All efforts of Quraish failed to stop the spread of Islam, this made them act even more violently. The first thing they did was to stop Prophet Muhammad from entering the Kaaba. They also stopped people from outside Makkah meet them. The persecution of the weak and poor intensified making lives much difficult to live.
Seeing this tragic plight of the Muslims, Prophet Muhammad allowed them to leave for Abyssinia (modern day Ethipia), then under the control of Christians. In the month of Rajab, 5th year of Prophethood eleven men and four women left Makkah for Abyssinia. They secretly reached port of Shuaibah where they boarded a ship to Abyssinia.
Among those migrants were, Usman bin Affan, his wife Ruqayyah (daughter of Prophet Muhammad), Hudhaifah bin Utbah, Usman bin Mazun, Abdullah bin Masud, Abdur Rahman bin Auf, Zubair bin Al-Awwam, Musab bin Umair, Amir bin Rabiah and Sohail bin Baida. These people belonged to renowned and powerful tribes which make it clear beyond doubt that not only the weak but also the strong had become the target of their tortures.
As this initial group of people found peace in Abyssinia, others later followed suit. A few months after migration, the Muslims came to know that most of the Quraish population had turned Muslims and the remaining made peace with the Muslims. Makkah was no longer a risky place for them. When a group went back to Makkah they found that this news was baseless and they came back to Abyssinia with a larger group.
As more Makkans started to leave for Abbysinia and living there in peace, the disbelievers feared that an organized group outside Makkah, one day will pose a great danger to them. Thus they dispatched a delegation of Amr bin Al-As and Abdullah bin Rabiah to Negus king of Abyssinia.
This delegation was sent with costly gift for the king and his courtiers. After being permitted into the court, they first presented their gifts and then requested the king to hand over some of their slaves who had come to his country after joining a new faith which is against the faith of their ancestors.
The king promised to look into their demands only after investigating the matter. The king then sent for the Muslims to come to his court and inquired about their new faith. On behalf of the Muslims, Jafar bin Abu Talib moved forward to explain to Negus the truth about the new faith in a remarkable speech to the king.
“O King, we are people plunged in ignorance. We worshiped idols, ate dead animals and we committed abominations. We broke natural ties, we ill treated our neighbors and our strong devoured the weak. We lived this until Allah the almighty raised among us a Propher of whose noble birth and lineage, truthfullness, honesty and purity we all were aware. “
“He invited use to acknowledge the Oneness of Allah and to worship Him. He enjoined us to speak the truth, to redeem our pledges, to be kind and considerate to our relatives and neighbors. He forbade us every vice, bloodshed, shamelessness, lies and deceit. He asked use not to encroach upon the belongings of our orphans and not to vilify chaste women. He ordered us to offer prayers. We acknowledged Prophet Muhammad and believed in him. Because of this our people were estranged and they persecuted us.”
“So, when they tortured us and tormented us under their tyranny, we fled to your country. We have come here to your country seeking your protection and we do hope that we shall not be dealt with unjustly.”
Negus listened patiently to Jafar bin Abu Talib. Then he asked him if he had something brought by his Prophet (PBUH) from God. On this Jafar recited the opening verses of Surah Maryam. Tears started flowing from the eyes of Negus and his courtiers. Negus remarked, “This and the Torah of Prophet Musa” are radiations from the save Heavenly Light.”
The Quraish tried their last attempt and said, “O King, they are opponents of Jesus too.“, wanting the Christian king to grow angry at the Muslims. Directly came the reply from Jafar bin Abu Talib, “Not at all. The fact is rather, He is the slave of Allah and His Messenger.” Negus said: “This belief is correct to the core and the Gospel also means the same.”
Negus sent back the envoys of Quraish empty handed and refused to give the Muslims up to them. The gifts of Quraish were returned as well. This event happened in the sixth year of Prophethood.