In his fortieth year, Muhammad (pbuh) left Mecca to spend Ramadan, the traditional month of retreat, in the cave. In the second half of Ramadan, Allah began to reveal His message for mankind through Muhammad (pbuh). This first Revelation occurred as follows. The Archangel Gabriel came to Muhammad (pbuh) in the cave and commanded him to 'Read'. Muhammad (pbuh) replied 'I cannot read.' At this the Archangel took Muhammad (pbuh) in his arms and pressed him to him until it was almost too much to bear. He then released him and said again 'Read.' ‘I cannot', replied Muhammad (pbuh), at which the Archangel embraced him again. For the third time the Archangel commanded Muhammad (pbuh) to read, but still he said he could not and was again embraced. On releasing him this time, however, the Archangel Gabriel said: Read: In the Name of thy Lord who createth, Createth man from a clot. Read: And thy Lord is the Most Generous Who teacheth by the pen, Teacheth man that which he knew not. The Holy Qur’an Chapter: 46 Verses 1-5
Muhammad (pbuh) repeated these verses, just as the Archangel had said them. When the Archangel was sure Muhammad (pbuh) knew them by heart, he went away. Now that he was alone Muhammad (pbuh) could not understand what had happened to him. He was terribly afraid and rushed out of the cave. Perhaps the cave was haunted? Perhaps the devil had taken a hold of his mind? In a state of confusion he returned home to Khadijah. When his wife saw him she became very worried as he began to shiver, as though in a fever. He asked her to wrap him in blankets, which she did. After awhile he recovered sufficiently to tell her what had happened at Hira. Khadijah believed all that he told her and with great respect said: 'Be happy, O son of my uncle and be confident. Truly I swear by God who has my soul in His hands, that you will be our people's Prophet.' Muhammad (pbuh), the Messenger of God, was eased by her faith in him, but after all that had happened he was exhausted and fell fast asleep.
Khadijah left the Prophet (pbuh) sleeping and went to see her cousin, Waraqah ibn Nawfal, to ask him what he thought about all that had happened. Waraqah was a very wise man who had read many books and had become a Christian after studying the Bible. He told Khadijah that Muhammad (pbuh) had been chosen by God to be His Messenger. Just as the Archangel Gabriel had come to Moses before and had ordered him to guide his people, so, too, would Muhammad (pbuh) be the Prophet of his people. But Waraqah warned that all the people would not listen to the Prophet (pbuh) and some would mistreat his followers. He must, however, be patient because he had a great message for the entire world. From that day on, the Archangel Gabriel came often to the Prophet (pbuh) and the verses he taught him, the message from God to man, were later written down, and are known to us as the Holy Qur’an, also known as the Furqan, differentiator between right and wrong and Umm Al Kitaab(mother of all Books).
Khadijah was the first to believe the Prophet (pbuh) and accept as true what he brought from Allah. Through her, Allah made things easier for the Prophet (pbuh). Khadijah strengthened him, helped him spread his message, and stood up to the people who were against him. Then Revelation ceased for a time. The Prophet (pbuh) was upset and unhappy, thinking that Allah had left him, or that he might have angered Allah in some way so that Allah no longer thought him worthy of His message. However, the Archangel Gabriel came back to him and brought this surah, or chapter, of the Qur’an:
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful By the morning hours and by the night when it is stillest, Thy Lord hath neither forsaken thee nor doth He hate thee, and verily the Last will be better for thee than the First. And verily thy Lord will give unto thee so that thou wilt be content. Did He not find thee an orphan and protect thee? Did He not find thee wandering and guide thee? Did He not find thee destitute and enrich thee? Therefore the orphan oppress not, Therefore the beggar drive not away, And as for thy Lord's blessing, declare it. The Holy Qur’an Chapter: 43 Verses 1-2
The Prophet (pbuh) began to speak secretly of God's message to those who were close to him and whom he could trust. One day, when the Prophet (pbuh) was outside the city, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to him. The Archangel caused a spring of water to flow out from a hill. He then began to wash himself in the running water to show the Prophet (pbuh) the ritual ablution to be made before prayer. Then the Archangel showed him all the positions, of Muslim prayer - the various movements and things to be said with each movement. The Prophet (pbuh) returned home and taught all these things first to Khadijah and then to his followers. Since then Muslims have continued to purify themselves before prayer by performing the ritual ablution and have followed the same movements and prayers first performed by the Prophet (pbuh). The news of Muhammad (pbuh) being the Prophet reached an honest, wise, and respected merchant of Mecca called Abu Bakr. He knew Muhammad (pbuh) well and believed he could never lie, so he went to find out for himself if the story were true. The Prophet (pbuh) told him that he had indeed been sent by Allah to teach everyone to worship the one true God. On hearing this from the Prophet's own lips Abu Bakr knew it to be the truth and became a believer instantly. Later the Prophet (pbuh) was reported to have said that everyone he ever invited to accept Islam showed signs of disbelief and doubt, except Abu Bakr; when he was told of it, he did not hold back or hesitate.
Because of his wisdom, honesty, and kindness people had always turned to Abu Bakr for advice. He was, therefore, a man of some influence and through him many people came to Islam. Among these was Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas, the uncle of Aminah, the Prophet's mother. The night before Abu Bakr came to visit him and tell him about Islam, Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas dreamt that he was walking in darkness. As he walked he saw the moon and when he looked at it he saw ‘Ali, Abu Bakr, and Zayd, the Prophet's freed slave, beckoning to him to come and join them. When Abu Bakr told him about the Prophet's religion, he understood the meaning of his dream and went at once to the Prophet (pbuh) and declared himself a Muslim. He understood that to be a Muslim means to submit oneself to Allah's Will and to serve only Him. The number of people following the Prophet (pbuh) began to grow. Sometimes they would all go out of the city to the mountains around Mecca to hear him recite the Qur’an and to be taught by him. This was all done very secretly and only a very few people knew about Islam in those early days. Three years passed and one day the Archangel Gabriel came to the Prophet (pbuh) and ordered him to start preaching openly to everyone. So the Prophet (pbuh) told the people of Mecca that he had something very important to tell them. He stood on a hillside in Mecca, called Safa, and they gathered around to hear what he had to say.
He started by asking them if they would believe him were he to say that an army was about to attack them. They answered that indeed they would, because he never lied. He then told them that he was the Messenger of Allah, sent to show them the right way, and to warn them of terrible punishments if they did not follow him in worshipping only Allah and none other. Abu Lahab, one of the Prophet's uncles who was among the listeners, suddenly stood up and said, 'May you perish! Did you call us here just to tell us this?' At this, Allah sent to the Prophet (pbuh) the following surah or chapter:
In the Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful The Power of Abu Lahab will perish, and he will perish. His wealth and gains will not save him. He shall roast at a flaming fire, and his wife, the carrier of firewood Will have upon her neck a rope of palm-fibre. The Glorious Quran, Chapter 111, Verses 1-5
Then the crowd dispersed and the Prophet (pbuh) was left alone. A few days later the Prophet (pbuh) tried again. A feast was prepared in his house for all of his uncles. After the meal he spoke to them and said, 'O sons of Abd al-Muttalib! I know of no Arab who has come to his people with a better message than mine. I have brought you the best news for this life and the next. Allah has ordered me (pbuh) to call you to Him. So which of you will help me?' All the men kept silent. Then Ali, his cousin, jumped up and said: 'O Prophet of Allah! I will help you.' Then the men all got up and left, laughing as they went because only one young boy had agreed to help the Prophet (pbuh).
His message ignored by most of the people and his uncles, the Prophet (pbuh). Continued to meet his friends secretly in a house near the hill of Safa. There they prayed together and he taught them about the religion of Islam. One day, when the Prophet (pbuh) was returning home, speaking with his followers, he met Abu Jahl, a leader of Quraysh, who hated the Prophet (pbuh) and his teachings. Abu Jahl started to insult him and to speak spitefully of lslam, but the Prophet (pbuh) made no reply and went on his way. Later, Hamzah, one of the Prophet's uncles, who was a strong and brave warrior of whom people were quite afraid, heard how his nephew had been insulted. Filled with rage, he ran straight to the Ka’bah where Abu Jahl was sitting among the people and struck him a violent blow in the face with his bow. Hamzah then shouted, 'Will you insult him when I follow his religion, and I say what he says? Hit me back if you can!' Some people got up to help Abu Jahl but he stopped them saying, 'Leave Hamzah alone, for by God, I have insulted his nephew badly.' From that moment on Hamzah followed the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh) and with his conversion to Islam Quraysh realized that the Prophet. Had a strong supporter and so for a while they stopped persecuting him.
Soon, however, the leaders of Quraysh became angry again, when they saw that the Prophet (pbuh) was going ahead with his teaching. A group of them went to his uncle, Abu Talib, who had promised to protect him. They told him to ask the Prophet. to stop attacking their gods and their way of life, and in return they would let him do as he wished with his religion. After a time they saw that there was no change, so they went back to Abu Talib and this time they told him that if he did not stop his nephew, they would fight them both. Abu Talib sent for the Prophet (pbuh) and told him what had happened, saying, 'Spare me and spare yourself; do not put a greater burden on me than I can bear.' The Prophet (pbuh) thought that his uncle might abandon him and that he would no longer have his support, but nevertheless he answered, 'O my uncle, by God, if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left in return for my giving up this cause, I would not give it up until God makes Truth victorious, or I die in His service.'
Abu Talib was deeply moved by this answer. He told the Prophet (pbuh) that he would support him for as long as he lived and encouraged him to go on spreading God's message. In order to get rid of the Prophet (pbuh) and his followers, his enemies started persecuting those Muslims who were poor or weak, or had no powerful friends. One such person was Bilal, the slave of Umayyah ibn Khalaf. His master would take him out into the desert, tie him up, and leave him in the sun with a large stone on his chest. Fortunately Abu Bakr was passing by one day and saw Umayyah torturing Bilal, so he bought him from his master for a large sum of money and then set him free. But not all persecuted Muslims were as fortunate as Bilal. Many suffered, but all of them endured it patiently, knowing that they were doing the right thing and that their reward in the life to come would be greater than any happiness they could find on earth.
"Whoever guides [another] to a good deed will get a reward similar to the one who performs it." Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)[Sahih Muslim]
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