The death of Abu Talib signaled the beginning of a difficult period for the Prophet. None of the Qurayshites dared touch the Prophet (Peace be upon him) during the lifetime of Abu Talib, but now the restraint was gone. In one instance, dust was thrown over his head. And to make matters far worse, the Quraysh, moved by the desire to impose themselves upon the Prophet (Peace be upon him), insulted and mocked at him and made caustic remarks on Islam. When the pagans persisted with their mockery and sarcasm as well as resolute behaviour, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) thought of going to Ta'if to seek the help of Thaqif.(17) The Prophet (Peace be upon him) intended to invite them to Islam for he believed that they would receive his message with sympathy. His expectation was apparently well grounded as he had spent his childhood with Bani S'ad who were settled near Ta'if.
Ta'if was a delightful city, only next to Mecca in its population and prosperity, holding an important position in the Peninsula as alluded to in this verse of the Qur'an.
"And they say: If only this Qur'an had been revealed to some great man of the two towns (Mecca and Ta'if)?" [Qur'an 43:31]
Taif was also a religious center since pilgrims from every part of the country visit its so-called "Temple of al-Lat" and thus, it competed with Mecca in such respect for the latter housed Hubal, the chief deity of Arabia. Ta'if was, as it still is today, the summer resort of the Meccan aristocracy. An Umayyad poet, 'Umar Ibn Rabi'a said about his beloved:
"Winter in Mecca, living in clover, In Ta'if she spends the summer."
The inhabitants of Ta'if, endowed with diversified large farms and vineyards, were wealthy and prosperous. They had become conceited and boastful embodying the following description of the Qur'anic verse:
"And we sent not unto any township a Warner, but it's pampered ones declared: Lo! we are disbeliever's in that which ye bring unto us. And they say: We are more (than you) in wealth and children. We are not the punished!" [Qur'an 35:34-35]
In Taif, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) first met the chiefs and leaders of Thaqif whom he invited to accept Islam. They were, however, rude and discourteous in their treatment of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Not being content with their insolent reply, they even stirred up some gangs of the town to harass him. These riff-raffs followed the Prophet (Peace be upon him), abusing and crying and throwing stones on him, until he was compelled to take refuge in an orchard. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) consequently had to endure even more obstacles in Ta'if than he had to face in Mecca. These jerks based on either side of the path threw stones at him until his feet were injured and smeared with blood. These oppressions grievously dejected the Prophet (Peace be upon him), whereby being in such a state of depression, a prayer citing his helplessness and pitiable condition and seeking the aid of God spontaneously came thru his lips:
"O Allah", said the Prophet, "To Thee I complain of my weakness, resourcelessness and humiliation before the people. Thou art the Most Merciful, the Lord of the weak and my Master. To whom wilt thou confide me? To one estranged, bearing ill will, or, an enemy given power over me? If Thou art not worth on me, I care not, for Thy favor is abundant upon me. I seek refuge in the light of Thy countenance by which all darkness is dispelled and every affair of this world and the next is set right, lest Thy anger should descend upon me or Thy displeasure light upon me. I need only thy pleasure and satisfaction for only Thou enablest me to do good and evade the evil. There is no power and no might save in thee."
The Lord then sent the angel of mountains who sought the Prophet's (Peace be upon him) permission to join together the two hills between which Ta'if was located but the Messenger of God (Peace be upon him) replied, "No, I hope God will bring forth from their loins people who will worship God alone, associating nothing with Him." (Muslim, Kitab-ul-Jihad).
Moved to compassion by the grief of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), 'Utbah and Shayba Ibn Rabi'a sent for 'Addas, one of their young Christian slaves, and told him to take a bunch of grapes on a platter for the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to which the bondman obeyed. While in the Prophet's presence, Addas observed his kind demeanor that compelled him to talk to him and instantly professed his faith in Allah and His Prophet (Peace be upon him). (18)
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) then returned to Mecca where the Quraysh were as bitterly opposed to him as ever, deriding, annoying and assailing him day after day