The Arabic word for revelation is wahy that literally denotes an action that is done in secret and quickly, or to inform someone about something swiftly and secretly.
In Islamic terminology, wahy means an information sent down by Almighty Allah to His Prophet or Messenger; whether it is related to an Islamic ruling or anything else, whether it is through a mediator or directly.1
In other words, wahy is a divine knowledge conveyed to a Prophet or Messenger, directly or by the mediation of an angel, in order to inform the people. It is noteworthy that the Knowledge of Allah remains as it is in the Preserved Tablet, only it comes down according to what is written in it.2
Revelation is a substantial and essential matter in the prophecies and religions. It is like the miracles in importance. Both are necessary, without them there would not be any Prophethood or Messengership.
The word wahy and its derivatives are repeated in the Glorious Qur’an alone 78 times, which attests the importance of the revelation for divine religions. 3
According to Islam, faith in revelation is compulsory on every person; male and female, because it is a part of the faith to believe in the divine Scriptures sent down to some Prophets and Messengers including the Glorious Qur’an.
Almighty Allah says:
And truly, this (the Qur’an) is a revelation from the Lord of the `A’lamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists), which the trustworthy Ruh [Jibril (Gabriel)] has brought down, upon your heart (O Muhammad!) that you may be (one) of the warners, in the plain Arabic language. (Ash-Shu`ara’26:192-194)
Revelation, in the form of books and divine scriptures, is a basic requirement for human life, so that the guidance of the prophets and apostles would be everlasting for humans, generations after generations until the Day of Judgment. That’s why Allah (glory be to Him) has revealed the Glorious Qur’an which is the greatest blessings of Almighty Allah to His slaves. 4
Allah (glory be to Him) says:
Verily, We have sent the revelation to you (O Muhammad ) as We sent the revelation to Nuh (Noah) and the Prophets after him; We (also) sent the revelation to Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma`il (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Ya‘qub (Jacob), and the offspring of the twelve sons of Ya‘qub (Jacob)], ‘Isa (Jesus), Ayyub (Job), Yunus (Jonah), Harun (Aaron), and Sulayman (Solomon); and to Dawud (David) We gave the Zabur (Psalms). (An-Nisa’4:163)
The verse elucidates clearly that revelation to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) never was a strange happening in human history but it remained a source of guidance from Almighty Allah to His Prophets and Messengers for the guidance of mankind across the human history.
The Angel Gabriel and Revelation
The angel of revelation is Gabriel (peace be upon him), his name was mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an as Almighty Allah said:
Say (O Muhammad): “Whoever is an enemy to Jibril (Gabriel) (let him die in his fury), for indeed he has brought it (this Qur’an) down to your heart by Allah’s Permission, confirming what came before it [i.e. the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] and guidance and glad tidings for the believers. (Al-Baqarah 2:97)
It is understood from this verse that we must love the angel of revelation, Gabriel (peace be upon him) as he was an infallible and pure angel who brought the Message of Allah and His guidance to the Prophets and Messengers who conveyed the divine message to the slave of Almighty Allah honestly.
Furthermore, he was mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an with the title of “Ar-Ruh Al-Amin” (the Trustworthy Sprit) as Allah (Glory be to Him) said:
And truly, this (the Qur’an) is a revelation from the Lord of the ‘Âlamîn (mankind, jinn and all that exists), which the trustworthy Ruh [Jibril (Gabriel)] has brought down. (Ash-Shu`ara’26:192-193)
Also, he is called the “Sacred Spirit” in the Glorious Qur’an, as Almighty Allah says:
Say (O Muhammad) Ruh-ul-Qudus [Jibril (Gabriel)] has brought it (the Qur’an) down from your Lord with truth. (An-Nahl 16:102)
Moreover, Gabriel is called “An-Namus” (Angel of revelation) as was stated by Warqah ibn Nawfal to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) during his first meeting with angel Gabriel when Warqah commented saying: “You have met the same sprit or “An-Namus” that was sent down by Allah to Moses.5
Types of Revelations
Revelations are of three types;
1- Almighty Allah talks to His Prophet from behind a screen.
2- Allah sends down an angel with revelation to the Prophet.
3- Allah inspires, or throws in the mind and heart of the Prophet.
Almighty Allah says:
It is not given to any human being that Allah should speak to him unless (it be) by Revelation, or from behind a veil, or (that) He sends a Messenger to reveal what He wills by His Leave. Verily, He is Most High, Most Wise. (As-Shura 42: 51)
The abovementioned verse denotes that the revelations are of three types:
The First: Almighty Allah reveals or inspires the meaning in the heart.
In other words, sometimes Almighty Allah inspires the meaning in the heart of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and he was sure that it was from Almighty Allah, as was recorded in Sahih of Ibn Hibban on the authority of Ibn Mas`ud that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Jibril breathed into my heart that no soul will die until its allotted provision and time have expired, so have fear of Allah and keep seeking in a good way.”
The Second: Almighty Allah talks from behind a screen, as He (glory be to Him) spoke to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) when Moses asked to see Him with his naked eyes. Yet, he was prevented from this wish and was diverted to hear a talk from behind the tree, as Almighty Allah says:
He was called from the right side of the valley, in the blessed place, from the tree: “O Musa (Moses)! Verily I am Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)! (Al-Qasas 28:30)
The Third: The revelation that was brought by the angel of revelation, Gabriel, to the Prophet (peace be upon him). It was reported by Al-Bukhari that `A’ishah, the mother of the believers, (may Allah be pleased with her) said that Al-Harith ibn Hisham asked the Messenger of Allah, “O Messenger of Allah! How does the revelation come to you?” The Messenger of Allah said: “Sometimes it comes to me like the ringing of a bell and this is the hardest on me which then leaves me after I have fully understood and retained what was said. Sometimes, the angel comes to me in the form of a man and speaks to me and I retain what he says.” `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “I saw him when the revelation was descending on him in a very cold day and when it left him his forehead was dripping with sweat.”
It is worth mentioning that the revelation that would come like the ringing of a bell was the hardest one on the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) as it required him to come out from the circle of human necessities for a while being connected to the spiritual world in order to retain and preserve the divine revelation. The second type of the revelation was easier for the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him); as it did not require him to bear such hardship, rather, the angel of the revelation would take the shape of a human being which was an easy procedure for him.
Thus, the whole Glorious Qur’an was revealed to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) by the angel of revelation Gabriel during a period of 23 years.
It was reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Every Prophet was given a miracle, the type of which brings mankind to faith. What I was given is a revelation that Allah sent down to me. Yet, I hope that I will be the most followed on the Day of Resurrection.)”
Revelation in Hinduism
This is a brief introduction to revelation in Islam which constitutes an indispensable part of faith, as was explained by the Glorious Qur’an and authentic hadiths. Undoubtedly, it has no obscurity or darkness in any part of this issue. On the contrary, the concept of Hindu faith about revelation consists of all types of misunderstanding and dimness in all aspect of this subject. In Hinduism, whenever Ishvar intends to express something or reveal His Will to His Prophets or Messengers, He Himself incarnates a human shape or takes any form of His creation and comes down to this physical world. In Hinduism, God himself is born according to the nature of this universe. He grows like a baby and lives like a human being and eats, drinks, marries and has wives and children. Also, he falls sick, and dies. In fact, an ordinary man becomes perplexed and confused whether that ‘human god’ should behave like a human being or would be worshipped like a god.
The comparison between both faiths drives us to conclude that the faith of Islam about the revelation, as well as its whole system, is the safest belief and purest creed which deserves to be believed by every person who loves his Lord and likes to be loved by his Lord.
1) Dr. `Abdul Fattah Ahmad Al-Fawi, An-Nubuwwah Bayn Al-Falsafah Wat-Tasawwuf, Maktabat Az-Zahra’, Cairo, 1st ed. 1981, p. 24.
2) Dr. Muhammad Al-Bahi, Al-Farabi Al-Muwaffiq Wash-Sharih, Maktabah Wahbah, Cairo 1981,p.24.
3) Muhammad Fu’ad `Abdul-Baqi, Al-Mu`jam Al-Mufahris li-alfazh al-Qur’an al-Karim, under the word Wahy, Dar al-Kutub Al-Masriyyah,1364 A.H.
4) Abu Bakr al-Jaza’iri, Minhaj Al-Muslim, Dar Ash-Shuruq, Jaddah, 1987, p.7.
5) Sayyid Sabiq, Al-`Aqa’id Al-Islamiyyah, Dar Al-Kitab Al-`Arabi, Beirut, 1985, p. 118.