings..." (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 334)
A number of junior elites rebelled against the two obstinate leaders of al-Aws and al-Khazraj, ibn Ubay and Abu Amir, helping bring about support amongst their peoples for Islam through a secret pledge they undertook with the messenger shortly before the migration:
Abbas commented, 'You are pledging to go to war against all kinds of people. If you think that if you suffered great losses to your wealth and had your leaders killed, you would give him up, then do it now or suffer the punishment of this life and the next. If you think you will keep faith with him in what he has called upon you to do, despite loss of wealth and your leaders being killed, then do accept him. For he is, by God, the best in this world and the next.'
They replied, 'We will take him regardless of loss of wealth or the death of our leaders. But what will we receive in return for this, oh Messenger of God, if we keep faith with you?'
'Paradise,' he replied.
'Then hold out your hand,' they asked.
He did so and they pledged allegiance to him. (al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, Vol. 2, p. 136)
Throughout his call the messenger was prohibited from using violence, reiterated even at the point he received a pledge of allegiance from the Ansar:
Al-Abbas bin Ubada said, 'Oh Messenger of God, by Him who sent you with the truth, if you wish tomorrow we will fall on those at Mina with our swords!'
The Messenger (saw) replied, 'We have not been ordered to do that; go back to your caravans.' (Ibid, p. 138)
Abu Jahl bin Hisham, while waiting outside the door of the Messenger (saw) to kill him shortly before hijra observed to his companions:
"Muhammad claims if you follow him in his deen, you shall be the kings of the Arabs and non-Arabs, after your death you shall be brought back to life and your lot shall be gardens like the gardens of Jordan. He also claims if you do not do this, you shall meet with slaughter from him and after your death you shall be brought back to life and your lot shall then be a fire, in which you shall burn." The Messenger came out, took a handful of dust and said, "Yes, I do say that and you are one of them... (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 337)
When the Messenger (saw) came to Medina, he stayed in the upper part of the town in the quarter named for the Bani Amr bin Awf. He stayed among them for 14 nights, then sent a message to the chiefs of the Banu al-Najjar who came wearing their swords. It's as if I can still see the Messenger (saw) riding his camel with Abu Bakr mounted behind him and the chiefs of the Banu al-Najjar all around him until they reached the courtyard of Abu Ayub's house... (al-Sira al-Nabawiyya, Vol. 2, p. 200; Ibn Saad, Tabaqat, Vol. 1, p. 262)
The first one to see the Messenger (saw) was a Jewish man who loudly shouted, 'O Bani Qeelah (Ansar) this is your forefather for whom you are waiting.' Ansar went out armed with their weapons. (al-Fusul fi Seerah al-Rasul, p. 117)
Muslims surged to their weapons and met the Messenger (saw) at Harrah and they were five hundred men of Ansar. (Ibn Hiban, al-Seerah al-Nabawiyyah wa Akhbar al-Khulafa, Vol. 1, p. 139)
Comparison with previous Messengers
Previous Messengers targeted political power to bring about collective submission to Allah. Muhammed (saw) followed suit, the call always being discursive in nature, violence or partnering with the powerful both prohibited. It is interesting to note most discussions narrated in the Qur'anic stories are between the Messengers and elites. For further elaboration read here.
Akin to previous messengers, Muhammed (saw) discursively called his nation (qawm) collectively submit, never proactively seeking to save individual souls, instead seeking to save nations. The red lines of prohibition were the use of violence or entering the corridors of kufr power through compromise.
The call was tripartite in nature, mana'a, nusrah, with a tawheed based worldview - always calling a nation and/or her elites collectively to Islam or, when possible, forming a party to target their support base if they resisted.
Dhahabi, Siyar A'lam al-Nuba'a
Halabi, al-Seerah al-Halabiyyah
Ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh
Ibn Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Dimashq
Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari
Ibn Hiban, al-Seerah al-Nabawiyyah wa Akhbar al-Khulafa
Ibn Hisham, al-Seerah al-Nabawiyyah
Ibn Ishaq, al-Siyar wa al-Maghazi
Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah
Ibn Saad, Tabaqat
Muhammed al-Ghazali, Fiqh al-Seerah
Tabari, Tarikh at-Tabari
Ya'muri, Uyun al-Athar
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