The Quran consists of 114 chapters and over 6,000 passages. The scholars of Islam have always looked at the first revelation to see how the message of Islam began. We know that the first revelation took place in the month of Ramadan as mentioned by God in the Quran. As Muhammad neared 40 years of age, he used to go to the mountain of Hira for successive nights. He would go to a cave towards the peak of this mountain in order to worship God and show devotion. He did not approve of the evil practices of his people and the widespread paganism and this retreat practice became appealing to him.
One evening as he was in the cave, the archangel Gabriel appeared to him. He commanded him to read. Muhammad as an unlettered man replied that he did not know what to read. Gabriel squeezed him and then released him, repeating the command to read. Muhammad gave the same response. Gabriel squeezed and released him and then commanded him to read the first words of God.
These words are the opening five passages of chapter 96 of the Quran. “Read! In the name of your Lord who created: He created man from a clinging form of blood after being a drop of semen. Read! Your Lord is the Most Kind, abundant in generosity and goodness, who taught men to write and use the pen, who taught man that which he did not know.”
These verses contain the basis and essence of the message of Islam. They announced the commissioning of Muhammad as a Messenger of God. Muhammad understood from them that something amazing was being revealed to him. These five sentences speak about the importance of doing everything with God’s name alone seeking His aid, blessings and protection, and in accordance with His commands and teachings. The Divine words stress the importance of learning, reading, writing and attaining proper knowledge from God as these are the basis of knowing and understanding God’s commands.
The passages show that the One True God alone is worthy of all worship and devotion. This is because God alone is the Creator and Master of the universe. He created mankind and describes human development in the different stages of life. This is just one of God’s many signs. Thus, people should turn to God in worship and gratitude for His blessings. In return, God will show them generosity, kindness, mercy and abundant goodness.