At first Rasulullah began to preach secretly and quietly among his relatives and friends. The sincere support of his dearest friends and companion Hazrat Abu Bakar (R.A.) was a pillar of strength for him in his efforts.
Soon there was a small group of Muslims comprising of men and women, both young and old, and a few children. The fear of non-believers drove the Muslims to pray secretly in valleys and ravines of the surrounding mountains. For three years they practiced their 'Deen' in secrecy. Gradually, those who were disgusted with the practice of idolatry also came into the fold of Islaam.
In the meantime, during these three years, every group and society in the Quraish were discussing the new religion and scoffing at it in mockery.
The first violent confrontation came when some of the Quraish came upon a few Muslims in a hidden valley and forcibly tried to stop them from praying. Hazrat Saad-bin Waqqaas (R.A.) drew his sword and one of the Quraish was wounded.
Once Abu Taalib found the Muslims in salaat in a valley. He inquired about the new religion and Rasulullah invited him to embrace Islam. But Abu Taalib politely declined saying that he did not wish to forsake the religion of his ancestors.
Subsequently, Rasulullah was commanded by Allah to preach openly. When Rasulullah addressed, the tribes of Makkah from the top of Mount Safaa, Abu Lahab of the Quraish cursed Rasulullah and it was at this stage that Allah revealed Sura 'Lahab'. Twice again Rasulullah tried to address his own people, but Abu Lahab again scoffed and sneered at Rasulullah .
Thereafter, Rasulullah preached regularly at the house of Al-Arqam-bin-Abil-Arqam near the foot-hills of the Safaa Mountains. This place of learning was also referred to as 'Dar-ul-Arqam'.