Mus’ab had kept his conversion to Islam a secret from his over protective and domineering mother Khunas Bint Malik, fearing her anger. However, when the news finally reached her, she predictably was enraged and, despite her love for him, she struck him and shackled him in a distant part of the house with a guard to prevent him from leaving in the hope that he would abandon his new ideas.
The fifth year of prophethood was a difficult time and the Muslims were facing increased persecution by the Quraish. So when the Prophet ﷺ instructed those without support in Makkah to migrate to Abyssinia, Mus’ab longed to join his brothers in faith and escaped his guard.
On his return from Abyssinia, Mus’ab presented himself to the Prophet ﷺ. He wore a simply garment, patched and torn, a far cry from the fine silks and brocades of his past. When Mus’ab met his mother, her heart softened at the sight of him and she accepted his decision. He advised her with tears in his eyes to accept Islam and the Messenger ﷺ, but she swore she would never enter Islam to weaken her senses and reject her idols.
All those who saw Mus’ab would lower their heads and shed tears at the sight of the pampered youth, now in pieces of cloth held together by thorns. The Prophet ﷺ said, “There was no youth in Makkah so petted by his parents than he. Then he abandoned all that for the love of Allah and His Prophet”. (2)
Recognizing Mus’ab’s spirit of sacrifice, noble character, charming manners and patience, the Prophet ﷺ commissioned him to assist the people of Madinah, then known as Yathrib. They had pledged their allegiance to the Prophet ﷺ at ‘Aqabah to call others to Islam and to prepare the city for the eventual migration of the Prophet ﷺ and the muhajirun (emigrants).
At that time, there were among the companions, may Allah be pleased with them, men of sterling character and nerves of steel; men who were older and more experienced in the ways of the world. Yet Prophet Muhammed ﷺ chose Mus’ab as his representative to open the hearts of the ‘Aws and Khazraj tribes of Yathrib. Mus’ab proved worthy of the Prophet’s ﷺ choice, dealing with the tribal mentality of the leaders and citizens of Yathrib with patience and sagacity.
Mus’ab entered Yathrib as a guest of Sa’ad ibn Zurarah of the Khazraj tribe, may Allah be pleased with them both. Together they approached the citizens of Yathrib, reciting the Qur’an and explaining the holistic message of tawhid (monotheism). Once Mus’ab and Sa’ad ibn Zurarah, may Allah be pleased with them, were sitting near a well in an orchard of Banee Zafar when they were approached by Usayd ibn Hudhayr brandishing a spear in obvious rage. Knowing he was the influential leader of the Banu Zafar tribe, Mus’ab said calmly, “If he sits down, I will speak to him”.
Usayd was angry at the success of Mus’ab’s mission and shouted angrily, “Why have you both come to us to corrupt the weak among us? Keep away from us if you want to stay alive”. At this, Mus’ab smiled and said softly, “Won’t you sit down and listen? If you are pleased and satisfied with our mission, accept it; and if you dislike it we will stop telling you what you dislike and leave”. Sticking his spear into the ground, Usayd sat down to hear them out. As Mus’ab began telling him about Islam and reciting portions of the Qur’an, Usayd’s expression changed. The first words he uttered were “How beautiful are these words and how true! What does a person do if he wants to enter this religion”?