Why was Quran revealed in twenty-three years? Couldnt it have been revealed all at once?
There are various purposes in the revelation of Quran in twenty-three years. The age in which Quran was revealed is an age when humankind progressed in the course of development. Therefore, the last and the perfect Prophet came. The duty of his community was to come to the furthest point of their time, to climb the ladder of perfection to the last step and to teach civilized nations. However, evil habits and bad behaviors they continued to perform till that day penetrated into their souls and veins to such an extent that it was each a different labor to eradicate each one of them and to replace them with high virtues and good behaviors. If Quran came all of a sudden with all its commandments before them, they could not have carried it out.
Let us give an example from our time; imagine people addicted to cigarette and alcohol and people with an obsession of wandering about or of sitting in coffee houses. Even if you cut their heads off or say, You will die if you go to the coffee houses, they will still go devising certain pretexts. If he fails to go to the coffee house one day and stays home, he will be on the point of exploding with boredom and with the first chance will make for the café; because the style of life he is accustomed to has changed. However, he has only abandoned a simple and useless habit of his own.
Let us now deal with the one addicted to cigarette; you say to an addicted, Give up smoking which is dangerous for your body; because it is like slowly committing suicide. It is as if you are slowly stabbing yourself with a dagger and completing the suicide bit by bit rather than all at once. Moreover; if you make a doctor explain it, i.e. the doctor says: Cigarette not only has no benefits, but it has also these dangers this man will still experience much hesitation. Let him alone, even the doctor does not give it up though he well knows its dangers.
Now, let us deal with the alcoholic; the man is intoxicated and his spiritual world is changed. It is to such an extent that if he takes one more step, he will resemble the creatures under his rank. Now if we say to this man Give alcohol up it will be as if saying Change your nature.
Now increase the habits that people are accustomed to and that have penetrated into their veins from evil morals to thousands and then think about broadness of time in the revelation of Quran.
It first cuts the thorns and clears away bad things. It then starts embellishing. In other words, by removing bad habits from their souls, it establishes noble behaviors and performs thousands of deeds in a very short time. For this reason, we find it very quick that Quran was revealed in 23 years. As Bediüzzaman puts it; Come on, let them take hundreds of philosophers as helpers, go there and work for a hundred years! Might they perform a hundredth of what this person-Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) did in just one year? Let them come and try!
It is evident that because of alcohol thousands of families have split up. The Organization of Green Light delivers conferences every year. It widens its services from elementary schools to universities. After all these efforts, I wonder how many people give alcohol up. Let universities put all its professors into action and let them work for a year; I wonder if they can make twenty people abandon alcohol. If they can succeed, we will take it as a great success for them and will hang it beside the achievements of the Prophet in golden letters. Alas, it happened just for once! Friend or foe, everybody sees it as impossible.
23 years is indeed a very short time; for this reason, the achievements of Quran are each a miracle. In thousands of years, mankind has not been able to cover the distance Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) covered in 23 years and will not be able to do so.
Quran aimed on the one hand at removing thousands of such evil habits and on the other at decorating and embellishing the place of these removed habits with high principles of morals issued by it and Quran made people accept them without using force and without frightening and offending their souls. It has put many matters it issued through such various phases that today even for a few of them to be realized in practical life how many 23 years are needed!
This period of 23 years was the required time for certain commandments and prohibitions to be accepted by the people of that time and this time was needed in order to abandon certain things and to put some others in their place. For example, in the course of this time, alcohol was forbidden within three to four phases, within two phases cruelties against girls abolished; shattered tribal life was handled with two to three initiatives and unity between tribes was provided and thus they were given the understanding of community life; therefore, they acquired the capacity to form a community, which became possible through such hard works as removing all evil habits, and establishing high morals in their place. For this reason, a longer time was needed.
Besides, as we see in our lives, by saying That year the circumstances were those; therefore, such a social balance and order are needed. we reckon that next year the circumstances will be different; and in accordance with these reckonings elasticity of our plans is determined, and changes in details are designed according to the conditions of the years to come. Just then we try to maintain the continuity of what we have done searching for the adaptability to the fluidity of time and to the nature of the commodity. Likewise, in the Period of Bliss-the time of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Muslims were growing like a tree, were slowly adapting to the new conditions and were developing in characteristics. Every day, new participations and warming ups were happening; new ideas and understandings were acquired; adaptations to them were undergone; and finally individuals became social individuals. These were taking place slowly; however, all of them were following one another in harmony. So these phases in the course of completion, were acting as mirrors reflecting all the features of the truth of Islam in the micro plan belonging to the dimension of time.
If these were wanted to be achieved all of a sudden rather than in a period of 23 years, in some way or another this ignorant community could not have stood for this and would have died. We can liken it to this: for example, when a human being is exposed to the sun, there take place some changes on his complexion. When he is brought to cold lands, this time some other small changes take place in accordance, but absolutely a crucial change with the weight of 20 mutations does not happen all of a sudden. If it happened, the being would die, as living beings die in such sudden physical changes. This is like the example of a person who is under the pressure of 1 atmosphere and who then is lifted to an altitude of 20 thousand feet, which directly kills the man. Even when planes rise to that point, they lift you with oxygen masks, etc. and with care.
So just like ascending to an altitude of 20 thousand feet kills man, so would it have had a similar effect and no one among that community would have submitted, if the Quran had been revealed all of a sudden and had addressed them instantly: Here are the judgments and rules; apply them. Live all the judgments in this book without leaving anyone of them aside. Because this would mean ascending the community up to 20 thousand feet, which this community would not have endured. Therefore, it is the pre-requisite of the suitability of the human nature and the most fitting method to the human constitution that Quran brought about its judgments in 23 years.
As we cannot separate human being from the universe, we are to accept that we should understand him according to the course of phenomena going on in the universe and that we cannot evaluate him in isolation from developments taking place in the universe. Just like some phenomena in the universe happen slowly and step by step and rules flow in that direction, the maturity and development of the human being will take place in the same way. Quran, which is the mainspring, essence and set of principles of this development, was revealed in 23 years based on this fact.
The wisdom of God made this period 23 years. This could have been 24 or 25. The sacred life of the Sultan of Prophets, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was 63 years. His life was put to an end after 23 years of prophethood; and revelation was thus finished. But it might have been 64 years; and revelation would have risen to 24 years. And we would accept this within the same circle of wisdom.
God alone knows the truth.
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