و رفعنا لک ذکرک محمدﷺ

December 16,2018, ,Weather : °

Fajr:, Dhuhr:, Asr:, Maghrib:, Isha:

Wahi (Revelation): Meaning, Forms and Types

08 Sep 2017
Wahi (Revelation): Meaning, Forms and Types

By Syed Abul A'ala Maududi

(Translated from the book "Seerat e Sarwar e Aalam", Chapter “Wahi”)

 

 

Literal and Lexical meaning of Wahi (Revelation)

Lexically, wahi means swift and secret instruction, i.e. an inspiration which is made with such haste and speed that none may know it except the inspirer and the one being inspired. As a term, this word has been used for the guidance and instruction that is put in the mind of a man by Allah like a flash of lightning. What is meant to be said here is this: There is no question of Allah’s visiting somebody or somebody’s visiting Allah and speaking face to face with Him. He is All-Mighty and All-Wise. Whenever He pleases to have a contact with a servant for the guidance and instruction of mankind, nothing can obstruct His will and intention, for He adopts the method of revelation for the purpose by His wisdom.1

 

Types of Revelation

The lexical meaning of the Arabic word wahi is secret inspiration which is felt only by the one who inspires and the other who is inspired with. The Quran has used this word both for the instinctive inspiration by Allah to His creation in general and for the revelation towards His Prophets in particular. Allah sends His wahi to the heavens with His command and they begin functioning in accordance with it (Surah Al-Momin, Ayat 12). He will send this to the earth with His command and it will relate the story of all that had happened on and in it. He sends wahi to the bee and inspires it with faculties to perform the all of its wonderful work instinctively (Ayat 68). The same is true of the bird that learns to fly, the fish that learns to swim, the newly born child that learns to suck milk, etc. Then, it is also wahi with which Allah inspires a human being with a spontaneous idea (Surah Al-Qasas, Ayat 7). The same is the case with all the great discoveries, inventions, works of literature and art, etc. which would not have been possible without the benefit of wahi. As a matter of fact, every human being at one time or the other feels its mental or spiritual influence in the form of an idea or thought or plan or dream, which is confirmed by a subsequent experience to be the right guidance from the unseen wahi.

Then there is the wahi (revelation) which is the privilege of the Prophets. This form of wahi has its own special features and is quite distinct from all other forms. The Prophet, who is inspired with it, is fully conscious and has his firm conviction that it is being sent down from Allah. Such a revelation contains doctrines of creed, commandments, laws, regulations and instructions for the guidance of mankind.2

 

Misunderstanding

 [Quran, Surah Ash-Shura (42):51 part ] “Or that a messenger (an angel) be sent to him who reveals to him by Allah's leave whatever He wishes.”

This is the form of wahi by which all divine Scriptures have actually reached the Prophets of Allah. Some people have misinterpreted this sentence and given it this meaning Allah sends a messenger who by His command conveys His message to the common people. But the words of the Quran fa-yuhiya bi-idni-hi ma yasha (then He reveals by His command whatever He wills) show that this interpretation is absolutely wrong. The Prophets’s preaching before the common people has neither been called wahi anywhere in the Quran nor is there any room in Arabic for describing a man’s speaking to another man openly by the word wahi. Lexically, wahi means secret and swift instruction. Only an ignorant person will apply this word to the common preaching by the Prophets.3

 

Further Explanation to Types of Revelation

A type of revelation is that which can be called instinctive or natural. Through this Allah teaches the creatures their work to do. This revelation is more on animals and perhaps, more than them, on plants and inanimate objects. The other type of revelation is that which can be called partial or specific revelation through which Allah imparts knowledge or order on any matter related to affairs of life to any one of his servants on a special occasion or make him understand any strategy. This revelation is made daily on human beings. Many inventions in the world are made on this revelation. Many scientific explorations are done through this revelation. Many historical incidents have the outcome of this revelation when a person, on an important occasion, thought of a special measure without pondering, and he made a decisive impact on the speed of history. Similar revelation was made on the mother of Prophet Musa عليه السلام. There is a revelation different from both types of revelation in which Allah informs one of his servants of the facts of the unseen and gives him order related to the affairs of life so that he can pass on this order and knowledge to the common human beings and bring them from darkness to light. This revelation is prophet specific. It is clearly known from the Holy Quran that this type of knowledge --whether you call it conveyance, revelation, intuition, or interpret it as revelation conventionally-- is not given to anyone except prophets and messengers. And this knowledge is given to prophets because they have complete belief that it is from Allah and completely protected from Satan’s infiltration, and also pure of personal views, concepts and wishes. It is also a Shariah evidence. It is obligatory on all human beings, and prophets are appointed to spread this to all human beings and to spread the call to its faith to servants of Allah. And this is the same revelation which guarantees salvation on keeping faith on it and precise loss on turning away from it.

Apart from prophets, other human beings may even get any part of this knowledge of this third type, which is limited to blurred signals where it is important to take help, in the light of revelation of prophethood, to understand it correctly (i.e., to inspect its authenticity by presenting it on Quran and tradition of Prophet Mohammad ﷺ and in case of its authenticity, specifying its motivation). If a person understands his revelation and intuition as a self-independent source of guidance and implements it himself without testing it on prophethood revelation and also call people to follow it, then such practice does not stand legal as per Shariah. This reality has been mentioned many times in the Holy Quran clearly, especially in the last verses of Surah Jinn where it has been mentioned openly:

“Knower of the unseen, and He does not disclose His unseen to anyone. Except whom He has approved of messengers, and indeed, He sends before each messenger and behind him observers. That he may know that they have conveyed the messages of their Lord; and He has encompassed whatever is with them and has enumerated all things in number” (72: 26-28).

If we observe, we can easily understand the reason behind not giving revelation and intuition of the kind of prophet to righteous men and giving them low level of revelation and intuition. The reason is because this is the difference between prophet and the nation, and that cannot be removed. The second thing is that the people, who would try to continue this work after the Prophet, are needy of correct guidance from Allah in philosophical insight in religion and efforts to establish religion. This is given non-consciously to all sincere servants of religion with correct thinking; however, if someone gets this consciously, it is a gift of Allah.4

 

Revelation in the Form of Dream

 [Quran; Surah As-Saffatt (37) :102] and when he was old enough to go about and work with him, (one day) Abraham said to him: “My son, I see in my dream that I am slaughtering you. So consider (and tell me) what you think.” He said: “Do as you are bidden. You will find me, if Allah so wills, among the steadfast.”

One should note that the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) had dreamed that he was sacrificing his son and not that he had sacrificed him. Although at that time he understood the dream to mean that he should sacrifice his son and on that very basis, he became ready to sacrifice him, with a cool mind, yet the fine point that Allah had in view in making him see the dream has been explained by Himself in (verse 105) below.

The object of asking this of the son was not that he would carry out Allah’s command only if he agreed, otherwise not, but the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), in fact, wanted to find out how righteous, in actual reality, was his child for whom he had prayed to Allah. If the son himself was found to be ready to lay down his life for the sake of Allah’s approval and pleasure, it would mean that the prayer had been fully granted, and the son was not his offspring in the natural way only but was morally and spiritually also a true son.

The words clearly tell that the son had not taken the dream of his Prophet father to be a mere dream but a command from Allah. Had it not been a command actually, it was necessary that Allah should have explicitly or implicitly stated that the son of Abraham (peace be upon him) had mistaken it for a command. But the whole context is without any such allusion. On this very basis, there is the Islamic belief that the dream of the Prophets is never a mere dream, it is also a kind of revelation. Obviously, if a thing, which could become such a fundamental principle in the divine Shariah, had not been based on reality, but had been a mere misunderstanding, it was not possible that Allah should not have refuted it. It is impossible for the one who believes the Quran to be Allah’s Word, to accept that such an error and omission could emanate from Allah also.5

 

Revelation on Honey Bee

 [Quran; An-Nahl (16):68] Your Lord inspired the bee, saying: "Set up hives in the mountains and in the trees and in the trellises that people put up.

The lexical meaning of the Arabic word wahi is secret inspiration which is felt only by the one who inspires and the other who is inspired with. The Quran has used this word both for the instinctive inspiration by Allah to His creation in general and for the revelation towards His Prophets in particular. Allah sends His wahi to the heavens with His command and they begin functioning in accordance with it (Surah Al-Momin, Ayat 12). He will send this to the earth with His command and it will relate the story of all that had happened on and in it. He sends wahi to the bee and inspires it with faculties to perform the all of its wonderful work instinctively (Ayat 68). The same is true of the bird that learns to fly, the fish that learns to swim, the newly born child that learns to suck milk, etc. Then, it is also wahi with which Allah inspires a human being with a spontaneous idea (Surah Al-Qasas, Ayat 7). The same is the case with all the great discoveries, inventions, works of literature and art, etc. which would not have been possible without the benefit of wahi. As a matter of fact, every human being at one time or the other feels its mental or spiritual influence in the form of an idea or thought or plan or dream, which is confirmed by a subsequent experience to be the right guidance from the unseen wahi.

Then there is the wahi (revelation) which is the privilege of the Prophets. This form of wahi has its own special features and is quite distinct from all other forms. The Prophet, who is inspired with it, is fully conscious and has his firm conviction that it is being sent down from Allah. Such a revelation contains doctrines of creed, commandments, laws, regulations and instructions for the guidance of mankind.6

 

Revelation on Musa’s (Moses’) Mother  

 [Quran; Ta-ha (20):38] Recall, when We indicated to your mother through inspiration.

 [Quran; Aal-Qasas (28):7] We suggested to the mother of Moses: "Suckle your child, but when you fear for his life cast him into the river and be not fearful nor grieve, for We shall restore him to you and make him one of the Messengers."

Prophet Moses’ mother had done all this according to an inspiration from Allah, and Allah had already assured her that by following that device not only would her child remain safe and secure but the child would ultimately be restored to her, and that her child would become Allah’s Messenger in the future.7

 

Revelation on Prophet Mohammad Is Not a Unique Incident

 [Quran; An-Nisa (4):163] (O Muhammad!) We have revealed to you as We revealed to Noah and the Prophets after him, and We revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the offspring of Jacob, and Jesus and Job, and Jonah, and Aaron and Solomon, and We gave to David Psalms.

This emphasizes that Muhammad (peace be on him) did not introduce any innovations, and that his essential message was no different from the earlier revelations. What Muhammad (peace be on him) expounded was the same truth which had previously been expounded by the earlier Prophets in various parts of the world and at different periods of time.8

 

Revelation of Quran on Prophet Mohammad

 [Quran; Surah Al-Ana’m (6):19 part)] And this Qur'an was revealed to me that I should warn you thereby and also whomsoever it may reach.

 [Quran; Yunus 10:15 part] And whenever Our clear revelations are recited to them, those who do not expect to meet Us say: 'Bring us a Qur'an other than this one, or at least make changes in it. Tell them (O Muhammad): 'It is not for me to change it of my accord. I only follow what is revealed to me.

Here, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was ordered to say; “I have no authority of making any alterations in this Book for I am not its author but Allah is the One Who is sending it down to me. Therefore, there is no question of any compromise about it. If you want to accept its way, you will have to accept it as it is; otherwise you are free to reject it.9

[Quran; Surah Hud (11): 12 part] (O Messenger!) Let it not happen that you omit (to expound) a portion of what was revealed to you. And do not be distressed.

Allah has comforted and urged His Messenger (peace be upon him) to propagate the message without the least hesitation and not to waver in his determination for fear of ridicule or for lack of response from his people. He should convey the message in its entirety and leave the result to Allah for He has full power over everything.10

 [Quran; Surah Hud (11): 49 part ] We reveal to you these accounts of matters that are beyond the reach of human perception. Neither you nor your people knew about them before this.

 [Quran; Surah Yousuf (12):1-3 part] Alif. Lam. Ra'. These are the verses of a Book that clearly expounds the truth. We have revealed it as a Recitation1 in Arabic that you may fully understand. (O Muhammad), by revealing the Qur'an to you We narrate to you in the best manner the stories of the past although before this narration you were utterly unaware of them.

 [Quran; Surah Yousuf (12):102] (O Muhammad), this is part of news from the Unseen that We reveal to you for you were not present with them when Joseph's brothers jointly resolved on a plot.

[Quran; Ar-Ra’d (13):30] Thus have We sent you as a Messenger45 to a community before which many other communities have passed away that you may recite to them whatever We have revealed to you. And yet they deny the Lord of Mercy.

 

Different Ways of Revelation on Prophet Mohammad

Allah says in Quran:        

 [Quran; Surah Ash-Shuraa (42):51] It is not given to any human being that Allah should speak to him except through revelation,79 or from behind a veil, or that a messenger (an angel) be sent to him who reveals to him by Allah's leave whatever He wishes. He is All-High, Most Wise.

Both the Quran and the Hadih confirm that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was given instruction by all these three methods:

(1) In a Hadith Aishah ؓ has stated that revelation in the beginning came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the form of true visions. (Bukhari, Muslim) This continued in later life also. Traditions mention many visions in which he was given some teaching or informed of something and in the Quran also a vision of his has been clearly mentioned (Surah Al-Fath, Ayat 27). Besides, several traditions also mention that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: I have been inspired with such and such a thing, or I have been informed of this and this, or I have been enjoined this, or I have been forbidden this. All such things relate to the first kind of the wahi and the divinely inspired traditions (Ahadith Qudsi) mostly belong to this category of the traditions.

(2) On the occasion of the Miraj (Ascension) the Prophet ﷺ(peace be upon him) was honored with the second kind of the wahi also. In several authentic traditions the way mention has been made of the commandment of the Salat five times a day and the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) making submissions in that regard again and again clearly shows that at that time a similar dialogue took place between Allah Almighty and His servant Muhammad (peace be upon him) as had taken place between Allah and the Prophet Moses ؑ(peace be upon him) at the foot of Mount Toor. As for the third kind, the Quran itself testifies that it was conveyed to the Prophet ؑ(peace be upon him) through Angel Gabriel, the trustworthy. (Surah Al- Baqarah, Ayat 97); (Surah Ash-Shuara, Ayats192-195).11

 

Further Explanation

Revelation to Prophet Mohammad ﷺcame in different ways. Details have been given by Allama Ibne Qayyim in Zaadul Maad:

  1. True dream: This was the initial case of revelation on Prophet Mohammad ﷺ . Every dream of his would be crystal clear.
  2. The Angel would put revelation into Prophet Mohammad’s brain and heart. Prophet Mohammadﷺ  said that the Holy Spirit (Jibrael, عليه السلام) blew into his mind that none of the soul would die until it gets its share of livelihood. Hence, work, fearing Allah, and opt a good way to get livelihood.  A delay in livelihood does not allow you to ask for it if you have disobedience towards Allah, because whatever is with Allah (i.e. his reward) is obtained only after obedience.
  3. The angel would come in the guise of a human and talk and would continue till Prophet Mohammad ﷺ would memorize it completely. In this situation, many times the companions also saw him.
  4. A bell ring in the prophet’s ear before revelation, and then the angel would start the talk. This was the extreme type of revelation by which the prophet ﷺ , would sweat even in winter. If he was riding a camel, it would sit down due to pressure. On one instance, he was lying on the thighs of Zaid bin Sabithؓ. There was such intense pressure that his thigh started breaking.
  5. The prophet ﷺ would see the angel in his real form created by Allah. Then he would reveal all which was ordered by Allah. This happened twice as mentioned by Allah in Surah Al-Najm.
  6. Allah directly revealed to the prophet ﷺ when he was in the skies during ascension (Mi’raj). The prayers were made mandatory there, and other things were told.
  7. Allah spoke directly to the Prophet ﷺ without the mediation of the angel like it was done with Prophet Musa, عليه السلام. For Prophet Musa, عليه السلام , it is proven by Holy Quran. As for Prophet Mohammad  ﷺ is proved from the Hadith of ascension (Mi’raj).

Apart from this, some people have mentioned an eighth form, which is that Allah has spoken to Prophet Mohammad ﷺ  without a veil. It is the school of those people who believe that Prophet Mohammad ﷺ , has seen Allah. However, there is difference between predecessor and successor on this matter. (Zaadul Maad – Vol. 1, P 24-25)

Al-Suyuti has mentioned in Al-Itqan, Vol. 1 details on this topic:

“When the Prophet Muhammad,  ﷺ attained prophethood at the age of forty, then in the initial three years, Israfeel, عليه السلام  , was appointed for his education and training. No part of the Holy Quran was revealed through him. Then Jibrael, عليه السلامwas appointed, and he brought the Holy Quran for twenty years. Types of revelations are the following:

  1. Bell would ring in the ear, and then the voice of the angel would come. The wisdom behind it was that Prophet Mohammad ﷺ would draw attention to it by diverting from other things. As per him, this was the severest form.
  2. To put it in his heart and mind as is mentioned by him.
  3. The angel would talk to him in the form of a human being. Prophet Mohammad ﷺ said that this was the lightest form of revelation for him.
  4. The angel would talk to him in his dreams.
  5. Allah would talk to him directly, whether awake or in dreams.” (Al-Itqan – Vol. 1, P 44-45)12

 

Challenge of Quran That It is Revealed

During the forty years of his ﷺ life before Prophethood, he  ﷺhad neither received any education nor training nor sat in any company that should have enabled him to become the author of such a Book as was full of unique things that were unknown to the people around him. No one had ever heard from him anything about the problems that had been dealt with in different Surahs of the Quran. So much so that not even a relative or close friend of his had ever noticed anything in his talk or in anything about him that might have shown any signs of gradual development towards it before he made his great claim to Prophethood when he reached the age of forty. This was a clear proof of the fact that the Quran was not the invention of his own mind and that it must have been sent down to him from outside. For it is impossible for a human being to produce anything like this, all of a sudden and without ever manifesting any signs of its evolution and development in his earlier life. That is why when some intelligent people of Makkah felt the absurdity of this accusation, they began to say that it was some other person who taught these things to him. But this was even more absurd than the first thing because they could not point out specifically a single person in the whole of Arabia, not to say of Makkah, who had the ability of producing such unique things as were contained in the Quran. They also knew that a person of such high caliber could not have remained obscure in some unknown corner for forty years.13

[Quran; Surah Al-Qasas (28):44-46] (O Muhammad), you were then not on the western side when We bestowed this commandment (of Law), and you were not among its witnesses. Thereafter We raised up many a generation and a long time passed. You were then not even present among the people of Midian to rehearse Our verses to them. But it is We Who are sending news about that. Nor were you on the side of the Mount (Sinai) when We called out to Moses (in the first instance). But it is out of Mercy from your Lord (that you are being informed of all this so that you may warn a people to whom no warner came before you. Maybe they will take heed.

These three things have been presented as a proof of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) prophethood. At the time when these were cued, all the chiefs of Makkah and the common disbelievers were bent upon somehow proving him as a non prophet, and, God forbid, a false claimant to prophethood. To help and assist them in their campaign, there were the Jewish scholars and the Christian monks also, who were living in the habitations of the Hijaz. Besides, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had not appeared all of a sudden from somewhere and started reciting the Quran to the people, but he was a resident of the same city of Makkah, and no aspect of his life was hidden from the people of his city and clan. That is why when these three things were presented like an open challenge as a proof of his prophethood, not a single person from Makkah and Hijaz and the entire land of Arabia could stand up to say the absurd thing which the modern orientalists say, although those people were no less efficient in fabricating falsehood than these so called scholars. But how could they utter an unprofitable lie that could not survive for a single moment? How could they say, “O Muhammad, you have attained this information from such and such a Jewish scholar and a Christian monk?” For, this purpose, they could not mention any name in the entire land. For whatever name they mentioned, it would become manifest there and then that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had not obtained any information from him. How could they say, “O Muhammad, you possess a full-fledged library containing all sorts of books on ancient history and sciences and literature, from which you take help to prepare all your discourses?” For not to speak of a library, no one could seize even a scrap of paper from his house containing such information. Everyone in Makkah knew that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was unlettered and no one could also say that he had had some translators at his disposal, who supplied him with translations from Hebrew and Assyrian and Greek books. Then, none of them could be so shameless as to dare claim that he had obtained this information during the trade journeys to Syria and Palestine, for he had not performed those journeys alone, but had traveled in company with trade caravans of Makkah. Had somebody made any such assertion, hundreds of living witnesses would have refuted this and testified that he had received no such instruction from anyone there. Then, within two years of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) death, war started between the Romans and the Muslims. If he had any sort of discussion anywhere in Syria and Palestine with any Christian monk or Jewish rabbi, the Roman Empire would not have hesitated to launch a propaganda campaign, saying, that Muhammad (peace be upon him), God forbid, had learned everything from them and gone back to Makkah and proclaimed himself a Prophet. In short, at that time when the challenge of the Quran was the knell of the disbelieving Quraish and the polytheists and the need of those people to refute it was far greater then of the modern orientalists, no one could discover any material by which he could prove that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had some other means than revelation for obtaining that information.

One should also know that the Quran has not given this challenge only here, but also at several other places in connection with different stories. After narrating the story of the Prophet Zacharias (peace be upon him) and Mary, it was said: “These are of the “unseen” things We are revealing to you: you were not present there when the priests of the Temple were casting lots by throwing their quills to decide which of them should be the guardian of Mary: nor were you there with them when they were arguing about it.” (Surah Aal-Imran: Ayat 44). At the end of the Prophet Joseph’s (peace be upon him) story it was said: “This story which We are revealing to you is of those things that were not known to you: for you were not with the brothers (of Joseph), when they had conspired together a plot against Joseph.” (Surah Yusuf: Ayat 102). Similarly, after relating the full story of the Prophet Noah (peace be upon him), it was said: “These are some of the tidings of the unseen which We are revealing to you. You did not know these before nor did your people.” (Surah Hud: Ayat 49). That, this thing has been reiterated several times, shows that this was one of the main arguments that the Quran gave to prove its being Allah’s Word and the Prophet (peace be upon him) being a Messenger of Allah. For there was no perceptible means of knowledge available to the Prophet (peace be upon him) who was an unlettered person, apart from revelation, through which he could narrate so accurately the events that had happened hundreds and thousands of years in the past. And this was one of the important reasons why the contemporaries of the prophet (peace be upon him) were coming to believe, in larger and still larger numbers, that he was really a Prophet of Allah and has received Allah’s revelations. Now one can easily imagine how important it must have been for the opponents of the Islamic movement at that time to meet this challenge, and what efforts they must have made to collect arguments and proofs against it. One can also see that if, God forbid, there was the slightest weakness in this challenge, it would not have been at all difficult for the contemporary people to provide evidence for its refutation.14

 

Comparison of Revelation to Rain

 [Quran; Surah Ar-Ra’d (13):17 part] Allah sends down water from the heavens and the river-beds flow, each according to its measure.

In this simile the knowledge which had been sent down by Allah to the Prophet (peace be upon him) has been likened to the rain from the sky, and the believers to the streams, rivulets and rivers. Just as the streams etc. fill themselves with rain water, each according to its capacity, so his followers gained knowledge from him, each according to his ability. On the other hand, the hue and cry that was raised by the opponents of the Islamic movement has been likened to the swelling foam etc. that begins to dance about on the surface of flood water, but soon vanishes away.15

 [Quran; Surah Al-Hajj (22):63] Do you not see that Allah sends down water from the sky whereby the earth turns green?

This verse has a deeper meaning also, though apparently it merely declares that Allah alone has the power to send down rain which makes the land green. The deeper meaning is that the rainfall of the blessed revelation will, in the near future, turn the barren land of Arabia into a garden of knowledge, morality and bring forth a high and righteous civilization.16

 

Revelation of Prophethood is Mercy of God

 [Surah Hud (11):28] Noah said: 'My people! If I base myself on a clear evidence from my Lord, and I have also been blessed by His mercy.

This is the same thing that has been put into the mouth of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in  Ayat 17. That is, At first I recognized the reality of Tauhid by observing keenly the signs of God in the universe and in my own self. Then the same was confirmed by revelation to me. This shows that all the Prophets acquired the knowledge of the Unseen by observation and contemplation. Then Allah blessed them with the actual knowledge of the same at the time of their appointment as Prophets.17

 [Quran; Surah Hud (11) :63 part] Salih said: 'My people! What do you think? If I had a clear evidence from my Lord, and then He also bestowed His mercy upon me.

 

Usage of the Word Soul for the Revelation of Prophet Hood

 [Quran; Surah An-Nahl (16):2] He sends down this spirit (of prophecy) by His command through His angels3 on any of His servants whom He wills,4 (directing them): "Warn people that there is no deity but Me; so hold Me alone in fear.

This means the Spirit of Prophethood with which a Prophet is imbued in order to fulfill his mission by word and deed. The Quran has called this the Spirit in several places, for this has the same relation to the mission of a Prophet and his moral life, which the soul has to the physical human life.18

 [Quran; Surah Al-Isra 17:85] They ask you about "the spirit". Say: "The spirit descends by the command of my Lord, but you have been given only a little knowledge."

It is generally understood that the Arabic word Rooh stands here for soul as if the people asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) about the soul of man in regard to its nature, and the answer was that it came by the command of Allah. But we have great hesitation in accepting this meaning for it could be taken only if the verse be isolated from its context; otherwise these words would become quite incoherent for there is no reason why the question about soul should have intervened between the preceding three verses and following verses which deal with the theme of the Quran.

If we read the verse in its context, it becomes quite obvious that here the word Rooh (The Spirit) stands for the angel who brings revelation. This was in answer to the question of the mushriks: Where from do you bring the Quran? as if to say: O Muhammad, these people ask you about the Spirit, that is, the source of the Quran or the means of acquiring it, so tell them: This Spirit comes to me by the command of my Lord but your knowledge is so little that you cannot distinguish between the nature of human words and the divinely revealed words. That is why you suspect that this has been fabricated by some man.

The above interpretation is to be preferred, because it fits in excellently between the preceding and the succeeding verses. This is also supported by the Quran itself: He sends down by His command “The Spirit” to any of His servants He wills so that they should warn the people of the Day, when they shall be assembled together. (Surah Al-Momin, Ayat 15). And likewise, We have sent down “The Spirit” to you by Our command: You did not know what the Book was and what the faith. (Surah Ash-Shurah, Ayat 52).

Besides this, Ibn Abbas, Qatadah and Hasan Basri (may Allah bestow His mercy upon them all) have also adopted the same interpretation. Ibn Jarir has attributed the same thing to Ibn Abbas on the authority of Qatadah, but at the same time he tells a strange thing that Ibn Abbas stated this thing only in secret. Again, the author of Ruh-ul-Maani cites these words of Hasan and Qatadah: By Rooh is meant Jibril: the question was about the nature of his coming down and inspiring the heart of the Prophet ﷺ(peace be upon him) with Revelation.19

 

Evidences and Testimonies of Revealed Words

The point argued above was that God's word can be, and in the past has been, revealed to human beings. The next point is that the message of Muhammad (peace be on him) is indeed the revealed word of God. In order to establish this, four things are adduced as evidence: First, that this Book is overflowing with God's grace and beneficence. In other words, it contains the best possible principles for the well-being and salvation of mankind. It lays down the true doctrines of belief. It urges man to righteous conduct and inspires him to moral excellence. It contains guidance as to how one may live a life of purity. And above all, it is free from any trace of the ignorance, egocentricity, narrow-mindedness, iniquity, obscenity and other corruptions with which the Jews and the Christians had overlaid their revealed Scriptures. Second, this Book does not propound any guidance which is essentially divergent from that previously revealed; rather it confirms and supports it. Third, the purpose of the revelation of this Book is the same as that of the revelation of Scriptures in the past, viz., to shake people out of their heedlessness and warn them of the evil consequences of their corruption. Fourth, that the call of this Book did not attract those who merely worshipped worldly advantages and were slaves of their animal desires. On the contrary, it attracted those whose vision goes beyond the narrow limits of worldly life. Moreover, the revolution wrought in the lives of people under the influence of this Book has rendered them conspicuously distinct from others in respect of piety and godliness. 
A Book with such characteristics and with such a wholesome impact on human beings can only be from God.20

 

Notes:

  1. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah Ash-Shuraa n. 1, translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  2. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah An-Nahl n. 56, translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  3. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah As-Shuraa n. 81, translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  4. Rasael wa Masael (Urdu), Vol 3. Pages 348 to 351, Translated by Ibrahim Usmani
  5. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah As-Saffatt n. 58, 59, and 60, translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  6. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah An-Nahl n. 56 translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  7. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah Al-Qasas n.10 translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  8. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah An-Nisa n.204 translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  9. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah Yunus n. 20 translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  10. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah Hud n.13 translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  11. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah Ash-Shura n.83 translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  12. Qadiani Masala aur us ke Siyasi, Deeni aur tamadduni pahlu, Translated by Ibrahim Usmani
  13. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah Ash-Shura n.21 translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  14. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah Al-Qasas n. 64 translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  15. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah Ar-Ra’d n. 31 translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  16. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah Al-Hajj n. 110 translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  17. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah Hud n.34 translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  18. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah An-Nahl n.3 translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  19. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah Al-Isra n.103 translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari
  20. Towards Understanding Quran, Surah Al-Inaam n.61 translated by Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari

 

--Author Syed Abul A'ala Maududi, compiled in Urdu by Naeem Siddiqui, and Abdul Wakeel Alvi, compiled in English by Syed Jawed Anwar

 

 

Your Comment