Muhammad's first revelation

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According to Islam, Muhammad's first revelation was the event in which Muhammad was visited by the Arch-angel Gabriel who revealed to him a verse from the Quran. The event took place in a cave called Hira, located on the mountain called Jabal an-Nour, near Mecca.

According to biographies of Muhammad, while on retreat in a mountain cave (cave of Hira) near Mecca, the Arch-angel Gabriel appears to him and commands him to recite the first lines of chapter 96 of the Quran. Muhammad's experience is mentioned in the Quran 53:4-9:[1]

"It is a revelation which has been revealed to him (4) and taught to him by the great mighty one (5) One strong, then he stood straight (6) and he appeared on the uppermost horizon (7) He then came nearer and nearer (8) until he was as close to him as the distance of two bows, or even less. (9)"

Before the revelation[edit]

Muhammad was born and raised in Mecca. When he was nearly 40, he used to spend many hours alone in prayer and speculating over the aspects of creation.[2] He was concerned with the social unrest, injustice, widespread discrimination (particularly against women), fighting among tribes and abuse of tribal authorities prevalent in pre-Islamic Arabia.[3] The moral degeneration of his fellow people, and his own quest for a true religion further lent fuel to this, with the result that he now began to withdraw periodically to a cave named Mount Hira, three miles north of Mecca, for contemplation and reflection.[4] Islamic tradition holds that Muhammad during this period began to have dreams replete with spiritual significance which were fulfilled according to their true import; and this was the commencement of his divine revelation.[2][5] This created inclination in him to engage himself in solitary worshipping.[5]

The first revelation[edit]

According to Islamic tradition, during one such occasion while he was in contemplation, the archangel Gabriel appeared before him in the year 610 CE and said, ‘Read’, upon which he replied, ‘I am unable to read’. Thereupon the angel caught hold of him and embraced him heavily. This happened two more times after which the angel commanded Muhammad to recite the following verses :[6][7][8]

Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created-
Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood:
Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful,-
Who taught (the use of) the pen,-
Taught man that which he knew not.

—Quran, sura 96 (Al-Alaq), ayat 1-5[9]

After the revelation[edit]

Perplexed by this new experience, Muhammad made his way to home where he was consoled by his wife Khadijah, who also took him to her Ebionite cousin Waraqah ibn Nawfal. Waraqah was familiar with Jewish and Christian scriptures. Islamic tradition holds that Waraqah, upon hearing the description, testified to Muhammad's prophethood,[2][10] and convinced Muhammad that the revelation was from God.[11] Waraqah said: "O my nephew! What did you see?" When Muhammad told him what had happened to him, Waraqah replied: "This is Namus (meaning Gabriel) that Allah sent to Moses. I wish I were younger. I wish I could live up to the time when your people would turn you out." Muhammad asked: "Will they drive me out?" Waraqah answered in the affirmative and said: "Anyone who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should be alive until that day, then I would support you strongly." A few days later Waraqah died.[12]

The initial revelation was followed by a pause and a second encounter with Gabriel when Muhammad heard a voice from the sky and saw the same angel "sitting between the sky and the earth" and the revelations resumed with the first verses of chapter 74.

At-Tabari and Ibn Hisham reported that Muhammad left the cave of Hira after being surprised by the revelation, but later on, returned to the cave and continued his solitude, though subsequently he returned to Mecca. Tabari and Ibn Ishaq write that Muhammad told Zubayr:[12]

"when I was midway on the mountain, I heard a voice from heaven saying "O Muhammad! you are the apostle of Allah and I am Gabriel." I raised my head towards heaven to see who was speaking, and Gabriel in the form of a man with feet astride the horizon, saying, "O Muhammad! you are the apostle of Allah and I am Gabriel." I stood gazing at him moving neither forward nor backward, then I began to turn my face away from him, but towards whatever region of the sky I looked, I saw him as before."

There is doubt about the period of time between Muhammad's first and second experiences of revelation. Ibn Ishaq writes that three years elapsed from the time that Muhammad received the first revelation until he started to preach publicly. Bukhari takes chapter 74 as the second revelation however chapter 68 has strong claims to be the second revelation.[13]

First Wahy in Hadith[edit]

Ḥadīth (حديث) is literally "speech"; recorded saying or tradition of Muhammad validated by isnad; with Sirah Rasul Allah these comprise the sunnah and reveal shariah. According to Aishah,[14][15] the life of Muhammad was practical implementation of Qur'an.[16][17][18] The first and foremost exegesis/tafsir of the Qur'an is found in hadith of Muhammad.[19] Therefore study of hadith elaborates the importance and context of pertinent event. The event of first revelation of Mohammed is recorded in hadith via his wife Aisha

The commencement of the Divine Inspiration to Allah's Messenger (pbuh) was in the form of good dreams which came true like bright daylight, and then the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him. He used to go in seclusion in the cave of Hira where he used to worship (Allah alone) continuously for many days before his desire to see his family. He used to take with him the journey food for the stay and then come back to (his wife) Khadija to take his food likewise again till suddenly the Truth descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira. The angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet (pbuh) replied, "I do not know how to read." The Prophet (pbuh) added, "The angel caught me (forcefully) 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 has created (all that exists), created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous." (96.1, 96.2, 96.3)[20] Then Allah's Messenger (pbuh) returned with the Inspiration and with his heart beating severely. Then he went to Khadija bint Khuwailid and said, "Cover me! Cover me!" They covered him till his fear was over and after that he told her everything that had happened and 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 kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones." Khadija then accompanied him to her cousin Waraqa ibn Naufal bin Asad bin 'Abdul 'Uzza, who, during the pre-Islamic Period became a Christian and used to write the writing 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?" Allah's Messenger (pbuh) described whatever he had seen. Waraqa said, "This is the same one who keeps the secrets (angel Gabriel) whom Allah had sent to Moses. I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out." Allah's Messenger (pbuh) asked, "Will they drive me out?" Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said, "Anyone (man) who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly." But after a few days Waraqa died and the Divine Inspiration was also paused for a while.[21][22][23]


  1. ^ Quran 53:4
  2. ^ a b c Shibli Nomani. Sirat-un-Nabi. Vol 1 Lahore
  3. ^ Husayn Haykal, Muhammad (2008). The Life of Muhammad. Selangor: Islamic Book Trust. pp. 79–80. ISBN 978-983-9154-17-7. 
  4. ^ Bogle, Emory C. (1998). Islam: Origin and Belief. Texas University Press. p. 6. ISBN 0-292-70862-9. 
  5. ^ a b "vol 1". Maariful Quran. 
  6. ^ Brown (2003), pp. 72–73
  7. ^ Sell (1913), p. 29.
  8. ^ Bukhari volume1, book 1, number 3
  9. ^ Quran 96:1–5
  10. ^ Sell (1913), p. 30.
  11. ^ Juan E. Campo, ed. (2009). Encyclopedia of Islam. Facts On File. p. 492. ISBN 978-0-8160-5454-1. 
  12. ^ a b
    • Transated by Alfred Guillaume (1967). The life of Muhammad (sira of ibn ishaq). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0196360331. 
    • At-Tabari 2/207
    • The Sealed Nectar
  13. ^ Bennett, Clinton (1998). In search of Muhammad. Cassell. p. 41. ISBN 0826435769. 
  14. ^ Grade : Sahih (Al-Albani) صحيح (الألباني) حكم  : Reference  : Sunan Abi Dawud 1342 In-book reference  : Book 5, Hadith 93 English translation  : Book 5, Hadith 1337
  15. ^ Al-Adab Al-Mufrad » Dealings with people and good character - كتاب English reference  : Book 14, Hadith 308 Arabic reference  : Book 1, Hadith 308
  16. ^ Sahih Al- Jami' AI-Saghir, No.4811
  17. ^ Sunan Ibn Majah 2333 In-book reference  : Book 13, Hadith 26 English translation  : Vol. 3, Book 13, Hadith 2333
  18. ^ Grade : Sahih (Darussalam) Reference  : Sunan an-Nasa'i 1601 In-book reference  : Book 20, Hadith 4 English translation  : Vol. 2, Book 20, Hadith 1602
  19. ^ Şatibi, El-muvafakat
  20. ^
  21. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari 3 In-book reference  : Book 1, Hadith 3 USC-MSA web (English) reference  : Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 3 (deprecated numbering scheme)
  22. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari 3392 In-book reference  : Book 60, Hadith 66 USC-MSA web (English) reference  : Vol. 4, Book 55, Hadith 605 (deprecated numbering scheme)
  23. ^ Sahih Muslim 160 a In-book reference  : Book 1, Hadith 310 USC-MSA web (English) reference  : Book 1, Hadith 301 (deprecated numbering scheme)