Abul hasan ‘Ali Nadwi
Muhammad r was now approaching his fortieth year. He felt a mystifying internal unrest, yet he did not know the rationale behind it. He was himself not aware what the inexplicable confusion meant to him; nor did the idea that God was about to honour him with revelation and Prophethood ever cross his mind. This was how the Prophet r felt, as has been attested by Allah in the Qur’an:
“And thus have We inspired in you (Muhammad) a Spirit of Our Command. You knew not what the Scripture was, nor what was Faith. But We have made it a light whereby We guide whom We will of our servants. And Lo! You verily guide unto a right path” (Qur’an 42:52).
At another place, the inability of the Messenger of Allah r to know the reason for his internal unrest has been demonstrated in these words:
“You had no hope that the Scripture would be inspired to you; but it is a mercy from your Lord, so never be a helper to the disbelievers” (Qur’an 28:86).
It pleased the Will of God, All-wise and All-knowing, that his messenger should remain a stranger to the arts of reading and writing. His contemporaries could thus never accuse him of himself editing the divine revelations. This, too, has been subverted by the Qur’an to settle the matter as evidenced by the following verse:
“And you (O Muhammad) was not a reader of any Scripture before it, nor did you write it with your right hand, for then might those have doubted, who follow falsehood” (Qur’an 29: 48).
That is why the Qur’an calls him an unlettered Prophet:
Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them—He commands for them the good and forbids them from evil” (Qur’an 7:157).