قُلۡ أُوحِیَ إِلَیَّ أَنَّهُ ٱسۡتَمَعَ نَفَر مِّنَ ٱلۡجِنِّ فَقَالُوۤا۟ إِنَّا سَمِعۡنَا قُرۡءَانًا عَجَبا
The reason for the revelation of this verse, as reported by Saʿīd bin Jubaīr from Ibn ʿAbbās;
“The Prophet ﷺ set out with a group of his Companions towards the market of Ukāż, passing by al-Nakhla. The devils had been prevented from eavesdropping from the Heavens, and shooting stars were sent down upon them. They said to their people, “There is a barrier between us and news from the Heavens.” The people replied, “That is because of a worldly occurrence.” it was narrated they were speaking to Iblis, and Iblis advised them to; “Traverse the East and the West of the earth so that you may know what has occurred.” Then a group of them passed Tihama and saw the Prophet praying Fajr with his Companions at the Valley of al-Nakhla, reciting the Qur’ān. They said: “By Allah! This is what has happened. This is what has caused a barrier between us and news from the Heavens.” They returned to their people informing them of this, saying; ‘People! We have heard a wondrous Qur’ān that gives guidance to the right path, and we have come to believe it. We shall never set up partners with our Lord.’
It was said that these were the Jinns from the tribe of Nasībīn. They gathered together with Iblis and said, ‘Something has occurred on earth so inform us about this event.’ The leaders and most noble of the Jinn were then sent to Tihama, near Yemen. They found the Prophet praying the morning prayer near al-Nakhla, and heard him reciting the Qur’ān. When they approached him, they said, ‘Listen.’
Ibn al-Jawzī mentioned in his book Sifat al-Safwa with a chain of narration from Sahl ibn ʿAbd Allah who said;
“I was in the region of the land of ʿAd when I saw a city made of carved stones. In the middle of it was a palace made of stones that housed the Jinn. I entered and saw an old man of great stature praying towards the Kaʿab. He was wearing a woollen cloak with patches on it. I was not surprised by his great appearance as much as the patches on his cloak. I greeted him and he returned the greeting, then he said: ‘Sahl, this cloak has been with me for seven hundred years. I met with Isa and Muhammad and believed in them whilst wearing it.’ So I asked him, ‘Who are you?’ He said: ‘I am one of those about whom it was revealed, “Say, It has been revealed to me that a group of the Jinn listened and said, we have heard a wondrous Qur’ān that gives guidance to the right path, and we have come to believe it. We shall never set up partners with our Lord.’ They were a group of Jinn from Nasībīn.'”
Ibn Jurayj mentioned in his tafsīr, from Abī ʿUbayda bin ʿAbd Allāh ibn Masʿūd, who narrated from ibn Masʿūd, who said;
‘The Prophetﷺ went to the Jinn to recite the Qur’ān to them and call them to Allah. He asked his Companions, “Who will accompany me? Who among you doesn’t have a grain of pride in his heart that will stand with me?” The people remained silent. The Prophet repeated it again, and then a third time, until ʿAbd Allāh ibn Masʿūd stood up. Ibn Masʿūd said “I went out with the Messenger of Allah in the direction of al-Hujūn until we reached the area of Abū Dhub. The Prophet drew a line for me and said, ‘Do not cross this line.’ whereupon the Jinn descended upon him like locusts. He recited the Qur’ān to them in a loud voice. They fell and stuck to the ground until I could not see them. the Jinn said to him, “Who are you? Who are you?” to which he replied, ‘A Prophet!’ They asked; “Who will bear witness for you?” He replied, “This tree will bear witness for me.” he called the tree and it came to him, dragging its branches and making a sound. The tree bore witness to his prophethood and then returned to its place.’ They asked him for provisions and he gave them bones and animal feed. They found that the bones were more tender than meat and the animal feed was sufficient for their animals. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ thereafter forbade the use of bones and dung for cleaning after using the bathroom.
The Prophet drew a line for me and said, do not leave this line and proceed into the mountain. I heard a loud, unpleasant mixture of sounds and wanted to follow it, but remembered the Prophet’s ﷺ command and did not leave the line. When he returned, I told the Prophet what had happened to which he said, “If you had left the line, I would never have seen you again.”
A group of scholars of tafsīr said that the encounter with the Jinn happened twice, once in Mecca and once in the valley of al-Nakhla. The narration reported by Ibn ʿAbbās refers to the encounter in the Valley of al-Nakhla, while the narration reported by ibn Masʿūd refers to the encounter in Mecca. As for the encounter in the valley of al-Nakhla, they passed by the Prophet ﷺ and listened to the Qur’ān, whilst the one in Mecca, the Prophet went to them, recited the Qur’ān to them, and invited them to embrace Islam. This is the reconciliation between the two narrations.
It has been reported that ʿAbd Allāh ibn Masʿūd saw some people from az-Zūṭ in Iraq and said “They resemble the Jinn from the Night of the Jinn’. In a narration from ʿAlqama, he asked ʿAbd Allāh ibn Masʿūd if anyone from the Companions was with the Prophet ﷺ on the Night of the Jinn, and he said no one witnessed it among them. Then he mentioned a story that was narrated by Muslim in his book.