For three years, he صَلَّی اللّٰہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم continued to fulfil the obligation of Islamic preaching very secretly and confidentially. During this period, Sayyidatuna Khadijah رَضِیَ اللهُ تَعَالٰی عَنْهَا among women, Sayyiduna Abu Bakr Siddeeq رَضِىَ اللهُ تَعَالٰی عَـنْهُ among free men, Sayyiduna ‘Ali کَـرَّمَ الـلّٰـهُ تَـعَـالٰی وَجـْھَـهُ الـکَـرِیْم among boys and Sayyiduna Zayd Bin Haarisah رَحْمَةُ اللهِ تَعَالٰی عَلَيْه among slaves were the first to embrace Islam. Shortly afterwards, Sayyiduna ‘Usman, Sayyiduna Zubayr Ibn ‘Awwam, Sayyiduna ‘Abdur Rahman Ibn ‘Awf, Sayyiduna Sa’d Bin Abi Waqas and Sayyiduna Talhah Bin ‘Ubaydullah رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ تَعَالٰی عَـنْهُم also accepted Islam by virtue of the preaching made by Sayyiduna Abu Bakr Siddeeq رَضِىَ اللهُ تَعَالٰی عَـنْهُ.
After a few days, Sayyiduna Abu ‘Ubaydah Bin Al-Jarrah, Sayyiduna Abu Salamah ‘Abdullah Bin ‘Abdul Asad, Sayyiduna Arqam Bin Abu Arqam, Sayyiduna ‘Usman Ibn Maz’oon and both of his brothers Sayyiduna Qudaamah and Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ تَعَالٰی عَـنْهُم also became Muslim. Then, after a short period of time, Sayyiduna Abu Zar Ghifari, Sayyiduna Suhayb Roomi, Sayyiduna ‘Ubaydah Bin Al-Haaris Bin ‘Abdul Muttalib, Sayyiduna Sa’eed Bin Zayd Bin ‘Amr Bin Nufayl and his wife Fatimah Bint Al-Khattab (who was the sister of Sayyiduna ‘Umar); the paternal aunt of the Holy Nabi Umm-e-Fadl (who was the wife of Sayyiduna ‘Abbas Bin ‘Abdul Muttalib) and Sayyidatuna Asma Bint Abu Bakr رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ تَعَالٰی عَـنْهُم also accepted Islam. Besides them, many other men and women had the privilege of becoming Muslim.1
This group of fortunate people who were the first to embrace Islam was known as ‘Sabiqeen Awwaleen’[سَابِقِین اَوَّلِین]. These were good-natured people and were seeking true religion. They were already fed up with polytheism, idol-worship, polytheistic traditions and practices of the pre-Islamic era of ignorance. Therefore, as soon as he صَلَّی اللّٰہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم invited them to the most truthful religion, they accepted his invitation with heart and soul, joining the fold of Islam.
By virtue of the Islamic preaching secretly made for three years, a group of Muslims was formed. Thereafter, Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ revealed the Ayah of Surah Ash-Shu’ara,2i.e.‘وَ اَنْذِرْ عَشِیْرَتَكَ الْاَقْرَبِیْنَۙ(۲۱۴)’to His Beloved Nabi صَلَّی اللّٰہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم , commanding him to warn his close relatives of the Divine retribution [i.e. punishment]. Hence, one day, while standing on the peak of the Safa mount, he صَلَّی اللّٰہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم called out the people of the Quraysh, saying: ‘یا معشر قریش’. After all of them gathered, he صَلَّی اللّٰہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم said, ‘O my nation! If I say that an army is hiding behind this mountain and is going to attack you, will you believe me?’ All of them replied in chorus, ‘Yes, we will definitely believe you because you have always spoken the truth and are trustworthy.’ He صَلَّی اللّٰہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم then said, ‘I warn you of the Divine retribution. If you do not believe in Islam, you will be given the Divine retribution.’ Listening to it, all the people of the Quraysh including Abu Lahab who was a paternal uncle of him became extremely angry and went away, talking nonsense.3
During the fourth year of the declaration of Nubuwwah, the Ayah of Surah Al-Hijr,i.e.
‘فَاصۡدَعۡ بِمَا تُؤۡمَـرُ’ 4 was revealed, commanding him to publicly carry out the order given to him. Hence he صَلَّی اللّٰہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم started preaching Islam publicly and condemning polytheism and idol-worship openly. As a result, the entire Arabia including all the people of the Quraysh and Makkah opposed him, causing harm to him and to Muslims permanently.5