Hazrat Abu Talib (‘a) took the Holy Prophet (s) under his protection after his (s) grandfather died. He also happened to be the Chief of the Elders of the Quraysh of Mecca.
The Quraysh were constantly warning Abu Talib (‘a) to control his nephew from spreading monotheism and deriding their gods, but he would silence them in his own courteous, but firm, manner. Islam went on spreading from household to household, from street to street, from tribe to tribe, but not without immense difficulties and obstacles placed in the path of the Muslims. The Holy Prophet (s) was never deterred by the threats he faced. However, he (s) suffered when he (s) saw the tortuous suffering of the believers.
As time passed, the Quraysh got unnerved with the growing influence of Muhammad’s (s) message, and called Abu Talib (‘a) to another meeting of the Elders.
They said, ‘We have respected your word and taken no action against your nephew. Now things are getting out of hand. He calls our gods helpless pieces of stone and wood, thus humiliating them, us, and our ancestors. We will tolerate this no more. We have come to warn you for the last time. If you do not stop him, we will no longer respect your leadership of the Quraysh, nor you. We have come to declare open war against you and your nephew from this day onward. Stop him or face our wrath!’
The elders of the Quraysh had never before, spoken so harshly to Abu Talib (‘a). He was aging and did not want to destroy the Hashimites by getting involved in a war with the Quraysh.
He called the Holy Prophet (s) and shared the threats of the Quraysh with him. He suggested he (s) should cease his activities for a while, to quieten down the seething Quraysh.
The Holy Prophet (s) spoke quietly, but firmly, ‘Dear Uncle! All I can say is that, if these people place the sun on my right hand and the moon on my left, and then ask me to stop conveying the Message, I will refuse to do so. I will not stop delivering the word of God till it is known to all, even if I lose my life in the process.’ The tears flowed down his (s) cheeks as he spoke. He got up and walked towards the door.
His uncle called him back and said, ‘If this is how you feel, continue your work. By God, I will protect you till my very last breath.’