When the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) was thirty five, Quraish started rebuilding Al-Ka‘bah. That was because it was a low building of white stones no more than 6.30 metres high, from the days of Ishmael. It was also roofless and that gave the thieves easy access to its treasures inside. It was also exposed to the wearing factors of nature — because it was built a long time ago — that weakened and cracked its walls. Five years before Prophethood, there was a great flood in Makkah that swept towards Al-Ka‘bah and almost demolished it.
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was, in his youth, a combination of the best social attributes. He was an exemplary man of weighty mind and faultless insight. He was favoured with intelligence, originality of thought and accurate choice of the means leading to accurate goals. His long silence helped favourably in his habit of meditation and deep investigation into the truth. His vivid mind and pure nature were helpfully instrumental in assimilating and comprehending ways of life and people, individual and community-wise.
When Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was nearly forty, he had been wont to pass long hours in retirement meditating and speculating over all aspects of creation around him. This meditative temperament helped to widen the mental gap between him and his compatriots. He used to provide himself with Sawiq (barley porridge) and water and then directly head for the hills and ravines in the neighbourhood of Makkah. One of these in particular was his favourite resort — a cave named Hira’, in the Mount An-Nour. It was only two miles from Makkah, a small cave 4 yards long and 1.75 yard wide.
When he was forty, the age of complete perfection at which Prophets were always ordered to disclose their Message, signs of his Prophethood started to appear and twinkle on the horizons of life; they were the true visions he used to experience for six months. The period of Prophethood was 23 years; so the period of these six months of true visions constituted an integral part of the forty-six parts of Prophethood.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) repeated these verses. He was trembling with fear. At this stage, he came back to his wife Khadijah, and said, “Cover me, ... cover me.” They covered him until he restored security. He apprised Khadijah of the incident of the cave and added that he was horrified. His wife tried to soothe him and reassured him saying, “Allâh will never disgrace you.
Ibn Sa‘d reported on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas that the Revelation paused for a few days.After careful study, this seems to be the most possible. To say that it lasted for three and a half years, as some scholars allege, is not correct, but here there is no room to go into more details.
Meanwhile, the Prophet (Peace be upon him), was caught in a sort of depression coupled with astonishment and perplexity. Al-Bukhari reported:
Ibn Hajar said: ‘That (the pause of Allâh’s revelation for a few days) was to relieve the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) of the fear he experienced and to make him long for the Revelation. When the shades of puzzle receded, the flags of truth were raised, the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) knew for sure that he had become the Messenger of the Great Lord. He was also certain that what had come to him was no more than the ambassador of inspiration.
Before we go into the details of the period of communicating the Message and Prophethood, we would like to get acquainted with the stages of the Revelation which constituted the main source of the Message and the subject-matter of the Call. Ibn Al-Qayyim, mentioning the stages of the Revelation, said:
The First: The period of true vision. It was the starting point of the Revelation to the Men of Allâh (Peace be upon him).
These were the basic preliminaries that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had to observe, very simple injunctions in appearance, greatly fascinating in their calm rhythm, but highly effective in practice. They constituted the trigger that aroused a far-ranging tempest in all the corners of the world.
The first Revelation sent to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) implied several injunctions, simple in form but highly effective and of serious far-reaching ramifications. The angel communicated to him a manifest Message saying: