Commanding His Prophet, Almighty Allah says:
Arise and warn! And your Lord do you glorify! (Al-Muddaththir 74:2-3)
On the spot, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) called his wife, Khadijah, saying, “Oh Khadijah! From now on, there is no time for sleep.” He then embarked on his call to monotheism. As a response to the divine command (And admonish your nearest kinsmen) (As-Shu`araa’ 26:214), Prophet Muhammad ascended the mount of As-Safa and started to call out his people. He called them to accept Islam and then he said to his daughter, “Oh Fatimah! Exert yourself in doing good, for I have no power to save you [from Hell-fire] on the Day of Judgment.” Then, Almighty Allah revealed:
Therefore expound openly what you are commanded and turn away from the polytheists. (Al-Hijr 15:94)
And keep yourself content with those who call on their Lord morning and evening. (Al-Kahf 18:28)
Afterwards, the Almighty Creator revealed:
Say, “O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allah, to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; there is no god but Him; He gives life and causes death. So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, who believes in Allah and His Words, and follow him that you may be guided.” (Al-A`raf 7:158)
Like all the previous prophets, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) tried to found a believing nation from amongst the disbelieving society whose people worshiped idols instead of the Creator. He followed the way that Almighty Allah made clear to him, as follows:
1- The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) assured his people that what he was calling to was only the truth and what others called to was falsehood and that the Qur’an is an all-embracing law. Almighty Allah says:
So put your trust in Allah; indeed, you are on the [path of] manifest truth. (An-Naml 27:79)
2- He also taught them that as long as they are adherents of the truth and bearer of the divine guidance, they must guide mankind to this way as well. In the noble Qur’an, Almighty Allah says:
And strive in His cause as you ought to strive. He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion. (Al-Hajj 22:78)
You are the best nation ever produced for mankind. (Aal-`Imran 3:110)
3- He, moreover, stressed that as long as they follow the truth, Allah will always grant them help, support, guidance, and victory, especially when people forsake them. Almighty Allah says:
Allah will certainly aid those who aid Him [His cause]; verily Allah is Powerful, Exalted in Might. (Al-Hajj 22:40)
Allah has decreed: I will surely overcome, I and My Messengers; verily Allah is Powerful, Exalted in Might. (Al-Mujadilah 58:21)
As a result, people understood Islam as a creed, Shari`ah, and divine message sent down to save all humanity. It is a universal religion that contains matters of creed, morals, worship, and transactions. It frees people from slavery to any created being, disciplines their souls, and reminds humanity of the Day of Judgment.
The Immigration to Abyssinia
When the persecution of Muslims at the hands of Quraish started to intensify unbearably, the Messenger ordered them to migrate to Abyssinia. Prophet Muhammad knew that the king of Abyssinia was a just ruler. `Uthman ibn `Affan and his wife Ruqayyah, the Prophet’s daughter, migrated to Abyssinia along with a group of twelve men and five women. Yet, they did not like to live there. Upon receiving information that most of the Quraish had embraced Islam, they decided to return to Makkah, but this news turned out to be false.
The Quraish’s persecution grew even more intense. Among those who persecuted Muslims were Abu Jahl, Abu Lahab ibn `Abdul-Muttalib and his wife Umm Jamil, `Uqbah ibn Abu Ma`it, Al-`As ibn Wa’il As-Sahmi, and Al-Walid ibn Al-Mughirah.
Then, the Messenger of Allah permitted his Companions to migrate to Abyssinia for a second time. Consequently, eighty-three men and nineteen women made the immigration, headed by Ja`far ibn Abi Talib and his wife Asma’ bint `Umais. They stayed in Abyssinia for ten years, preferring to live under the protection of that just ruler.
The Conversion of Hamzah and `Umar to Islam
After six years into the Prophet’s mission, Hamzah ibn `Abdul-Muttalib and `Umar ibn Al-Khattab embraced Islam. `Umar ibn Al-Khattab asked permission from the Prophet to make the Muslims proclaim their religion publicly. Then came a revelation commanding the Messenger to proclaim the mission openly. On the spot, Muslims went out in two rows, Hamzah leading one row and `Umar leading the other, and they circumambulated the Ka`bah. This made Quraish more resentful.
Quraish negotiated with Abu Talib to hand his nephew over to them so they could kill him. They also offered the Messenger of Allah money, women, medicine, and authority on one condition: that he stop his call. But, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) refused. In this context, the noble Qur’an unequivocally announced:
Say, “O you who reject Faith! I do not worship what you worship.” (Al-Kafirun 109:1-2)
The Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib protected him, while Abu Lahab and his wife tried many times to kill him, but Gabriel was there to protect him in accordance with Allah’s command.
The people of Quraish decided unanimously to boycott the Messenger of Allah, his Companions, and all those who sympathized with them. They determined not to have any business dealings or marriage relationships with them until they perish or hand the Prophet over to them to be killed. They wrote this down as a formal boycott.
Abu Talib, on the other hand, called on Bani Hashim and Bani Al-Muttalib to support Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). All of them agreed except Abu Lahab and his wife. Hence, the Prophet, his Companions, and their supporters stayed in Abu Talib Shi`b (mountain pass) for three years. They were starving and thirsty, and ate grass. However, they never stopped calling people to Islam. As the situation continued, Quraish divided into two groups as to whether the boycott should end. A group of them did actually plan to repeal the boycott. At the end of that year, the Prophet and his Companions left the shi`b.
The Year of Grief
After ten years into the Prophet’s mission, Abu Talib passed away. Only after three days of the latter’s death, Khadijah died. This caused great grief to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Now that his uncle was dead, Quraish started again its bad treatment towards the Prophet to the extent that they sprinkled sand on his face and put the amnion of camels on his back while he was prostrating at the Ka`bah.
The Journey to At-Ta’if
Faced with the rejection of Makkans, Prophet Muhammad went out to At-Ta’if and stayed there for a month with the aim of proclaiming his message. He called the people of Thaqif to belief in Allah, but they refused his call and ordered their foolish ones to hurt him. Afterwards, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) met someone called `Addas, who kissed his hands and feet as he got acquainted with his mission. On his way back to Makkah, a company of Jinn listened to him and believed in him, as revealed in the noble Qur’an. Then, he entered Makkah under the protection of Al-Mut`am ibn `Adiyy.
Taken with modifications from www.onislam.net.