Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Coming of the First Revelation

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was appointed as a prophet by Allah when he was forty years old. It was recognized that he was more inclined to think about Allah, to search for how to believe and worship Him after the repairs to the Kaaba and the al-Hajar al-Aswad had been put back in its place. Prophet Muhammad never showed any interest in the idols of the Meccan people or those of the other many Arab tribes. He came to the conclusion, using his reason and sense, that worshipping idols was of no use. Perhaps he was thinking like the small number of Hanifs who were trying to practice the monotheistic religion of Abraham. However, Muhammad was in agony because he did not know how or what to do about this issue and he began to withdraw into solitude. Starting a few years before his prophethood, in the month of Ramadan, like his grandfather Abdulmuttalib and some other Quraishis, he began to retreat to a secluded cave on Mount Hira.

When Muhammad ran out of food, he would go to the city, help the poor, circumambulate the Kaaba, take food from his home and return to the cave. From time to time, he would take Khadija with him. According to what Aisha said, during this period the Prophet began having "sadiq (lucid) dreams" and this period continued for six months; subsequently his dreams came to be realized. There are also accounts in the sources that state that during this period Prophet Muhammad heard voices greeting him as "Assalamu Alayka ya Rasulallah -Salutations to you O Messenger of Allah", but when he turned and looked around he was terribly worried as there was no one there, and these voices seemed to come from the trees and rocks. Due to the above-mentioned incidents, some of which have an extraordinary quality, it is possible to say that this period was a preparation process for the revelations.
In the year 610, during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan, when Prophet Muhammad was in Hira, Gabriel appeared to him; it is thought that this could have occurred on the twenty-seventh night and according to some accounts on a Monday morning. Gabriel informed Muhammad that Allah had assigned him as a prophet. This first revelation was reported by Prophet Muhammad as follows: "That night Gabriel came to me and said ‘Read (Iqra). I responded ‘I cannot read'. Upon this, the angel took me; pressed me until it was almost too much to bear. Then he released me and said ‘Read'. I again replied ‘I can not read' He embraced me again firmly and said ‘Read'. When I responded ‘What shall I read?' the angel embraced me till I had no more strength left and after releasing me the angel read these verses to me: ‘Recite in the Name of your God, Nourisher and Sustainer Who created man from a clot. Recite! And your God is the Most Generous Who taught by the pen, taught man that which he knew not" (Al'Alaq 96/1-5). After this incident, Mohammad became anxious and fearful; he left Hira and went to his home, went to bed and told his wife Khadija to cover him. After Muhammad woke up, he told his wife what he had experienced. Khadija told Muhammad that she believed in him and reassured him by saying; "Allah will never disgrace you. You maintain good relations with your kin, you bear the burden of the weak, you help the poor and the needy, you serve your guests generously, and assist those who are afflicted by calamity." Then she took Prophet Muhammad to Waraqa ibn Nawfal, her cousin. Waraqa was an old Christian who knew the Holy Bible. After listening to Muhammad, Waraqa replied that what had appeared to him was the angel who brought revelations to all the prophets and then added: "They will call you a liar; they will treat you badly. They will wage a war and drive you out. If I can live until then I will help you for the sake of Allah." After Waraqa stopped speaking, he leaned towards Muhammad and kissed him on the forehead. Both the Prophet and Khadija were quite relieved by the explanations of Waraqa and returned back home.

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