Dreams, Visions and Revelation

The Essence of Islam – Part 27

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 Zafrulla Khan, may Allah be pleased with him, and is quoted from The Essence of Islam, Volume I1. All references throughout, unless otherwise specifically mentioned, are from the Holy Qur’an.

Differences between Satanic and Divine Revelation

Most ignorant people consider satanic suggestion as the word of God and are unable to distinguish between satanic and Divine revelation. It should be remembered that the first condition for Divine revelation is that its recipient should become wholly God’s and that Satan should have no part in him. Wherever there is carrion, there also dogs collect. That is why God Almighty says:

Shall I inform you on whom the evil ones descend? They descend on every great liar and sinner. (Ch.26:Vs.222-223)

But Satan cannot attack one in whom he has no part and who has departed from the low life as if he had died and has become a righteous and faithful servant of God and has turned wholly to Him, as God Almighty has said:

Surely, thou shalt have no power over my servants… (Ch.15:V.43)

Those who belong to Satan and follow satanic ways, Satan runs towards them for they are his prey.

It should be remembered that God’s words possess a blessing and a majesty and a delight. As God is All-Hearing and All-Knowing and Compassionate, He replies to the supplications of His righteous and faithful servants. This supplication and response can extend over several hours. When a servant humbly submits his supplication, he is within a few minutes overcome by a faintness and he receives the response in the veil of this faintness. Then if he submits another supplication, he again experiences the same condition and finds His response. God is so Generous and Compassionate and All-Knowing that if a servant supplicates to Him a thousand times, each time he receives a response, but as God Almighty is Self-Sufficient and has regard for wisdom and appropriateness some supplications are not responded to.

Again, Satan is dumb and is not eloquent and so articulate in his speech. Like the dumb, he has no power over an eloquent and prolific speech. He injects a sentence or two into the heart in a smelly way. Since eternity, he has not been given the power to express himself in delicious and majestic words. Nor can he carry on a series of questions and answers for a number of hours. He is also deaf and is not able to respond to every question. He is also helpless and cannot exhibit any power or disclose any hidden matter of high import. Also his throat is hoarse and he cannot speak in a loud and majestic voice. His voice is low like that of eunuchs. You can recognise satanic revelation by these signs. But God is not like a dumb or deaf or helpless person. He hears and responds. His word is conveyed in a majestic, and loud and awestriking voice. His words are effective and delicious while Satan’s words are delivered in a low, effeminate and doubtful manner; there is no majesty, grandeur, or loftiness in them. Nor can he continue for long as he tires quickly and his words are weak and betray cowardice. God’s word does not get tired and comprises every kind of power and hidden matters of great import and majestic promises and gives off the fragrance of Divine Glory and Greatness and Power and Holiness. Satan’s words do not possess these qualities. Divine revelation possesses an effectiveness; it penetrates into the heart like an iron nail. It creates a holy effect upon the heart and draws the heart to itself and converts its recipient into a person of high courage so much so that if he is cut into pieces with a sharp sword, or is strung up on the gallows, or is afflicted with every possible kind of torment, and is disgraced and defamed, or is put into the fire and is consumed, he would never deny that the word that descends upon him is God’s word. God bestows full certainty upon him and makes him the lover of His own countenance. He values life, honour and property no more than a straw. He never lets go of the garment of God even if the whole world treads him under its feet and he is matchless in his trust, bravery and steadfastness. Those who receive satanic revelation have no such power. They are cowardly because Satan is a coward. (Haqeeqatul Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol.22, pp.142-144)

If it is asked that as there is no complete security against satanic intervention then how can we trust our dreams that they are from God? Is it not possible that we should deem a dream to be from God and it might be from Satan, or we might deem it to be from Satan and it might be from God? The answer is that a dream which is from God declares itself by its majesty, blessing, greatness and light. That which proceeds from a holy fountain possesses purity and fragrance and that which proceeds from unclean and dirty water immediately announces its origin through its evil smell. True dreams, which come from God Almighty, are like a holy message which is not accompanied by confused thoughts and possesses an effective power, and the heart is drawn towards it and the soul testifies that it is from God inasmuch as its greatness and majesty penetrate into the heart like an iron nail. Very often it happens that a person sees a true dream and God Almighty shows the same dream, or one like it, as confirmation to some companion of his and thus one dream supports another. (A’ina-e-Kamalat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol.5, p.354)

Some short-sighted people raise the objection that revelation suffers from the defect that it prevents and obstructs its recipient from arriving at complete understanding, which is indispensable for eternal life and everlasting happiness. They explain their objection by asserting that revelation obstructs thinking and cuts short research, inasmuch as those who follow revelation respond to every question by asserting that the matter is either permissible or forbidden in their revealed book, and they do not use their reasoning powers as if they had not been bestowed on them by God and in the end by lack of use those powers decline and almost disappear. Thus human nature is completely changed and begins to resemble animals, and the excellence of the human soul, which means progress in reason, is destroyed and man is deprived of obtaining perfect understanding. In this way, revealed books constitute an obstruction in the way of achieving eternal life and everlasting happiness of which man stands in need.

The answer to the foregoing objection is that it is the lack of intelligence, obtuseness and persistence in error of the Brahmus that prompts them to think that by acting upon the revealed Book of God the reasoning faculty is rendered useless as if revelation and reason were contradictory of each other and cannot subsist together. This suspicion on their part is compounded partly of falsehood, partly of bigotry and partly of ignorance. The falsehood is that despite their knowledge that Divine verities have been fostered only through people who have followed revelation and that Divine Unity has been propagated in the world only through the elect who believe in the word of God, they make a statement contrary to this known fact. Their bigotry is declared by the fact that in order to support their assertion they have held back the verity that in Divine matters, unaided reason cannot carry a person to the stage of perfect certainty. Their ignorance is betrayed by their regarding revelation and reason as inconsistent with each other, which cannot subsist together, and their thinking that revelation is opposed to reason and is destructive of it, whereas this fear is entirely unfounded.

It is obvious that a follower of true revelation does not abstain from reasonable research and is indeed helped by revelation in his effort to view the realities of things in a reasonable manner. By the help of revelation and by the blessing of its light he does not encounter any confusion in assessing arguments based on reason. He is not reduced to the necessity of inventing invalid arguments, but is able to perceive the way of true reason and is able to arrive at the truth. There is no conflict between reason and revelation and they are not inconsistent with and opposed to each other. Reason lends support to revelation and revelation helps to safeguard reason against going astray. True revelation, that is to say the Holy Qur’an, does not obstruct the progress of reason. It illumines reason and is its great helper and supporter. As the full value of the sun is appreciated by the eye and the benefits of the bright day are disclosed to those who possess sight, in the same way divine revelation is fully appreciated only by those who possess reason, as God Almighty has said Himself:

And these are similitudes which We set forth for mankind, but only those understand them who have knowledge. (Ch.29:V.44)

These are illustrations that we set forth for people, but only those who possess knowledge comprehend them.

As the benefits of the light of the eye are disclosed only by the sun, in the absence of which sight and sightlessness would be equal, in the same way, the excellencies of the insight of reason are disclosed by the help of revelation. It secures reason against thousands of useless efforts and points out the nearest way to proper reflection by following which the purpose in view is quickly achieved. Every wise person realises that if in thinking over a problem help becomes available through which knowledge is gained of the right way of resolving the problem, such knowledge is of great assistance to reason which is delivered from much confused thinking and useless effort. The followers of revelation not only appreciate reason but revelation itself urges them to perfect their reason and thus they are doubly drawn towards progress in reason. First is the natural eagerness which a person experiences to discover through reason the reality and truth of everything and, secondly, the urge of revelation which intensifies their eagerness. Those who study the Holy Qur’an even cursorily will not deny the obvious fact that this Holy Word lays great emphasis on reflection and observation; so much so, that it describes it as a characteristic of believers that they constantly reflect upon the wonders of heaven and earth and deliberate on the law of Divine wisdom as is said in one place in the Holy Qur’an:

In the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of the night and day there are indeed Signs for men of understanding;

Those who remember Allah while standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth:  “Our Lord, Thou hast not created this in vain; nay, Holy art Thou… (Ch.3:Vs.191-192)

That is to say, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of the night and the day, there are a number of Signs to prove the existence of the Creator of the Universe and His might, for people of understanding. Wise people are only those who remember Allah standing, sitting and lying on their sides and keep meditating and pondering over the creation of the heavens and the earth, which impels them to supplicate:

Lord Thou hast not created all this without purpose; indeed, everything in Thy creation is full of the manifestations of Thy Power and Wisdom, which points to Thy Blessed Being.

Other revealed books, which have been perverted, urge adherence to unreasonable and impossible matters, as, for instance, does the Bible; but this is not the fault of revelation. It is the fault of defective reasoning. Had those who believe in them possessed sane reason, they would not have followed these perverted books and they would not have permitted such thinking about the unchangeable Perfect and Eternal God that He took on the condition of an helpless embryo and was nourished on impure sustenance and took on an impure body and was born through an impure passage and came into the mortal world, and after enduring all sorts of torments gave up the ghost in extreme misery calling out ‘Eli Eli.’ It is revelation which has stamped out this error. Holy is Allah! How exalted and what an ocean of mercy is the Word which pulled the worshippers of creatures back to the Unity of God. How dear and attractive is that light which brought a whole world out of darkness. Outside of it thousands who were called wise and philosophers remained involved in this error and numberless similar errors, and till the Holy Qur’an came no philosopher refuted forcefully this false doctrine, nor reformed these ruined people. The philosophers themselves were caught in many unholy doctrines. As the Rev. Mr. Yut has recorded, the Christians adopted the doctrine of the Trinity following Plato and built a false structure on the false foundation furnished by this foolish Greek.

In short, true and perfect Divine revelation is not the enemy of reason, but defective reason is the enemy of the semi-wise. It is obvious, for instance, that an antidote is not in itself harmful for the human body, but if a shortsighted person mistakes poison for an antidote, it is the fault of his reason and not of the antidote. To think that it is dangerous to have recourse to a revealed book for the investigation of every matter is crass folly. As we have written, revelation is a mirror reflecting the truth for the benefit of reason and the great argument in support of its truth is that it is wholly free from matters the impossibility of which is established after pondering on God’s Power and Perfection and Holiness. Indeed, in matters Divine, which are deep and hidden, it is the only guide for weak human reason. To have recourse to it does not render reason useless, but leads it to deep secrets which it was difficult for reason to penetrate into on its own. Reason derives great benefit from true revelation, that is to say, from the Holy Qur’an, and suffers no harm or loss therefrom. Through revelation reason is safeguarded against dangers and does not fall into them. Every wise person admits and it is obvious in itself that error is possible in research, which is based on reason alone, but there is no possibility of error in the Word of the Knower of the unseen.

Be fair and just, is it good or bad for that which is sometimes confronted with the possibility of severe stumbling, that it should be furnished with a companion which should safeguard it against stumbling and support it at the time of its slipping. Would such a companion be of help to lead it to its purpose or would it be a hindrance? It is an indication of inner blindness to regard a helper as an opponent and obstructer and to consider that which completes and perfects as harmful. When you will reflect truly it will become clear to you that God has not harmed reason by appointing revelation as its companion. On the contrary, finding reason perplexed, He has furnished it with a sure instrument for recognising the truth through the use of which reason is saved from straying into hundreds of erratic ways and is not led astray. Indeed, it discovers the proper way to its true purpose. It is like the case of a person who directs the search for a lost one to the spot where the latter is hidden. No sane person objects to the help of such a one who supplies the needed particulars and points out the easiest way of reaching the lost one on the ground that the helper has meddled needlessly in the search. On the contrary, everyone concerned is deeply grateful to him that he informed them of their ignorance and pointed out the particular spot and opened the door of certainty while they were involved in conjecture. In the same way, those on whom God has bestowed sane reason are grateful to and praise true revelation and realise fully that revelation does not obstruct the progress of their thinking, but saves their thinking from confusion. It indicates one right path out of a variety of involved and doubtful ways treading along which creates every kind of facility for reason and delivers a person from a host of difficulties which confront him on account of the shortness of age, insufficient knowledge and lack of insight. (Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol.1. pp.292-309, footnote 11)