It was Ramadan and he (saws) was 40 years old–it was 610 CE. He was approaching the Cave of Hira (where Mecca’s hunafa often retreated). He would be in seclusion…the cave was so small that two people scarce fit. He could see the Ka’aba down below him from the mouth of the cave. He would meditate on the meaning of life and the reason for his presence on earth. The signs that accompanied him throughout life–the dreams and visions that came true–perplexed him. Then, according to the earliest surviving seerah written by Ibn Hisham, out of nowhere, he heard a voice call out “As-salaamu alayka, ya rasulAllah!” Then came the command: “Iqra!” He (saws) responded that he was not of those who read. This was commanded of him three times, and he responded the same three times, until he was graced with the first 5 verses of Surah Al Alaq (96). It was Ramadan and this marked the first revelation of the Glorious Qur’an.
He thought he was mad, or worse, possessed. He ran from the Cave of Hira to Khadijah’s (ra) safe embrace in their home. He asked her to cover him. She responded by wrapping him in cloths while being the fastening garment for him, comforting him through the tremors that ran through his body out of fear and awe. Khadijah (ra) told her elderly Christian cousin, Waraqah ibn Nawfal, of what happened to her husband (saws). Waraqah (ra) recognized him as a prophet immediately, saying that it was the great Namus who descended upon him…the holy spirit…the angel Jibrail (as). And this was inspiration.
Then came…silence. An interruption. A pause. A period in between the revelations to come. And the humble servant (saws) doubted himself. Angel Jibrail (as) responded by greeting him and making his presence known from time to time, sometimes as a human and other times in his true angelic form with wings that spread as far as the eye could see. Allah responded by gracing him (saws) with revelations to calm his heart, assert his sanity, and educate him in his new role as rasulAllah (saws). The silence was broken with Al Qalam (68), Al Muzzammil (73), and Al Muddaththir (74). The revelations were accompanied by an intense squeezing and sometimes a bell ringing or clamoring that would humble the man we call rasulAllah (saws). And every year, during the month of Ramadan all that was received would be recited to Jibrail in the order the angel indicated…a regular verification of the contents and form of The Book that would amass in a 23 year time span.
It was Ramadan, on the 17th day, in the second year of hijrah (624 CE). He (saws) was 55 years old, and he was undergoing a battle. A battle of wills. A battle of minds. A battle between believers and disbelievers. A battle between 300-something monotheists and 900-something polytheists. A battle of ten to one men. A battle of a force of angels and believing men versus worldly men. The first battle between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Battle of Badr. And the Muslims were victorious. Fourteen Muslims died that day. Seventy non-Muslims died that day. And this was jihad.
It was Ramadan and the sixth year of hijrah (628 CE). He (saws) was 59 years old and he had a dream. He had a dream that he entered the Ka’aba sanctuary, with his head shaved and the key to the Ka’aba in his right hand. This dream foretold The Convenant of Hudaybiyyah, which was the first truce and time of peace that the Muslims experienced in Mecca since he (saws) became a prophet. After this dream, He (saws) along with his companions (ra) set off to perform umrah (the lesser pilgrimmage) in Mecca and make that dream an actuality. And it became a reality.
It was Ramadan, on the 20th or 21st day, and he (saws) entered Mecca, his hometown, after 8 years of exile (630 CE). And his dream was no longer a dream. It was a reality. He came back to his brothers in Mecca like Yusuf (as) returned to his brothers who previously wanted to kill him, ostracize him, isolate him, humiliate him, exile him…in forgiveness. He left only 8 years before secretly in the darkness of the night to avoid assassination. And he returned this day in broad daylight, reciting verses from Surah Al Fath (The Victory). He entered the Ka’aba, and with his stick, shattered the idols and statues that plagued his polytheistic Meccan society, reciting “Truth has arrived, and falsehood perished: for falsehood is bound to perish” (Surah Al Isra 17:81). He restored the House of Allah, the Ka’aba, back to its original essence, in uniformity with Surah Al-Ikhlas. He then recited: “This day let no reproach be cast on you: Allah will forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy” (Surah Yusuf 12:92). He (saws) was 61 years old. And the whole of Mecca…at one point or another…eventually…submitted…and surrendered. A dream fulfilled.
It was Ramadan, in the 10th year of Hijra, in 632 CE. He (saws) chose to stay in Medina, his home away from home. The home that always accepted him and protected him. He (saws) related to his daughter, Fatimah (ra):
“Each year, the Angel Jibrail recites Qur’an to me once and I recite it to him once, but this year, he has recited it twice, and I think it announces my hour.” (Bukhari)
So he set his affairs in order, and made plans to make the one and only hajj he would make in his lifetime. He led 30,000 Medinans to Mecca, joined by 3 times as many Muslims from all over the Arabian Peninsula, to fufill the last pillar of Islam. He (saws) was 63 years old. And this was pilgrimmage.
And he (saws) died one year later, living a full and rich life filled with beautiful, blessed Ramadans.
May we live to witness inspiration, the greater jihad of the nafs, fulfilled dreams of complete and total submission and surrender, and a pilgrimage of the body and soul from the beginning of this Ramadan to its end.
From our beginning to our end.
May we blessed with a Ramadan that is even an inkling worth as much as the blessed Ramadans that Muhammad (saws) enjoyed in a lifetime of Islam. Amin.
-See you on the other side insh’Allah in Jerusalem!!!-