in category Seerah

Does intermittent Qur'anic revelation to the Prophet suggest he was not the author?

1 Answer
1 Answer
(60.9k points):

Islamic researcher, graduated from Al-Azhar University, Islamic Studies in the English language. I also studied at Temple University in the US.
2 Helpful
0 Unhelpful
In a Nutshell:
The intermittency of revelation several times for long periods was critical for Prophet Muhammad (saw). When facing new situations, the revelation came with verses to address the problem. If Muhammad was the author, it begs the question, why he did not issue the verse from the outset. The simplest answer is, he was not the author of the Qur'an.

Intermittency of Revelation

The revelation was intermittent or withheld by God in a number of situations.

The main ones were at the start of his mission, where the revelation was stopped until the Prophet and people around him began thinking Allah had left him. Even some of his enemies said your devil has forsaken you (Bukhari 305).

The first intermission occurred immediately after the revelation of the first two or three Surahs (chapters). Scholars disagree on the period of such intermittency, but it continued for tens of days, probably around 40 days. (Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, Vol. 8, p. 710, Razi, Mafatih al-Ghayb, Vol. 31, p. 192)

Ibn Abbas means by the verse that was revealed is the chapter of al-Mudathir a small chapter, number 74. Jabir (ra) narrated:

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَهُوَ يُحَدِّثُ عَنْ فَتْرَةِ الْوَحْىِ - قَالَ فِي حَدِيثِهِ ‏"‏ فَبَيْنَا أَنَا أَمْشِي سَمِعْتُ صَوْتًا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَرَفَعْتُ رَأْسِي فَإِذَا الْمَلَكُ الَّذِي جَاءَنِي بِحِرَاءٍ جَالِسًا عَلَى كُرْسِيٍّ بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالأَرْضِ ‏"‏ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏"‏ فَجُئِثْتُ مِنْهُ فَرَقًا فَرَجَعْتُ فَقُلْتُ زَمِّلُونِي زَمِّلُونِي ‏.‏ فَدَثَّرُونِي فَأَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى )‏ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُدَّثِّرُ، قُمْ فَأَنْذِرْ، وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرْ، وَثِيَابَكَ فَطَهِّرْ، وَالرُّجْزَ فَاهْجُرْ‏(‏ وَهِيَ الأَوْثَانُ قَالَ ثُمَّ تَتَابَعَ الْوَحْىُ ‏.‏
"The Messenger of Allah (saw) was told about the intermission of revelation and narrated,While I was walking I heard a voice from the sky, and raising my head I saw the angel who had come to me in Hira', sitting on a Throne between heaven and earth I was terror-stricken on that account and came back (to my family) and said: Wrap me up, wrap me up! So they wrapped me up, and the Blessed and Most Exalted Allah sent down: 'You who are shrouded, arise and deliver warning, your Lord magnify, your clothes cleanse, and defilement shun,' (Qur'an 74:1-5) and 'defilement' means idols; and then the revelation was followed continuously." (Sahih Muslim 161 a)

The second intermittency of the Revelation occurred a while later. The early historian Ibn Hisham narrated:

ثُمَّ فَتَرَ الْوَحْيُ عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فتْرةً مِنْ ذَلِكَ ، حَتَّى شقَّ ذَلِكَ عَلَيْهِ ، فَأَحْزَنَهُ ، فَجَاءَهُ جبريلُ بِسُورَةِ الضُّحَى
"Then the Revelation was stopped from revealing on the Prophet (saw) until he was distressed and grieved. Angel Gabriel then came to him with Surat al-Duha." (Sirat Ibn Hisham, Vol. 1, p. 225)

Ibn Abbas (ra) narrated the Prophet (saw) was being criticized by the disbelievers in Mecca for such intermission as if his God has left him. He narrated:

احتبس الوحي عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم خمسة عشر يوما أو نحوها. فقال المشركون: إن محمدا قد ودعه ربه وقلاه فنزلت الآية.
"The revelation was withheld from the Prophet (saw) for 15 days or so. The polytheists said: God of Muhammad has taken leave of him and forsaken him, then the verse was revealed." (Ibn Ashur, at-Tahrir, Vol. 1, p. 4845)

It was narrated that Mu'tamir (ra) narrated the statement of other disbelievers:

وَفَتَرَ الْوَحْيُ فَقَالُوا: لَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ لَتَتَابَعَ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ قَلَاهُ
"The revelation was intermittent, then people said: 'if the revelation was from God, it would succeed each other but God has taken leave of him.'" (Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, Vol. 8, p. 710)

Jundub ibn Sufyan (ra)narrated the coming of a woman who accused him of receiving a revelation from the devil and now he has left him:

فَجَاءَتِ امْرَأَةٌ فَقَالَتْ يَا مُحَمَّدُ إِنِّي لأَرْجُو أَنْ يَكُونَ شَيْطَانُكَ قَدْ تَرَكَكَ، لَمْ أَرَهُ قَرِبَكَ مُنْذُ لَيْلَتَيْنِ أَوْ ثَلاَثًا‏
"Then a lady (the wife of Abu Lahab) came and said, 'O Muhammad, I think that your Satan has forsaken you, for I have not seen him with you for two or three nights!'" (Bukhari 4950)

This is the short verse that was revealed:

وَالضُّحَىٰ، وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا سَجَىٰ، مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ
"By the morning brightness, and (by) the night when it covers with darkness, Your Lord has not taken leave of you, (O Muhammad), nor has He detested (you)." (Qur'an 93:1-3)

In this time the disbelievers in Mecca claimed the so-called devil has taken leave of him and it was an urgent situation for a verse to solve the problem, but the revelation was sent days later.

The Same Thing happened for Other Cases

The three testing questions asked by Meccans and he waited for revelation for 15 days waiting for revelation and the people of Mecca started doubting his Prophethood and the Prophet was distressed.

When the hypocrites accused his wife of adultery and he knew very well she was innocent, but he waited the entire month for Revelation.


If Prophet Muhammad (saw) was authored the Qur'an, it seems unusual to allow people to criticize him and doubt his Prophethood, even some of his followers, for something he could easily avoid.

If he was the source of the Qur'an, he could have easily remedied by issuing some verses as usual. Why did not he issue the revelation from the very beginning? The simplest answer to all these questions is:

قلْ مَا يَكُونُ لِي أَنْ أُبَدِّلَهُ مِن تِلْقَاء نَفْسِي إِنْ أَتَّبِعُ إِلاَّ مَا يُوحَى إِلَيَّ إِنِّي أَخَافُ إِنْ عَصَيْتُ رَبِّي عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ
"Say, (O Muhammad), 'It is not for me to change it on my own accord. I only follow what is revealed to me. Indeed, I fear, if I should disobey my Lord, the punishment of a tremendous Day.'" (Quran 10:15)


The intermittency of revelation several times for long periods was critical for Prophet Muhammad (saw). When facing new situations, the revelation came with verses to address the problem. If Muhammad was the author, it begs the question, why he did not issue the verse from the outset. The simplest answer is, he was not the author of the Qur'an.


Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari
Razi, Mafatih al-Ghayb
Ibn Ashur, at-Tahrir
Seerat ibn Hisham

User Settings

What we provide!

Vote Content

Great answers start with great insights. Content becomes intriguing when it is voted up or down - ensuring the best answers are always at the top.

Multiple Perspectives

Questions are answered by people with a deep interest in the subject. People from around the world review questions, post answers and add comments.

An authoritative community

Be part of and influence the most important global discussion that is defining our generation and generations to come

Join Now !

Update chat message


Delete chat message

Are you sure you want to delete this message?