Reaction of early Muslims towards persecution
The Muslims of early days although limited in number, had very strong faith and belief in Allah and His Prophet They maintained this faith, regardless of the consequences. For instance, the Muslim slaves who were tortured mercilessly by their masters never renounced their religion, and at times, lost their lives when give an alternative between idol worship and Islam. The Muslims were always united under the leadership of the Holy Prophet PBUH.
Even when persecutions were at their peak, instructions set out by him were followed. When he advised them to migrate to Abyssinia, they migrated with the confidence that the advice of the Holy Prophet PBUH can only have a good outcome.
The Muslims displayed the most amazing qualities of courage, discipline and patience in face of this persecution. It was borne patiently without complaints. The Muslims were forced to live in a valley for three years with women and children without any means of food and water for days at a time but they waited patiently for Allah’s help. Although the believers were a very small group of people, they opposed the pagan ideas, defied the idol worshippers and followed a different religion.
Migration to Abyssinia
The hardships and suffering of the Muslims increased. The Holy Prophet PBUH therefore, gave permission to a group of Muslims to migrate to Abyssinia.
Accordingly in the fifth year of prophethood, a group of eleven men and four women secretly left for Abyssinia. These included Hazrat Usman and his wife Ruqayya, daughter of the Holy Prophet PBUH .
Then followed another group of seventy-nine men and seven women including Hazrat Jafar, son of Abu Talib. Najashi, the Christian king of Abyssinia treated the Muslims with kindness and respect and the Muslims found a safe place to live.
When the Quraish came to know of this, they sent a deputation with some gifts to the king to request him to hand over the emigrants to them. Najashi was a kind and just man. He said in reply that he could not hand Over the Muslims to them until he found out the truth about their religion.
He called the Muslims to his court and after hearing the speech of Hazrat Jafar who explained the principles of Islam and what the Holy Prophet had taught them, Najashi refused to send them back.
It is said that Najashi asked Jafar to recite some ayats from the Holy Quran Jafar recited a portion of Surah Maryam. After hearing Najashi said: By God this and the Gospel are the lights of one candle.
Hereafter Najashi returned the gifts brought by the leaders of Makkah. Thus the mission failed and the Quraish returned totally disappointed.