Revelation and how it came to Prophet Muhammad
Publish Date: Thursday,16 April, 2009, at 11:06 PM
Revelation and how it came to Prophet Muhammad
Allah communicated His word of guidance in His own way through some human beings known as Prophets or Messengers, who were continually sent to mankind, until the last Messenger. This word of Allah is called the Revelation or Wahy in Arabic, and was conveyed to the fellow human beings by the Prophets or Messengers (‘alaihimus salaam) who received it. Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) was the last messenger, who received the Final Revelation from Allah.
The word Wahy (revelation) occurs in a number of shades of meaning in the Qur’aan.
Guidance in natural intuition: So We sent this inspiration to the mother of Moses (Q. 28:7) Guidance in natural instinct: And thy Lord taught the bee to build its cells in hills, on trees and in (man’s) habitations. (Q.16:68) Guidance by signs: So Zakaria came out to his people from his chamber; he told them by signs to celebrate God’s praises in the morning and in the evening. (Q.19:11) Guidance from God: Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message) (Q.8:12) Guidance from evil: Likewise did we make for every messenger an enemy - evil ones among men and Jinns, inspiring each other with flowery discourses by way of deception. (Q.6:112)
Allah - Glory be to Him, who created the universe and everything in it, did not abandon or forget his creations after the act of creation. Instead He continues to sustain and direct it, in the way that He has created us and all that is around us. He has provided many forms of guidance to human beings from the first day of their existence on earth for the following reasons:
Allah promised to Adam and his descendants: Get down all of you from this place (Paradise) and whenever there comes to you Guidance from Me, and whoever follows My Guidance, there shall be no fear on them, nor shall they grieve. (Q.2:38) For every Ummah (a community or nation) Allah sent a Messenger to convey the revelation in order to guide them in the right path. (see Q.10:47) Messengers are sent, ...in order that mankind should have no plea against Allah... (Q.4:165) The Messengers were sent to mankind to convey the revelation of glad tidings to whosoever believes and does righteous deeds, and the warnings about the torment to those who reject. (see Q. 6:48-49)
Methods of Revelation
The prophets (‘alaihimus salaam) received the word from Allah in one of the following means as mentioned in the Qur’an. It is not given to any human that Allah should speak to him unless (it be) by inspiration, or from behind a veil, or (that) He sends a messenger to reveal what He wills by His Leave. (Q.42:51)
Inspiration in a dream, where it is related that Ibrahim (‘alaihi salaam) received guidance in a vision, while asleep, to sacrifice his son. (see Q. 37:102) Speech hidden away, such as God spoke to Musa (‘alaihi salaam) when he came to the fire (Q. 20:11) Words (speech) sent through angel Jibreel, the special messenger from Allah to prophets and messengers (‘alaihimus salaam). (see Q. 2:97) The messenger Jibreel (‘alaihi salaam) sent by Allah for the special purpose of bringing the Qur’an, and recited God’s words exactly to the last prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam).
Stages of Revelation
According to As-Suyuti on the basis of reports from Abdullah Ibn Abbas (radiallahu ‘anhu) as related by Al-Hakim, Al-Baihaki and An-Nasai, stated that the Qur’an was sent down in two stages.
1. From the Lauh al-Mahfuz, the ‘well preserved tablet’, to the lowest of the heavens (Al-Bait Al-’Izza) of the world, all together in Lailat-ul-Qadr (the Night Of Decree).
2. From the heavens to earth in stages throughout the 23 years of Prophethood of Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), starting from the Lailat-ul-Qadr, through the angel Gabriel (‘alaihi salaam).
Reasons Why The Qur’an Was Sent Down In Stages
As mentioned above, the Qur’an was revealed over 23 years, and not as a complete book in one single act of revelation. Some of the most important reasons for this are.
To strengthen the heart of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam), by addressing him continuously (see Q. 25:32) and whenever the need for guidance arose. (see Q. 17: 106) Out of consideration for the Prophet since revelation was a very difficult experience for him. To gradually implement the laws of Allah. To make understanding, application and memorisation of the revelation easier for believers.
Aisha (radiallahu ‘anha), the mother of the faithful believers narrated: “The commencement of the divine inspiration to Allah’s apostle was is the form of good dreams which came like bright daylight (i.e. true) and then the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him.
He used to go in seclusion in the
The angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, “I do not know how to rea d.” The Prophet added: “The angel caught me (forcibly) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, “I do not know how to read.” Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read, but again I replied, “I do not know how to read” or (what shall I read?). Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said: “Read, in the name of Your Lord, who created, created man from a clot. And Your Lord is the most bountiful.”
The narration goes on to tell us that the Prophet went back to his wife Khadija and recounted to her, his dreadful experience. She comforted him and both of them consulted Waraqa, Khadija’s relative and a learned Christian, about it. Waraqa told Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam), that he had encountered the one ‘whom Allah had sent to Moses,’ and that he, Muhammad - sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, would be driven out by his own people. (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
The Pause (Fatra)
After the first message thus received, revelation ceased for a certain period (called fatra) and then resumed.
Jabir bin Abdullah al-Ansari (radiallahu ‘anhu) narrated
while talking about the period of pause in revelation reporting the speech of
the Prophet, While I was walking, all of a sudden I heard a voice from the
heaven. I looked up and saw the same angel who had visited me at the
After this, revelations came strongly and regularly. (Reported by al-Bukhari)
Other Early Revelations
Many hold the view that Sura Al-Muzzammil (73) was the next revelation. According to others, Sura Al-Fathiha (Ch.1) was the third sura to be revealed chronologically.
According to some reports Sura 111, Sura 81, Sura 87, Sura
92, Sura 89 were some of the early revelations in Makkah. The revelation
The Last Revelation
Many Muslim scholars agree that the last revelation was Sura 2 Al-Baqara, verse 281. And be afraid of the Day when you shall be brought back to Allah. Then every person shall be paid what he earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly.
The scholars agree that verse 4 in Sura 5 Al-Maaidah This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed my favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. was revealed during the last pilgrimage of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). This information is based upon a hadith from Umar (radiallahu ‘anhu). As-Suyuti explains, concerning the verse 4 in Sura 5, that after it nothing concerning ahkaam (ruling) and halaal (allowed) and haraam (forbidden) was revealed, and in this sense it is the ‘completion’ of religion. However, revelation reminding man of the coming Day of Judgment continued and the last such revelation is the above Chapter 2:281.
The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) died nine nights after the last revelation.
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