When our Prophet was thirty-five an incident occurred. Quraysh sought to rebuild the Ka^bah. This happened about five years before the Revelation came to the Prophet, ﷺ. As a young man, Muhammad ﷺ was known for his truthfulness and honesty. In addition to calling him Muhammad, many people called him as-Sadiq the truthful, or al-Amin, the trustworthy. When he said something, people believed him. They trusted him so much that they left their money and valuable things in his care. They knew he was fair and wise in dealing with difficult matters.
Around this unique, fine young man, most people were in a state of moral decay. Wine drinking, fornication, and petty fighting were prevalent. Some Arabs were in the habit of burying their baby daughters alive. Tribes would support each other with fierce loyalty, even when a member of the tribe was unjust.
When Muhammad ﷺ was a young man, floods damaged the Ka^bah. The Arabs considered the Ka^bah very holy and believed that a supplication made thereat would be answered. Quraysh decided to rebuild it. Taking part in its rebuilding was considered a great honour. The families of the Quraysh tribe divided up the work and the Ka^bah was soon rebuilt.
Then came the time to set al-Hajarul-Aswad (The Black Stone) in its place. The Black Stone was originally in Paradise. Then God sent it down to Earth. Since everyone wanted to have the honour of replacing the Black Stone, an argument began. Various members of the Quraysh tribe were about to fight each other over it. For four days they quarrelled. On the fifth day, an old man suggested, ”Wait until the morning. Then let the first person who enters the Masjid (a specific area surrounding the Ka^bah) decide on the matter.” Everyone agreed to this suggestion. Early the next morning, Muhammad ﷺ , was the first one to come to the Ka^bah. Everyone was happy to see him.
”Here comes as-Sadiq! Here comes al-Amin!”, they said eagerly. They knew Muhammad ﷺ , would be a fair mediator. He would do what was right and would bring peace. They explained the problem to Muhammad ﷺ . He listened to them carefully. Then he said, ”Let each clan select a representative.”
The clans did what he asked. Then he spread his own mantle on the ground and placed the Black Stone on it. He asked all the representatives of Quraysh to take hold of the mantle and lift it up. When the mantle had been lifted high enough, Muhammad ﷺ himself put the Stone in its place. This made everyone happy.
All messengers are prophets, but not all prophets are messengers. When Muhammad ﷺ became forty years old, God made him both a Prophet and Messenger. All prophets are distinguished with receiving Revelation from God. Messengers are prophets who furthermore receive a new set of sacred laws. The people must follow the sacred laws given to the present Messenger. In our Prophet’s case, he is the last Messenger, and the sacred laws given to him apply to all people until the Day of Judgment. The Messenger before Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was Prophet Jesus عليه السلام peace be upon him. Hence, the set of laws given to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ replaced the previous set given to Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, just as the set of laws given to Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, replaced the set of laws given to Prophet Moses, peace be upon all the blessed prophets. This replacement does not mean that all the laws were different. For example, God revealed to all the prophets that they and their followers must pray, but the number of obligatory prayers and details differed from one Messenger to another to suit the time, according to God’s Wisdom.
God made Muhammad ﷺ the last Prophet and Messenger. Accordingly, there is no need for a new set of laws after his. One of the Companions asked our Prophet about receiving Revelation. The Prophet said that sometimes it came to him like the ringing of a bell and that this was the heaviest on him. It would last until he knew all that God revealed. He said that sometimes an angel would come in the form of a man and talk with him, telling him what God ordered to be revealed. At times, the Prophet ﷺ used to sweat when he received the Revelation due to the heaviness of the matter. He would sweat even on a cold day.
All of the Qur’an is Revelation from God received by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. As well, our Prophet received Revelation that was not the Qur’an. Before our Prophet began to receive the Qur’an, he had dreams that became true. Before receiving the first Revelation of the Qur’an, he loved to go out of Makkah to the cave of Hira’, where he worshipped God in solitude for many nights. Then he would come back to his home, take food and water, and return to the cave.
One day, in the month of Ramadan, when our Prophet ﷺ was forty, Angel Gabriel (Jibril) came to him while he was in the cave. Angel Gabriel told him to recite. The Prophet ﷺ said that he had not learned what to recite. The angel repeatedly told him to recite three times. Each time the Prophet ﷺ said that he had not learned what to recite; the angel embraced the Prophet ﷺ and released him. After the third time, the angel gave the Prophet ﷺ the first Revelation of the Qur’an, the first five verses of Suratul-^Alaq.
اقرأ باسم ربك الذي خلق
خلق الإنسان من علق
اقرأ وربك الاكرم
الذى علم بالقلم
علم الإنسان ما لم يعلم
These verses mean: ”Recite starting with the name of your Lord, the Creator of everything, the One who created man from a blood clot. O Muhammad, recite with the help of your lord, Who is the Most Generous and is clear of any defect, the One Who enabled man to acquire knowledge through writing and to acquire knowledge which man did not know.”
Shortly after the Prophet ﷺ saw Angel Gabriel in the cave, God made Prophet Muhammad ﷺ see Angel Gabriel in his real, original form, filling the entire horizon. Wherever the Prophet looked he saw this great angel. The Prophet fainted out of awe. Later, our Prophet related that he did not know before that time that God had created such a magnificent creation.
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, returned to his house and asked Khadijah to cover him, which she did, then he told Khadijah what had happened and that he feared that he would get sick from the heaviness of the revelation. Khadijah answered, ”No, do not worry. This is good news.” She confirmed that by saying, ”Certainly you are kind to your kin and you tell the truth. You help the needy and give him more than he expects. You are generous to your guest and help others with their misfortunes.”
Then Khadijah took Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to her cousin Waraqah ibn Nawfal, who was a Christian at the time. He used to copy from the Bible of that time, before he became old and blind. Prophet ﷺ described to him what had happened. Waraqah said that this was the same angel who had come to Prophet Moses. Then he added, ”I wish l was a young man and alive when your people make you leave your city.”
The Prophet asked, ”Will they do that?”
Waraqah said, ”Yes. No man before you came with what you bring, except that he was shown enmity. If l live until then, l will support you strongly.”
However, Waraqah died a short time later. The Revelation stopped coming for a while. Later Angel Gabriel came to the Prophet ﷺ who was under a cover at that time. Then, Angel Gabriel revealed the first verses of Suratul-Muddaththir.
They mean: ”O (Muhammad) who is under the cover, stand up and warn the people against the torture of God. Say Allahu Akbar (God is Great). Clean your clothes from any najasah (filth) and avoid associating partners with God.’‘(1)
The Qur’an continued to be revealed to the Prophet throughout twenty-three (23) years. Every year, Angel Gabriel reviewed (what was revealed of) the Qur’an with Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in Ramadan. However, the Ramadan before the Prophet died, it was reviewed twice. The last verse revealed to the Prophet ﷺ was:
واتقوا يوما ترجعون فيه الى الله ثم توفى كل نفس ما كسبت وهم لا يظلمون
It means: ”Fear a day when you shall return to [the Judgement of] God and every soul shall find what it earned without any injustice.” (al-Baqarah, 281)
(1) The last two verses do not mean that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ , was soiling his clothes with filth or associating partners with God. If one tells another to stay clean and not to steal, this does not mean that the latter was dirty and a thief.