The Quraysh idolaters persecuted early Muslims a lot. When their plans failed at times, they tried and attacking the most vulnerable of the Muslims i.e., those who did not have tribal protection. Those who did not have tribal protection were attacked, and at times murdered for merely abandoning their polytheistic beliefs for Islam.
Abu Jahl, one of the main Quraysh leaders was at the forefront of persecuting Muslims. Abu Jahl stirred up the Quraysh idolaters in persecuting Muslims. This is recorded in Ibn Ishaq (704 – 768 AD):
“It was that evil man Abu Jahl who stirred up the Meccans against them. When he heard that a man had become a Muslim, if he was a man of social importance and had relations to defend him, he reprimanded him and poured scorn on him, saying, ‘You have forsaken the religion of your forefather who was better than you. We will declare you a blockhead and brand you as a fool, and destroy your reputation.’ If he was a merchant he said, ‘We will boycott your goods and reduce you to beggary.’ If he was a person of no social importance, he beat him and incited people against him. … I said to Abdullah b. Abbas, ‘Were the polytheists treating them so badly that apostasy was excusable?’ ‘Yes, by God, they were,’ he said, ‘they used to beat one of them, depriving him of food and drink so that he could hardly sit upright because of the violence they had used on him, so that in the end he would do whatever they said.’ If they said to him, ‘Are al-Lat and al-Uzza your gods and not Allah?’ he would say, ‘Yes’ to the point that if a beetle passed by them they would say to him, ‘Is this beetle your God and not Allah?’ he would say yes, in order to escape from the suffering he was enduring.’” (Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah – The Life of Muhammad Translated by A. Guillaume, [Oxford University Press – Seventeenth Impression 2004], page 145)
Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya – Ibn Kathir (1301 – 1373):
“Sa’eed Ibn Jubayr narrates that he once asked Abdullah Ibn Abbas, ‘Was the torture that the polytheists (Mushrikeen) put the companions (Sahabah) through so severe that they would been excused if they had to forsake Islam?’ Abdullah Ibn Abbas replied, ‘Certainly. By Allah! The polytheists would beat one of the Muslims up and keep him so hungry and thirsty that he would be unable to even sit up because of his intense suffering. He was eventually forced to do whatever evil they asked him to do. They would torture him so much that he would even agree with them if they told him that Lat and Uzza were deities apart from Allah. In fact, the torture was so harsh that if a dung beetle was passing and they asked, ‘Is this dung beetle your deity apart from Allah? He would say, ‘Yes.’ They were forced to say this to save their lives because the torture was too much to bear.’” (The Life Of The Prophet Muhammad – (‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’) [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, Garnet Publishing – Copyright 1998, The Center for Muslim Contribution To civilization], by Ibn Kathir, volume 1, page 59)
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