Hadith 2

Abdullah bin Yousuf narrated to us, he said Malik informed us from Hisham bin ‘Urwah from his father from ‘Aisha, the mother of the believers, may Allah be Pleased with her that Al-Harith bin Hisham asked Allah’s Messenger “O Allah’s Apostle! How does the revelation come to you?” Allah’s Apostle replied, “At times, it comes to me like the ringing of a bell, this form of revelation is the hardest upon me and then it stops when I have taken hold of what he said (the angel). Sometimes the angel comes in the form of a man and talks to me and I take what he says.” ‘Aisha, may Allah be Pleased with her said: And indeed I saw him when the revelation was coming down on him on a very cold day, and when it ended sweat was dripping from his forehead صلى الله عليه و سلم.

Aisha began by saying that Al-Harith asked Allah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم, so this may indicate that she was there and witnessed the dialogue, or it may be that Al-Harith later informed her of the incident.  The opinion that he later informed her is supported by another narration of this hadith which was recorded by Imam Ahmad.  In that narration Aisha reported from Al-Harith and he said (سألت) meaning ‘I asked’ which would indicate that he was relaying this information to Aisha, however the narration has some weakness in the chain.  The opinion that Aisha witnessed the dialogue is more prominent amongst the scholars.

Ibn Hajar’s explanation

Al-Harith’s question, “How does the revelation come to you?”

He may have intended, “In what way does the revelation come to you?”  Or he may have wanted to know about the one who brings the revelation, or he may have wanted to know how the revelation occurs in general.  Al-Isma’eili said that this narration is more befitting to explain ‘how the revelation (wahi) comes’ rather than ‘how the revelation (wahi) began’, which is the title of the chapter in Imam Bukhari’s Sahih.  Al-Karmaani said, “What may have been intended was an inquiry as to how the revelation (wahi) started or how the revelation came about.  Therefore it is befitting in this chapter.”  Also, it isn’t necessary that every narration in the chapter be about the beginning of the revelation, rather it’s sufficient that the narrations concern the beginning of the revelation or anything related to the revelation or anything concerning the verse that was mentioned.

The Prophet’s صلى الله عليه و سلم saying in the narration “At times” (أحيانا)

This may indicate something that happens frequently or infrequently, and in this instance it only indicates time and not the frequency of the event.

The Prophet’s صلى الله عليه و سلم saying in the narration “it comes to me” (يأتيني)

The angel came in the form of a man many different times, such as when he came as a Bedouin.  Other times he came as different types of people, as is supported by many authentic narrations. The revelation itself came in different forms, as follows;

  1. Similar to the buzzing of bees

  2. The blowing into the soul

  3. Inspiration

  4. The truthful dream

  5. The direct speech without intercession during the night journey

As far as the characteristics of the carrier of the revelation (the angel Jibriel), having come in his natural form having six hundred wings, and sitting on a chair between the heavens and the earth filling the horizon, the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم didn’t make mention of that, perhaps for various reasons.  He may have wanted to clarify that the revelation also comes in forms other than that, or this dialogue may have taken place before he saw Jibriel in his natural form having six hundred wings and filling the horizon.  Another possibility is that he صلى الله عليه و سلم rarely saw Jibriel in his natural form, as Aisha reported that it only occurred twice, or the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم may not have mentioned it if he had only seen him in that form at times when Jibriel was not bringing revelation.

The narration indicates that the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم was only describing the method of revelation by saying it came like the ringing of a bell rather than describing the carrier of the revelation (Jibriel).  As for his saying that the revelation came like the ringing of a bell, this doesn’t contradict what was narrated by Umar, who said, “It (The Wahi) is heard near him like the buzzing of bees.”  To those around him the Wahi sounded like bees buzzing, while to the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم himself it was similar to the ringing of a bell.

As for the revelation coming as direct inspiration to the heart of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم, this can be applied to either of those two descriptions.  The angel would breathe the revelation into his soul.  The prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم did not mention the direct inspiration nor the speech of Allah to him directly as methods of revelation in this narration, because the question was concerning how the revelation was carried out when it was brought by a messenger (Jibriel) and those two methods occurred without a messenger.

Ibn Battal said, “The truthful dream was not mentioned in the narration because the question was concerning that which is different from what may occur to other people.”  The truthful dream is regarded as part of the prophet hood in the fact that it is always truthful, and not for any other reason.  Otherwise, whoever has one could be considered a prophet and this isn’t the case.   Or the questioner may have only been concerned with that which happens during wakefulness, and was already familiar  with the truthful dream being part of the prophet hood.

The Prophets صلى الله عليه و سلم saying in the narration, “like the ringing of a bell”

It has been described as a sound which is recurring and not known by hearing only the first occasion or first ring.  Al-Karmanee said, “The bell is a small object containing a piece of copper which is hung on the camel, when the camel moves the copper sways back and forth hitting the outer portion of the bell and making the ringing noise.”  If it were to be said that something of a lowly nature shouldn’t be compared to that which is blessed (The Wahi), since the bell is actually prohibited from use and the angels do not accompany a group using a bell as was reported by Imam Muslim, Abu Dawood, and others, So how can the actions of the angel (Jibriel) be compared to something such as a bell which the angels do not come near to the ringing of bells?  The answer is that it’s not incumbent that the two things being compared share all the same attributes or even the most common attribute, rather it is sufficient to compare two things if they share any attribute.  The intent was for the listener to be able to compare it to something familiar.  A sound has two parts, its strength and its type.  The similarity here lies in the strength of the sound, while the sound of a bell itself is something disliked and described as the instrument of the shaytan (satan).

The wisdom behind the strength of the sound is that the wahi would command his full attention and he would not hear anything else while revelation was being revealed to him.  This issue will be further explained with the narration of Ibn Abaas, “When Allah decrees a matter in the heavens, the angels strike their wings” with the verse,

حَتَّى إِذَا فُزِّعَ عَن قُلُوبِهِمْ

“…until, when terror is removed from their hearts…”{34:23}

The Prophet’s صلى الله عليه و سلم saying, “This form of revelation is the hardest upon me”

It can be understood here that all forms of revelation were difficult, while this form was the most difficult.  Shaykh Al-Islam Al-Balqeene said, “The reason is that glorious speech has an introduction that leads up to it indicating its importance…”   Some also said that such intensity caused the heart’s undivided attention.  Some also said that the revelation came in this form when it was a verse containing threat or warning although this isn’t completely clear.

The Prophet’s صلى الله عليه و سلم saying, “And then it stops” (فيفصم)

It stops or discontinues, while there is an indication in this word (يفصم) that it is a type of stop that continues at a later time. 

The Prophet’s صلى الله عليه و سلم saying, “…When I have taken hold of what he said”

The meaning being, ‘when I have grasped or understood the words that he speaks to me,’ and this also indicates that the revelation was spoken by the angel (Jibriel). There is no contradiction between this and what Allah informs about the disbelievers saying,

إِنْ هَذَا إِلَّا قَوْلُ الْبَشَرِ

“This is not but the word of a human being.” {74:25},

because they used to deny both the revelation itself and the fact that the angel came with revelation.

The Prophet’s صلى الله عليه و سلم saying, “Sometimes the angel comes in the form of a man.”

The angel Jibriel came in the form of a man at times as the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم informed in this narration and is supported by another narration reported by Ibn Sa’d.  The people of speech (Ahl-ul-Kalam) stated that the angels are heavenly bodies that take any shape or form they choose, while some philosophers claimed that the angels are spiritual gems.

The fact that the angel appeared in the form of a man doesn’t mean that he turned into a man rather he appeared in the form of a man to provide familiarity for the one he was addressing.

The Prophet’s صلى الله عليه و سلم saying, “…And talks to me” (meaning the angel talks to me)

In another narration recorded by Al-Baihaqi, the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم said “He teaches me” (فيعلمني) apparently this may be a mistake because the narration is also recorded by Imam Malik in his Muatta and by Al-Daraqutni with the same chain of narrators with the wording (فيكلمني) “And talks to me” as in Bukhari’s narration.

The Prophet’s صلى الله عليه و سلم saying, “…And I take what he says”

So the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم would understand and memorize the revelation that was brought to him before the angel (Jibriel) departed.

“’Aisha, may Allah be Pleased with her said: and indeed I saw him when the revelation was coming down on him on a very cold day, and when it ended sweat was dripping from his forehead.”

Her saying (ليتفصد) ‘dripping’ this word ليتفصد is a type of overstatement which shows the severity of the sweat dripping from his forehead. ‘Aisha reported that she saw the sweat dripping from his forehead after the revelation came on a very cold, indicating the severity and exhaustion that the occurrence of revelation had on the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم.  In the narration of Al-Baihaqi in Al-Dala’il, it was reported that at times the Wahi would come to the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم while he was on his camel; the revelation would be so strenuous that it caused him to strike the camel’s saddle.

We can understand from this narration that the purpose of the question from the companion was to establish assurance and peace of mind within himself by understanding how the wahi came, the question was not due to his lack of certainty about the Wahi.   We also benefit by knowing that it is permissible to ask about the state of affairs of the Prophets regarding how the revelation occurred to them or regarding other than that.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: