From the outset, Allah expected him to focus on the tribal elites and leaders, those whom society trusted, were happy to follow even if they transitioned to a new collective way of life built on a new worldview.
The Messenger (saw) then did not proactively call individuals, who may personally agree or even believe in him, whilst society still continued along their existing trajectory. His mission was to change society, its structures and institutions, establish a civilisation, not seek to change the faith of individuals in a missionary sense.
Early companions (ra) would hear rumours of his societal call and approach him enquiring about it, and subsequently believe in him, recognising him to be calling for the truth.
One of these early companions was Uthman ibn Affan (ra).
Uthman's (ra) Conversion Story
Uthman (ra) was one of the earliest companions to believe the Prophet (saw) in Mecca.
Before embracing Islam, he wanted to marry the Messenger's (saw) daughter Ruqayyah (ra). One day, he heard of the Messenger (saw) marrying her off to Utbah ibn Abu Lahab and he was saddened by that.
His aunt, who was a priestess, saw him upset, prophesied he would marry her and told him of the Messenger's (saw) revelation. She urged him to follow the Messenger (saw) advising him he was preaching the truth and denouncing the idols as being gods.
He began thinking about the matter, meeting Abu Bakr (ra) during his deliberations. He told him what had happened. Abu Bakr (ra) advised the same, taking him to meet the Messenger (saw) where he asked him about his revelation. Uthman (ra) then went on to believe in him and accept Islam.
In a number of hadith, Uthman (ra) narrated what happened after the priestess told him about the Messenger (saw):
فَقَالَتْ: مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، رَسُولٌ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ، جَاءَ بِتَنْزِيلِ اللَّهِ، يَدْعُو بِهِ إِلَى اللَّهِ ... فَانْطَلَقْتُ مُفَكِّرًا فَلَقِيَنِي أَبُو بَكْرٍ فَأَخْبَرْتُهُ، فَقَالَ: وَيْحَكَ يَا عُثْمَانُ إِنَّكَ لَرَجُلٌ حَازِمٌ، مَا يَخْفَى عَلَيْكَ الْحَقُّ مِنَ الْبَاطِلِ، مَا هَذِهِ الْأَصْنَامُ الَّتِي يَعْبُدُهَا قَوْمُنَا؟ … وَاللَّهِ لَقَدْ صَدَقَتْكَ خَالَتُكَ، هَذَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، قَدْ بَعَثَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَى خَلْقِهِ بِرِسَالَتِهِ، هَلْ لَكَ أَنْ تَأْتِيَهُ؟ فاجتمعنا برسول الله فقال: يا عثمان أجب الله إلى حقه، فَإِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكَ وَإِلَى خَلْقِهِ قَالَ: فو الله ما تمالكت نفسي مُنْذُ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَنْ أَسْلَمْتُ وَشَهِدْتُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شريك له
"She said: 'Muhammad ibn Abdullah is the Messenger of Allah who comes with a revelation, calling to Allah with it.'
I went off thinking; then I met Abu Bakr and I told him (of the matter).
He said: 'What is wrong with you Uthman? You are an intelligent man where right and wrong could not be hidden from him. What is (the point) of these idols that our nation serves? By Allah, your aunt has told you the truth, that is the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad ibn Abdullah, who Allah has sent him to his creatures with his Message. Do you want to go to him?'
We then met the Messenger (saw) and he said: 'O Uthman, give Allah what he deserves (his right), indeed I am the Messenger of Allah sent to you and to his creation.'
By Allah, I could not stop myself from accepting Islam, after I heard the Messenger of Allah. So I testified that there is no god but Allah, alone with no partners." (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, Vol. 7, p. 199, Ibn Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Dimashq, Vol. 16, p. 115)
Following his aunt telling him of the Messenger's (saw) revelation, Uthman (ra) related the matter to Abu Bakr (ra). He was taken to meet the Messenger (saw) following which he embraced Islam.
Ibn Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Dimashq
Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah
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