Thursday, February 20, 2020

‘Auliah’ and Divine Revelations

There is much confusion and misunderstanding among common people about the phenomenon of Divine revelations. Even people whom we otherwise consider learned and reflective tend to be completely ignorant about the subtle world of revelations. All Muslims believe that Allah (swt) sent His revelations to countless Prophets and sages all through the ages in the past, guiding humanity on the right and moderate course of living life on earth. And that these Messengers preached divine love, light and faith in the language of their peoples, among their distinct communities. Pointing to the essential unity of humankind amidst the diversity of races, languages, nations and cultures, Islam invites everyone to the Unique Creator and Sustainer of the worlds and His guidance sent through His servant (sa). The Muslim veneration of Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) as the Best of Divine Messengers is a grand testimonial to the lofty space of Divine revelations in the secular and spiritual enlightenment of our common humanity. Yet, the Muslim Ulema today mostly remain dismissive about the instrumental role of Divine revelations in shaping the human experience; their attitude seems to imply, regrettably, that the Prophet (sa) appeared to foreclose the door of sublime Divine Grace and Blessings forever (God Forbid). 

As against the prevailing, widespread, mistaken notions of the Ulema on the question of Divine revelations as well as the true and richer legacy of the Holy Prophet (sa), it might seem ironical, yet the fact is that Islam's history is steeped in profound mystical experiences of countless Divine savants who followed in the footprints of the Muhammadan Way.  Great saints of the Faith, in the spiritual ecstasy of their floating /orbiting souls around the Heavenly Throne, sung songs of Divine countenance and spiritual illumination. Through the fourteen hundred plus years of Islamic spirituality, the collective memory of the Ummah testifies that the Divine communion and converse and discourse and revelations vouchsafed to the spiritual saints of the Ummah played a seminal role in renewing and illuminating the spiritual path even in morally-darkened times. Amidst the tumultuous times witnessed in the fortunes of the believers, the revelations of the Auliah helped people to appreciate the correct and straight path to tread in life on an every day basisAmong the Muslim communities around the world, the presence of such Divinely-imbued souls or the 'Pole Stars of the Faith' advanced the cause of Tawheed, contributing in great measure to spiritual seekers' knowledge and understanding of the Divine realm; duties we owe to God and rights of fellow humans. Indeed, the continuity of Divine revelations among the believers through select purified, spiritual souls (God's Elect/sin every era testified to the vitality of Islam over all other ideological systems in shaping the spiritual destiny of mankind.  

The founder of the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) of Qadian (1835-1908 CE), arguably the most important thinker and mystical saint of Islam in the previous century, profoundly explained Divine revelations as an enduring path; a living reality. Through his scholarly studies and research, Hadhrat Ahmad (as) discovered rich historical antecedents in Islam to justify and validate his own intense personal experiences in the spiritual realm, especially the descent of Divine revelations on his noble soul. Through numerous writings, Hadhrat Ahmad (as) spoke about the great souls of Islam: the recipients of Divine communion and converse who left behind books of revelations, describing the signs of the living-Faith from their own intimate, life-worlds. Alhamdulillah, Summa Alhamdulillah, it is to this august tradition of Muslim saints whose souls were illumined by the Light of Faith through the descent of Divine revelations that we can today add the name of our Imam Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim (atba) of Mauritius, the Holy Founder of the Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam International, Allah-u-Akbar! 

Presented below are two extracts from the writings of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) of Qadian, arguing that the blessing of Divine revelations existed all through Islamic history and that this heavenly sign will continue to illumine sincere believers till the Day of Judgement: 

'We can furnish conclusive proof to every seeker after truth that from the time of our lord and master the Holy Prophet (sa) up to this day, in every century there have appeared men of God through whom God Almighty has guided other people by the display of heavenly signs. Of these were Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jilani, Abu Al Hasan Kharqani, Abu Yazid Bisthami, Junaid Baghdadi, Muhyiuddin Ibnu Arabi, Dhunnun Misri, Muinuddin Chishti Ajmeri, Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Fariduddin Pakpatni, Nizamuddin Dehlavi, Shah Wali-ullah Dehlavi and Sheikh Ahmad Sarhindi (Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him). 

Their number exceeded thousands. So many extraordinary happenings concerning them are set out in the books of the learned ones that even a bigoted opponent has to admit that these people manifested extraordinary signs and miracles. I tell you truly that through my research, so far as it is possible for one to discover about the past, I have come to the conclusion that the number of heavenly signs in support of Islam and as a testimony of the truth of the Holy Prophet (sa) which have been manifested through the Auliya of this Ummah, is not to be equalled in the history of other religions. Islam is the only religion which has progressed through heavenly signs, and its numberless lights and blessings have ever demonstrated the existence of God Almighty as if He is visible close at hand.' [The Essence of Islam, Vol. I, pp.30-31, U.K: Islam Int’l Publications (2004)]


Hadhrat Ahmad (as) also engaged with his critics on the question of Divine revelations in the Ummah after the death and departure of the Holy Prophet (sa). His arguments are self-explanatory and profoundly noteworthy, and need to be quoted in full: 

'My humble self had written [this book] up to this point when a man, by the name of Shahab-ud-Din, of Theh Ghulam Nabi, a believer in the Oneness of God, came and informed me that Maulavi Ghulam Ali, Maulavi Ahmadullah of Amritsar, Maulavi Abdul Aziz, and some other maulavis [Muslim religious clerics] emphatically deny the kind of revelation that resembles prophetic revelation. Further, some maulavis among them regard such revelations to be delusions of maniacs. 

The argument they advance in support of this contention is that if this kind of revelation was indeed true and authentic, then the Companions of the Holy Prophet of God, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, were the most deserving and worthy of receiving it, and yet it is not proven that they were recipients [of such revelation].

I, the humblest of men, now submit that if the maulavis have indeed raised this objection—as Shahab-ud-Din, a believer in the Oneness of God, says they did—then, in response, every seeker after truth as well as the above-mentioned maulavis should keep in mind that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Is it not possible that the revered Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, might have been the recipients of these types of revelation and yet did not deem it appropriate to make them generally known at that time?

God Almighty ordains ever new courses of action to be appropriate in every age. Hence, during the time of the prophethood, divine wisdom required that the revelations of non-prophets should not be recorded in the manner of prophetic revelation, lest the words of the non-prophet be intermingled with those of the Prophet. But the revelations of the auliya’ [friends of Allah] and other men of inner spiritual excellence who came after that age are well-known and well-publicized, and have been duly recorded in every age. 

To verify this, one should read Maktūbāt of Shaikh ‘Abdul-Qadir al-Jilani and Mujaddid Alf Thani, as well as books by other auliya’ullah [friends of Allah], wherein a vast number of their revelations have been recorded. Even Imam Rabbani [Mujaddid Alf Thani] has explicitly written in the second volume of his Maktūbāt, letter number 51 to be precise, that even a non-prophet can be honoured with the divine word and discourse, and that such a person is called a muhaddath and his rank is nearer to the rank of the Prophets. Likewise, Shaikh ‘Abdul-Qadir al-Jilani [1077–1166 CE] has elucidated this matter at various places in Futuhul-Ghaib. 

A diligent search into the sayings and letters of auliya’ullah will yield many such statements. And the rank of muhaddathiyyat in ummat-e-Muhammadiyyah [the followers of Muhammad] is proven so widely that only the extremely ignorant and utterly unaware can deny it. Up to the present day, thousands of auliya’ullah have appeared within this ummah, endowed with perfect excellences, whose wonders and miracles are as proven and established as those of the Israelite Prophets. Anyone who investigates will know that just as the One True God has bestowed the title Khairul Umam [the Best of People] upon this ummah, so has He bestowed the greatest excellences on its elders which cannot be concealed in any way, and to deny them is the worst kind of concealment of truth. 

I would also like to add that it is completely baseless and wrong to  allege that there is no proof that the revered Companions received such divine revelations. For, according to authentic ahadith, there is ample proof of the great number of revelations and miracles experienced by the revered Companions, Allah be pleased with them. 

Hadrat Umar’s, Allah be pleased with him, learning of the perilous state of Sariyah’s troops through divine communication has been recorded by al-Baihaqi 1 on the authority of Ibn-e-Umar. What was it, if not divine revelation! Moreover, Hadrat Umar’s words, 'O Sariyah! The mountain, the mountain!’ were uttered in Madinah, but were heard by Sariyah and his troops in a far off land through the grace of divine providence. What was it, if not a miraculous Sign! 

Likewise, certain revelations and visions experienced by Hadrat Ali Murtada, may Allah honour and exalt him, are also very well known.

Besides this, I ask: Is the testimony of God Almighty in the Holy Quran in this regard not sufficient for one’s satisfaction? Has He not said regarding the revered Companions: 'You are the best people raised for the good of mankind' (Surah Al-e-‘Imran, 3:111)When on one hand, the Almighty God declares the Companions of His Noble Prophet to be better and greater than the past peoples in terms of all excellences, and on the other hand, by way of example He gives an account of the perfect ones of the past peoples, such as Maryam Siddiqah [Mary the Truthful], the mother of ‘Isa [Jesus], as well as the mother of Hadrat Musa [Moses], the disciples of Hadrat Masih [i.e. Jesus the Messiah] and Khidr—none of whom was a Prophet, but they were all recipients of revelation from Allah and were apprised of the secrets of the unseen through wahy-e-i‘lam.

Now consider what conclusion follows from this. Does it not prove that the perfect followers among ummat-e-Muhammadiyyah should be more deserving to be mulham-o-muhaddath [the recipients of revelation and discourse] than those people, because according to the explanation of the Holy Quran they [the perfect followers among ummat-e-Muhammadiyyah] are Khairul-Umam? Why do you not ponder over the Holy Quran? And why are you so prone to error in your deliberations? 

Do you not know that the Sahihain record, about this ummah, the glad tiding of the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, that like the previous ummahs, many a muhaddath would be raised in this ummah as well? And the word muhaddath—in which the 'dal' is pronounced with a 'fatah'—refers to those who are blessed with divine converse and discourse. 

You are also aware of Ibn-e-‘Abbas’ qira’at of the verse: 'Never sent We a Messenger or a Prophet or a Muhaddath before you, but when he sought to attain what he aimed at, Satan put obstacles in the way of what he sought after. But Allah removes the obstacles that are placed by Satan. Then Allah firmly establishes His Signs'. Thus, according to this verse, which Bukhari has also documented, it is established that a muhaddath’s revelations are certain and unequivocal, in which the interference of Satan cannot stand.

It also goes without saying that if the revelations of Khidr and the mother of Musa were only a bundle of doubts and delusions, and were not certain and unequivocal, what right did they have to endanger the life of any innocent person or to push them to death, or do anything else that was both unlawful and unreasonable? After all, it had to be unequivocal knowledge that made those actions obligatory upon them, and made permissible for them matters that were by no means permissible for others.

Apart from this, one should reflect impartially that an observable and existing phenomenon which has been proven true and has been established as fact through verifiable experiences cannot be shaken by mere conjectures and suspicions: 'And conjecture avails nothing against truth'In the revelations received by my humble self, there is nothing concealed or hidden. Rather, it is a phenomenon that has withstood the crucible of hundreds of trials, yet emerged securely intact, and the Benevolent God has granted me manifest victory in great contests...'  [Barahin-e-Ahmadiyya, Part-IV, pp. 425-429].