Seerah: EP27 – Read. The First Revelation
Episode 27: Read. The First Revelation
Welcome to Seerah Pearls, which aims to highlight some tantalising learning points from each episode of the Seerah- Life of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
This session further discusses the start of the final revelation. The first thing that began from divine revelation was that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) started having true dreams i.e. he would see something in a dream, and that exact thing would then happen in real life. The scholars explain that true dreams taught the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) to learn to trust his heart, so that he would not have doubts.
The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) spent increasing time alone, away from society in contemplation in the mountains. This practice is known as ‘Tahannuth’, which comes from the root ‘to break a promise’. It means to pull away and leave something. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was drawing away from the corruption, idolatry and chaos of society: to clean something, you have to remove it from that environment. His heart was now ready to receive revelation.
One day, the angel Gabriel came to him and said, ‘Read!’ He said, ‘I am not a reader’ i.e. he did not have the ability to read. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said the angel grabbed him and smothered him: he held on, until the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) felt he lost all his energy. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) tried to resist, but he finally gave up, unable to fight further. The angel released him, and again, he said, ‘Read!’ The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) repeated again, ‘I do not read’. The angel grabbed and smothered him again. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) finally desisted in fighting back, and the angel left him. The angel said for the third time, ‘Read!’ He again repeated, ‘I do not read’. The angel squeezed again, until the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) lost all energy, then he let go.
The angel then recited:
96:1 Recite in the name of your Lord who created –
96:2 Created man from a clinging substance.
96:3 Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous –
96:4 Who taught by the pen –
96:5 Taught man that which he knew not.
This story shows that there is a physical as well as a spiritual preparation. If we look into our deen today, we see that the spiritual preparation includes some physical activity e.g. making wudu, praying salah, and fasting: there is a link between the two. You have to apply yourself physically to achieve something.