Migration of the Muslims to Abyssinia.
As more and more persons in Makkah became Muslims, the Quraish lost their nerve, and intensified their persecutions against the Muslims. Seeing the afflictions on his companions, the Holy Prophet advised them to migrate to Abyssinia, the ruler whereof was known for his tolerance. When the first batch of the Muslims migrated to Abyssinia, Abu Bakr decided to stay in Makkah to be by the side of the Holy Prophet.
Boycott against the Banu Hashim.
Some time in 617 C.E., the Quraish enforced a boycott against the Banu Hashim, and the Holy Prophet and whole of Banu Hashim, except Abu Lahab and his family, were shut up in a pass away from Makkah. All social relations with the Banu Hashim were cut off and their state was that of a sort of imprisonment.
Three groups of the Muslims.
At this stage the Muslims came to be divided in three groups. One group comprised of the emigrants to Abyssinia. The other group comprised of the Banu Hashim who were ex-communicated. The rest of the Muslims formed the third group. They were not ex-communicated. but there was no relaxation in their persecution by the unbelievers.
Abu Bakr’s migration.
Abu Bakr belonged to the third group. He felt sad at the ex-communication of the Banu Hashim. As Abu Bakr looked around him he felt much distressed. With a heavy heart, Abu Bakr left Makkah one day with the intention to migrate to Abyssinia. He took the road to Yemen from where he was to sail for Abyssinia. When he had proceeded some five stages from Makkah, he met Ad-Dughna at Barka al Ghamaad Ad-Dughna was an old friend of Abu Bakr. He was the chief of the Qarah tribe, a section of the Quraish. The Qarah tribe was in alliance with the Bani Zuhra.
Ad-Dughnas’s offer of protection.
Ad-Dughna inquired of Abu Bakr as to where he was going, and he told him that he was going to seek refuge in Abyssinia as the Quraish of Makkah would allow him no peace. Ad-Dughna who had a high opinion about Abu Bakr said: “O Abu Bakr, we cannot suffer you to go from Makkah. You are an asset to the city. You are always keen to fulfill the needs of others. You are so good and noble. I take you under my protection, and you should come back with me to Makkah. Rest assured no harm will come to you.”
Back in Makkah.
Back in Makkah, Ad-Dughna declared that Abu Bakr was under his protection and that no one should molest him in any way. Abu Bakr built a small mosque by the side of his house. This was indeed the first mosque built in the history of Islam. In this mosque Abu Bakr would pray and recite the Holy Quran. Abu Bakr was tender hearted and he was so overwhelmed with the depth of the Word of God that while reciting the verses he would burst into sobs and tears. He had a sweet melodious voice, and his recitation from the Holy Quran had a melody which appealed to the heart.
Womenand young men of the Quraish watched him pray and recite verses from the Holy Quran with particular interest, and they felt that if a man of the status and standing of Abu Bakr could be so overwhelmed with these words, these must be the Word of God and should have a ring of truth about them.
Withdrawal of the protection of Ad-Dughna.
The Quraish felt nervous. They apprehended that if Abu Bakr continued his prayers in the open, he might attract some persons to him. Some of the leading Quraish went to Ad-Dughna and said, “Have you given him this protection so that he may publicly injure our feelings? He recites the Quran in a sweet voice, and we fear that he may seduce our women and youth to his faith. You should advise him to pray indoors.”
Ad-Dughna saw Abu Bakr and advised him that the most expedient course for him was to pray indoors and not to annoy the Quraish. To Abu Bakr there could be no expediency in the matter of faith. He said to Ad-Dughna “You are advising me as I am under your protection. What if I renounce your protection ?” “In that case I will have nothing to say” answered Ad-Dughna. Thereupon Abu Bakr said, “Under these circumstances I renounce your protection. The protection of Allah is enough for me.”
Ad-Dughna returned crest-fallen, and he told the Quraish that as Abu Bakr was no longer under his protection, they could deal with him direct in any way they liked.