Arabia was submerged and engulfed by the violent and unwise practices of its people. The birth of the prophet in the “Times of Ignorance” was a sign of Allah’s mercy upon mankind. He had chosen yet once again to guide His people towards the right path through His messenger peace be upon him. The prophet peace be upon him belonged to one of the most famous tribes in Arabia. He was an orphan since his birth. His mother died when he turned six. After the tragic death of his grandfather too, Abu Talib, his uncle took him in his custody. The Prophet was an illiterate man and worked as a shepherd in his youth.
As the prophet peace be upon him neared the age of forty, he started spending most of his time in solitude. He would leave the crowded town and find himself a deserted spot up the mountains. He would be absent from home for as long as his provisions lasted.
Corruption, bribery and all notions of immoral ethics were deeply embedded in the Arabs of the time. The prophet would think about his people while he used to be alone. He was not able to find out a solution that could help his men. He would ponder upon nature, earth, sun and other aspects of god’s creation. It was one of those nights when the prophet sat in the cave of Hira, at Mount Noor when angel Jibreel came down to him. Close evaluation confirms that the event took place on the 21st of Ramadan, August 10, 610 C.E. The whole incident is mentioned in Sahih Bukhari as follows:
The angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, “I do not know how to read.” The Prophet added, “The angel caught me 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 until I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but I replied: I do not know how to 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 has created everything, who has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.” (96:1-3)
Then Allah’s Apostle returned with the Inspiration and with his heart beating severely. He went to Khadija Bint Khuwailid and said, “Cover me! Cover me!” They covered him until his fear subsided and then he told her everything that happened and he said, “I fear that something may happen to me.” Khadija replied, “Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your family, you help the poor and the destitute, you serve your guests generously, and you assist those afflicted by calamities.”
Khadija then accompanied him to her cousin Waraqa bin Nawfal, who during the time of ignorance became a Christian and he would write with Hebrew letters. He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight. Khadija said to Waraqa, “Listen to the story of your nephew, O my cousin!” Waraqa asked, “O my nephew, what have you seen?” The Prophet described whatever he had seen. Waraqa said, “This is ‘Namus’, i.e., (the angel who is entrusted with Divine secrets) that Allah sent to Moses. I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out.” The Prophet asked, “Will they drive me out?” Waraqa replied, “Yes, anyone who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should remain until till the day when you will be turned out then I would strongly support you.”
Waraqa Bin Nawfal died after a few days of the revelation.
This was the first revelation upon the prophet and the beginning of Islam. The next revelation that came down upon the prophet was Surah AlMudassir:
“O you who lies wrapped up, Arise and warn, And proclaim the greatness of your Lord. And keep your garments pure, And keep away from Ar-Rujz (the idols) And do not favor (others) expecting to get more, And be patient for the sake of your Lord.”
The duty of the Messenger of Allah was revealed in the following surah, conveying the message of Allah سبحانه وتعالى to His people.
Al-mubarakpuri, S.2008. The Sealed Nectar. Darussalam, second edition.