This is another excerpt from Bill Warner’s book Mohammed and the Unbelievers, which is an abridged version of Ibn Ishaq’s Sira. It skips poetry, aviods too many foreign names, and uses a modern language.
THE FIRST DAYS OF BEING A PROPHET
4:13 These are the limits set up by Allah. Those who obey Allah and His Messenger will be led into the Gardens watered by flowing rivers to live forever. This is the ultimate reward! But those who disobey Allah and His Messenger and go beyond His limits will be led into the Fire to live forever, and it will be a humiliating torment!
I150 Mohammed would take month-long retreats to be alone to perform the Quraysh religious practices. After the retreat, he would circumambulate (circle the Kabah) and pray.
I152 At the age of forty, Mohammed began to have visions and hear voices. His visions were first shown to him as bright as daybreak during his sleep in the month of Ramadan. Mohammed said that the angel Gabriel came to him with brocade embroidered with writing and commanded him to read. “What shall I read?” The angel pressed him and said, “Read.” Mohammed said again, “What shall I read?” The angel pressed him again tightly and again commanded, “Read!” Again the reply, “What shall I read?”
The angel said:
96:1 Recite: In the name of your Lord, Who created man from clots of blood.
96:3 Recite: Your Lord is the most generous, Who taught the use of the pen, and taught man what he did not know.
T11501 Mohammed awoke from his sleep. Now, Mohammed hated ecstatic poets and the insane. His thoughts were that he was now either a poet or insane, that which he hated. He thought to kill himself by jumping off a cliff. So off he went to do just that. Half-way up the hill, he saw a being. “Mohammed,” it said, “thou art the Apostle of Allah and I am Gabriel.” He gazed at the angel and no matter which way he turned his head the vision was before his eyes. Mohammed stood and watched for a long time.
I153 He went back home to his wife, Khadija, and told her he was either crazy or a poet. She replied that he was neither, that perhaps the vision was true; he was a good man, and Allah would not play tricks on him. She was elated and said she thought him to be a prophet and set off to tell her Christian cousin about the visions.
T1150 When she told her cousin what Mohammed had said, he replied that this was wonderful news. He was sure the angel was Gabriel of the Torah (Old Testament) and that Mohammed was a prophet. She returned and told Mohammed what he had said. Mohammed felt better and went to the Kabah to pray. Khadija’s Christian cousin, Waraqa, found him there and had him repeat his story. Waraqa agreed that surely Mohammed was a prophet.
Mohammed’s visions, dreams, and voices were called revelations. A great many of these revelations were expressed in poetry that was easily memorized and recited. The recitations (Koran means recitation) were recorded and slowly grew into the complete Koran over the next twenty-three years.