Persecution of Muslims by Meccans

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In the early days of Islam at Mecca, the new Muslims were often subjected to abuse and persecution.

The persecution lasted for 12 years beginning from the advent of Islam to Hegira.[1]

Muhammad preached Islam secretly for 3 years. Then he openly preached Islam, resulting in public prosecutions to take place, and even more dreadfully.

Muhammad and his followers were first belittled and ridiculed, then persecuted and physically attacked for departing from traditional Mecca's tribal ways.

The Leaders of Makkah ordered social boycott of muslims for three 3 years in which food supply and trade was stopped. They forced muslims to move to a valley on eastern outskirts of Makkah, leading them to near famine conditions.

After 3 years the Mekkans felt sympathy on their muslim relatives and hence stopped the social boycott.

Abu Talib, Muhammad's uncle who as a pagan supported him amidst the leaders of Mecca died. Finally, the leaders of Mecca ordered assassination of Muhammad .

In 622, Muhammad and his few hundred followers left Mecca and traveled to Madinah, since they got to know that Quraysh has finally plotted to put an end to Muhammad and his muslims. [1]


Slaves Sumayyah bint Khabbab, and her husband Yasir were tortured to death by their master Abu Jahl.[2][3]

Muhammad was protected somewhat by the influence of his family. Abu Lahab's wife Umm Jamil would regularly dump filth outside his door.[4] An eyewitness mentioned that the worst thing he ever saw the Quraish doing to Muhammad was that a person from Quraish clutched his clothes.[5]

Narrated Abdullah that while Muhammad was in the state of prostration, surrounded by a group of people from Quraish pagans. `Uqba bin Abi Mu'ait came and brought the intestines of a camel and threw them on the back of Muhammad. Muhammad did not raise his head from prostration till Fatima (i.e. his daughter) came and removed those intestines from his back.[6]

Umayya Bin Khalf brutally tortured Bilal when he came to know that Bilal had embraced Islam. Umayya would put rope around Bilal‘s neck and drag him in the streets. In the burning hot desert heat, Umayya used to wrap Bilal in raw cow’s hide. Due to the great stench of rotting hide, Bilal would find it difficult to breathe. Umayya would also chain Bilal heavily, lay him on hot sand, and put heavy stones on him.[1]

Abu Lahab used to fling stones at Muhammad . He forced his two sons to divorce Ruqaiya and Umm Kulthum who were daughters of Muhammad.People used to spit and throw dust at Muhammad.Makkan Polytheists used to grab the hair of Uqbah and twist his neck.The slaves were often tortured by their masters for apostasy.[7]

Migration age[edit]

Two migration takes place before the migration of Medina.

Migration to Abyssinia
Hijra Abyssinia (Rashid ad-Din).jpg
Date6 BH (613/14 CE)
LocationFrom Mecca, Hijaz, Arabian Peninsula Towards Aksum, Kingdom of Axum
Also known asHijrah Habshah Ula (الهجرة الأولى إلى الحبشة) or Hijrah il-al-Habshah (الهجرة إلى الحبشة)
ParticipantsA group of twelve men and four women
OutcomeSome of the Muslims settling in Abyssinia

The Migration to Abyssinia (Arabic: الهجرة إلى الحبشة‎, al-hijra ʾilā al-habaša), also known as the First Hegira (Arabic: هِجْرَةhijrah), was an episode in the early history of Islam, where Muhammad's first followers (the Sahabah) fled from the persecution of the ruling Quraysh tribe of Mecca. They sought refuge in the Christian Kingdom of Aksum, present-day Ethiopia and Eritrea (formerly referred to as Abyssinia, an ancient name whose origin is debated),[8] in 9 BH (613 CE) or 7 BH (615 CE). The Aksumite monarch who received them is known in Islamic sources as the Negus (Arabic: نجاشيnajāšī) Ashama ibn Abjar. Modern historians have alternatively identified him with King Armah and Ella Tsaham.[9] Some of the exiles returned to Mecca and made the hijra to Medina with Muhammad, while others remained in Abyssinia until they came to Medina in 628.[10]

7 BH (614–615 CE)[edit]

This emigration takes place with 11 men and 4 women. The earliest extant account is given in Ibn Ishaq's sira:[10][11]

When the apostle saw the affliction of his companions, [...] he said to them: "If you were to go to Abyssinia (it would be better for you), for the king will not tolerate injustice and it is a friendly country, until such time as Allah shall relieve you from your distress." Thereupon his companions went to Abyssinia, being afraid of apostasy and fleeing to God with their religion. This was the first hijra in Islam.

Another view, grounded in the political developments of the time, suggests that following the Sassanid capture of Jerusalem in 614 many believers saw a potential danger to the community as they were not the partisans of the Persians who both practiced Zoroastrianism and had earlier supported the Arabian Jews of Himyar. The acceptance of these Muslims into the Kingdom of Axum at precisely a moment of Persian triumph in the Levant recalls the Ethiopian foreign policy of the previous century which saw Axum and Persia compete for influence in the Arabian Peninsula.[12]

6 BH (615–616 CE)[edit]

In 6 BH (616 CE) almost one hundred Muslims made a second migration back to Abyssinia where they stayed protected by king najashi (ashama ibn abjar) who is a just ruler.[citation needed] After the Muslims in Arabia had migrated to Medina in AH 7 (628/629) and attained security, the Muslims in Abyssinia migrated back to Arabia and reunited with them in Medina [13] after six years absence.

5 BH (616–617 CE)[edit]

The Meccan boycott of the Hashemites by the Quraish was proclaimed in 617.[citation needed]

This is a sub-article to Muhammad before Medina

The Meccan boycott of the Hashemites was a public boycott against the clan of Banu Hashim, declared in 616 (7th year of Prophethood) by the leaders of Banu Makhzum and Banu Abd-Shams, two important clans of Quraysh. According to tradition, the boycott was carried out in order to put pressure on Banu Hashim to withdraw its protection from Muhammad.[14][15]

The terms imposed on Banu Hashim, as reported by Ibn Ishaq, were "that no one should marry their women nor give women for them to marry; and that no one would trade with them, and when they agreed on that they wrote it in a deed."[16] The boycott lasted for three years but eventually collapsed mainly because it was not achieving its purpose; the boycott had caused extreme privation and the sympathizers within the Quraysh finally united to annul the agreement.[15][17]

...Islam began to spread among the tribes. The Quraysh realized that Banu-Hashim and Al-Muttalib were determined to protect the prophet and defend him so they gathered together to confer and decided to draw up a document in which they undertook not to marry women from Banu Hashim and Banu al Muttalib, or to give them women in marriage, or to sell anything to them or buy anything from them. They drew up a written contract to that effect and solemnly pledged themselves to observe it. They then hung up the document in the interior of the Kaaba to make it even more binding upon themselves. When Quraysh did this, the Banu Hashim and the Banu al-Muttalib joined with 'Abu Talib, went with him to his valley and gathered round him there; but 'Abu Lahab 'Abd al Uzza b. 'Abd al-Muttalib left the Banu Hashim and went with the Quraysh supporting them against 'Abu Talib. This state of affairs continued for two or three years, until the two clans were exhausted, since nothing reached any of them except what was sent secretly by those of the Quraysh who wished to maintain relations with them".[18]

...These days were very hard with them and very often they had to feed on the leaves TALH or plantain" [19]

Thus, this boycott included even Hashemites that had not accepted Islam.[20]

End of boycott[edit]

According to Muslim tradition, the parchment holding the boycott declaration was found to be eaten by termites except the name of Allah.[21][22]

3 BH (618–619 CE)[edit]

In the Islamic tradition, the Year of Sorrow (Arabic: عام الحزن‎, romanized‘Ām al-Ḥuzn, also translated Year of Sadness) is the Hijri year in which Muhammad's wife Khadijah and his uncle and protector Abu Talib died. The year approximately coincided with 619 CE[23][24] or the tenth year after Muhammad's first revelation.

After the death of Abu Talib, Muhammad became vulnerable due to the loss of clan protection granted by Abu Talib (who was also the chief of Banu Hashim). He began to be the target of physical attacks by his Meccan opponents. He visited Ta'if to look for help and invite the inhabitants to Islam, but was rejected. On the way back to Mecca, he petitioned several prominent Meccans to ask for protection. Chief Mut'im ibn 'Adi, from the Banu Nawfal clan, acceded to his request, escorted Muhammad into the city and announced the clan's protection of Muhammad.

2 BH (619–620 CE)[edit]

Previous events[edit]

Previously the preaching of Islam by Muhammad had been confined to Mecca, and his success with Abu Bakr on during the Year of Sorrow his main source of Ta’if to invite the people there to Islam.[25]

Leaders of Ta’if[edit]

Muhammad was received by the three (Abd Yalail, Mas'ud and Habib, their father was Amr Bin Ummaya Ath Thaqafi) chiefs of the local tribes of Ta’if[26] and they let him freely have his say, however, they paid little heed to his message. After a while they even showed signs of apprehension lest his welcome in Ta’if might embroil them with the Meccans, so they left him to be dealt with by street urchins and the riff raff of the town.[27]


By rejecting Muhammad's religion, the people of Ta'if ordered their children to throw rocks and stones at Muhammad and Zayd ibn Harithah to make them leave the city and never come back. Muhammad and Zayd ibn Harithah were finally turned out by mocking and jeering crowds. The rocks that were thrown at Muhammad and Zayd by the Ta'if children caused them to bleed. Both were wounded and bleeding as they left Ta’if behind them. Muhammad bled so profusely from the stoning that his feet became clotted to his shoes and was wounded badly.


Once Muhammad and Zayd ibn Harithah were outside the city walls, Muhammad almost collapsed.[26] They went a short distance outside of the town and stopped in an orchard that belonged to Utaba and Sheba.

The owners of the orchard had seen Muhammad being persecuted in Mecca and on this occasion they felt some sympathy toward their fellow townsman.[27] They sent a slave (named Addas) who took Muhammad into his hut, dressed his wounds, and let him rest and recuperate until he felt strong enough to resume his journey across the rough terrain between Ta’if and Mecca.[26] It was there that the Angel Gabriel came to him with the Angel of the Mountains and said that if Muhammad wanted, he would blow the mountains over the people of Ta’if (or crush the people of Ta'if in between the mountains).

Muhammad prayed:

“O Allah unto thee do I complain of my weakness, of my helplessness, of my want of resources, and of my lowliness before men. O Most Merciful of the merciful, Thou art Lord of the weak. And Thou art my Lord. Into whose hands wilt Thou entrust me? Unto some far off stranger who will ill-treat me? Or unto a foe whom Thou hast empowered against me? I care not, so Thou be not wrath with me. But Thy favoring help -that were for me the broader way and the wider scope! I take refuge in the Light of Thy Countenance whereby all darkness’s are illuminated and the things of this world and the next are rightly ordered, lest Thou make descend Thine anger upon me, or lest Thy wrath beset me. Yet is it Thine to reproach until Thou art well pleased? There is no power and no might except through Thee.”[28]

The owners also told their Christian slave named Addas from Nineveh to give a tray of grapes to the visitors.[27]

Muhammad took the grape and before putting it into his mouth he recited what has become the Muslim grace: "In the name of God, Ever Gracious, Most Merciful." (Arabic Bismillah ar-Rahman, ar-Raheem). Addas became curious and inquired about the identity of Muhammad who presented himself. The conversation that ensued led Addas to declare his acceptance of Islam, so that Muhammad's journey to Ta’if did not prove entirely fruitless.[27]

He stayed preaching to the common people for 10 days.


Muhammad sent Zayd to seek asylum (Arabic: Istijarah) for him among [29] 4 nobles in the city. Three of them, `Abd Yalil ibn `Abd Kalal and then Akhnas ibn Shariq and Suhayl ibn Amr,[30] refused but the fourth one, Mut‘im ibn ‘Adi, responded.[26]

Mut‘im ordered his sons, nephews and other young men of his clan to put on their battle-dress and then marched, in full panoply of war, at their head, out of the city. He brought Muhammad with him, first into the precincts of the Kaaba where the latter made the customary seven circuits (Arabic: Tawaf), and then escorted him to his home.[26]

Post Migration age and response[edit]

Invasion of Safwan[edit]

Muhammad ordered an attack to pursue Kurz bin Jabir Al-Fihri.

Invasion of Sawiq[edit]

Muhammad ordered Muslims to pursue Abu Sufyan for killing 2 Muslims and burning a corn field[4][additional citation(s) needed]

The tortured slaves by Quraysh in Mecca[edit]



Tags: The females were tortured by Umar ibn al-Khattab and Abu Jahl

List of Specific Recorded Instances[edit]

Slaves who were Muslims[edit]



Free Muslims[edit]


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  2. ^ Lings, Martin (1991). Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. pp. 79–80. ISBN 978-0946621330.
  3. ^ Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah. Translated by Guillaume, A. (1955). The Life of Muhammad, p. 145. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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  12. ^ Bowersock, G.W (Dr). The Throne of Adulis: Red Sea Wars on the Eve of Islam. Oxford University Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0-19-973932-5
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  14. ^ Francis E. Peters, The Monotheists: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Conflict and Competition, p.96
  15. ^ a b Moojan Momen, An Introduction to Shi'i Islam: The History and Doctrines of Twelver Shiʻism, Yale University Press, p.4
  16. ^ Francis E. Peters, Mecca: A Literary History of the Muslim Holy Land, Princeton University Press, 1994, ISBN 0-691-03267-X, p.54
  17. ^ Daniel W. Brown,A New Introduction to Islam, Blackwell Publishing, p.76, 2004, ISBN 0-631-21604-9
  18. ^ Taken from Tarikh al-Tabari, Volume 6 page 81 - Muhammad at Mecca (book), translated by William Montgomery Watt & M.V. MacDonald [1] Archived 2006-08-24 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ taken from Siratun Nabi by Shibli Numani Vol 1 p 218, English translation by M. Tayyib Bakhsh Budayuni [2] Archived 2006-08-24 at the Wayback Machine
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  21. ^
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  24. ^ Armstrong 2007, p. 13.
  25. ^[permanent dead link]
  26. ^ a b c d e A Restatement of the History of Islam and Muslims chapter "Muhammad's Visit to Ta’if" on
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  28. ^ Images from the Prophet’s Life Album
  29. ^ Archived 2006-11-19 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ MPACUK Archived 2005-02-07 at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ a b "".
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