The Revelation of the Holy Quran

Heidi Mahmoud Kheyamy

24 Mar 2018

It is a core belief in Islamic creed that the Holy Quran is the words of Allah Almighty, in accordance with the holy verse: “The revelation of the Qur'an is from Allah, the Exalted in Might, the Wise. Indeed, We have sent down to you the Book, [O Muhammad], in truth. So worship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion.” [Az-Zumar, 1, 2]

The Divined Book was first revealed to the Messenger of the Allah (PBUH) in the cave of Hira at the age of 40. It is evident that the Holy Quran is the miracle of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He was illiterate and yet had the ability to recite the Holy verses to his people so they would worship Allah and become Muslims.

The revelation of the Holy Quran went through three stages. The first stage was being inscribed in the Preserved Slate, as Allah Says: “But this is an honored Qur'an. [Inscribed] in a Preserved Slate.” [Al-Buruj, 21, 22.]. The one that followed was being inspired as a whole in the House of Might (Baytul-Ezzah), which is in the heaven of this world, according to Allah’s Saying: “Indeed, We sent the Qur'an down during the Night of Decree.” [Al-Qadr, 1]. Finally, the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in parts by the angel Jibril as Allah Says: “The Trustworthy Spirit has brought it down. Upon your heart, [O Muhammad] - that you may be of the warners -” [Ash-Shu’ara, 193, 194]

The Beginning of the Revelation

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 on his 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) 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 bin 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 Jibril) 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.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 3, Book 1, Hadith 3]

Since the first verse of the Holy Quran was revealed when the Messenger of Allah was 40, and it is well known that he passed away at the age of 63, it is clear that the duration of the revelation of the Holy Quran was 23 years. It is mentioned that the revelation in Makkah had been for 13 years while it had been for 10 years in Al-Madinah. For this reason, some chapters of the Holy Quran are Makkeyah, i.e., related to Makkah, and the others are Madaneyah - related to Al-Madinah.

The first verse to be revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), as it is mentioned above, in the cave of Hira by Jibril the angel, was: "Recite in the name of your Lord who created -" [Al-‘Alaq, 1]

On the other hand most of the Muslim theologians agreed that the last verse of the Holy Quran that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was: “And fear a Day when you will be returned to Allah. Then every soul will be compensated for what it earned, and they will not be treated unjustly.” [Al-Baqarah, 281]

Unlike the Torah which was revealed as a whole to the Messenger of Allah, Moses (PBUH), the Holy Quran was revealed in parts, due to the fact that it was inspired in different occasions and its verses were revealed for certain incidents. Allah Says: “And those who disbelieve say, "Why was the Qur'an not revealed to him all at once?" Thus [it is] that We may strengthen thereby your heart. And We have spaced it distinctly.” [Al-Furqan, 32]. The Divined Book tells the stories of the Messengers of Allah (PBUTh) who preceded the last Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (PBUH) to give him support and strength while he was facing enemies of Islam and calling people to embrace Islam.

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