This is from a mailing list I belong to:
As was the custom with the tribes of Arabia prior to Islam, people’s allegiances were to tribes under whose protection one was, which meant other tribes, particularly less influential ones, would avoid entering into a feud with anyone from a more noble tribe. The Prophet (s) belonged to the most noble of them all, the tribe of Quraysh, and within that tribe, the noble tribe of Bani Hashim.
After the death of his grandfather Abd-al- Muttalib it was Abu Talib the uncle of the Prophet (saw) who gave him protection. And when Muhammad (s) became a prophet, although his uncle did not accept Islam, he nevertheless loved his nephew very much and maintained that protection from the increasingly hostile Quraysh. However, Abu Talib died, and the Prophet (saw) sought protection from another of his uncles, Abu Lahab, who accepted his request very reluctantly, unable to refuse out of tribal custom.
However, this protection was considerably nominal as the Prophet (s) was to discover, and led on more than one occasion, to Abu Lahab inciting violence against the Muslims. It seemed the family of the Noble Messenger (saw), the tribe of Quraysh, had turned their backs on him, that there was no one to protect him in his (saw) mission, and that hope of gaining any other support was remote. The situation looked bleak for the young Muslim community who were suffering both persecution through exile from Makkah and now also economic boycott from the Quraysh, meaning they were desperately short of food. With no other avenues open, and seeing the suffering of his family and community, he (saw), he travelled on foot from Makkah to Ta’if, a day’s journey.
There was no other time when a noble prophet of Allah, the noblest of them all, was in a humbler state before people. And yet by the will of Allah, he entered the city of Ta’if seeking its leaders, hoping that they would accept Islam and help him. But they proved to be even more vociferous than the Quraysh. Hearing enough, the Prophet (s) stood to leave, but as he did the Noble Messenger (saw) was set upon by the slaves and children of Ta’if with stones, he ran, his feet cut and bleeding, he saw a garden, a private orchard, and sought refuge within its walls. Sitting under a tree cut and bruised, and perhaps at his lowest point, he turned to his Lord for ease and guidance. He had set out to Ta’if for the sake of God, for the sake of his religion, for the sake of His believers, and now it seemed all paths had been closed, where was he to go, who could he turn to for help?
At that moment the Prophet (s) made, what is considered, as his most beautiful dua’a to Allah, a dua’a of complete sincerity, grace abounding, noble eloquence and utter humility before his Lord. Here are his words, read them slowly, for in them you will find the complete truth and beauty of Islam, in them you will find the true state of man to his Lord, in them you will find your Lord, and in them you will find the best of all people, the Messenger of Allah (saw).
Dua’a at-Ta’if “O Allah! Unto You do I complain of my weakness, of my helplessness and of my lowliness before men. O most Merciful of the merciful. O Lord of the weak and my Lord too. Into whose hands have you entrusted me? Unto some far off stranger who receives me with hostility? Or unto a foe whom you have empowered against me? I care not, so long as You are not angry with me. But Your favouring help, that were for me the broader way and the wider scope. I take refuge in the light of Your countenance whereby all darknesses are illuminated and all things of this world and the next are rightly ordered, lest You make descend Your anger upon me or lest Your wrath beset me. Yet it is Yours to reproach until You are well pleased. There is no power and no might except through Thee.” (The Prophet Muhammad (saw)“.