Kinds of Revelations

Jibril Appearing before the Prophet in his true Form

Another form of revelation involves seeing the angel Jibril appearing in his own form to convey the message.
Reports of this class are not too frequent. We present two here:

 

[1] Answering a question, the Prophet (saws) said, “As I came out (of, perhaps, Hira) and I was in the midst of the mountains, I heard a voice from the heaven saying: ‘O Muhammad! You are Allah’s Messenger and I am Jibril.’1 I raised my head looking heavenward to find Jibril in the shape of a man with his feet spread across –in the heavenly horizon, saying, ‘O Muhammad! You are Allah’s Messenger and I am Jibril.’ I halted looking at him. I couldn’t go forward nor backward. I would turn my face toward no direction in the heaven but would find him there identically.2 I stood rooted there until Khadijah sent people looking for me.3 (They came) and went back to her while I remained stuck to the place. Then they left me (according to another version, ‘he [Jibril] left me’), and I returned to my folks; until, when I reached Khadijah, she asked, ‘Where were you?’ I said, ‘Woe unto me! (I have become) a poet or am possessed.’4 She said, ‘I seek Allah’s refuge from any such thing. Whatever is it, my cousin? Perhaps, you have envisioned something?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ Then I told her all about it. She said, ‘Be of good cheer, O my cousin! By Him in whose Hand is my life, I believe you will be Prophet of these people.’”5

Commentary

  1. It appears that this hadith is from the earliest days after the revelation at Hira. The reason appears to be to ascertain and comfort the Prophet.
  1. So huge he was in his original size and shape, that he filled the entire azure. He has six hundred wings, and the space between his two wings fills the east and west. It is said that he needed one wing to lift the community of Lut (asws) to the skies and bang them down. But there are angels larger than him. He was normally entrusted with the delivery of revelations, but others have also been used. He occupies a high position with his Lord, but there are angels that he is ignorant of. (Au)
  1. Perhaps he had left word with Khadijah (ra) that he would be back by noon, afternoon or whatever, and so, when he did not return by then, she got worried and sent her slaves and servants to look for him. And, knowing that the Prophet was fond of Hira, little surprise they came in that direction first. (Au.)
  1. Both poets and those possessed by Jinn or the soothsayers were thought of, in those times, as who were supernatural, with contacts reaching those in the heavens and floating around in the dark sky. That was the best explanation the Arabs of the times had for the most beautiful, stark and soul-shaking rhetoric that poets displayed in their lyrics, and the wonderful powers and contacts with the hidden world that the soothsayers claimed and, sometimes, even demonstrated. Still to be educated about the realities of the physical and spiritual world to which Prophets are exposed, and accorded contacts, the Prophet was not able to understand the reality of the new physical and spiritual exposures. (Au.)
  1. She could say that to him, perhaps, for the reason that the thick airs of Makkah were filled with the forebodings that a new Prophet was about to rise. The Jews were talking about it, the Christians were talking about it, and the pagan monks were talking about it. Secondly, the Prophet himself had been experiencing strange phenomenon, such as, some trees and stones saying Salam to him, of which, certainly he would have been acquainting Khadijah, the beloved wife and an intelligent friend. (Au.)

A Note on the Chain of Narrators:

Although this version of the hadith has been declare murasl (truncated), despite a shorter version being in the Sahihayn, it has been reported by Ibn Is-haq in his ‘Seerah’, as well as by Ibn JarirTabari in his ‘Ta’rikh’, Ibn Kathir in ‘Bidayah’, in SeerahHalabiyya, Shari`ah of Aajuri, in Tanwir al-Hawalik, Al Iktifa’ of Kalaa`i, and Dala’il al Nubuwwah of Bayhaqiyy; all, perhaps, relying on Ibn Is-haq’s Seerah, and many other Hadith collections.

[2]`Urwah ibn Zubayr narrated that `A’isha (ra),1 the Prophet’s wife spoke to him, saying that she asked the Prophet (saws), “Messenger of Allah. Did you come upon a day harder than that of Uhud?”2 He answered, “I surely faced hardship at the hands of your people;3 and the worst that I faced was when I met them on the day of `Aqabah – the day I offered myself to Ibn `Abd Yaaleel b. `AbdKulaal, but he did not respond to my quest.4 So I turned back on my face, quite sad,5 so much that I felt lost only to discover myself in Qarn al-Tha`aalib.6 As I raised my head to the cloud that was covering me I discovered Jibril behind it. He called me out to say, ‘Muhammad! Allah (swt) has heard your people’s response to you and has taken note of the way they have behaved with you. Allah has sent down for you the angel in charge of mountains for you to order him regarding them the way you like. Then the angel in charge of mountains addressed me saying Salam and added, “Muhammad, Allah has heard your people’s response to you. I am in charge of mountains. He has sent me to you in order that you may order me regarding your affair as you like. If you wish I could overturn the two huge mountains over them.” The Prophet replied, “Rather, I hope that Allah will bring out of their loins a people who will worship Allah without associating any with Him in the least.”7 (Sahihayn)

Commentary

  1. He was a nephew of `A’isha through his mother Asma’ bint Abi Bakr, who was `A’isha’s sister.
  1. At Uhud, the Prophet suffered a deep wound in his skull, nothing sort of a disaster for a man who has fifty-five years behind him. We have no details whether it healed fully or not after the helmet ends had to be pulled out by teeth used as tongs. In addition, some of his teeth were chipped off.
  1. He did not identify himself as a Qurayshi, but rather, preferred to say, “your people.” Further, that is the most that he said about the hardships he suffered at Makkah for a decade.
  1. He was referring to the events when he climbed up to Ta’if along with Zayd – his slave for the namesake, but more a beloved Companion. He stayed there for some ten days, first meeting with Ibn `AbdYaaleel b. `AbdKulaal and two of his brothers, powerful chieftains of Ta’if. Despite his request that they keep their meeting with him and their own rejection to themselves, they betrayed him, made it public, and set mischievous urchins upon him, chasing him and stoning him to bloodied feet.

Interestingly, after Makkah’s fall, and after the failure of Makkah’s siege by the Prophet, the Thaqif tribe met up with the Prophet and embrace   Islam, but, as some unchecked reports claim, Ibn `AbdYaaleel, did not submit, but rather preferred to leave to settle down in Syria.

  1. “Sadness” is a mild term to state the state of his heart. How exactly he felt we do not know. His unflinching supporter uncle, Abu Talib, was dead. His best friend ever, Khadijah, the noble soul, was dead. He had four daughters. His sources of income were dry. Worse of all, by joint agreement, the Quraysh had disallowed any preaching within Makkah, and finally, the next chieftain of the Banu Hashim tribe, Abu Lahab had disowned him, meaning, he could be picked up and sold as a slave in a market thousand miles away, or even killed, since he had become an outcast of his tribe.

He was the ‘sent one’ of his Lord, no doubt. But his Lord was not ‘walking in front of him – as the Jews claimed with regard to their prophets. His Lord hadn’t even sent angels to safeguard him: “Many Messengers of the past were killed,” his Lord reminded him. He had promised him that his spiritual realm shall cross Arabian borders, but hadn’t told him that he would be alive then.

So, a lonely person, on a lonely track, he had to fend for himself, and face the situations squarely, not with the help of supplications, but with the power of his own arms and mind. He decided to seek help from the powerful Ta’ifians. That is what took him there.

But the worst was not over. He was climbing down, this hill and that hammock, with the knowledge that he could not enter Makkah again: without a chieftain offering his refuge. His refuge now was the Cave Hira.

So, when he said he was sad, he was being quite conservative. The reality was that, at one point, he didn’t know where he was going: “So much that I felt lost, only to discover myself in Qarn al-Tha`aalib!”

  1. The name of a little mountain, on the road coming from Yemen, into Makkah, falling between Makkah and Ta’if. The place was then infested by foxes (tha`lab, pl. tha`aalib), which disappeared a little time later. Now the place is known as Qarn al-Manaazil, a Meeqat of the Yemenies (Mullah `Ali Qari and others).
  1. Named `abdun in the Qur’an, the Prophet was a true slave. With his footwear, perhaps, still wet with blood, he supplicates for the Ta’ifians who had behaved so cruelly for, when he said, “I hope that Allah will bring out of their loins a people who will worship Allah …,” he was – very subtly – pleading their case. His Lord had the power to turn their hearts soft for Islam. A true slave himself, the Prophet wished them to become His Lord’s slaves too.(Au.)