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Muhammad the Prophet - MUHAMMAD'S VISITATIONS

This illustration depicts Muhammad with the Angel Gabriel at the Cave of Hiraa. It is known as “Muhammad's Call to Prophecy and the First Revelation; Journey of the Prophet” and is a leaf from a copy of the Majmac al-tawarikh ("Compendium of Histories"), ca. 1425; Timurid. Herat, Afghanistan. The language of the manuscript is Persian (Farsi). The source material for this illustration is currently maintained by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Online via Wikimedia Commons.

 

To learn the story of what Muslims believe happened in the cave of Hiraa, let's use a respected English version of the Koran (the 1975 edition of the translation by A. Yusuf Ali). In the Introductory Commentary, at pages 8-9 (C. 29), we read:

The Chosen One was in the Cave of Hiraa.
For two years and more he had prayed there and adored
His Creator and wondered at the mystery
Of man with his corruptible flesh, just growing
Out of a clot, and the soul in him
Reaching out to knowledge sublime, new
And ever new, taught by the bounty
Of God, and leading to that which man himself
Knoweth not. And now, behold! A dazzling
Vision of beauty and light overpowered his senses,
And he heard the word  "Iqraa!"

What does that Arabic word mean? The Commentary, at C. 30, continues:

"Iqraa!"   - which being interpreted may mean
"Read!"  or "Proclaim!"   or "Recite!"
The unlettered Apostle was puzzled;
He could not read. The Angel seemed
To press him to his breast in a close embrace,
And the cry rang clear "Iqraa!"
And so it happened three times until
The first overpowering sensation yielded
To a collected grasp of the words which made clear
His Mission; its Author, God the Creator,
Its subject, Man, God's wondrous handiwork,
Capable, by Grace, of rising to heights sublime;
And the instrument of that mission, the sanctified Pen,
And the sanctified Book, the Gift of God,
Which men might read, or write, or study, or treasure in their souls.

Ubu'l Kassim thought he must be dreaming. He told his wife, Khadija, what had happened. Later, he told his wife's cousin, a Christian. The Commentary continues, at page 10:

...She [Khadija] knew it was no dream or delusion.
She went and consulted her cousin Waraqa,
A devout worshipper of God in the Faith of Christ,
Learned in spiritual lore. He listened
And with her rejoiced that he, Muhammad,
Was God's Chosen One to renew the Faith.

The first words of the Koran are called the Al-Fatiha. Translated into English (which, to a devout Muslim is never as good as Arabic), they give praise to God and ask for His guidance.

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds; Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek. Show us the straight way, the way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, Those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.

To hear the Al-Fatiha in the original Arabic, follow this link.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5189stories and lessons created

Original Release: Apr 01, 2000

Updated Last Revision: Jun 19, 2019


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