Islam came as something weird. It started in a cave and spread to the corners of the world. The very first revelation came down upon the Prophet peace be upon him in the cave of Hira. The early converts to Islam were severely persecuted. The prophet peace be upon him started preaching in the outskirts of Makkah knowing that the Quraysh will not listen to him any further.
In the twelveth year of prophet hood, twelve men from Yathrib (present day Madinah) accepted Islam upon the occasion of pilgrimage. They met the prophet peace be upon him at Aqabah and took an oath to worship Allah and follow the teachings of Islam. This is known as the firs pledge of Aqabah. The prophet peace be upon him sent Mus’ab bin Umair to Yathrib to help them learn about Islam. He taught them the doctrines of the religion, and gave them practical guidance. He started preaching in Yathrib. Many people converted to Islam. Islam spread rapidly from house to house in the city. In an year’s time, Mus’ab (may Allah be pleased with him) returned to Makkah with glad tidings.
In the thirteenth year of prophet hood, over seventy converts from Yathrib came to Makkah during the pilgrimage season. They agreed to meet the prophet peace be upon him at Al Aqabah hill. Ka’ab bin Malik, a leader from Yathrib described the meeting as follows:
We set out for pilgrimage and struck a rendezvous in mid Tashreeq Days. We were accompanied by a celebrity and a notable of ours called ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Haram, who was still a polytheist. We disclosed to him our intention of meeting Muhammad (peace be upon him) and exhorted him to join our ranks and give up polytheism lest he should serve as wood for Hell in the Hereafter. He promptly embraced Islam and witnessed the serious meeting at Al-‘Aqabah.
That very night we slept with our people in our camps. After a third of the night had elapsed, we began to leave stealthily and met in a hillock nearby. We were seventy three men and two women Nusaibah bint Ka‘b from the Najjars and Asma’ bint ‘Amr from Bani Salamah. We waited for the Messenger of Allâh (peace be upon him) until he came in the company of his uncle Al-‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul Muttalib who (though himself not a Muslim), adjured us not to draw his nephew away from the protection of his own kindred unless we were fully prepared to defend him even at the risk of our lives. He was the first to speak:
“O you people of the Khazraj — the Arabs used to call the Ansâr(Helpers) Khazraj, whether from Khazraj or Aws — you all know the position that Muhammad holds among us. We have protected him from our people as much as we could. He is honoured and respected among his people. He refuses to join any party except you. So if you think you can carry out what you promise while inviting him to your town, and if you can defend him against the enemies, then assume the burden that you have taken. But if you are going to surrender him and betray him after having taken him away with you, you had better leave him now because he is respected and well defended in his own place.”
Ka‘ab replied: “We have heard your words, and now O Messenger of Allâh, it is for you to speak and take from us any pledge that you want regarding your Lord and yourself.” (Ibn Hisham)
They took an oath that they will obey in times of ease and difficulty alike, will give charity, do good and stay away from evil, fear none but Allah, and aid the prophet peace be upon him when he migrates with the promise of paradise for them.