the prophet [pbuh] naturally initiated his sacred mission right from home and then moved to the people closely associated with him. he called unto islam whomsoever he thought would attest the truth which had come from his lord. in fact, a host of people who nursed not the least seed of doubt as regards the prophet [pbuh], immediately responded and quite readily embraced the true faith. they are known in the islamic literature as the early converts.
khadijah, the prophet’s spouse, the mother of believers, was the first to enter the fold of islam followed by his freed slave zaid bin harithah, his cousin, ‘ali bin abi talib, who had been living with him since his early childhood, and next came his intimate friend abu bakr as-siddiq (abu bakr the truth verifier). all of those professed islam on the very first day of the call. [rahmat-ul-lil'alameen 1/50] abu bakr, and from the first day he embraced islam, proved to be an energetic and most zealous activist. he was wealthy, obliging, mild and upright. people used to frequent his house and draw nigh to him for his knowledge, amity, pleasant company and business. he invited whomever he had confidence in to islam and through his personal efforts a good number of people converted to islam, such as ‘uthman bin ‘affan al-umawi, az-zubair bin ‘awwam al-asadi, ‘abdur rahman bin ‘awf, sa‘d bin abi waqqas, az-zuhri and talhah bin ‘ubaidullah at-tamimy. those eight men constituted the forerunners and more specifically the vanguard of the new faith in arabia. among the early muslim were bilal bin rabah (the abyssinian), abu ‘ubaidah bin al-jarrah from bani harith bin fahr (the most trustworthy of the muslim nation), abu salamah bin ‘abd al-asad, al-arqam bin abi al-arqam from the tribe of makhzum, ‘uthman bin maz‘oun and his two brothers qudama and ‘abdullah, ‘ubaidah bin al-harith bin al-muttalib bin ‘abd munaf, sa‘id bin zaid al-‘adawi and his wife fatimah - daughter of al-khattab (the sister of ‘umar bin al-khattab), khabbab bin al-aratt, ‘abdullâh bin mas‘ud al-hadhali and many others. these were the muslim predecessors. they belonged to various septs of quraish. ibn hisham, a biographer, counted them to be more than forty. [ibn hisham 1/245-262]
ibn ishaq said: "then people entered the fold of islam in hosts, men or women and the new faith could no longer be kept secret." [ibn hisham 1/262]
the prophet [pbuh] used to meet and teach, the new converts, the religion in privacy because the call to islam was still running on an individual and secret basis. revelation accelerated and continued after the first verses of "o you wrapped in garments." the verses and pieces of sûrah (chapters) revealed at this time were short ones with wonderful strong pauses and quite fascinating rhythms in full harmony with that delicate whispering setting. the central topic running through them focused on sanctifying the soul, and deterring the muslims from falling prey to the deceptive glamour of life. the early verses used as well to give a highly accurate account of the hell and the garden (paradise), leading the believers down a new course diametrically opposed to the ill practices rampant amongst their compatriots.