Is there revelation after Allah’s Messenger?

Sawt Al-Umma, Issue No. 105
2th December 2002

The Arabic word al-wahi usually translated as ‘revelation’ is a secret between the one who gives revelation (Ar: al-mulqi) and the one who receives it (Ar: al-mutalaqqi) The Quran says: Raised high above ranks (or degrees), (He is) the Lord of the Throne: by His Command does He send the Spirit (of revelation) to any of His servants he pleases” (Ghafer:15)

In fact, there are different kinds of revelation. First, there is wahi elham which may be translated as ‘inspiration’ about which the Quran says: ‘And your Lord inspired the bee saying: Make hives in the mountains and in the trees and in what they build” (An-Nahl:68) This is direct inspiration from Allah without the intermediation of Jibril or any other angel. In this case the recipient of the inspiration is a bee – a living creature  other than a human. But it could be given to a human and not necessarily a prophet or a messenger. The Quran says ‘And We inspired Musa’s mother to suckle him’ (Al-Qasas:7) It could even be given to a non-living thing. On the day of resurrection Allah will inspire the earth to do what it is commanded to do. The Quran says: ‘“On that day it (the earth) shall tell its news, because your Lord had inspired it” (Al- Zalzalah:4 -5) This kind of revelation or inspiration is continuous. Bees for example continue to do what they were inspired to do.

A second kind of wahi is called wahi manam which is a true vision or dream seen during sleep. Such a vision can be seen by a believer or by someone else for him Although it is experienced during sleep, it is nevertheless a revelation or inspiration because the person who sees it is a recipient (Ar: al-mutalaqqi) It is given to us through no effort of our own. At that time, we have no will. We are absolutely passive. We are like the dead in Allah’s hand.

There is a third kind of al-wahi called wahi risala which Allah gives to His prophets and messengers. Unlike wahi elham and wahi manam this kind of revelation is not continuous. It ended with Sayedena Mohamed the seal of all the prophets and messengers and the most honorable of all Allah’s creation (s.a.a.w.s.)

There is another altogether more sinister kind of revelation or inspiration. It is alluded to in the Quran which says: ‘They inspire each other with their vain and deluded speeches’ (Al Ana’am:112) This is called in Arabic wahi tadbir of a bad kind which is actually not about inspiring but conspiring. Iblis, the devil, inspired (or conspired with) the idolators in Mecca to form a group to kill the prophet. The group would be made up of one person from each of the tribes who would strike as one man so that the prophet’s blood would be distributed among each of the tribes. This wahi tadbir is a kind of evil whispering (Ar: waswash) which may be between a group of conspirators or between Iblis and those in his service.

However, there is another altogether more praiseworthy type of al-wahi between men. About Sayedena Zakaria (a.s.) the Quran says: ‘He went out from his sanctuary to his people and told (inspired) them to glorify (Allah) morning and evening.’ (Mariam:11) In his sanctuary Sayedena Zakaria (a.s.) was in the position of the one who received revelation from Allah (Ar: al-mutalaqqi ) When he went out to his people to tell them about what had been revealed to him he was in the position of the one who gave or passed on the revelation to others (Ar: al-mulqi)

If Allah can give revelation or inspiration to a bee or to the earth or to Musa’s mother, should it not be possible for Him to give the same to His prophet – something direct and additional to what was revealed to him indirectly through the intermediary of Sayedena Jibril? The answer is of course yes and there was. It is to be found in the story of the prophet’s night journey and ascension into heaven about which the Quran says: ‘Then he approached and came closer until he was at a distance of two bow-lengths or less. Then He revealed to His slave what He revealed.’ (Al-Najm:8-10)

Revelation (Ar: al-wahi) is a secret between the one who gives (Ar: al-mulqi) and the one who receives it (Ar: al-mutalaqqi) The Quran says:‘ It is not for a human being to be spoken to by Allah other than by revelation (or inspiration) or from behind a veil or by sending a messenger.’(Al-Shura:51) It might be described as something confidential between people. What is confidential could be whisperings from the devil which is not to say everything that is confidential is from him. The Quran says: ‘O You who believe! If you confer together in private, don’t do so sinfully or with animosity or disobedience to the messenger. Do so with devoutness and righteousness and always be afraid of displeasing Allah.’ (Al Mujadalh:9)

Again, the only kind of revelation that has been discontinued is wahi ar-risalah. The others – wahi al-elham and wahi al-manam – continue and will continue until the end of time.