Timing of Sahabah becoming Muslims

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The chronology of the conversion to Islam of the companions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad has attracted scholarly attention. It is an important topic in the seera literature (biographies of Muhammad).



The other early companion converts heard of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad's beliefs through the first converts, next converts and so on and even through the disbelieving non-Muslims, by word of mouth. It was primarily by word of mouth because oral communication was the primary means of spreading information. They heard of the open calls for the acceptance of Islam to the tribal leaders, calling to the worship of One God instead of many, critiquing their society, proposing solutions to various problems and requesting a collective reorientation of their dark-age society based on an Islamic worldview. [1] :159–182,327–331

Earliest converts

The first converts to Islam at the time of Muhammad were: [1] :153–160 [2] :38–42

  1. Khadija bint Khuwaylid - First person to convert and first free female convert. [1] :153–154 [2] :38–39
  2. Ali ibn Abi Talib - First free male child in Muhammad's family to convert. [1] :154–155 [2] :40
  3. Zayd ibn Harithah - First freed slave male convert. [1] :155–156 [2] :41
  4. Abu Bakr - First free adult male and nobleman to accept Islam and also the first outside the clan of Hashim among the Quraysh. [1] :158–160 [2] :41

Identity of the first male Muslim

There is disagreement among Muslims about the identity of the first male convert to Islam. A few of the close relatives and friends of the Islamic prophet Muhammad were the first to believe in his divine message, including his wife, Khadija, his young cousin, Ali, his adopted son, Zayd ibn Harithah, and his friend, Abu Bakr.

A number of sources, including ibn Ishaq, identify Ali, aged about ten, as the first male to embrace Islam. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] Al-Tabari also includes other accounts that make the same claim about Zayd ibn Harithah or Abu Bakr. [8] That these contradictory accounts are affected by later Shia and Sunni preferences is clear, though the earliest existing records seem to place Ali before Abu Bakr. [9]

In view of his young age, the significance of Ali's Islam has been questioned by some. [10] Nevertheless, three years later, when Muhammad presented Islam to his relatives at the feast of Dhul Asheera, Ali was the only relative who offered his help to Muhammad. According to ibn Ishaq and al-Tabari, Muhammad then announced Ali as his brother, trustee, and successor, a statement that was immediately downplayed as insignificant by Abu Lahab, Muhammad's uncle and a staunch polytheist. [11] [12] [13] [14] [15]

Similarly, the author W. Watt suggests that Abu Bakr's status after Muhammad's death might have been reflected back into the early Islamic records. [10] For instance, al-Tabari also includes the account that more than fifty men and women converted to Islam before Abu Bakr. [16]

Sunni and Shia views

Various Sunni sources, including Tarikh al-Tabari, often list contradictory accounts about the identity of the first male Muslim. [10] [17] Earlier sources tend to place Ali before Abu Bakr and it has been suggested that Abu Bakr's status as the first caliph might have been reflected back into the early years of Islam in order to support his succession to Muhammad. [10] [9]

Shia sources identify the young Ali as the first male Muslim. [18] [19] A number of Shia hadiths add that Ali was never a polytheist in his life and introduce this quality as a necessary requirement for succession to prophets, in line with Q2:124 and Q31:13. [20] [21] [22]

Other conversions

Some other early converts were:

See also

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