The modes of revelation.
The modes of revelation are ways through which God sends (sent) messages to mankind. The purpose of such messages is to give guidance to man. There are four modes of revelation mentioned in the Qur’an. These are, Wahay, Divine speech behind a veil, Good dreams and by sending a Messenger.
(a) Al Wahay (Inspiration):
- The word wahay literally means Ishaara, that is, sign or signal or gesture. It may also mean to converse secretly with somebody else. It also means Ilihaam, that is, inspiration.
- Technically, Ilihaam, refers to the revelation that is not spoken or written. It is when a command or information from God is put into the mind of someone. In this case, the inspired person speaks or does a certain work under the guidance of God.
- One of the examples of this mode of revelation is the inspiration to Muhammad (PBUH) instructing him to fix the black stone on the Kaaba. This was before he assumed Prophet-hood. He advised the clan leaders of the Quraish tribe to put the black stone on a piece of cloth. Each clan had to hold on the sides of the cloth and they all lifted the stone up and Muhammad (PBUH) put it into the position and the problem was solved.
- Also, Prophet Yunus (Jonah) was inspired with a message when he was in the belly of the fish (whale). Chapter 10:142-144 says: ‘Then a fish swallowed him and he had done an act worthy of blame. Had he not been of them who glorify Allah, he would have remained inside its belly till the Day of Resurrection’.
- The mother of Jesus (Mariam bint Imran) was inspired to point at her child when her people were accusing her of lewdness. Chapter 19:29 says: ‘Then she pointed to him. They said, how can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?’
- God inspired Jesus who was still in the cradle to address the elders who were accusing his mother of lewdness. This was possibly the first miracle of Jesus. He told them that: ‘Verily! I am a slave of God, He has given me the scripture and made me a Prophet” (chapter 19:30)
- Sometimes God inspires a person who is not a prophet to act in a particular way. An example of this is when Prophet Musa’s mother was inspired to put him into a box and cast it onto the river. The Qur’an says: ‘And We revealed unto the mother of Musa saying, feed him and if you fear for him, launch him on the river.’ (chapter 28:7)
- Sometimes, God uses the word revelation (inspiration) to mean the instincts He put into the animals, insects and other creatures. For instance, he inspired the bee with a message as seen in chapter 16:68. ‘And your Lord inspired the bee saying, ‘make your hives in the mountains and in the trees and in the buildings…’
- Inspiration may also be done to angels so as to accomplish a particular assignment or duty. God says in chapter 8:12 that: ‘Remember when your Lord inspired the angels with a message’
(b) Divine speech behind a veil:
- This means, revelation came to the Prophets directly. In this form of revelation, God spoke to the Prophets without any medium. The Prophets would only hear the Divine voice.
- This mode of revelation can be exemplified by the Divine speech behind a veil to Prophet Musa as seen in chapter 7:143: ‘When Musa came to a place appointed by Us and His Lord addressed him, he said, Oh my Lord, show Yourself to me…’
- Also, in another verse, the Qur’an says: ‘…and to Musa (Moses), God spoke directly.’ chapter 4:164
- Sometimes, God causes an object to speak. One of His attributes is Al Mutakallim, which means He can give speech to any object. One can still use Prophet Musa as an example. His first call was through a burning bush. The Qur’an says: ‘When he saw a fire, he said
to his family, wait here, I see a fire; maybe I can bring back a flame from it or I may find some guidance at the fire. And when he came to it, he was called by name: Oh Moses, verily, I am your Lord…’ 20:10-12
- Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) talked to God in Heaven and received the 5 daily prayers. In Heaven, the Prophet (PBUH) reached a place where no Prophet or angel had ever been. Here he saw a curtain of light, and then he heard a voice from it. The Qur’an says:
‘Then he drew nearer and nearer (until he) was at a distance of two bows,or nearer still. Then He revealed to His servant what He revealed.’ 53:8-10
- Another example of this mode can be found in chapter 2:30-33. The verses show the way God talked to Prophet Adam without any medium. Here, the Quran teaches that, after the creation of Adam, God taught him the names of all things as a challenge to the angels. He said: ‘Oh Adam, inform them of their names…’
(c) Good dreams (Rouya):
- Muslim scholars such as Abdallah Ibn Abbas have asserted that, good dreams of the Prophets were revelations from Godwhich every Muslim must accept.
- Prophet Ibrahim got a dream sacrificing his son Ismail and Muslims believe that this was revelation from God. The Qur’an says in chapter 37:102 that: ‘And when his son was old enough to walk with him, he said:Oh my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you…’
- Scholars maintain that, if the dream of Prophet Ibrahim was not divinely inspired, Ibrahim wouldn’t have sacrificed his son. Therefore, good dreams of the Prophets are revelation from God.
- Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) got a dream in which he saw eleven stars, the sun and the moon prostrating before him. When he narrated the dream to his father, Ya’qub, the latter told him never to narrate his vision to his brothers to avoid evil plot against him. Chapter 12:4 says: ‘Remember when Yusuf said to his father: Oh my father! Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the sun and the moon, I saw them prostrating themselves to me.’
- Yusuf’s dream of eleven stars represent his brothers, who were eleven and the sun and the moon represented his father and mother. The dream also meant that, his brothers would be under his authority since he was to become a prophet.
- Another example is the dream of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Aisha, the Prophet’s wife reported that, the commencement of the Divine inspiration to the Prophet (PBUH) began in form of dreams (vision) which came like bright day light and then the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him. This drove him to mount Hira in a cave to worship God.The purpose of commencing revelation to the Prophet (PBUH) in form of dreams was to train him to receive the Divine message when he was a wake.
- In 628 AD the Prophet (PBUH) saw in a dream performing Umra at the Holy Ka’ba. The love to actualize the dream resulted into the signing of the treaty with the Meccans at Hudaibiyya. This paved way for the conquest of Mecca in 630 AD. Chapter 48:27 says:
‘Indeed God shall fulfil the true vision which He showed to His Messenger…’
(d)By sending the Messenger.
- This is when God communicated to man through angel Jibril (Holy Spirit). The Prophet’s faculty of being spoken to by God is highly developed that he received the message as Divine under the influence of the Holy Spirit.This mode of revelation is called ‘Wahay Mat’luhu’ meaning revelation that is recited. In this vein, God says in chapter 16:102 that: ‘say (Oh Muhammad) the Holy Spirit has brought it (the Quran) down from your
Lord with truth…’
- The whole of the Qur’an, from the beginning to the end was revealed through this mode of revelation. The Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) through angel
Jibril. In this vein, God says in chapter 53:5 that: ‘He (the Prophet) has been taught (this Qur’an) by one mighty in power (Jibril).’
- Also chapter 26:192-195 says:‘And truly, this (the Qur’an) is a revelation from the Lord of theworlds, which the trustworthy angel has brought down, upon yourheart that you may be one of the warners, in the plain Arabic language.’
- Also, Mariam bint Imran received the divine message through angel Jibril concerning the birth of Jesus. Chapter 19:19 says: ‘(The angel) said: I am only a messenger from your Lord (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son.’
- We also need to note that, all Prophets of God received revelation through this mode.
Ijazul Qur’an (The Quran, A Unique And Miraculous Book)
What is a miracle?
– A miracle is something extraordinary. In other words, it is something beyond man’s understanding. Muslim scholars maintain that before an event would be accepted as a Miracle from Allah, five conditions must have been taken into account. Namely:
- No other apart from Allah is able to do it
- The event concerned must break the norms and differences from the laws of nature
- The event stand as a proof from the truth and claim of the messenger
- The event must have happened in accordance with the messenger’s claim (5) The event must have occurred through the messenger and no one else
HOW IS QUR’AN A MIRACLE?
- Its teachings offer practical solutions to all sorts of problems encountered byman. For instance, it offers guidance on how property of the deceased Muslim should be distributed to the legal heirs. Chapter 4:7 says: ‘From what is left by parents and those nearest related, there is a share for men and a share for women. Whether the property be small or large, a determinate share.’
- The teachings of the Quran are in line with the laws of nature (Natural science). For instance, in chapter 75:4, God says: ‘Indeed We shall restore his very fingers.’ The scientific information in this verse is that, every human being has permanent individual finger prints which are not similar to those of anyone else.
- The Quran discusses the past, the present and the future which also makes itmiraculous in nature. For instance, it describes the creation of Adam (2:30-34). For the present, it explains the development of science and technology, and for the future, it explains the events of resurrection day. All this was narrated by an illiterate Prophet.
- The Quran has no contradictions yet it was revealed in parts and portions and to an illiterate Prophet in a period of 23 years. Chapter 4:82 says: ‘…had it been from other than God, they would have found therein much discrepancy.’
- Its universal applicability in all circumstances is proof of its uniqueness. The teachings of the Quran can be applied in all aspects of life world over. In this vein, God says in chapter 81:27 that: ‘this is a revelation to all the worlds.’
- The miracle of language deserves mention. The Quran was revealed in pure Arabic that even challenged the masters of the language. Chapter 17:88 says: ‘Say, if mankind and the Jinns were together to produce the like of this Quran, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they helped one another.’
- NOTE: The beauty of its prose was one of the factors that helped the Prophet to open the hearts of people to hear or listen to his message. The Quraish even started plugging their ears when in the vicinity of the Prophet so that they were not impacted by the eloquence of the words or excellence of the text.
- The Quran has a positive impact on both believers and none believers. The case of Umar’s conversion is a good example. On his way to slay the Prophet (PBUH), he was able to recite the opening verses of chapter 20 and realized the words were beyond what a human mind can produce. When he recited the verse: ‘Allah, none has the right to be worshipped but He’ he wept and embraced Islam.
- The power of transformation. In a period of 23 years, the Quran was able to destroy the era of ignorance in Arabia that had lasted for hundreds of years. In this era, women were the most hard-hit, immorality was its zenith, commercial activities were marred by unfair policies. All these were ended by an unlettered Prophet in a short period of time.
- The Quran predicts the occurrence of future events many of which have come to pass.
For instance, it predicted the annihilation of Abu Lahab (111: 1-5), the defeat of the Persians by the Romans (30:2-4), the conquest of Mecca, etc. God says: ‘You shall most certainly enter the sacred mosque (Mecca) if Allah wishes.’ This verse was revealed to the Prophet in 628 AD and Mecca was conquered in 630 AD
- Learning the Quran by heart deserves mention. In other words, it has always been the most memorized Book in the world. It is common to find Muslims reciting the Quran without reading from the Book. There has existed millions of Huffaz (memorizers) in every generation since the time of the Prophet (PBUH). Should anyone alter a syllable of the original text of Quran, the Huffaz would at once expose the mistake.
- Quran is the most recited Book in the world. It is recited by all Muslims, young, old, men or women. It is recited in Prayer since it is one of the major pillars of prayer. Even after prayer, the Quran is recited as a way of glorifying God. Muslims recite Quran before they go to sleep as per the traditions of the Prophet (PBUH). Those who have had it recorded on technological devices, love to listen to the recital. Also, Quran recitation competitions are annually organized in various institutions.
- Quran heals diseases in all fields of life; moral, spiritual, economic etc. For instance, Umar Ibn Khattab was spiritually malnourished and he was liberated by the Quran when he read part of it. Also, some magic was administered against the Prophet (PBUH) which
led to the revelation of 11 special verses to deal with the menace. These are chapters 113 and 114.
- The purity of the Quran deserves mention. It is a Book of so many generationsback but has never received any revision or alterations. Its teachings suit all circumstances and it does not get outdated. Those who read it are not tired of it, those who hear it being recited are not bothered by it and those who rehearse it fall in love with it.
- Unlike other Books, the Quran gives testimony about itself. It testifies that it was revealed by God (18:1). It testifies that it was revealed in the Night of power (97:1). In chapter 25:32 it proves that it was sent down in stages: ‘…and We have revealed it to you gradually in stages.’
- The mode in which the Quran was revealed also shows its miraculous nature. The Prophet (PBUH) would undergo a very unique experience as the revelation descended on him. Lady Aisha said, she at one time saw the Prophet being inspired divinely on a very cold day and noticed sweat dropping from his forehead. The Prophet said, the angel would either come in form of sound of a ringing bell or in human form.
- The Quran presents its content in a very unique style. Unlike other Books, the Quran does not contain information, ideas or arguments about specific things arranged in a literate order. It does not give its words in the usual way we know. It presents an arrangement which is contrary to our expectations. The reader finds that it deals with beliefs, orders, criticisms, warnings, promises, arguments, evidence, historical illustrations, invitation of people to Islam etc, all brought together in a beautiful style. A topic is discussed again and again in different ways and a new topic may follow another without any apparent connection. Subject after subject is taken up only to be abandoned in the middle of the subject.
- The Quran covers all messages of the earlier revealed books which were given to the earlier Prophets (Zabur, Taurat and Injil). In this vein, God says: Nothing was left out in this Book.’
- None of its teachings have been disapproved by reason or logic. For instance, in chapter 21:30, God says: ‘Have not those who disbelieve known that the heaven and the earth were joined together as one united piece, thenWe parted them? And We have made from water every living thing…’. No modern scientist can dispute the fact that life originates from water.
- Its legislative machinery and mechanism cannot be surpassed.