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Even before Prophethood, Muhammad (pbh) never believed in polytheism and was displeased with the customs and practices of his people. He would often retreat to the mountains around Mecca to meditate. On one such occasion, when Muhammad (pbh) was forty, while in the cave of Mount Hira, a figure appeared to him. It was the Archangel Gabriel. Gabriel commanded him, "Recite!". Surprised, Muhammad (pbh) answered, "What shall I recite?". "Recite! O Muhammad." Then Gabriel continued, with what was to later become the first five Ayat ( Verse ) of Surah (Chapter ) 96, "Recite in the Name of thy Lord who createth. He createth man from a clot. Recite and thy Lord is Most Honorable, Who taught (to write) with a pen, taught man what he knew not". Thus, the first Divine Revelation and conferment of Muhammad's prophethood.

The first to believe in the Prophethood of Muhammad (pbh) and embrace Islam were Khadija and Muhammad's 10 year old cousin, Ali, son of Abu Talib whom Muhammad (pbh) had brought to his home to alleviate Abu Talib's financial difficulties by taking care of him. After further revelations, Muhammad (pbh) was able to instruct Khadija and Ali to perform the ritual prayers which are the basis of man's relation to God and his gratitude for the blessings from his Creator. For three years Muhammad (pbh) propagated the faith in secret and drew only thirty followers which then included Abu Bakr and Uthman, later to become the first and third Caliph respectively, Zayd ibn al-Harithah, Muhammad's adopted son, as well as Talhah and

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Zubayr, all prominent figures in Muslim history.

When the Divine Revelation, which was to become Surah 26 Ayat 214 came, "And warn your nearest relatives", Muhammad (pbh) invited forty of his kinsmen to a feast. There, for the first time he openly declared that The Gracious God had commanded him to call to worship Him. Three times he called out for assistance for this Divine Mission, but only Ali stood up to pledge support. Hence Muhammad declared to his audience to listen to and obey Ali and the gathering broke out into laughter, with taunts to Abu Talib that he was now to obey his teenage son.

Muhammad (pbh) then began to make his propagation openly. On one notable occasion he stood on Mount Safa of Mecca, which is today part of Islam's Holiest Mosque and cried out to his people who came gathering in large crowds. He asked them whether they would believe whatever he says. The crowd affirmed that they had never heard him utter any lie. Muhammad (pbh) then called them to submit to God. One of Muhammad's own kinsmen, Abu Lahab was insolent. He and his wife were to become great enemies of Muhammad (pbh) and Islam and display open enmity.

As the new Creed gathered more support, the Quraish chiefs became more hostile. A religion based on the Transcendent God and not idols contained in the Ka'ba which the chiefs controlled, posed, in their eyes, not only a religious but also political and social threat.

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The keepers of the Ka'ba approached Abu Talib, who was, unbeknownst to them, also a believer, to contain Muhammad (pbh). They were willing to even make him their king and confer him wealth if only he gave up his mission. Because his mission was Divine, Muhammad (pbh) said he would not concede, even if they put the sun in his right hand and moon in his left.




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