Jabal al-Hira (Arabic: جبل الحراء) is a mountain which lies about two miles from the Ka’bah. Near the top is a small cave known as the Cave of Hira (Arabic: غار حراء), which is a little less than 4 meters in length and a little more than 1.5 meters in width. It was here that the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) received the first revelations of the Holy Quran during the month of Ramadhan in 610 CE. The mountain is also known as Jabal al-Noor (the Mountain of Light) and Jabal al-Islam (the Mountain of Islam).
The Prophet (ﷺ) goes to meditate
- The Prophet (ﷺ) first began to have revelations in the form of good dreams which came true. Then he began to like solitude. He would go to the cave of Hira and meditate there in solitude for a number of days and nights. He would take provisions with him to stay for an extended period, and when he returned to Khadija (رضي الله عنه), he would stock up again and go back to the cave. This was his practice until Truth was revealed to him by an angel while he was in the cave of Hira.
First revelation of the Quran
- During Tahajjud time one night, when he was alone in the cave, there came to him an angel in the form of a man. The angel said to him, “Recite!”. “I cannot read”, the Prophet (ﷺ) replied. The angel took hold of him a second time and pressed him until he could not endure it any longer. After letting him go, the angel again said, “Recite!”. Again the Prophet (ﷺ) replied “I cannot read”. The angel further embraced him again until he had reached the limit of endurance and said “Recite!” for the third time the Prophet (ﷺ) said “I cannot read”. The angel released him and said: “Read in the name of your Lord, the Creator. He Who created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Bounteous. Who taught by the Pen, taught man what he knew not.” [96:1-5]
- This was the first day of his Prophethood and these were the first verses of the Quran revealed to him. He recited these words after the angel, who thereupon left him; and he said; “It was as though the words were written on my heart.” He was very alarmed by the experience and feared that he had become possessed.
- The Prophet (ﷺ) fled from the cave, and when he was halfway down the slope of the mountain he heard a voice above him saying: “O Muhammad, thou art the Messenger of God, and I am Jibraeel (Gabriel)”. The Prophet (ﷺ) stood gazing at the angel; then he turned away from him, but whichever way he looked the angel was always there on the horizon, whether it was to the north, east, south or west. Finally the angel turned away. The Prophet (ﷺ) was terrified and his heart was pounding hard. He returned home to Khadija (رضي الله عنها) and said, “Cover me!”. Khadija (رضي الله عنها) covered him and helped him calm down.
- The Quran tells us that the first revelation descended in Ramadan on the ‘Night of Power’.“The month of Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed.” [2:185]“We have indeed revealed this message during the Night of Power.” [97:1]
- The entire Quran was revealed over a period of approximately 22 years, 5 months and 14 days.
The view from inside the Cave of Hira
Video of the interior
References: The History of Makkah Mukarramah – Dr. Muhammad Ilyas Abdul Ghani, When the Moon Split – Shaikh Safiur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, Muhammad – Martin Lings, Astonishing Facts about The Qur’an – Mufti AH Elias