The Prophet's worship in the Cave of Hiraa'
Fatwa No: 281164

Question

Assalamu Alaikum....A) What type of meditation took place in the cave of Hira during first revelation ? How Prophet muhammad performed the meditation ? Why it was important ? And why the first revelation did not come to muhammad like other revelation which were coming throughout his life normally ? B) How the idol worship Started in Macca before prophet muhammad ?These answers are very important, because some non muslim are trying to convert the muslims in Hinduism in India and they are misinterpreting some Islamic Historical issues Like The incident of cave Hira and Idol worship for supporting their belief and inspiring the muslims to convert into Hinduism.....Pls Give the answers....

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

The Mother of the Believers, ‘Aa’ishah, said about the meditation of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, before he was commissioned as a Prophet: “The commencement of the Divine revelation to the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was in the form of good dreams which came true like bright day light, and then the love of seclusion was endeared to him. He would go in seclusion in the cave of Hiraa' where he worshipped for many nights before returning to his family. He would take supplies with him and then come back to Khadeejah to take provision again. Then, the Truth descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hiraa'. The Angel came to him and requested that he read. He replied, "I do not know how to read." The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, added, "The Angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, 'I do not know how to read.' Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, 'I do not know how to read (or what shall I read)?' Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said, {Recite in the name of your Lord who created – Created man from a clinging substance. Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous.} [Quran 96:1-3]” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

There is nothing that was authentically reported about the nature of that meditation. Ibn Hajar said: “There was nothing explicitly reported about the nature of his worship but ‘Ubayd ibn ‘Umayr narrated from Ibn Is-haaq that he would feed the poor that came to him, and some scholars reported that he would worship by engaging in thought, and it is probable that ‘Aa’ishah mentioned seclusion by itself being a form of worship because seclusion from people, especially from those following falsehood, is considered worship.”

Ibn Taymiyyah was asked a question similar to yours. He was asked: What is the statement of Imaams of Islam about the worship of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (in Hiraa')? What did it consist of, and how was it before he was sent as a Prophet? He answered: “This issue is something that is not needed in our religion. We have to obey the Prophet in what he commanded us to do and emulate him after he was sent to us as a Prophet. As regards what was before that, such as his seclusion in the Cave of Hiraa' and the like, this is not a Sunnah of the Ummah; it is for this reason that no Companion after Islam went to the Cave of Hiraa' and they did not seek to do so, because after Islam was revealed, it is not prescribed for us to purposefully go to the caves of mountains or to seclude ourselves in them; rather, it is a Sunnah for us to stay in mosques (for I‘tikaaf) as a confirmed Sunnah for us.” [End of quote]

As regards your question "why was that meditation important for him": the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, meditated as a way of getting closer to Allaah and glorifying Him. His meditation may have also served as a prelude to the revelation that he would receive.

As for your question "And why the first revelation did not come to Muhammad like other revelation which were coming throughout his life normally?": We did not clearly understand what you mean by this, but the revelation came to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the first time as Jibreel (Gabriel) came down to him – with a difference of opinion among the scholars about whether he came down in his real form or he took human form. This kind of revelation – the angel coming to him in human form – is how the revelation came to him after that. ‘Aa’ishah, the Mother of the Believers, reported that Al-Haarith ibn Hishaam asked the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: How does the revelation come to you? He, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, replied:“At times it comes to me like the ringing of a bell, and that is the most severe on me, and when it is over I retain that (what I had received in the form of revelation), and at times the Angel comes to me in the form of a human being and speaks to me and I retain what he says.”

As regards how idol worship started, this is a long historical research topic and you may refer to it in the biographical and historical literature. Suffice it to remind you here of what the historian Ibn Hishaam said:

“Some scholars reported that ‘Amr ibn Luhayy went from Makkah to the Levant for business, and when he arrived to Maab in the land of Balqa – and at that time it was inhabited by the Amalekites, the descendants of ‘Imlaaq, and it was said that they were the descendants of ‘Imleeq, son of Laawith, son of Saam (Sam), son of Nooh (Noah) – and he saw them worshipping idols, so he said to them: "What are these idols you worship?" They said to him: "These idols we worship, we ask them for rain and they provide us with rain, and we ask them for help and they provide us with help." So he said to them: "Why don't you give me an idol to take to the land of the Arabs for them to worship it?" So they gave him an idol named Hubal, and he came to Makkah with it and he ordered the people to worship and venerate it.” [End of quote]

Allaah Knows best.

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