Have you ever wondered why Allah the Creator chose to start His revelation of the Quran with the word Read إقْرَأْ ?
When the Prophet was 39 years old, the beginning of the Revelation came to him as good dreams. Every dream he saw came true like bright daylight. In some of his dreams he saw himself secluded from the people and contemplating the creation around him. He believed in the dream and did just that. He secluded himself in various mountains around Mecca contemplating the creation around him and observing everything that moved.
Then in one of his dreams, he saw himself secluded up in the cave of Mountain Hira when something came to him, spoke to him and squeezed him hard. He believed this dream was going to come true and so he started to seclude himself up in the cave of mountain Hira. From there he had a clear view of the Kaaba and the surrounding area. He would go up there for a number of nights before coming back to his family to collect more provisions, then he would go back up again. While he was up there he was expecting something to happen at any time and waited for it. This went on until the first revelation came to him suddenly.
It was the last third of the month of Ramadhan on an odd night the angel Gabriel came to him.
It was the last third of the month of Ramadhan, on an odd night, when the Angel Gabriel came to him and said, ‘Read!’ The Messenger of Allaah SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘I am not a reader.’ Then he took hold of the Prophet and squeezed him until he could not bear it any more then he released him. The Angel Gabriel said, ‘Read!’ The Messenger said, ‘I am not a reader.’ The Angel Gabriel took hold of the Prophet Muhammed again and squeezed him a second time until he could not bear it any more, then he released him and said, ‘Read!’ The Prophet Muhammed said, ‘I am not a reader.’ The Angel Gabriel took hold of him and squeezed him a third time until he could not bear it any more, then he released him and said,
‘Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists).
He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood).
Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.
Who has taught (the writing) by the pen.
He has taught man that which he knew not.’
[al-‘Alaq 96:1-5 – interpretation of the meaning]
Then the Messenger of Allaah SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) went back with his heart beating wildly, until he came to his wife Khadeejah and said, ‘Cover me! Cover me!’ They covered him till his fear went away. Then he said to Khadeejah, ‘O Khadeejah, I fear for myself,’ and he told her what had happened. Khadeejah said, ‘Nay, be of good cheer, for by Allaah, Allaah will never disgrace you. You uphold the ties of kinship, speak truthfully, help the poor and destitute, serve your guests generously and assist those who are stricken by calamity.’
What does the word إقْرَأْ mean?
The word إقرَأ has a number of meanings: “to convey” as in convey so and so my greetings. It also means read something that is written down or read from memory something that has been committed to memory.
The Prophet Muhammed was illiterate and therefore he could not read or write from anything written down. Furthermore, at the moment the Angel Gabriel came to him nothing was taught to him that was committed to memory for him to recall. The Prophet Muhammed memorized the Quran from the Angel Gabriel. We learn from the hard squeezing of the Angel Gabriel is that to gain knowledge we have to go through hardship. However, we have to persevere if we want the fruits of this knowledge. After all, no pain, no gain.
The Quran was revealed in Arabic, therefore it is imperative to learn to read Arabic using the Arabic script. Yes, it may be difficult to begin with. But it gets easier along the way and it is much more rewarding reading Arabic using the Arabic script than using transliteration. Remember, the difficulty of learning to read Arabic is only temporary. Once a person can read Arabic it becomes a life time skill.