The first revelation that was sent down to the Prophet (peace be upon him) was in the cave of Hiraa’ where he used to go to worship, when Gabriel came to him and commanded him to read. The Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “I am not a reader.” This happened again, and on the third time, he said to him:
اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِى خَلَقَ – خَلَقَ الإِنسَـنَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ – اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الاٌّكْرَمُ
“Recite in the name of your Lord who created. Created man from a clinging substance. Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous.”
The Messenger went back home, his heart pounding. He entered upon his wife Khadeejah and told her what had happened, saying “I feared for myself.” She calmed him down and said, “By God, God will never forsake you, for you uphold the ties of kinship, help the weak, honour your guests, give in charity and help when some one is stricken with calamity.”
Then she went with him to her cousin Waraqah ibn Nawfal, who had become a Christian. When he told him what had happened, he gave him glad tidings and told him, this is the Laws whom God sent to Moses. He encouraged him to be patient if his people persecuted him and expelled him. Then the revelation stopped for a while, and the Messenger was saddened by that.
Then whilst he was walking one day, he saw the angel again, between the heavens and the earth. He went back to his house and wrapped himself in his blanket. Then God revealed the words:
يأَيُّهَا الْمُدَّثِّرُ – قُمْ فَأَنذِرْ
“O you (Muhammad) enveloped in garments! Arise and warn!”
After that, revelations came one after another to the Messenger (peace be upon him).
The Prophet stayed in Makkah for thirteen years, calling for the worship of God alone, in secret then openly, when God commanded him to proclaim the truth. So he called them in a gentle and kind manner, without fighting. He called his clan and closest relatives, then he warned his people and those around them, then he warned all the Arabs, then he warned all of mankind. Then God said:
فَاصْدَعْ بِمَا تُؤْمَرُ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
“Then declare what you are commanded and turn away from the polytheists.”
A few people, rich people, nobles, the weak and poor, men and women, believed in the Messenger. All of them were persecuted for their faith. Some were tortured and some were killed. Some of them migrated to Abyssinia, fleeing from the persecution of Quraysh, and some of them were persecuted with the Messenger (peace be upon him), until God caused His religion to prevail.
When the Messenger reached the age of fifty and ten years of his mission had passed, his uncle Abu Talib, who had protected him from the persecution of Quraysh, died. Then his wife Khadeejah, who had been his consolation, also died, and the persecution of his people intensified. They harrassed him and persecuted him with all kinds of torments, and he bore it with patience, seeking the reward of God.
When the persecution of Quraysh became too intense, he went out to al-Taif and called its people to Islam but they did not respond; instead they insulted him and threw stones at him, until his heels started to bleed. He went back to Makkah and continued to call his people to Islam during Hajj and at other times.
Then God took His Messenger on the Night Journey from al-Masjid al-Haraam in Makkah to al-Masjid al-Aqsaa (in Jerusalem), riding on al-Buraaq, accompanied by Gabriel. He stopped and led the Prophets in prayer, then he was taken up into the lowest heaven, where he saw Adam, with the souls of the blessed to his right and the souls of the doomed to his left.
Then he was taken up to the second heaven where he saw Jesus and John the Baptist; then to the third heaven where he saw Joseph; then to the fourth heaven where he saw Enoch; then to the fifth heaven where he saw Aaron; then to the sixth heaven where he saw Moses; then to the seventh heaven where he saw Abraham.
Then he was taken up to Sidrat al-Muntaha (the Lote-tree of the utmost boundary), and his Lord spoke to him and enjoined fifty prayers upon him and his nation each day and night.
Then that was reduced to five prayers to be performed, with a reward for fifty, and the prayer was confirmed to be five prayers each day and night for the nation of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Then he returned to Makkah before dawn came, and he told them what had happened to him.
The believers believed him but the disbelievers did not.
سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ
Exalted is He who took His Servant (Muhammad) by night from al-Masjid al-Haram (at Makkah) to al-Masjid al- Aqsa (in Jerusalem), whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.
Who is Muhammad? (Part 1): The Need For A Prophet
Who is Muhammad? (Part 2): Muhammad’s Background
Who is Muhammad? (Part 3): Muhammad in Makkah
Who is Muhammad? (Part 4): The Migration To Madeenah
Who is Muhammad? (Part 5): Muhammad in Madeenah
Who is Muhammad? (Part 6): Jihad