By the time the Prophet peace be upon him completed the fortieth year of his life, the world was standing on the brink of an abyss of fire, and the entire human race was at the verge of committing suicide. It was at this darkest moment in the history of mankind, when the first blush of the incense-breathing morn announced a brightening future for humanity. The opening eyelids of Prophet hood rang down the curtain on the glooming destiny of the unfortunate, dying world. The settled law of the Merciful God is that when the sable darkness of mans own doing drives him to despair, a star of hope appears again as the parent of faith, hope and cheerfulness so as to wipe away his tears.
The forces of darkness and ignorance, superstition and paganism had thrown their weight around the world and crushed the soul of man under an iron heel. It was but natural that the emptiness of life and the corrupt faith of the people around the Prophet peace be upon him had made him agitated and restless, and he sought a higher aim, a glimmer of guidance from the Lord, Most High. Furthermore, it seemed as if some celestial voice summoned him to the wakeful nights in preparation for the great responsibility about to be thrust upon him. Often, he was seen wandering through the countryside, far away from the bustling city of Mecca, lost in introspection and solitude of his own soul, for this imparted him a sense of peace, tranquility and contentment. He also frequently immersed himself to the barren desert and wild mountains that are laden with numerous caverns but devoid of habitation. And when he passed through them he clearly heard the salutation; Peace unto thee, O Prophet of Allah, but when he turned to his right and left and looked behind him, he saw naught but trees and stones. (11)
IN THE CAVE OF HIRA
Verily, often the Prophet peace be upon him preferred the solitude of Cave Hira where he remained for as many days as the provision with him required, spending his nights in vigils and prayers, in the manner he thought reminiscent of the way of Ibrahim peace be upon him. (12)
It was the 17th Ramadan/ 6th August, 610 AD of the year following the fortieth year of the Prophet peace be upon him. The Prophet of God peace be upon him was wide-awake and fully conscious when the Angel Gabriel came to him and said: Read. The Prophet answered truthfully, I cannot read. The Prophet relates that the Angel took and pressed him until he was distressed, after which he released him and said again, Read. The Prophet replied for the second time, I cannot read. The Angel again pressed him tightly until he felt squeezed and then letting him go, said, Read. When the Prophet peace be upon him replied once again, I cannot read, he took him and pressed tightly a third time in the same manner. He then let the Prophet peace be upon him go and said:
Read (O Muhammad) in the name of thy Lord who,
createth man from a clot. Read: and thy Lord is the Most Bounteous,
Who teacheth by the pen, Teacheth man that which he knew not.
[Qur'aan 96:1-5] (Ibn Kathir, Vol. I, p. 392)
Dizzy and frightened by the strange experience which had never occurred to him earlier or having not heard of the same prior incident, the Messenger of God peace be upon him came back with verses, his heart trembling, and went to Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her) and said: Wrap me up, wrap me up!" for he still felt horrified himself.
Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her) asked the reason for the Prophet's peace be upon him restlessness and the latter told her what had happened. Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her) was intelligent and prudent and had heard a great deal about the messengers of God, prophethood and angels from her cousin Waraqa Ibn Naufal (who had embraced Christianity and familiarized the Torah and Gospels). She was herself dissatisfied with the pagan cult of the Meccans like several other enlightened ones who had broken away from the idol worship.
Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her) was the wife of the Prophet peace be upon him. She had spent many years with him as the closest companion and knew him like she knew herself. By that alliance, Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her) became the most reliable and credible testament of the nobility of her husbands character. Worthiness of his moral fiber had convinced her that succor of the Lord would in any case stand by such a man. She knew in her heart of heart that the good grace of God could never allow one so high-minded, truth-loving, trustworthy and upright man such as her husband, to be possessed by a jinn or a devil. And so she assured him with domineering self-confidence: By no means; I swear to God that He would never embarrass you. Because you consolidate and salvage relationships, you speak the truth, you bear peoples burdens, you help the destitute, you entertain guests and you relieved the pain and grief suffered for the sake of truth. (Mishkat al-Masabih, Vol. IV, p. 1253)
PREDICTION OF WARAQA IBN NAWFAL
Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her) had tried to comfort and encourage her husband on account of what she thought was correct or on the basis of her own knowledge and understanding. But the matter was serious, crucial and imperative. She had no peace of mind until she had consulted someone knowledgeable of the revealed religions, their history and scriptures, as well as the biography of the earlier Prophet's of God (Peace Be Upon Them). Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her) wished to know for sure what had befallen her husband.
Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her) knew that Waraqa Ibn Naufal was the man who could clarify the matter. She took the Prophet peace be upon him to Waraqa and when the Prophet peace be upon him told him what he had seen and heard, Waraqa cried out, Verily by Him in whose hand is Waraqas soul, Lo, thou art the Prophet of this people. There hath come unto thee the greatest Namus, (Archangel Gabriel) who came unto Moses at his time. A day will come when thou wilt be called a liar, thy people wilt maltreat thee, cast thee out and fight against thee. The Prophet was surprised to hear Waraqas premonitions for his fellow citizens had always received him with courtesy and esteem. They addressed him as the trustworthy and honest. Holding his breath in amazement, he demanded from Waraqa, What! Will they expel me? Yes, (replied) Waraqa, For no man has ever brought anything like what thou hast brought without being opposed and fought by his people, which hath always been so. If I live to see that day, I shall stand by thee. (13)
The Prophet peace be upon him waited, day after day, but no revelation came for a long time. Then, it trickled again to the Prophet peace be upon him and so the revelation of the Quran began to manifest in quick succession and was completed throughout the entire period of twenty-three years.