Seerah episode 27: Read. The First Revelation

— For 600+ years, the doors of revelation were closed

— Up until the point Muhammad received Prophethood, he lived a full life, buidling a home & working

  • He matured into a very intelligent & successful businessman. He married a great woman & was raising their kids
  • At this point his attention turned towards his society. This caused him to seek out isolation for periods of time to meditate & reflect on life at the Cave of Hira

— His habit of going & isolating himself in the cave was during the month of Ramadan

  • The established Sunnah of isolating oneself in the masjid during Ramadan began here
  • He found peace & tranquility in the cave. This was all preparing him to be able to receive divine revelation

— Badlul Wahi (The Beginning of Revelation)

  • Imam Bukhari mentions a narration, that Aisha narrated, “The very first thing that began with Prophet receiving revelation, was that he started to receive ‘true dreams’ – dreams that would materialize & come true in the morning.”
    • These dreams happened frequently. He saw both big & little things come true
  • He had also seen in a dream that an angel came & recited the word of Allah to him

— What’s the purpose of dreams?

  • Dreams are a form of divine revelation (e.g. Ibrahim being ordered to sacrifice his most precious possession)
  • Allah wanted the Prophet to learn to trust his heart, to not be frightened, to not doubt at any level the visions that were occurring to him
    • So that the Prophet would become internally focused, & that he would trust what is in his heart
    • After a while, Muhammad learned to trust
  • In sleep, he would see dreams that would come to fruition. As true as the morning is, so were the dreams

— Muhammad would seek out isolation in the Cave of Hira

  • At-tahannuth comes from al-hanathu, which means to “break or violate an oath”
    • At-tahannuth means to depart from something, to pull/draw away from something
    • Muhammad was drawing away from the corruption, the shirk, the idol-worshipping. It’s like when you are washing something that fallen into dirt, you have to take out the dirt. You can’t just pour water to the dirt to wash the thing.
  • This is how Muhammad (unknowingly) prepared himself physically, spiritually, & emotionally to receive divine revelation. To be able to receive divine revelation, take yourself out of the bad surroundings
  • He would spend many nights in the Cave of Hira before returning to his family

— Haqq means “stable”, something has a stable foundation

  • When Allah refers to the Qur’an and Islam as “haqq”, He means that it has a stable foundation
  • Prophet came with foundation of Islam

— The angel Jibril came to Muhammad with the divine revelation, and said, “Iqra. Read.”

  • The Prophet said, “I am not a reader.” This is explained in 2 ways
    • He was unlettered, meaning he did not know how to read & write
    • The Prophet was expressing his sentiment, “What do you mean, read? What are you talking about?” What do you want me to read?
  • Jibril completely smothered/embraced tightly Muhammad. The angel held on to the Prophet until “I had lost all my energy from trying to resist.”
    • Jibril released the Prophet
    • Jibril again said, “Read.” The Prophet replied, “I don’t read.”
  • Jibril then again embraced the Prophet tightly, until the Prophet could not resist anymore and Jibril released him again.
    • The angel said, “Read.” The Prophet replied for the 3rd time, “I don’t read.”
    • Again, the angel embraced the Prophet tightly for a long time before releasing him again

— This whole physical interaction was part of the preparation of receiving divine revelation

  • Rituals in Islam involved exertion. For example, Hajj is as much a spiritual activity as it is a physical activity. Both the spiritual & physical interact in a person’s imaan

— The Prophet would sometimes pray at the Haram. He couldn’t openly preach yet, but because of his uncle Abu Talib’s protection, the Prophet could at least pray at the Haram

  • Umar bin al-Khattab, who had not accepted Islam yet, once saw the Prophet praying, so he got close enough to the Prophet to hear what he was saying
  • The Prophet was reciting Surat Al-Haqqah. Umar heard the Prophet recite ayah, “Indeed, the Qur’an is the word of a noble Messenger” (Surat Al-Haqqah, 69:40)
    •  When Umar heard that ayah, he thought to himself, “No, it’s not! Get out of here. It’s just a bunch of poetry.”
  • Then the Prophet recited the next ayah, “And it is not the word of a poet; little do you believe” (Surat Al-Haqqah, 69:41)
    • That was like a slap in the face for Umar, who did not expect that. He thought to himself, “How did he know what I was thinking?! Oh, I know what’s up. He’s a soothsayer. He’s a magician. He’s spooky.”
  • Then the Prophet recited the next ayah, “Nor [is it] the word of a soothsayer; little do you remember” (Surat Al-Haqqah, 69:42)
    • Then Umar was even more surprised. He thought to himself, “This is not poetry. And it’s not magic stuff. So what could it be?”
  • Then the Prophet recited the next ayah, “It is a revelation from the Lord of the worlds.”
    • At this point, Umar just turned around & walked away, thinking, “You best forget about this.”

— This is the second time that Umar was faced with the truth of Islam, but he walked away from it

  • The first time was when Umar stumbled into a monastery in his drunken stupor & fell asleep there. He woke up when he heard a bunch of idol-worshippers sacrifice a goat. They were about to take the innards out of the goat to offer to the idol, when a voice from within the dead goat started reciting the Shahadah
  • Umar thought he was seeing things, so he turned around & fell back to sleep again

— Umar finally accepts Islam when faced with the Truth the 3rd time

  • He barges into his sister’s home to assassinate the Prophet. He picks up the Qur’an, & he reads the ayah of Surah Ta’ha, when that finally got to him. Umar needed to be ‘broken into’ spiritually before he could accept Islam, which is the same thing that happened to the Prophet when Jibril embraced the Prophet tightly before he could receive divine revelation

— The scholars say that you need to experience pressure & then be broken into. The third thing is to allow yourself some breathing room (which is why Jibril would release the Prophet momentarily before telling the Messenger to read again). For prophet, Allah gave the short cut version of the pressure. So that they are prepared quickly and strongly.

  • Now the Prophet is at the peak of his spiritual condition
  • It is at this point Jibril gives the Prophet his first revelation, Surat Al-Alaq
    • “Recite, in the name of your Lord who created. Created man out of a clot of congealed blood. Recite and your Lord is the most Generous. Who taught by the pen. Taught man that which he knew not” (Surat Al-Alaq, 96:1-5)

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