The Divine Revelation
Expressions for Divine Revelation in the Qur’an
They question you about the Revelation and the human soul. Say, "The Revelation and the human soul is by the Command of my Lord." (17:85)
The Holy Qur'ân employs different expressions for Divine Revelation. They are:
Tanzîl (46:2; 2:185; 44:3;97:1),
Rûh (15:29; 21:91; 32:9; 38:72; 42:52);
Wahî (4:163; 41:12; 16:68; 8:12), and
In a metaphorical sense, "sending of rain" and "sending of laden winds" also signify divine revelation in the Qur’an (cf.30:48):
It is Allâh alone who sends forth the winds and they raise a cloud which He spreads out in the sky as He will and sets it layer upon layer, and you see the rain falling from its midst. And no sooner does He cause it (- the Divine revelation) to fall on whom He will of His servants, then they are filled with joy (because of the glad tidings). Shortly before it was sent down upon them, they were in a state of despondency. Look, therefore, at the evidences of Allâh’s mercy! How He breathes life into the earth after its (state of spiritual) death. (30:48-50)
1. Tanzîl - The word Tanzîl is derived from Nazala which means “to descend” or “come down”. Anzala means “to send down” or “send a revelation”. We read in the Holy Qur'ân:
The revelation (Tanzîl) of this perfect Book proceeds from Allâh the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. (46:1)
2. Rûh - The word Rûh means “breathe of life” and “life giving” and “soothing mercy” (4:171). Linguistically it is related to the word "Rahat" meaning “rest from grief and sadness”. This word is often used in the Holy Qur'ân in the sense of Divine revelation as in 15:29; 21:91; 32:9; 38:72. It also means Word of the All-Mighty God as follows:
"Similarly We revealed to you the Word by our command". (42:53)
Rûh is thus the life giving word of the All-Mighty, since it gives life to hearts that were full of grief, sad and dead due to ignorance and lack of knowledge. Sometimes the word Rûh is used also for Divine inspiration as in 16:68. This word is also used for angels as in 19:17 and archangel Gabriel (Rûh al Quds 16:101; Rûh al Amîn 26:193).
3. Wâhi - The literal meaning of the word wahî throws light on the significance of revelation. This word means to tell someone something in a hushed tone or a whisper. That voice can easily be heard by the one who is addressed, but people happening to be nearby are not able to catch it (Ibn Duraid). This quality operates in all types of revelations. The very essence of the fundamental quality of wahî provides those who doubt it, reasons to deny its existence.
4. Ilhâm - The word Ilhâm literally means “animal instinct”, “instinct” or “intimation” (16:62). In the Holy Qur'ân the word Ilhâm is used for inspiration from the Divine Being, revelation and command. Sayed Ismaîl Shahîd wrote in his book “Mansab i Imâmat”: In the Book of God the word ilhâm (inspiration) in its perfect sense when used with reference to the prophets or saints is called wahî. In Tâj ul Arûs we find the same mention. Sayûtî and Ibn Athîr hold the same view. They say Ilhâm is a form of wahî vouchsafed by the All-Mighty to whosoever of His servants please Him. Wahî is thus the higher form for Ilhâm or inspiration (91:7-8). It is through Ilhâm that the soul is made perfect (91:8). Through Ilhâm the soul knows the two ways, the way of Fujr or the way of evil and Taqwâ or the way of piety and goodness.
And the (human) soul and That (Mighty Lord) Who made it perfect. Then He revealed to it (as a source of guidance for the soul so that the soul may know the ways of) its evil and its righteousness. (Now) one who purifies it (- his soul), certainly succeeds. (91:7-8)
Revelation - The Ultimate Source of Guidance and Knowledge
Verily, this is the Perfect and True Certainty (not merely a certainty by inference or by sight). Therefore glorify the name of your Lord, the Incomparably Great. (56:95-96)
The All-Mighty has endowed human being with two types of powers or faculties. One is the rational faculty,whose source is the human intellect and the other is the spiritual faculty whose source is the human "heart" (Qalb pl. Qulûb) (2:7; 6:46; 8:24; 22:46; 50:33). The issues which cannot be resolved with the rational faculty are unraveled by the spiritual faculty.
The All-Mighty Himself is the source of all knowledge. He enables the human being to acquire direct knowledge about Him through several sources and in many stages. These are: instinct, intrusion, comprehension, preliminary discrimination, feelings, ideas, thinking, reasoning, deliberation, inspiration (Ilhâm), Revelation (Wahî) and Divine Communication (Mukâlima).
There are three states of acquired knowledge:
1. Ilm al-Yaqîn - Sure Knowledge or the state of the knowledge aquired through inference (102:5). This is the elementary state of knowledge borne out of experience of natural causes and inference through logic and intellect". For example we can infer the presence of fire by seeing the smoke.
2. Ain al-Yaqîn - Knowledge through the Eye of Certainty or the state of knowledge aquired through sight (102:7). This second and higher state of knowledge comes from the subjective experience of nature and laws of nature or deduced form external facts, like rising of the sun is the proof of the presence of sun. Both these states are mentioned in the Holy Qur'ân:
Nay! You shall come to know in time (that you have been chasing at a shadow). Nay, again! (We repeat,) you shall come to know (the consequences of your deeds) in time. No, never! If you only knew the consequences thereof with "Ilm al-Yaqîn" (- sure knowledge by inference). You will certainly see the very hell-fire (- the consequences of your wicked deeds in this very life). Again, you shall most certainly see it (in the Hereafter) with "Ain al-Yaqîn" ( - the eye of certainty). (102:3-7)
3. Haq al-Yaqîn - This state of knowledge is the state of Perfect and True Certainty. This is the highest level of knowledge (56:95) which is based on direct Revelation (Wahî). In this final and the highest stage, the All-Mighty manifests Himself in all His Glory and with the voice "I exist, I am here". About this human experience we read:
Verily, this is the Perfect and True Certainty, (not merely a certainty by inference or sight) Therefore glorify the name of your Lord, the Incomparably Great. (56:95-96)
In this experience the human being gets certainty about that Holy Being. From every direction he feels His existence and in every moment of life he becomes conscious of Him and gets closer to Him. The events occurring to him
after his death are opened to him. Logical reasoning and the knowledge of nature are left far behind. Without reaching this stage of knowledge the human being remains imperfect and a great void and deficiency remains in his personality and he remains unable to reach the sublime heights and the final success (the Falâh).
To gain this level of knowledge there are many hurdles in the way which cannot be overcome without the direct guidance and help from the All-Mighty. The access to it is made possible to the human being by means of revelation.
Revelation - The Ultimate Source of Guidance and Knowledge
They question you about the Revelation and the human soul. Say, "The Revelation and the human soul is by the Command of my Lord.” (17:85)
The phenomenon of revelation is not a science. It comes directly from the High, without going through the stages of reasoning, with a "sure and direct descent". It is a Divine Command (17:85; 42:52).
According to Imâm Râghib revelation is a quick showing where a certain knowledge is received from an outside source. Guidance from intellect is limited but the guidance from revelation can give access to those dimensions which are beyond the grasp of our comprehension. Revelation thus compensates certain deficiencies in us and in the laws of the nature. The great universe is ruled by Divine Command. We read:
Again, He directed Himself towards the space. Behold! It was (like) a mass of gas. (He) commanded to it (- the space) and to the earth, ‘Come both of you (in obedience to Me) willingly or unwillingly.’ They said, ‘We obey you with all our will.’ So He ordained them seven heavens in two aeons and revealed to each (heaven) its (relevant) function. And We decked the nearest heaven with lamps (- shining stars for light) and made it to guard (the earth). Such is the decree of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing (41:11-12).
Similarly, in chapter 99 we read:
"And when the earth shall throw up all her treasures; And when a person will say (in bewilderment at the extraordinary happenings on the earth), ‘What is the matter with her?’ That day she will relate all her news (pertaining to every action done in secret on it). For your Lord will have inspired her (to do so) (99:2-5).
We cannot thus define the existence of the universe without revelation. We read at another place:
"And your Lord inspired the bees (saying), ‘Make your hives in the hills and in the trees and in the trellises which the people erect; Then eat of every (kind of) fruit and follow the ways (and laws) of your Lord as that have been made easy (for you).’ There comes forth from their insides a fine fluid of varying hues which is a cure for the people. In fact, in this there is a sign for a people who reflect. (16:68-69)
But the creation of the All-Mighty is more sublime than the mere creation of the objects like the sun, the earth, the moon, the stars and the bee and such. He has created a human being in the finest make and the best proportions (95:4) as He says, "And taught him (the art of) intelligent and clear speech (and reason)". (55:2-3). This quality makes him different from the rest of His creation on this earth. Not only this,
He then endowed him with (such) perfect faculties and breathed into him of His spirit (which made him capable of the recipient of the Divine word). (32:9)
Now this human being feels love for Him, seeks His nearness and a desire to hear His voice, and has an urge to long for His glimpse, like a lover who wants to see his beloved:
[when] his Lord spoke to him (-Moses), he said, ‘My Lord! Reveal yourself to me that I may look at you.’ (7:143)
Such a lover cannot be left unattended, without guidance, speech and sight. Now if He does not guide him, pay no heed to his cries, does not open the door for him who is knocking at His door and embrace him with His Love, such a Creator is cruel, and cannot claim that He is Rahîm and Wadûd - full of Mercy and Love. Either we have to deny His existence, or we accept His Mercifulness, His Graciousness and His power of speech, His power of listening and answering the prayer and His power of conversation. Therefore, to attend such a person is the requirement His attributes.
He is invisible but manifests Himself to His chosen servants. Just as He hears, so does He speaks, just as He is not deaf, He is not dumb. Not to answer the prayers of a supplicant is against His eternal attribute. Whomsoever He wants to speak to, He sends His revelation. He sends His revelation to His chosen servants because of their piety and their yearning for Him, and there always exist a person who is
pleasing to Him because of his yearning and his crying (89:27).
True guidance, righteousness and sublime morals, free from poisonous adulteration of selfish desires, can only be had from above through the Holy Spirit (16:101) and the Divine revelation is the channel through which these high qualities can come to us. Anyone who does not attain to high morals through Divine revelation is mistaken in his claim to having attained a high moral condition. Underneath his apparent pure exterior there is a lot of dirty mud which is exposed when his animal passions are aroused. When we examine the conduct and character of all such claimants to high morals, the philosophers and ascetics of the world, whose hearts are unaware of the Divine spring of revelation, their moral lassitude and low mentality tell us how essential it is to drink at this fount. Notwithstanding their boastfulness and claims of honouring it all, their inner condition is tainted with a lot of detestable traits; no sooner they are alone, than they become prone to commit such misdeeds as are a clear evidence of their being far removed from the pure fount of genuine morals.The spring of life springs out of this very Perfect Certainty. The wings that help us fly to the high heavens are these very wings of Revelation. Deliverance from sin can only be had through this certainty.
"No one can find the deliverance from sin without Perfect Certainty, for I know the inside story of many an old and many a young man".
Grades and Types of Revelation
It is not given to a human being that Allâh should speak to him except by direct revelation or from behind a veil or by sending a messenger (- an angel) who should reveal (to him) by His command what He pleases. (42:51)
Divine revelation is a command of the All-Mighty (17:85; 42:51), a universal reality, which exists. It evolves in stages as the universe evolves in stages, till it covers all the aspects of human life and brings with it the means to nourish all human requirements. The types of reveleation start from the most primitive, the natural faculty and rise up to the discourse and dialogue with the All-Mighty:
- the natural faculty ("Malakah Fitrî"; 99:5)
- inspiration by instinct (Wahî Taskhî; 16:68)
- inspiration to chose between good and evil (Wahî Ikhtiâr; 91:8)
- installment to the mind (Nafs fi al-Rau'; 8:12)
- caller to good (Dâ' ilal Khair)
- true dreams (Ruyâ Sâliha; 12:4)
- visions (Kashaf; 2:259)
- revelation with definite words (Wahî Malfûz; 20:38)
- discourse and dialogue with the All-Mighty (Mukâlimah; 20:11-45).
True Dreams (Ruyâ Sâliha) - These are the elementary stage of wahî. It is the exposition or the manifestation of some truth in a dream. This type of dream should not be confused with Izghâth (confused dreams) and Ahlâm (sexual dreams), as there are dreams which are influenced by disease, disturbed stomach, sexual frustrations, unfulfilled desires and other unconscious processes in the human mind. This difference has been known to the Arab scholars for centuries, and they coined different words for different qualities of dreams. The western psychoanalytics like Sigmund Freud, Burgassen, Jung, Revers and others in their attempts to interpret dreams came forward with different theories and explanations which had already been dealt with in much greater detail. Nablûsî, Kirmânî, Ibn Abbâs, Mamûnî Khalid Isfahânî, Ibn Shâhîn and Abû Saîd Wais are some names of Muslim analytics which surpass by far the western thinkers in this field. (see T'atîr al Anâm by Nablûsî). The vast world of True Dreams (Ruyâ Sâliha) have not been correctly grasped by the western thinkers. They have a direct relationship with the Wahî and Ilhâm and have nothing to do with those resulting from a disturbed mind. A most definitive statement about the dreams has been given by the Holy Prophet Mohammad. He said dreams are of three kinds: 1) A self-suggestion; 2) Satanic instigation (Takhfîf al shaitân) and 3) Glad tidings from Allâh (Bushrâ min Allâh).
The True Dreams have their basis in human nature. This is a special faculty of prophets and saints and their true interpretation and meaning is also taught to them. We read:
(Remember the time) when Joseph said to his father, ‘My dear father! I have seen eleven stars and the sun and the moon. I saw them falling down prostrate because of me.’ (12:4)
Visions (Kashaf) - This is a form of revelation higher in grade than the True Dream. Literally, "kashaf" means to open or to unveil. It is an experience in which a person in his state of consciousness and wakefulness enters a spiritual world where he is informed about some truths by the All-Mighty. This is a kind of a dream in a wakeful conscious state. Normally, the physical eye cannot see beyond a veil and the physical ear cannot hear a far distant voice, but in the state of a Kashaf these veils are lifted and distance of time and space are overcome. We read:
Or consider the case of him (- Ezekiel) who passed by a town (- Jerusalem as it was left in desolation by Nebuchadnezzar) and it had fallen in upon its roofs. He said, ‘When will Allâh restore this (town) to life after its destruction?’ So (in his vision) Allâh kept him in a state of death for a hundred years, then He raised him (to life). Then (God) said, ‘How long have you stayed (in this state of death)?’ He replied, ‘I may have stayed a day or a part of a day (in this state).’ (God) said, ‘(Yes this too is correct) but (as you have witnessed in your vision) you have stayed for a hundred years. Now look at your food and drink, they have escaped the action of time, and look at your donkey (too, years have not passed over it). And (We have made you visualise all this) that We may make you a sign to the people. And look at the (dead) bones how We set them together and then clothe them with flesh.’ Thus when the fact of the matter became clear to him, he said, ‘I know that Allâh is the Possessor of full power to do all that He will.’ (2:259)
In the Books of Tradition there is a mention of a Kashaf of Omar the second Caliph. While delivering a sermon in the mosque of Medînah he suddenly shouted twice "O Sâriyâ! Look towards the mountain" All those who were listening to his sermon witnessed his cry. Sâriyâ was the commander of the Muslim forces fighting in Syria. He reported to his troops that he has heard the voice of Omar warning him of his enemy from the side of the mountain. His troops witnessed that Sâriyâ told them what he heard. He obeyed the voice of Omar and delivered the Muslim forces from an attack from the sides of the mountain. For such visions historical evidence exists and none should dismiss them as fables of the past. They should not be assigned the category of visual or acoustic hallucinations as their quality is different.
The highest quality of Kashaf is described in the Holy Qur'ân in chapter 15 as experienced by the Holy Prophet:
Glory be to Him Who carried His servant (Mohammad) by night from the Holy Mosque (at Makkah) to the Distant Mosque (at Jerusalem), the precincts of which (too) We have blessed, that We might show him some of Our signs. (17:1)
Revelation spoken in words (Wahî Malfûz) - This kind of revelation is a spoken revelation in which the words of All-Mighty come down from a direct source through an unknown phenomenon. The recipient not only feels that his ear has heard these words but also feels in his mind the descent of these words. At times Divine words manifest on the tongue and the recipients begins to utter these words and keeps on repeating them. Sometimes the eyes become the recipient of Divine revelation and written sentences appear before the eyes. Sometimes all five senses are the recipient of the Divine revelation. Thus, a high form of revelation has many ways of manifesting itself.
And We revealed to the mother of Moses (saying), ‘Give him (- Moses) suck. But when you have fear about him (- his life) cast him (placing him in a chest) into the river and entertain no fear, nor grief (about his welfare). Verily, We shall restore him to you and shall make him (one) of the Messengers.’ (28:7)
Sometime the revelation is brought by an "Angel" in the shape of a human being:
Then We sent to her Our (angel of) revelation and he presented himself to her in the form of a perfect and well-proportioned man. (19:17)
Discourse with the All-Mighty (Mukâlimâh) - This type of revelation is in the form a dialogue and discourse with the All-Mighty. It is bestowed only to the chosen people of the All-Mighty. The Holy Qur'ân contains an account of a beautiful example of such a discourse:
And when he came close to this (fire) he was hailed, ‘O Moses!
‘Verily, I alone am your Lord. So take off your shoes (and stay, and make your heart free from every care), for you are in the sacred Valley of Tuwâ.
‘And I have chosen you, therefore listen to what is revealed to you.
‘I, and I alone am Allâh. There cannot be, is no other and will never be One worthy of worship but I, therefore worship Me alone. And observe prayer so that you may keep Me in mind.
‘Surely, the Hour (of Resurrection) is bound to come. I am about to unveil it, so that every soul may be rewarded in accordance with its endeavour.
‘So do not allow the person who does not believe in it but pursues his (own) low desires, turn you away from (believing) it, lest you perish.
‘Moses, What is that you have in your right hand?’
(Moses) replied, ‘This is my staff. I lean on it, and beat down leaves for my sheep with it, and it serves (also) my many other needs.’
(The Lord) said, ‘Moses! Cast it down.’
So he cast it down and lo! It was (like) a serpent; running about.
(The Lord) said, ‘Get hold of it and do not fear. We shall restore it to its former state.
‘And put your hand close under your armpit, it shall come forth (shining) white, without any disease, (providing you with) another sign.
‘(We have given you these signs) so that we may show you some of Our greater signs.
‘Go to Pharaoh, he has indeed exceeded (all) limits.’
(Moses) said, ‘My Lord! Enlighten my mind,
‘And make my task easy for me.
‘And remove the impediments from my tongue,
‘So that they may understand my speech,
‘And grant me a helper from my family,
‘Aaron, my brother,
‘Raise my strength through him,
‘And associate him in my task;
‘That we may glorify You over and over;
‘And spread Your name far and wide,
‘Surely, You are indeed Ever-Watchful over us.’
(The Lord) said, ‘Moses! You are granted what you have prayed for.
‘And We did confer on you a favour once before;
‘When We revealed to your mother that, which was an important revelation (saying),
“Place him (- Moses) in the chest and put it into the river. The river will cast it on to the bank and the person who is My enemy as well as his will pick him up.” And I endowed you with My love with the result that you were brought up before My eyes and under My protection.
‘(We bestowed another favour on you) when your sister walked along (the bank by the floating chest) and said (to those who picked up the chest from the bank of the river), “Shall I guide you to one (- a nurse) who will take charge of him?” In this way We restored you to your mother that she might be consoled and should not grieve. And (it came to pass that) you killed a person, but We delivered you from anguish. Then We purified you with various trials and you stayed for a number of years among the people of Midian. It was only then when you were properly groomed and came up to the standard (set by Us).
‘And I, (having made you perfect,) have chosen you for Myself.
‘Go you and your brother (Aaron) with My Messages and do not be remiss in remembering Me.
‘Go to Pharaoh, both of you, for he has transgressed all limits.
‘But speak to him a gentle speech, may be he pays heed and fears (the consequences).’
Both (Moses and Aaron) said, ‘Our Lord! We fear lest he (- Pharaoh) should hasten to do us some harm or exceed all limits in transgression (against You).’
(The Lord) said, ‘Have no fear. I am with you both. I hear (prayers) and I see (your condition).
‘So go to him (- Pharaoh), both of you, and say, “We are the Messengers of your Lord, so let the Children of Israel go with us and do not torture them. We have come to you with a Message from your Lord. Peace will be upon him who follows the guidance.
“It has been revealed to us that the punishment comes upon him who cries lies to (His Messages) and turns away”.’ (20:10-46)
Spiritual Experience of the Recipient of Revelation
The process of the receipt of the wahî takes place when the person is awake and in a state of extraordinary aroused perception and spiritual and physical purification. Without the intervention of any physical cause a state of transportation and drowsiness overtakes him and the recipient enters into a state of deep trance and feels the special attraction and the love of the All-Mighty and looses all consciousness of his physical thinking self. He forgets his oneself and his five senses go into a state of abeyance. In other words, the state of the conscious mind is wiped clean of all impurities and physical imprints. With the disappearance of physical consciousness comes a new consciousness which more powerful and fundamental which is also a real state. In this state the recipient delves deep into the mysteries of the being. He does not consider this state to be unreal as compared to the real world he was before, nor considers it to be an figment of his imagination.
At times this spiritual experience takes place in a state of full wakefulness. During the receipt of revelation the recipient feels an uplifting of his spirit, and feels that he has spread into eternal life and that the physical and the spiritual realms have become one. He feels as if his internal depths have merged with the dephts of the external world and his reach has extended beyond the stars. He feels as if he is standing before the All-Mighty and his soul has merged itself with the Divinity. All sense of surrounding things is muted, even his own self has been obliterated and it place has been taken up by an enlightenment which gives him a deep insight into life, an insight he was neither aware of or enjoyed before. In this condition he talks to the All-Mighty as if talking to his companion (20:10-46)
The Divine words are marked by their elegant perspicuity, eloquence, majesty, relish and beauty and the power of Divinity can be felt shining in them. Often it happens when the recipient is asked a question about his previous revelation, he is again overcome by a similar experience for the twinkling of an eye and again pure wordings emanate from him (27:7; 28:29).
The personality of the recipient develops real bravery and steadfastness. His develops the ability to perform deeds of high and sublime kind, distinct from the deeds of others He develops perception of vast and higher spheres of life and is far removed from baser and minor desires of his body. His soul becomes full of tranquility and piety. He enjoys an indescribable feeling of happiness, liveliness and contentment (89:27).
During such a spiritual encounter the perception of time and space disappear, events and incidents which may be spread over centuries may be witnessed. There is a lot of sweetness and love in His discourse but it cannot be described and cannot be circumscribed with words.
"And when Moses came at the time and place appointed by Us, and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord! Reveal yourself to me that I may look at you.’" (7:143)
These human experiences cannot be described in their entirety, for our human vocabulary and our common moulds of perception cannot fully do justice to this experience. As we cannot give a blind man a full perceptions of things which are pleasing to sight, or describe the light and the colours, nor can we give a person bereft of sense of smell the concept of a flower's flagrance, and just a deaf person cannot enjoy the souls-stirring melodies of a musician, similarly a person unacquainted with the reality of Divine revelation cannot be apprised of the beauty and elegance of this path.
There exists no human language, no writing, no speech other than the Divine speech which can describe this state to a non-recipient.
And, of course, he saw Him (in His another manifestation to him) yet another time.
It was near the Sidrah which stands at the farthest end (of knowledge),
Near where also is the Garden which is the real eternal abode.
(This was) when the Sublime Thing (- the Divine Manifestation) which was to cover Sidrah had covered it.
(When he saw the Divine Manifestation) his eye deviated not (from the certainty of the Truth) nor did it wander away (from the invincible faith on which he stood).(It was the moment when) he saw the greatly important signs of his Lord. (53:12-18)
The recipient is being transported into another realm and many a veil is being lifted between the human mind and the facts of Divine knowledge and he is receiving these realities directly and not through his intellect, logic or senses. A Persian poets said: "You cannot know the taste of this wine till you have tasted it"
Physical Condition of the Recipient of Revelation
Aishâ, the wife of the Holy Prophet describes in a Hadith the physical condition of the Holy Prophet while he was receiving a revelation. She says that he was lying with his head on her thighs when a revelation came. She felt a very high, almost unbearable pressure on her thigh that she thought for a while that they are going to fracture. She also describes how the face of the Holy Prophet became red and his body was covered with sweat each time he received a revelation. In another tradition it is told that the Holy Prophet was riding a camel when a revelation came and under the pressure of this revelation the camel which he was riding could not move.
Revelation not Limited to the Prophets
The All-Mighty says He is the Nourisher to Perfection of all the worlds (Rabb al Alâmîn) both in physical and spiritual senses. As His physical nurturing (Rabûbiyyat) is not limited to a particular creation, so the ambit of His spiritual nurturing is not limited to a particular group of people, race or period. Wahî is a special manifestation of His Rabûbiyyat and cannot be linked to any particular period of time to a particular people or race. It is manifested every period of time to all people. It is the height of ignorance to believe that the process of revelation has stopped after such and such prophet, or that this blessing was limited to one chosen people or to one chosen language.
The true dreams are not limited to the saints and the prophets exclusively. Every person has been endowed with this faculty. Even the ordinary person or a criminal can experience true dreams. We read in the Holy Qur'ân:
And with him (- Joseph) there entered the prison two young men (- the butler and the baker of the king). One of them said to him, ‘I see myself (in a dream) pressing grapes.’ And the other said, ‘I see myself carrying upon my head bread of which the birds are eating. Inform us of the interpretation of these (dreams) for we surely find you of the doers of good to others.’ (12:36)
In the Bible we read how a correct dream of a Pharaoh saved Egypt from famine. If this had not been the case that even ordinary people were able to experience the True Dreams, it would have become extremely difficult to understand the phenomena of revelation and communion with the All-Mighty. This serves as a proof of the existence of revelation.
Physical Condition of the Recipient of Revelation
Some psychologists have tried to explain the experience of revelation with reference to the subconscious. Ibn Khaldûn accepts the existence of subconscious in his book Muqaddama but rejects the idea that the Divine revelation originates from this source. The vast and limitless experience of Divine revelation cannot be limited to the confines of subconscious. We have to concede the presence of the superconscious and other cababilities of perception in addition to the presence of the subconscious and the conscious.
The Necessity of Revelation
And upon Allâh lies the responsibility of leading us to the right path, for there are some paths deviating (from the right and moderate course) (16:9)
There are only two things which are the true source and the true standard of high morals - God's attributes and His Words. Anyone who abandons this source and looks elsewhere for attaining a high moral condition is running after a mirage; and the source of both is the Divine revelation.
Spiritual knowledge, spiritual insights and God-gnosis can only be had through revelation. And until we attain such a sweet slate, our character and moral condition cannot reach the stage of perfection and perception. We have been created for a lofty purpose - a purpose much higher than mere deliverance from sin: For attaining true gnosis and for being imbued with hues of Divine attributes. It is this God-relation which is the guarantor of our reformation and success and frees us from doubtful and confused ways and leads to the pure clear headwaters of victory and achievements, and makes our character worthy of being proud of. Its attainment is possible only through revelation.
The limited scope of human intellect and the inscrutability of the Book of Nature, both are obvious realities. Often intellectuals, religious leaders and monks, who have not found spiritual peace, commit follies that are a mock on humanity; no trace of Divine and sublime morals are to be found in their persons, and no spiritual growth and development is possible among their followers through them. We need the Divine revelation to temper the intensity of our nominal passions and to quieting our carnal desires.
The impact of intellect is limited. It only gives a knowledge of nature's phenomena through our physical senses, remaining within the limitations of time and space, being just an organ for the preservation of human life, so that it can help us achieve the beneficial and higher purposes of our life. But it can neither easily understand life nor understand it with perfection. On the other hand our instinct can understand life more easily, because it is nurtured and perfected in life's mould. But instinct also has its limitations. “Wijdan” (intuitive ectasic perception) is yet a more developed faculty than these two, a faculty which could be termed as cosmic intellect or illuminated wisdom. But the scope of “Wijdan”, when compared to the vast vistas of Divine revelation, appears to be naught. Again, “Wijdân” also has some escapist aspects. It occupied an important place in Hinduism and Buddhism. The Christian monks took shelter in their cloisters under the cloak of “Wijdân”. In the mid-centuries of Islam, the period of deviation, when material decline and mental confusion overtook some Muslim communities after the onslaught and destruction at the hands of the Mongols, this “Wijdân” took shelter in the Khanqahs (retreats) of the errant sûfîs. The spark of piety in them was extinguished and they started to experience “wijdanî” (ecstasies) hallucinations, thanks to their consumption of narcotics like opium, hashish and marijuana. Therefore the “Perfect Self” has no place in “Wijdâm”.
Thus intellect, instinct and “Wijdân”, because of their limitations and because of their inability to draw upon many other avenues of knowledge, fall short of higher stages of knowledge and gnosis. And when these higher stages are reached, they are unable to perceive them and cannot perform the vital task of purification of self-cleaning of the mentality and the illumination of the heart. And this is the stage which is traversed under the guidance of Divine revelation. It comes and takes us by the hand and leads us through the darkness of the way; only then are we able to fully perceive the inner and spiritual aspects of life. It helps us complete the task of achieving sublime morals and the on-going process of the evolution of our spiritual life continues.
The human conscience is a very estimable faculty. It is a voice arising from the innermost recesses of human mind, a voice worthy of being heeded. We in fact receive guidance and clues from it for setting up standards of good and evil. If it is kept alive, and if its voice is heeded, many knotty problems of morality can be unraveled through it. That is why the Holy Prophet is reported to have said: “A sin can be defined as a deed that causes disquiet in your heart”. That is, one should avoid doing anything about which he is pricked in his mind. This Hadith also draws our attention to the inner voice, the voice of our conscience.
The conscience alone is not sufficient for the purification of the self and for the guidance of humanity. Its voice is muted and its ability of heeding can be lost due to constant inattention to the conscience. Not only this, one's ideas, sentiments and emotions are nurtured through one's environment. When these developed ideas and inclinations are ingrained in the heart and the mind, then one's conscience is also moulded into their mould and a person can no longer understand and think in a manner counter to the environment in which he is brought up. If this is not so, then what would you say about the thief? After all he also possesses the same conscience that is possessed by the righteous. So why are the righteous judged as being good and the thieves and decoits judged as being evil? In short, mere conscience is not sufficient for attaining to piety, knowledge and God-gnosis.
How satisfactory and optimistic is the Message of The Holy Qur'ân in this respect. It starts off with our perceptions, goes along with lofty flights of our intellect, listens to the voice of nature, admits the existence of “wijdân”, recognizes the human conscience, but above all these it makes us harken to the cry of “I am here!”. It leads us from the Knowledge of Certainty (Ilm al-Yaqîn) to the Perfect Knowledge with Certainty (Haq al-Yaqîn).The spring of life springs out of this very Perfect Knowledge with Certainty.
The wings that help us fly to high heaven are these very wings of Perfect Certainty. It is this Certainty which leads us to the All-Mighty. Deliverance from "sin" can only be reached through this Certainty. At every step this Certainty stops us from doing the undesirable deeds. We don't put our hand in the fire because we are certain it will burn us; We don't eat poison because we are certain that it will kill us. Similarly if there is a Perfect Certainty in someone's heart about the existence of the All-Mighty, about His Awe, His Magnificent Greatness, His Sovereignty and His being the Master of the Day of Requital, then such a perfect certainty would definitely save him from commission of sins.
The ambit of human senses, intellect, “Wijdân”, instinct, and conscience is very limited and the guidance provided by them to human-beings cannot go beyond a certain stage containing a rest doubt. Their entire functioning, of whatever kind and quality, cannot go beyond sense-perception, logical deductions and the dictates of the conscience. Then there are stages beyond doubt. What lies beyond these stages, what universes exist beyond the stars, what lies behind the veil beyond which our physical eye cannot see and intellect cannot perceive. Where all human intellect, his physical and logical powers fail and get tired and no light is provided to him for his guidance.
The existence of realities is not dependent only on the realities that we can perceive through our five senses. It would be foolish to assert that we only admit to the existence of only these things that we can see with our eyes, or can taste by our tongue, or smell through our nose, or hear through our ears or touch by our hands, nor is the existence of realities limited to those realities which our intellect can deduce. Logic and science are not free of errors nor is science the exclusive means to acquire knowledge. The duty of guiding to the paths to the Hereafter does not fall within the ambit of the activities of science anyway.
Human-beings need such a guide whose vision and perceptions, understanding of this life and of the thereafter are free of errors and who can lead to Perfect Certainty, like the one who is addressed in the following words:
(When Muhammad saw the Divine manifestation), his eye deviated not (from the Certainty of the Truth) nor did it wander away (from the invincible faith on which the stood!) (53:17)
We need the guidance of Divine revelation also for the reason that in societies where the individuals are immersed in their own-self-interests and whose ideological basis is resting on the ideals of race and colour, on nationality and patriotism, or else, because of the exploitation of one group by another, they are plagued by the leprous touch of class struggle, and again each individual has his own education and training and environment. In such societies the plan of action for the collective life of the community cannot be chalked out by the human-beings themselves, nor can they determine their direction and destination, and nor can they find access to the purpose of creation through their own efforts and their self-invented ideas. Hence it is essential that he should be assisted in this quest by the metaphysical ideas and personal spiritual experience, leaving aside materialistic ideas. The Holy Qur'ân speaks in a beautiful metaphoric way about the necessity of revelation in this situation:
It is Allâh alone who sends forth the winds and they raise a cloud which He spreads out in the sky as He will and sets it layer upon layer, and you see the rain falling from its midst. And no sooner does He cause it (- the Divine revelation) to fall on whom He will of His servants, then they are filled with joy (because of glad tidings). Shortly before it was sent down upon them, they were in a state of despondency. Look, therefore, at the evidences of Allâh’s mercy! How He breathes life into the earth after its (state of spiritual) death. Surely, He (is) the same (God) Who will raise the (spiritually and physically) dead to life, for He is the Possessor of power over every desired thing.
And if We send (another kind of blasting) wind and they see it turn yellow (for its having taken the form of punishment because of their refusal to accept the Divine message), they will even after that continue to disbelieve (for their being engrossed in evil doings). And you cannot make the dead hear, nor can you make the deaf hear the call when they retreat turning their backs (rejectng the message contained in Divine revelation), nor can you guide the blind out of their error. You can make only those hear who would believe in Our Messages and submit (to Us). (30:48-53)
Divine revelation is thus a human need. If we look closely we find that both the physical and the spiritual systems of human-beings run under the same laws of nature. Just as He the High has provided for the human-beings according to their physical needs, similarly He has centered to the needs of the spirit and has provided means to meet them.
Our life, so full of doubts and uncertainties and we cannot attain to perfect certainty of God-gnosis except through an elixir and the pure springhead of Divine Dialogue which leads one to a Certainty which is Perfect. By exercising the discipline of morality, self-control and by complying with dictates of the Holy Qur'ân, one goes from the animal stage to a stage of sublimation and the consciousness about being answerable for one's actions begins to take shape within him.
Proofs of the Existence of the Phenomena of Divine Revelations
1. We see how the All-Mighty has provided us with diverse sources to meet our hunger, water to quench our thirst, light for our eyes, air for our breathing, and to ensure the survival of the species He created male and a female. All these diverse arrangements have been made to meet the needs of mortal life on this planet. None of them have been left at the mercy of human intellect and endeavours,. The All-Mighty has planned and arranged all this Himself. Accepting this how is it then possible that for meeting the needs of our eternal next life He has not sent the food of His Words, the Elixir of His Revelation, the light of His Guidance and streams of His Divine Lights?
It is hard to believe that He has left it solely to the murky human intellect to care for himself the spiritual world. Anyone blessed with a spiritual perception cannot help feeling that the soul, for its spiritual nourishment, stands in need of spiritual food and spiritual water, spiritual light and spiritual mating, without which the continuity and survival of the spiritual life is not possible. This is a human need and has been fulfilled, like his physical counterpart, through Divine revelation, in order to bring both the systems, the physical and the spiritual, in harmony with each other. And this is the wise strategy that can be expected from the All-Wise God.
2. To realize the truth of Divine revelation let us have a close look at an extraordinary power of the human mind devoted by the word Genius. This is an extraordinary power of perception which is perhaps not possible to understand through intellectual and psychological analysis. This power is definitely present in some persons, and its existence and its identification can be made through the achievements of such persons.
Notice the case of the inventor who at a certain stage of his work reaches a condition where his apparent physical senses and capabilities and all his efforts do not help him to make a roadway in his work; he is stuck against such an obstruction and difficulty which proves a boulder blocking the path and he is at a loss how to overcome it. Then suddenly, at an unspecified moment, his brain makes a jump, a breakthrough, and his difficulty is suddenly resolved. All the dark alleys are illuminated and he finds a way to his desired destination. The idea of underlying most of the inventions occurred as a flash in the inventor's mind, as if instilled into it from outside. Or else the idea of the invention occurred to the inventor during his scientific research and efforts, but many intermediate difficulties or the final difficulty were solved through a sudden brain wave. Edison, a great inventor credited with nearly a thousand inventions, says that many of his inventions were the result of a sudden intuitive flash. Similarly the finer points of a game may be revealed to a player, engaged in practicing it, suddenly, thus improving his performance and expertise. Similarly a colourful vocalist may sometimes experience sudden moments when it seems that a god of music himself were speaking through his throat. A poet may also experience such spiritual illumination and ready-made verses starts to appear in his brain. The same spiritual experience can also be met with in other spheres of life, when suddenly some matters may be unveiled to a person in the unveiling of which neither the person's senses, nor his powers of thought, deliverance and understanding had a part. Such a sudden unveiling of realities are quite outside the pale of one's conscious life.
Some mental processes reach their maturity in the subconscious mind, and then suddenly the results thereof begin to surface in the conscious mind. This is a surd of “unconscious resolution”, an expression used by Carpenter. This is also a personal encounter; though we cannot call it formal divine revelation, but we come closer to understanding the nature of formal divine revelation through studying the example of such an encounter. These are inferior types of divine revelation.
If the existence of this genius-condition of the mind is admitted and there is no room of denying this fact, then there is no valid reason that we deny a more important and more intense form of human consciousness and perception called Divine revelation.
3. Traversing the stages of the conscious and the subconscious mind we are able to go on to the stage of super-consciousness. God the High has also arranged something much superior. He has sown the seed of superior revelation in people's minds as a proof of His existence. Experiencing a true dream in some part of one's life is more or less a universal human experience, so much so that sometimes even the transgressors, the sinners and scoundrels of the highest order can also see a true dream. And sometimes the mischief-mongers and miscreants narrate their visions to us and these come and to be true. At times even the prostitutes can experience true dreams, it can happen that she, whilst in bed with a customer and full of wine, may see a dream which comes out to be true. We read in The Holy Qur'ân about the dreams of the two polytheist prison-inmates who were companions of Joseph in prison, dreams that subsequently proved to be true (12:36). Then in the same Qur'ânic chapter there is to mention of the true dreams of Joseph whilst still a child and of cruel Pharaoh, dreams that were very meaningful and had far-reaching effects (12:36 and 12:43). The co-sharing of this faculty of true dreams by the whole of mankind indicates that this capability of receiving Divine communications is not something imaginary and unreal. It is a reality and has a universal ambit; male and female, child and adult, the good and the bad, all have a share of this experience according to their capability and opportunity. Had this arrangement not existed, many people would have a valid excuse before God and would have to be held unblameable. They could deny Him and well say before Him that the field of knowledge pertaining to Divine revelation was very remote and hidden.
That is why it has been God's want from the very beginning that He shows to a certain extent true dreams to the common people, be they good or bad, righteous or sinner, correct in their beliefs or followers of some false faith. And on rare occasions blesses them with divine revelation in order to ensure that their doubtful conjectures, based on hearsay or tradition, about this phenomenon may be converted into certainty, and so that God's argument against them be completed, and so that they may be left with no excuse for not knowing the reality of spiritual development, of divine revelation and the reality of apostleship.
In other words the radiance (“Nûr” - Divine light) emanating through "Gabriel" is permeating the whole universe and affects each person according to his capability and capacity. When diverse people see some sample of these spiritual encounters, according to the extent of their capability, and thus see a fleeting glimpse of divine revelation, it become impossible for them, unless they abandon the truth, to declare the human faculty of receiving divine revelation to be something baseless and unreal. Thus they, having experienced a small portion of the spiritual encounter personally, come under God's accountability, seeing of true dreams, seeing supernatural visions, and hearing sounds form the unseen, all these phenomena, also fund in our mundane life, silences everyone. How can that Gracious and Merciful Personality, who has not kept even the sinners and the transgressors deprived of His Spiritual Beneficence, and inspite of their unsuitability sends down upon them shows of His Grace, how could He keep His beloved and chosen righteous and purified servants deprived of the gift of Divine Revelation? No doubt, these persons who are imbued with divine holiness must be the recipients of a rain of His Divine Grace in this form of revelation. And God must be sending down upon them all types of true versions and dreams, divine revelation and honouring them with divine dialogue.
If we consider this present and material universe to be a material fact, and its being is affected and influenced and changed by another world, then such other world must also exist and must be real! And we should be honest and concede that this power and influence comes from a foreign source. And for this purpose we must take a look at the vast chain of prophecies the ambit of which extends over every country and every epoch. If we look at the prophecies contained in the Lend Avesta, Geeta, Torah, the Gospels, and The Holy Qur'ân, we are left convinced of the truth of Divine Revelation and not a shadow of doubt is left in our mind.
4. Another proof of the existence of Divine Revelation lies in its results, its effects and its fruits. If we look at the lives of personages who have had a frequent spiritual experience of Divine revelation and dialogue, we find that along with this Divine gift they are also bestowed with Divine help and assistance. Having a real and genuine Dialogue with God the High is no small and ordinary matter. Just as a person is sitting in the dark and his condition is suddenly transformed when a Sun-ward window is opened, and just as the sun's light, affecting his senses, brings about a change of life in him, the same holds true in the case of opening of the window of Divine Revelation. Those blessed with frequent Divine revelation are granted a great love for the Creator and His creatures, their inner carnal fine is reduced to ashes by the intensity of the Divine light and they become completely free from motivations of their animal selves. They are given supernatural steadfastness, fortitude and bravery, qualities that amaze the onlookers. They put their trust in the All-Mighty completely, and fruits thereof keep manifesting themselves. God the High does not allow their lives to go in waste. All the fine features of human nature are to be found in them in the highest degree.
Their hearts become cleansed of love for things other than the All-Mighty. Their self-seeking is completely burnt off by His fire of love. Their prayers, supplications and attentions are also not like other people's supplications and attention. They are full of an intense effect. Their God-gnosis is transformed from hearsay to spiritual encounter and experience. They attain such heights of purity and sincerity that all veils begin to fall-off. They are granted a new spiritual life and He fills them with His love through revealing flashes of His Beauty and Grace. They develop into an entity reflecting Divine attributes and become like a master pointing to God, thus telling us that He exists. They are bestowed with an extraordinary value for treading in the path of Allah. He grants them knowledge out of His knowledge, wisdom out of His wisdom and power out of His Power and grants them a submissive heart and they become like God's tools. Their lives are selflessly devoted to the service, sympathizing and problem-solving of humanity and they are truly concerned and grieved over their travails. They themselves suffer in order to comfort others and are ever-willing to undergo grief for the sake of providing solace and comfort to others. They are ready to bear-up with grievous wounds in order to provide security and well-being to others. Their God-gnosis, certainty and faith reaches such a high stage that the reward thereof no longer remains a conjectural possibility, nay, it becomes a certain and palpated thing, as if they have already received it.
5. Divine revelation brings about a revolution in human morals and in society. We can see such a manifestation of change in the effects produced by The Holy Qur'ân. The Qur'ânic revelation provided the first cultural, civil, scientific, moral and spiritual guidance to the world at a time when the people of the Book and those without it, the people of the land as well as the seas, all were sunk in darkness and degradation. The philosophy of Babylon had been lost, the Roman and Persian civilizations were rotted at the core, mankind was suffering severe hardships in India, and the rest of the world was no better (30:41)
The Qur'ânic revelation first set Arabia right, and then became the teacher of civilization and culture for the whole world. The very first words of Divine revelation addressed to the unlettered Arabs mentioned “Knowledge through the pen”. Then the later generations, on the basis of this Qur'ânic revelation, performed such enduring feats in all domains
of life in Iran, Egypt, Spain, the Indian subcontinent, Turkey, Africa and elsewhere, that these are written in golden letters in the pages of history. This Divine revelation, by guiding humanity towards subline teachings, directly and indirectly, paved the way for adoption of a scientific mode of thought. The Qur'ânic revelation has left such vast, deep and comprehensive impression on human thought, morals, civilization and way of life, that it finds no parallel elsewhere in the world. This revelation was not left to itself as an inscription on paper, nay, each and every verse of it has reconstructed thought and given birth to enduring civilizations in the practical world. Its universal and personal influences and blessings have been at work for many centuries and are still at work today.
Objections raised against Divine Revelation
And those who do not know (the wisdom implied in Divine revelation) say, ‘Why does not Allâh (Himself) speak to us or give us a (convincing) sign?’ That is exactly what their predecessors had said. Their hearts have become very much alike. We have certainly made (Our) signs explicitly clear for a people who wish to be convinced. (2:118)
To deny the existence of Divine revelation solely because we do not see Divine revelation coming down and we do not hear its sound, and we have not personally observed or experienced it nor have we ever seen any miracle being performed is not a valid standpoint and does not prove that it has no existence.
How can we reject the evidence of thousands of recipients of Divine revelation and of visionaries, an evidence that has a long history of continuity and which has no room for fabrication fraud or forgery? If someone does not hear a heavenly sound originating externally, or his eyes do not see visions, this is no argument for assuming that divine revelation is a baseless and unreal thing. It is unreasonable to reject the evidence of thousands of persons with spiritual experience, merely on the ground that our knowledge of this field is finite and limited. What kind of wisdom would it be if I was to deny the existence of London or Washington or Beijing just because my eyes have not seen them? There have always been holy personage from times immemorial who have had the spiritual experience, whose ears have heard God the High's voice, whose eyes have seen visions, whose sense of smell has detected the wafting of divine fragrance. They have had the experience of receiving divine revelation, and have observed its reality and its effects. To deny their righteous testimony resembles a blind man denying the observations of a person blessed with sight. Absence of knowledge is no argument for the nonexistence of something. For such persons
it is better that they accept the guidance of wise men blessed with spiritual sight rather than wandering and stumbling around.
Just as a born-blind person cannot understand the difference between light and darkness, similarly anyone, who has not had the spiritual experience and has not undergone the experience of receiving divine revelation, cannot be fully aware of the reality of this phenomenon. When one is cutoff from all worldly attachments, one's spirit takes on such a purified hue that it is impossible to describe it in words. It is only by treading the road of rectitude and piety (Taqwâ) that one reaches this special stage, a stage at which one can fathom the reality of Divine communication. Till such a stage is reached one should be content with benefiting form the spiritual insights of the gnostics.
Piety, self-sacrifice, generosity, patience, fortitude, all these positive qualities, and avoidance of evils like lying, deception, sexual licence, breach of promise and drinking - all the heights of good morals have been achieved largely due to the spiritual encounters in the form of Divine revelation. The historical facts, whose chain goes right back to Adam, cannot be denied out of prejudice against religion. Have the seeds of these moral qualities been sown by some Pharaohs, Caesars, Kaisers, or Chosroes, or have then been sown by Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad? In short, divine revelation is a proven reality. Its witnesses are millions of inhabitants of this world and the honourable apostles and in the Ummah of Muhammad, such witnesses include the Holy Companions, the Muhaddathîn and Mujjadads (those blessed with divine dialogue), the Sûfîs and the saints. All these are imbued with gnosis and knowledge and bear testimony through their personal encounters that God the High communicates with His them through dreams, visions, and divine revelation and there are occasions when they hear God's delicious words.
Another objection made on Divine Revelation is that Divine revelation puts a brake on development of human thought and stops scientific research to move forward and paralyses the human intellectual faculties. The above objections stand negated because there is historical evidence that major developments of scientific truths have always taken place only through persons who were followers of, and recipients of Divine revelation. In the earlier times it was the Divine revelation received by Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus that set the foundation of human values and civilization, and it is an undisputable historical fact. Behind the universal acceptance of a code of elates, and condemnation of evils like lying, deception and fraud, theft, murder and pillage etc, lie a long chain of efforts and sacrifices made by these holy men.
The largest, the most perfect and pure Divine revelation which we have today is in the form of The Holy Qur'ân, and a study of this book shows that it has time and again reiterated the need to exercise human faculties of intellect and thought. The verses like 7:176; 30:21; 39:42; 45:13; 10:24; 16:14; 2:221; 14:25; 28:43; 39:27; 2:164; 13:4; 30:28; 59:14 are only some of the Qur'ânic references where an appeal is made to exercise reason and intellect and ponder over the wonderful aspects of the handiwork of the All-Mighty.
Another objection raised against divine revelation is that it is a restriction and freedom is always better than restrictions. But divine revelation is a restriction worth a thousand freedoms; it is a restriction without which true freedom cannot be attained. To illustrates this point, can we consider all preventive preconditions to be restrictive of our freedom and as not care for them, or should we discard all rules of hygiene and health, all traffic rules (allowing a freedom of having accidents), all the byelaws of city corporation and other civic bodies as restrictions and should we disobey them? A country's constitution is a restriction. The mechanisms of economics are restrictions. The laws of nature are restrictions. The laws of chemistry are restrictions. Can we say that refraining from poison is a restriction? These are the limits that protect us from perdition and provide us a safe environment in which we are free to act. Similarly the laws of ethic an religious morals show us the limits to protect us from many dangers we are not aware of.
To sum up, divine revelation is neither unnecessary nor nonexistent. It is a clear truth, which is logically necessary and expedient and a phenomenon which has been proven to be a fact through investigation just as the sun's rising is an argument for sun's existence. Inspite of all the difficulties and uncertainties, some of which are organic, some psychological, some pertain to dialectics, some are related to religious thought, metaphysics, and expressions such as "descent of angels", the "raising of the prophets" and the "arrival of the scriptures " etc , divine revelation is a true reality and an undeniable fact; it is a need of mankind and a necessity for this universe. To deny its existence solely for this reason that we do not see divine revelation coming down and we do not hear its sound, and we have not personally observed or experienced it, is not a valid standpoint and does not prove that in fact it has no existence.
Criteria of True Divine Revelation
"The station of sainthood has certain signs, and not everyone who is dressed in a mendicant's frock is a saint".
How can we differentiate and distinguish between genuine and forged divine revelation? It must be realized that certain signs, logical standards, mundane and spiritual touchstones exist with their help which we can differentiate between the genuine and the fake or mistaken divine revelation. These are:
1. The Cognitive Faculty - God the High creates such a cognitive power in the recipients of divine revelation and also in those who hold it in esteem that they are able to recognize divine revelation with great ease. Consider the ordinary power of vision of man; an expert jeweller can tell by merely looking whether a diamond is genuine or fake and then by looking at its colour, its brilliance, its clarity and its weight he can fix its value. Though common people may not possess this expertise, the discriminating eye of a spiritual expert is not so weak as to be unable to distinguish between an "angel" and a human, or between the divine and the satanic and human revelation. In this context Imâm Râzî says that God the High vouchsafes such knowledge to His beloved ones which helps them to distinguish between the word of God and the word of a human-being. (Tafsîr-e-Kabîr)
2. The Inherent Perfection - The inherent perfection of the Word from the All-Mighty also bear testimony that the revelation is from Him. Its principles for attaining salvation are based on natural style; its doctrines and beliefs are firm and supported by arguments; its do's and dont's pack a wealth of wisdom within them. Its teaching is entirely free from polytheism of every kind, and it is full of an intense zest for manifesting and depicting the Attributes and Perfections of Allâh. No blemish or blot or defect can be in it, and nothing in it is repugnant to the human spirit, human dignity and human sensitivities.
3. The Inherent Qualities - Divine Words are accompanied by divine power, blessings and relish, and these qualities tell us that these are from God the All-Mighty. It goes right into the heart of the recipient like a steel nail. Just as the vision of God is a source of intense relish (7:43) so is His discourse and Talk. It is full of sweetness and liveliness and warmth and a display of divine attributes and contains, power, refinement, “Nûr” (Divine light), a Divine flash and efficacy. Anything coming out of a holy spring must have sanctity, purity and fragrance in it, and anything emanating from a foul and unclean spring will have its filthiness manifested sooner or later.
4. Chastity - The life of a claimant prior to his claim of being a recipient of divine dialogue and address is considered by all the people to be pure, his character un-blemished, full of rectitude, piety, purity with a deep concern for the rights of fellow men, ministering to the tired and downtrodden, helping the poor, doing of noble and pure deeds, hospitality, cooperating with others in doing good, abstaining from lying, deception and dishonesty, nepotism and exploitation, having excellent mental and physical health and a high scholastic and practical condition. All these conditions are a proof that the claimant is true in his claim (10:16). Based on these criteria, the pure lives of the prophets are a proof of their claims.
5. The Punishment for fabrication - A tremendous criterion for judging any words whether these are from God, a criteria which no one can prove false and against which not a single instance can be quoted from world history is the life-span of the claimant after his claim. If any claimant to being a prophet, messenger or appointee of God presents any words as "Word of God" and thereby leads people astray, and if he openly recites this text to the people, presenting it as being from God and saying these are God's words and not my own, such an impostor, persisting in his habit of fabrication, cannot have a long remaining live after his claim. The Muslim scholastic theologians have always presented Holy Prophet's survival for twenty three years after his claim as a proof of his truth and Qur'ân's authenticity. In The Holy Qur'ân, this criterion is to be found in Sura “Al-Hâqqah” (69:44-47). Revealed scriptures prior to the Holy Quran have also put forth this criterion (Deut: 13:1-5, 18:20, Isaiah 9:15, Ezekial 13:1-9, Jeremiah 23:15-40, Zachariah 13:3, Acts 5:35)
6. An Oath asking for God's punishment - Another criteria for distinguishing between genuine words of the All-Mighty and fabrications is invoking an oath for God’s punishment. If a notable person having influence in society says under oath about a true claimant to divine revelation that the claimant is dishonest and a liar and fabricator, and makes a deciding stipulation that “if this claimant is truthful, I should die in his lifetime; and if he is a liar and an imposter he may die in my lifetime,” then God would kill such a challenger in the lifetime of the claimant.
7. Being unique and unparalleled - Even some man-made things and the intricate craftsmanship of an expert are considered as impossible to copy. Similarly a revelation whose source and origin is the All-Mighty cannot be copied (52:34).
8. Security of life granted to the claimant - Another criterion is that security of life is promised to a true claimant of divine revelation. Such a person remains safe and secure and no power on earth can kill him. He dies a natural death after his natural span of life. (Jesus was not an exception to this rule). Each and every prophet mentioned in the Holy Qur'ân was granted security of his life and none had to face ordeals at the hand of their opponents (60:5).
9. Knowledge of the Unseen - The knowledge of the Unsee, both about the past and the future, are unveiled by Divine revelations. The statements of revelation are not in the style of the statements of astroglogers or the practitioners of occult practices like mesmerism, omen-reading, soothsaying, physiognomy, who base their findings on guesswork and estimation, asking reward for their prophecies (52:40). Their prophecies are derived from telltale signs, omens, conjectures and surrounding circumstances (52:38) and their personal character is evil, poverty-stricken, full of hunger for wealth (51:57). They are sunk in misfortunes, frustrations and failure (51:59). Most of their forecasts turn out to be ineffective, baseless and bare lies. Their statements are devoid of the lights of divine power, honour, righteousness and success. True Divine prophecies consist of glad-tidings, of honour and victory and of divine help. Divine power and majesty can be seen shining through them (52:29). Look at the prophecies of the Holy Qur'ân. Can any astrologer or soothsayer ever make such prophecies? Has anyone discovered such grand pronouncements and news through spiritualism and mesmerism? (52:32-34)
Had it not been the word of the All-Mighty it would not be within its power to unveil matters of the Unseen pertaining to past, present and the future. These matters were unveiled by an unlettered person (peace be upon him) about whom no one could have thought that he could unveil these. By reviewing the circumstances of his life it stands clearly that he would not have learnt these facts from somebody else. Nor are these matters open and manifest and nor could a knowledge of these matters attained through thought and deliberation. Nor can it be reasonably inferred in respect of a person that he has said all these things as a guess and a conjecture.
The Holy Qur'ân gave promise of success and victory to a humble, orphaned and unlettered young man surrounded by adverse circumstances, and in the face of all the estimates and conjectures he was given the news of the spread of the faith chosen by the All-Mighty for the mankind.
But one who does not accept (the call of) one calling to Allah, cannot frustrate (God's purpose) in the earth. (46:32).
Categories of the Recipient of Revelations
Revelation Granted to Ordinary People - The very initial form of revelation and its reflections fall on every human being. This Light of revelation can be compared with sunlight which falls on all the inhabitants of the world. It falls on the heap of a dirt and on a diamond, and its effect can be seen according to the respective capabilities. Similarly, even the transgressor are not deprived of this Divine Light. This has been done from the All-Wise to make the nature of Divine revelation easy to understand for us and so that no excuse is left to follow the call of the prophets.
>b>Revelation Granted to Ordinary people with liaison to God – This is the next stage of revelations. Ordinary people who do have some liaison with God, but are not free from impurities and muddiness sometimes see true dreams. Such revelation is sent to test them and encourage them to tread the path of purity and righteousness.
Revelations Granted to Majzûbs - Majzûb is a person who is drawn to God but at the same time is lost in contemplations and amazement. He has a confused perception of the mysteries of revelation. His inner eye receives a certain amount of Divine Light so that he can perceive some Divine works.
Revelation Granted to Saints - Auliyâ, Abdâl, Aqtâb and Autâd are the categories of saints and sûfîs. These people are lost in God and are imbued with His hue. Their human vileness is burnt away by the flame of the Divine Light. They are manifestations of Divine splendours and their faces shine with a special graceful light. The All-Mighty keeps on bestowing His words on their tongue from time to time, words that contain Divine Majesty, blessings and power of prophecy which free from all doubts and impurities. Their prophecies are not like the prophecies of astrologers, but replete with the lights of desirability, power and glad-tidings.
Revelation Granted to the Appointees (Mâ'mûr) of Allâh - Muhaddathîn and Mujaddadîn are appointees of God. They are selected by the All-Mighty for the reformation of the people and are the "Imâms" of their time. Having passed through al the stages of "Salûk" (Sûfî term for a spiritual stage that a Sâlik - searcher of truth, must pass through, they reach the stage of "Finâ fi al-Rasûl", having lost themselves in the person of the Holy Prophet. On one hand they have a tremendous love for God the All-Mighty, on the other hand they have a tremendous passion for the reformation and welfare of mankind. Their revealed prophecies enjoy the status of "unvieler of the unseen". In fact the Divine revelation in its full implication fit these persons. These persons are shown their spiritual station and Divine office (muqâm). They enjoy the honour of conversing with the All-Mighty. Anyone who calls their claims are fabrication are held accountable by the All-Mighty and liable for punishment.
There is only a thin line of difference between these person and the prophets of God. They are positioned in the middle, between the prophets and their "ummah". The reality which is called a "Miracle" in case of Prophets is called "Karâmat" - a supernatural feat - in their case, and the reality which is termed as "innocence and chastity" in case of Prophets is called "Mahfûziyyat"- being secured and guarded - in their case. The reality which is called "Nabuwwat" - the Prophethood - in the case of Prophets is called "Muhaddathiyyat" - one honoured withe converse with the All-Mighty - in their case. Though they are not prophets, they wear the cloak of " Zalî Nabuwwat" - reflective prophethood because perfect "Walâyat" - sainthood - is a reflective prophethood. Ibn 'Arabî has coined a special term for them, he calls their "Walâyat" "Nabuwwat 'Amma" meaning common prophethood. (see Fatûhât Makkiyya 73:9 by Akbar Mohiuddîn Ibn 'Arabî). Sheikh Abdul Kâdir Gilânî says, "The Prophets are given the Name (of Prophet) but we are given the Title of Prophet (see Saif al-Rahmânî page 100 by Syed Muhammad Makkî). Imâm Abdul Wahâb Shai'rânî says, "Nabuwwat Mutliqa" continues (see Al-Bawâqî al Jawâhir 2:35). Maulâna Jalâluddîn Rûmî says in his Persian couplet (Mathnawî Daftar 5 page 27):
"O Disciple! He is the prophet of this time, because the Light of prophethood emanates from him. So try to excel in service and obedience, in order to attain prophethood within the ummah"
There are many Muslim scholars who are of the same opinion (e.g. Muftî Kifayatullah, President of the Jamîat Ulemâ Hind in Majalas al- Ahrâr; Muhammad Ismaîl Shahîd Dehlavî; Shabîr Ahmad Usmânî in Al-Sh'ab page 8; Muftî Mohammad Shâfî in Khatam Nabuwwat; Mohammad Idrîs Kandhalvî in Masku al-Khitâm). They have called these person "Non Law-Bearing Prophets"
Thus Muhaddathiyyat and Walâyat contain strong aspects of prophethood. They are so to say heirs of the Messengers of God, though their inner essence is similar to those of the prophets yet they are not prophets. Inspite of the prestige and honour they enjoy in Divine court and inspite of the fact that the Divine revelation rain upon them, they do not belong to the category of prophets (Zumrâh Anbiyâ) in the strict sense. They are members of the category of saints. Their revelation (Wahî-Walâyat) is not identical with the prophetic revelations. According to Islamic tradition the word "Rasûl" and "Nabi" is used for prophets - a person who brings a Divine Law or the one who abrogates some earlier Divine commandment and replaces it with a new one, and who is not an "umatî" or a follower of any other prophet. It is therefore not appropriate to use the term of "Nabi" for these Muhaddith, Mujaddids or Walîullahs, as it may create misunderstanding with common Muslim understanding of the word "Nabi".
It is essential for every Muhaddith and Mujaddid that he should be likeness of some prophet and he should be in the footsteps of one of them. He would get the same title from Allâh as that of such a prophet. Ibn Asâkar narrates from Anas that the Holy Prophet said, "There has certainly been no prophet in the past except that there shall be a like of them in my Ummah.” From what has been said above we can understand the claim of a Mujjaddid Hadzrat Moînuddîn Chishtî about his metaphorical likeness to Jesus:
"Every moment the Holy Spirit shines within Moînuddîn. Though I do not proclaim it, but I have become the second Jesus." (Chistî)
Revelation Granted to the Prophets (Wahî-Nabuwwat) - This is a special category of revelation granted to the Prophets only. The Holy Qur'ân mentions the name of some of these Prophets, but not all of them (40:78) and requires from us not only the belief in the Prophets of Islam but in the Prophets of God sent to all nations all over the world (2:4). As the All-Mighty has not left any nation without a guide and a Prophet, so we must accept that Buddha, Krishna, Rama, Confucius and others we do not know were the guides of their respective people and we must accept that their teachings were at least in their original, pure form the same Divine teachings of the same original religion, but in a different colour, suited for their people. They were the agents of All-Mighty entrusted with a Divine Law. The doctrine of belief in all these Prophets is taught repeatedly in the Holy Qur'ân (2:4; 2:177; 3:84; 42:13). Now rejection of the Prophets of God or calling any one of them a liar renders a Muslim a disbeliever (Kâfir) according to the teachings of the Holy Qur'ân. On the other hand rejection or refusal of a Muhaddith or a Mujaddid or a Saint does not render any Muslim a Kâfir. Calling such a person a fabricator of lie creates a mischief (Kufr dûna Kufr), and certainly the displeasure of the All-Mighty.
I swear by the places and times of the revelation of the portions of the Qur’ân; And behold! It is a mighty oath, if you only care to know; That this is most surely a Blessed Qur’ân (bestowing bounteous blessings of the All-Mighty God on humanity), in (the form of) a Book well preserved (in all its purity).No one can achieve true insight into it exceptthose who are purified (by leading righteous lives). (It is) a (great) revelation from the Lord of the worlds. Is it this (Divine) discourse that you are the deniers of? And do you make the denial of it your lot?(56:75-82)
The Perfect Revelation
As the universe has evolved gradually and continues to evolve by the command of the All-Mighty, so the revelation continues to evolve stage by stage, and when the universe evolves to a stage where it covers all aspects of human life, at such a time the teaching of the Divine revelation also cover all aspects of human life. The Qur'ânic revelation to the Holy Prophet is the highest, the purest, the most sublime and the most perfect of all revelations. No other revelation equals it in its purity of communication and decisiveness. The All-Mighty God Himself testifies to this and says:
I call to witness every part of the Qur’ân when it is revealed, that your comrade (Muhammad) has neither deviated (from true guidance in his practices) nor has he erred (in his beliefs). He does not say anything out of (his own) fanciful desire. This (Qur’ân) is nothing but (pure) revelation, revealed (to him by God). The Lord of Mighty Powers has taught him (this discourse). (The Lord) Whose powers become manifest in manifold and frequent ways, with the result that he (- this Messenger of God) attained perfection and fullest vigour (both intellectually and physically). And he attained to the zenith of heights (in his spiritual ascension). Then he drew near to Him and afterwards he descended (to mankind, for their guidance). So that he became (as it were) one chord to two bows or closer still. (53:1-9)
Its beginning, its essence, its formations, its style, its language, its words, all are revealed by the All-Mighty. Its source does not lie in the Thora, the Gospels Vedas, Zend or Payand. Achievement of human knowledge and intellect cannot compete with the exaltedness, grandeur and quality of this Book and no intellectual brilliance and vastness of knowledge can be at a par with the excellence of this Book. There was no human effort involved in its creation, neither by way of thought, nor endeavours, nor by words or actions. It has no human touch in it, directly or indirectly, nor it is an outburst of any person's unconscious stream of thought or emotions or an inspiration of a poet or the fringed attendance of those who are possessed.
The Holy Qur'ân is a living Book, it is a luminous lamp, a glorious reality, an eternal truth and a law that will never be abrogated. It has no parallel in its external form and in essence or in its history. No other book can ever compete with it. It is a complete code of life and a universal net of wisdom which provides all the necessary ingredients for the completion and fulfillment of human being's intellectual and practical requirements. It has articles of belief and as well as laws, sermons, admonition, discipline and regulations.
And if you have any doubt as to (the truthfulness of this Qur’ân) which We have revealed to Our servant (Muhammad) from time to time, so produce a single Sûrah (- Qur'ânic chapter) like any of this, summoning (to your assistance) all your helpers (that you have) beside Allâh, if you are right (in your doubts); You will fail to do (so), and never shall you do (it); (25:1)