Chapter Two – The shameful depictions of the mental state of the doubting Muhammad (s) following his receiving the divine revelation


Sahih Bukhari depicts the confused mental state of the suicidal Muhammad (s) – (astaghfirullah)

We read in Sahih Bukhari Volume 9, Book 87, Number 111:

Narrated Aisha:
The commencement of the Divine Inspiration to Allah’s Apostle was in the form of good righteous (true) dreams in his sleep. He never had a dream but that it came true like bright day light. He used to go in seclusion (the cave of) Hira where he used to worship (Allah Alone) continuously for many (days) nights. He used to take with him the journey food for that (stay) and then come back to (his wife) Khadija to take his food like-wise again for another period to stay, till suddenly the Truth descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira. The angel came to him in it and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, “I do not know how to read.” (The Prophet added), “The angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it anymore. He then released me and again asked me to read, and I replied, “I do not know how to read,” whereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it anymore. He then released me and asked me again 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, “Read: In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists). Has created man from a clot. Read and Your Lord is Most Generous…up to….. ..that which he knew not.” (96.15)

Then Allah’s Apostle returned with the Inspiration, his neck muscles twitching with terror till he entered upon Khadija and said, “Cover me! Cover me!” They covered him till his fear was over and then he said, “O Khadija, what is wrong with me? ” Then he told her everything that had happened and said, “I fear that something may happen to me.” Khadija said, “Never! But have the glad tidings, for by Allah, Allah will never disgrace you as you keep good reactions with your Kith and kin, speak the truth, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guest generously and assist the deserving, calamity-afflicted ones.” Khadija then accompanied him to (her cousin) Waraqa bin Naufal bin Asad bin ‘Abdul ‘Uzza bin Qusai. Waraqa was the son of her paternal uncle, i.e., her father’s brother, who during the Pre-Islamic Period became a Christian and used to write the Arabic writing and used to write of the Gospels in Arabic as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight. Khadija said to him, “O my cousin! Listen to the story of your nephew.” Waraqa asked, “O my nephew! What have you seen?” The Prophet described whatever he had seen.

Waraqa said, “This is the same Namus (i.e., Gabriel, the Angel who keeps the secrets) whom Allah had sent to Moses. I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out.” Allah’s Apostle asked, “Will they turn me out?” Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said: “Never did a man come with something similar to what you have brought but was treated with hostility. If I should remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly.” But after a few days Waraqa died and the Divine Inspiration was also paused for a while and the Prophet became so sad as we have heard that he intended several times to throw himself from the tops of high mountains and every time he went up the top of a mountain in order to throw himself down, Gabriel would appear before him and say, “O Muhammad! You are indeed Allah’s Apostle in truth” whereupon his heart would become quiet and he would calm down and would return home. And whenever the period of the coming of the inspiration used to become long, he would do as before, but when he used to reach the top of a mountain, Gabriel would appear before him and say to him what he had said before.


Our observations of this Hadith are set out asunder:

  1. The Prophet (s) after the first Quranic revelation and his encounter with Gibrael (as) had doubts over his Prophethood and in fact opined that he was a madman or a poet! He hated poets in Jahiliyyah and his fear that he had become ‘one of them’ led to him contemplating suicide. Fortunately it was his beloved wife and Waraqa that gave him an assurance that he was not mad, rather he was in receipt of divine revelation as he was a Prophet (s). Is it plausible to believe that the Prophet (s) who is in receipt of the revelation is completely ignorant that he is a Prophet (s), and it was in fact a Christian Priest that possessed a prior knowledge of this reality! Let us contemplate the assertion of Waraqa that evidences the level of faith he has, namely that Muhammad (s) is a Prophet (s), to the extent that he makes it clear ‘…if I should remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly’. Now contrast this firm belief of a mere follower, to that of the recipient of the appointment who doubts his position, to the extent that he contemplates suicide! Khadija (as) consoles him (s) assuring him that he is a Prophet (s), he attempts suicide on several occasions, and on each occasion Gabriel reassures him that he is a Prophet of Allah (swt). The very fact that the Prophet (s) tried killing himself despite this assurance proves that he (s) remained unconvinced, if our contention is incorrect why did he return to the mountain to take his life, and why did Gabriel (as) have to likewise return and convince him that he was a divinely appointed? All this points to the Prophet (s) having major doubts over his appointment, doubts that were causing him to fall in to depression and with it suicidal thoughts!
  2. Just consider the continual lingering doubts the recipient had over his (s) Prophethood. Aisha informs us that ‘the commencement of the Divine Inspiration to Allah’s Apostle was in the form of good righteous (true) dreams in his sleep. He never had a dream but that it came true like bright day light’. Despite his receipt of truthful dreams he was unable to grasp this truth and recognise the appointment bestowed on him (s). Even when he has a face to face encounter with Angel Gabriel who appears to him as his teacher, he remains unable to recognise the Angel, and accept his Prophetic appointment; rather he flees the scene, hides in a blanket and questions what has happened to him. He expresses a fear over his mental state, saying ‘What is wrong with me? I was afraid that something bad might happen to me’ such a fear would not come into the equation if he (s) believed that he was a Prophet of Allah (swt).
  3. Is it logical to believe that Allah (swt) would keep the rank of Prophethood hidden from that very individual that He (swt) appoints as his Prophet?
  4. Is the individual that has attained the rank of Prophethood incapable of differentiating between Divine and Satanic Revelation? Let us not forget that Prophet Isa (as) was fully aware that he was a Prophet (s) from birth as can be evidenced from his statement to quash the seditious tongues of the Jewish He said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet”(019.030).Or compare the example of Prophet Musa (as) whom following direct communication with his Creator, rather than exhibit fear, made a direct submission before his Lord for tools to enable him to implement the task:

    (Moses) said: “O my Lord! expand me my breast;
    “Ease my task for me;
    And remove the impediment from my speech”

  5. Having been cajoled in to reciting the divine revelation a terrified Prophet (s) returns and informs his wife stating “I fear that something may happen to me”, what was this fear? Was he still unconvinced of his encounter with Gibrael (as)? Clearly not, and this fear clearly alludes to a fear for him losing his sanity as can be evidenced by the words of assurance that his wife gives to him, “Never! But have the glad tidings, for by Allah, Allah will never disgrace you as you keep good reactions with your Kith and kin” – her words of assurance wherein she made an oath that he would be safe, alludes to the fact that he (s) was fearful that he would lose his thinking faculty, after all humiliation / disgrace is attributed to one that loses the ability to think rationally, and that is precisely what the Prophet (s) feared. What is this new form of Prophethood that is being administered to Muhammad (s) wherein he is expressing fears, and doubts about himself?
  6. What sort of Messengership is this, one wherein the recipient is only convinced of his position when he is provided with reassurance by his wife and a Christian Priest?
  7. Aren’t his wife and Waraqa at a more superior level as both understood that (unlike Muhammad (s)) he was the recipient of divine wahy? Amazingly, they are foretelling details of Islam before the Prophet (s). When Khadija (as) approaches Waraqa she states as follows to him “O my cousin! Listen to the story of your nephew” – she says nothing further, yet Waraqa automatically states ‘O my nephew! What have you seen?’ – How did Waraqa deem it pertinent to pose this impromptu question? Did he possess knowledge of this incident before it had occurred? Did he possess some knowledge of the unseen, or was this incident disclosed to him? We see nothing from this narration to suggest that he was privy to even a restricted form of prior disclosure; rather we are informed that the sole witness Khadija (as) approaches Waraqa directly without discussing the matter with anyone else. In the absence of evidence to suggest prior knowledge the only conclusion one can deduce is that Waraqa possessed knowledge of the unseen, hence his question ‘O my nephew! What have you seen?’ Clearly this knowledge of the unseen must have been linked with the divine blessings showered on Waraqa through his knowledge of the Gospels. Now compare the knowledge of Waraqa to that of the recipient of the divine revelation, who is at a loss to explain what has happened to him, knowledge of his Prophetic appointment does not even come to his mind, rather his contact with Gibrael (as) causes him to experience a heightened state of fear!
  8. The Prophet (s) relays his entire experience to Waraqa, that leads him to conclude “…this is the same Namus (i.e., Gabriel, the Angel who keeps the secrets) whom Allah had sent to Moses” . It is worthy to note that this narration informs us that Waraqa was a Jew that had then embraced Christianity, and was active in that he translated the Gospels into the Arabic language. Despite this, the response he gives suggests that Waraqa remained under the influence of Judaic thinking despite his conversion, evident by the fact that rather than cite the example of a nexus between the Messiah Isa (as) and Namus, he referred to Moses, that points to him rejecting any such connection with Isa (as). Had he affirmed belief in Namus approaching Isa (as), he would have not needed to cite the example of Moses (as), as he had abandoned Judaism in favour of a religion wherein Christ was deemed the divine head, that would have (without a doubt) had a link with Namus.
  9. Having affirmed the divine rank of Muhammad (s), Waraqa expresses regret ‘I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out’ that evidences his own knowledge of death, and what would happen to the Prophet (s) in the future, does this not prove that Waraqa possessed a knowledge of the unseen? This knowledge does not just end there, the Prophet (s) asks for clarification over his exile, to which ‘Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said: “Never did a man come with something similar to what you have brought but was treated with hostility’. His knowledge of the unseen is such he clarifies his migration and the circumstances on the ground that perpetuate it. If a Christian layman possessed such hidden knowledge, why do the Nawasib reject the suggestion that the Prophet (s) and his Ahlul bayt (as) can possess such knowledge?
  10. Gibrael had ordered the Prophet (s) to read on the first occasion to which he replied that he was not able to do so. The same response was provided by him (s) when Gabriel said the same on the second occasion. On the third occasion he was reciting verbatim that which Gibrael (as) was reciting. The fact that the Prophet (s) was unable to recite these words on the first and second occasion suggests that at the outset, the Prophet (s) was unable to grasp the instructions given to him (s) by Gibrael (as), an instruction that required that he (s) recite the words that Gibrael (as) was saying. He assumed that he (s) was being told to scribe that which appeared in some written form, it took three bear hugs for the Prophet (s) to understand the true nature of the instruction. Our question is who was at fault here, had Gibrael (as) failed in clarifying the precise details of the instruction? Or was the understanding of the Prophet (s) so limited that he simply could not gauge the true nature of the instruction?
  11. When the Prophet (s) stated that he was incapable of complying with the instruction, Gibrael (as) resorted to giving him a bear hug that subjected the Prophet (s) to excruciating pain, was this Gibrael hugging methodology applied to past Prophets as a mechanism for cascading divine instructions? Imam Qastalani in Irshad al-Sari, Kitab al-Wahi had acknowledged that no previous Prophet received Wahi through this method, so why was this new precedent applied for the Final Messenger (s)? Lest not forget the Allah (swt) says in Surah Ahzab verse 62:(Such was) the practice (approved) of Allah among those who lived aforetime: No change wilt thou find in the practice (approved) of Allah.
  12. What was the logic behind Gibrael (as) subjecting the Prophet (s) to such a painful embrace? When the Prophet (s) was making it explicitly clear that he was devoid of the capability to read, what was the sense in responding with physical pain? Or was Gibrael (as) seeking to assess his personal physical strength, and wanted the Prophet (s) to likewise demonstrate his abilities? If the objective of the Gibrael (as) was to instil fear into the Prophet (s), could another pain free method not have been pursued, rather than one that subjected him to a physical assault?
  13. If the intention was to make an assessment of the Prophet (s)’ physical strength, did he (s) not even possess the same level of strength as prophet Musa (as) to slap Gibrael (as)? The same Bukhari after all informs us that Musa (as) through one slap inflicted blindness to the Angel of death!

Shia Pen Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive regular updates on our new publications.
Shia Pen uses the "Google Groups" system for its newsletters. Subcribe Now →