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Seerah – Life of the Prophet: The Right Man For The Job: Aftermath of Revelation, Khadijah & Waraqah bin Nawfal

Seerah – Life of the Prophet: The Right Man For The Job: Aftermath of Revelation, Khadijah & Waraqah bin Nawfal

10-10-2012

Episode 28: Read. The Right Man For The Job: Aftermath of Revelation, Khadijah & Waraqah bin Nawfal

 

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).

 

Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was meant for this job as a Prophet: this was no random act. Everything in his life had been leading up to the start of revelation. Iman Ahmad ibn Hanbal reports that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was asked when he was made a Prophet: he said this happened when Adam (alayhi as-salaam) was in the state between dust/clay and before the soul was breathed into him i.e. when Allah created humans.

 

We sometimes talk about the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) in ‘superhero’ terms. However, he experienced pain, difficulty and adversity- he had the true human experience. Imagine the event of the first revelation: this experience must have been earth-shattering, one that could damage someone’s psyche. Allah created a system so the Prophets would be gradually acclimated to the experience. They would have a warm-up period in the form of true dreams. These would make the Prophets trust their heart. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had true dreams for 6 months prior to revelation.

 

Revelation started on a Monday. When asked about fasting on Mondays, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that was the day he was born and that was the day he received the first revelation. As for the month, the vast majority agree that it started in Ramadan. As for the specific day, opinions vary: the 14th, 17th, 21st or 27th night- Allah knows best! Ibn Ishaaq leans towards the opinion it was the 21st night, in the 40th year of the Prophet’s life.


The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was startled by the appearance of Jibreel (alayhi as-salaam). Jibreel (alayhi as-salaam) told him to ‘Read!’ The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) objected and said, ‘I do not read.’ Jibreel (alayhi as-salaam) squeezed the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), taking him from ‘0-60’ in an instant. The messengers did not have the luxury of time. Jibreel (alayhi as-salaam) squeezed until the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) gave up. Then Jibreel (alayhi as-salaam) left the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), giving him time to catch his breath. Again, Jibreel (alayhi as-salaam) told him to ‘Read!’ Again, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) objected and said, ‘I do not read.’ Jibreel (alayhi as-salaam) squeezed for a second time until the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) gave up, releasing him and giving him time to catch his breath. A third time, Jibreel (alayhi as-salaam) told him to ‘Read!’ Again, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) objected and said, ‘I do not read.’ Jibreel (alayhi as-salaam) squeezed for the third time and released when the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) gave up.

Then Jibreel (alayhi as-salaam) recited the first revelation:

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.

 

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had received the first revelation. His heart was shaking and he was filled with lots of emotions. Some narrations say that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) never had such a strong dislike for those misguiding poets, fortune tellers and soothsayers as at that time, for they preyed on the weak and those with insecurities. He was still trying to deal with what happened, and felt he did not want to be associated with the former groups of people. Thus, he started climbing up a mountain, thinking that rather than take advantage of people, he would rather kill himself. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) felt the weight of responsibility and questioned if he could live up to the mission served. As he was climbing, he heard someone saying from above, ‘Oh Muhammad, you are the Messenger of Allah and I am Jibreel.’ The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) looked up and it was the first of the two occasions when he saw Jibreel (alayhi as-salaam) in his true form.

 

He saw that Jibreel’s (alayhi as-salaam) feet were on the ground (some say slightly above) and his head was all the way up in the clouds. He had 600 wings: when he opened 2 wings, it covered the entire horizon from east to west. It was so overwhelming, that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) almost wanted to see the sky. Jibreel’s (alayhi as-salaam) words were to provide reassurance to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) refers to Jibreel (alayhi as-salaam) as one of his best friends: he reported he had 2 friends in the sky- Jibreel and Mikaeel- and 2 on the earth- Abu Bakr (radi-Allahu anhu) and Umar (radi-Allahu anhu).

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) returned to his wife shaken up. He sat down and said, ‘Cover me up! Cover me up!’ Khadija (radi-Allahu anha) wrapped him up and sat down next to him: she did not press him for details, but gave time for him collect himself and report what had happened. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) reported that he feared for his life. Khadija (radi-Allahu anha) consoled and strengthened him though her words, saying: ‘Absolutely not! Under no circumstance should you fear for your life. I swear by Allah, Allah will not disgrace you as you maintain relations with your family, you honour your guest, you carry the weight of people, you take care of those less fortunate, and you always look for any good cause.’ The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was calmed by these words.

 

After that, Khadija (radi-Allahu anha) initially went to see Waraqah bin Nawfal herself. Some narrations report they went together. Waraqah was her cousin who was one of a handful of people at the time practicing Tawhid i.e. worship of one God. He had travelled to Sham, learnt and adopted Christianity, and spent his life translating the Injeel and Torah into Arabic. Khadija (radi-Allahu anha) told him what happened. At this time, he was a very old man who had gone blind. Waraqah sat up in excitement, as he realised that this was the truth. Waraqah requested to speak to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) directly.

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) reported what had happened to Waraqah. Waraqah became very excited and overwhelmed: he said that this was the same ‘Namus’ (carrier of message/truth i.e. Jibreel) that used to come to Musa (alayhi as-salaam). He wished he could live to witness this all come to fruition, and he hoped that he would be alive when the Prophet’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) people would kick him out. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was surprised to hear that the people would kick him out, as he was such a beloved figure in the community. Waraqah confirmed that whenever anyone came with the message the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) came with, they were always opposed and made an enemy. Waraqah vowed that if he was still around at that time, he would help with everything he had. However, Waraqah did not live for very long after that meeting. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that he saw Waraqah in a dream wearing silk garments in paradise because he believed in him.

Regarding revelation (Wahi), the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that when he returned from the cave of Hira, he felt that revelation was written onto his heart. Revelation was received in a variety of manners:

1)      Jibreel (alayhi as-salaam) would come in his actual form and communicate the message

2)      Jibreel (alayhi as-salaam) would come in the form of a human, as this was easier for the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). He would often take the form of the Sahabi Dihyah from the tribe of al-Kalbi: this person would visit the Prophet infrequently, and he was a very handsome man.

3)      In the form of a dream

4)      Words would be inspired in his heart

5)      The hardest form was when it would be like the long, continuous ringing of a bell, which would be piercing his mind. This was heavy and difficult for the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), so much so that the camel he was riding would sit down. Ayesha (radi-Allahu anha) reported that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had his head on her lap and it felt like her leg would be crushed. He would be exhausted by this experience, so much so that he would sweat profusely, even though it may be the coldest day or night. The sweat would be visibly steaming from his forehead.

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