Hadith 3

Yahya bin Bukayr narrated to us and said Al-Laith narrated to us from Uqail, and he from Ibn Shihab, and he from ‘Urwah bin Al-Zubayr who narrated from ‘Aishah, the mother of believers, that she said: The beginning of the revelation to Allah’s messenger, صلى الله عليه و سلم, was in the form of good dreams in his sleep.  He used to not see a dream except that it came true (as clear) as the morning light. Then he was bestowed with the love of seclusion. He used to go into seclusion in the cave of Hira and do “tahannuth” in it- which means worshipping for many nights- before returning to his family.  He used to take with him his provision for that (retreat) and then come back to (his wife) Khadija and then again would prepare his provisions for another similar (retreat) until the truth descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira. The angel came to him and said: “Read”!. The Prophet replied, “I can’t read”.

The Prophet added, “The angel grabbed me and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, ‘I can’t read.’ Thereupon he grabbed me again and pressed me a second time until I couldn’t bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, ‘I can’t read’ Thereupon he grabbed me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said, ‘Read in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.” (96.1, 96.2, 96.3) Then Allah’s messenger returned with the Inspiration and with his heart beating severely. Then he went to Khadija bint Khuwailid (his wife) and said, “Cover me! Cover me!” They covered him until his fear was over, and after that he told her everything that had happened and said, “I fear for myself” Khadija replied, “Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your kith and kin, you benefit (help) the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving, calamity-afflicted ones.”

Khadija then took him to her cousin Waraqa bin Naufal bin Asad bin ‘Abdul ‘Uzza, who, during the Pre-Islamic Period became a Christian and used to write the writing with Hebrew letters. He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight. Khadija said to Waraqa, “Listen to the story of your nephew, O my cousin!” Waraqa asked, “O my nephew! What have you seen?” So Allah’s messenger informed him of what he had seen. Waraqa said, “This is the same one who keeps the secrets (angel Gabriel) whom Allah had sent to Moses. I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out.” Allah’s Apostle asked, “Will they drive me out?” Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said, “Anyone (man) who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should remain alive until the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly.” But after a few days Waraqa died and the Divine Inspiration was also paused for a while.

His saying: “The beginning of the revelation to Allah’s messenger was in the form of good dreams in his sleep”

In another narration by Ma`mar and Yunus recorded by Al Bukhari “good dreams” was replaced by “truthful dreams”.  The revelation started with dreams to serve as a preparation and preliminary step for the revelation in a state of wakefulness.

His saying: “In his sleep”

This was meant to clarify or differentiate between the dreams or visions one may have while awake.

His saying: “morning light”

This means the dreams used to come true emerging clearly and appearing as doubtless as the morning light. In other words just as the morning light clearly emerges and appears, as does the dream that he صلى الله عليه و سلم had.

His saying: “he was bestowed with the love of seclusion”

The bestower here, or the one that made the seclusion beloved to him was not mentioned due to the uncertainty of the reasons behind this feeling, although we know that everything is from Allah.  This feeling (loving seclusion) could have also been from the inspired revelation. Seclusion was made dear to him, since it helps the heart in concentrating. Hira’ is the famous mountain in Mecca.

His saying: “ فيتحنث fayatahannath”

Means the same as “yatahannaf”, or worshipping Allah following the Haneefeeyah which is the religion of Ibrahim. The word came this way in the narration of Ibn Hisham in his book “Al-Seerah”, a book on the biography of the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم. With the (ث) instead of the (ف) it would mean to refrain from sin, or to practice piety.

His saying: “which means worshipping”:

This insertion is from the interpretation of Ibn Shihab Al Zuhri, as is clear from another report in the book of tafsir from Yunus.[1]

His saying: “for many nights”

The reason the amount of nights was not specified and instead left general was due to the difference of opinion in the exact number of nights he would return to his family for. The period of seclusion is known to be one month, and this month used to be Ramadan, as Ibn Ishaq narrated. Khadijah’s, the wife of the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم, full name was Khadijah the daughter of Khuwaylid the son of Asad the son of Abdul `Ezza.

His saying: “until the truth descended upon him”

Here, the revelation is called “the truth”, as it is from Allah. In another narration in Sahih Al-Bukhari in the book of tafsir, it is mentioned “until the truth came to him suddenly”. In Sahih Muslim it is narrated that ‘Aisha narrated from the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم that “I did not see him (Jibreel) in the form he was created except twice.” The two times were explained by Imam Ahmad in the hadith of Ibn Mas’ood:

  1. The first time was when the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم asked Jibreel to show him his true form

  2. The second time was at the event of Mi’raaj (miraculous ascent).

In the Hadith of ‘Aisha recorded in sunan Al Tirmidhi `Aisha narrates that: “Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم did not see Jibreel in his true form except twice :

  1. Once was near the Sidratil Muntaha (a lote tree of the utmost boundary over the seventh heaven beyond which none can pass) and

  2. Once was in Ajyaad” (a place in Mecca).

The sighting of Jibreel here in the cave was not mentioned along with the other two times due to the possibility that when the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم saw him in the cave of Hira’ , he صلى الله عليه و سلم did not see Jibreel in his complete form. And Allah knows best. In the narration of Sulayman Al Taimee in his collection, it is mentioned that when Jibreel left the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم after reciting to him the verse:

اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ

Recite in the name of your Lord’,

He صلى الله عليه و سلم remained a bit hesitant, so then Jibreel came in front of him in his form and what he saw was something gigantic.

His saying: “ما أنا بقارئ’ (I can‘t read)”

Al Suyahyli said: “After he repeated this statement three times, it was said to him صلى الله عليه و سلم, Recite in the name of your Lord’. Meaning you will not recite with your own strength or knowledge. Rather with the might and power of your lord, and his assistance.  For verily, he will teach you just as he has created you and removed from you the influence of the Shaytan at a young age, and taught your nation until it learned to read and write after it was illiterate.”

Al-Teebi said this statement “I can’t read” is a way to emphasize, meaning I can’t read at all.  Another possible meaning of this statement is a question, meaning what or how should I read. This is based on the narration of `Urwah recorded in Maghaazee Abi Al Aswad where it is mentioned “how should I read?”, and in the narration of `Ubaid bin `Umair recorded with Ibn Ishaq “What should I read?”  And Allah knows best.

His saying: “Pressed me”

Meaning enveloped me and squeezed me. It also could mean “suffocated me”, as is supported in the hasan[2] narration of Musnad Abi Dawood Al Tayalisi “he caught me by my throat”.

His saying: “until I couldn’t bear it any more”

Even though the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم did not mention this statement after the third pressing, it appeared and is proven in the book of tafseer in Sahih Al Bukhari.

His saying: “I feared for myself”

This combined with the statement “with his heart beating severely” shows the effect and the strain the meeting with Jibreel caused upon him صلى الله عليه و سلم and for that reason he asked to be covered. The scholar have differed in what type of fear the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم felt, and have explained it in different ways.  The three most correct explanations are

  1. Death resulting from fear

  2. Illness

  3. Perpetual sickness.

His saying: “and Khadija said, ‘Never’” (كلا)

كلا””  here means to negate and repel the prophet’s صلى الله عليه و سلم  worry and fear.  She then proves her claim by praising the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم as having the foundations of all the best manners, because kindness can be shown to either: relatives or strangers, physically or financially, to the one who is able to take care of his affairs or one who cannot and is dependent upon others.  Khadija’s description of the prophet’s صلى الله عليه و سلم characteristics comprised of all of these different types of kindness. Khadija’s statement “You benefit the poor and destitute” means: just as other people aspire worldly benefit, you aspire and wish to benefit by helping the poor and helpless. Al Qasim bin Thabit said  in Al Dalaail “’benefit’ here means: that which others were deprived of and incapable of in terms of reward, you (the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم) benefited from”.  However, the strongest opinion is that it means you give the people that which they find nowhere else except from you. In some narrations an additional characteristic was added: “and you are truthful when you speak” and this is from the most noble of characteristics.   Finally, in another narration of `Urwah the characteristic: “And you render back the trusts to those to whom they are due”.

*This hadith shows the permissibility of calming a person in distress by mentioning what may calm him and ease his stress. It also shows the permissibility that a person in distress may confide in someone whose advice and sincerity he trusts.

His saying: “became a Christian”

After hating the worship of idols, Waraqa and Zayd bin `Amr bin Nufayl headed to Al Shaam (Palestine, Jordan Syria, Lebanon) and other places asking about religions.  Christianity appealed to Waraqa, so he became Christian.  Waraqa meet the different monks that had remained on the original message of Jesus before it was changed and for this reason he was aware of the matter of the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم, and the glad tidings he would bring and the other details the Christians altered.

His saying: “(Waraqa) used to write Hebrew. He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew ”

In the narration (in Sahih Al-Bukhari) of Yoonus and Ma’mar, “and wrote from the Gospel in Arabic”. In the narration of Muslim (and also another narration in Sahih Al-Bukhari), “he used to write Arabic”. All the narrations are correct, since Waraqa was fluent in both Hebrew and Arabic.  Khadija described Waraqa as writing the Gospel, and not memorizing it, due to the fact that the memorization of the Torah and Gospel was not made easy as the memorization of the Quran was made easy for this nation.

His saying: “Khadija said to Waraqa, ‘Listen to the story of your nephew, O my cousin!’”:

Khadijah’s calling him “O son of my uncle (cousin)” as reported by Al-Bukhari is correct, while in Muslim she is reported as saying “O uncle” and this is a mistake (from one of the narrators), although it is linguistically correct to call him an uncle to show respect to him, but the fact remains that the event only occurred once, so there could only be one correct statement which was “O son of my uncle (cousin)”, which was her actual relationship to him. In terms of contradicting this principle and combining the words of Bukhari and Muslim in terms of Waraqa writing “Hebrew” and “Arabic” earlier and declaring both correct, this is due to these words being  the description of the narrator describing Waraqa, and since the sources of these words in this case are multiple (i.e. the narrators), it is possible to accept different descriptions.

Khadija introduces the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم as “ son of your brother (nephew)”, because the number of ancestors that Waraqa had between himself and Qusai bin Kilaab is the same as the number of ancestors that the father of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم had between himself and Qusai. So from this angle there was a sort of brotherhood between Waraqa, and the father of the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم, making him like an uncle to the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم. It is also possible that she said this to Waraqa to show him respect because of his old age.

*We benefit from this hadith that a person in need should use someone who is closer than he is to the one being asked to introduce the importance of his matter,  just as Khadija introduced the situation to Waraqa by saying listen to your nephew. She said this so that Waraqa would prepare himself for the words of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم.

His saying: “This is the same one who keeps the secrets (angel Jibreel) whom Allah had sent down to Moses”

Waraqa said “to Moses” and not “to Jesus”, in spite of the fact that Waraqa was a Christian:

  1. This is because like the revelation sent to Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم, the Torah of Prophet Moses was comprised of a majority of the legislation as opposed to the Gospel of Prophet Jesus, so it was more apt to mention Moses here.

  2. It may be due to the fact that Moses was sent with the wrath of Allah to Pharaoh (Fir’aun) and his associates, as opposed to Jesus who was not. This indignation is similar to the punishment sent by Allah through the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم to the pharaoh of this nation Abu Jahl, and his associates at the battle of Badr.

  3. He mentioned Musa using his message as identification since his prophethood was agreed upon by the people of the book unlike Jesus whom some Jews deny his prophethood.

*However, in the narration of Abu Nu’aim in his book Dalaail Al-Nubuwwah with a hasan chain of narrators, it is mentioned that when Khadija first came to Waraqa and told him of the events of the cave, he said “If you have told me the truth, then indeed the namoos (one who keeps the secrets) of Jesus is coming to him (the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم), the one whom the children of  Israel don’t teach their children”. So, this means that when he spoke to Khadija, he said “Namoos of Jesus”, because of his Christianity, and when he spoke to the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم he said “Namoos of Moses”, because of the reasons mentioned above.

And Allah knows best

His saying: “I wish I were young”

He wished to be young during the time of the propagation of Islam to stand by the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم and support him صلى الله عليه و سلم. This wish of his shows that he believed what the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم was saying and this makes his description of being a blind, old man clear.

His saying: Allah’s Apostle asked, “Will they drive me out?”

The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم thought it was unlikely he would be driven out of his home not seeing in himself any reason that would happen, and due to what he possessed from the noble characteristics as Khadija mentioned

His saying: “Any man who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility”

In another narration in Sahih Al-Bukhari in the Book of Tafseer, it is mentioned “he is harmed” instead of “treated with hostility”. Waraqa mentioned the reason for the prophet’s صلى الله عليه و سلم expulsion was going to be his call to his people to leave their customary beliefs, as Waraqa knew from the sacred books that they would not accept this call and therefore this stubbornness would lead to hostility.

*This shows that the person giving an answer should mention the reason/evidence for his answer, if it is required.

His saying: if I should remain alive until the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly:

This again shows his readiness to support the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم and his message.

His saying: “But Waraqa did not live”

He died a few days later, and this contradicts what was mentioned by Ibn Ishaaq that Waraqa used to pass by Bilal while he was getting tortured, which means he lived to see the time of the propagation of Islam.  So according to authenticity, then this hadith is the most corrct, and if we wanted to combine between the two narrations we would say that this was the last news of Waraqa, and he did nothing worthy of mentioning after this, so technically this was the end of Waraqa in terms of his actions and not his life.  And Allah knows best. In regards to the pause in the revelation, it was so his fear would disappear, and he would yearn for the revelation as other narrations prove.


[1] In terminology of hadith the words of a narrator, which are not part of the text itself but occur alongside it, are called ‘Idraaj’

[2] asan, (حَسَن), linguistically means good and there exist somewhat convergent technical definitions, however, in general, it expresses the categorization of a hadith’s authenticity as acceptable for use as a religious evidence, however, not established to the extent of aī.

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