Life of Muhammad
Life of Prophet Muhammad (Sirah)

8 - Interruption in the Course of Revelation

A break in revelation occurred for some time following the first revelation. The interruption that Divine revelation underwent when the gravity and difficulty of the first revelation had scarcely passed, caused Prophet Muhammad great anxiety. He would frequently go to the cave of Hira and await the Archangel Gabriel, yet the angel would not appear, despite the many days that had passed. These days were days of immense unease for the Prophet, who began to think that God had forsaken him. Called Fatrat al-Wahy (Cessation of Revelation) in the sources, the length specified therein for the duration of this period ranges from a few months up to three years. However, it is possible to suggest that the account mentioning three years was confused with the three-year period of inviting people to Islam in secrecy  --as will be elaborated later-- and that the duration of the break in revelation was actually much less.

Prophet Muhammad saw Archangel Gabriel next on his return from Hira one day and, again overtaken by fear and trepidation, went back home and lay in his bed. Appearing to the Prophet in his home, Gabriel recited the first few verses of the Qur’anic chapter entitled Al-Muddathir (The Covered One, 74:1-5). These verses stated that the time had now come to convey the Divine message to the people, enjoined, first and foremost, reliance on God when fulfilling this duty, and instructed the shunning of all impurity.

In is also related that it was during this time that Archangel Gabriel taught the Prophet how to perform the ritual ablution for prayer as well as the prayer itself; the sources recount that the Prophet, in turn, taught Khadija what he had learned from Gabriel and that they prayed together in their home.



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