SOURCE: How did Islam first spread from Mecca to the whole of Arabia? In our world today there seems to be three answers to this question.
- Some say it spread through the beauty of Muhammad’s teaching and example.
- Others say that Muhammad spread Islam by the sword.
- Finally, others will say that they don’t know how Islam spread.
This article provides a brief survey of the different methods Muhammad used to spread Islam. The survey only consults established Islamic historical sources.
Teaching Islam and Reciting the Qur’an
When Muhammad first began to teach about Islam he did so privately and publicly in Mecca.
People began to accept Islam, both men and women, in large numbers until the fame of it was spread throughout Mecca, and it began to be talked about. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, p. 117)
When the Apostle openly displayed Islam as God ordered him his people did not withdraw or turn against him, so far as I have heard, until he spoke disparagingly of their gods. When he did that they took great offence and resolved unanimously to treat him as an enemy, except those whom God had protected by Islam from such evil, but they were a despised minority. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, p. 118)
Narrated Ibn Abbas: When the news of the advent of the Prophet reached Abu Dhar, he said to his brother, “Ride to this valley and bring me the news of this man (i.e. the Prophet) who claims to be a Prophet receiving information from the Heaven. Listen to him and then come to me.” His brother set out till he met the Prophet and listened to his speech and returned to Abu Dhar and said to him, “I have seen him exhorting people to virtues and his speech was not like poetry.” Abu Dhar said, “You have not satisfied me as to what I wanted.” So, he took his journey-food and a water-skin full of water and set out till he reached Mecca, where he went to the Mosque looking for the Prophet, … He then listened to the speech of the Prophet and embraced Islam on that very spot. (Bukhari: vol. 4, bk. 56, no. 724, Khan)
Muhammad also taught publicly at Arabian markets.
(A)t one of the fairs (markets); and while he (Muhammad) was offering himself to the Arab tribes as was his wont he met at al-‘Aqaba a number of the Khazraj whom God intended to benefit. … (W)hen the apostle met them he learned by inquiry that they were of the Khazraj and allies of the Jews. He invited them to sit with him and expounded to them Islam and recited the Quran to them. Now God had prepared the way for Islam in that they lived side by side with the Jews who were people of the scriptures and knowledge, while they themselves were polytheists and idolaters. They had raided them in their district and whenever bad feeling arose the Jews used to say to them, “A prophet will be sent soon. His day is at hand. We shall follow him and kill you by his aid as ‘Ad and Iram perished.” So when they heard the apostle’s message they said one to another: “This is the very prophet of whom the Jews warned us. Don’t let them get to him before us!” Thereupon they accepted his teaching and became Muslims. (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, pp. 197-198)
Muhammad taught at the resting places for pilgrims on their way to Mecca.