As he approached the age of forty, Prophet Muhammad PBUH started retiring into a cave in a nearby mountain known as Hira where he would spend his time in worship and solitude. His Favourite time of retreat was the month of Ramazan.
One day, Prophet Jibrail appeared before him while he was meditating and asked him to read. The experience was narrated by Prophet Muhammad PBUH in the following words 🙂 “He (Jibrail) seized me and squeezed me to such extent
What I was exhausted. (Bukhari)
This was repeated thrice after which the angel recited the following five verses of Surah Alaq also known as Surah lqra:
Proclaim (or read) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created. Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood.
Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful, He who taught (the use of) the pen. Taught man that which he knew not. (96: 1-5)
Prophet Muhammad PBUH recited these verses after the angel and the words were imprinted on his mind. This was the first revelation and the beginning of Prophethood of Prophet Muhammad PBUH. The effect of exhaustion was still upon the Holy Prophet PBUH after he reached home. He had to lie down covering himself before he could relate to Bibi Khadija what had taken place. She comforted him and took him to her cousin, Warqa bin Naufil, who was a scholarly person and had embraced Christianity. He confirmed that it was the same angel who had brought revelations to previous
From this time onwards, that is about 610 A.D. the Holy Prophet PBUH continued to receive revelations throughout the rest of his life, for a period of about twenty three years, The last revelation received by him was in the plain of Arafat after he performed Hajj and delivered the sermon:
I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion… (5:3)
When a revelation came, the Holy Prophet PBUH experienced different sensations. He heard ringing sounds, he perspired in the cold, he became so heavy that the animal he was riding on and his companions could feel the weight of his body.
When a companion once asked of the Prophet PBUH how a revelation came to him, he replied: “It comes to me sometimes as the ringing of a bell and this is hardest on me, then he (the angel) leaves me and I remember from him what he says; and sometimes the angel comes in the shape of a man and he talks to me and I remember what he says.” (Bukhari)
Bibi Aisha, his wife says: “I saw revelation coming down upon him in the severest cold and when that condition was over, perspiration ran down his forehead.” (Bukhari)
A companion relates that he was sitting with his leg under the leg of the Prophet PBUH , A revelation came at that moment and he felt his leg would crush under the weight. (Bukhari)
The Quran was revealed in portions but it did not remain long in that condition. Though it could not be completed until the last verse was revealed, it was never without some form of arrangement and every verse and chapter was given its place in the Book.
Whenever, a revelation was received by the Prophet PBUH, he would summon one of his literate companions and dictate the text to him. He would then ask him to read what he had written. This was to ensure perfect accuracy. He would also ask them to memorize the verses in order to recite them in their daily prayers.
The Quran was written on thin and flat tablets of stone, wood, branches of palm trees, bones of camels, and goats and on pieces of leather.) The verses and chapters of the Holy Quran were not compiled in the order of revelation, for example, the first five verses of Surah Alaq are the first n order of revelation, but they are placed in the 96th chapter whereas, the chapters which appear at the beginning of the Quran were revealed at Madinah after the Prophet’s PBUH migration.
The arrangement of the different verses and chapters of the Quran was done under the guidance of Hazrat Jibrail. According to Hazrat Usman every portion of the Quran was written down and given its specified place at the biding of the Prophet PBUH It was customary with the Messenger of Allah that when verses of different chapters were revealed to him or when any chapter was revealed, he would call one of his scribes and say to him: “Write this verse in the chapter where such and such verses occur.” (Ahmad)
The Quran did exist in a written form but no complete copy of it existed at the time, nor could such a copy be made while the Prophet PBUH was alive and still receiving revelations. The whole Quran in one arrangement was safely preserved in the memories of the reciters. It was the practice of the Holy Prophet PBUH to recite loudly the text of the Quran, revealed so far every year.
During the month of Ramazan. Those companions who had written it down would bring out their manuscript and compare it with the version of the Holy Prophet PBUB so that they could check the text and order of the chapters.
In the last year of his life, a few months before his death, the Holy Prophet PBUB read out the complete text of the Quran twice. This is how the Divine Message was recorded in scriptural form and learnt by near to be preserved for age Coming generations.