Muhammad (PBUH) believed that there was only one Allah, Creator of the Sun, the Moon, the Earth, the Sky, and all living things, and that all people should worship only Him. Muhammad (PBUH) would often leave the crowded city and go to the cave in Mount Hira’. He liked to be alone there, away from all thoughts of the world and daily life. In his fortieth year, Muhammad (PBUH) left Makkah to spend Ramadan, 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 Jibrīl 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 squeezed 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.
However, on releasing him this time, the Archangel Jibrīl 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.” (Qur’an 96.1-5)
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: “O Muhammad (PBUH) you are the Messenger of Allah, and I am Jibrīl.”
He looked up at the sky and wherever he turned he saw the Archangel Jibrīl. 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, O 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) was eased by her faith in him, but after all that had happened, he was exhausted and fell 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 wise man who had read many books and became 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 Jibrīl had come to Musa before and ordered him to guide his people, so too would Muhammad (PBUH) be the Prophet of his people. But Waraqah warned Khadijah that the people will 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 Jibrīl 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 Qur’an.