The series of persecution started in the late period of the fourth year of Prophet-hood and continued steadily and began increasing day by day and month by month. This was when the Prophet instructed his followers to migrate to Abbyssinia (Ethiopia) which was ruled by a fair ruler.
On Rajab in the fifth year of Prophet-hood, a group of 12 men and five women migrated to Madinah. Among them was Uthman bin Affan and his wife Ruqayya (the daughter of the Prophet). The news of their migration reached the Quraysh and they tried to trace their tracks, but in vain, they had already left the shore and reached their safe haven where they were received warmly.
During Ramadan of the same year, the Prophet went to the Holy Sanctuary where there was a group of the notables of Quraysh and began reciting Surah AlNajm. The Quraysh when the came into direct contacts with the words of Allah, prostrated unconsciously when the divine message took an effect on them. Now this was misinterpreted by the Muslims in Abyssinia that all of Quraysh had accepted Islam. Some of them made their way back home and on the way they came to know of the reality and returned back to Ethiopia. While others sneaked their way into Makkah.
However, due to the news that transpired to the Makkans about the good hospitality and warm welcome that the Muslims were accorded in Abyssinia (Ethiopia), the polytheists got terribly indignant and started to mete out severer and more horrible maltreatment and tortures to the Muslims. Thereupon the Messenger of Allah [pbuh] deemed it imperative to permit the helpless creatures to seek asylum in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) for the second time. Migration this time was not as easy as it was the previous time, for Quraish was on the alert to the least suspicious moves of the Muslims. In due course, however, the Muslims managed their affairs too fast for the Quraishites to thwart their attempt of escape. The group of emigrants this time comprised of eighty three men and nineteen or, in some versions eighteen women. Whether or not Ammar was included is still a matter of doubt.
Quraish could not tolerate the prospect of a secure haven available for the Muslims in Abyssinia (Ethiopia), so they dispatched two staunch envoys to demand their extradition. They were ‘Amr bin Al-‘As and ‘Abdullah bin Abi Rabi‘a — before embracing Islam. They had taken with them valuable gifts to the king and his clergy, and had been able to win some of the courtiers over to their side. The pagan envoys claimed that the Muslim refugees should be expelled from Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and made over to them, on the ground that they had abandoned the religion of their forefathers, and their leader was preaching a religion different from theirs and from that of the king.
The king summoned the Muslims to the court and asked them to explain the teachings of their religion. The Muslim emigrants had decided to tell the whole truth whatever the consequences were. Ja‘far bin Abi Talib stood up and addressed the king in the following words: “O king! we were plunged in the depth of ignorance and barbarism; we adored idols, we lived in unchastity, we ate the dead bodies, and we spoke abominations, we disregarded every feeling of humanity, and the duties of hospitality and neighborhood were neglected; we knew no law but that of the strong, when Allâh raised among us a man, of whose birth, truthfulness, honesty, and purity we were aware; and he called to the Oneness of Allâh, and taught us not to associate anything with Him. He forbade us the worship of idols; and he enjoined us to speak the truth, to be faithful to our trusts, to be merciful and to regard the rights of the neighbors and kith and kin; he forbade us to speak evil of women, or to eat the substance of orphans; he ordered us to fly from the vices, and to abstain from evil; to offer prayers, to render alms, and to observe fast. We have believed in him, we have accepted his teachings and his injunctions to worship Allah, and not to associate anything with Him, and we have allowed what He has allowed, and prohibited what He has prohibited. For this reason, our people have risen against us, have persecuted us in order to make us forsake the worship of Allâh and return to the worship of idols and other abominations. They have tortured and injured us, until finding no safety among them, we have come to your country, and hope you will protect us from oppression.”
The king was very much impressed by these words and asked the Muslims to recite some of Allâh’s Revelation. Ja‘far recited the opening verses of Sûrah Maryam (Chapter 19 — Mary) wherein is told the story of the birth of both John and Jesus Christ, down to the account of Mary having been fed with the food miraculously. Thereupon the king, along with the bishops of his realm, was moved to tears that rolled down his cheeks and even wet his beard. Here, the Negus exclaimed: “It seems as if these words and those which were revealed to Jesus are the rays of the light which have radiated from the same source.” Turning to the crest-fallen envoys of Quraish, he said, “I am afraid, I cannot give you back these refugees. They are free to live and worship in my realm as they please.”
On the morrow, the two envoys again went to the king and said that Muhammad [pbuh] and his followers blasphemed Jesus Christ. Again the Muslims were summoned and asked what they thought of Jesus. Ja‘far again stood up and replied: “We speak about Jesus as we have been taught by our Prophet [pbuh] , that is, he is the servant of Allâh, His Messenger, His spirit and His Word breathed into Virgin Mary.” The king at once remarked, “Even so do we believe. Blessed be you, and blessed be your master.” Then turning to the frowning envoys and to his bishops who got angry, he said: “You may fret and fume as you like but Jesus is nothing more than what Ja‘far has said about him.” He then assured the Muslims of full protection. He returned to the envoys of Quraish, the gifts they had brought with them and sent them away. The Muslims lived in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) unmolested for a number of years till they returned to Madinah. [Ibn Hisham 1/334-338]
From this it is obvious that the question and answer session between Jafar and Negus took place when they first arrived in Abyssinia
[Saifur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri. “Open Preaching.” Ar-Raheequl Makhtum. Second ed. Riyadh: Darussalam, 2008. 118-23. Print.]