Our Prophet's
"And you are truly ˹a man˺ of outstanding character"
[Surah Al-Qalam 68:4]
Initiation of Moulding of Great Akhlaq (Character)
By: Shaikh Zafar Ul Hasan Al Madani

The subject of the first verses and early Surahs of Qur'an that were revealed upon the Prophet ﷺ, was character building. His wife, Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) asked him about the beginning of the divine revelation. He told her that initially Allah made him fond of solitude. He started disliking to gather around for chit-chat or wasting time. "While being in solitude, I started pondering over the making of universe. The second phase was about my dreams that used to come true (in the morning). This went on for some time till I formed the habit of going to the cave of Hira to sit in solitude and seclusion. It was there that I began to love 'Tahannus'. (Tahannus means to sit in seclusion for a time, while being devoted in worship)".

My wife Khadijah used to arrange a tiffin of food for my stay. One day, as I was sitting in Tahannus, I saw the horizon got covered with a huge being that was approaching me. As it came nearer, it got smaller and smaller till it became small enough to enter the cave of Hira.Then he came closer to me and embraced me very tightly and said, 'Iqra' . The hug was so tight that I felt I would die. He kept on saying; IQRA ( read, recite). I kept on telling him-I cannot read. Then he released me (from the embrace). He did it three times (embracing and  releasing) and asked me to read and I told him that I could not. After he released me finally, he told me:

'Read: In the name of thy Lord Who created, (1) Created man from a clot. (2) Read: And your Lord is the Most Bounteous, (3) Who taught by the pen, (4) Taught man that which he knew not.

The Prophet ﷺ was frightened and reached home in a state of agitation. He kept on saying, ‘Zambilooni’ (Cover me). In those days, when a person was nervous or frightened, he was made to lie on the bed and covered with a thick blanket. When his wife inquired, he narrated his experience. He feared that the ‘strange thing’ might come to him again and his life could be in danger. It was then that his wife, Khadijah spoke those great words about her husband’s Akhlaq (character) and assured him that Allah would never abandon him as he was a kind and helpful person who showed kindness and generosity to orphans, widows and needy (as well).

She then took him to her cousin Waraqa bin Naufal who after hearing his whole story, said, “This is Jibrael, the Archangel, who used to bring  the revelations from Allah to the previous prophets and now the revelations will be brought to you, too”. Then Waraqa said, “If I am alive till the day when your people drive you out of Makkah, I would support you”. The Prophet ﷺ wondered aloud if his people, who loved and respected him very much would drive him out one day. He said, “Every Prophet of Allah who came to his people with what you have got from Allah, was resisted and driven out by his people”.

After the first divine revelation, there was no further revelation. This pause between the first and the second revelation is known as ‘Fatratul wahi’ (the pause between the revelation).  In the books of authentic Hadith, including Bukhari and Muslim, there is a narration from Jabir ibn Abdullah that the revelation paused for a while and one day the Prophet ﷺ was walking down the valley. He was alone and when he reached the mountains, he saw a huge throne upon which the same figure who had met him in the cave of Hira, was sitting. He was (so huge that he) covered the entire horizon. The revelations resumed again. The Prophet ﷺ passed him and returned home and covered himself with the blanket again.

This time the fear was as severe as last time. The Prophet ﷺ felt restlessness and anxiety. The series of revelations was resumed and Surah Muzammil was revealed,

"O the one  folded in garments! (1) Stand (to pray) by night, but not all night― (2) Half of it― or a little less (3) Or a little more; and recite the Qur'an in slow, measured rhythmic tones. (4) Soon shall We send down to you a weighty Message. (5)"
(Surah Muzammil)

This was followed by Surah Mudassir,

"O you enveloped in your cloak, (1) Arise and warn! (2)  Magnify your Lord, (3)  Purify your dress, (4) Pollution shun! (5) And show not favour, seeking worldly gain! (6) For the sake of your Lord, be patient! (7)"
(Surah Mudassir)

This was first revelation after the chain of divine revelations resumed. According to the sequence, the first few verses of surah Alaq (Iqra) were the first verses to be revealed. Then there was long pause (Fatratul wahi) which was followed by a sequence of revelations till he died. Some scholars believe that surah Mudassir was revealed before surah Muzammil.