History of Descent (Nuzool) of Al-Quran
Al-Quran is the word of Allah and is not a creation or Makhlooq but it is an Attribute of Allah, the Creator. Therefore, it was always with Allah like his other Attributes. Allah Ta’ala says:
“Nay! This is a glorious Quran, (inscribed) in Al-Lauhi-i-Mahfooz (the preserved Tablet).”
That means before the creation of the universe, Al-Quran was there in Lauh-i- Mahfooz, the preserved or guarded tablet. From here Al-Quran was sent down to Aasmaan-e-Duniya (Lowest Heaven) to Bait-ul-Ma’moor, this is called first descent or Nuzool.
First Descent or Nuzool:
Whole of Al-Quran was sent down in total at one instance of time from Lauh-i- Mahfooz to Bait-ul-Ma’moor in Aasmaane Duniya. This is called first Nuzool and this type of sending down of whole of the Quran at one instant of time is called ‘Inzaal’. The Quran has used two words for its Nuzool or descent viz.,
i. Inzaal: This means sending down whole of it at one instant of time only.
ii. Tanzeel: This means sending down gradually in piece-meal over a period of time? Allah Ta’ala says:
“We sent it down during a blessed night: For We (ever) wish to warn (against Evil).”
This verse is about the first Nuzool. There is consensus amongst the Ulema that this first descent was in Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Prayer) in the month of Ramadhan. There are different versions as to which day of Ramadhan it was, as the day has not been specified. Generally, it is believed that it was the night of 27th of Ramadhan.
Reasons for First Nuzool
Alama Zarqani says that this Nuzool of Al-Quran from lawh-i-Mahfooz to Bait- ul-Ma’moor was done to convey the message that the Al-Quran was a well-protected Book as it was not only revealed on the blessed Qalb of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) but was also preserved in Lawh-i-Mahfooz. (Manahil-ul-Irfan, Uloom-ul-Qur ’ an)
From Bait-ul-Ma’moor the Quran was sent down to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in piece meal over a period of twenty-three years. This type of descent is called Tanzeel.
“(It is) a Quran which We have divided (into parts from time to time), in order that thou mightest recite it to men at intervals: We have revealed it by stages.”
This second type of Nuzool or Tanzeel has also started in the month of Ramadhan, when the age of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was forty years. (Al- Itqaan)
One reason for this step wise descent was given in above mentioned verse and other reason is also given by the Quran itself, viz.,
“Those who reject faith say: “Why is not the Quran revealed to him all at once?” Thus (is it revealed), that We may strengthen thy heart thereby, and We have rehearsed it to thee in slow, well arranged stages, gradually.
And no question do they bring to thee but We reveal to thee the truth and the best explanation (thereof)”.
There is consensus amongst the Ulema that the initial verses of the Surah Alaq are the first verses of Al-Quran which were revealed to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). There is an authentic tradition in almost in all the authentic books of Hadith on the authority of Hadhrat Aayesha (RA).
Aisha (RA) (the mother of the faithful believers) narrated:
“The commencement of the Divine Inspiration to Allah’s Apostle was in the form of good dreams which came true like bright daylight, and then the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him. He used to go in seclusion in the cave of Hira where he used to worship (Allah alone) continuously for many days before his desire to see his family. He used to take with him the journey food for the stay and then come back to Khadija (his wife) to take his food likewise again till suddenly the Truth suddenly the Truth descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira. The angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet replied, “I do not know how to read.”
The Prophet added, “The angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it any more.
He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, ‘I do not know how to read (or what shall I read)?’ Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said, ‘Read in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists), has created man from a clot.
Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.” (96: 1-3) Then Allah’s Apostle returned with the Inspiration and with his heart beating severely. Then he went to Khadija bint Khuwailid (his wife) and said, “Cover me! Cover me!” They covered him till his fear was over and after that he told her everything that had happened and said, “I fear that something may happen to me”.
Khadija replied, “Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones.”
Khadija then accompanied him to her cousin Waraqa bin Naufal bin Asad bin ‘Abdul ‘Uzza, who, during the Pre-Islamic Period became a Christian and used to write in Hebrew alphabet. He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight.
Khadija said to Waraqa, “Listen to the story of your nephew, O my cousin!” Waraqa asked, “O my nephew! What have you seen?” Allah’s Apostle described whatever he had seen. Waraqa said, “This is the same one (angel Gabriel) who keeps the secrets, whom Allah had sent to Moses. I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would turn you out.” Allah’s Apostle asked, “Will they drive me out?” Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said, “Anyone who came with something similar to what you have brought say was treated with hostility; and if I remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly.” But after a few days Waraqa died and the Divine Inspiration was also paused for a while. (Bukhari Shareef)
Reasons for Stepwise Descent
Imam Raazi while commenting on these verses of Al-Quran in his famous Tafseer, Tafseel Al-Kabeer, writes following reasons:
1. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was illiterate, if Quran would have been sent down whole of it at a time, then it would have been difficult for him (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to remember. On the other hand Hadhrat Musa (AS) was literate, so the whole Taurah was sent to him in one go.
2. If the whole Quran would have been sent down at a time, then the implementation of all the laws would have become obligatory at once which would have been against the benefits of systematic stepwise descent.
3. Day by day the non-believers increased their actions of teasing Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), so frequent coming of Angel Jibra’eel (AS) with the Quranic verse made it easy for him (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to face these hard-ships and also provided him solace.
4. Large portion of the Quran was sent down to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) in response to the questions posed to him or the situation faced by him (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), so it was most appropriate that the Quran was sent down like that and not once only. As the Quranic predictions were also coming true, that further brightening its truthfulness.
Period of Fatrat:
Hadhrat Jibra’eel (AS) came first time to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) with the first WAHY (of Surah Alaq) in the Cave of Hira, and then there was a gap of three years during which no WAHY was revealed to him. This period is called as the period of Fatrat.
After the period of Fatrat, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) narrates the next appearance of Jibra’eel as: “Suddenly I saw the Angel who had come to me in cave Hi’ra and he was sitting on a chair.”
This time Surah Muddhathir was revealed in full. In this way Surah Muddithir is second in sequence of descent.
Nuzool of Surah Fatihah:
Imam Baihaqi has quoted on the authority of Hadhrat Umru-b-Hubail that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) before the announcement of Prophet- hood, used to say to Hadhrat Khadijah (RA), that whenever he used to go in solitude, some one used to call him, O! Muhammad, O! Muhammad, and one day he read whole Surah Fatihah to him (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).
This means that Surah Fatihah was revealed before first verse of Surah Alaq. Allama Anwar Shah Kashimiri (RA) has given an explanation for this. He says that it is possible that Surah Fatihah was sent down twice, first time it was read to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) as a part of the Quran and second time it was sent down as a permanent part of the Quran.