The First Ramadan
By Ibrahim Naseem
We celebrate Ramadan and fast each of its days. But what happened in Ramadan that makes it a special month? Here's a narrative about the FIRST RAMADAN and God's revelation of the Quran to His final Messenger.
In the far western part of the Arabian Peninsula, there is Mecca, the most visited city on earth. Tens of millions of people each year travel to the ancient city to carry out rites of worship that date back to Abraham.
Less than fifty miles from the Red Sea, Mecca sits in an extremely hot and barren valley surrounded by rows of brown rocky mountain ranges that are harsh and terribly rugged. Nestled among the ranges, there is a plain mountain that the Arabs have come to call Mount Nur, on top of which is a small shallow cave called Hira.
Fourteen centuries ago, a slender forty-year-old man with dark hair and a black beard climbed the crags of this mountain to take refuge in the cave. There, he had elevation; he was alone; and he had plenty of time to reflect on matters that concerned him most, especially the condition of his people below and the awful chaos in which they lived.
Mecca's folk were called the Quraysh, a large Arab clan that descended from the prophet Ishmael, the son of Abraham. Both Abraham and Ishmael (peace be upon them) once made Mecca their home thousands of years before. In the seventh century, however, the Quraysh were the official caretakers of Mecca and had been for some time. The clan was composed of several families that often fought bitterly with one another, raiding and running off with goods, herds of camels, and captives.
By all calculations, Mecca was a tough town to live in at the time. It was not unusual to hear, for example, the terrible cries of a newborn baby instantly muffled by a pile of gravel thrown upon her face and body--buried alive for nothing more than being a female infant. Drunkenness and gambling were popular sports. The men and women of Quraysh adored stones and lumber, calling them gods. There were more than 360 idols strewn throughout Mecca, the once noble town of Abraham and Ishmael. How this sacred land was transformed into a parlor of idolatry and lawlessness was a question the man in the cave asked himself.
One night in Ramadan, the ninth month of the Arabian calendar in the year 610, this man's life changed. Out from the dark, in the cave, he heard a voice, an angel that spoke to him and demanded that he "read!" The voice startled the man and confused him, since he did not know how to read. In fact, he told the angel exactly this. But it didn't matter. The command came again, demanding that he "read" in the "name of his Lord" who created him and all people, a Lord who was neither of stone or wood, but the unseen God of Abraham and the one Lord of the heavens and the earth.
The man descended quickly down the rocky slope of the mountain. Nearly overwhelmed by fright, he thought that he had gone mad. He rushed home to his wife of fifteen years, his dear Khadija bint Khuwaylid. Visibly shaken by the awesome experience, he asked her to comfort him, to cover him, to soothe him, which she did immediately. She placed over his body a mantle and then waited for him to calm down, until he was able to tell her what had frightened him so much. She listened closely as he eventually recounted the event. She reassured him, saying that nothing evil had come to him, that he was not possessed at all. She later told him more: that God, the very one this voice spoke about, would never cause him harm. It was a special call that others before him had once received, the elect of humanity, like Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. The man tried to rest and understand what had happened to him that night.
Though he didn't realize it at the time, this call would not go away. More words would come, words of amazing power and eloquence. They would alter the way he and his people lived. In fact, soon the entire Arabian peninsula and the region of the world known as the "cradle of civilization" would change. A new dawn would break, a religious movement would shortly sweep the region. The whole world eventually would hear of this man's message about one God, the purpose of life, and the nearing of Ultimate Judgment.
The final chapter of religion started with this man and his wife. But there would come a day in which more than a billion people of all languages and colors all over the globe would love and revere him more than any human being. They would strive to do as he did, live the way he lived, worship the way he worshipped, and speak the words he spoke.
Muhammad ibn Abdullah, the Prophet of Islam, the Messenger of God, or Abu'l-Qasim: This is how he is known. God's peace and blessings be upon him. The time between his call and his triumph, however, would be one of struggle that would test him and his band of followers. He would be ridiculed, betrayed, accused, injured, and nearly assassinated. He would be slandered, called a soothsayer, sorcerer, and madman. He would be boycotted and stalked. He would be driven away. His food would be poisoned. And he would bleed from stones thrown at him. Some of his followers would be tortured in public. Some killed. Others would flee. But the Prophet persevered and God's will would not be frustrated. God's religion was established during those special 23-years so that Truth would endure on earth so long and day and night endure.