Dreams, Visions and Revelation The Holy Qur'an

Revelation, Inspiration, Visions And Dreams

True knowledge of God cannot be gained through dry logic and reason, but through revelation alone.

This series sets out, in the words of the Promised Messiah(as), Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a summary of his exposition of some outstanding topics inlcuding: 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(ru). The English rendering is by the late Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan(ra), and is quoted from The Essence of Islam, Volume 2. All references throughout, unless otherwise specifically mentioned, are from the Holy Qur’an.

The Book of Revelation is the Only Open Book

Observing its effectiveness, the way of following revelation is open and wide. It is well known that a speech is charged with blessings and eagerness and power and greatness and attraction according to the degree to which the step of the speaker is planted high in the stages of certainty, sincerity and fidelity. This perfection can be discovered only in the speech of a person who doubly possesses Divine understanding. Every wise person realises that a forceful speech, to be effective, issues from the mouth of a person when his heart is full of the eagerness of certainty and only those words take possession of the hearts which surge forth from the hearts of those who believe with perfect certainty. This also shows that from the point of view of effectiveness, training in Divine revelation is the opener of doors. In short, from the point of view of the vastness and vigorousness of effect, it is only the book of revelation that is proved to be open. It is obvious that only such a person proves himself the greatest benefactor of God’s creatures who combines in himself revelation and reason. He has the ability to benefit every type of temperament and nature. A person who seeks to draw people to the right path through logical arguments only can produce an effect, if at all, on those who are highly educated and able and can follow his learned discourses. The average person has not the intelligence to follow philosophical discourses. Thus the grace of his knowledge is confined to the few who can understand his logic and only those can benefit from it who, like him, are familiar with methods of reasoning. This can be proved by a comparison of the achievements of reason and Divine revelation.

Those who are aware of the circumstances of past philosophers know very well how they failed to propagate their teachings widely and how their constricted and incomplete exposition failed to affect the hearts of common people. Compare this with the high effectiveness of the Holy Qur’an. How powerfully it has filled the hearts of its true followers with the Unity of God and in what a wonderful manner its splendid teachings rooted out the habits and customs of hundreds of years standing, which had become like second nature, from the hearts of people and by sweeping out their lower passions from their hearts gave them to drink of the sweet draught of the Unity of God. This happened in the case of millions of people. It is the Holy Qur’an which, by displaying its effectiveness and producing good and lasting results by the evidence of its matchless power, compelled its enemies to confess its peerless excellences. Even those who were confirmed in their disbelief were so deeply affected that they were forced to confess while repudiating it: this is nothing but plain sorcery. It is the Holy Qur’an whose attraction overcame confirmed habits and so pulled the hearts to God that millions of God’s creatures set the seal of their blood on the Unity of God. In this manner from the beginning it is revelation that has proved the guide and which has fostered human reason. Otherwise, great philosophers and wise men have found it difficult, even impossible, to discover the details of metaphysics. Those who are not equipped with normal reason, and have not had available to them the means of making efforts in that direction, have remained without any knowledge of these matters. The facilities which God’s true and perfect revelation – that is to say, the Holy Qur’an – has furnished to reason, and the confusion from which it has delivered reflection and observation are facts for which every wise person must be grateful. Considering that the recognition of God began through revelation, and that the revival of the understanding of the Divine has always taken place through revelation, and that relief from the difficulties of the way can only be procured with the help of revelation, every wise person is compelled to confess that the way which is clear and straight and is always open and has always led to the goal is Divine revelation. To hold that it is not an open book is clear folly.

We have explained in detail that the recognition of God by the Brahmo Samajists, based upon reason, is limited to ‘should be’ and that they fall short of the perfect stage of ‘is’. This also shows that the clear and open way of the recognition of the Divine is discovered only through the Word of God and cannot be reached by any other means. If a newly born child is deprived of education and left only to the book of nature, which according to the Brahmo Samajists is an open book, he would achieve little understanding and would possess no recognition of God. Experience has shown that if a person is not guided through his sense of hearing by revelation to the existence of God, he is not able to determine whether there is any Creator of this universe and, if he does pay any attention to searching for the Creator, he ends up by deifying some part of creation like water, fire, moon or sun as is witnessed by the wild tribes. It is only the grace of revelation through the blessings of which man has recognised the Peerless and Matchless God as befitted His Perfect and Faultless Being. Those who were uninformed of revelation and had no revealed book to turn to, and had available no means of knowing about revelation, achieved no understanding of the Divine, despite the fact that they possessed eyes and hearts. They gradually forsook humanness and approximated to senseless animals and derived no advantage from the hook of nature. It is obvious that if that book had been an open one, the wild tribes would have taken advantage of it and would have achieved equality with those who had recognised God through Divine revelation. Then what greater proof is needed of the fact that the book of nature is a closed one than that whoever relied solely upon it, and never heard of Divine revelation, was altogether deprived of the recognition of God and even remained ignorant of human manners? If by the book of nature being open is meant that it is physically visible, this is irrelevant to the point under consideration. When it is seen that no one by contemplating the book of nature can derive any spiritual benefit from it and cannot find God unless he is guided by revelation, it matters not that nature is visible all the time. (Baraheen-i-Ahmadiyyah Vol.III, (Amritsar, Safir Hind Press, 1882); now published in Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol.1 (London, 1984) Baraheen-i-Ahmadiyyah, pp.191-206, footnote 11).

Historians know well that in past ages whenever anyone acquired full knowledge of God and His perfect attributes, he did so through revelation and that the Unity of God was never propagated through reason. That is why those people who had no acquaintance with revelation remained unaware of the name of God and remained uncultured and uncivilised like animals. Who can present to us a book which in any past age was written about knowledge of the Divine and comprised real verities, the author of which might have claimed that he did not discover the straight path of the recognition of God through revelation, nor was he informed through his sense of hearing of the existence of the One God, and that in discovering God and learning about Divine attributes he derived help only from his reason and reflection and diligence and that, without having recourse to any other resource, he discovered the Unity of God and that his mind of itself arrived at the true recognition and understanding of God Almighty? Who can prove to us that there was an age when Divine revelation was unknown and there was no Holy Book and the people of that age believed in the Unity of God and recognised Him merely through contemplation of the book of nature? Who can inform us of the country whose people, being unaware of revelation, were guided to God by their reason alone and believed in the Unity of the Divine by the exercise of their reflection and observation? (Baraheen-i-Ahmadiyyah Vol.III, (Amritsar, Safir Hind Press, 1882); now published in Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol.1 (London, 1984) pp.200-201, footnote 11).

The True Unity of God Cannot be Realised Without Divine Revelation

Why the pure Unity of God cannot be learnt without Divine revelation, and why one who denies revelation is not cleansed of paganism, becomes apparent when one observes the reality of Divine Unity. Unity means that one should believe that the Being and attributes of God are free of any association and that we should believe that that which can be accomplished by God’s Power cannot be accomplished by the power of anyone else. It is because of letting go of this Unity that fire worshippers, sun worshippers and idol worshippers, etc., are called pagans inasmuch as they supplicate their idols and divinities concerning matters the bestowal of which is in the hands of God alone. It is obvious that those who deny revelation also believe, like the idol worshippers, that creatures are invested with the attributes of the Divine. They believe that the powers of the All-Powerful are possessed by human beings. They imagine that they discovered God through their reason and that in the beginning it was human beings who thought of appointing a God and that it was by their efforts that God emerged from the state of being unknown and was recognised and was worshipped. He was unknown before and no one was aware of His existence. It was through wise people that He came into His own. Is this anything different from the belief of the idol worshippers? Indeed not. The only difference is that the idol worshippers appoint other things as their benefactors and these people consider their smoky reason as their guide and benefactor. In one way these latter go beyond the idol worshippers. Though the idol worshippers believe that God has bestowed great powers on their deities and that on accepting a variety of offerings they bestow upon their worshippers that which they ask for, yet they have never alleged that God was discovered by these deities and that the existence of God was known only through them. It was left to those who deny revelation to claim God as one of their inventions and to announce that God has never affirmed: I am present; and that it was their great achievement that, without being told and informed, they found Him on their own. He was silent like one asleep or dead and they discovered His track by the exercise of their own reflection. Thus in effect they repudiate any obligation to God, but in a way put Him under an obligation to themselves, in that, without having been informed that God exists and without full certainty that disobedience of Him would subject them to such and such torment and obedience to Him would attract such and such bounty, they have submitted to this fictitious god. According to them God was so weak and infirm that He could not announce His Own existence and could not furnish any reassurance concerning His promises. He was hidden and these people disclosed Him; He was unknown and they made Him known. He was silent and they worked on His behalf. His Godhead has become known only since a short time and that also through their efforts. Every wise person would appreciate that such an affirmation goes beyond that which the idol worshippers allege. The idol worshippers believe in their deities as their benefactors, but those who deny revelation allege that reason which is their deity is the benefactor not only of people but also of God inasmuch as God became known only through the exercise of reason. It is thus clear that by denying revelation they not only believe in God in a doubtful way and are involved in diverse errors, but they are also deprived of belief in the perfect Unity of God and are stained with paganism. What is the association of partners with God except to attribute to others the favors and bounties bestowed by God? (Baraheen-i-Ahmadiyyah Vol.III, (Amritsar, Safir Hind Press, 1882); now published in Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol.1 (London, 1984) Footnote 11.)

The Type of People Who Experience Heavenly Signs

There are three types of people who experience heavenly signs. First, those who possess no merit and have no relationship with God Almighty, but who on account of their intellectual appropriateness see some true dreams and are granted some true visions which contain no indication that they are accepted of God and are loved by Him, nor do they derive any benefit from their dreams and visions. Thousands of the wicked and evil ones share with them such malodorous dreams and visions… Secondly, there are those who have some relationship with God Almighty, but that relationship is not perfect. Their dreams and revelations resemble the experience of a person who on a dark and very cold night espies the glow of a fire from afar and thereby is able to avoid walking along a path which is full of pits and thorns and rocks and along which serpents and wild beasts abound. But the glow of the fire cannot safeguard him against the cold and death. If he cannot reach the warm circle of the fire, he is destroyed like the one who walks in the dark.

Thirdly, there are people whose experience of dreams and revelations resembles that of a person who on a dark and very cold night not only finds the bright glow of the fire and walks in its light, but entering its warm circle is safeguarded fully against the cold. This stage is reached by those who burn up their passions in the fire of Divine love and adopt a life of bitterness for the sake of God. They perceive death ahead of them and run towards it and choose it for themselves. They accept every torment in the cause of God and for the sake of God they become the enemies of their ego and treading contrary to it exhibit such power of faith that even the angels are surprised at the strength of their faith. They are spiritual champions and all attacks of Satan come to nothing in opposition to their spiritual power…The perfect revelation which is of the third type and descends upon perfect individuals resembles the ray of the sun that falls on a clean mirror which is adjusted towards it…Then that ray is magnified ten times and its light becomes unbearable for the eye.

When revelation descends in the same way on a purified soul its extraordinary light shines forth and the reflection of Divine attributes is exhibited in that soul and the countenance of the Divine One is fully disclosed…

The lights of Divine revelation are accepted in their perfect condition by a soul which is perfectly purified. Mere dreams or revelation do not indicate any excellence in the recipient unless, his soul being perfectly purified, he exhibits this reflection and the countenance of the True Beloved is displayed in his soul (Haqiqatul Wahi (Qadian, Magazine Press 1907), now published in Ruhani Khaza’in (London, 1984) Vol. 22, pp.20-22).

Three Kinds of Dreams

Dreams are of three kinds – egoistic, Satanic and Rahmanic. Egoistic dreams are a reflection of one’s own thoughts like a cat dreaming of flecks of meat. A Satanic dream is wild and frightening. A Rahmanic dream is a message from God. Their proof is a matter of experience. These are Divine matters far distant from this world. If we judge them by reason another person cannot understand them and we cannot make him understand. These are signs of the existence of God Almighty which He casts upon the heart from the unseen. When we find that what we were told has come to pass, we begin to believe in it. An instrument of this world cannot recognise these things. These are spiritual matters and are recognisable only spiritually. A true dream bears witness to its own truth (Al-Badr Vol.2 No.1 January 30, 1903, now printed in Malfuzat, Vol. IV, pp.368-369).

The dreams and visions of all are not alike. The perfect vision described in the Holy Qur’an is as the disclosing of the unseen is like a perfect circle and is not bestowed upon everyone, but only upon the elect. The vision or revelation that comes to a defective person is itself defective and puts him to shame. Disclosing the unseen is an experience like that of a person who mounts to the top of a high building and observes the surroundings and can easily distinguish everything. A person who desires to see the same things from a low level misses many of them. It is the way of God with His elect that He elevates their sight to a height whence they can observe everything easily and are able to give information of the end. One standing at a low level cannot predict the end. That is how Balaam was deceived concerning Moses(as), and he failed to discern his high status which would have induced him to be respectful (Haqiqatul Mahdi (Qadian, Ziaul Islam Press 1899), now printed in Ruhani Khaza’in (London, 1984) Vol.14 pp.16-1).

Revelation of Trial and Revelation of Exaltation

It should be borne in mind that revelation is of two kinds, the revelation of trial and the revelation of exaltation. The revelation of trial sometimes brings about the ruin of the recipient as happened with Balaam, but the recipient of the revelation of exaltation is never ruined. Even the revelation of trial is not bestowed upon everyone. Some human temperaments are deformed as some people are born deaf and dumb and blind. In the same way, the spiritual faculties of some are extinct and they carry along as a blind person carries along with the guidance of others (Haqiqatul Wahi (Qadian, Magazine Press 1907), now published in Ruhani Khaza’in (London, 1984) Vol.22., p.9).