Interruption of Revelation:
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, was caught in a sort of depression coupled with astonishment and perplexity. Al-Bukhari reported:
The Divine inspiration paused for a while and the Prophet became so sad, as we have heard, that he intended several times to throw himself from the tops of high mountains, and every time he went up the top of a mountain in order to throw himself down, Gabriel would appear before him and say: "O Muhammad! You are indeed Allah’s Messenger in truth," whereupon his heart would become quiet and he would calm down and return home. Whenever the period of the coming of the Revelation used to become long, he would do as before, but Gabriel would appear again before him and say to him what he had said before.
Once more, Gabriel brings Allah’s Revelation:
Ibn Hajar said: ‘That (the pause of Allah’s revelation for a few days) was to relieve the Messenger of Allah 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 Allah 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. His waiting and longing for the coming of the revelation constituted a good reason for his steadfastness and self-possession on the arrival of Allah’s inspiration, Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Jabir bin ‘Abdullah that he had heard the Messenger of Allah speak about the period of pause as follows:
"While I was walking, I heard a voice from the sky. I looked up, and surely enough, it was the same angel who had visited me in the cave of Hira’. He was sitting on a chair between the earth and the sky. I was very afraid of him and knelt on the ground. I went home saying: ‘Cover me …, Cover me …’ Allah revealed to me the verses: ‘O you (Muhammad) enveloped (in garments)! Arise and warn! And your Lord (Allah) magnify! And your garments purify! And keep away from Ar-Rujz (the idols)!’" [Surah Al-Muddathir, 74:1-5]
After that the revelation started coming strongly, frequently and regularly.
Some Details Pertinent to The Successive Stages of Revelation :
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 evelation 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 Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him).
The Second: What the angel invisibly cast in the Prophet’s mind and heart. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said: “The Noble Spirit revealed to me ‘No soul will perish until it exhausts its due course, so fear Allah and gently request Him. Never get so impatient to the verge of disobedience of Allah. What Allah has can never be acquired but through obedience to Him.’”
The Third: The angel used to visit the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) in the form of a human being and would speak to him directly. This would enable him to fully understand what the angel said. The angel was sometimes seen in this form by the Prophet’s Companions.
The Fourth: The angel came to him like the toll of a bell and this was the most difficult form because the angel used to seize him tightly and sweat would stream from his forehead even on the coldest day. If the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was on his camel, the camel would not withstand the weight, so it would immediately kneel down on the ground. Once the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) had such a revelation when he was sitting and his thigh was on Zaid’s, Zaid felt the pressure had almost injured his thigh.
The Fifth: The Prophet (Peace be upon him) saw the angel in his actual form. The angel would reveal to him what Allah had ordered him to reveal. This, as mentioned in (Qur’an), in Surah An-Najm (Chapter 53 - The Star), happened twice.
The Sixth: What Allah Himself revealed to him in heaven i.e. when he ascended to heaven and received Allah’s behest of Salat (prayer).
The Seventh: Allah’s Words to His Messenger (Peace be upon him) at first hand without the mediation of an angel. It was a privilege granted to Moses (Peace be upon him) and clearly attested in the Qur’an, as it is attested to our Prophet (Peace be upon him) in the Surah Al-Isra’ (Chapter 17 - The Journey by Night) of the Noble Qur’an.
Some religious scholars added a controversial eighth stage in which they state that Allah spoke to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) directly without a curtain in between. This issue remains however unconfirmed. [Za'd Al-Ma'ad 1/18]
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