Seerah episode 29: Pause and Continuation of Revelation

— Even before Muhammad (saw) was made a Prophet, there was a stone that would say salaam to him. That is one experience that the Prophet had.

— The Prophet had most severe dislike for soothsayers, who would deceive & manipulate people

  • He was so concerned about being afflicted by these people. He was worried that he’d become one of the soothsayers when he went on to spread Allah’s message.
  • Jibril appeared to the Prophet as he was coming down the Cave of Hira from Mountain of Noor. This is when Muhammad saw Jibril in his true form

— After the Prophet talks with Khadijah & she consoles him, they go to her cousin Waraqah & tell him about the divine revelation

  • Waraqah recites some poetry, “Oh Khadijah, if what you say is the truth, then what you say about Ahmad is that he is the Messenger. Whoever will follow him will succeed along with Muhammad’s success by repenting & turning back to Allah. The one who will oppose Muhammad & the one who will lead people away from Muhammad is the unfortunate one. There are two groups – one who stands by Muhammad and one who will be inside the pits of the Fire of Hell and they will be tortured therein. When they are called to the valleys of Jahannam, they will be struck, punished, & burned in the Fire of Hell. How absolutely perfect is the One that the winds blow by His Command, & everything that happens in time happens solely through His Command. His throne is above the heavens, & His decisions among His creations can never be changed.”

— After the Prophet received his first divine revelation, there was a time period that followed called Fatrat al-Wahi, the Pause or Break in Revelation

— But some scholars say that after the Prophet & Khadijah have their talk with Waraqah & they go back home, the Prophet immediately receives his 2nd revelation – the first few ayat of Surat Al-Qalam

ن ۚ وَالْقَلَمِ وَمَا يَسْطُرُونَ

مَا أَنْتَ بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ بِمَجْنُونٍ

وَإِنَّ لَكَ لَأَجْرًا غَيْرَ مَمْنُونٍ

وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ

فَسَتُبْصِرُ وَيُبْصِرُونَ

بِأَيْيِكُمُ الْمَفْتُونُ

  • “Noon. By the pen and what they inscribe, You are not, [O Muhammad], by the favor of your Lord, a madman. And indeed, for you is a reward uninterrupted. And indeed, you are of a great moral character. So you will see and they will see which of you is the afflicted [by a devil]” (Surat Al-Qalam, 68:1-6)
  • This was the first time that Allah sends down the disjointed letter in the beginning of a verse (the letter noon in this case). Its purpose is to catch the attention of the listener

— There is also a 3rd revelation

يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُزَّمِّلُ

قُمِ اللَّيْلَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

نِصْفَهُ أَوِ انْقُصْ مِنْهُ قَلِيلًا

أَوْ زِدْ عَلَيْهِ وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلًا

إِنَّا سَنُلْقِي عَلَيْكَ قَوْلًا ثَقِيلًا

إِنَّ نَاشِئَةَ اللَّيْلِ هِيَ أَشَدُّ وَطْئًا وَأَقْوَمُ قِيلًا


  • “O you who wraps himself [in clothing], arise [to pray] the night, except for a little – half of it – or subtract from it a little or add to it, and recite the Qur’an with measured recitation. Indeed, We will cast upon you a heavy word. Indeed, the hours of the night are more effective for concurrence [of the heart and tongue] and more suitable for words” (Surat Al-Muzzammil, 73:1-6)
    • The purpose of this revelation was to emphasize to the Prophet to have good character, but he will be only as strong as his night prayers are.
    • Allah is telling the Prophet to pray long hours during the night, instead of resting. Allah is also telling the Prophet that He will be sending a heavy Word down to him periodically. This is Allah’s version of “real talk” with the Prophet, that he’s going to have a lot more on his plate than he recognizes. This is important for him to realize because it’s an opportunity for the Prophet to connect & converse with Allah, an opportunity to recharge his spiritual batteries

— It was after these first 3 revelations that the Prophet experienced Fatrat al-Wahi, the Pause in Revelation

  • The duration of the Pause in Revelation is not mentioned in the Books of Hadith or in the Seerah
  • Some scholars state that the Pause was for 3 years. Some say that the Pause was as short as few weeks or a few days. Allahu A’lam (Allah knows best)

— Why would there be a Pause in Revelation?

  • It was to give the Prophet some time to acclimate to what had just transpired. Once he became comfortable with what happened, he was left with a bit of anticipation of what was yet to come
  • Us regular folk don’t have a frame of reference as to what it’s like to receive divine revelation.
    • We don’t know what it’s like to be squeezed by an angel – there’s no way we can realize that. What’s it like to have the words of Allah directly pierce into your heart from above the seven heavens? We have no idea
    • This is why we have no idea of how much of an overwhelming & traumatic experience this must have been for Muhammad. It must have taken him a few days just to recover, to relax, to think

— After the initial shock subsided, the Prophet then started to long for the revelations again

  • He had no doubt of his Prophethood & he had no doubt that he had experienced the Word of Allah
  • After a few more extra days went by, the anxiety settled in. The Prophet started to worry, “What if Allah is upset with me? What if Allah is angry with me? What if I displeased Allah? What if I haven’t lived up to expectations? When will I receive divine revelation? Will I receive divine revelation again?”
  • The Prophet started to get more & more nervous and worried

— In this state of nervousness & confusion & severe anxiety, the Prophet left his home with the intention to climb up the mountain. The narration states that if Allah was upset with him, then the Prophet would throw himself from the mountain

  • This could be misinterpreted, that the Prophet wanted to kill himself (of course he didn’t)
  • This could be a figure of speech – it could be an expression. To climb up the mountain to throw yourself from it is like “screaming from the rooftop” – why, why Allah are you upset with me?
  • Also, even if this was meant literally, certain expressions of emotions are subjective to time & culture. Some emotional expressions today may not have been acceptable centuries ago
    • The Arab society of a millennia & a half ago were very comfortable with powerful & emotional expressions. If someone had a tragedy, one of the ways they would express their emotions was by going to a public area (like going to the Haram) & ripping his shirt off. The person would scream & pull his hair
    • Imagine if someone did that now, in the modern era. He’d be seen as having a psychological emotional disorder, but back then, people were a lot more comfortable with these displays of emotions
  • There are some things within the Islamic mindset/worldview that will never be reconciled with modern frames of scientific reference, because they’re coming from irreligious perspective
    • Shaykh Abdul mentions the story of one his acquaintances, who is a professor of psychology. When the professor started his graduate studies in psychology, he had to take a psychological evaluation – he had to answer a questionnaire
    • One of the first questions was, “Do you think about death?” Now this doctoral student was a practicing Muslim, & obviously a practicing Muslim thinks about death all the time. The Prophet himself said, “Frequently remember death.” The professor marked yes
    • The following question was, “Do you feel like you’re not in control of your life?” That’s Imaan 101 – al-Qadaa wa al-Qadar (the divine will and decree of Allah, in which He knew, wrote, willed, and created all things in due proportion and according to a precise measure) The professor marked yes
    • When he got his evaluation analyzed, he was told that based on the questionnaire, he would be diagnosed as depressed. He said, “No, I’m not.” His professor, the head of the department of psychology at the university, said, “Yeah, you’re not, but this test says you’re depressed based on these two questions.”
    • The doctoral student explained to his professor that it’s a part of our spiritual exercises to think about death, & that it’s a part of our belief system that we’re not in control of our lives. We believe that Allah is in control of everything; we’re not
  • Therefore, you have to understand that the Prophet’s spiritual condition when he went climbing up the mountain to throw himself from it. He was willing to do anything to please his Lord
    • Sometimes, the simplistic approach to psychology can be very out of context. For example, if a man voluntarily ran into a burning building, you might think he’s suicidal. But if you step back & look at the big picture, the man is a firefighter & he went into the danger to save a baby inside a burning building, then all of a sudden, he’s a selfless hero, a role model

— That’s why the Prophet would go up this mountain out of anxiety & concern for Allah’s displeasure

  • Jibril appeared to the Prophet & told him, “You are indeed the Messenger of Allah; you should have no doubt about that.”
  • This calmed the nerves of the Prophet & he went back home

— A few days passed. The Prophet was walking through the marketplace in Makkah. He heard a sound from above him. He looked up and saw Jibril

  • This was the 2nd of the two times that the Prophet saw Jibril in his true physical form (the first was on the very first day the Prophet received divine revelation)
    • The 2nd time of seeing Jibril in his true form was even more overwhelming for Muhammad than it was the 1st time
  • Jibril was sitting on a throne, & he was as huge as before. He called for Muhammad’s attention
    • The Prophet was so shaken to his core that he felt like he couldn’t walk, so he sat down exactly where he was to regain his composure. He regained some of his breath & picked himself up & went home, shaking
    • The Prophet asked Khadijah to wrap him in a blanket. That’s when Allah sent down the ayahs form Surat Al-Muzzammil

— Sometime after the revelation began, Prophet became very ill & bed-ridden for 2-3 nights, & he didn’t receive any revelations

  • One of the idol-worshipping women of Makkah came to the Prophet & mocked him, “It looks like your buddy (Allah) has abandoned you.” Other narrations say that the women said, “Your shaytan has abandoned you. Your shaytan doesn’t talk to you anymore.”
  • In response, Allah said, “By the morning brightness and [by] the night when it covers with darkness, Your Lord has not abandoned you, nor is your Lord upset with you” (Surat Ad-Duhaa, 93:1-3) وَالضُّحَىٰ, وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا سَجَىٰ, مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ


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