1,001 Sayings and Deeds of the Prophet

Gabriel - Messenger to the Messenger

Sayings and Deeds of the ProphetGod’s Messenger to the Messenger, the angel Gabriel, is even more prominent in the hadiths than he is in the Koran. In the hadiths, Muhammad seems not be constrained by issues of credibility in talking about his unique relationship with God’s go-to angel-confidant.

Gabriel is the only angel mentioned by two different narrators as having 600 wings. The fact that Muhammad had the wits and time to count them when they first met is quite impressive.

Narrated Abu Ishaq-Ash-Shaibani:

I asked Zir bin Hubaish regarding the Statement of Allah: "And was at a distance of but two bow-lengths or (even) nearer; So did (Allah) convey The Inspiration to His slave (Gabriel) and then he (Gabriel) Conveyed (that to Muhammad)." (53:9-10)

On that, Zir said, "Ibn Mas'ud informed us that the Prophet had seen Gabriel having 600 wings."

Bukhari 54.455

Narrated Abdullah:

Regarding the Verses: "And was at a distance of but two bow-lengths or (even) nearer; So did (Allah) convey the Inspiration to His slave (Gabriel) and then he Gabriel) conveyed (that to Muhammad)..." (53:9-10)

Ibn Mas'ud narrated to us that the Prophet had seen Gabriel with six hundred wings.

Bukhari 60.379

Gabriel is also the only angel that, at least once, appeared before Muhammad while seated on a chair; one must assume it was a very, very large chair with a low back.

Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah:

That he heard the Prophet saying, "The Divine Inspiration was delayed for a short period but suddenly, as I was walking I heard a voice in the sky, and when I looked up towards the sky, to my surprise, I saw the angel who had come to me in the Hira Cave, and he was sitting on a chair in between the sky and the earth. I was so frightened by him that I fell on the ground and came to my family and said (to them), 'Cover me! (with a blanket), cover me!' Then Allah sent the Revelation: 'O, You wrapped up (In a blanket)! (Arise and warn! And your Lord magnify, And keep pure your garments, And desert the idols.'"(74:1-5)

Bukhari 54.461

Gabriel often took the form of a man in these visits.

Narrated Aisha:

Al Harith bin Hisham asked the Prophet, "How does the divine inspiration come to you?"

He replied, "In all these ways: The Angel sometimes comes to me with a voice which resembles the sound of a ringing bell, and when this state abandons me, I remember what the Angel has said, and this type of Divine Inspiration is the hardest on me; and sometimes the Angel comes to me in the shape of a man and talks to me, and I understand and remember what he says."

Bukhari 54.438

Once Gabriel appeared to Muhammad as a mountain of a man.

Narrated Masruq:

I asked Aisha "What about His Statement: 'Then he (Gabriel) approached and came closer, and was at a distance of but two bow-lengths or (even) nearer?'" (53:8-9)

She replied, "It was Gabriel who used to come to the Prophet in the figure of a man, but on that occasion, he came in his actual and real figure and (he was so huge) that he covered the whole horizon."

Bukhari 54.458

Only Muhammad could see Allah's super angel, but that did not stop him from observing common courtesies, introducing Gabriel to anyone who might be in the same room, such as his child bride Aisha.

Narrated Abu Salama:

Aisha said that the Prophet said to her "O Aisha! This is Gabriel and he sends his (greetings) salutations to you."

Aisha said, "Salutations (Greetings) to him, and Allah's Mercy and Blessings be on him," and addressing the Prophet she said, "You see what I don't see."

Bukhari 54.440

Gabriel was obviously not the only thing Muhammad saw that no one else could see.

Narrated Aisha:

Allah's Apostle said, "O Aisha! This is Gabriel sending his greetings to you."

I said, "Peace, and Allah's Mercy be on him."

Aisha added: "The Prophet used to see things which we used not to see."

Bukhari 73.220

Aisha’s statement notwithstanding, some would later claim to have seen Gabriel in conversation with Muhammad, though they did not realize it at the time.

Narrated Abu Uthman:

I got the news that Gabriel came to the Prophet while Um Salama was present. Gabriel started talking (to the Prophet and then left. The Prophet said to Um Salama, "(Do you know) who it was?" (or a similar question).

She said, "It was Dihya (a handsome person amongst the companions of the Prophet)."

Later on Um Salama said, "By Allah! I thought he was none but Dihya, till I heard the Prophet talking about Gabriel in his sermon." (The Sub-narrator asked Abu Uthman, "From where have you heard this narration?" He replied, "From Usama bin Zaid.")

Bukhari 56.827

Sometimes it was just perceived as a voice; of course, the overheard conversations were all one-sided, even one where an incredulous Muhammad asks Gabriel three time to confirm that men go to Paradise even if they "committed theft or committed illegal sexual intercourse." The exclusion of women is deliberate; females who commit illegal intercourse are not entitled to Allah's Mercy and Compassion in the Hereafter, or that of men in the here-and-now.

Narrated Abu Dhar:

Once I went out at night and found Allah's Apostle walking all alone accompanied by nobody, and I thought that perhaps he disliked that someone should accompany him. So I walked in the shade, away from the moonlight, but the Prophet looked behind and saw me and said, "Who is that?"

I replied, "Abu Dhar, let Allah get me sacrificed for you!"

He said, "O Abu Dhar, come here!"

So I accompanied him for a while and then he said, "The rich are in fact the poor (little rewarded) on the Day of Resurrection except him whom Allah gives wealth which he gives (in charity) to his right, left, front and back, and does good deeds with it."

I walked with him a little longer. Then he said to me, "Sit down here."

So he made me sit in an open space surrounded by rocks, and said to me, "Sit here till I come back to you."

He went towards Al-Harra till I could not see him, and he stayed away for a long period, and then I heard him saying, while he was coming, "Even if he had committed theft, and even if he had committed illegal sexual intercourse?"

When he came, I could not remain patient and asked him, "O Allah's Prophet! Let Allah get me sacrificed for you! Whom were you speaking to by the side of Al-Harra? I did not hear anybody responding to your talk."

He said, "It was Gabriel who appeared to me beside Al-Harra and said, 'Give the good news to your followers that whoever dies without having worshipped anything besides Allah, will enter Paradise.'

I said, 'O Gabriel! Even if he had committed theft or committed illegal sexual intercourse?'

He said, 'Yes.'

I said, 'Even if he has committed theft or committed illegal sexual intercourse?'

He said, 'Yes.'

I said, 'Even if he has committed theft or committed illegal sexual intercourse?'

He said, 'Yes.' "

Bukhari 76.450

Muhammad repeating himself in the previous hadith is no accident.

Narrated Anas:

Whenever the Prophet spoke a sentence (said a thing), he used to repeat it thrice so that the people could understand it properly from him and whenever he asked permission to enter, (he knocked [at] the door) thrice with greeting.

Bukhari 3.95

A shorter narration about theft and illegal sexual intercourse not being barriers to Paradise for males who worship only Allah:

Narrated Abu Dharr:

The Prophet said, "Gabriel came to me and gave me the glad tidings that anyone who died without worshipping anything besides Allah, would enter Paradise."

I asked (Gabriel), "Even if he committed theft, and even if he committed illegal sexual intercourse?"

He said, "(Yes), even if he committed theft, and even if he committed illegal sexual intercourse."

Bukhari 93.579

Muhammad would have loved to see his beloved Gabriel more often but it was not the angel's decision to make.

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

Allah's Apostle asked Gabriel, "Why don't you visit us more often than you do?"

Then the following Holy Verse was revealed (in this respect): "And we (angels) descend not but by the order of your Lord. To Him belong what is before us and what is behind us, and what is between those two and your Lord was never forgetful." (19:64)

Bukhari 54.441

A typical English translation of the Koran contains 6,346 verses if you include the 112 unnumbered Basmalahs, the formulaic invocation of “in the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful” that headlines every chapter except the first and ninth. This means that Muhammad, as publicized in the following hadiths, in effect received and memorized the equivalent of 44,422 revelations. Quite a feat for both messengers.

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

Allah's Apostle said, "Gabriel read the Qur'an to me in one way (i.e. dialect) and I continued asking him to read it in different ways till he read it in seven different ways."

Bukhari 54.442

Narrated Abdullah bin Abbas:

Allah's Apostle said, "Gabriel recited the Qur'an to me in one way. Then I requested him (to read it in another way), and continued asking him to recite it in other ways, and he recited it in several ways till he ultimately recited it in seven different ways."

Bukhari 61.513

Muhammad was not fond of man's best friend. He almost had all dogs exterminated when Gabriel did not show up as expected, for which he blamed a puppy.

A'isha reported that Gabriel (peace be upon him) made a promise with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) to come at a definite hour; that hour came but he did not visit him. And there was in his hand (in the hand of Allah's Apostle) a staff. He threw it from his hand and said: Never has Allah or His messengers (angels) ever broken their promise. Then he cast a glance (and by chance) found a puppy under his cot and said: 'A'isha, when did this dog enter here?

She said: By Allah, I don't know. He then commanded and it was turned out. Then Gabriel came and Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to him: You promised me and I waited for you, but you did not come, whereupon he said: It was the dog in your house which prevented me (to come), for we (angels) do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture.

Sahih Muslim 24.5246

In another recollection of the doggone event where Maimuna, Muhammad’s thirteenth wife has replaced Aisha in the narrative, God’s spokesperson is so incensed that Gabriel skipped a meeting because of a puppy that he commands that all dogs be killed forthwith.

Maimuna (another of the Prophet's wives) reported that one morning Allah’s Messenger was silent with grief. Maimuna said: "Allah’s Messenger, I find a change in your mood today."

Allah’s Messenger said: "Gabriel had promised me that he would meet me tonight, but he did not meet me. By Allah, he never broke his promises, " and Allah’s Messenger spent the day in this sad mood.

Then it occurred to him that there had been a puppy under their cot. He commanded and it was turned out. He then took some water in his hand and sprinkled it at that place.

When it was evening Gabriel met him and he said to him: "You promised me that you would meet me the previous night."

He said: "Yes, but we do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture."

Then on that very morning he commanded the killing of the dogs until he announced that the dog kept for the orchards should also be killed, but he spared the dog meant for the protection of extensive fields or big gardens.

Sahih Muslim 24.5248

He later amended this order and decreed that only black dogs be killed, and still later, that only black dogs with spots over their eyes be slaughtered.

Narrated Abdullah ibn Mughaffal:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Were dogs not a species of creature I should command that they all be killed; but kill every pure black one.

Abu Dawud 16.2839

Abu Zubair heard Jabir Abdullah saying:

Allah's messenger ordered us to kill dogs and we carried out this order so much so that we also killed the dog roaming with a woman from the desert. Then Allah's apostle forbade their killing. He said: "It is your duty to kill the jet-black (dog) having two spots (on the eyes) for it is a devil."

Sahih Muslim 10.3813

Gabriel once appeared in a cloud, accompanied by an unlikely angel, to cheer up a depressed Muhammad. Only a real friend would show up with an angel capable of lifting mountains and offer to drop one on some tribal chiefs causing his buddy grief by refusing to become Muslims when he had asked them to do so.

Narrated Aisha:

That she asked the Prophet, "Have you encountered a day harder than the day of the battle of Uhud?"

The Prophet replied, "Your tribes have troubled me a lot, and the worse (sic) trouble was the trouble on the day of Aqaba when I presented myself to Ibn Abd-Yalail bin Abd-Kulal and he did not respond to my demand. So I departed, overwhelmed with excessive sorrow, and proceeded on, and could not relax till I found myself at Qarnath-Tha-alib where I lifted my head towards the sky to see a cloud shading me unexpectedly.

I looked up and saw Gabriel in it. He called me saying, 'Allah has heard your people's saying to you, and what they have replied back to you, Allah has sent the Angel of the Mountains to you so that you may order him to do whatever you wish to these people.'

The Angel of the Mountains called and greeted me, and then said, 'O Muhammad! Order what you wish. If you like, I will let Al-Akh-Shabain (i.e. two mountains) fall on them.'"

The Prophet said, "No but I hope that Allah will let them beget children who will worship Allah Alone, and will worship None besides Him."

Bukhari 54.454

Rather than wake his good friend, Gabriel would meet Muhammad in his dreams, such as the time he introduced him to the angel Michael.

Narrated Samura:

The Prophet said, "Last night I saw (in a dream) two men coming to me. One of them said, 'The person who kindles the fire is Malik, the gate-keeper of the (Hell) Fire, and I am Gabriel, and this is Michael."

Bukhari 54.459

Not all were convinced that it was an angel in regular communication with their kin.

Narrated Jundab bin Abdullah:

Gabriel did not come to the Prophet (for some time) and so one of the Quraish women said, "His Satan has deserted him."

So came the Divine Revelation: "By the forenoon And by the night When it is still! Your Lord (O Muhammad) has neither Forsaken you Nor hated you." (93:1-3)

Bukhari 21.225

During the month of Ramadan, Gabriel visited Muhammad every day, visits during which their roles seemed to be reversed.

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:

The Prophet was the most generous amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel visited him, and Gabriel used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month. The Prophet used to recite the Holy Qur'an to Gabriel, and when Gabriel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind (which causes rain and welfare).

Bukhari 31.126

What did I say about Gabriel being Allah’s go-to angel for just about anything!

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said, "If Allah loves a person, He calls Gabriel saying, 'Allah loves so and-so; O Gabriel! Love him.' Gabriel would love him and make an announcement amongst the inhabitants of the Heaven. 'Allah loves so-and-so, therefore you should love him also,' and so all the inhabitants of the Heaven would love him, and then he is granted the pleasure of the people on the earth."

Bukhari 54.431

Of course, Gabriel was Muhammad's guide and companion on the night he visited with God and other Biblical counterparts in Paradise (see Chapter Prayers). The narrators, like God’s spokesperson, assumed that the heart, not the brain, was where the mind existed, i.e., where consciousness and unconsciousness (dreaming) manifested themselves.

Narrated Sharik bin Abdullah bin Abi Namr:

I heard Anas bin Malik telling us about the night when the Prophet was made to travel from the Ka'ba Mosque. Three persons (i.e. angels) came to the Prophet before he was divinely inspired, while he was sleeping in Al Masjid-ul-Haram.

The first (of the three angels) said, "Which of them is he?"

The second said, "He is the best of them."

That was all that happened then, and he did not see them till they came at another night and he perceived their presence with his heart, for the eyes of the Prophet were closed when he was asleep, but his heart was not asleep (not unconscious). This is characteristic of all the prophets: Their eyes sleep but their hearts do not sleep.

Then Gabriel took charge of the Prophet and ascended along with him to the Heaven.

Bukhari 56.770

Gabriel delivered not only Allah’s revelations but also personal messages, such as the one for Muhammad’s first wife, Khadija, who would die penniless in a ditch outside Mecca. This occurred before her husband achieved fame and fortune after seeking refuge in Medina.

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said that Gabriel said, "Here is Khadija coming to you with a dish of food or a tumbler containing something to drink. Convey to her a greeting from her Lord (Allah) and give her the glad tidings that she will have a palace in Paradise built of Qasab wherein there will be neither any noise nor any fatigue (trouble)."

Bukhari 93.588

Of course, Gabriel accompanied Muhammad in all of his battles dressed for the occasion, in this instance the Battle of Badr.

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

The Prophet said on the day (of the battle) of Badr, "This is Gabriel holding the head of his horse and equipped with arms for the battle."

Bukhari 59.330

Muhammad would have most, if not all, of the poets who mocked him killed when he got the chance (see Chapter Dead Poets); this did not mean he was reticent to enlist his own rhymesters, even Gabriel, to mock his enemies.

Narrated Al-Bara:

The Prophet said to Hassan, "Lampoon them (the pagans) in verse, and Gabriel is with you."

Bukhari 73.174

After all is said and done, did Gabriel reveal the Koran to Muhammad, or did he just listen to what Allah had already inputted directly into His spokesperson’s brain?

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

(As regards) Allah's Statement: "Move not your tongue concerning (the Quran) to make haste therewith." (75:16) When Gabriel revealed the Divine Inspiration in Allah's Apostle, he (Allah's Apostle) moved his tongue and lips, and that state used to be very hard for him, and that movement indicated that revelation was taking place. So Allah revealed in Surat Al-Qiyama which begins: "I do swear by the Day of Resurrection..." (75) the Verses: "Move not your tongue concerning (the Quran) to make haste therewith. It is for Us to collect it (Quran) in your mind, and give you the ability to recite it by heart." (75:16-17)

Ibn Abbas added: It is for Us to collect it (Qur'an) (in your mind), and give you the ability to recite it by heart means, "When We reveal it, listen. Then it is for Us to explain it," means, "It is for us to explain it through your tongue."

So whenever Gabriel came to Allah's Apostle he would keep quiet (and listen), and when the Angel left, the Prophet would recite that revelation as Allah promised him.

Bukhari 60.451