بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In this Chapter, Ramadan tells us about the beginning of revelation, its grounds and the hardships it caused the Prophet.
The basis of faith
Knowledge! The first verses revealed to the Prophet stressed that knowledge is the core of faith. What type of knowledge? Worldly knowledge; in other words, science. “… from the very beginning, the Quranic Revelation allies recognition of the Creator to knowledge and science, thus echoing the origin of creation itself.” Indeed, we see nowadays how science is leading us to finding God, whether through revealing scientific miracles in the Quraan or by showing us the complexity of this universe and how it indeed had to have a Grand Designer behind it.
Humility! A part of faith lies in knowing that our knowledge is actually limited to what God has revealed to us and taught Adam AS (shaping human intelligence and reason). This is highlighted in the verse Nun of Surat el -Qalam revealed, most probably directly after Surat el-Alak. This verse, is still to this day, of unknown meaning, because God simply didn’t include that in human knowledge.
Morality! Faith is also reflected in one’s actions: respecting ethics and promoting good. A reminder of the Prophets high morality was sent in Surat el-Qalam, 68:4. .
Some time during the beginning of revelation, there was a period of silence, which lasted between 6 months and 2.5 years. During this period, a lot was going on in the Prophet’s mind. He thought he was forsaken, he was not good enough to be a prophet, he had done something wrong. Aisha reports that at some point, he would get so depressed that he would go to the mountain to throw himself off of it, but then angel Gabriel would appear and tell him “O Muhammed, you are truly God’s Messenger” [Bukhari]. Analogous to the story of Abraham AS, when the Prophet doubted himself, God threw in his way signs that prevented him from doubting Him & giving up.
During this period, God fostered a need for Him and His word in the Prophet’s heart. Instead of looking at revelation as a burden, the Prophet was now thirsty for the words of God. After the long silence, God revealed Surat ad-Duha, in which He swears by the rising day and the spreading night, which “express the fragility of being and the heart between the rising light of Revelation and the obscure emptiness of silence”, that he had not left the Prophet. He then gives proofs of His presence in the Prophet’s early life.
In these revelations, God was referring to himself as Rabb, an Educator. He reminds the Prophet, in Surat ad-Duha, how He was his Educator long before revelation (Mentioned in Birth and Education). In Surat el-Sharh, right after Surat ad-Duha, God reminds the Prophet of Him being his Educator after revelation and that with difficulty comes ease.
Some of the ease that came was in the from of direct reminder from angel Gabriel, as stated above. The other was in the form of the support he received from his wife. Khadija “was a sign of God’s presence in the heart of Muhammed’s trial”, just as Hajar and Ismael were to Abraham’s.
Revelation came in 3 main forms:
- Gabriel appeared in his true angelic form
- Gabriel appeared in human form
- The Prophet hears a bell-like sound, and revelation would come suddenly, requiring a lot of concentration.