In the Cave of Hira

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The first building on earth, the Ka’ba, built to inspire inner peace, was now causing gloom. That is why the Pride of Humanity was trying to get away from it, and while each of his steps physically took him away from it, emotionally, he was leaving his heart with it, and found it very difficult to leave.

When he left the Ka’ba, he preferred to go to a place where he could watch it from afar. This was the summit of MountNur. There was a cave called Hira at the summit that had a good view of the Ka’ba. This was where the Messenger of Allah would come when he left the Ka’ba; he stayed there for months on end, and devoted his time entirely to worship. Maybe this was a fate that was meant to prepare him for carrying the weight of a message whose decrees would continue till the end of time.

The blessed moment of reunion fell on a Monday. The year was 610, the month was Ramadan, and the place was MountNur. At this time and place, lights had united and an inseparable link was forged between the heavens and the earth. It was here that Archangel Gabriel descended and told Muhammad, the Pride of Humankind, his duty as a Messenger of Allah.

On this mountain, two sureties had come together and a new custody was going to be given to humankind. Now was the season when light would meet light, a period of reflection was about to resonate on earth. The heavenly was going to embrace the earthly and would order him to “Read!” This was the placing of a burden on the shoulders of Man, a responsibility that had been too heavy for mountains and rocks to carry. The burden felt in the face of the majesty of such a mission was unbearable. What was it that he was meant to read? He did not know how to read or write! He had not received any education thus far. There had been no authority other than his Lord to fill his horizon.

“I do not know how to read,” the Messenger of Allah responded.

Gabriel came closer and embraced him once again. He squeezed Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, with all his might, and then setting him loose, he said again: “Read!”

The beloved Messenger would repeat the same words: “I do not know how to read!”

It was clear that there was more to this statement than what it seemed to be on the surface. Gabriel approached him once again, and seizing him by his waist, he squeezed him again. Then releasing him, he repeated: “Read!”

“But I do not know how to read! What am I to read?” repeated the Pride of Humankind.

This time, it seemed that now they would get somewhere. Gabriel finally said to the Beloved of Allah as he let him out of his grasp:

Read in and with the Name of your Lord, Who has created—created human from a clot clinging (to the wall of the womb). Read and your Lord is the All-Munificent, Who has taught (human) by the pen—taught human what he did not know. (al-Alaq 96:1–5)

Things were clearer now; for when it was in the name of the Gracious Lord, everything could be read. It was not yet made evident what was to be read. But everything that one could see or hear was created to be read. Each thing that stood in front of Man was a sign confirming its creator, and Man as a creature of comprehension had to read creation in the right way in order to decipher this code of significance.

This order also called for an assessment of what the beloved Messenger had gathered by way of information till that day and to continue in the same manner in the future. The Qur’an would be revealed piece by piece and this emphasized the need to go back to the beginning every time a verse would be revealed, and read it as part of this whole, for this book was not of mettle to be left aside, nor was it to be preserved in precious material and hung in the highest of places as a show of respect. It had to be a message that would resonate with the believer is all its aspects.

For this to happen, it had to be read properly with precision and turned towards with sincere intentions of understanding. This book would open its doors to the extent of one’s sincere direction towards it and would offer its pearls to those who want it to the same extent.

This order by Allah via Gabriel also spoke of a new beginning for the duty that lay ahead for the Messenger of Allah. He was going to go to the people with this mission and invite them to the true way of life. When accomplishing this task, the Messenger of Allah was called upon to read human nature correctly in his dealings with people. He was reminded that he had to know his addressee well, that he had to decipher the codes of his soul because only then would he be able to speak in a language that they would understand.

Having completed his first duty in MountHira, Gabriel disappeared immediately. What he had just experienced was upon Muhammad the Trustworthy with all its majesty. After a while, he realized that what he was mumbling to himself was nothing other than what Gabriel had brought him just now, for what he had brought had taken root in his heart letter by letter and he found himself repeating them. Things were clearer now; he had been given the duty of guiding people to the right path, the people he had seen to be in grave error till that day. His duty was upon him; he was to go down from the mountain and amongst the people, and starting from his first interlocutors in Mecca, he would introduce people with a way of life that was willed by his Lord. This was a duty that was like those given to those before him, but different in the way that this message was now sent to encompass the whole of humanity; the mission of Prophethood had been given to him and now he was going to Mecca to carry out this noble task.


Kesmez, Umit. “The Luminous Life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)” Tughra Books Press. December 2014.