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Question: During the 23 years of the Qur’ânic revelation, there were three times when the revelation was suspended for a significant period of time and the Prophet did not receive any wahy. What were these times, and which sûrah and/or âyât were revealed to “break the silence”?
Answer: (1) As is commonly known, the first words of the Qur'ân to be revealed to the Prophet were the first five âyât (verses) of Sûrah al-'Alaq (Iqra' bismi rabbik…). After this, there was a period of time when no further revelation was revealed. This period was known as Fatrat-ul-wahyi. The Prophet reports that: “While I was walking (in Makkatul-Mukarramah), all of a sudden I heard a voice from the sky. I looked up and saw the same angel who had visited me at the cave of Hirâ sitting on a chair between the sky and the earth. I was overcome with awe and fear (as at the time of the first revelation) and returned (to my home) and said, ‘Wrap me! Wrap me! (in blankets).’ Then Allâh revealed the first five âyât of Sûrah al-Mudaththir (74):
‘O thou enveloped in thy cloak; Arise and warn! And thy Lord magnify; And thy raiment purify; And pollution (idols) shun!’
After this the revelations started coming strongly, frequently and regularly.” [Reported in Sahîh Bukhâri and Muslim]
The period before this revelation was the longest period in which revelation was withheld. [Ml. Mufti Muhammad Shafî', Ma'âriful-Qur'ân.]
(2) Hadrat Jundub relates [in Bukhâri, Muslim, and Tirmidhi], “During an encounter, the Prophet hurt his finger, which began to bleed. Addressing the finger he uttered a stanza: ‘You are but a bleeding finger; And the pain you suffer is in the path of Allâh.’ During this period, the Prophet did not wake up for Tahajjud for two or three nights. For a while after this incident, Hadrat Jibra'îl did not appear with wahy (revelation). At this the polytheists of Makkah began to scoff at the Prophet that his Lord was displeased with him. Thereupon, Allâh revealed Sûrah ad-Duhâ (93):
“By the morning hours;
Some narrations reveal that it was especially Umm Jamîl, the wife of Abu Lahab, who had scoffed at the Prophet .
[Ma'âriful-Qur'ân. Ml. A. S. Chohan, Towards Understanding Your Salaah.]
(3) Imâm Ibn Jarîr Tabari relates on the authority of Ibn Abbâs that when the mission of Hadrat Muhammad Mustafâ became firmly established in Makkah and the Quraish were distressed at its spread, they sent two messengers to Madînah (called Yathrib) at the time. The messengers were to consult the scholars of the Jews (whom the Quraish knew had knowledge of previous scriptures) about their problem of Muhammad . The Jewish scholars told the envoys to ask the man three questions- if he gave sound answers then they would know that he was a prophet of Allâh, and if not they could be sure that he was simply inventing a religion. The three questions were: (1) Ask him about those youth of old who left their town and city, for theirs is a strange tale; (2) ask him about that person who traveled the entire earth, from east to west; and (3) ask him about the soul (rûh) and what it is.
The two Quraish messengers returned to their tribe and told them what the Jewish scholars had said, so the disbelievers approached the Prophet and put forth these three questions to him. After hearing these, the Prophet told them to come back on the next day and he would give them their answer. However, he forgot to say inshâ-Allâh ("If Allâh wills") and so when the people returned the following day, the Prophet was unable to give them any answer. This situation progressed for fifteen days during which neither the angel Jibra'îl nor any wahy descended upon the Prophet and the Quraish began to mock and taunt him. The Prophet himself was in a state of severe sadness and grief.
After 15 days, the angel Jibra'îl finally came with Sûrah al-Kahf (18), giving not only the answers for the three questions in more detail than the Jewish scholars had anticipated, but also the reason for the delay in revelation (âyah 23-24):
“And say not of anything: Lo! I shall do that tomorrow; Except (saying also) inshâ-Allâh.”
The answers to the first two questions can be found in Sûrah al-Kahf. As for the question about the soul (rûh), a very concise answer was given according to the wisdom of Allâh and it was placed in Sûrah Banî Isrâ'îl (al-Isrâ), just preceding Sûrah al-Kahf.
Among the wisdoms behind these pauses in revelation is that they established yet another proof that the Qur'ân was a revealed book and not something invented by the Prophet . For, had it only been something that the Prophet was inventing, he would not have purposefully put himself in the situation of grief and distress that arose when these incidents occurred.
Published: May 2003
Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756