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Period of Cessation of Revelation,its Significance and its Application (A Reflection)

As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (i.e. Allah’s Religion – Islamic Monotheism). And verily, Allah is with the Muhsinun (good doers).” [Surat Ankabut, 29:69]

Asalamoalaykum warahmatullah,

When one studies the Seerah, it increases one’s awareness of how immensely our beloved Prophet Salalahu ‘alayhi wasalam suffered. It makes an individual reflect that there must be a reason why Allah SWT maintained the principle of gradualism in the events that unfolded in the life of Prophet SAW. He SWT could’ve revealed everything without making His most beloved slave go through so much.

There’s a reason.

Allah SWT shows us how He prepared Prophet SAW at each and every step. There’s a lesson for us in this. Everything that happens to us in this dunia is in fact a step of preparation for us. Either to take huge tasks in this dunia or to prepare us directly for a better Akhira.

***

After the Revelation of the first few verses, the Revelation stopped for some time.

After the first revelation Jibreel heal back for a while. There are several opinions about the period involved. It is generally said that Bayhaqi’s opinion of 6 months’ cessation sounds weighty. It is also said that nearest to being correct is the opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas RA that it lasted for 40 days. In fact, some have said that it wasn’t more than a few days.

What was the psychological state of Rasulalah SAW during that time?

In any case, the Prophet SAW was disturbed by the cessation to the extent that some biographers thought he wished to throw himself down a cliff (Primary source: Al Bukhari/Al Fath (26/204-205/H. 6982)). [Excerpt Taken From: ‘A Biography of the Prophet of Islam: In the Light of the Original Sources, an Analytical Study’ ; vol. 1, pp. 153]

In his Saheeh, Imam Bukhari mentioned that:

The Prophet SAW became so sad and confused that he went a number of times to jump down from the peaks of mountains. Each time he reached the peak of a mountain and intended to jump off of it, Jibreel AS appeared to him and said, ‘O Muhammad, indeed you are truly the Messenger of Allah.’ Jibreel’s appearance and words had the effect of calming and soothing the Messenger of Allah SAW, and he SAW would return to Makkah. But when the period of waiting became even more prolonged, he SAW went to the peak of  a mountain, and again Jibreel AS appeared before him and spoke similarly assuring words. (Primary source: Refer to Saheeh Bukhari, ‘The Beginning of Revelation’; chapter, ‘The True Dream was the First Form of Revelation to which the Messenger of Allah SAW was introduced.’) — [Excerpt Taken From: ‘The Noble Life of the Prophet peace be upon him’, vol. 1, pp.151]

Final Conclusion regarding the authenticity of the above incidents:

Albani (in Difa’ ‘Anil-Hadithin-Nabawi was-Sirah, pp.40) has pointed out that this is not a Hadith, rather a statement of Zuhri. It is against the personality that Messengers are endowed with.

~

The Revelation Finally Comes:

Nevertheless, after a short or long gap, the revelation came to him a second time. The Propeht SAW himself said about it,

“While I was walking I heard a voice from the heavens. I raised my eyes and lo, the Angel that had come to me in Hira’ the first time, was sitting on a chair which was as large to cover the space between the earth and the heaven. I was over-awed. I returned and told them, ‘Cover me, cover me.’

Allah revealed: O you (Muhammad SAW) enveloped (in garments)! Arise and warn! And your Lord (Allah), magnify! And your garments purify! And keep away from Ar-Rujz (the idols)! [Surat Mudathir, 74:1-5]

Thereafter revelation came down at a regular pace.” (Al Bukhari/Al-Fath (18/325/The Book of Tafisr/h.4925), Muslim (1/143/H.161), Ahmad: Al-Musnad (3/306), and (3/392) or see Al-Fathur-Rabbani (18/48-49).)

What was the Wisdom in the Cessation?

It was so arranged that following the confirmation that he had been chosen a Messenger, the Prophet’s thirst for revelation be aroused. [Excerpt Taken From: ‘A Biography of the Prophet of Islam: In the Light of the Original Sources, an Analytical Study’ ; vol. 1, pp. 153]

***

Lessons learned from the Cessation of Revelation: ‘The Map to the Treasure’

It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.

Joseph Campbell

***

It is reported from ‘Abdullâh b. ‘Abbâs – Allâh be pleased with them – that he said:

 After Allâh’s Messenger – Allâh’s peace and blessings be upon him – passed away, I said to a man from the Ansâr, “Come, let us ask [and learn from] the Prophet’s Companions, Allâh’s peace and blessings be upon him, for they are many in number today.” He replied, “I am surprised at you Ibn ‘Abbâs – do you really think people need you when there are so many Companions of the Prophet – Allâh’s peace and blessings be upon him?” So he did not involve himself in this endeavor, but I busied myself asking [the Companions about issues]. If I heard of a hadîth being reported by a man, I would come to him and if he was taking his midday nap I would lay down my garment and lie outside waiting for him, with the wind blowing dust in my face. The man would come out [for Dhuhr] and see me in that state, and he would exclaim, “O nephew of Allâh’s Messenger! What has brought you here? You should have sent for me and I would have come to you!” I would say, “Rather I should come to you [to seek knowledge].” I would then ask him about the hadîth I heard. The man [who I originally invited to seek knowledge with me] remained as he was, and when he saw how people would gather around me [to seek knowledge] he said, “For sure, this young man was more intelligent than me.” [Al-Dârimî, Al-Sunan; Vol. 2, pp.129.]

~

There may be instances in the lives of those who want to seek knowledge in which they may feel extremely helpless and down due to lack of availability of opportunities to study about Islam. It is without any doubt that when a Muslim starts understanding Islam and learning more about it, Allah SWT develops in his/her heart the thirst for ‘Ilm. The peace and the clarity that ‘Ilm brings becomes so dear to such a person that life without its pursuit becomes meaningless. Such a person may find that as soon as that happens, living in this Dunia becomes difficult. Out of no-where challenges start coming forth which hinder the person from seeking that knowledge . It could be due to a lack of availability of opportunities and resources to study or lack of support. But at such times, a Muslim mustn’t forget the incident of Prophet SAW. He SAW went through a phase in which Allah SWT deprived him of Revelation to make it more beloved to him. So that he SAW appreciates it more when it comes. Prophet SAW was confused and sad. It is amazing how well his psychological state is documented.

Often times, people who want to seek knowledge may feel confused. Questions such as:

 How come Allah SWT is not granting me the opportunity to do something which He SWT loves, i.e. a slave seeking knowledge?

… may arise in their minds.

More specifically, most Muslim women face this problem. Women more-so both those who are married and single. Married because most often, their husbands are not on the same page as them in terms of their Eeman. So they either don’t get the permission to study Islam or their husbands don’t take that very well and don’t understand the thirst that comes with such a situation. As for single women, some say that they don’t have the opportunity to study in their local area and with hardly having any Mahrams willing to take time off their work, these sisters cannot travel on their own to study even if it is in a nearby city. Likewise, there are many Muslim men who are in the same boat due to work-related and/or family commitments. They just can’t travel because their parents are old and nobody can take care of them and that they can’t take time off work because they support the household.

Granted that there are many amazing online opportunities (alhamdolilah!) but most Muslim women and men want to experience the true lifestyle of a student of knowledge. They in turn give up hope. If you are one of them, then know that Allah SWT is developing love of knowledge in you so that when it comes to you, you can absorb it better. Also, you may think you can handle such a lifestyle, but Allah SWT knows best. You must recognize what Prophet SAW went through. You may go through that state of confusion as well. You may question your level of sanity because you are the only one amongst hundreds in your community, who’s willing to give up everything for the sake of knowledge…why isn’t it then, that things become easier? Well, Allah SWT has a time and place for everything. He SWT has made this dunia and Qadr, all following, a pattern of gradualism. Things unfold step by step, so don’t ask for something before it’s appropriate time. Maybe you can’t deal with its burdens? Or maybe He SWT wants to purify your heart so that it becomes an empty vessel that can easily contain the knowledge of Allah SWT? Do not give up hope! Allah SWT will bring your means of hidaya whether it’s in a form of CDs on the topics you want to learn about, online classes by the Shaykh you had been wanting to study from, permanent residence of a Shaykh/teacher in your area or even an opportunity to travel!

At the same time, it is important not to ignore the halaqaat happening in your area (or online classes) and not belittle their significance in your life. As the old saying goes that the thirsty one must walk up to the well. The well never comes to the thirsty one. Your sincerity for seeking knowledge will be tested at every step. This is how Allah SWT prepares us all for certain missions in life. We all have a role to play and each one of us is a test for each other. We have to pass all those tests, have belief that He SWT will answer our duaas for hidaya,  have highest level of Sabr, and not dismiss other forms of accessing knowledge. Islamic knowledge is true treasure and it’s not given to anyone. And in the process of finding that treasure, you have to:

  • value the knowledge like you would value treasure, therefore accept gladly whatever comes your way and feel privileged even if it is ‘just’ online classes
  • get a map to get right directions to lead you to the right area to get that treasure (get associated with the right teachers/people on Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jama’ah who can advise you)
  • use duaa as your divine compass
  • with the help of a mentor: develop a systematic method and thus a proper strategy to get to your treasure by knowing what you must learn first and not wasting time here and there by jumping from one Islamic Science to another
  • know which sails you may have to use depending on the seas you may have to cross and carry enough spiritual provisions as you travel to seek that treasure
  • and be armed and prepared to fight whenever pirates try to attack your ship whether that pirate is your Nafs, Shaytan, colleagues or family members!
Remember: the intention to acquire knowledge is not to have intellectual satisfaction! Instead it is to recognize and internalize complete fear Allah SWT hence gain His Pleasure through His Obedience. As Allah SWT says,

‘…Verily, those who [truly] fear Allāh among His slaves are the knowledgeable, the learned…’ [Surah Fatir, 35:28]

Acquisition of knowledge is not an end in of itself. Rather, it’s a means to an end. It’s a journey of self-development and overcoming of struggles which must never end until one reaches one’s grave.

Ramadan is the  best time to make duaa.  Please utilize it and make duaa for yourself!

Let me make one for all of us:

May Allah SWT open up the blessed doors of knowledge for us and bless us with the kind of beneficial knowledge that leads to action.Ameen.

And Allah SWT knows best.

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