Friday, July 2, 2010

(3) How Islam Appeared.

By Sodium

In the last essay entitled, "Early Life of Muhammad Before Becoming The Messenger Of God",it was made clear that Muhammad was a happily married man. He was blessed by truly loving wife and four daughters. Family-wise, his life was fulfilled to the fullest. At the top of that, the family was considered wealthy.

What had bothered Muhammad was something spiritual, since Arabia was spiritually in a state of flux or in a state of increasing entropy,or rather increasing social and religious disorder. To put it simply, it was in a state of chaos and endless confusion:

~ The Meccans, including Muhammad own clan worshiped mainly three goddesses made of stones. These goddesses were namely: Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat.

~ The Nebatean Arabs in the fascinating ancient antiquity of the city of Petra, in southern Jordan, worshipped a god named Hubal and was made of stone also.

~ There were some Arab tribes in other part of Arabia that worshipped the sun and the moon.

~ Other tribes in isolated part of Arabia built their own god from dates and worshipped the dates-god for a while, but when they felt hungry, they ate their own god made of dates.

~ There were, at least, five Jewish tribes in Arabia. The well known Jewish tribes were specifically: Nadir, Qaynuqa', Qurayzah, Thalabah,and Hudl and they worshipped a G-d as described in a book, a G-d no one ever saw. That's the way the Arabs of ancient Arabia saw their fellow Arab Jews as " The People of The Book. "

~ There were a small number of Christian Arabs who worshipped, like the Arab Jews, a God described in a book, a God no one ever saw. Waraqa, the oldest brother of Khadijah, Muhammad's loving wife, was well known Christian. Again, the Arab Pagans of ancient Arabia called their Arab Christian minority, " The people of The Book " also.

After the appearance of Islam, the Qur'an also called both Jews and Christian as " The People of The book " also.

While Arabia lived in such spiritual chaos and tribal war-fares, Muhammad was about 40 year old and started looking for what might be called spiritual serenity. He found his oasis of serenity for meditation in Mount Hira', a walking distance from Mecca. The meditation in Hira' had become a habit. It seems that Muhammad was looking for a spiritual guidance.

While Arabia was living in "Al-Jahiliyah",translation: "The Time of Ignorance" when it came to religion, Muhammad was meditating in the cave of Hira'.

What had happened next to Muhammad in the cave of Hira', while meditating, I personally had/have found difficulty in describing based on so many references I had reviewd. Therefore,I will quote from a book entitled, " The Life of Mahomet " by Sir William Muir, a Scottish orientalist, for that purpose, in spite of the fact that Muir was devoted to his Christianity and considered Islam a foe and should be defeated. I do so because I have found his description of what took place in cave Hira' between Muhammad and the Angel Gabriel was/is so fascinating and quite close to what I heard, in formal academic lectures, given by well known Islamic scholars I had the privilege of listening to, in both,in Jordan and Egypt, at different times, in the 1970 s and 1980 s:


Now in the night that the Lord was minded to be gracious unto him, Gabriel appeared to Muhamet in the cave, and holding a writing up before him said, " Read. " He,(Muhammad), answered, " I cannot. "  Whereupon came." Read! " cried Gabriel the second time; and thereupon, but only to escape the agony, Mahomet said, " What shall I read ? " Gabriel then went on-

" Read! in the name of thy Lord is most gracious
it is He that hath taught to write with the pen,
Hath taught man that which he knoweth not, Nay, verily, for man rebillious when he seeth himself becoming rich:

O' Mahomet, thou art the prophet of the Lord, and I am Gabriel."


Muhammad was completely shaken and he finally gathered himself and walked as fast as he could to reach his home. Still shaken, he told Khadijah, his loving wife, what took place in Hira' and thought it was a nightmare. To comfort him, Khadijah put him in her lap and told him that God did not make such a great happening as a nightmare. She insisted that God wanted him to be His prophet. As her Christian brother, Waraqah, heard of what had happened in Hira', he also insisted that was no nightmare, but God Wanted Muhammad to be his messenger. Muhammad was finally persuaded that was no nightmare but what God wanted him to do.

So, Muhammad kept his usual meditation at mount Hira' and eventually he had another encounter with Gabriel. And I quote from Sir William Muir's book mentioned above and in which Gabriel told Muhammad the following:


O thou art covered
Arise and preach,
And magnify thy Lord
And purify thy garments
And depart from all uncleanness
And show not favour seeking for thine own aggrandizement.


And more and more encounters with Gabriel took place and Muhammad started his new spiritual duty by preaching that there was only one God to worship and it was wrong to warship stones. He conducted his new message among his immediate family and relatives and close friends and they recited what Gabriel dictated to him. The first convert to this new message was his loving wife, Khadijah. As converts, beside family members, relatives and friends, came the new converts of slaves and poor people.

Balal is a name of a black African slave whose name is revered across the Muslim world, because of what he went through as he converted to the new religion. his story will be told in a later topic as appropriate.

And so it was, a new religion, called Islam, appeared in Arabia and subsequently would change the core of the social and spiritual confusion of the society from Jahiliyah, (Time of Ignorance), and entropic social disorder and disunity to a united Arabia with peace among its warring tribes. But, unfortunately the road to a peaceful Arabia was not easy, at all, as we shall see later on.


  1. I have heard that some consider Mohammad's "fear" of Gabriel's appearance as a significant sign that Gabriel was not who he claimed to be - meaning, a God of Mercy and Peace would not provoke uncertainty and fear in his supposed chosen Prophet. Perhaps it's a simplistic analysis, but it is one portion of the Islam story that has never quite settled well with me personally.
    Regardless, I enjoyed your essay, and your writing in general. I also very much enjoy following your input on more contemporary political topics (such as your writing on TruthDig).
    On another note, what are your thoughts on the Palestinian defense minister who is meeting with Israeli officials; Do you think there is hope for a renewal of peace talks and a two-state solution in the region, or at least a break of the dead lock of the last several years?

  2. Bint Melih,

    I apologize for the delay in responding to your questions. I did respond earlier but I accidently hit the exit spot and the whole response of mine was completely deleted. It was frustrating and I had felt to stay away from the computer for a few days.

    I understand your personal feeling about the fear that Muhammad felt as the Angel,Gabriel,appeared to Muhammad in cave Hira',where Muhammadused was spending time in meditating. Perhaps,you would be interested to know that a few Islamic scholars believed that the apperance of Gabriel was peaceful and the verbal exchanges between them was friendly. But,those scholars are in the minority. I have agreed with the majority for the following reasons:

    ~ Since Islam is considered by the majority of scholars as a continuation of Judaism and Christianity and the God in both appeared,at times,the God of war,violence and fear,why should the encounter between Gabriel and Muhammad be free from fear?

    ~ As God talked to Moses at Mount Sinai,Moses was full of fear also,as he received the Ten Commandments. And when he returned to his people and found them worshipping the Golden Calf,he was angry and full of violence and told those who refused to come back to God: "Those who do not live by the law will die by the law",and all those who refuse to return to God were violently killed in fire and en masse in a huge grave.

    ~ According to the old Testament,God instructed Joshua,to slaughter all the Cannanite Arabs who lived in their walled city of Jaricho. Jashua had done a good job in fulfilling God's wish by slaughtering 25,000 Cannanites as he conquered Jericho,in his search for the Promised Land,the land of milk and honey. One thing I detest in this story is the fact that Judaism,Christianity and Islam consider Jashua as a prophet!! To me,he was no prophet,but a mass murderer. If this story is true,how more violent the God of the Jews,Christians and Muslims might have been. Therefore,the fear that Muhammad had felt when Gabriel appeared to him make a lot of sense to me.

    ~ The crucifiction of Jesus,at the hill of Golgutha,a walking distance from Jerusalem,is by itself an act of violence. All this talk about the blood of Jesus was necessary to wash the sins of mankind is just an excuse to justify the violent act committed against Jesus. The Muslims in this crucifiction story make God less violent than the either Christians or Jews because they do not believe Jesus was crucified at all. They do believe that God had risen Jesus to heaven before the crucifiction took place. He who was crucified somebody else God made look like Jesus. Based on this conflicting beliefs,I am more inclined to believe that Islam is less violent than either Christianity or Judaism. And at the same time,I am more inclined to believe the scholars who considered that Muhammad was full of fear as Gabriel appeared to him.

    As to your question related to the Palestinian and Israelis,I refrain from answering it here,since it is off topic,but I will respond to it in a seperate response below.

    1. Correction: Please read " crucifixion, " not " crucifiction, " as wrongly written in my above comments. My apology and thank you

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  4. Bint Melih,

    Dr.Salam Fayyad,the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank of Palestine is the one who met Mr.Ehud Barak,the Israeli Defense Minister. They met in either Jerusalem or Tel Aviv-I do not remember exactly where for sure. Because of that,Fayyad was condemned by Hamas for even accepting to meet with Barak who gave the order to his military to attack the Turkish ships carrying humanitarian aids comprising of foods and medicins to the sieged people of Gaza for the last three years. In that attack which took place in the high sea,approximatelt 65 miles of the shores of Israel as well as Gaza,eieght Turkish citizens and one American citizen were murdered by the Israeli commandos who assailed the leading Turkish ship called Marmara by holicopters. Many of the humanitarian aid activists were wounded;and all six ships and their passengers were forced to land in Ashdood,a sea port in northern Israel. And all humanitarian activist were arrested and then released and deported to their own respective countries.

    According to well established International Laws of the seas,what Israel had done was/is considered an Act of War against Turkey and certainly a war crime and crime against humanity. That is why Hamas and some other Palestinians have condemned Dr.Fayyad for meeting with the man,Ehud Barak,who gave the order to attack the Turkish ships.

  5. Your explanation of the various appearances of fear and aggression in the name of God through the three religions is well articulated - Thank you for that. However, isn't Gabriel's appearance to Mohammed the only time God appeared to Mohammed? It wouldn't be so disturbing had God also revealed his greatness to Mohammed through more merciful qualities like Peace, Love, Forgiveness...etc, which are the more powerful and more sustainable features of God (in my opinion). In the Christian religion, these "merciful" appearances outweigh the "aggressive" appearances - which leave us with a God who loves and forgives, and not a God who leaves us trembling with fear. Am I wrong in God's appearance to Mohammad? Is it documented that He appeared to Mohammed on other occasions revealing his merciful side?

  6. Regarding your other post - thanks for the clarification. To that I say "Shame on Barak, and shame on Israel." It's a vicious cycle, and a vicious tragedy of immense proportion that Israel can continue to get away with such ill-treatment of the Palestinian people in general.

  7. I have come across this post by accident. I must say it is a great post since it is truly educational.