- 12 Questions Regarding Revelation
- Etymological Quest of the Words Wahee and Ilhaam
- Wahee or Ilhaam?
- How Does God Almighty Speak?
- The Five Aspects of Revelation
- Is Revelation Received in Actual Words?
- When Did Revelation Start?
- Was Revelation Confined to Any Particular Nation?
- Is Revelation Confined to a Particular Land?
- Is Revelation Confined to a Particular Language?
- The Distinctive Quality of the Quranic Revelation
- The Benefits of Revelation
- Do We Need a Further Law After the Holy Quran
- Did Any Muslim Sage Claim to Have Received Revelations?
- The Revelations of the Promised Messiah
The Review of Religions, November 1994
This paper concerning the nature of divine revelation was read by Maulana Abul-Ata at the 79th Annual Gathering of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam. Presented below is the English translation by M. A. Ghauri.
And it is not for a man that Allah should speak to him except by direct revelation, or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger to reveal by His command what He pleases. Surely, He is Mighty, Wise. And thus have We revealed to thee the Word by Our command. Thou didst not know what the Book was, nor what was the faith. But We have made the revelation a light, whereby We guide such of Our servants as We please. And truly thou dost guide mankind to the right path. (Holy Quran, Chapter 42, verses 52-53)
God Almighty perfected the Faith through the Holy Quran wherein He says:
This day I have perfected your religion for you and completed my favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion. (Holy Quran 5:4)
As regards the Holy Quran, God Almighty has promised:
And We have sent down to thee the Book to explain everything, and a guidance and a mercy, and glad tidings to those who submit to Allah. (Holy Quran 16:90)
In another place He says regarding the Holy Quran:
A Messenger from Allah, reciting pure scriptures, wherein are lasting commandments. (The Holy Quran 98:4)
The Holy Quran is the Book which not only verifies all the previous Divine Books, but is also their compendium. The Holy Quran is also called the Quaulun Faslun which means ‘that which shall never be abrogated.’ (Al-Mufridaat). In short the Holy Quran is the final book and without the least doubt is truly the word of God, and the complete law. It does not need any change or alteration and it solves each and every problem of faith. It would be quite correct to say that the Holy Quran is the only source of all the teachings of Islam, and according to the general consensus of a great number of Muslim scholars, the Holy Quran is without any doubt, the Word of God. Any supposed Tradition or saying of the Holy Prophet (sa) that goes against the Quran is undoubtedly false. In short the Holy Quran is the Word of God and a perfect Code of Law, wholly free of alterations, and contains the solution to each and every problem of faith. It would not be incorrect to proclaim that the Holy Quran is the only source of authority for every command and directive of faith. Even the most bitter enemies of Islam have been forced to admit that the Quran we have now is, word by word and in its entirety, identical to the Quran handed over by the Holy Prophet (sa) to his followers. It has been preserved without any change. Sir William Muir, the famous orientalist, writes in his book ‘Life of Muhammed’:
There is otherwise every security, internal and external, that we possess a text same as that which Muhammed himself gave forth and used. (Life of Muhammed, page 561)
The most reliable and sound source of information regarding Islamic ideology is the Holy Quran. It is the chief source for all Islamic ideology, and it was through this source that Faith was perfected. Whatever the views of present day Muslim divines and Muslim laymen and whatever the trend of secular thinkers, a true Muslim will always hold the Quranic view to be the most correct view.
12 Questions Regarding Revelation
When we study this subject deeply we come across twelve important questions, the satisfactory answers to which would adequately solve the question of ‘Revelation’. The questions are:
- What is revelation and what is its true definition?
- In what manner does God Almighty converse with His servants?
- Do we receive revelations in actual words?
- When was the first revelation received ?
- Is revelation confined to a particular people or race?
- Is revelation confined to a particular land or country?
- Is revelation confined to a particular language?
- What is peculiar about the revelation of the Holy Quran?
- What are the benefits of revelation?
- Would there be a need for revelation even after the Holy Quran?
- . Did anyone from among the sages of Islam claim to have received revelation?
- What is the status of the revelation of the Promised Messiah in relation to the Holy Quran?
Etymological Quest of the Words Wahee and Ilhaam
According to Etymology, the dictionaries state that Wahee and Ilhaam are two separate terms. The word Wahee has several meanings.
According to Munjid and Aqrab the word Wahee has the following meanings:
- To point out.
- To send a message.
- To converse secretly.
- To talk to someone secretly or in the presence of others.
- Revelation from God.
- To scribe.
- To hasten.
The lexicographers maintain that the word Wahee is primarily used in the Divine converse between God and His prophets and saints.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II, may Allah be pleased with him, has after careful study of various dictionaries stated that the word Wahee means:
- To be deputed to some duty.
- To put an idea in the mind of someone else.
- To try to explain by means of signs.
- Sending a message through a messenger.
- To jot down.
- To talk in a secret manner.
- To command. (Tafseer-e-Kabeer, Chapter Al-Zilzal, pp. 418-419).
The literal meaning of the word Ilhaam is to swallow or drink. But when this word is used for God it would mean Wahee, revelation or sending word. According to Al-Munjid the word Ilhaam means Wahee, or according to Muntahil-i-Arab, AuhAllah would mean that God sent an angel and sent revelation through him. According to Lassaan-al-Arab, the word Wahee was in common use, but later on began to be used alongside Ilhaam. The lexicographer, Abu Ishaaq says that Wahee is to tell something in a secret manner and for the same reason Ilhaam also carries the same meanings. (Taj-ul-Uroos, v.10, p 385).
From this brief research it becomes clear that Wahee or Ilhaam are both used for the converse of God Almighty with men. It is called Wahee or Ilhaam because it descends upon the heart of the person concerned and it descends very quickly and with a glory of its own, and even though other people may be near the recipient, they remain unaware of what is happening.
Wahee or Ilhaam?
Muslim scholars have attempted to differentiate between Wahee and Ilhaam. They claim that the message that comes to a Prophet is Wahee and that which comes to others is Ilhaam. The Holy Quran does not make any such distinction. Hazrat Shah Ismail the martyr writes:
Ilhaam is the same as is received by the prophets, may God grant them peace, and it is also called Wahee. If such messages come to other people, they would be called tahdeeth. In the Holy Quran the process of Ilhaam has also been called Wahee, whether these come to a prophet or a saint. (Mansab-e-Imaamat, Urdu Translation, page 72).
The mystics of the middle ages, in order to make a distinction, used to call the messages to the Prophets by the word Wahee, and the same received by non-prophets as Ilhaam. But the majority of the Muslim scholars prefer to use both of the terms exactly as they are used in the Quran and make no distinction at all.
The Promised Messiah (as), the Divinely appointed arbiter, has said ‘The majority of Muslim scholars make no distinction between Ilhaam and Wahee, and the Holy Prophet (sa) also used to do the same.’
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II, while explaining the above, has stated that Wahee and Ilhaam are both one and the same and there is no distinction between them. The Sufis used to make this distinction; the messages they themselves received from God were called Ilhaam so that the common people might not misunderstand and go astray. Otherwise, there is no distinction between Wahee and Ilhaam. (Tafseer-e-Kabeer, Chapter Al-Zilzal, p. 430).
In Quranic terminology the word Wahee is very common. All the revelations to the prophets as well as to the saints and the righteous are called Wahee and this word is used in the Holy Quran no less than seventy times. For instance, it is used in the case of the mother of Prophet Moses. Similarly the word Ilhaam is also used in the same sense; both these words carry the same meanings and it would not be wrong to use these two for the same purpose.
How Does God Almighty Speak?
The literal meaning of Wahee and Ilhaam make it clear that these are used for the Word of God. This is how God Almighty descends to converse with His servants. Now arises the question – How does He actually talk to His own servants? It must be understood that God Almighty has mentioned clearly in the Holy Quran:
And it is not for a man that Allah should speak to him except by direct revelation, or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger to reveal by His command what He pleases. Surely, He is High, Wise. (The Holy Quran 42:52)
Man, therefore, could be exalted through converse with God Almighty in three ways: (i) By direct revelation. (ii) Direct but behind a veil, that is to say through a dream or vision. (iii) By direct Wahee, that is to say that an angel of God comes down with a message for His beloved servants.
The Holy Quran abounds with numerous examples of all these three types of messages. Visions and dreams are described in various places, and the dreams of prophets as well as those of other people are mentioned, explaining how these messages are revealed from ‘behind a veil’.
Both these types of revelations – the one direct and the other from behind a veil are also mentioned in several verses of the Holy Quran. Both the types are received by the prophets as well as other righteous people. In short all the above mentioned three methods in which God Almighty converses with His servants are described. This Wahee is of many kinds also. Hazrat Musleh Mau’ood (Promised Son) has in his commentary of the chapter Al-Zilzal of the Holy Quran mentioned twenty three types, but basically these are the off-shoots of the above mentioned three types.
The Five Aspects of Revelation
It has now become quite clear that Wahee and Ilhaam are experiences that are hidden from the common eye. Only persons of the higher order can experience this phenomenon, and it is only they who are qualified to describe them. Once the Holy Prophet (sa) was asked the question: ‘How does Wahee come to you?’ He replied ‘The sound of a bell ringing continuously is heard; sometimes comes a man who delivers the message – the Word of God. (Bukhari).
The Promised Messiah (as) described this in the following manner, adding that revelation was of five types. He writes:
The first type of Ilhaam is the one when God Almighty wishes to convey His message to His servant; He does it very softly and sometimes in quite the opposite manner – very harshly. He allows the words to be uttered by the tongue of the recipient in a state of slumber. The words of the revelation fall on the tongue like the hail falling on a hard surface. Such type of revelations have a grandeur and strange kind of awe. (Braheen-e-Ahmadiyya, footnote pp. 223-224)
The second type is that which I would call Ilhaam because of its wonderful qualities. Whenever God Almighty wishes to answer any supplication immediately, or even without supplication, a strange type of unconsciousness takes hold of His servant in which the recipient completely forgets his own existence and is so submerged in that state that he feels as if he is drowning in a pool of water. But when he recovers from that state he feels the reverberations of what had happened to him. As this reverberation subsides he feels strange and sweet words on his tongue, and that state is not possible to describe. (Braheen-e-Ahmadiyya page 36).
The third type of revelation descends very softly upon one’s heart or mind. This means that all of a sudden a word or a sentence is inspired. But this type is not as wonderful as the one already described. As a matter of fact, slumber is an essential part for this type of revelation. Very often it may descend when one is fully awake and it so appears that someone has suddenly infused the word into the mind of the hearer, or has spattered the words over him. The recipient is fully awake at the time and feels as if an idea or a sentence has been suddenly thrust into his mind and has a strong feeling that it is from God. (Braheen-e-Ahmadiyya, page 247).
The fourth type: Sometimes one receives glad tidings through dreams which always prove true, or sometimes an angel appears in the form of a human being and delivers the Divine Message; sometimes the message is seen written on a wall or on a piece of paper or stone etc., which is information beforehand of what is going to happen soon. (Braheen-e-Ahmadiyya, footnote page 248).
The fifth type. This is the type which has nothing to do with one’s mind. On the contrary one hears a distinct sound coming from behind a curtain. The voice is very sweet and ecstatic and leaves the recipient in a state of highly pleasant feeling. When the recipient first hears it, he begins to wonder from where the voice has come, and he turns around to see who is talking so sweetly. Then he suddenly realises that it was an angel who spoke. (Braheen-e-Ahmadiyya, footnote page 258).
Is Revelation Received in Actual Words?
Now we come to the third question which is: Are revelations received in actual words? A part of the answer to this has been given already while discussing the second type of revelation. To make the point more clear, it should be understood that God the Omnipotent, Who granted man the power of speech and taught him a language to express himself, is Himself capable of speaking and has full command over each and every tongue. From the earliest time He has been speaking to His prophets in actual words. The short sighted philosopher would raise the question here that if He was capable of speaking, He could be circumvented also. Moreover if He has no tongue, how could He manage to speak? It is quite true that God, like His creatures is not confined within any space like human beings. But He is Omnipotent and circumvents everything. He hears, but He has no physical ears. In the same way He can speak, but He has no tongue of flesh. The philosopher should consider the fact that having granted man the power of speech, how could God be devoid of this attribute? Our God is an ever-living God. He is omnipotent, and speaks to those whom He loves, and grants them His enervating powers and qualities.
No doubt every aspect of revelations is a source of the greatest blessings for man. But the revelation that comes in actual words supersedes all pleasures and is the source of the highest spiritual blessings. These messages are preserved for the benefit of mankind and consist of prophecies, which are the most important means of proving the truth to those who do not believe in the existence of God Almighty. The dissenters are challenged to produce similar predictions if they can. Revelations, therefore, do occur in words and such revelations are the most blessed phenomena for mankind. The Promised Reformer, the second successor to the Promised Messiah has stated:
Revelation which is received in actual words is the best type of all revelations and there cannot be any doubt in its truth. This bliss may be obtained through one’s ears or eyes. The revelation, the authenticity of which the recipient could vouch fully every word and every vowel with full certainty, would definitely be taken to have come from God Almighty Himself. That type of revelation supersedes every other type. (Tafseer-e-Kabeer, Chapter Al-Zilzal, p 448)
Those who do not believe in verbal revelation deny the Omnipotent God altogether. They insist that the so-called revelation is no more than an inspiration of the mind. These are the Brahmu Samaj, and they are very proud of their stand in this respect. Similarly the Bahai people hold the same view. One of the Bahai divines has stated:
He (Muhammad Ali Bab) began to call his own writings as revealed and claimed these to be the word of God Almighty. But a close investigation has disclosed that in actual fact he had himself never claimed to have received any revelation through any angel. (Bab-al-Hayat, p. 4)
If one gave deep thought to this matter, one is bound to realise that those who deny this system of divine revelation are themselves totally devoid of this great blessing of God. Verbal revelation is a very clear proof of the existence of God and His omniscience. Revelation is the blessing on which stands the structure of faith.
When Did Revelation Start?
Related to the subject on which I am talking today is the question: When, according to Islam, did the system of revelation start?
The Holy Quran gives the answer to this question. It tells us that the system of revelation commenced side by side with the growth of mankind. The need for guidance and instruction has been ingrained in man and this is his second nature; he feels restless unless he receives the delightful and heart warming talk from God Almighty – his Creator and the Creator of everything else. The relation between man and his Creator was established firmly through revelation only. God Almighty said to the souls: ‘Am I not your Lord and your Sustainer?’ All the souls replied in one voice, ‘Yes indeed, and we do bear witness that Thou alone are our Lord. (Holy Quran, Chapter 7, Verse 173). The Promised Messiah (as) has said:
It is Thou alone who has imbued the soul with Thine love;That is the reason why we hear all this furor of His lovers everywhere.
It is, therefore, quite true that without revelation and the word of God, man the best of creation, would have remained restless.
If we are not permitted to see the Beloved, could we be honoured with His talk? We would then be content with the signs of our Beloved’s resplendence and beauty.
It was for this reason that God Almighty conversed with our forefathers and appointed man as the manifestation of His attributes and raised his status by revelations. This is mentioned several times in the Holy Quran. Therefore, the Islamic view in this connection is that revelation started from the very first rational human being and he was exalted with this honour. The Hindus also believe the same. They hold that revelation came first to Brahma – the first human being to whom the Vedas were revealed – and after him this door of blessing was hermetically sealed.
Was Revelation Confined to Any Particular Nation?
The fifth question that arises in this connection is: Is revelation confined to any single nation or a few chosen people? Practically all the religions other than Islam claim that Divine revelation was to them only. The Sanatanists – a Hindu sect in India – believe that it was Brahma who was honoured with Divine revelation. The Arya Samaj claim that this honour was granted to the following four: Agni, Waayo, Angar and Adeet. They refuse to entertain the idea that anyone else could have been so honoured. The Jews contend that all the prophets and messengers of God must necessarily be raised from among the Children of Israel. The Christian view, more or less, is the same as that of the Jews. They claim that they are the true Israelites and to them belongs the sonship, the glory, the covenant, the giving of the Law, the worship and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs and their progeny. All this is because of their faith in the flesh and blood of Christ, who is above all blessed forever. (Romans 2:9, 4-5)
Islam does not agree with this view and claims that revelation is not confined to any particular nation or to a certain people alone. God Almighty is the Creator of the whole of mankind and He alone is their Sustainer. He created air, light and sustenance for one and all. The sun that He created gives light to everyone and everyone breathes His air. In the same way His spiritual light encompasses one and all. They all receive its benefit and prosper. There are no people to whom were not raised God’s messengers and who were not honoured with men among them who held communion with God, and provided true guidance for their brethren. All these exalted persons deserve respect and true regard. God Almighty says in the Holy Quran: And there is no people to whom a Warner has not been sent. (Chapter 35, Verse 25). In another place in the Holy Quran it is stated: And We did raise among every people a messenger with the teaching ‘Worship Allah and shun the Evil One’ (Chapter 16, Verse 37). These verses assure us that God Almighty did raise His messengers among every people and exalted them with His revelation, regardless of caste, colour or creed. Islam abhors the idea that revelation was confined to only a single race or limited to a few people.
Having sent His messengers to all His peoples with particular guidance suitable to the conditions prevailing among them, He ultimately raised a messenger who was to be the universal Warner. He was given the Divine Message for all races and all nations. This universal Warner was the Holy Prophet Muhammed (sa), who was commanded by God: ‘Proclaim! O mankind! Truly I am a messenger to you from Allah to Whom belongs the kingdom of the earth and the heavens.’ This message is for every people and every race, and they all should accept him as the true messenger from Allah. If they obey him they are bound to achieve the aim for which mankind was created. If they follow him, Divine favours shall be granted to all His obedient servants.
The above message is most certainly not limited to any single race or to any single people. This message encompasses the whole of mankind. This is an invitation for the spiritual feast to which every single man or woman is invited. Let him who has the sense of appreciating the truth accept this wonderful invitation.
Is Revelation Confined to a Particular Land?
Now we come to the sixth question in connection with our subject. The teachings of Islam are as follows:
Prior to the advent of Islam, God Almighty had been raising His warners separately among the different peoples in different lands. Some of these later assumed the very wrong notion that only they were the chosen people of God, and that the guidance that had come for them was not meant for any other people and that they alone were the chosen people of God. They even claimed that in the future, God will only raise messengers from among them and not from other people. Those who believe in the Vedas in India very firmly adhered to this idea, and claim that only their country was the chosen land – the Land of Ishwara the God. They also claim that only Bharat was the land which God the Ishawara loved. They also claim that no Warner was sent to any other land except India. On the other hand, the Jews claim that only they are the chosen race and Palestine the only chosen land.
It is only in Islam that each and every Prophet is looked upon with love and reverence, and all are believed to be true messengers of God. Prophets used to come to the people of every land until the time came when the whole human race was to live as one large single brotherhood. Means of communication have become easier and it has become possible for the whole human race to live as one very large family. God Almighty, therefore, decided to raise His most noble messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, who was commanded to teach the universal message – Islam, the religion of love and peace. It is for this reason that Islam does not close the delicious essence of revelation into a stoppered phial. As this is the most sweet and most congenial nectar, all people must enjoy this great blessing of God Almighty.
This is the idea which appeals to every heart because it is full of common sense. People of wisdom would acclaim this truth and would wish that God’s revelation must reach every nook and corner of the globe.
Is Revelation Confined to a Particular Language?
The seventh question is whether revelation was confined to a particular language or a few limited languages. According to the faith preached by the Vedas, the word of God should only be revealed in Sanskrit. They claim that at the beginning of each cycle of existence, Ishwar or God speaks and gives directions for the new cycle, and He only speaks in the Sanskrit language because no other language is worthy of this distinction. The Jews have their own views and maintain that God speaks only in the language of the Children of Israel.
In contrast to the above, Islam declares that God is Omnipotent. All the languages originate from Him and He is fully conversant with all of them. ‘Undoubtedly Allah knows all the languages’. (Bukhari). The Holy Quran says: ‘When my servants enquire from thee concerning Me, O Prophet, tell them, I am close. I respond to the call of the supplicant when he calls on me. (Chapter 2, Verse 187). As regards His revelations to His prophets, God says in the Quran: ‘We have sent every messenger with revelation in the language of his people that he might make it clear to them.’ (Chapter 14, Verse 5).
Islam teaches that every people had their prophet. and everyone of them had been given the teachings in their own language. Therefore, revelation is not confined to any single language or any single people. Messages came to every people in their own language.
When in His infinite wisdom God Almighty decided that all the different people on the earth should have one common code of law, He sent His most beloved prophet to this world to preach a religion which was to become the Code of Law for the whole world. For this final code of law He chose the most elaborate and the most eloquent of all the languages – Arabic – the mother of all tongues. He also opened the gates of all the languages so that the Muslims of all nations might hear the melodious Divine voice through revelation in their own tongue.
Even in this age, the glorious spiritual son of the Holy Prophet (sa), who had been granted the Divine Commission, was honoured by revelations in many different languages. This is a practical proof regarding the disputed point that God speaks to His beloved servants in all tongues, and that no special language has been reserved for Divine revelations. What is necessary for this blessing is a heart full of love and zeal for the Omnipotent God.
The Distinctive Quality of the Quranic Revelation
The eighth question in this connection is: Why is the revelation of the Holy Quran superior to all the previous revelations?
Let it be remembered that all the previous revelations were limited to the peoples to whom these had been sent. These did not encompass each and every need of the whole of mankind. But the Quranic revelation is not confined to any one single people. It encompasses all the peoples for all times. It was for this reason that God Almighty has undertaken to safeguard it – the text as well as its correct interpretation.
Another incomparable truth about the revelation of the Holy Quran is that it encompasses all the truths that were contained in the previous revealed books and it also contains predictions for all the important future incidents until Doomsday. These predictions continue to be fulfilled off and on, and provide proof of the truth and authenticity of the Quran.
Another distinctive feature of the Holy Quran is that its true followers are granted the unique honour of nearness to God Almighty and His communion. God has given the promise in the Holy Quran: ‘Dost thou not see how Allah sets forth a parable of a good word? It is like a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches reach into heaven. It brings forth its fruit at all times by the command of its Lord. (Chapter 14, Verses 25-26). This is a distinction which was not given to any previous Divine book. In Islam there have been thousands of saints and holy men who enjoyed this great divine favour and distinction. The Promised Messiah has written in this connection:
Listen! I give your the evidence of this spiritual exaltedness which can be obtained only through the Holy Quran. All the previous books are now obsolete. There is only one Book now under the heaven through which one could behold the most charming countenance of our Benign God. No other book can now perform this miracle. There is only one Book which could help one to see the face of the most beloved. All other books are now devoid of this great distinction. There is only one Book under the heavens which could grant you the privilege of witnessing the beloved face of God Almighty. (Haqeeqat-ul-Wahee, p 100 footnote)
God Almighty has appointed the Holy Prophet (sa) as the one through whom God Almighty verifies the spiritual authenticity of His true servants. He has granted His seal to the Holy Prophet (sa) which has not been awarded to anyone before him. This is the reason why he is called ‘The Seal of Prophets’. This means that by following him faithfully one could even reach the most high status of being a prophet. That is to say that by obeying him and through his guidance and by being loyal to him, one would gain the high status of being a prophet. This is a distinction which could not be acquired by following any other prophet before him.
The Benefits of Revelation
The ninth question in this connection is: What are the benefits and blessings of revelation?
Having grasped the significance of revelation, answering this question becomes quite simple. Revelation, we might say, is the conversation between God and His servant through which he acquires the definite knowledge that his God is pleased with him.
Leave aside man, revelation is the only means of guidance for His creatures other than human beings. God Almighty says in the Holy Quran:
And the Lord inspired the bee, saying ‘Make thou houses in the hills and in the trees and in the trellises which they build. Then eat of all manner of fruit and follow the ways of thy Lord that have been made easy for thee.’ There comes forth from their bellies a drink of varying hues. Therein is a cure for mankind. Surely, in that is a sign for a people who reflect. (The Holy Quran 16:70).
All the teachings of the prophets are based wholly upon revelation. The Holy Prophet (sa), was commanded to say: ‘And if I am rightly guided, it is because of what my Lord revealed to me.’ (Holy Quran, Chapter 34, Verse 51).
In connection with the happenings of the latter days, God Almighty informs us of the previously inconceivable material advancements of the latter days: ‘All this shall happen because of God’s revelation.’ (Holy Quran, Chapter 99, Verse 6). This means that all that shall happen at that time would be under the direction of God Almighty’s revelations. In short, the revelation of God Almighty is the fountain-head of all knowledge and sciences and all the material as well as the spiritual blessings are because of revelation. The prophet of God is the pivot of mankind and all teachings and exhortations are always based on revelation The whole structure of this universe is founded upon revelation that comes to His prophets. Revelation, therefore, is the most reliable and illuminating sign of God Almighty. It is a clear and most dependable fact that without revelation one could never be guided to the True and Ever-Living God. This universe helps us to reason out that there should be a Creator of this vast existence. But there is no definite and reliable proof available that the creator really does exist. This universe provides us with the logical result that there should be a God. It is only through revelation that a reliable seal is affixed to our logical assumption that a creator should exist.
In connection with the calf that the Israelites began to worship in the temporary absence of the Prophet Moses, God Almighty says in the Holy Quran: ‘Did they not see that it spoke not to them, nor guided them in any way. Yet they took it for worship. (Chapter 7, Verse 149).
Therefore, in order to be ever-living and self-subsisting it would be absolutely necessary for a true deity to be able to converse with mankind and reveal His instructions.
Do We Need a Further Law After the Holy Quran
The tenth question relating to the subject of revelation is: Is it necessary to have a new law revealed even after the Holy Quran?
It must be remembered that the Holy Quran, as we believe, is a book of complete and perfect laws which need not be abrogated. The question, therefore of a new law does not arise at all. No new law needs promulgation, nor is there a need for a new prophet with a new law. This is a fact which is wholly based on the Holy Quran – the word of God, and is also supported by the general consensus of the Muslim divines. Muslims scholars of the past have explained that the correct meaning of the expression Khataman-Nabiyyen and Laa Nabi B’adi simply mean that no prophet would ever come after the Holy Prophet (sa), who would revoke and abrogate the law of the Quran – Islam.
So now, only non law-bearing revelation can come. The Quran is the perfect and complete law of Islam and there would be no new law in the future. The Holy Quran has repeatedly stated that saints and sages of Islam will definitely be honoured with non law-bearing revelation. God the Gracious has given the firm promise that the true followers of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet (sa) shall be raised to the rank of those whom God loves: ‘And whoso obeys Allah and this messenger shall be among those on whom Allah has bestowed His blessings – the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs and the Righteous. And an excellent company are they.’ (Chapter 4, Verse 70). And again, Allah says in the Holy Quran: ‘Behold! the friends of Allah shall certainly have no fear, nor shall they grieve. Those who believed and were ever righteous, for them are glad tidings in the present life and also in the hereafter, there is no changing the words of Allah – that indeed is the supreme achievement.’ (Chapter 10, Verse 65). Again, the Holy Quran says: ‘As for those who say, ‘Our Lord is Allah, and then remain steadfast, the angels descend on them, reassuring them: Fear not, nor grieve and rejoice in the glad tidings of the gardens which were promised. We are your friends in this life and the hereafter. Therein will you have all that you will ask for. (Chapter 41, Verses 31-32).
These verses make it quite clear that the door of the non law-bearing revelation shall remain open for all true Muslims; and Muslim sages and Muslim saints shall continue to be exalted with this great blessing of God. Traditions of the Holy Prophet (sa) also tell us the same about revelation. (See Mishkat-al-Masabeeh).
According to the Holy Quran, therefore, this holy tree is flourishing in the most splendid manner and is giving its sweet fruit to the true believers, and this great blessing of Allah shall continue so long as this world is in existence.
Did Any Muslim Sage Claim to Have Received Revelations?
Now we come to the eleventh question which is: Does revelation still continue? And have the Muslim saints been claiming this honour?
The answer to this question would need many volumes to do full justice. During the last thirteen hundred years there have been many thousand saints and beloved of God who were exalted with this great honour and who, because of perfect obedience to the Holy Prophet (sa), and because they followed in the footsteps of their beloved master, were exalted with this great blessing. Such people were found in every country and in every period. We would quote here only thirty names of the saints who lived after the Holy Prophet (sa) had passed away.
- Hazrat Junaid of Baghdad
- Hazrat Imam Abu Hanifa
- Hazrat Imam Shaf’ee Imam Shaf’ee
- Hazrat Imam Ahmad bin Hambal
- Hazrat Imam Muhammad Baqar
- Hazrat Imam Ja’far Saadiq
- Hazrat Kh. Abul Hassan Kharqaani
- Hazrat Sayyad Ali Hajveri
- Hazrat Abul Qasim Qasheeri
- Hazrat Sh. Abdul Hassan Kharqaani
- Hazrat Sh. Shahabuddin Suhrawardi
- Hazrat Sh. Mohyuddin Ibn-i-Arabi
- Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyarkaki
- Hazrat Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya
- Hazrat Sayyad Abdul Karim Aljeli
- Hazrat Kh. Bahauddin Naqshbandi
- Hazrat Khwaja Muhammad Paarsa
- Hazrat Allama Jalaluddin Sayoot
- Hazrat Sayyee Abdul Qadir Jeelani
- Hazrat Shah Nematullah Wali
- Hazrat Jalaluddin Makhdum Jahanivan
- Hazrat Sh. Abdul Quddos Gangohi
- Hazrat Sh. Abdul Wahhab Al-Sheraani
- Hazrat Sheikh Ahmad Mujaddid Alir-Thaani
- Hazrat Kh. Muhammad M’asoom
- Hazrat Shah Abdul Rahim
- Hazrat Shah Waliullah
- Shah Abdul Ghani
- Hazrat Mu’een-ud-Deen Chishti
- Hazrat Maulvi Abdullah of Ghazni
The above names have been given at random; the saints themselves have mentioned in their writings this great blessing of God. As a matter of fact, the number of such spiritually distinguished persons reach into many thousands. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it is not possible for all the other religions of the world to point out such a large number of saints as have been born in Islam. These Muslim saints were the very people about whom the Holy Prophet (sa) had predicted that they would be equal in spiritual rank to the prophets and patriarchs of the Children of Israel. For example, Hazrat Mu’eenuddeen has said: ‘The Holy Ghost heaves within me every moment; I do not claim, but I do feel within me, like Jesus’.
There is no doubt about the fact that a very great number of saints had been blessed with revelation. But it must not be forgotten that there is always a difference between the revelation of a prophet and the revelation of a saint. The Promised Messiah (as) has said:
The gist of what I wish to say is that among the followers of the Holy Prophet (sa) revelation is an undeniable fact, the magnitude of which cannot be reached among other prophets. Moreover, this also is true that the revelations of the prophets and the messengers of Allah is always very clear and of the highest order and of incomparable clarity: it removes the darkness of doubts just as the rays of the sun dispels darkness. But the revelation of the saints could only be depended upon when they are received repeatedly, and it is their repetition which makes them reliable. These revelations come to the saints pouring like the rain drops and assures the recipient of their truth. (Braheen-e-Ahmadiyya, p. 234, footnote).
The Revelations of the Promised Messiah
The last question in this connection regards the revelations to the saints and the highly chosen servants of Allah. Most noted among them is the one who is called the Promised Messiah and Mahdi – the most highly honoured because it was for him that the Holy Prophet (sa) had commanded that his greetings of salaam be conveyed to. (Mishkat-al-Masabeeh). The Holy Quran describes the coming of the Promised Messiah as the second advent of the Holy Prophet (sa) himself: ‘He it is Who raised among the unlettered people a Messenger from among themselves …. and among others from among them who have not yet joined them…’ (Chapter 62, Verses 3-4). The Holy Prophet (sa) has described the time of the Promised Messiah to be one of the two best periods of Islam.
In his collection of the Traditions of the Holy Prophet (sa), Muslim has stated that the Promised Messiah shall be a follower of the Holy Prophet (sa) and shall also hold the rank of a prophet, and has mentioned that he shall also be blessed with revelation. The author of ‘Rooh-al-Ma’ani’ has said that the Promised Messiah would be honoured with revelation.
While discussing the subject of revelation, the Promised Messiah (as) has said that there are three different grades of revelation. In connection with the third grade he said: ‘The status of the third grade is granted to persons of the highest spiritual rank who belong to the circle of those to whom Divine manifestations are granted…Only those can attain this grade who are honoured with permission to come into the direct presence of God Almighty; and the word ‘Wahee’ could be applied only to their revelation.’ (Haqeeqat-ul-Wahee, p. 51).
About his own revelation, the Promised Messiah has written, ‘I have, by the grace of God, and certainly not as a right, been granted this high distinction which has been granted before me to the prophets in the past – the chosen ones of God. I could not possibly have achieved this distinction if I had not walked in the footsteps of my master, the Chief and the most esteemed and venerated, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings on him, the chosen one of God Almighty. Whatever I have achieved has been done by walking in his footsteps and I know for certain that no human being can attain nearness of God unless and until he follows him.’ (Haqeeqat-ul-Wahee, p. 64-65).
It is for this reason only that the revelation received by the Promised Messiah (as) is of the highest standard of purity and is of the same calibre as that of the previous great prophets.
Again the Promised Messiah (as) says: ‘I declare on the oath of Allah that it is He who has granted me the honour of His converse as He granted this honour to Prophet Ibrahim and Isaac and Ismail and to Jacob and Joseph and Moses and Jesus, and then last of all to our Holy Prophet (sa), to whom He spoke with His greatest favour. And the distinction granted to me was only because of him. Had not been a follower of the Holy Prophet (sa), and had I not followed his ways, I could not possibly have achieved this great success even though my deeds might have been piled higher than all the mountains of the earth.’ (Tajalliyyat Ilahiyya, p. 24).
In another place, the Promised Messiah (as) states: ‘This divine converse with me is quite true. If I begin to entertain any doubt about it even for a single moment, I would become a Kaafir and my hereafter will be completely devastated. The word of God revealed to me is as bright as the sun and its dazzling light. In the same way I cannot entertain even the smallest possible doubt in this, as it has come to me from God Almighty, and I believe in it as I believe in the Book of Allah.’ (Tajalliyat Ilahiyya, p. 25).
The Promised Messiah (as) has, in many of his poems, mentioned his firm belief in the revelations he received from God Almighty. He believed in the truth of his own revelations as he believed in the revelations of all the prophets before him. He writes:
I am not inferior in any way to anyone of them.
Chosen one of God.
I have been anointed in the same way
as my most beautiful beloved.
The faith that Jesus had in his own
Sent to him by God
And the faith that Moses had in the
And the faith that the Holy Prophet had,
who was the Chief among Prophets
I am, I firmly believe, in no way inferior
He who calls it a lie is the most
But I am a mirror of God the
In which you might view the Lord of
I shall conclude this article with two extracts from the writings of the Promised Messiah, peace be on him. The Promised Messiah wrote: ‘I shall be doing a great injustice if I do not make it clear that the high status that has been granted to me and the distinction of being honoured with God’s revelation has been His most gracious gift to me so that I might be able to furnish sight to the blind, and show the right path to those who have gone astray, and give glad tidings of the great Fountain of Truth which is highly talked about, but with few being blessed with it.
I would like to convince my listeners that the only God Who is the source of true salvation cannot be found without following the Holy Quran. I wish people could see what I have seen and they could hear what I have heard. They would abandon all feuds of the past and hasten towards Islam which is the real truth.’ (Islami Usooi ki Philosophy, p. 128).
In an announcement, ‘Invitation to the Truth’, which was addressed to the Christian preachers, the Promised Messiah said: ‘In this age also people have tried their utmost to defame the Holy Prophet (sa). This has enraged God Almighty and He has therefore raised me as the Promised Messiah so that I might be a witness to his prophethood and vouchsafe his truth to the whole world. If my claim be without any rhyme or reason, I would then be a pretender. But if God Almighty confirms my truth with His signs which are authentic and unique in the east as well as in the west and the likes of which cannot be found in the north and the south, it should then become incumbent upon you to accept me.
God Almighty has manifested such clear signs, that if they had been seen by the people in the past ages, they would not have been condemned and would not have inherited the wrath of Allah through floods and fire and windstorms. They would all have been saved.
Alas! with whom shall I compare the men of the present age! They are so unfortunate that despite possessing common sense they do not wish to listen; they have eyes but they do not wish to hear. I weep for them but they mock me with scorn. I have brought for them the elixir of life, but they reject it and throw fire at me instead.
God Almighty has accepted me not only through His revelations but has also manifested Himself to me with His signs as He seldom does to anyone unless He is really pleased with him. Although men have deserted me, He has accepted me. Is there anyone who would oppose me in the manifestation of His signs?
I have been raised so that He may be accepted through me. I have been sent so that He might be known. He was like a hidden treasure, and He has sent me so that I might shut the mouths of atheists. But O my dear people who wish to seek God! I bring you the glad tidings that only He is the True God Who has revealed the Holy Quran and Who has manifested Himself to me and Who is always with me.’ (Haqeeqat-ul-Wahee, pp. 618-620)
All praise belongs to Him who is Lord of all the worlds.