Through Abu Bekr five converts were gained for the new religion, of whom Othman is the most important. His part in the establishment of the Islamic dominion was no slight one, but at the present he remains simply one of the early enthusiastic converts to Mahomet’s evangel, while he enwound himself into the fortunes of his teacher by marrying Rockeya, one of Mahomet’s daughters.
The conversion to Islam proceeded slowly but surely among the Kureisch; several slaves were won over, but at the end of four years only forty converts had been made, among whom, however, was Bilal, a slave, who later became the first Muaddzin, or summoner to prayer. During these four years the suras of the first Meccan period were revealed, and enough may be gathered from them to judge both the limits of Mahomet’s preaching and the attitude towards it on the part of the Kureisch.
Mahomet was content at this time to emphasise in eloquent, almost incoherent words his central theme—the unity of God. He calls upon the people to believe, and warns them of their fate if they refuse. The suras indicate the attitude of indifference borne by the Kureisch towards Mahomet’s mission at its inception. Wherever there are denunciatory suras, they are either for the chastisement of unbelievers or, as in Sura cxi, in revenge for the refusal of his relations to believe in his inspiration. Prophecies of bliss in store for the Faithful are frequent, and of the corresponding woe for Unbelievers. The whole is permeated with the spirit of the poet and visionary, a poetry tumultuous but strong, a vision lurid but inspiring.
The little band of converts under guidance of this fierce rhetoric became united and strengthened in its faith, prepared to defend it, and to spread it as far as possible throughout their kindred.
About three years after Mahomet’s receipt of his mission, in A.D. 618, an important change came over the attitude of the Kureisch towards Islam. Hitherto they had jeered or remained indifferent. Mahomet’s uncles, Abu Talib and Abu Lahab, represented the two poles of Kureischite feeling. Abu Talib remained untouched by the new faith, but his kindly nature did not allow him to adopt any severe measures for its repression, and, moreover, Mahomet was of his kindred, and he was willing to afford him protection in case of need. Abu Lahab jeered openly, and manifested his scorn by definite speeches. But as the bands of converts grew, the Kureisch found it undesirable to maintain their indifferent attitude. They began to persecute, first refusing to allow the Believers to meet, and then seeking them out individually to endeavour to torture them into recanting.