An-Isra (The Journey By Night)
Chapter 17: Verse 106
The Wisdom behind Gradual Revelation
“And it (is a) Quran which We have divided (into parts), in order that you might recite it to mankind at intervals. And verily, We have revealed it by stages!”
If Allah had willed it so, the Quran could have been sent in one revelation. Why wasn’t it so? An elaboration of the wisdom behind this is necessary, especially because we are often confronted with the same question from the opponents of Islam.
The gradual revelation was considered a blessing that Allah gave to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and to his ummah.
Following are some of the benefits of the gradual revelation:
1) To strengthen the resolve of the Prophet against the disbelievers
The Prophet was distressed and anguished by the attitude of his people towards his message. They ridiculed and mocked him, and claimed that he was a sorcerer, a madman, or that he was possessed by the jinn. By the continual revelation of the Quran to the Prophet, he was reaffirmed in his determination and zeal. This is what Allah alludes to when He discusses the graduality of the revelation,
“Thus (it is sent down in parts) that We may strengthen your heart thereby” [25:32]
2) To simplify its memorization and understanding by the Companions
The piece-meal revelations of the Quran made it easier for the Companions to understand, memorize and implement the portions that were revealed. If the Quran had been revealed all at once, it might have been difficult for the Companions to understand all of its verses properly. Yet, with gradual revelations, the Companions understood and implemented the Quran correctly.
3) To prove the truthfulness of the Prophet
The idolaters and the People of the Book used to ask the Prophet questions in order to outwit him, but every time Allah would reply to their queries. The Quran itself refers to this aspect of the revelation,
“And no example or similitude do they bring (to oppose or find fault in you) except that We reveal to you the truth (against this similitude), and the better explanation thereof” [25:33]
4) To prove the miraculous nature of the Quran
Indeed, one of the most outstanding miracles of the Quran was that it was revealed over a period of two decades and yet not a single of its six thousand plus verses is contradicted by another. Also, the order of the verses was not done chronologically – rather, the Prophet would instruct his Companions of the location of any new verses. So, the Quran was literally assembled out of fragmental revelations. It was as if an intricate puzzle was perfectly pieced together to form a flawless masterpiece.
5) To reveal the laws of Islam – the Shariah – in a gradual manner
The Companions during the Makkan stage were being trained spiritually so that they could form the nucleus of the future Muslim state in Madina. Once they had passed this stage, Allah then completed the revelation of the shariah in gradual steps, so that they could adapt to the lifestyle of Islam.
6) To ease the revelation process on the Prophet
The process of inspiration, or wahy, was a difficult one for the Prophet. At times, he used to sweat profusely, even on a cold night, because of the severity of the inspiration. Had the Quran been revealed all at once, it might have been too difficult for the Prophet to bear.
"An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’aan" - Abu Ammar Yasir Qadhi, pp. 81-87
Companions of the Prophet
The Truthful One
When the Prophet returned to Makkah on the same night and the following day related his experience it led to different reactions. The disbelievers of the Quraish found it difficult to believe. With their materialistic outlook on life, they could not grasp this extraordinary event. They also found it suitable opportunity to jeer at the Muslims and their belief; caravans take over a month to travel to Jerusalem, how could he have undertaken this journey in one night? They further asked the Prophet to give the description of masjid al Aqsa and the city of Jerusalem. To their astonishment, he gave them the correct answer. He told them that two caravans were also on their way back and would arrive shortly in Makkah. The Muslims did not find it difficult to believe the journey. Surely Allah was the creator of the heavens and the earth and everything between them; thus to take the prophet to him was not something impossible.
The disbelievers of the Quraish came to Abu Bakr who had not yet heard of the Mi’raj, and asked him whether he believed in the truth of the story of his friend Prophet Muhammad, that he had been to Jerusalem and had returned within a short span of the night. Abu Bakr enquired if the prophet had actually said that. When they answered in the affirmative he replied: “Yes I am prepared to believe in what Prophet Muhammad says. The Prophet tells us that the word of Allah comes to him directly from heaven to earth, at any hour by day or night and we believe in him. Isn’t this a greater miracle than what you are doubting?"
To Abu Bakr, belief in the Mi’raj was just like acceptance of the Prophethood of Muhammad. He was later honoured by Allah with the title ‘As-Siddiq’ (one who verifies the truth) due to this act.
"The Seerah of the Final Prophet" – S. M. Hasan Al-Banna, pg. 97
Earning the Pleasure of Allah
The nature and logic of the Islamic movement is inherent in the very reality of God. God being the only God, Lord and Master, worshipping him alone is to accord the love of God the highest place in his heart and cast away every idol from the recesses of the heart. It requires that one surrenders and commits one’s life – individual and societal, inward and outward – entirely to God’s truth. To achieve this, both a new individual and a new order of society are essential.
A society in the hands of those who have turned away from God drifts towards rebellion against God. In such a society, the believer is always running against the flow of traffic. And only those who attain iman (faith), islam (surrender), taqwa (God-consciousness) and ihsan (godliness), and are willing to struggle collectively would be able to change the course of history.
It is the nature of iman, then, that those who surrender themselves to God should strive to wrest control of all centres of power and authority from those in rebellion against God, not for themselves but to bring them under God. For ‘ungodly leadership is at the root of the evils afflicting humanity’.
Therefore, the ‘objective of the Islamic movement, in this world, is the change in leadership’ at all levels and in all spheres of life. For this purpose ‘it is not enough to deliver lectures at conferences’, or merely be content with the presence of a large number of ‘good’ individuals. What is needed is organized collective struggle – a Jihad to bring God’s earth under God’s rule.
This is the only way to earn the pleasure of Allah in this-world and in that-world.
Khurram Murad’s Introduction to “The Islamic Movement: Dynamics of Values, Power and Change”, pp. 10-12