are nearly there, but we will pause a little to determine the source of this light that appeared occasionally, with the man emanating it having no say as to when it would appear.
Could it originate from the nature of Muhammad’s soul? If so, it would have been a permanent light that shines all the time, and it would have been more likely to shine when Muhammad was fully alert, or engaged in deep thought, instead of coming only in brief spells when he was under that thin cloud which might have seemed like sleep or loss of consciousness.
The inevitable conclusion, then, is that this thin cloud must have had a source of light beyond, which focused on Muhammad’s soul every now and then, elevating him to a sublime horizon that transcended his senses, and imparted to him whatever God willed of knowledge. Thereafter, Muhammad returned to his normal state, having acquired knew knowledge that he had not had before. The whole process being repeated time after time.
We all believe that moon light does not emanate from the moon, but is rather a reflection of the sun, because we see that moon light differs all the time according to its position in relation to the sun. In the same way people should believe that the light of this Prophetic moon is a reflection of the light of a sun which remains unseen by them, except for its effects.
Indeed, they do not see that sun rising in the day, and they do not hear its voice in clear, understandable speech. However, they have seen an aspect of its light in Muhammad’s face and heard its sound near his noble face. This is sufficient as a guiding indication for those who are keen to have such guidance.
It is, then, an external force, because it comes into contact with Muhammad only from time to time. It is, inevitably, a knowledgeable force, because it imparts knowledge.
It is higher than him because it has such powerful effects on his body and soul as we have described:
“That is but a Divine inspiration with which he is being inspired, something that a very mighty one has imparted to him: one endowed with surpassing power.”(53: 4-6.)
Moreover, it is a good and noble force that has been made infallible. It inspires only the truth, and orders only what is wise and beneficial.
Hence, it has nothing to do with evil forces such as the jinn and devils. What access do the jinn have to the realm beyond the reach of worldly perception: “The jinn saw clearly then that, had they but understood the reality which was beyond the reach of their perception, they would not have continued to toil in the shameful suffering.”(34: 14.)
Besides, how can the devils have any knowledge of what goes on in the heavens when they have been denied access to them: “No evil spirits have brought it down: for, neither does it suit their ends, nor is it in their power to [impart it to man]. Indeed they have been utterly debarred even from hearing it.”
Besides, spirits are like soldiers who remain together when they are on the same side and move apart when they have nothing in common. A man is known by the company he keeps, and birds of a feather flock together.
How can evil spirits be in contact with Muhammad’s clearly pure heart, or with his sagacious and perfect mind? “Shall I tell you upon whom it is that those evil spirits descend? They descend upon all sinful, great liars who eagerly listen [to what the evil spirits say], and most of them are certainly liars.” (26: 221-223.)
What could this force be other than a noble angel?
This is all that we can say about that imperceptible source on a clear and rational basis. A content believer does not need more than this to satisfy his own scientific curiosity, or to reaffirm his faith.
Anyone who needs further description of this angelic power and wants more information about its nature should not seek it through logic and reason. He should seek it through what has been authentically reported of the statements of the man who received the light brought by that angelic power, i.e. the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
He is the only one who can give us first hand information about the angel who came to him, and whom he saw with his own eyes and heard with his ears. Indeed, he sat with him on many occasions as a student sits with his tutor.
A person who has no qualms about believing in what lies beyond the reach of human perception, i.e. ghayb, will accept such information about the angel Gabriel even though he himself cannot see him.
His acceptance is based on what he sees of the effects of the experience of revelation and on his own belief in the Prophet who has given us that information.
On the other hand, ignorant people, who possess limited knowledge pertaining only to the outer surface of this world’s life yet think themselves to be in possession of unlimited knowledge encompassing everything in the universe, will deny anything that goes beyond their limited knowledge.
They may say, ‘It may be some visual condition which made Muhammad think that he saw something where there was nothing to see.’ Our response to this is a prayer to God to save us from all types of blindness, whether it be in our eyes or in our minds. We repeat what the Qur’an says: “[His] eye did not waver, nor yet did it stray.”
Or they would say, ‘It may all have been some mental disorder that portrayed to him the meanings of words as clear apparitions, and made him see dreams as if they were real.’ We dissociate ourselves from all such crazy thoughts and repeat: “His heart did not give the lie to what he saw.”
Those non-believers of old could not accept that a human being could see the angels face to face and speak to them directly. In fact they could not accept that there existed creatures whom they could not see with their own eyes or voices they could not hear. They, thus, wondered how Muhammad was able to see and hear what they could not.
Perhaps we should be more amazed at those who advance such ideas. These might have been plausible in the early days of ignorance, but we have, today, plenty of scientific evidence which can be relied upon to explain the mysteries of the world beyond the reach of our perception.
One of the new inventions that may be cited in this connection is the telephone which enables two people at the opposite ends of the world to speak to each other while those sitting with either one can see nothing and hear only some noise similar to that of the buzzing of bees, like that heard near the Prophet’s face at the time he received revelations.
They may still want even clearer scientific evidence which brings the phenomenon of revelation closer to their minds.
They ask to be shown by controlled experiment, which is to them the only basis of certainty, that a link between the human soul and a higher power may produce the same effect, imparting to it information of which it had no previous knowledge, either through physical experience or mental perception.
This is clearly seen today in hypnotism where a person of stronger mental power can impose his will over someone weaker than him, placing him in deep slumber during which he does not even feel the prick of needles.
The hypnotized person remains under the influence of the stronger person, doing his bidding. He has no will of his own. Should the hypnotist want the person he has hypnotized to forget an opinion or a belief then he can do so.
In fact, he can give him a new name which the other person will accept as his own, forgetting all about his real name. He will have the new name, responding when he is called by it and stating that it is his own name. If one man can do this to another, what can be done to man by a much stronger being?
This is a true analogy of the one bringing down the revelation and the one receiving it (peace be upon them both).
What we have in this process is a willing human being, with a clear heart and soul, ready to receive all new information imprinted on his mind. The other is a mighty angel endowed with surpassing power, bringing him his message and teaching it to him in such a way that he forgets nothing of it, except as God wills.4
But there is a world of difference between the revelation received by God’s Messenger and the way people inspire one another.
People may, indeed, whisper to one another some dazzling half-truths meant to delude the mind. It is often
the case that such whisperings or revelations may end up in giving the receiver some mental or physical disorders that are very difficult to cure. This, however, is very different from revelation transmitted between two empowered messengers whom God has chosen to convey His message: one is an angel and the other a human being.
The angel messenger brings nothing but the truth, and orders nothing but goodness. The human messenger, on the other hand, remains after the revelation like he was before it: strong, fully possessed of his exceptional mental strength, and in full command of his physical power. “God knows best on whom to bestow His message.”
A Prelude to the Study of a Unique Book
Our method of investigation concerning the source of the Qur’an and how it came to be preached by the Prophet Muhammad..GO TO page iii