5.6 The Nobles and the Common People of Mecca
At first Mohamed used to sit with the few people who believed next to the Kaaba teaching them the words of Allah. Many of them were clients and slaves who were considered of much lower rank than Quraysh. The dignitaries of Quraysh were willing to sit and amuse themselves by what Mohamed had to say, perhaps even to catch some gems of wisdom such as poets and bards repeated. They were as yet unaware of the gravity of the message or the power of the truth that was to pull down their whole social and economic system, and give them a new life-giving faith. Mohamed was one of them, but to sit in the same place with such common people was unthinkable to them, beneath their dignity, and an affront to their illustrious persons.
One day they asked Mohamed to disperse these people so that they could sit with him and hear what he had to say. Mohamed, though modest and kind-hearted, had been brought up in Quraysh tradition, where people were clearly divided into masters and slaves. Also he wanted desperately to make the leaders of the Quraysh believe, for if they did, the whole of Mecca would follow. He was about to acquiesce to their wishes when the following verses were revealed:
"And do not drive away those who call upon their Lord mom and evening, seeking His face. You are not charged with anything of their account, nor are they charged with anything of yours, so that you drive them away and become of the wicked." (6:52)
These words were most shocking to the Arabs. The implications were very great. They implied that these common people had rights equal to Mohamed. If so, then they had rights equal to theirs!
The holy verses continue:
"Thus have we tempted them with each other, so that they say, ' Are those the ones Allah has favored among us?' Does not Allah know best who the thankful are?" (6:53)
If the common people were given precedence in faith the nobles of Quraysh would say, "Is it possible that they were able to grasp the truth before us? That Allah has preferred them to us?"
It was a test for them that only the truly good could pass, that only the man free from arrogance and conceit would understand. Unfortunately many of them were not free of these traits and preferred their pomp and pride to the truth.
The rabble of Quraysh, at their masters' instigation, began to harass and disturb the Muslims during their prayers, so the Muslims sought privacy in the mountains. Whenever they wanted to pray they went off to the mountains. This lasted for three years until a young man, called AI-Arqam, who had entered into Islam and who had no one living with him except his aged father, offered to make his house a meeting place for them. The house was spacious enough for the purpose and Mohamed accepted. Now those who entered into Islam went to this house to swear allegiance to Allah and His Messenger.
Abu Bakr, who was very popular and well connected, began to call people to Allah, disregarding the danger of what Quraysh might do to his person or to disrupt his trade. Many noble men from Quraysh entered into Islam through Abu Bakr, and then went to Mohamed to declare their allegiance and learn more about religion. The number of Muslims began to grow steadily and the communications from Allah gradually taught them ideas and ideals far above anything their people or the world had ever known.