Dreams, Visions and Revelation Prophets

The Essence of Islam – Part 26 – The Ability to Receive Revelation

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.

A Recipient of Grace Must have a Close Relationship with the Almighty

The philosophy of the descent of the light of revelation is that it descends upon light and does not descend upon darkness, for grace demands a relationship and there is no relationship between darkness and light. Light has relationship with light and the All-Wise operates only in circumstances of appropriateness. In bestowing the grace of light the law is that greater light is bestowed upon one who possesses some light and nothing is bestowed upon one who has nothing. He who possesses the light of the eyes perceives the light of the sun, but he who has not the light of the eyes is deprived of the light of the sun also. He who has a small share of natural light receives a little of the other light and he who has much natural light receives more of the other light.

The Prophets are those high personages who, despite the vast diversity in human nature, are so blessed with inner light that they become light personified. That is why the Holy Prophet(saw) has been named light and a light-giving sun, as is said:

O People of the Book! there has come to you Our Messenger who unfolds to you much of what you had kept hidden of the Book and passes over much. There has come to you indeed from Allah a Light and a clear Book. (Ch.5:V.16)

And as a Summoner to Allah by His command, and as a radiant Lamp. (Ch.33:V.47)

This is the reason that the light of revelation, for which the perfection and grandeur of natural light is a condition, was bestowed only upon the Prophets and has been confined to them. This refutes those people who, though they admit the diversity of ranks, nevertheless imagine out of their ignorance that the light that is bestowed upon those who possess perfect natures can also be bestowed upon defective individuals. They should reflect honestly and should realise their mistake. They see clearly that God’s law of nature does not support their false notion and, yet out of bigotry and enmity they adhere to their false notion. In the same way, the Christians do not consider it a condition for the grace of light to descend upon anyone that he should possess a natural light, and they allege that it is not necessary that a heart upon which the light of revelation descends should possess inner light. According to them, if a person instead of possessing sane reason is utterly stupid and ignorant, and instead of being brave is an utter coward, and instead of being generous is a total miser, and instead of possessing a sense of honour is utterly shameless, and instead of loving God is in deep love with the world, and instead of being pious and trustworthy is a thief and a robber, and instead of being modest and innocent is a debauch, and instead of being contented is utterly greedy, even such a one can be a Prophet and elect of God. Indeed, with the single exception of Jesus(as), all the other Prophets whom they accept as true and whose Books they describe as holy were, according to them, full of such defects and were bereft of holy perfection which is a condition of innocence and purity of heart. What a philosophy have the Christians adopted with regard to the descent of the light of Divine revelation! But such a philosophy is approved and followed only by people who are caught in deep darkness and inner blindness. Otherwise, even a feeble-minded person would not deny the obvious truth that to receive the grace of light it is necessary that the recipient should possess inner light.[Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 1, pp. 195-197 footnote 11]

It is a pity that most people regard as God’s word everything that flows from their tongues in a state of slumber, and thus contravene the verse:

And follow not that of which thou hast no knowledge. Verily, the ear and the eye and the heart – all these shall be called to account. (Ch.17:V.37)

It should be borne in mind that anything that flows from the tongue, even if it is not opposed to the Word of God and the word of the Holy Prophet(saw), is not the Word of God unless the action of God Almighty bears witness to it. Satan, who is man’s enemy and who seeks diverse ways of ruining a person, also adopts the method that he puts his words into the heart of a man and assures him that they are words of God and such a person is destroyed in the end.

Three Hallmarks of Divine Revelation

If someone claims to receive revelation, to call it divine would amount to committing spiritual death, unless and until it fulfils three conditions:

First, it should not be opposed to the Holy Qur’an; but this alone is not enough. Unless the third condition which will be mentioned below is present, nothing can be established.

Secondly, those words should descend upon a person whose soul has been completely purified. He should be one of those who have withdrawn entirely from their passions and who have submitted to a death through which they have approached close to God and have withdrawn far away from Satan. A person hears him to whom he is close. He who is close to Satan hears Satan’s voice and he who is close to God hears God’s voice. One’s utmost effort should be for the purification of one’s soul. All search ends with that. In other words, it is a death that burns up all inner impurities. When a person completes his search then a stage arrives when he passes under the control of the Divine. Thus through understanding and love God revives His servant who, by discarding his passions, has arrived at the stage of death. Then through His extraordinary signs God reveals to him spiritual wonders and fills his heart with the attraction of personal love which the world cannot understand. In this condition, it can be said of him that he has been bestowed new life after which there is no death.

This new life is won through complete understanding and complete love. Complete understanding is acquired through God’s eternal signs. When a person arrives at this stage, he enjoys true converse with God. This condition is also not enough without the third condition, for perfect purity is a hidden matter and any idle talker could claim to have achieved it.

The third condition of a true recipient of revelation is that God’s action should testify to the words that he attributes to God, that is to say, so many signs should appear in its support that sane reason should reject the suggestion that despite so many signs it is not the Word of God. This condition is above all other conditions…

It is such a perfect condition that no one can reject it. This is the condition through which true Prophets of God have always overcome false people. When a person claims that God’s Word descends on him and hundreds of signs appear along with it, and a thousand types of support and Divine help are displayed and God attacks his enemies openly, then who can call such a person false? … Those who enjoy the honour of converse with God and are appointed to call men to Divine guidance are supported by Divine signs which fall like rain and the world cannot oppose them. Divine action bears repeated witness that the words that they put forward are Divine words. If those who claim to be recipients of revelation were to keep this condition in mind, they would escape falling into error. [Haqeeqatul Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 22, pp. 534-538]

Satanic Revelation is a Reality

Satanic revelation is a reality which is experienced by some imperfect seekers. There is also self-suggestion, which may be described as confused dreams. He who denies this opposes the Holy Qur’an which affirms that satanic revelation is a fact. God Almighty says that so long as a person’s purification of soul is not complete and perfected he can be the recipient of satanic revelation and can fall within the purview of the verse:

They descend on every great liar and sinner.(Ch.26:V.223)

But the pure ones are immediately warned of a satanic approach. It is a pity that some Christian ministers have gone so far in their writings as to suggest that when Satan took Jesus(as) to a hillock, this was not an external event which could have been witnessed by others and by the Jews and that three times Jesus(as) received satanic revelation which he did not accept. We tremble at hearing this biblical commentary that Jesus(as) should have been subject to satanic revelation … No satanic thought can take possession of a pure heart. If such a stray thought should ever come across their mind, it is quickly rejected and their heart is not stained thereby. In the Holy Qur’an such a stray thought is named ta’if. It has very little relation with the heart and is like the shadow of a far away tree. It is possible that Satan the accursed desired to create in the heart of Jesus(as) some slight doubt of this type and he rejected it immediately through his prophetic power… We can affirm that through his prophetic power, and through the light of truth that he possessed, Jesus(as) did not permit the satanic revelation to approach him and immediately occupied himself with its rejection, and as darkness cannot withstand light, Satan was not able to withstand him and ran away. This is the true meaning of:

Surely, thou shalt have no power over My servants, except such of the erring ones as choose to follow thee. (Ch.15:V.43)

Satan has authority only on those who accept satanic suggestions and satanic revelation. But those who shoot the arrow of light at Satan and wound him from afar and refute him and do not follow him in whatever he might say, are exempt from his authority. But as God Almighty desires to show them the kingdom of the heaven and earth and Satan is a part of the kingdom of earth, it is necessary that in order to complete their observation of the creation they should see the face of this curious creature and should hear his word. The garment of their transcendence and innocence is not stained thereby in the least. Satan had, mischievously, according to his ancient way, made a request to Jesus(as) which his pure nature immediately rejected and did not accept. This was not at all derogatory of Jesus(as). Do not the wicked sometimes speak in the presence of kings? In the same way, Satan spiritually injected his word into the heart of Jesus(as), but Jesus(as) did not accept it and rejected it immediately. This was a commendable act and to criticise it would amount to foolishness and ignorance of the spiritual philosophy. It is not for every pious person and Sufi to reject a satanic suggestion and to demonstrate its impurity as did Jesus(as) with the whip of his light. Sayyed ‘Abd-ul-Qadir Jilani(ra) has stated that on one occasion he received a satanic revelation. Satan said to him: ‘“Abd-ul-Qadir, thy worship has been accepted and now all that is forbidden to others is permitted to thee and thou art relieved of the obligation of performing Salat.” ‘Abd-ul-Qadir said to him: “Avaunt Satan; how can that be permitted to me which was not permitted to the Holy Prophet(saw)?” Then Satan disappeared with his golden throne. If a man of God and unique individual like ‘Abd-ul-Qadir received satanic revelation, how can the common people, who have not yet completed their search, escape it? They have not the eyes of light wherewith they can recognise satanic revelation, as did Sayyed ‘Abd-ul-Qadir and Jesus(as). Those soothsayers who abounded in Arabia before the advent of the Holy Prophet(saw) received plenty of satanic revelation, and sometimes on the basis of it they made prophecies and the wonder is that some of their prophecies were fulfilled. Islamic literature is full of these stories. He who denies the possibility of satanic revelation rejects the teachings of the Prophets (peace be on them), and denies the whole system of Prophethood. The Bible has recorded that on one occasion four hundred prophets received a satanic revelation which was the work of a white jinn and on the basis of that revelation they prophesied the victory of a king, but that king was killed in great humiliation in battle and suffered a great defeat. A Prophet who had received his revelation from Gabriel had prophesied that the king would be killed and dogs would eat his body and he would suffer a great defeat. This was fulfilled and the falsehood of the prophecy of four hundred prophets was demonstrated.

Naturally a question arises that if satanic revelation is so common then all revelation becomes doubtful, especially as an exalted Prophet like Jesus(as) also had such experience. Revelation thus becomes a great trial. The answer is that there is no reason to be disheartened. It is part of Divine law that everything valuable has attached to it some things that are false. Genuine pearls come out of the ocean, but there are also false pearls which people manufacture themselves. Commerce in genuine pearls cannot be stopped because false pearls are also available. A jeweller upon whom God Almighty bestows insight recognises at once which pearl is real and which is false. The Imam of the age is the jeweller of the jewels of revelation. He who keeps company with him can easily distinguish between the real and the false. O ye Sufis! And O ye victims of alchemy! Step warily in here and remember that true revelation which comes from God Almighty possesses the following characteristics:

Characteristics of True Revelation

1. It is received at a time when the heart of the recipient, being melted through its ache for truth, flows towards God Almighty like clear water. This is indicated in the Hadith that the Holy Qur’an was revealed in sorrow and should be studied with a sorrowful heart.

2. True revelation is accompanied by delight and conveys certainty in an unknown manner and penetrates into the heart like an iron nail. Its words are eloquent and free from error.

3. True revelation possesses a certain majesty and strikes the heart with power and descends upon it with force and an awesome voice. False revelation is conveyed in a low voice like the voice of thieves and eunuchs and women inasmuch as Satan is a thief and a eunuch and a woman( in a manner that he carries out his attacks).

4. True revelation is charged with the power of God Almighty and contains prophecies which are fulfilled.

5. True revelation fosters the recipient’s goodness and purifies him of inner impurities and improves his moral condition.

6. True revelation is borne witness to by all the inner powers of the recipient and it sheds a new and pure light on all his faculties and he perceives a change in himself. His previous life comes to an end and a new life begins for him and he becomes a source of sympathy for mankind.

7. True revelation does not finish with only one phrase for God’s voice has a continuation. He is very Gentle and He talks to him towards whom He is inclined and answers his questions. A recipient of true revelation can receive a response to his supplications at one place and time; though sometimes an interval occurs between two series of revelations.

8. The recipient of true revelation is never a coward and is not afraid to stand up to false claimants of revelation. He knows that God is with him and would humiliate a false claimant.

9. True revelation is the means of acquiring knowledge and understanding for God does not desire to leave its recipient ignorant and without knowledge.

10. True revelation is accompanied by many other blessings. A recipient of true revelation is bestowed honour from the unseen and is given prestige.

(Darurat-ul-Imam, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol.13, pp.483-490)

I was young and now I am old, but from the beginning I have been a witness of the fact that God Who has ever been hidden manifests Himself through Islam. If a person truly follows the Holy Qur’an and occupies himself with self-improvement according to its teaching, and lives not like the worldly but like a servant of the faith, and devotes himself to the cause of God and loves His Prophet Muhammad, the chosen one(saw) and is free from self-exhibition and arrogance and pride and seeks not his own glory but the glory and greatness of God, and humbles himself to the dust in His cause, the result is that Divine converse starts with him in eloquent Arabic. Divine words are delicious and majestic. They are not the product of one’s own mind; such a product is delivered in a low voice like that of a eunuch or a sick person. But God’s word is full of majesty and is mostly in Arabic and very often in the form of verses of the Qur’an. My experience is that first it strikes the heart forcefully and an echo is thereby produced which then blossoms like a flower, and therefrom issues a holy and delicious series of phrases comprising hidden matters and possessing a majesty and a power and effectiveness whereby it penetrates into the heart like an iron nail and is fragrant with the perfume of God. These characteristics are attached to it because some ill-natured persons also receive satanic revelation or are deceived by the product of their own minds. God Almighty causes shining light to accompany His word so as to distinguish it from other types.

(to be continued)