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Prophet Muhammad's revelation was an event described in Islam as taking place in 610 AD, during which the Islamic prophet, Muhammad was visited by the archangel Jibrīl, known as Gabriel in English, who revealed to him the beginnings of what would later become the Quran. The event took place in a cave called Hira, located on the mountain Jabal an-Nour, near Mecca. As for the exact date of this event, it has been calculated to be on Friday, the 17th of Ramadan at night, i.e. August 6, 610 C.E. - when the Prophet was 40 lunar years, 6 months and 12 days of age, i.e. 39 Gregorian calendar years, 3 months and 22 days.[1] [2]

According to biographies of Muhammad,[which?] while on retreat in a mountain cave near Mecca (the cave of Hira), Gabriel appears before him and commands him to recite the first lines of chapter 96 of the Quran. Muhammad's experience is mentioned in Surah 53:4–9:

"It is no less than inspiration sent down to him:
He was taught by one Mighty in Power,
Endued with Wisdom: for he appeared (in stately form);
While he was in the highest part of the horizon:
Then he approached and came closer,
And was at a distance of but two bow-lengths or (even) nearer;"[Quran 53:4–9][citation needed]

Before the revelationEdit

Muhammad was born and raised in Mecca. When he was nearly 40, he used to spend many hours alone in prayer and speculating over the aspects of creation.[3][page needed] He was concerned with the "ignorance of divine guidance" (Jahiliyyah), social unrest, injustice, widespread discrimination (particularly against women), fighting among tribes and abuse of tribal authorities prevalent in pre-Islamic Arabia.[4] The moral degeneration of his fellow people, and his own quest for a true religion further lent fuel to this, with the result that he now began to withdraw periodically to a cave named Mount Hira, three miles north of Mecca, for contemplation and reflection.[5] Islamic tradition holds that Muhammad during this period began to have dreams replete with spiritual significance which were fulfilled according to their true import; and this was the commencement of his divine revelation.[3][page needed]

The first revelationEdit

The entrance to the Hira cave.

According to Sunni tradition, during one such occasion while he was in contemplation, the angel Gabriel appeared before him in the year 610 AD and said, "Read", upon which he replied, "I am unable to read". Thereupon the angel caught hold of him and embraced him heavily. This happened two more times after which the angel commanded Muhammad to recite the following verses:[6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

"Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of your Lord who created:

Created man from a clinging substance:

Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous,–
Who taught by the pen–
Taught man that which he knew not."[Quran 96:1–5][citation needed]

After the revelationEdit

Perplexed by this new experience, Muhammad made his way to home where he was consoled by his wife Khadijah, who also took him to her Ebionite cousin Waraqah ibn Nawfal. Waraqah was familiar with Jewish and Christian scriptures. Islamic tradition holds that Waraqah, upon hearing the description, testified to Muhammad's prophethood,[3][page needed][13] and convinced Muhammad that the revelation was from God.[14] Waraqah said: "O my nephew! What did you see?" When Muhammad told him what had happened to him, Waraqah replied: "This is Namus (meaning Gabriel) that Allah sent to Moses. I wish I were younger. I wish I could live up to the time when your people would turn you out." Muhammad asked: "Will they drive me out?" Waraqah answered in the affirmative and said: "Anyone who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should be alive until that day, then I would support you strongly." A few days later Waraqah died.[15]

The initial revelation was followed by a pause and a second encounter with Gabriel when Muhammad heard a voice from the sky and saw the same angel "sitting between the sky and the earth" and the revelations resumed with the first verses of chapter 74.

At-Tabari and Ibn Hisham reported that Muhammad left the cave of Hira after being surprised by the revelation, but later on, returned to the cave and continued his solitude, though subsequently he returned to Mecca. Tabari and Ibn Ishaq write that Muhammad told Zubayr:[15]

"when I was midway on the mountain, I heard a voice from heaven saying "O Muhammad! you are the apostle of Allah and I am Gabriel." I raised my head towards heaven to see who was speaking, and Gabriel in the form of a man with feet astride the horizon, saying, "O Muhammad! you are the apostle of Allah and I am Gabriel." I stood gazing at him moving neither forward nor backward, then I began to turn my face away from him, but towards whatever region of the sky I looked, I saw him as before."

Biographers disagree about the period of time between Muhammad's first and second experiences of revelation. Ibn Ishaq writes that three years elapsed from the time that Muhammad received the first revelation until he started to preach publicly. Bukhari takes chapter 74 as the second revelation however chapter 68 has strong claims to be the second revelation.[16]


  1. ^ Mubārakpūrī, Ṣafī R. (1998). When the Moon Split. Riyadh.
  2. ^ Weir, T.H.; Watt, W. Montgomery. "Ḥirāʾ". In Bearman,, P.; Bianquis,, Th.; Bosworth,, C.E.; van Donzel,, E.; Heinrichs, W.P. (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed.). Brill Online. Retrieved 7 October 2013.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  3. ^ a b c Shibli Nomani. Sirat-un-Nabi. Vol 1 Lahore
  4. ^ Husayn Haykal, Muhammad (2008). The Life of Muhammad. Selangor: Islamic Book Trust. pp. 79–80. ISBN 978-983-9154-17-7.
  5. ^ Bogle, Emory C. (1998). Islam: Origin and Belief. Texas University Press. p. 6. ISBN 0-292-70862-9.
  6. ^ Muhammad Mustafa Al-A'zami (2003), The History of The Qur'anic Text: From Revelation to Compilation: A Comparative Study with the Old and New Testaments, pp. 25, 47–8. UK Islamic Academy. ISBN 978-1872531656.
  7. ^ Brown (2003), pp. 72–3
  8. ^ Sell (1913), p. 29.
  9. ^ Bukhari volume1, book 1, number 3
  10. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari 3392; In-book reference: Book 60, Hadith 66l USC-MSA web (English) reference: Vol. 4, Book 55, Hadith 605
  11. ^ Sahih Muslim 160 a; In-book reference: Book 1, Hadith 310; USC-MSA web (English) reference: Book 1, Hadith 301
  12. ^ Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, p. 106
  13. ^ Sell (1913), p. 30.
  14. ^ Juan E. Campo, ed. (2009). Encyclopedia of Islam. Facts On File. p. 492. ISBN 978-0-8160-5454-1 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ a b
    • Translated by Alfred Guillaume (1967). The life of Muhammad (sira of ibn ishaq). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0196360331.
    • At-Tabari 2/207
    • The Sealed Nectar
  16. ^ Bennett, Clinton (1998). In Search of Muhammad. Cassell. p. 41. ISBN 0826435769.