“And We have not sent you but to all people as a bearer of glad tidings and as a warner.”Quran, 34:28
Muhammad didn’t know that he would be a Prophet
He led an ethical and ordinary life. He was known for his fidelity, integrity and trustworthiness. He never worshipped idols when idol worship was rife in a polytheistic society.
He always believed that the whole universe must have been created and controlled by one God. He used to worship God by retreating to a cave (634m above sea level) on a mount 4 km east of Mecca (Makkah).
The cave is known as Hira cave which is on a mount called “Jabal Al Noor” (i.e. Mount of light). This is because Muhammad received the first revelation from God when he was meditating in this cave.
It wasn’t illusion and it wasn’t a dream
When Muhammad reached forty years old, he used to meditate frequently in Cave Hira. At the month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the lunar year, 610 CE approx), Archangel Jibril(Gabriel) appeared to him for the first time while he was in the cave and said to him “Read”. Muhammad was frightened.
As he was illiterate, he could not read and did not know what to read. Archangel Jibril (Gabriel) repeated his word “Read” again and again then he recited the following verses from God:
“Read in the Name of your Lord Who created (everything), He created man from a clot (clinging to the wall of the womb)…Read ! and your Lord is the All-Munificent Who taught man by the pen…He taught man what he didn’t know!”Quran 96: 1-5
Archangel Jibril (Gabriel) disappeared after this short meeting.
Muhammad was terrified
He was extremely scared. He ran back to his home. He was trembling. He told his wife Khadijah what happened to him and asked her to cover him. She told him that God would not let him down or allow devils to touch him as he kept good relations with his relatives, helped the poor people and liked doing charity.
A divine revelation or satanic whisperings?
Muhammad was afraid that he was possessed by evil. He went with his wife Khadijah to tell the whole story to Waraqa Bin Nawfal (a relative of Khadijah) who was a religious Christian person and knowledgeable in the Bible. Waraqa predicted that Muhammad would be a Prophet and assured him that what he experienced was a divine revelation similar to what Moses the Prophet of Jews received. Waraqa wished to support Muhammad but he was very old at that time. He told Muhammad that he would be driven out of Makkah by his own people and would be treated with hostility by some people.
You are God’s Messenger
Muhammad needed a few days to settle down and didn’t return to the mount. After some time Archangel Jibril (Gabriel) came back to him and informed him that he would be a messenger of God (Allah The Glorified and Exalted) in order to convey His Divine Message to all people. Jibril (Gabriel) recited the following verses from God:
“O you cloaked (enveloped in your garments); Arise and warn; and glorify your Lord; and purify your clothing; and keep away from bad deeds and don’t consider your fulfillment of these orders as a favor to God or people; and be patient for the sake of your Lord”Quran 74:1-7
Jibril (Gabriel) continued to come to Muhammad over a period of 23 years. During this period, God’s Message to humankind (the Quran) was revealed.
Muhammad conveyed God’s Message to all people
Muhammad acted according to the revelation he received in year 610 CE. He invited the people in Arabia and outside Arabia to believe in one God (Allah) and obey His commandments as they are set for the wellbeing of the whole humanity.
What is the “Message” about?
Faith & Law
The Message of Islam is based on two main parts (Believe and Do) that are Aqidah and Shariah. Aqidah which is the Islamic Creed is based on the declaration of faith in One God and the belief in what He commanded us to believe in namely His angels, divine books, Messengers, Day of Resurrection as well as Fate and Destiny. “Shariah” which means God’s Law; sets the rules that regulate and control:
- Acts of worship such as daily prayers, fasting, giving zakat (alms), etc.
- Ethics and morals that must be reflected in one’s behavior (honesty, sincerity, fidelity, love, cooperation, etc.)
- Life transactions and dealings with others such as rules of justice, people’s rights, commerce and business dealings, marriage, divorce, inheritance etc.
After receiving divine revelation, Muhammad focused on teaching people monotheism (Aqidah) for thirteen years. After migration to Madinah, there was more focus on explaining and implementing Shariah.
“Say (O Muhammad): Come, I will recite what your Lord prohibited you from,
(1) Don’t join any partners as equal with Him;Quran 6:151-152
(2) And be good to your parents;
(3) And don’t kill your children on a plea of want, We provide sustenance for you and for them;
(4) And don’t approach or get close to doing shameful deeds openly or secretly (e.g. adultery and deeds of corruption);
(5) And don’t kill any soul which God made sacred except by way of justice and law. This is what He commands you, thus you may learn wisdom;
(6) And don’t touch the orphans’ wealth or property, except to improve it, until he or she reaches maturity;
(7) And give measure and
(8) weight with (full) justice (when buying & selling and when doing financial & non financial transactions), We place no burdens on any one but that which he or she can bear;
(9) And whenever you speak (or bear witness) speak justly even if near relative is concerned;
(10) And fulfill the Covenant of God. This is what He commands you that you may remember ”
A practical introduction of Muhammad’s teachings in Abyssinia
Ja’far bin Abi-Talib was among eighty Muslims who fled for protection in the land of Abyssinia (currently Ethiopia in Africa). Speaking to the King of Abyssinia on behalf of the Muslims who sought asylum there, Ja’far said:
“O King, we were once people living in ignorance (unawareness and lack of knowledge), worshipping idols, eating carrion, committing acts of abomination, neglecting our kith & kin, treating our neighbors badly and allowing the strong among us to oppress the weak. This is how we lived until God sent us a messenger from among ourselves, a man whose origin, honesty, integrity and chastity were well known to us.
He called upon us to worship God alone and leave away the stones and idols which we worshipped as our forefathers had done. He instructed us to be truthful in our words, to fulfill our promises and to respect our obligations to our blood relations and he forbade us from committing abominations. So we trusted and believed him and followed the message he received from God. However, our people denounced us, tortured us and did everything in their capacity to turn us away from our religion. When they continued to oppress us, we came to your land choosing you above all others in order to get protection and be treated with impartiality.”
A Christian King acknowledged Muhammad’s religion
After Ja’far delivered his talk, the King of Abyssinia (who was a religious and God fearing person) asked Ja’far to recite some verses from the “Book” revealed to Muhammad.
Ja’far recited a portion from the chapter “Mariam (Mary)” (1) , the Mother of Jesus. He continued recitation until the King wept and his beard was moist with tears.
The King then said:
“The message brought by Muhammad and that which was brought by Jesus are from a single source.”
- In the Glorious Quran, Chapter 19 is called “Mariam” i.e. Mary, the mother of Jesus. This is an abstract from the story of Mariam from the Quran.
And mention Mariam (Mary) in the Scripture, when she had withdrawn from her people to an eastern place as a seclusion from them. Then We sent unto her Our spirit (Angel Jibril (Gabriel)) who appeared to her as a flawless human being. She said: I seek refuge in God, The Beneficent One, from you if at all you fear Him. He said: I am none other than a messenger of your Lord to grant you a pure boy. She said: How shall I have a boy (son) and neither a human being has ever touched me nor have I been unchaste! He said: So (it will be). Your Lord said: It is easy for Me and We will make him a miraculous sign for all people and a Mercy from Us. It is a decreed matter. Soon she conceived him, and she hurried to a remote place but the birth pangs drove her unto the trunk of the palm tree. She said: Oh, I wish I had died before this and had become a thing utterly forgotten!Quran, 19:16-23
According to the story mentioned in the Quran, Mariam brought her son to her own people who blamed her. But her baby (Jesus) miraculously spoke and said:
Indeed, I am the servant of Allah. He (decreed) to give me the Scripture and make me a prophet and make me blessed wherever I may be. And He enjoined me to pray to him and give alms as long as I am alive and to be virtuous towards my mother. He didn’t make me insolent or wretched. May all peace be upon me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I shall be raised alive. That is Isa (Jesus) son of Mariam (Mary); it is the truth concerning what they doubt. It is not for God to take any son (Exalted Be He). When He decrees a matter, He says to it : Be and so it is.Quran 19: 30-35