After his marriage with Khadijah, by the tender care of the woman, Muhammad began to have a little time to devote to the purpose for which he was born. He began to go to Mount Hira to have solitude for his devotions. Sometimes he would stay there for two or three nights, sometimes for days together. Nothing was there but solitude, no quarrel, no questions, no asking for anything, no flowers, no fruits, no trees. It was the desert. There he began to hear the voice of God. Really the voice of God speaks to us all, but we are dead to His voice, first because we are taken up with this material world and our ears are closed, and then because of the falsehood in which we live, the falsehood of ourselves first and then that of others. God has never ceased speaking, but our ears are deaf, and therefore we do not hear His voice.
Muhammad began to hear the voice of God much louder than anything else in the world. The Voice said, "Ikra". The first time he took no notice, because he wanted the solitude. The second time he took no notice because he was silent. But the third time the Voice was louder and he began to chant "Allah, Allah". Then it went on, "Ikra" : declare, chant, sing. This is a great thing for Sufis, for it meant : to sit with your eyes closed in meditation is not enough. Sing My glory in the dhikr, work by the sound.
Once when Muhammad came home from Mount Hira he asked for a mantle, and wrapped up in the mantle, all in fear, all in hope, all in confidence, he said to his wife, "I have had a very curious experience. I do not know whether I am beside myself or whether it is the experience which masters had in the past. I cannot explain to you what I am experiencing, because it passes human understanding". Khadijah said, I do not know why thou should not be chosen. Why fear evil influence ? I know and bear witness that thou art kind, forbearing, patient, meek. Thou art kind to me, thou art kind to thy friends, thou art forgiving to thine enemies. Thou art a peacemaker, thou hast sympathy with the animals, with the birds and insects". When from the depth of his mind the consciousness arose to the surface he said to the anxiously watching Khadijah, "O Khadijah, I, of whom it could have been thought, have either become a soothsayer or one obsessed". Khadijah said, "God is my protection, O my husband ! He will surely not let such a thing happen to thee, for thou speakest the truth, dost not return evil for evil, keepest faith, and art of a good life; neither art thou a babbler in the market-places. What has befallen thee ? Hast thou seen aught terrible ?"
Muhammad said, "Yes", and explained to her all that he had experienced on mount Hira. On listening to this account, she spoke most courageously with a happy countenance, "Rejoice, O dear husband, and be of good cheer. He in Whose hand stands Khadijah's life is my witness, that thou wilt be the prophet of this people". To confirm this, she arose soon after and went to her cousin Waraqa, a wise old man, and an authority on the religious scriptures of the Jews and Christians. As soon as Khadijah had fully explained to him her husband's most wonderful experience during his seclusion on Mount Hira, the words of the sacred scriptures - such as " I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another comforter, that he may be with you for ever, the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him".(St.John XIV,14) - stood before Waraqa's eyes with the sense of confidence in his heart. Thereupon he said, "Holy, holy ! Verily this is the word of God. Muhammad will be the prophet of his people. Tell him this and bid him be of brave heart. Do not be afraid of an evil influence. I think that this must be the same experience that was given to Moses : the communication with God. And I think that, if this continues, all his community will be against him. They will drive him out, because people do not like what is new. They like what is old, what they think is their own. I am too old, or I would stand by him, and this will take some years to manifest itself. But have courage, child, he will be a leader of mankind".
There was an expectation from all over, whether in the deserts or in the populous lands, from East to West and from North to South, that God's message was about to come. The beacon was to be lightened to show the lost ships a straight way to the harbour. The same lightning flashed through the heart of Waraqa. When he, the knower of the sacred scriptures, by accident happened to meet Muhammad in the street, he most earnestly said, "I tell thee by Him in Whose hand my life is : God has chosen thee to be the prophet of this people, the word of God has come to thee. Rejoice that the communication is opened. They will call thee a liar, they will prosecute thee, they will banish thee, they will fight against thee. Oh, if I could live to those days, I would fight for thee". And he kissed Muhammad on the forehead. These words of hope and trust brought consolation to the innocent soul of Muhammad during its infancy in the light of God. The communication was opened, Muhammad heard that true voice, the voice of God. He saw no picture, no symbol - he saw the true face of God in the sunrise, in the sunset, in nature.
Through his wish to hear the inner being, by his turning away from the outer being, from friends, from all, by his faith, he made it possible to hear the inner being. Then when communication was established came the command, "Be Our agent. Develop the seed that was sown by Christ. Make a body around it that the world may see it; without a body it cannot be seen". It was just as when we correspond a first time with a friend and then, when the correspondence is established, we say, "Do this or that for me". Then came one surah, and then other surahs :
"Verily We have revealed it on the Night of Power.
in the name of thy Lord
The difference between the verbal meaning and the mystical interpretation of the Qur'an could be as vast as the distance between the heavens and the earth. "Night" in the above surah signifies that condition of the soul when it sees no earthly objects, thoughts or impressions, just as the nightfall veils from one's sight all the surrounding objects. This is the only condition which makes it possible for the soul to have the divine revelation : at that time when it is in the embrace of the Mighty One, whose influence attracts the soul, which is its own element, during the moment of its absolute response. That is the Night of Power. This time of splendour has a greater bliss than many years' attainment of shadowy bliss which the soul might attain in its wakefulness on the physical plane of existence. In this state of exaltation appear to the eyes of the seer the angels, the heavenly ministrants, and the light illuminating the concerns of life. An absolute peace overwhelms the soul until it emerges and comes to the earthly spheres, which is as the breaking of dawn.
Every sound has a form and every word a visage, every thought has an image which the mind's eyes can see. As the words fell upon the ears of his heart the form of the speaker appeared before his heart's eyes, and Muhammad saw Gabriel the celestial ministrant, appearing to give him confidence in the words' being true.
While his soul was focussed upon the divine light within, all around him - the sun, the moon, the planets, the stars, the earth with all its beauties, nature with all its varieties - began to glitter before his eyes as a heavenly manuscript written in gold. The speaker within then gently whispered the surah the interpretation of which is :
"As thou readest this, nature's manuscript which stands before thee, and seest how from an insignificant state of conception (the proper sens of the Arabic word most often translated by "thick blood" or "a clot of blood", is sperm) the beautiful face of a living being with all its perfection has been brought forth, this is the phenomenon of Our nature's pen, which has written Our signs on all planes of existence and taught man to read it. Then proclaim the name of thy Lord, the most benificent". Declare the glory of Him who taught by the pen". What is the pen ? It has been interpreted : who taught by writing, and by this interpretation it has lost a great mystical meaning. Writing is such a small thing. Nowadays everybody writes. What a small thing reading and writing are. A banker may write all his life. What does he know in the end ? A person may write a grammar and become a great expert in his language. What does he know ? How could it be said of God that he writes ? The pen is the breath. When the breath has gone a person is dead; as long as the breath is there he designs. He designs buildings, palaces, he makes poetry, music. If man's breath has such a power, what is not the collective breath of the Whole, of God ? It has made all this universe.
It is said, "The sun and moon and stars show His praise. Praise Him in His works". The praise of a singer is in his singing, the praise of a poet is in his poems. You will not praise a singer if you have not heard him sing; you will not praise a poet if you have not read his poetry. Praise God by seeing the beauty of His nature.
Life on earth to the view of the Sufi is a schooling where every object and being, however insignificant or distinct, is a letter written on the page of the universe. The Supreme Will wrote it with the pen of His activity and only he can read it aright, who is illuminated by the Spirit within, for this is the purpose for which man was created.