9-The Coming of the Archangel Gabriel
the traditional month of retreat, in the cave. in the second half of ramadan, allah began to reveal his message for mankind through muhammad (pbuh). this first revelation occurred as follows. the archangel gabriel came to muhammad (pbuh) in the cave and commanded him to 'read'. muhammad (pbuh) replied 'i cannot read.' at this the archangel took muhammad (pbuh) in his arms and pressed him to him until it was almost too much to bear. he then released him and said again 'read.' 'i cannot', replied muhammad (pbuh), at which the archangel embraced him again. for the third time the archangel commanded muhammad (pbuh) to read, but still he said he could not and was again embraced. on releasing him this time, however, the archangel gabriel said:
"read: in the name of thy lord who createth, createth man from a clot. read: and thy lord is the most generous who teacheth by the pen, teacheth man that which he knew not. (koran xcvi.1-5) muhammad (pbuh) repeated these verses, just as the archangel had said them.
when the archangel was sure muhammad (pbuh) knew them by heart, he went away. now that he was alone muhammad (pbuh) could not understand what had happened to him. he was terribly afraid and rushed out of the cave. perhaps the cave was haunted? perhaps the devil had taken a hold of his mind? but he was stopped by a voice from heaven which said; Ɔ muhammad (pbuh) you are the messenger of allah, and i am gabriel.' he looked up at the sky and wherever he turned he saw the archangel gabriel.
in a state of confusion he returned home to khadijah. when his wife saw him she became very worried as he began to shiver, as though in a fever. he asked her to wrap him in blankets, which she did. after a while he recovered sufficiently to tell her what had happened at hira'. khadijah believed all that he told her and with great respect said: 'be happy, 0 son of my uncle and be confident. truly i swear by allah who has my soul in his hands, that you will be our people's prophet.' muhammad (pbuh),
the messenger of allah, was eased by her faith in him, but after all that had happened he was exhausted and felt fast asleep.
khadijah left the prophet (pbuh) sleeping and went to see her cousin, waraqah ibn nawfal, to ask him what he thought about all that had happened. waraqah was a very wise man who had read many books and had become a christian after studying the bible. he told khadijah that muhammad (pbuh) had been chosen by allah to be his messenger. just as the archangel gabriel had come to moses before and had ordered him to guide his people, so, too, would muhammad (pbuh) be the prophet of his people. but waraqah warned that all the people would not listen to the prophet and some would mistreat his followers. he must, however, be patient because he had a great message for all the world. from that day on, the archangel gabriel came often to the prophet (pbuh) and the verses he taught him, the message from allah to man, were later written down, and are known to us as the holy koran.