Muhammad: Longings for the Truth

The Call: Longings for the Truth

Muhammad's heart was perturbed by the sad lot of the human race. He would reflect for hours. Given to solitary musing, he was wont to pass long periods in retirement among the hills and ravines in the neighbourhood of Mecca. Of these one in particular was his favourite resort - a cave of Hira, in the Mount al-Nur.

Muhammad's soul was struggling to comprehend the mysteries of creation, of life and death, of good and evil. Here in the cave he often remained plunged in thought deep in communion with the unseen yet all-pervading God of the universe. He was, however, unaware of the great responsibility which was going to fall on his shoulders. At this stage, when God had not yet sent His revelation to him, he would catch a glimpse of Reality, not in full consciousness, but lapsing into deep into deep reflection, a state of drawing oneself in the soul stirring whispers of nature already referred to. It was just a mysterious and sweet-tasting wisdom which often came so clearly to the inmost parts of his souls. He could enjoy it, but he could not apply a name to it, nor communicate it to others. It was in the form of dreams, the dreams which contained divine mysteries and surpassed the compass of human intelligence that eh caught a few glimpses of Reality. Such visions are the states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed by the discursive intellect. They are Divine illuminations, full of significance and importance, but all inarticulate. They are in fact preludes to revelation. It is recorded on the authority of A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with there) that the beginning of revelation for the Messenger of God was preceded by true visions (al-ru'ya al-sadiqah), which used to come like the breaking of the dawn. 

Thus Muhammad was quite unaware of the fact that he was to be commissioned by God as the last of prophets. We do not find any hint - direct of indirect - that his mind was preparing blueprints of any religious adventure. His was a quiet life following its natural course in peaceful obscurity, not knowing at all the great assignment coming. The impostors who contemplate spiritual legerdemain at any period of their lives betray their designs in spite of themselves. Their outbursts and activities reveal that they are cooking something in the innermost chambers of their minds; that they have some enterprise before them to embark upon and some plans to execute. This unawareness of Muhammad (peace be upon him) about his exalted position to which he was going to be elevated, then, is the greatest testimony of his sincerity.

He had no school-learning. The art of writing had just then been introduced into Arabia; it seems true that Muhammad could never write. The Meccan life, along with its experiences, constituted all his education. It was after having led such a quiet life that he was suddenly called upon to shoulder the burden of a mighty message.

The Holy Qur'an testifies to this in the following words:

Thou had no hope that the Scripture would be inspired to thee; but it is a mercy from the Lord, so never be helper to the disbelievers. (27:86)

Rashid Rida has explained this verse in the following words:

The Almighty God has perfected His blessings on humanity by revealing this Holy Qur'an to you. You could never acquire this position by dint of your knowledge of good deeds and you even never aspired for that. The whole record of the Hadith is silent on the point that the Holy Prophet was expecting the prophethood and that he would be chosen by Allah to take up this mighty mission. FOOTNOTE.

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