The reality and necessity of Prophecy and revelation according to the Qur’an and intellect 2

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Revelation, as the only way to guidance of man
Man, like the rest of creation naturally seeks his own well-being and happiness as he lives out his life. Since, by his very make up, he has a variety of natural needs, he has no alternative but to live in society in order to fulfill these needs, his own well-being and search for the fulfillment of his natural takes place in the wider framework of society’s well-being.

Thus the only acceptable pattern of existence, regulated by a comprehensive law common to all people, is the one which guarantees both the well-being of society and of the individual in a balanced and just fashion. It is also clear that man, like the rest of creation, must endeavour to achieve his well-being and undertake whatever preparation is necessary for achieving this by allowing himself to be guided by his Creator.

It is but a logical next step in our analysis to say that any guidance from the Creator must be towards this comprehensive law, common to all and, at the same time, in accord with the individual ‘s well-being, Intellect is not enough to guide man to the law since it does not always decide in favour of cooperation with others nor in favour of the common good.

The path, the way, which first perfectly the requirements of man is the way taught, by the Prophet and messengers of God. It is the way brought to them by God through revelation and established as undeniably true and valid, by the example of their own lives and their intimate knowledge and contact with God.

In chapter II:213, God says, “ Mankind was one community and God sent ( to them) prophets as bearers of good news and as warners and revealed tothem the book with the truth that it may judge between mankind concerning that in which they differed.” Here we under stand “one community” to mean a society at peace, its members living without dispute or difference. After a period of time, men differed with one another and as result God sent the prophets.

Again He says in IV:163-165, “Indeed we have inspired you as we have inspired Noah…..Messengers of good news and a warning in order that mankind night have no argument against God after the Messenger,” Intellect alone does not make man accountable to God and this is why he must be awakened to the reality of his inner condition by other means.

The first the above –mentioned verses recognizes the way of revelation and prophecy as the only way of removing differences between men. The second shows revelation and prophecy to be complete and absolute proof to mankind of the truth of God’s message.

Some questions answered about the reasons for necessity of revelation and Prophecy
Question
: By using the premise that the intellect cannot prevent violation of law and the wrong action of man in general, you are declaring the necessity of imposing a law or, as you say, “ guidance” towards his own well-being, that is, you are demanding that we place our trust in revelation an din prophet hood rather than in the intellect.

The truth is, however, that the laws and instructions of revelation are also ineffective in that they cannot prevent violation of law, of the Shari’ic law or divine code, in fact, man’s acceptance of this code is even less than his acceptance of the civil code. what can you reply to this?

Answer: To point out the way is one thing and to follow it is another. The Creator has taken upon himself to guide mankind to law under which he can achieve his well – being He has not taken upon himself to stop mankind from infringing upon the law nor of compelling men to follow law. We have investigated above the problem of man’s infringement of the law, not to prove that the intellect is deficient or incapable of preventing wrong action but, rather, to show that it usually doesnot decide in favour of the law or of cooperation with society.

Preparation of revelation for preventing violation
As we have pointed out, the intellect only follows the law out of necessity, if it perceives that obeying the law and restricting one’s personal freedom brings less benefit than disobedience, then it will not follow the law nor stop others from transgressing.

The acceptance of the way of the revelation,however, always brings with it an obedience to the law. By accepting the cods of behaviour revealed by the prophets, one entrusts one’s judgement to God who, will with his boundless power and knowledge to God,constantly watches over man, only He can reward good deeds or punish bad ones in an absolutely just and unbiased way. God says in chapter XII:40, “ The decision rests with God only,” and in chapter XCIX:7-8, “ And whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it then and whoever does an atom’s weight of bad will see it then”.

Likewise, He says inXXII:17, “Indeed God will decide between them on the day of Rising, Indeed! God is witness over all things,” and in II: 77 “Are they unaware that God knows that which they keep hidden and that which they proclaim” XXXIII:52 we read: “And God is watcher over all things.”

From these verses it is clear that the divine din of Islam which has been given to man through revelation, is not capable of preventing transgression of the law any more than the civil law drawn up by men. The machinery of the civil law appoints officials and employees to control and inspect the action of man also imposes a system of punishment for his offences, this method only works when the law is strong and the crime is discovered.

The divine din is superior to man –made laws or social orders in that control over man is carried out in a very special way, namely, through the vigil of the angels. Moreover, the divine din obliges in every man and woman to enjoin the right and forbid the wrong. All men, without exception, are instructed to watch over the action of their fellow men and to be guardians of the law.

It is only belief in divine order which contains and defines action outside the limits of good and bad and within the reality of Day of Reckoning to come. Most importantly the Lord of the world and of all the unseen world is aware of man’s every action and is present with him everywhere at every moment.

Like the civil codes drawn up by man, there is also in the divine code a corresponding system of punishment for every sin, both in this world and on the day of reckoning after death. Unlike the civil code, however, the divine law guarantees that no man will escape from judgement and punishment, if punishment is warranted. As proof the reader is urged to follow what is written in chapter IV:59, “ Obey God and obey the messenger and those of you in authority” and, in XI:71, “And the believers, men and women are protecting friends one to another, they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong.

Likewise,we may study LXXXII:10-12 when God says, “Indeed there are guardians above you, generous and recording, who know (all) that you do,” and also, in XXXIV:21, “And your Lord ( O Muhammad) takes note of all things”.

Inadequacy of intellect for respecting the law is in consistent with religious validity of the intellect
A Second Question
: It has been argued that the intellect does not always decide in favour of respect for the law. Is this not inconsistent with what is contained in the saying of the Imams which states that God has gives two proofs to his servants, the outward and obvious one being that His Prophet, and the inner and hidden one being that of the intellect of man? How are we to understand this statement in the light of how the intellect has been described?

Answer: Without exception, man’s intellect is concentrated on securing benefit and avoiding harm. Whenever it accepts to cooperate and share in society’s activity, it is, as we have seen above, seeking its own benefit. This need is often felt by those who wish to profit from others or seek to control others by using their wealth. For such men there is nothing prohibiting them from pursuing their illegal action, their intellect will not decide in favour of the law nor forbid transgression of the same law.

If, however, the source of compulsion ( as is understood in the light of divine revelation) is from God, then the effect on man is totally different. God ‘s watering over man’s action, His punishment or reward of bad or good action. admits, of no negligence, ignorance or incapacity. The intellect, which recognizes the existence of God, cannot refuse the law. It will always decide in favour of that which which revelation demands of man.

Thus the intellect of believing man will recognize the importance of the revelation over any personal matter. God say in XIII:33 “Is He is aware of the deserts of every soul as he who is aware of nothing” and LXXIV:38, “Every soul is a pledge for its own deeds.”

Revelation, is Protected against mistakes
The path of revelation is of the Creator’s programme. He never makes mistakes, neither in His Creator nor in the system of belief and the laws of the shari’ah, which are delineated for man through revelation.

God says in LXXII:26-28: (He is) the knower of the Unseen and reveals His secret to no one except to every messenger He has chosen and He makes a guard go before him and a guard behind him, that He may know that they have indeed conveyed the message of their Lord. He surrounds all their doings and He keeps count of all things.

From this we understand that the prophets and messengers of God must be infallible both in receiving the revelation and in preserving it against alteration and attack. They are as instruments at the disposal of the Creator’s wisdom. Were they to make an error in receiving or teaching the message of the revelation or be led astray by the whispering of evil persons, were they themselves to commit wrong or deliberately change message they had to deliver, then the wisdom of God would be unable to perfect its programme of guidance.

God confirms in chapter XVI:9 that He in total control of man’s guidance by means of his messenger, “And God’s is the direction of the way, and some (words) do not go straight”.

The hidden reality of revelation for man
The reality of revelation is hidden from us. What is clear is that the aim of programme of life, outlined for man by the intellect, there must be another way of understanding, of perceiving, ( other than through reflection and though), by which man learns of the duties incumbent on him an his fellow – men. This understanding may only be encompassed by the path of revelation.

There are, however,, only a limited number of men who possess this kind of understanding since receiving requires an understanding based on purity, sincerity and freedom from all corruption and bad thoughts. It requires men whose spiritual qualities do not changes, men who are psychologically balanced in their judgements and who possess real depth of understanding. It must be admitted that these qualities are rarely to be found amongst men.

The Prophets and messengers mentioned in the Qur’an are men of precisely these qualities. The Qur’an does not mention their number, it only names a few (namely Adam, Nuh, (Noah), Hud, Salih ( Methusaleh), Ibrahim, ( Abraham), Lut ( Lot) ,Isma’il ( Ismael ,Ishmael), Alyasa (Elisha), Dhu al-Kifl ( Ezekiel), IIyas ( Elias), Yunus ( Jonah), Idris ( Enoch ), Ishaq ( Isaac), Ya’qub, Yusuf (Joseph), Shu’ayb, Musa ( Moses), Harun ( Aaron) ,Da’ud ( David), sulayman ( solo mon), Ayyub ( Job), Zakariya Yahya (John), Isma’il Sadiq al- Wa’d, Isa( Jesus ) and Muhammad, others are indicated but not named).

we, as ordinary, men, do not share at all their qualities and so we cannot taste the reality of their perception. Prophecy, as an experience, remain unknown for us, Moreover, few of the past revelation have reached us and we have only a limited view of the reality which is revelation and prophecy. It may be that what has reached us in the from of revealed books is exactly as the revelation we are familiar with, that is the Qur’an.

Nevertheless, it is possible that other revelation (completely unknown to us) may have contained information and instruction of which we have no knowledge.

How the Qur’an was revealed
Qur’anic revelation, according to the Qur’an itself is an utterance on behalf of God to His prophet, the Prophet received the speech of God with all his being ,not just by way of learning. In XLII:51-52 God says: "And it was not to be for any man that God should speak to him unless ( it be) revelation or from behind a veil or ( that ) we send a messenger to reveal what He will by His leave. Truly He is exalted, wise. And thus We have inspired in you ( Muhammad) a spirit of Our Command. You did not know what the Book, nor what that Faith was. But We have made it a light whereby We guide whom We will of our slaves. And truly you surely guide to a right path".

Different kinds of revelation
On comparison of these two verses we discover three different ways of divine utterance. Firstly, God speaks without there being any veil between Him and man, Secondly ,God speaks from behind a veil: like the on the Tur mountain from behind which Moses heard God speaking, Thirdly, God’s speech is brought to man by an angel who had previously heard revelation from Him.

The second of the two verses above show that the Qur’an has reached us by means of the third of three possible ways Again God says in XXVI:192-5, “( A revelation ) which the Faihful Spirit ( Gabriel) has brought down upon heart, that you may be (one) of the warners, in plain Arabic Speech,” and in chapter II:97 “ Who is an enemy to Gabriel! For it is he who has revealed ( this book) to your heart.”

From these verses we understand that the Qur’an was transmitted by way of an angel named Gabriel, or the “Faithful Spirit” and that the Prophet received from him, with all his being, all his perception and not merely by listening. The verse says “ on your heart,” which in Qur’anin terms means perception or awareness. In LIII:10-11 we read, “And He revealed to His salve that which He revealed The heart did not lie ( in seeing) what it saw, and in XCVIII:2 reception of the revelation. is indicted as a reading of “ pure pages” by God’s messenger.

Notes
1- Because both verses relate the descension of the Qur’an before the Holy Prophet. It says, “Upon their” and not “their hearts” and the heart, in the usage of the Holy Qur’an is the soul because in several places understanding and awareness comes from the soul and is related to the heart. XXXVI: 193-195

Sources

The quran in islam- pages: 76to82

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