Friday, 12 February 2021

Revelation to Non-Prophets Through Angels (42:51)

 

۞ بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ ۞

The continuity of divine revelation, despite the formal cessation of Prophesy, is one of the distinctive beliefs of orthodox Islām that was only seriously challenged by the modernist movement of our time. I previously quoted allāmah Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328 CE) in his explanation of the āyah:

وَ مَا کَانَ لِبَشَرٍ اَنۡ یُّکَلِّمَہُ اللّٰہُ اِلَّا وَحۡیًا اَوۡ مِنۡ وَّرَآیِٔ حِجَابٍ اَوۡ یُرۡسِلَ رَسُوۡلًا فَیُوۡحِیَ بِاِذۡنِہٖ مَا یَشَآءُ ؕ اِنَّہٗ عَلِیٌّ حَکِیۡمٌ

And it is not for a man that Allah should speak to him except by revelation or from behind a veil or by sending a messenger to reveal by His command what He pleases. Surely, He is High, Wise

(42:51)

as a proof for the possibility of a non-prophet, ummati receiving revelation from Allāh after the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم

Here I shall quote another giant of Islamic learning and mysticism, imām Abu Hāmid al-Ghazzāli (1058-1111 CE), from his magnum opus, in explanation of the same āyah (42:51):

فإن العلم إنما يحصل في قلوبنا بواسطة الملائكة وإليه الإشارة بقوله تعالى {وما كان لبشر أن يكلمه الله إلا وحياً أو من وراء حجاب أو يرسل رسولاً فيوحي بإذنه ما يشاء

The knowledge which comes to our hearts through the medium of the Angels, as indicated by His saying: “And it is not for a man that Allah should speak to him except by revelation or from behind a veil or by sending a messenger to reveal by His command what He pleases” (Ihyā Ulūm ad-Dīn; v.3, p.19):


Here al-Ghazzāli has specifically affirmed the reality of the third form of Allāh speaking with mortals—sending a messenger (Angel) to reveal something. The revelation is by means of an Angel descending upon the heart of a Believer.

Some ignorant people raise an objection that the affirmation of وحى (wahi or revelation) to a non-prophet is incorrect, perhaps even a heresy that is a violation of our belief in the finality of Prophesy. They fail to realize that in the Arabic language, and in the Quranic terminology itself, the term wahi refers to the divine revelation that is received by both Prophets and non-prophets. The linguist and scholar, ar-Rāghib al-Isfahāni (d. 502 H) said:

ويقالُ ‌للكَلِمَةِ ‌الإلهيةِ ‌الَّتِي ‌تُلْقى ‌إِلَى ‌أَنْبيائِه ‌وأَوْليائِه ‌وَحْيٌ

The divine Word that is give to His Prophets and His Saints is called wahi (al-Mufradāt, p.858):


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