In Surah Shoora, verses 51-52, Allah Almighty states:
And it is not fitting for a man that Allah should speak to him except by revelation; from behind a veil, or by sending a Messenger to reveal by His Permission, what He pleases; surely He is the High, Wise.
And thus have We inspired in you a Spirit of Our Command. You knew not what the Book was, nor the Faith, but We have made it a Light, whereby We guide whom we please of Our Servants; and Indeed you do guide to the Straight Way.
The Qur’an has discussed three modes of revelation and the second verse refers specifically to revelation given to Prophet Muhammad (S).
The majority of commentators I have read infer all three modes from the second verse from “Kazhallika” or “And thus”. But as shown above, the rest of the sentence follows with “we have inspired in you a Spirit by Our Command”.
Does the second verse state that the Prophet (S) has been granted all three modes of revelation, or is it referring specifically to the Qur’an? The words “You did not know what the Book was, nor the Faith but we made it a Light…” seem to indicate this.
What also seems to strengthen this is the words “Spirit by Our Command”. From what I understand according to most commentators, the Qur’an has used this word with respect to Gibraeel (AS), the harbinger of the Qur’an. The Qur’an has, as other verses indicate, been revealed SOLELY “by Sending a Messenger to Reveal what He pleases”.
The issue, it seems to me, revolves around the meaning of “Spirit by Our Command.” Is it referring specifically to Gibreel (AS) and the REVELATION OF THE QURAN, or is the general connation of ‘inspiration’, i.e. the totality of the agency of revelation. Inspiration, I realize is a bad word and a limitation of the English language. It implies more meaning than verbal revelation, and the Qur’an has been revealed verbally without any influence, such as subconscious interference from even the Prophet of God himself, or the djinns.
Thanks in advance.
Al-Shooraa 42: 51 is, in fact, a response to one of the demands of the non-believers (mentioned at various instances in the Qur’an). When the Prophet (pbuh) called his people to the path of God, declaring that he was given this message by the Lord of the Worlds and was delivering it on His authority, the rejecters among these people said that if God wanted to deliver his message to us, then why does He not come face-to-face with us and then deliver it.
The verse has responded to this demand by declaring that it is not befitting for any man that God should talk to him face-to-face. Whenever God has spoken to a man, it has either been through direct revelation or through speaking from behind a veil or through a messenger, who, in turn, delivers his message to the person He has selected as His prophet.
The ‘Kadhalika’ (i.e. ‘and thus’ or ‘in the same manner’) at the beginning of the succeeding verse refers not to the three modes of God’s speaking to man (or any of them individually), but to the fact that, as in the past, God has delivered his message to Muhammad (pbuh), without coming face-to-face with him.
In other words, the subject matter of these verses is not to stipulate the particular method or methods through which God delivered His message to His last prophet, but to tell that:
Muhammad (pbuh) is a continuation of the chain of prophets of God;
Even in the past, God has delivered his message to man;
Even in the past, God has never come face-to-face with man to deliver his message;
As in the past, God has delivered His message to Muhammad (pbuh) without coming face-to-face with him
The revelation referred to in these verses relates to all revelation that the Prophet (pbuh) received from God, whether ultimately included in the Qur’an or not.
Does the second verse state that the Prophet (S) has been granted all three modes of revelation, or is it referring specifically to the Qur’an?
No. The verse only implies that the Prophet (pbuh) is given the revelation from God, in the same manner (i.e. without coming face-to-face with God), as has been the case with the prophets of old. The Prophet (pbuh) may or may not have been given revelation through all the three stipulated methods.
November 25, 2000