5.2 The Communications Cease and Commence Again
Mohamed knew his people well. He knew what he was about to embark upon and he realized that his days of peace and esteem among them were over. From that moment onwards his life would be a dire struggle with all the forces of evil, a frank confrontation with all that was wicked, selfish, and corrupt in man. He would experience hostility, persecution, and rejection. Many would belie and many would fight him, but of what consequence was that in comparison with the secret of creation at last revealed? He had the courage and strength to persevere for the sake of the truth no matter what it cost. He was ready, he was eager, he was happy, but he did not know how to start. He waited for Gabriel to appear again to guide him, but no vision, no message nor any sign from Allah appeared. Abruptly all spiritual communication had ceased.
He waited in hope, and then he waited in fear and anxiety. Why had the noble vision disappeared? Had he done something to drive it away? Had he been found unworthy? He began to worry and fret, he waited in sadness and despair. After he had seen so clearly, heard so certainly and unequivocally, where had the greatest hope gone? Was it irretrievably lost? Was he so detestable that Allah had forsaken him? Grief and a terrible sense of loss filled his heart. For six months there was absolute silence (some believe the period was longer, others shorter, but most commentators believe that it was around six months). For six months he heard nothing, saw nothing, after he used to hear and see things every day. Of what use was life if it did not contain the truth, the lofty ideal that he thought for a moment was within his grasp? Of what use was existence if it meant no more than living behind the opaque prison bars of the material world? Sick of the fake and superficial life of the Meccans, in sheer despair, he thought of throwing himself from a mountain height. Then at this moment of deepest despair, the angel Gabriel descended with the following verses:
"By the full morn, by the night when it grows still, your Lord has not bid you farewell nor does He loathe you, and for the eternal life you shall have better than the temporal, And your Lord will give you to make you content. Has He not found you fatherless and given you a home? Has He not found you astray and guided you? Has he not found you dependent and made you independent?" (93:1-8)
These verses, in the resonant Koranic Arabic, are a masterpiece of literary excellence and psychological perspicacity. They begin by the dramatic contrast between light and dark, full mom and still night. The contrast of these two entities, so familiar to Mohamed, were to make him understand two entities that he could not see. The mom represented the truth that had been revealed to him for a moment and then disappeared, while the night represented the six months of absolute silence. The reality of the spiritual experience came after silence as night follows day. He should not have panicked or thought that the day would never come. Silence would come again, as night followed day, but he should never be in terror of losing the truth, never again should he despair of the mercy of Allah, for it would surely come after despair as full morning came after deep darkness. This lesson, important to all Muslims was particularly pertinent to Mohamed, the first Muslim, whose life was a sequence of very great darknessís followed by the most dazzling of triumphs.
The reappearance of the communication was a great joy to Mohamed. He prayed and gave thanks again and again. The holy verses had reassured him that he was not detestable, that his Lord had not forsaken him. He would be guided and instructed again and his people were not doomed to be lost in dark superstition. The communications from Allah would continue and mankind would learn what they had never known.
He felt so relieved, so honored, and yet so unworthy of this very great honor. Direct communication with the Most High was beyond the worth of any man but he would try to be worthy, he would work with all his heart and soul to please Allah, the Greatest, the Most Merciful, who had chosen him for this task of awesome responsibility, a terrible yet beloved vocation. So away with black ideas of suicide, away with doubts and despair. His life from now on would be dedicated to the service of his Lord.
One may wonder why the messages from heaven had stopped for six months after having clear and unequivocal. Perhaps the answer is found in the reaction of Mohamed himself. At first he connected what he saw with insanity, He felt fear of the unknown. Therefore Allah, in His wisdom, was giving His Prophet time to reflect and get used to the idea, time to realize the greatness of the gift, the magnificence of the promise. Gradually from a terrifying vision that he fled from the mountainside to avoid, it became a strange but not terrifying idea, though full of grave responsibilities and dangers. Then when the vision stopped, he realized how dear this message was. It became something he cherished and for which waited eagerly. He wanted it so much; he felt his whole life was not worth living without it. The whole world was nothing in comparison with this great truth. This period of six months made him assess everything in the new light of the knowledge he had received, and realize that without this spiritual contact his life would mean nothing to him.