Revelations to Muhammad

I wanted to post a few hadiith about the nature of the revelations that Muhammad received. Specifically, the contain his description of how those revelations came to him, that is, when Gabriel (Jabriil) would speak to him. The circumstances tend to be quite bizarre and there is no shortage of suggestions as to the nature of these occurrences: seizures from epilepsy, demon possession, some other mental condition, or simply what was convenient for him at the moment.

The quality and nature of the revelations changed with time. At first they were more poetic and focused on worshiping Allah (who was a know god at that time), but within the context of monotheism--that is, that there are no other gods. This was a novelty among the pagans of Arabia. The confession, There is no god but God, certainly precedes Islam and was simply borrowed by Muhammad. In Arabic the phrase is quite poetic: la illaha illa allah. Again, the novelty of Islam was not to create something totally new, but in what it added: And Muhammad is his messenger. That phrase in Arabic has no special alliterative qualities like the initial confession of monotheism.

But without further ado, the hadiiths, all from Sahiih Al Bukhaari:

Volume 1, Book 1, Number 2:

Narrated 'Aisha:

(the mother of the faithful believers) Al-Harith bin Hisham asked Allah's Apostle "O Allah's Apostle! How is the Divine Inspiration revealed to you?" Allah's Apostle replied, "Sometimes it is (revealed) like the ringing of a bell, this form of Inspiration is the hardest of all and then this state passes ' off after I have grasped what is inspired. Sometimes the Angel comes in the form of a man and talks to me and I grasp whatever he says." 'Aisha added: Verily I saw the Prophet being inspired Divinely on a very cold day and noticed the Sweat dropping from his forehead (as the Inspiration was over).

Volume 1, Book 1, Number 3:

He used to go in seclusion in the cave of Hira where he used to worship (Allah alone) continuously for many days before his desire to see his family. He used to take with him the journey food for the stay and then come back to (his wife) Khadija to take his food like-wise again till suddenly the Truth descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira. The angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, "I do not know how to read.

The Prophet added, "The angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, 'I do not know how to read.' Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, 'I do not know how to read (or what shall I read)?' Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said, 'Read in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists) has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous." (96.1, 96.2, 96.3) Then Allah's Apostle returned with the Inspiration and with his heart beating severely. Then he went to Khadija bint Khuwailid and said, "Cover me! Cover me!" They covered him till his fear was over and after that he told her everything that had happened and said, "I fear that something may happen to me." Khadija replied, "Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your Kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones."

Volume 1, Book 1, Number 5:

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:

Allah's Apostle was the most generous of all the people, and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel met him. Gabriel used to meet him every night of Ramadan to teach him the Qur'an. Allah's Apostle was the most generous person, even more generous than the strong uncontrollable wind (in readiness and haste to do charitable deeds).

(All from the most excellent hadiith database at USC-MSA.)


Robert Sievers said…
Whenever an angel appeared to someone in the Bible, "Fear not" was always the first thing said.

For some reason, the "angel" broke rank and didn't follow this heretofore common occurance. Not only that, but quite the contrary he scared the **** out of Muhammad.
Fletcher said…
He grabbed him and pressed him up against the wall and demanded that he read? Sounds demonic.

Then there are the later revelations, the "convenient" ones that remind me of Mormonism. Muhammad can marry little girls, his soldiers get heaven if they die in Jihad (just when they were frustrated and ready to desert his cause), etc.

Once you declare yourself a prophet and have a following(Muhammed, Joseph Smith) you can have revelations any time you need them to further your cause and work towards getting you what you want. How convenient. How unbiblical.
Yehudi01 said…
This is a general question....I was speaking with a friend of mine that converted from Islam to Judaism, and he said that if someone would "simply" bomb Mecca, it would essentially unravel Islam. He quoted something from the koran, but I can't remember what he said. Is there any truth to that?

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