Muhammah receives first vision in Hira cave near Mecca

For years after his marriage, Muhammad would frequently take a provision of dates and oatmeal for food and retire for days into a cave he had found at the top of a cone-shaped mountain, called Hira, some three miles from Mecca.

He used to spend night after night in that solitary cave far away from all the worldly turmoils. Here he eagerly pondered and contemplated in long and lonely vigils to search after One and Only God. His periods of loneliness became more frequent and his vigils lengthened. He prayed ardently, opening his whole heart to his Creator Whom his soul longed to meet. He became so fully absorbed in the ecstacy of his devotions that he would remain for days in the mountain cavern. Often his beloved wife brought him food. This went on for a considerable length of time, till at last, in his fortieth year, a great unseen was revealed to him. The light of God was fully reflected in Muhammad. He had reached the stage of self-elevation when duality becomes non-existent and only One remains.

The earliest sources relate that the moon on that day of the eve of Ramdan enwrapped Hira. The birds were still in their nests and not a sound or movement disturbed this heavy quiet. It was though as everything were pegged to its place and nothing existed save the heavens and the earth. Tonight, a few roaming shepherds had seen Muhammad go there. Now there was no one else, only the sky and the earth and the crescent moon between them, rising sometimes aloft and sinking to the edge of the horizon. Stricken with panic Muhammad came home from Hira on that morning, strangely troubled, his great eyes dilated in wonder. "Cover me up, Khadija, cover me up!" he said in feverish agitation. After a while, he became calmer and spoke thus, "A strange vision appeared to me in the cave of Hira tonight. The vision said, `I am the angel Gabriel, sent by God.' Then he asked me to read. `I am unlettered', I said. Upon this he clasped me to his bosom and held me firmly. Then he let me go and asked me to read. I gave the same answer. He clasped me once again, and asked once again to read. And embracing me the third time, he chanted, `Read! in the name of thy Lord, Who created; He created man from a clot. Read! full of magnificence is thy Lord Who made the pen the vehicle of knowledge and taught man what he knew not.' Suddenly the words came alive to me; my limbs were all atremble." Khadija was sorely worried at first, but soon regained her composure and comforted him. "Fear not, my noble one", she said, "but rejoice. God will not forsake you in this affair nor expose you to shame. For you are good and kind and truthful. You are hospitable to the passing stranger, you aid and comfort the poor and the lowly, and support the virtuous in righteous deeds."