THE REVELATION OF THE QUR'AN, HOW DID IT START?
It was this man Muhammad (pbuh) whom Allah chose to be the His last Prophet and Messenger to all people. He was illiterate as such was unable to read or write. His parents died when he was a child and passed his childhood as a shepherd and when he grew up he would spend many hours in seclusion in the cave of Hira on a mountain near Mecca.
It is reported in Sahih of al Bukhari (the collection of the Traditions of the Prophet) that sometimes he would stay in the cave for hours and sometimes for days contemplating about the creation surrounding him. This was similar to what other prophets like Abraham, Moses and Jesus did. He continued this practice, until one night Allah sent His Angel Gabriel to him and asked him to read. Muhammad (pbuh) replied "I do not know how to read". The Angel forced him to read again, and Muhammad (pbuh) replied "I do not know how to read". The Angel forced and insisted him to read the third time and Muhammad replied "I do not know how to read' (or what shall I read?). The Angel replied:
"Read in the name of your Lord who created ...". This is referred to (Surah 96 Verses 1-3) which was the first revelation, it reads:
"Proclaim! (or Read!) In the name of thy Lord and Cherisher Who created. Created man out of a (mere) Leech-Like clot; Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful." (96:1-3)
The first revelation was received after he completed 40 years of his life. This formed the basis of his Prophet hood. After the first revelation, there was a couple of days before the second revelation when the Angel Gabriel descended again and revealed to Muhammad (PBUH) the following verse:
"O thou wrapped up (in a mantle)!" (74:1)
From here on the revelation of Allah came regularly, until the whole Qur'anic revelation was completed, which took almost 23 years. Every word revealed to Muhammad (pbuh) through Angel Gabriel were Verbatim Words of Allah.
The revelation to Muhammad (pbuh) is not unique - Allah had revealed his message to humankind through his chosen prophets and messengers since the beginning of Man (Adam). Whenever He willed to guide a group of people He choose His messengers and revealed His message through them, as testified in the Qur'an:
"We have sent thee inspiration as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him; We sent inspiration to Abraham, Ishmail, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron and Solomon and to David We gave the Psalms." (4:163)
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