During his youth, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) travelled to several places in Syria and Palestine in the capacity of a merchant. In between his commercial undertakings, he also worked as a shepherd. This afforded him the opportunity for quiet thought and meditation far from the maddening crowds of Makkah.
When the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was nearly forty years of age, one night while seated in deep thought and meditation in the cave of the Mount Hira, Hazrat Jibrail or the angel Gabriel (may God be pleased with him) came to him with a piece of silk brocade on which some words were written and said, “Read”. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, “I cannot read!” But the angel repeated his words three times and said:
“Read in the name of thy Lord who created
Man from blood coagulated
Read! Thy Lord is wondrous kind
Who by the pen has taught mankind
Things they knew not, being blind.”
This was the first revelation. It affected the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) so deeply that he trembled all over and turned pale. He rose from his seat and hurried home where he related the incident to his wife – Hazrat Khadija bint Khuwaylid (may God be pleased with her). She comforted him and told him that he was the Prophet. In order to confirm her opinion, she went to her cousin, Waraqa bin Naufal, who was a ‘hanif’ or monotheist. This meant that he still followed the same uncorrupted religion of the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). He also supported her. Encouragements from his wife and her cousin comforted Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him).
There after the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) received the message of the God Almighty through the angel Gabriel that he was the Messenger of Allah and His Rasul. And that he was to deliver the message of Islam to the idolaters of Makkah in particular and the non-Muslims of the world in general. The Prophet (peace be upon him) returned and busied himself with the increasing burdens of prophet hood. He stood at the threshold of the most critical period in his own life and the history of the world. At first he conveyed the message privately to the close circle of his relatives and friends. But later on the message was spread in all directions. Thus God perfected religion. Sensible minds in Arabia understood that the mission of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was true and free from any worldly ambitions.
Not only was Mount Hira the choicest refuge of Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him) but it also became a much frequented ziyarat in subsequent centuries.
The Mount itself would be known as Jabal e Noor or the Mountain of Light. Particularly during the Hajj season is this cave visited by pilgrims in large numbers. But Umrah pilgrims keep visiting it off and on throughout the year. Devotees of the Holy Prophet (Ashiq e Rasool) climb the rock to reach the top where the cave is located. Strictly following the way of the Prophet (peace be upon him), they climb the steep enthusiastically and make the descent anxiously. By no means is this the only way, or the compulsory way. Pilgrims can climb and descend the way they like it or in a way that is not hazardous to their health. This is just for those who wish to see the Cave of Hira from inside and in accordance with the Sunnah.
The Mount Hira is only three kilometres away from Makkah at the end of the Jabal An Nur Road. Vehicles may or may not go beyond Bilal bin Rabah Mosque. This is where the said road terminates and the Ghar e Hira Trail begins. The passage is about half a kilometre of unpaved dirt road and may not be for everyone.