Sunday, 10 April 2016
The Advent of Prophethood
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following is extracted from “The Prophet Muhammad Musthafa the Elect (s.a.w.)” by Shaykh Osman Nuri Topbas.
As the advent of prophethood drew near, the Messenger-to-be (s.a.w.) often found himself delving into the depths of contemplation, in seclusion, distant from the public eye. At times, he would set out from his home and leave Makkah far behind him, to seek the haven of places silent. Many a time, on the way, he would hear the outlying stones and the trees on the path greet him with the words, “Peace be upon you, Messenger of Allah”. In hope of making out the owner of the voices, he would look around, but see only trees and stones.
Later, the Blessed Prophet (s.a.w.) is reported to have said, “I remember there being a certain stone in Makkah that used to greet me before the arrival of my Prophethood. I could identify its place even today.” This is recorded in Swahih Muslim.
Confirming this are the words of ‘Ali (k.w.): “The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) and I were going to a certain place in Makkah once, during our years in the town. As we were passing by trees and stones, I could hear them salute him with the exact words, ‘as-Salaamu ‘alayka, Ya Rasulullah.’” This is recorded in Swahih at-Tirmidzi.
Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) had made a habit of regularly retreating to the Cave of Hira’ in Ramadhan for the entire month, taking even greater care to feed the poor and disadvantaged. Circumambulating the Ka’bah each time he returned home from the Cave had also become routine. The Prophet-to-be (s.a.w.) always despised his tribe’s worshipping of idols, perpetually distancing himself from the practice. His worship in seclusion consisted of contemplating the Creation of the skies and earth, like his grandfather, Ibrahim (a.s.) and gazing at the Ka’bah from the overlooking cave.
Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) used to take with him to the cave, small supplies of food and drinks, returning to Khadijah (r.a.) once they finished to refill, only to once again go back to the Cave. On occasion, he would also take Khadijah (r.a.) with him. Contemplating in seclusion in the Cave of Hira’, the Light of Being (s.a.w.) would frequently see lights and hear voices, which led him to fear that the experiences could be premonitions related to soothsaying and sorcery. Concerned, he would voice his anxiety to Khadijah (r.a.), saying: “I am afraid, Khadijah, of being a soothsayer, when by the Almighty there is nothing I hate more than soothsaying and idols!”
But Khadijah (r.a.) would only have words of consolation: “Do not say that, cousin. Allah would never make you a soothsayer.”
The period of seclusion before the mission was a preparatory stage for the Prophet (s.a.w.), like a seed pushing forth from beneath the soil. The exact nature of this preliminary period of preparation, however, will forever remain a secret to us. But it was there that the seeds of faith were laid and the fire of eternal bliss was ignited; and the Revelation of the Qur’an, the Guidance for all humanity, first began.
On the face of it, the retreat of the Blessed Prophet (s.a.w.) to the cave was prompted by the general misguidance of the people and his inexpressible grief over the injustices committed by the corrupt Makkans; yet in reality, the withdrawal was simply a preparation of the heart of the Noble Messenger (s.a.w.) towards immaculate purification whereupon the Holy Qur’an could be flawlessly communicated to the perception of entire mankind. This was virtually an instance of a spiritual spark stirred by the grounding of a high voltage of electricity, an intimate secret between the Almighty and His Beloved, in a secluded cave remote from prying eyes. Just as raw iron becomes steel through an inner propensity, the time at Hira’ was for the flourishing of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) predisposition to become the recipient of Divine Revelation and assume a burden too heavy for ordinary human beings to carry. It is inconceivable to even imagine a conscience that would not shatter to pieces in trying to grasp this secret or a human language that could perfectly express its gist.