|The Call of Muhammad|
Muhammad was born into the Qur’aish tribe and became a successful merchant in Makkah. He went on many trading journeys and saw something of the surrounding area, coming into contact with both Jews and Christians. At the age of 25 he married Khadija, a wealthy widow, for whom he had been employed supervising her trading caravans. Unlike other traders who were unscrupulous, he was known for justice and compassion in his dealings. He became a trusted merchant who had earned a great deal of respect from the people of Makkah.
At the age of forty, Muhammad was causing some concern for his friends and family - he had become saddened by the corruption in Makkah. His own tribe made large profits from selling idols and souvenirs, and he had taken to fasting and meditating in a cave called Hira on a nearby mountain, Jabal al Noor. Here he was to have a religious experience which changed not only his own life but the whole world’s.
Lailat ul Qadr
In the month of Ramadan, 610 CE, whilst meditating in Hira, the angel Jibra’il (Gabriel) appeared to him and told him “Iqra!” - ‘recite!’ (read) from a roll of silk bearing letters of fire. Muhammad said that he could not.
(Traditionally Muhammad was believed to be illiterate - the Qur’an calls him ‘unlettered’ (Surah 7.157-8) - but many think that as a merchant he must have known enough to draw up accounts. It could simply mean that he was not a scholar. In the vision he may not have been able to see the words clearly.)Jibra’il repeated the command, but he still could not comply. On the third occasion the angel enveloped Muhammad with his wings and squeezed him tightly. Then words came to him:
“Recite! In the name of the Lord your God,These were the first words of the Qur’an - the Recitation - from God. Muhammad was called to be the Prophet of God, to spread God’s word, the Qur’an, to everyone. This night of the first revelation of the Qur’an was called Lailat ul Qadr - the Night of Power.
Muhammad first told his wife Khadija and because she saw the utter change that had come over him, she became the first believer. Gradually, over the succeeding months and years, he received further revelations and the believers increased in number.