Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
Muslims believe the Holy Quran to be the book of divine guidance and direction for humanity and consider the text in its original Arabic to be the literal word of God, revealed to Muhammad, may peace be on him, through the angel Gabriel over a period of twenty-three years and view the Quran as God’s final revelation to humanity.
Hira (Arabic: حراء Ḥirāʾ ) or the Cave of Hira (غار حراء Ġār Ḥirāʾ ) is a cave about 2 mi (3.2 km) from Mecca, on the mountain named Jabal al-Nour in the Hejaz region of present day Saudi Arabia. The cave itself is about 12 ft (3.7 m) in length and 5 ft 3 in (1.60 m) in width.
Taking 600 steps to reach, the cave is at a height of 270 m (890 ft) and the radius is 263.23 m (863.6 ft) During the Hajj around 5,000 Muslims climb up to the Hira cave daily to see the place where Muhammad received the first revelation of the Quran on the Night of Power. Muslims do not typically consider seeing the cave an integral part of the pilgrimage. Nonetheless many visit it for reasons of personal pleasure and spirituality, and some think it a place of worship, although the latter view conflicts with orthodox interpretations — while the Cave of Hira is an important place to know in the Al-sīra (prophetic biography) it is not as holy as, say, Masjid Al-Haram. Under most interpretations, the same reward is received for praying here as any other place in Mecca.
The first revelation was fairly dramatic and shook Muhammad, may peace be on him, to his core and made him run back home to his wife, scared and nervous, in a cold sweat and trembling. It is amazing to note that even though it is a well established fact, in the Muslim history that the Prophet Muhammad could not read or write, yet the very first verses talk about pen.
The Arabic of the first revelation is given in the picture above and the verses mean:
In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful. Convey thou in the name of thy Lord Who created man from a clot of blood. Convey! And thy Lord is Most Generous, Who taught man by the pen, taught man what he knew not. (Al Quran 96:1-6)
The verses of the Holy Quran, pertaining to defensive war were not revealed until 14 years later after the Prophet had migrated to Medina. The revelation said:
Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged — and Allah indeed has power to help them — Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’ — And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated. And Allah will surely help one who helps Him. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty. (Al Quran 22:40-41)
Scores of other facts can be stated about the power of the pen in the Muslim tradition. But, this simple observation of sequence of revelation should set the stage for the fact, “The Pen is mightier than the sword.“