05 Nov Revelation: Part 2
Revelation and the Prophet
How was the Revelation conveyed to the Prophet?
The Revelation was delivered to Prophet Muhammad in the following ways:
a. The commencement of Revelation to the Prophet took the form of reliable dreams ( ru’ya al-sadiqa). Whatever he dreamed happened the following day, in exactly the same way that he had dreamed.
b. Coming in the form of a human being, Archangel Gabriel conveyed the Revelation to the Prophet.
c. Archangel Gabriel approached the Prophet in his own angelic form and thus delivered the Revelation to him. It was reported that such Revelation happened only two times; first, during the first stage of the Revelation and second, in the cave of Hira, following a period of temporary cessation of Revelation.
d. Without appearing to the Prophet, the angel put the Revelation straight into the Prophet’s heart when he was awake.
e. Archangel Gabriel conveyed the Revelation to the Prophet during his sleep.
f. Sometimes, the Qur’an was revealed like the ringing of a bell. This form of Revelation was most severe for the Prophet. When this state of Revelation passed the Prophet had memorized what had been revealed.
g. Delivery of the Revelation to the Prophet when he was awake, directly by God Almighty Himself. It was reported that such Revelation was delivered to the Prophet during the Mi’raj – the Prophet’s night journey from Mecca to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and his ascension from there to Heaven.
Revelation and The Qur’an
Is there any Revelation other than The Qur’an?
The Revelation is not only the Qur’an; Prophet Muhammad received Revelation in addition to the Qur’an. God’s Messenger said, “Beware, I have been given the Qur’an and it’s like together with it.” This is clear proof of the fact that God’s Messenger received the Revelation from God in addition to what is contained in the Qur’an, and he acted according to it. What is meant by the “like of the Qur’an” in the hadith is the Sunna, or practices of the Prophet. This clearly shows that God’s Messenger was given Revelation in addition to the Qur’an which was not recited to him as the Qur’an. Thus, in the same way, that the Qur’an is a Revelation sent to the Prophet, the Sunna was also revealed to him. The only difference is that while the Qur’an was revealed in recited ( matlu) form, the Sunna was the non-recited Revelation ( wahy al-ghayri matlu). This is why it is obligatory to imitate and follow the example of the Prophet when performing acts of worship, like the daily prayers and the pilgrimage to Mecca, which have not been explained in detail in the Qur’an. Therefore, it is necessary to depend upon the Sunna in order to understand the Book and to practice it in daily life correctly and completely as God Almighty commands in the Qur’an: “And We have not sent down the Book on you except that you (O Muhammad) may explain to them all (the questions of faith and law) on which they differ, and as guidance and mercy for people who will believe and who have already believed” (Nahl 16:64).
It is the Prophet’s mission to present and also represent the religion in its pristine purity and truth. The Sunna, which is a combination of the sayings, actions and tacit approval of the Prophet, is sanctioned by God and relies on the guidance of Divine Revelation. Thus, if we look for information on a particular subject in the Qur’an but are unable to find it, we then have to refer to the Prophet’s practices, or his Sunna, which is a commentary and explanation of the Qur’an. Pertaining to this subject, the Prophet once asked Muadh ibn Jabal, whom he was sent as an envoy to Yemen: “‘With what will you rule?’ ‘With God’s Book,’ Muadh replied. ‘What if you cannot find the ruling in the Qur’an?’ the Prophet asked. ‘Then with the Sunna of God’s Messenger’ Muadh replied. ‘What if you cannot find it there either?’ asked the Prophet. ‘Then I would rule with my own opinion (with my own understanding and interpretation)’ Muadh finally replied. Upon this response, the Prophet put his hand over Muadh’s chest and said, ‘All praise be to God for He has rendered the envoy of God’s Messenger successful and guided him to that which pleases God’s Messenger.’”
In particular, the Prophet warned those people who follow only the Qur’an and who reject his Sunna with the following words: “Let me not find one of you reclining on his couch when he hears something that I have commanded or forbidden, saying: ‘We don’t know (any such a thing as Sunna. God’s Book is at our disposal.) We follow what we find in God’s Book.’
There are many Quranic verses that act as evidence that Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, received Revelation from God in addition to the Qur’an. The following two verses, for instance, are of this type: “… Whatever the Messenger gives you accept it willingly, and whatever he forbids you, refrain from it. Keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety. Surely God is severe in retribution” (Hashr 59:7) and “… And on you (O Muhammad) We have sent down the Reminder so that you may make clear to humankind whatever is sent down to them, and that they may reflect” (Nahl 16:44). All the above-mentioned factors clearly indicate that the Revelation which was sent to God’s Messenger was not only composed of what is found in the Qur’an but includes non-recited Revelation in Sunna form. As a matter of fact, it is not possible for us to know or understand completely the various aspects of the religion without referring to the practices of the Prophet.