Dreams, Visions and Revelation

Essence of Islam – Part 25 – Revelation and Psychic Phenomena

Some people put forward the objection that there are many groups like astrologers, sooth- sayers, physicians, and palmists, who claim to reveal the unseen. Sometimes they foretell things, some of which come to pass, and that more recently, some people have been able to reveal hidden matters through mesmerism. Then how could the revealing of the unseen be conclusive proof of the Divine origin of revelation? The answer is that all these groups speak from conjecture, guesswork, and indeed from superstition; they possess no certain knowledge nor do they claim to have certain knowledge. Their so-called pro- phecies are based upon signs and doubtful indications which have no relationship with certainty and which are not above suspicion and error. Very often, their predictions are proved baseless and false, on account of which those predictions lack all honour and acceptance and helpfulness and success. Those who indulge in those predictions are generally poverty-stricken and unfortunate, are held in no honour, and are cowardly, mean, unsuccessful and without any merit. They cannot convert the unseen to come into accord with 2 The Review of Religions – December 2007 KHILAFAT: Special Edition 3 This series sets out, in the words of the Promised Messiah(as), Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a summary of his exposition of four outstanding topics: ISLAM; ALLAH, THE EXALTED; THE HOLY PROPHET(saw) and THE HOLY QUR’AN. The original compilation, in Urdu, from which these extracts have been translated into English, was collated with great care and diligence by Syed Daud Ahmad Sahib, Allah have mercy on him and reward him graciously for his great labour of love. Amin. The English rendering is by the late Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, may Allah be pleased with him, and is quoted from The Essence of Islam, Volume 1. All references throughout, unless otherwise specifically mentioned, are from the Holy Qur’an. ESSENCE OF ISLAM: Part 25 – Revelation amd Psychic Phenomena Dec 2007.qxd 3/1/08 19:29 Page 2 their predictions and in their own circumstances they exhibit the signs of Divine wrath and they possess no blessing or honour or help from the Divine. But the Prophets and Auliya’ do not merely disclose the unseen like the astrologers, but with the Grace and Mercy of God, which always accompany them, they make such prophecies in which the lights of acceptance and honour shine like the sun and which consist of the good news of honour and Divine help, and not that of misfortune and adversity. Consider the prophecies of the Holy Qur’an and you will find that they are not like the predictions of the astrologers or others but are full of majesty and glory. All those prophecies are characterised by declaring the honour of the recipients and the disgrace of their enemies, their glory and the humiliation of their enemies, their success and the failure of their enemies, their victory and the defeat of their enemies, and their prosperity and the ruin of their enemies. Can any astrologer or soothsayer or mesmeriser put forth such prophecies? Certainly not. Always to proclaim one’s own good, and the decline of the opponent and to refute whatever the opponent says and to promise the fulfilment of that which is in one’s favour, can only be from 3 ESSENCE OF ISLAM – PART 25, REVELATION AND PSYCHIC PHENOMENA The Review of Religions – December 2007KHILAFAT: Special Edition 3 The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community was Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as). The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community was Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as). In 1891, he claimed, on the basis of Divine revelation, that he was the Promised Messiah and Mahdi whose advent had been foretold by Muhammad, the Holy Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and by the scriptures of other faiths. The founder’s claim constitutes the basis of the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. Dec 2007.qxd 3/1/08 19:29 Page 3 God and cannot be the doing of man. [Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 1, pp. 232-242, footnote 11] Man’s Knowledge of the Universe is Defective Though man has been trying strenuously for thousands of years to discover God’s powers through natural sciences and mathematics, yet his knowledge is so defective that he can only be described as hopeless and unsuccessful in his search. Hundreds of hidden mysteries are disclosed to those to whom visions and revelation are vouchsafed and they are borne witness to by thousands of the righteous; but the philosophers continue to deny them. The philosophers base all thinking and reflection on the brain, but those who have experience of visions have discovered through their spiritual experiences that the fountainhead of reason and under- standing is the heart. For thirty- five years, I have observed that revelation which is the source of spiritual understanding and of the knowledge of the unseen descends upon the heart. Very often a voice strikes the heart with force, as a bucket is thrown with force into a well full of water, and that water of the heart surges up like a closed blossom and arriving near the brain blooms like a flower and gives birth to words which are Words of the Divine. These spiritual experiences establish that the brain is not concerned with knowledge and true under- standing. It is true that if the brain is healthy and suffers from no defect, it is benefited by the secret knowledge possessed by the heart, and as the brain is the centre of the nervous system, it is like a machine which can pump up water from the well. The heart is the well that is the fountainhead of hidden knowledge. This is a secret that has been discovered by men of truth through true visions and I myself have experience of it. [Chashma-e-Ma’rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 23, pp. 282-283] I have been honoured with Divine converse for nearly eleven years and I know well that revelation descends from heaven. If one were to illustrate revelation by reference to some worldly object, one could perhaps compare it with the 4 ESSENCE OF ISLAM – PART 25, REVELATION AND PSYCHIC PHENOMENA The Review of Religions – December 2007 KHILAFAT: Special Edition 3 Dec 2007.qxd 3/1/08 19:29 Page 4 telegraph which itself discloses every change that occurs in it. My experience is that at the time of descent of revelation, which is vouchsafed to me as the revelation of the Auliya’, I feel that I am under the control of an external force that is very effective. Sometimes this control is so strong and envelops me so forcefully in its light that I find myself drawn to it compulsively and no faculty of mine can stand up to it. In this condition, I hear clear and bright words. I sometimes see angels and observe the power and awe of truth. The words that are conveyed to me often comprehend matters that are unseen and there is such extraordinary control and seizure, which is proof of the existence of God Almighty. To deny this would amount to murdering a self- evident truth. [Barakat-ud-Du’a, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 6, p. 26] I call God to witness that it is the truth that revelation falls upon the heart from heaven as rays of the sun fall upon a wall. It is my daily experience that when the Word of God is about to descend on me then in the first stage I feel a sort of helplessness and experience a change and, though my senses are in a manner working, I find that a powerful force has taken my whole being in its grip and I feel that all the arteries of my being are in the control of that force and all that is mine is no longer mine but belongs to it. When I am in that condition first of all God Almighty presents those of my thoughts to me on which He intends to cast a ray of His words. Those thoughts come before me one after the other in a strange guise, and it so happens that when a thought passes through my mind – for instance, whether a certain person will recover from his illness or not – then suddenly a Divine phrase falls like a ray and often with its falling the whole of my body is shaken. Then this is succeeded by another thought and as soon as it appears a piece of revelation falls upon it like an archer shooting an arrow on every quarry that appears before him. Just at that time, it is felt that this chain of thoughts is generated by our natural capacity and that the words that fall upon it descend from above. Although poets and thinkers, etc., 5 ESSENCE OF ISLAM – PART 25, REVELATION AND PSYCHIC PHENOMENA The Review of Religions – December 2007KHILAFAT: Special Edition 3 Dec 2007.qxd 3/1/08 19:29 Page 5 also receive suggestions on reflection, there is no relationship between revelation and such suggestion, for that suggestion is a consequence of thinking and reflection and is received within the limits of humanness in the full possession of one’s senses. But revelation is received when the recipient comes under the full control of God Almighty with all his being, and his own senses and reflection do not intervene in any way. It appears as if one’s tongue is not one’s own and is being used by some other strong power. This should make clear the distinction between natural capacity and that which descends from heaven. [Barakat-ud-Du’a, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol.6, pp. 22-23, footnote] How Revelation is Received The slight slumber that overtakes one at the time when the Word of God descends upon the heart is completely outside material causes and all physical causes are suspended at the time. When a righteous person, who has a true relationship of love and fidelity with God Almighty, submits a supplication to God in the upsurge of that relationship, he is suddenly overtaken by a slight slumber while he is still occupied with his supplication and he seems to wake up and finds the answer to his supplication, couched in eloquent words, being conveyed to him behind the veil of that slumber. Those words possess a majesty and a quality of delight, and Divine Power is felt shining through them. They penetrate the heart like an iron nail and often contain knowledge of hidden matters. It often happens that when that righteous person seeks to submit something more with regard to his first supplication, or submits a fresh supplication, he is again overtaken by a slumber which disappears within less than a second and from it emerge Holy Words, as the kernel emerges from the shell, which are delicious and full of majesty. In this manner, God, Who is Gracious and Merciful and full of kindness, responds to every question and does not manifest any contempt or disgust. If a supplication is made sixty or seventy or a hundred times, a response is received in the same manner. That is to say, that at the time of each supplication a 6 ESSENCE OF ISLAM – PART 25, REVELATION AND PSYCHIC PHENOMENA The Review of Religions – December 2007 KHILAFAT: Special Edition 3 Dec 2007.qxd 3/1/08 19:29 Page 6 slight slumber overtakes the recipient of revelation. On occa- sion, this faintness or slumber is heavy as if the person had fallen into a swoon. Such revelation is vouchsafed on very important matters and is the highest type of revelation. The slumber that overtakes a recipient of revelation at the time of his supplication and prayer behind the veil of which Divine revelation is received, is above any physical causes. Whatever the physicists regard as the law of nature concerning dreams breaks down in this instance. There are hundreds of spiritual matters that refute the thinking of philosophers. Very often a person sees in a vision objects that are thousands of miles away and appear as if they were close to the eye, and often a person can meet and converse in complete wake- fulness with the souls of those who have passed away. [Chashma-e-Ma’rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol.23, pp. 111-112] Various Forms of Revelation First Form: Out of several forms of revelation, which God has disclosed to me, is that when God Almighty desires to disclose some hidden matter to His servant, He causes to flow from his tongue some phrases in a slight slumber, sometimes gently and sometimes harshly. Those phrases that flow harshly from the tongue fall upon the tongue as hardly as hail falls suddenly upon a hard piece of ground, or as the hooves of a fast running steed strike the earth. Such a revelation arrives with speed and is so awe-inspiring that the whole body is affected thereby and the tongue runs with it so fast and in such a majestic voice that it is as if it is not one’s own tongue. The slight slumber disappears altogether when the revelation is completed and during the time that it is received one lies motionless like a corpse. Such revelation is received when God Almighty out of His Wisdom decides not to accept a supplication or decides to postpone its acceptance or wishes to convey something that would lie heavy on the recipient, for instance, when a person seeks to acquire something quickly and such acquisition is not in accord with the Divine Will or has to be postponed. I have been the 7 ESSENCE OF ISLAM – PART 25, REVELATION AND PSYCHIC PHENOMENA The Review of Religions – December 2007KHILAFAT: Special Edition 3 Dec 2007.qxd 3/1/08 19:29 Page 7 recipient of such revelations on occasion, which it would take too long to describe in detail, but I will set down one instance. About three years ago, I prayed that people might be disposed to help in the publication of this book whereupon I received this type of revelation in hard words: ‘Not yet.’ When I received this revelation I informed a number of Hindus and Muslims of it, who are still alive and they also witnessed thereafter the lack of attention of people to this book. As regards the other type of revelation, in which phrases flow from the tongue with gentleness, it would be enough to state that when some time had passed after the revelation just mentioned, and I was beset with difficulties, then one day I received a revelation from the Gracious Lord: Take hold of the branch of the palm-tree and shake it; it will shed fresh ripe dates upon thee. From this I understood that this was an indication that I should invite people’s help and that there was a promise that through such effort I would be able to collect enough money to defray the expenses of the publication of that part of the book. I informed several Hindus and Muslims of this revelation also and I also informed Hafiz Hidayat ‘Ali Khan, Extra Assistant Commissioner, who had arrived in Qadian the same day or the following day. I also informed Maulawi Muhammad Hussain of Batala. In short, after the receipt of this revelation, according to the Divine Command, I made some effort towards inviting assistance and thereafter I received from Lahore, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Malirkotla and a few other places, enough assistance to meet the expenses of the publication of that part. All praise is due to Allah for this. [Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol.1, pp. 248·251 sub- footnote 1] The second form of revelation, which on account of its many wonders I call perfect revelation, 8 ESSENCE OF ISLAM – PART 25, REVELATION AND PSYCHIC PHENOMENA The Review of Religions – December 2007 KHILAFAT: Special Edition 3 Dec 2007.qxd 3/1/08 19:29 Page 8 is that when God Almighty desires to inform a servant of a hidden matter after his supplication or on His own, He imposes a faintness upon him, whereby he becomes completely free from his self and sinks in that faintness like a person who dives in deep water and disappears in it; then when he emerges from this dive he feels a sort of echo inside himself, and when that echo ceases he feels from inside himself words that are appropriate and fine and delicious. This diving in the faintness is a wonderful experience, which cannot be adequately described in words. In this condition, a whole ocean of understanding is opened for a person. When repeatedly he has this experience of diving that is imposed upon him by God Almighty and he receives a response to every supplication in fine and delicious words, and in each instance God discloses to him verities which it is beyond human power to disclose, he thereby achieves the fullness of understanding and cognition. Man’s supplication and God’s response to it through the manifestation of His Godhead is an experience as if the supplicant beholds God in this very world and immediately both worlds appear equal to him. When at the time of need a servant makes repeated supplications to his Lord and receives a response, as one human being receives from another, and that response is couched in fine eloquent words, sometimes in a language of which he is completely ignorant, and comprises hidden matters which are beyond the power of creatures, and sometimes conveys the good news of great bounties or of high ranks or of nearness to God, and sometimes comprehends prophe- cies with regard to worldly blessings, then by the hearing of these fine and eloquent phrases which are far above human power, he acquires a degree of understanding which is appre- ciated only by him upon whom this bounty is bestowed. In truth, such a one recognises God as one recognises a firm and old friend. Such revelation often relates to grand affairs. It sometimes contains words the meanings of which have to be sought for in a dictionary. Sometimes I have received such a revelation in an 9 ESSENCE OF ISLAM – PART 25, REVELATION AND PSYCHIC PHENOMENA The Review of Religions – December 2007KHILAFAT: Special Edition 3 Dec 2007.qxd 3/1/08 19:29 Page 9 alien language like English [this is a translation of a text in Urdu: Editor] or some other with which I am totally unacquainted. (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol.1, pp. 260-264 sub- footnote 1) The third form of revelation is communicated to one’s heart in a gentle manner. A phrase passes through the heart, which does not comprehend all the wonders in perfection that are a characteristic of the revelation that we have just described. It is not necessarily preceded by any faintness or slumber. It can be received in complete wakefulness. It is felt as if someone has breathed those words into the heart or has thrown them at the heart. One might be partially awake or might be completely awake and one suddenly feels that new words have entered one’s breast. Sometimes, immediately on entering the heart, the words manifest their forceful light and one becomes aware that these words are being conveyed by God. The revelation conveys comfort, satisfaction and contentment to the heart as the air that one breathes conveys comfort to the heart and limbs. A disturbed mind feels its joy and coolness. This is a mystery of which the common people are unaware but men of understanding who have been bestowed experience of Divine mysteries by the Bountiful Lord understand it well. I have experienced such revelation on many occasions. The fourth form of revelation is that some matter is disclosed by God Almighty in a true dream, or an angel assuming human shape discloses a hidden matter, or a writing appears on a piece of paper or on a stone, etc., which discloses hidden mysteries, or other similar experiences. [Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol.1, pp. 273-274 sub- footnote 1] The fifth form of revelation is that which has nothing to do with man’s heart. One hears a voice from outside as if someone were speaking from behind a curtain, but the voice is very delicious and cheerful and is conveyed with some speed and the heart derives pleasure from it. One’s mind is deep in thought and suddenly this 10 ESSENCE OF ISLAM – PART 25, REVELATION AND PSYCHIC PHENOMENA The Review of Religions – December 2007 KHILAFAT: Special Edition 3 Dec 2007.qxd 3/1/08 19:29 Page 10 voice is heard and one is surprised from where it has proceeded and who is addressing one. One looks for someone from whom the voice could have proceeded and then one realises that it has come from an angel. It generally conveys some good news when one is anxious and sorrowful or is gripped by fear on hearing some bad news that turns out to have been false. Unlike the second form, such revelation is not the consequence of repeated suppli- cations. An angel speaks suddenly when God Almighty so desires, contrary to the second type of revelation when a response is received from God Almighty to repeated supplications; a hundred supplications receive a hundred replies from the Absolute Benefactor as has been my own experience. [Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol.1, pp. 287-288 sub- footnote I] I have several times seen Jesus(as) in a vision and have also met some of the Prophets in complete wakefulness. I have also seen and conversed many times with our lord and master Muhammad, the chosen one(saw) in complete wake- fulness, which was entirely free from slumber or absent- mindedness. I have also met other deceased people at their graves or on other occasions and have talked to them in complete wakefulness. I therefore know well that such a meeting with deceased people in complete wakefulness, and talking to them and shaking hands with them, is quite possible. There is no difference whatsoever between this wakefulness and normal wakefulness. One feels that one is in this world with the same ears and eyes and tongue and yet one feels as if one were in another world. People of the world are not aware of such wakefulness for they are heedless. This wakefulness is bestowed from heaven. It is bestowed upon those who are granted new senses. This is true and is a fact. [Masih Hindustan Mein, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol.15, pp. 36-37] 11 ESSENCE OF ISLAM – PART 25, REVELATION AND PSYCHIC PHENOMENA The Review of Religions – December 2007KHILAFAT: Special Edition 3 Dec 2007.qxd 3/1/08 19:29 Page 11