The Quran verses were revealed at different times. Allah (SWT) could have revealed the whole Quran at one time, if He wished to, but it was not the case. There are several reasons, explained in Quran about this. However, we shall not go into those reasons, as they are not part of our subject right now, while our concentration is on the sequence of initial revelations.
Actually, there is a big significance associated with chronology / sequence of revelations of different verses of Quran. Here, we shall, Insha’Allah, try to discuss the significance associated with the verses which were revealed first. First we will read the verses of these revelations, and in the end, Insha’Allah, I will try to explain the significance associated with this chronology. So, all of you are requested to read till end, in order to get proper understanding of this message, Be-izn-Allah.
First phase of Quran revelation
First phase of revelations comprises of 3 different revelations. We will go through each revelation and each phase separately in brief.
Ahadith confirm this and it is also a consensus among almost all the scholars (there is one difference of opinion also which we shall discuss later on, Insha’Allah), that the first revelation sent down to The Prophet (PBUH) were The first five verses of Surah 96: Al-Alaq:
Rasool-Allah (PBUH) used to go to Cave of Hira’ and sit there, thinking for prolonged hours. It was one such situation when these verses were revealed to him. He was lost deep in his thoughts, when the angel (Jibraeel, alaissalam) came with these verses. We will discuss the details of what happened when the angel came there, later on Insha’Allah, in some other discussion. Right now, the point of discussion is something different.
The second revelation consist of the first seven verses of Surah 68: Al-Qalam, also called Surah Nûn:
The third revelation are the first nine verses of Surah 73: Al-Muzzammil:
The verses of the these three revelations constituted the first phase of revelation. Now we shall move on to next phase.
Second phase of Quran revelation
After the revelations mentioned above, there was a pause (a prolonged gap) in revelations. Rasool-Allah (PBUH) was very uneasy about why there were no further revelations. As usual, one day he was walking down from the ‘Cave of Hira’ towards his home. Suddenly he heard a call: “Ya Muhammad!” He stopped, turned to each side, but found no one. Then again he heard someone say: “Ya Muhammad!” He still didn’t see anyone. When he heard his name being called third time, he looked up towards the sky and saw Jibraeel (alaissalam) in the sky, in his original look-up, whole sky being covered by him.
Rasool-Allah (PBUH) got a feeling that he is the same angel who came in the ‘Cave of Hira’ with those first words / revelations from Allah (SWT). He was scared by the sight and rushed back to his home. He was shivering with cold (due to scare of what he saw just now) and asked himself to be covered in blanket.
The first seven verses Surah 74: Al-Muddaththir
At this point of time the first seven verses Surah 74: Al-Muddaththir, were revealed. After this revelation, other revelations followed-on, one after another. In this way, Aayah 1 to 7 of Surah Al-Muddaththir are unanimously accepted as second revelation by all scholars. The difference of opinion on this, as I mentioned at start, occurred because of the pause which took place after the first phase of revelations. So, some consider first seven verses of Surah Al-Muddaththir to be the first revelation in continuity, after that gap (Wallah-o-alam).
Significance of the sequence of Quran revelations
The sequence of revelations is very significant. If we read the verses carefully, understand the message from Allah (SWT) to our beloved Prophet (PBUH) through each of the revelation, and correlate them, we will come to a procedure described by Allah (SWT) to us, as to how shall a Muslim proceed in his/her life. It is as follows:
The first word is “Read”, and then comes the discussion of pen (Surah Al-Alaq & Surah Al-Qalam). The first thing Allah asks us to do is to Read. We can see what importance does ‘Reading’ & ‘Writing’ holds for Allah (SWT). This is a clear message to all of us (all Muslims) that the first step for a Muslim is to learn (to read & write) and acquire knowledge. Don’t just sit and keep following whatever is being told by others. It is a responsibility of each and every Muslim (man or woman) to get education; open up our minds; acquire knowledge.
After the discussion of Read & Pen, Allah (SWT) tells Rasool-Allah (PBUH) to wake up from sleep and pray at night (Surah Al-Muzzammil). Here comes the message for us to pray and recite Quran. So, the next step for a Muslim is to pray to Allah and recite Quran.
The last of the first three messages comes from Surah Al-Muddaththir. Here Allah (SWT) tells us to get up and preach His Word to warn others about:
- the ‘Day of Judgement’
- the life Hereafter
- the Hell.
Here comes the message for Daawah.
Correlate the three messages
Now, we correlate the three messages with each other and try to reach an inference. The inference derived can be looked in two different perspectives, both distinct (yet same) and correct.
We come up with a sequence chosen by Allah for us:
- First learn and acquire knowledge; then adopt the do’s and don’ts of the knowledge yourself first; then go out to preach to others. So, it is OBLIGATORY on part of every Muslim to educate himself / herself and his / her children, both in terms of Islamic knowledge and other knowledge, with priority to knowledge of the religion i.e. Quran, Ahadith and other scriptures. Give utmost importance to education of your near & dear ones. And this importance should not be just limited to worldly knowledge (like becoming Doctors, Engineers, MBAs etc.), instead priority should be given to the knowledge of Quran.
- Then, it is also OBLIGATORY to adopt the knowledge in our own lives and lead our lives accordingly.
- And, it is also OBLIGATORY to then (after acquiring knowledge and practising in our own lives) preach the knowledge of Islam to others (i.e. Daawah).
The way to seek solution to any thing in our lives should be as follows:
- Acquire knowledge. First source should be Quran, then Ahadith, then sayings etc. of other scholars. If we are unable to get the required information by our study, then we should go to step 2 (given below).
- Consult the scholars. There are several issues which are a bit difficult to get direct references about, from Holy Scriptures. In such cases, scholars reach to a consensus about a certain ruling.
- If we do not reach to any satisfactory inference from Step 2, then we should do Istikhara to seek Allah’s guidance in the matter. In case, we do not get any solution even after doing Istikhara, then we should use our own wisdom, praying to Allah for guidance and making the decision better for us.
This is the way we have to do the things in our lives. But unfortunately, most of us are very far from this important fact. In fact, there is an irony too associated with the strategy we adopt: The first thing we do is to use our brains (Qiyas). Then if we are confused on some thing, we go and consult some scholars. Reading Quran and then Ahadith, in order to acquire knowledge, is the last thing we do.
Exactly in reverse order and opposite to what Allah says!!!
Think. Let all of us think seriously.
Dear brothers & sisters, please do not ignore Quran. Please do not take it for granted. Please do not make Quran just a pious Book being kept on top of the shelves only. Instead, let us understand Quran; let us start using Quran as our source of guidance. Dear all, let us not depend on the sources which have been told as last resorts. Instead, let us adopt the sequence told to us by Allah.
May Allah forgive me if I am wrong and guide us to the right path…Ameen.