CHAPTER v /The Way Revelation Is Given

The Way Revelation Is Given

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We now move into a third area of our discussion about the source of the Qur’an. The first tried to establish whether the Qur’an could have been the result of some factors from within the Prophet’s own self.

The second looked at the possibility of it being taught to Muhammad by a human teacher.

In this third area we will look at the possibility of the Qur’an having a source higher than the human realm.

But we will not be wondering aimlessly here, nor will our pursuit lead us to remote corners or distant places. We will limit our investigation to a certain area where we feel we may find the secret we are looking for. We will simply study the direct situations when the Qur’an was being issued through Muhammad (peace be upon him).

We have all heard of the remarkable phenomenon that was visible in his noble face every time a Qur’anic revelation was sent down to him from on high. It was apparent to everyone who looked at him.

They saw his face suddenly turning red, and he would turn hot to the extent that sweat drops gathered on his forehead. He became heavy, to the extent that his thigh would press hard against the thigh of the person next to him.

If he was riding, his mount would sit down. At the same time, babbling noises, sounding like the buzzing of bees, were heard near his face. [All these descriptions have been confirmed in authentic hadiths related by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.] Soon after all this, he relaxed and recited new Qur’anic verses that had not previously been known.

This is the nearest area in which to look for the source of the Qur’an. It is here that investigation should proceed, because here the truth will be determined.

When we have a causal relationship between two different matters, so as whenever one takes place the other materialises, then a proper investigation of that relationship will show us the true cause of the effect we have.

Let us now consider that phenomenon: was it deliberately affected, even as a preparatory means to achieve higher concentration? Or was it something entirely involuntary? If the latter, then was it induced by any normal situation, such as lethargy or drowsiness, or an abnormal one such as mental disturbance? Or was it a reaction to something totally external?

glance at the components of that phenomenon is sufficient to show that it could never have been the result of affectation. This is even more apparent when we reflect on the aspect of babbling noises heard near the Prophet’s face.

Moreover, if such a condition was affected, it could easily have been resorted to at any time. Whenever he wished to have more of the Qur’an, Muhammad would have been able to produce it by resorting to this method of preparation.

Thus, the Qur’an would be available to him at will. However, we know that on the many occasions when he desperately needed it, he could only receive it when God willed that it be revealed.

Hence, it was clearly an involuntary process. If we look at it again we find that it is in no way like the drowsiness we experience when we are in need of sleep.

The Prophet experienced this condition in all situations, sitting or standing, walking or riding, morning and evening, and even when he was talking to others, whether they were friends or opponents. It came all of a sudden and went just as suddenly. It lasted for only a very brief period.

It was not gradual like lethargy. Furthermore, it was accompanied by those strange noises which were not heard from him or from anyone else when they went to sleep. This is a condition so unlike that of sleep in all its aspects, times and features. Hence, it is a totally strange condition.

We also find it totally unlike any episode of mental illness or of fits and seizures, for these are normally accompanied by loss of colour, cold limbs, chattering teeth, involuntary exposure of parts which a person would rather remain unseen, and mental black-outs.

The difference, as we have seen earlier, is that Muhammad’s experience involved increased physical strength, brightness of colour, increased body warmth and resulted in giving light and knowledge. In fact, every time it produced compelling wisdom which the human mind readily accepts.

page ii

An External Source

We are nearly there, but we will pause a little to determine the source of this light that appeared occasionally...

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