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Wednesday, February 7, 2007

What are The Features of the Makkan Revelations?

Makkan revelations are defined as all verses and chapters of the Quran which were brought by Jibreel (Gabriel) to the Prophet (PBUH) before His migration to Medina (Hijra 622 CE). This includes verses which were revealed in City of Taif as well as those revealed in other areas outside of Makkah. These revelations represent the first stage of the Islamic movement in which its fundamentals were established.

a) Tawheed: Unity of Lordship

When Islam was first presented to the people of Makkah, they were in a state of disbelief. Most of them believed in Allah, but they had put between themselves and Allah many intermediaries. They made idols to represent these intermediaries and worshipped them instead of Allah. Thus, the early revelations taught the people about the Allah’s Unity and power over all things, they told people that Allah was without parents, offspring or any partner who shared His powers. They also pointed out the idols could neither bring good nor hold back evil. And they questioned the logic of worshipping things which could not even see or hear.

b) Salaah: Prayers:

After the first verses of revelation came informing the Prophet (PBUH) that he had been chosen for Prophet Hood, Allah sent Jibreel (Gabriel) to teach him the correct method of prayer. This was necessary because the correct method of prayer could not be arrived by logical reasoning. Therefore, even the Prophet(PBUH) himself had to be taught the correct method of worshipping Allah. Thus, the early verses called upon the Prophet (PBUH) and his early band of followers to make their SALAAH(Prayers) regularly.

Since the Makkans were in the habit of worshipping Idols in the belief that these home made gods would carry their prayers to ALLAH for them, the early verses were also aimed at clarifying this misconception. The verses taught that Salaah(Prayers) should only be made for and to Allah, as He is the only one who can answer them.

Great stress was placed on Salaah(prayers) because of its relationship to Tawheed(Oneness of God).Correct Salaah(Prayers) directed to Allah alone is the most basic way of putting Tawheed into practice.

c) The Unseen:

Since there was no way that human beings could possibly come to know about the unseen world, the early verses taught them about its wonders, its mysteries, and its horrors. The verses described Paradise and its pleasures in order to encourage the believers to continue to do good deeds and to assure them of a reward, they also described the Hell fire and its torment in order to encourage the believers to strive to avoid evil deeds.

Some of the verses also reasoned with those who could not accept the resurrection by giving them examples from the nature, such as rain falling on dead earth bringing back life.

Allah says:

“And it is Allah who sends the winds sturring the clouds and We drive them to the earth after its death. Like wise (Will be) the Resurrection” Surah Faatir( Chapter 35 Verse 9)

Other pointed out logically that the recreation of life would be easier than its creation, although it is all the same to Allah.

Allah says:

“And it is He who originates the creation, then recreates it (after it has perished) which is easier for Him” Surah ar Room (Chapter 30 Verse 27)

d) Allah’s Existence:

There were some individuals among the Makkans who were in doubt about Allah’s very existence. Thus, some of early verses presented logical arguments proving Allah’s existence. Sometimes proofs were taken from nature and the creatures’ common to the society.


Allah asked the Makkans:

“Why didn’t they look at the camels and how they were created, and the sky and how it was raised, and the mountains and how they are firmly fixed and the Earth and how it was spread out?” Surah Al Ghaashiyah (Chapter 88 verse 17-20)

At other times straight logic was used, Allah asked them if they were created from nothing or it they created themselves:

Allah asks:

“Were they created of nothing, or were they themselves the creators” Surah Al Toor (Chapter 52 Verse 35)

The answer had to be one or the other. Since they know they had not created themselves, they had to realize that they were created. Even if they said that they came from their parents and their parents came from their parents and so on. The numbers eventually decrease to one who came from nothing. Thus, Allah, the Creator, has to be accepted for our existence to make sense.

e) Challenges:

In order to prove to the Quraysh that the Quran was from Allah and that Muhammad (PBUH) was a Prophet of Allah, some of the Makkan verses challenged the Arabs to imitate the Quran. Many of the chapters began with individual letters like “Alif, Laam and Meem”,”Saad,” or “Noon” in order to tease the Makkans with the same letters of alphabet that they made their flowery speeches and poetry with. Allah made the Quran with same letters, but they just could not imitate it. Since the Arabs were unable to produce even a chapter resembling the smallest chapter of Quran, the miraculous nature of Quran and its divine origin were clearly proven to the people at that time. However, many of them preferred to look at the Quran as a magical spell, and the Prophet (PBUH) as a master magician.

f) The People of Old:

The Makkan verses often mentioned historical examples of the earlier civilizations, like the Aad and the Thamood”. They were mentioned in order to warn those who had rejected the message of Islam. The verse spoke about the wonders of the ancient civilization; they listed the many blessings which Allah had bestowed on the peoples of those civilizations. Then they recounted how the people disobeyed Allah and denied His blessings, and how Allah’s punishment caught them when they were totally unaware of what would become of them if Allah so willed .

These examples were quite familiar to the Arabs because the ruins of such civilizations could still be seen. For example, the stone tombs of Madaa in Saalih were directly on the trade route to Syria.

g) Eemaan- Faith:

Very few laws were revealed in the Makkan verses, instead the verses concentrated on principles which would build Eemaan (faith) of the early Muslims. These verses spoke of the importance of fearing Allah and being aware of His presence and knowledge of all things. They were often filled with advice about being patient, perseverant, truthful and trustworthy, in order to build the moral spiritual character of the early Muslims who were in a minority and under lot of pressure from Makkan society.

h) Short Verses:

The Makkan Sarah’s usually had short verses, catchy rhymes, and a very strong rhythm; these qualities were meant to catch the attention of listeners who basically opposed to the message of Islam. The verses had to be short because the audience would not be willing to listen to long, drawn out statements, as soon as they heard any of the Quran, they would stick their fingers in their ears and turn away. Thus the verses often had to strike home immediately; they often resembled the chants of the oracles and fortune tellers, but their meanings were very clear, whereas the chants were mostly obscure and vague.

For example, the oracle Zabraa warned her people about a disaster which would soon strike them as follows:

By the fluttering wind, and the falling night
By the shinning morn, and the piercing star
By the rain laden clouds,
Verily, the trees of the valley are really deceptive, and teeth gnash until twisted.
Verily, the boulders of the mountain warn of mourning, that you won’t find any escape from.

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