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Introduction to Al-Qur'an

Dr. Rafiq Ahmad

Contact:- drrafiqahmad@islaminkashmir.org

Part I Need For Divine Guidance
       Sensual Faculty
       Intellectual Faculty
       Intuitional (Mystic) Faculty
       Prophetic Faculty
Part II Introduction to al-Qur'an
       Nomenclature of Al-Qur'an
       History of Descent or Nuzool of Al-Qur'an
       Makki and Madni Verses
       Sequence of the Qur'an Shareef
       Shan-e-Nuzool of Al-Qur'an
       Seven Qirats of Al-Qur'an
       Naskh or Abrogation of Verses
       Muhkam and Mutashabih
       Qur'an and the Suhaba al-Kiram (RA)
       Rules of Reverence for Reading the Holy Qur'an

Part I

Need For Divine Guidance

            Allahu Taala created this universe with perfection and systematic organisation. Out of this, He chose our planet for life. He created everything in this planet which is needed to sustain life. He stretched the earth and flattened it so that it could be lived upon. He made it neither too hard nor too soft, neither too hot or too cold unlike other planets. He created an environment within and on the earth to sustain life. He decorated the skies with sun, moon and millions of stars. He created the vast oceans, the plant and the animal kingdoms. Finally, He created the master of this universe Man. Man is not essential for the survival of the universe, if it would have been so the universe would not have survived without him. On the contrary the universe is very important for the survival of man. This fact is mentioned in the Quran and Hadith (traditions of the holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) at many places.

In the the Quran Allahu Taala says:


And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth  (45:13)
 

            And a Hadith (tradition of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) mentions:
 


Indeed, world has been created for you.

            Since the universe was essential for the survival of man, it was created first and later on man was sent to this universe.

            Man is the crown of all the creation - the best Creation of Allah Taala. He says in the Quran:

Indeed we have created man in the best of moulds (95:4)

For whom was this cream of all the creation (Man), created?

            This question arises almost in the mind of every human being. But unfortunately mostly people do not get an answer to this inner query. Usually people die without knowing this reality; they live throughout their lives in complete ignorance just like animals. Many people ponder over this question but they do not have enough intelligence to understand it. Their inherent intellectual capability is clouded and obscured by prejudice, ignorance and blind faith in the religion of their parents. These factors work on their minds subconsciously right from the days of childhood and consequently they never perceive the Ultimate Truth.

            When a man is born, he is in a state of ignorance, inexperience and helplessness. As he grows, he starts acquiring knowledge.

Faculties for acquiring knowledge:

1. Sensual-Faculty: which comprises of five senses viz., touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight.
2. Intellectual Faculty.
3. Intuitional (Mystic) Faculty.
4. Prophetic Faculty.

1.         Sensual Faculty:

            Man learns through the sense of touch about the temperature of a thing and its consistency. His sense of smell helps him to distinguish between noxious and pleasant smell. The sense of taste informs him whether the eatable is sweet, sour, bitter, pungent or delicious, which enables him to relish it well and also helps him to avoid harmful food. Much of the knowledge comes through his hearing and optical senses. He observes the universe and its strange phenomenon with his eyes. Books and electronic visual aids go a long way in adding to his knowledge. Another important sense is auditory. Man goes on hearing different things right from his birth and stores that knowledge in his memory centre of the brain.

            This sensual experience plays a tremendous role in mans acquisition of knowledge. There are three schools of thought regarding acquisition and efficiency of knowledge for realization of the ultimate truth. One section of people believes that sensual experience is useless. They withdraw from the world and its beauties and preach self-abnegation and ascetic life. This was the dominant feature of Christianity in the middle ages. Another section believes in only sensual experience and the faculty of intellect. They think that the knowledge gained through five senses and crystallised by the intellect can lead to the realisation of the Ultimate Truth. They include the Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and their followers along with some of the modern scientists. This group and their ideology will be discussed later on in some detail, Insha-Allah.

            The third group believes in the Quran. The Quran teaches that an empirical attitude is very essential for the spiritual life. The Quran always encourages man to use more and more of his sensual experience in understanding the Truth. It does not teach self-abnegation and withdrawal from the world.

The Quran says:

Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of Night and Day, there are signs for men of understanding.            (3:190)

() () () ()

Do they not look at the camels, how they are made? And at the sky, how it is raised high? And at the mountains, how they are fixed firm? And at the earth? How it is spread out?  (88:17-29)

            These and the other Quranic exhortations about acquiring sensual knowledge have culminated in the birth of modern science.

            This is the primary and important factor behind the Renaissance in Europe. Church opposed learning during the middle ages. In Europe It often opposed acquisition of knowledge, and science was branded as black magic and consequently its study was prohibited in the Christendom in Europe. Church preached Ptolemaic system which was opposed by Copernicus, who put forward Copernican system and it falsified the Biblical view of the Cosmology. The Church authorities felt insulted and prosecuted the scientists like Copernicus, Galileo and others. In contrast, the Muslims had far advanced knowledge in many fields under the Quran inspirations, which repeatedly exhorts man to study the universe, its physical, biological and celestial components and their changes. Europe was quite ignorant about these tremendous advances that were being made in the Islamic world till the Muslims conquered Spain. When this Islamic Scientific approach reached Europe through Spain, they began to imbibe it, culminating in the scientific revolution, which the world is witnessing these days.

            But this sensual method of acquiring knowledge too has its own limitations, which will be discussed later on, Insha Allah.  

2.         Intellectual Faculty:

            This is the second most important faculty of man for acquiring knowledge. This distinguishes man from other animals and plants. The sensual faculty is present in animals as well, but they lack the intellectual faculty. Man has used this intellectual faculty and attained mastery over various ingredients of the universe whether they are physical, chemical, environmental or biological.

            With the help of these two faculties i.e., sensual and intellectual, man has made great advances in the fields of Chemistry, Physics, Biological Sciences, Geography, Astronomy and other such fields.

            Those people, who saw the success of the faculty of intellect in the fields of Chemistry, Physics and other Biosciences tried to use the same tool (human intellect) for understanding the Truth. These people never succeeded in this. The Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and their followers, whose ideas supposedly moved the world, stretched their intellect to its maximum and put forward so many hypotheses about the Ultimate Truth. Though this is not the place to discuss their ideologies in detail, I would like to quote some of their main conclusions that were drawn by them about the Truth, so that one can understand the absurdity of their theories.

Theory of Emanationism:

            To explain the relation of God and the world is one of the most difficult problems in the philosophy of religion. It is well nigh an impossible task and philosophers have always stumbled over it. According to Neo-plotonic theory, only one emanates from one, yet three things may emanate three kinds of knowledge possessed by first intelligence out from each kind. God did not create the world through an act of volition, for creation thus understood implies consciousness and will, both of which are limitations with regard to the Absolute. Knowing implies an object that confronts the knower as something alien to him. God being infinite and absolute has nothing outside His being; hence nothing can confront Him as something other than He.

            This theory further states that the world emanates from God not directly but through intermediaries. These intermediary agencies are of various grades. First intelligence knows the god, there emanates from it the second intelligence, as it knows its own essence, there emanates from it the soul of the highest celestial sphere, and finally, as it knows itself as a possible being only, there proceeds from it the body of that sphere.

            Whereas the philosophers endowed the first intelligence and in a similar fashion all the subsequent descendant intelligences, with three kinds of knowledge as stated above, they circumscribed Gods knowledge to His own glorious self-only. It was in keeping with the Aristotelian description of God as thought thinking itself, it must be itself that thought thinks and its thinking is thinking on thinking.

Theory of Cause and Effect Relation and Eternity of Matter:

            These philosophers put forward the theory that cause and effect have direct relation, one cause can have one effect and that every effect must be preceded by one cause. Taking the example of the world, they say that if the world is taken as an effect, then there must have been one cause for it and for that cause also there must have been one cause and from this the Aristotelian school of thought put forward doctrine of eternity of the world. They could not understand this simple thing that for one effect there can be many causes and that can be both positive and negative and the effect can be delayed also. They also failed to understand the reality of the will of God and its relation with His creative activity. The Quran uses these two words Amr and Khalq to explain it.

            Pringle Pattison, as quoted by Dr. lqbal, deplores the paucity of vocabulary of English language and says that English language has only one word for these two words of Amr and Khalq , in English both words are termed as creation.

Allahu Taala says in the Quran:   

  

 To Him belongs the creation and direction (Khalq and Amr).

            He says that Arabic language is more fortunate to have these two words to express the two ways in which the creative activity of Allah Taala reveals itself to us. On the contrary English language possesses only one word creation to express the relation of God and the universe on the one hand; and the relation of God on the other.

Aristotles Active and Passive Intellect Theory:

            This is quoted from his last book on the soul (De-Anima), in which he makes the distinction between the active and creative intellect on the one hand and the passive intellect on the other. Active intellect, according to Aristotle, is the third between the object and the passive intellect, as light is the third besides the eye and the object. Thus active intellect is said to create the truths that we know just as light may be said to make colours which we perceive with its aid. We see here Aristotles general principle that what is potentially, comes to be actually by the agency of something that already is actually (Metaphysics, I049 b24). In passive intellect all concepts are merely potential, they are made real or actual by active intellect; actualised intellect thus may be called intellect in action. The active intellect is said to be separable from matter and impassive and unmixed, being in its essential nature an activity. There is no intermission in its thinking, it is only in separation from matter that it is fully itself and it alone is immortal and everlasting, while the passive intelligence is perishable and there is no thinking at all apart from this (De Anima 430).

            Aristotle has left unexplained the precise relation between the active and passive intellects and the unity and individuality of the human personality. It seems vain to look in his doctrine for the possibility of personal immortality. The true interpretation of Aristotle on these points was a cause of dispute even among his own immediate disciples. It is needless to comment on these incoherent and baseless statements.

Descartes:

            Another famous, so called rationalist philosopher, disbelieved his senses, distrusted all the knowledge acquired by him and disowned all the traditional authority and stopped at thought, finding certainty in the dictum cogite ergo sum - I think, therefore, I am. He held that the reason was competent to explain the ultimate reality.

Kant:

            Famous German philosopher, on the other hand revealed the limitations of reason and reduced the whole work of rationalists to a heap of ruins, but he according to Dr. lqbal consistently, could not affirm the possibility of knowledge of God on the basis of his principles.

            Kant further says that: I think which accompanies every thought is formal condition of thought and the transition from a purely formal condition of thought to ontological substance is logically illegitimate. He further says indivisibility of a substance does not prove its indestructibility.

Wilden Carr:

            Challenging the theory that intellect is a product of evolution, he says: If intellect is a product of evolution, the whole mechanistic concept of the nature and origin of life is absurd, and, the principle which science has adopted must clearly be revised. We have only to state it to see the self-contradiction. If intellect is an evolution of life, then the concept of life that can evolve intellect as a particular mode of apprehending reality must be the concept of more concrete activity than that of any abstract mechanical movement, which the intellect can present to itself by analysing its apprehending content. And yet further if the intellect be a product of the evolution of life, it is not absolute but relative to the activity of that which has evolved it; how then in such cases, can science exclude the subjective aspect of knowing and build on the objective presentation as an absolute? Clearly the biological sciences necessitate a reconsideration of scientific principle.

Professor Whitehead:

            An eminent Mathematician and scientist, has conclusively shown that traditional theory of materialism is untenable. It is obvious that theoretically colours and sounds etc. are subjective states only and form no part of nature. He says our perceptions are illusions. His theory reduces one half of the nature to dream and other half to the conjecture.

We cannot deny the importance of intellect in knowing the Reality but of course, it has its own limitations. It is impossible for any person to know all the pros and cons of a thing keeping everything about that thing in mind at the same time. Fancies often overlap intellect and inferences drawn by the intellect get fogged. Take the example of a dead body lying in a room; rarely would anybody sleep in that room. Though the intellect will clearly know the dead body is harmless, and there should be no problem in sleeping in that room, yet the fancy ideas overlap the intellect and people feel afraid of sleeping there. In this example one can clearly understand that many things influence the intellect. Hence its decisions cannot be fool proof; there is always possibility of errors and wrong interpretations.

Ibne Khaldoon:

            A well-known Muslim Historian and father of Sociology, says that intellect has its own boundaries beyond that it cannot work. He gives the example of a balance and says that with the help of balance (which is meant for weighing gold and silver), if one tries to weight a mountain, one can imagine the fate of that balance, similarly, he says that using only intellect to know the Reality is same as weighing a mountain with a balance meant for weighing gold.

Changing Intellectual Experience:

            Imam Gazzali (RA) says, When a man is born, he has no knowledge. Naturally, when a man is born his sensual and intellectual truths are also in infancy and as he grows, his faculties also develop. At every step of his intellectual development, he realises that at his previous step he was at fault and that now he has become wiser.

            Again at the next step of intellectual development, he feels the same that at his previous step (which he was labelling as wiser) he was wrong and this process continues throughout his life. With this thing in mind at which step man will feel that he has obtained perfection? Obviously he will never feel so. When this is the state of his growing and changing his intellectual interpretations how can he decide with the help of this intellect about the absolute Reality without any blemish of error? Hence finite cannot comprehend infinite and every effort to do so is doomed to fail.

            The people who rely only on this faculty of intellect for knowing the Reality always wander in the labyrinth of imagination about the Reality.

3.         Intuitional (Mystic Experience) Faculty:

            Having noted the limitations of intellect in knowing the Reality, one has to explore other faculties. Intuition is the next higher faculty after intellect, before discussing this faculty further, the author feels tempted to present the view point of some of the famous scholars, in this regard.

Rumi:

            Heart is a kind of inner intuition or insight, feeds on the rays of the Sun and brings us in contact with the aspects of Reality other than those open to sensual perception.

Dr Iqbal:

            The revealed and mystic literature of mankind bears ample testimony to the fact that religious experience has been too enduring and dominant in the history of mankind to be rejected as mere illusion. There seems to be no reason, thus, to accept the moral level of human experience as fact and reject its other levels as mystical and emotional. The facts of religious experience are facts among other facts of human experience and in the capacity of yielding knowledge by interpretation; one fact is as good as another.

            The mystic state brings us in contact with the total passage of Reality in which -all the diverse stimuli merge into another and form single unity in which the ordinary distinction of subject and object does not exist.

Imam AI-Gazzali:

He himself narrates his spiritual story as follows:

            The thirst of knowledge was innate in me from an early age. It was like a second nature implemented in me by Allah. No sooner had I emerged from my boyhood than I had already broken the fetters of tradition and authority and freed myself from hereditary beliefs. The diversity in beliefs and the varsity of doctrines in the sects that divide the men are like a vast ocean strewn with shipwrecks. Each sect believes itself to be exclusively in possession of truth and of salvation. From the periods of adolescence I again and again plunged myself into this vast ocean. Struck with the contradictions that I encountered in endeavouring to disentangle the truth and falsity of these opinions, I was led to make the following reflection:

            The search after the truth being the aim that I propose myself, I ought to, in the first place, ascertain as to what are the foundations of certitude. In the next place, I ought to recognise that certitude is the clear and complete knowledge of things such as leaves no room for doubt, no possibility of error.  (Cf. AI Munqidh minal Dhalal)

            AI-Gazzali examined the sum total of knowledge that he had acquired hitherto and found that none of it could stand the test as proposed by him.

He further says,

            We cannot hope to find the truth except in the matters which carry their evidence in themselves, i.e., in sense perception and infallible and necessary principles of thought. We must, therefore, first of all establish these two on a firm basis.

            But he doubted the infallibility of sense perception; he could plainly see that they do often deceive us. No eye can see the movement of shadow, but still the shadow moves; a gold piece can cover any star, but a star is a world larger than the earth.

            The information given by sense experience can be contradicted and convicted of falsity in an indisputable manner by the verdict of reason. AI-Gazzalis confidence in sense information having been shaken, he turned towards the scrutiny of what he called the necessary principles, but he doubted even those. According to AI-Gazzali, in spite of his great respect for Mathematics and Logic, it is not possible to guarantee absolutely the truth of mathematical axioms and laws of logic. Are ten more than three? Can a thing be and not be at the same time? Perhaps he could not tell. His senses have sometimes deceived him, why should not his reason?

            His doubt with regard to sense perception made him very hesitant to accept the infallibility of reason.

            Well, says, AI-Gazzali, perhaps there is above reason another judge, who if approached would convict reason of falsity and if such a third arbiter is not yet apparent, it does not follow that he does not exist.

            AI-Gazzali could not find a way out of this doubt and his experience of dream phenomena deepened it more. While asleep you assume your dreams to be indisputably true, once awake you recognise them for what they are i.e., baseless chimeras. Who can assure you then of the reliability of the notions, which when awake, you derive from the senses and from reason? In relation to your present state they may appear real but is it not possible that should they enter upon another state that will bear the same relation to your present state as the latter does to your condition when asleep? With awakening into that new state you might recognise that the conclusions of reasons are themselves no more than mere chimeras of their own brand.

            AI-Gazzali later suggested that, that state might be death. He says that when we would be awakened in life after death, it would be a true, though different existence. (Cf. Kimiya-Sa-adat).

While narrating his spiritual struggle he further says,

            After my confidence in sense perception and reason got shaken, I was overtaken by sophistication for quite some time. Then Allah cured me of this disease and my condition improved. I developed confidence in axiomatic truths, but this was not due to any logistic or empiricist but was something intuitional. After getting cured of this disease, there were four groups in front of me that appeared to me searchers of truth viz, first was scholastic group (Mutakaillimeen) who claimed to be the people of reason. Second was Carmathian sect (Baatiniya) who claimed that they possess special teachings and secrets and they have acquired knowledge directly from Imam Masoom; third was the group of philosophers who claimed to be the people of logic and argument: fourth was the group of mystics who called themselves the people of intuition and manifestation (Kashaf & Shahood). I studied the books and arguments of all the groups but was not satisfied by any of these.

Scholastics:

            I read the books of scholastics and wrote myself many books about Ilme-kalam. Though it fulfils its own needs but it was not enough for me. It was based on such prefaces which have been put forward by the opposite group and these scholastics have believed them blindly or it has been based on the Quran, Hadith and Ijma (science dealing with consensus of Muslim opinion) which are not effective for a person who does not believe anything except axiomatic truths.

Greek Philosophy:

            Before framing my opinion about the philosophers, I thought it important to study it first thoroughly. Though I was busy writing books and teachings, about three hundred students used to attend my lesson in Baghdad, still I spared sometime for it and studied Greek Philosophy in the course of two years. Then I continued to think over it for another year. I found that Philosophy consists of six kinds of knowledge viz., Mathematics, Logistics, Physics, Politics, Ethics, and Metaphysics. First five have nothing to do with religion neither in negation nor affirmation, nor negation of these important for affirmation of religion. In Physics some of their views confront religion but they are few; in this one should believe that physical laws are in the hands of Allah and that these laws are not independent. But those people, who see the intelligence and subtlety of these philosophers in the field of Physics, feel brow beaten and think that they will be similarly intelligent in other fields also, although this is not necessary that one who is expert in one field will be expert in another field as well.

            Afterwards when they see their irreligious beliefs and non- belief, they also refute religion while following their footsteps.

            On the other hand less knowledgeable ignorant friends of Islam take it as their obligatory religious duty to refute every theory and claim of philosophers blindly. They think doing so is a great service to Islam, so much so that they even reject their research in Physics. The harmful effect of this is that those people who understand the truth of these theories and research in Physics find their belief in Islam shaken and become doubtful about Islam. In short, the branch of philosophy that confronts religion is Metaphysics (Ilahiyat). These philosophers have always stumbled over it. In fact, the preconditions, which they had formulated in Logistics, they could not themselves stick to them in Metaphysics. That is why Metaphysics is surrounded by controversy. I found the views of these philosophers to be like darkness over darkness, if anybody would say such things about his dream, he will be labelled as having perverted taste. I wonder that even a mad person will not get satisfied over such ideas and how about of those who claim to be intellectuals with hair splitting subtlety.

            Finally, I reached to the conclusion that philosophers cannot satisfy me and that intellect alone cannot encompass all the purposes and neither can solve all the problems.

Carmathian sect:

            Then remains the Carmathian sect, I got a chance to study this sect in detail when I was writing my book Al-Mustazhari. I saw that their beliefs depend upon the teaching of Imam Masoom, but the very existence and truth of Imam Masoom itself needs a proof. Both of these things are extremely doubtful.

Mysticism:

            Now remained mystics only and I devoted myself fully towards it. I believe that Mysticism is both theoretical and practical. The theoretical part was easy for me, I went through Quwat ul-Quloob of Abu Talib Makki and the tracts of Harith al-Muhisibi, Junaid, Shibi, Ba Yazid al-Bustimi and other mystics, and whatever could be acquired through knowledge I acquired, but I learned that one cannot reach to truths through reading only but one can reach there through intuition after changing ones practical state. The branches of knowledge, which were my wealth, whether of Shariah or intellectual, have given me certitude about the existence of Allah, Prophet-hood and resurrection, and this was not due to any proof but was as a result of reason and experience, the details of which are difficult to convey. This thing had become quite clear to me that salvation in Hereafter lies in adopting righteousness (Taqwa) and stopping the self (nafs) from its passions and lusts. For this the relation of the heart with the world should break with the complete devotion towards Allah, attractions towards Hereafter and disinterest towards mundane world. But this was not possible without staying away from wealth and worldly honour and without running away from obstacles and mundane relations. When I thought over my condition, I learned that I am sunk in mundane relation from top to toe, my best deed was teaching (of religion), but on deep introspection I found that I was concentrating on those branches of knowledge, which are neither important nor full in Hereafter. I looked into my intention of teaching, I found that it was not completely for the pleasure of Allah, but it was also to achieve fame. When I had established the conviction that I was standing on the edge of the cave of destruction, I knew that if I did not try to reform myself then I would be in deep trouble.

            For quite sometime I had intended to leave Baghdad, but was unable to decide, six months passed like that, sometimes mundane lusts attracted me and sometimes Iman (unflinching faith in the basic tenets of Islam) was reminding me that a few years of life are left behind, your departure from the world is near, a long journey is ahead and all these teachings are based on hypocrisy and imaginations. Sometimes baser self (nafs) would say that if you leave all this, it will be difficult to get it again. In this way another six months passed till things got out of control, I could not say the things that I wanted to when people came to see me; I became so sad that even my digestion was effected. I could not swallow even a sip of water and consequently became very weak. Doctors gave up hope and said that something had affected my heart.

            When I saw myself helpless in this situation, I turned towards Allah and invoked Him in that restless state. Its result was that it became easy for me to leave all the status and honour. I decided to go to Makkah and thought that I will go to Syria. I gave up my excuses to leave Baghdad. When Iraqi people came to know about it, they started criticising me, but I bade goodbye to Baghdad and went to Syria, there I stayed for two years. There I had no engagement except solitude and Mujahada (training of the self and purging it of the worldly desires, which corrupt the spirit). I started purifying my heart as I had learned from the books of mystics. I stayed in seclusion for a long time in Jama Masjid, of Damascus. From there I went to Masjid-e-Aqsa (Bayt-ul-Muqaddus). After seeing Hadhrat Ibrahim (in a dream), I developed the desire to go for Haj, then I went to perform Haj. From there I went to my hometown.

Imam Gazzalis Conclusions:

            In seclusion the spiritual epiphany or revelation which I experienced is difficult to convey but I can tell you that I learnt with certitude that only mystics are truly on the path of Allah. Their morality and their way is the straightest path.

            Such bliss is, undoubtedly, beyond the reach of the intellectuals and scholars, who rely too much on intellect as the main tool of realising the truth. The mystics all-external and internal movements are directly derived from the lamp of prophet-hood and there is no light on the earth better than the light of prophet-hood, from which light can be obtained.

            I learnt that Man is composed of body and QALB and that QALB is a spiritual entity, which is the instrument for understanding Allah. QALB does not mean fleshy heart that is present even in animals. As there is health and disease for the body, so is there soundness and disease for the QALB. Salvation is for those who will meet Allah with the sound QALB (Qalb-e-Saleem).

            The experiences and the consequent conclusions arrived at by Imam AI-Gazzali have been quoted at length because, this is an ideal example to understand the real course which the seeker of Truth should follow. He has superbly analysed all the sects and all the faculties of understanding the Truth and has been quite lucky that Allah has taken him out of fallacies and shown him the right path. He found that the Greek philosophers and scientists have stolen some facts from the teachings of the Prophets and then claimed to be the originators of these facts, that is why they miserably failed in collaborating their claims and in knowing the Truth.

Hadhrat Ali (RA):

            He possessed extra-ordinary knowledge than most of the companions of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Once he was asked by some people if he was told anything special by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), which others did not know? He said, No, Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) didnt tell him anything special but that he has been blessed by extraordinary Fahm (intuition), which Allah bestows upon His exceptional bondsmen.

Haffiz lbne Qayyim:

            Fahm (intuition) is a great gift of Allah to a man and that is a Nur (synonymous to light) which Allah puts in the QALB (heart) of man, which helps a man to understand those things which others do not understand even if the other person is equal to him in memory and intellectual power. The Fahm is the title of Siddiqiyat and a specific sign of Wilayat-u-Nubuwwa. In this there are different grades of Ulema so much so that sometimes thousand Ulema are counted equal to one Aalim. Look at the Fahm of Hadhrat Ibne Abbas (RA) when Hadhrat Umar (RA) asked the Tafseer (interpretation) of Surah An-Nasr from him and other Suhaba, Hadhrat Ibne Abbas (RA) said that he understands that in this Surah there is message of departure of Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) from the world which has been revealed in this Surah, that the time of his (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) departure from the world is near and Hadhrat Umar (RA) agreed with this interpretation. This meaning remained concealed from other Suhaba though Ibne Abbas (RA) was younger in age than others. As such there was no such indication in this Surah, if one considers the literal meaning only. If that intuition from Allah would not have come to him, he could have not understood this real meaning. (Madaarij-u-Salikeen).

Proof of Intution from Hadith:

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:

            One who puts in action the knowledge which he obtains; Allahu Taala teaches him that knowledge which he did not know

            It is this knowledge and understanding which one gets without ones endeavour and effort that is called intuition. Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) further said:

One who worships Allah with sincerity for forty days, Allah Taala opens up springs of knowledge and understanding in his QALB which then come to his tongue.

Talbees-e-Iblees in Mystic Experience

            Deceptive and misleading potential of pseudo-mystic experience:

Allah Taala says in the Quran:

() ()

By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it. And its inspiration, as to its wrong and its right. (91:7-8)

            Allah Taala created man as a wonderful creature, a treasure house of wonderful capabilities. One of these wonderful things which was created in man was NAFS (baser self). Allah Taala says that He then made NAFS proportionate and inspired in it instincts of both evil and good. Both these instincts are inherent properties of NAFS. That means NAFS is inherently capable of both things viz., righteousness as well as evil. Here in this verse Fajoor (wrong) was mentioned first and then Taqwa (righteousness), from this sequence it has been inferred that if NAFS is left like that, without reforming it, then its evil properties will predominate, same is admitted by Hadhrat Yusuf (AS) when he said, as mentioned in the Quran:

Yet I dont absolve myself (of blame): the (human) soul certainly incites evil, unless my Lord do bestow His mercy but surely my Lord is oft-Forgiving, most Merciful. (12:53)

            In this verse, Hadhrat Yusuf (AS) admits that the basic property of nafs is to incite evil. The point to be stressed here is that these are the words of a Prophet and he also says that it is only by the Mercy of Allah that the evils of NAFS (self) can be avoided. Allah has protected Prophets from evil; they could not commit a sin as Allah had bestowed upon them the intense mercy so that their nafs could not incite evil. But the fact remains that Hadhrat Yusuf (AS) admits that the basic property of nafs is to incite evil. In the Aayat quoted first, it is stated that evil has been ingrained first in nafs.

Allah Taala further says:

And shown him two highways (90:10)

            Here also Allah Taala says that both potentials have been inspired in man.

How Does Lateefa Nafs Mislead:

            Allah Taala has given a special function to everything in this world, for example, Cyanide has the property of killing a person, if anybody takes it, he will die, in the same way oxygen helps in burning and carbon dioxide extinguishes fire. A mango tree always gives us mangoes and never an apple and an apple tree always gives apple and not mangoes. Though; Allah Taala has the power and capability of growing mangoes from apple tree and apple from mango tree but it is the Sunnah (tradition) of Allah Taala that He does not change these properties of things. Believing in Allah is not a pre-condition for such things, even if a nonbeliever of Allah sows the seeds of a mango tree, he will also get the mango tree and even if a Muslim takes cyanide, he will most likely die. The function Allah has assigned for a certain thing, that thing will normally execute that function only.

            Having understood that, one can similarly understand that nafs also has certain functions and it will execute them. We have seen that if nafs is left alone, the evil will predominate, as this is the basic property of nafs.

            Now when somebody goes to some self-made mystic, or some Yogi or a Christian priest or a Jew Rabi, these people advise him some kind of exercises that help in lightening of the nafs. They advise them to observe a fast for a long time or to remain in solitude and do some sort of Yoga practice or concentrate on a particular point for a considerable time. All these things help in making nafs light. After sometime, because of these exercises, nafs manifests some of its properties that were hidden in it. For this to happen faith in Allah and His messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is not a precondition. Anybody, irrespective of any religion can do it and reach this state of nafs. When these people experience some unusual manifestations of nafs, they get deceived and feel that they have found the Reality. With the result they remain attached to their Guru (a mentor) for rest of their lives, thinking themselves as extra-ordinary people. In this way they never come out of their compound ignorance (Jahal-e-Murakkab).

            It is human nature that a person cannot believe something without any reason, there has to be some basis for his beliefs.

            So, how do these people remain attached to these ignorant mystics (Jahil Sufis) or yogis, Christian priests or Rabbis? The reason is the same that before going to them they were not seeing anything and after they went to them, did some exercises, started seeing unusual manifestations of nafs, they become convinced that they have seen God and some people even believe that they have become God (Na-uooz billah) (we seek refuge in Allah).

How Astrologers Got Deceived:

            Astrologers get deceived in the same way. Actually what happens when Allah Taala wishes something, He announces it to the Angels. This commandment descends through the angels from Arsh (the Empyrean) to the 7th heaven, then to the 6th and so on till it reaches the first heaven. From here the angels descend with this commandment and produce the desired changes in the celestial bodies and the stars. Then these angels descend to the earth and get that command executed. As already mentioned Allah Taala has fixed up the functions of things, and He does not change them. The astrologers, who study the stars, see with their experience, that a particular event always takes place on the earth following a particular movement or change of the stars. Since they cannot see beyond the stars, they believe that stars are effective in themselves and the stars only have caused this event and they believe that the stars are the gods (Inna- Lillahi-Wa-Inna-lllahi-Rajioon). The reality is that these stars are under the control of Allah Taala and it is He who produces the changes in them as He wishes. Since these changes of the stars are most of the times linked with a particular event on the earth, so they get misled, thinking that stars are doing all this.

            In the same way one can imagine how these pseudo mystics get deceived. As the astrologers view stops at the stars and he thinks that he has touched the top, so does the pseudo mystics view stops at the nafs and he thinks that he has realized the Truth. As the astrologer does not appreciate that there are so many higher and higher, finer and finer states above the stars because they are invisible to him, so does the pseudo mystic not appreciate that there are much higher and finer faculties than nafs in man, which remain hidden from him.

Role of Satan (Iblees) in Mystic Experience:

            Iblees is the perpetual enemy of man. Ever since man has been created, Iblees follows him. Allah Taala has also given special characteristics to Iblees. It is stated in the Hadith (tradition) that Iblees runs in the blood of man and also sits on his heart. Iblees is capable of doing many extraordinary things which ignorant people think divine, hence get deceived. In any mystic experience, there remains always the probability that Iblees might have put a deceptive and misleading interpretation in the heart of that person who is going through this experience, except the prophets. It is this thing that is called Talbees-e-Iblees. Only Prophets have been protected from it and no other person other than prophets is safe from such Talbees of Iblees.

            There is a famous incident known about the Hadhrat Shaikh Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani (RA). He was a great Wali (saint) of Muslim Ummah. His mystic experiences were of par excellence. It is said that once, while he was walking he saw a light (Nur) between the heavens and the earth. From this Nur, a voice was heard, which said, O! Abdul Qadir, your Salah (prayer) has been waived off for you. Since Hadhrat Shaikh (RA) was a great scholar and he knew that Iblees could do such things, he relied upon the Prophetic knowledge, which is safe from the effects of Iblees and NAFS. Prophetic knowledge states that Salah is compulsory for every adult, sane and conscious person. It cannot be considered waived off in any circumstances. So Hadhrat Shaikh (RA) rejected the exhortation of lblees without any hesitation.

Spiritual Faculties of Acquiring Mystic Experience

            We have seen earlier the limitations of sensual and intellectual faculties in acquiring knowledge. The sensual faculty and intellect or reasoning faculty have their own limitations. Then we have seen the immense potential of mystic experience in understanding the Reality. Mystic experience uses spiritual faculties for acquiring knowledge viz., QALB, ROOH etc.

QALB as the Spiritual Faculty of Acquiring Mystic Experience:

            This topic is discussed in detail in the authors another book Instrument for Understanding the Quran. Here a brief synopsis is given.

What is QALB?

            QALB is not synonymous with human heart, which consists of muscular, and connective tissues filled with some venous and arterial blood that we see in the left side of the chest, but as for the definition given in Jalalain (an authentic commentary of the Holy Quran), QALB is an instrument, which has been given the capability of perceiving the Divine Attributes.

 

Allah Taala says in the Quran:

 

 Verily in this is a message for any that has a heart and understanding or who gives ear and is a witness

And He further says:

And know that Allah cometh in between a man and his heart (8:24)

Those whom Allah willeth to guide -  He openeth their breast to Islam (6:125)

            This opening up of breast, which is seat of QALB, has been linked with understanding of guidance from Allah.

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has said:

My eyes sleep, my heart does not

He further said:

Indeed there is a piece of flesh in human body if it stays alright, the body stays alright and if it goes astray, the body goes astray listen! That is QALB.

And further

Indeed, a ghain (a sort of a veil) is put in my heart and indeed I seek Istigafar (forgiveness) from Allah hundred times every day.

            It is because of this Istigfar (forgiveness) that veil was being lifted and the QALB-e-Mubarak of Rasulullah (Salailahu Alaihi Wasallam) continued to receive higher and higher states of the Divine knowledge.

Abu-Al-Hasan Bin Muhammad Asfahani (RA) used to say:

 

            From the time of Adam (AS) upto the Day of Judgement (Qiyamah), people would continue to say-QALB, QALB. I would like to find a person who could tell me what QALB is but, I cannot find such a person. People call QALB a piece of flesh but that is present in children as well as in insane people. Then what is QALB? If I call intellect as QALB that is not right. If I call ROOH as QALB that is also not right. If I call knowledge as QALB that is also not QALB. All the constituents of Reality are related to QALB but QALB is something other than these.

Shah Wali-ullah Muhaddis Dehlvi (RA) says,

 QALB is that thing by which one loves and hates.

for Shah Sahib QALB is the seat of love and hatred.

            Hadhrat Haji lmdad-Ullah Muhajir Makki (RA), a great spiritual saint of the recent past as well as Shaikh of great scholars like Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (RA), Maulana Rashid Ahmed Gangohi (RA) and Maulana Qasim Nanotvi (RA) (Founder of Darul Uloom Deoband) used to say that he has been bestowed upon by Allah some special blessings and these include knowledge about QALB as well, that means Allah had given him such knowledge by which he could understand the Reality of QALB and its attributes.

ROOH as the Second Spiritual Faculty for Acquiring Knowledge About Reality:

            Human soul (ROOH) is another faculty with tremendous potential of knowing the Reality.

Allah Taala says:

 

Say, the spirit is of the command of my Lord.

            This ROOH is very fine in nature. This fine nature helps it to penetrate deeply into the depths of reality that is not possible for things such as the eyes or other senses.

Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:

(Human) souls (ROOH) are a (groups of) collected souls, those who came to know one another, loved one another (in the world) and those who did not know one another, differed (in the world).

            From this Hadith the capability of the souls of recognising each other is clearly evident.

Allahu Taala says in the Quran:

() () ()

When thy Lord drew forth from the children of Adam from their loins, their descendants and made them testify concerning themselves (saying) Am  I not your Lord (Who cherishes and sustains you)? They said: Yea! we do testify! (This,) lest ye should say on the Day of Judgement: of this we were never mindful (7:172-174)

            This covenant was made before man appeared on this earth. Souls of whole mankind acknowledged the supreme authority of Allah and recognised Him as their only Cherisher and Sustainer. This acknowledgement is inherent in ROOH-e-Insaani (Soul of man). This faculty remains latent in man, when he is born. At birth he has no knowledge. As he grows, the first faculty of acquiring knowledge that develops in man is sensual, but the intellectual faculty is still in infancy. After that his intellectual faculty goes on developing, the progress of which depends upon so many other co-factors.

            The spiritual faculties of QALB, ROOH and others do not develop until they find the congenial atmosphere for growth. The majority of the people in the world do not try to provide the congenial atmosphere to QALB and ROOH where they could grow and bear the fruit, hence these people fail to understand and recognise the Reality. There are some people who deny these faculties, but one should remember that if someone does not know a thing that does not mean, that thing does not exist. It is same as a blind man denying the presence of the moon.

            There are other higher spiritual faculties in man, other than QALB and ROOH as well but they are so comprehensive that their description is beyond the scope of this booklet.

4.         Prophetic Faculty of Acquiring Knowledge:

            We have seen the limitations of sensual and intellectual faculties and have also seen that mystic experience is a faculty of immense potential by which knowledge about Reality can be acquired upto the unimaginable levels. We have also seen that mystic experience can get mixed with deception and erroneous interpretations. Hence it cannot be relied upon as the ultimate truth. So, finally we are left with Prophetic faculty of acquiring knowledge. This is the highest faculty and the safest where there is absolutely no chance of any deception, erroneous interpretations or Talbees-e-Iblees (deception caused by Satan).

Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:

When a man is born, an Angel and a Satan are posted on his QALB. The Angel guides him to righteousness and to Satan incites him to evil deeds.

            Satan cannot affect the Prophets; the receptors responsive to satanic effects were removed from their Qalbs (Hearts). Prophets are immune to the effects of Satan. The Satans posted on their hearts were also made harmless so that they could not incite evil in them.

Incident of SHAQQ-I-SADR:

            Shadad Bin Aous quotes Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) as saying:

            One day I was in the valley of Bani Lais Bin Bakr with my foster brothers, suddenly I saw three persons. One of them was carrying a large golden tray filled with ice. In another narration, it is narrated that one was carrying a spouted silver jug and the other was carrying a pot of green emerald filled with ice. Then they caught me from amongst my companions, my all companions ran away towards their homes. Then one of these three made me to lie down on the ground very gently, other person incised my chest from the joints of chest up to the umbilicus but I did not feel any pain. Then he brought out the vessels, nerves (could be either of them) of my abdomen and washed them quite nicely with this ice and then placed them back in their original positions. The other person told him to move away and then he put his hand in my chest and brought out my heart, I was seeing it. He incised it and, brought out a black clot and said, It is the part of the Satan, and then they filled it (heart) with something, which they had got with them. Then he pointed towards his left and right as if he was asking for something, then they gave him a ring of Nur, the light which was dazzling, then they put a seal on my heart and my heart got enlightened, filled with Nur and that Nur was of Nubuwawah (Prophet-hood), Hikmah (Wisdom). Then he put back the heart at its place. I was feeling the coolness and joy of this seal for a long time. Then they moved their hands from the umbilicus up to the chest and that opening (incision) got closed. They lifted me gently and embraced me and kissed me between my two eyes. They told me, O Friend of Allah, Dont ask anything, if you would know as to what betterment is for you, then you would become very happy. They left me and flew towards the heavens and I was watching them.

            Ulema say that this washing of QALB was not peculiar about Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) only but was common to all the prophets. In them that part which was belonging to Satan, was removed too. (Madaarij-e-Nubuwwah)

            This incident of Shaqq-e-Sadr (opening of breast) was repeated four time to Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) viz:

1.         During childhood, when he was with Haleema.
2.         Near Adolescence.
3.         Before Nubuwwah (Prophet-hood).
4.         On the night of Meraj.

            It is this quality of the prophets which immunizes them against evil. None amongst mankind, other than the prophets, can claim this perfection. Prophets were born as human beings only. They had all the characteristics of human beings. As Allah created prophets for a special purpose, so special arrangements were made for them so that they could serve the purpose for which they were created. One of them was the same as mentioned in the Hadith of Shaqq-e-Sadr i.e., the receptors in their hearts responsive to Satan, were removed from them so that their mystic experience could perceive only the Truth without any overshadowing, deception or interference from Satan. This important point should be borne in mind that whatever the experience prophets convey to mankind is nothing but the Absolute Truth.

            Allah Taala is infinite, His Essence and His Attributes are infinite. His Greatness and His Vastness is unimaginable. Allah Taala wished to give expression to His Attributes, for this purpose, He created the universe. He created man for this job. Here it should be remembered that this is the real job of a man in this world, that is, to know Allah Taala and His Attributes. As man was created basically for knowing Allah, so he was equipped with the faculties of acquiring knowledge like sensual, intellectual and spiritual.

            But at the same time the very purpose of mans creation demanded that man should have opposite faculties as well like self (NAFS), so that he would be distinct from the Angels, who can do only good, and Satan, which can do only; evil. Man was created as a mixture of opposites; both good and bad faculties were mixed in him. This created a problem for man. His sensual, intellectual and spiritual faculties were becoming overshadowed by the lust of self (NAFS) and cunningness of Satan. In addition to this one important characteristic of self (NAFS) is negligence and this is so dominant that man has to strive very hard to overcome this negligence what is called Mujahadah in the terminology of mystics. (Mujahaddah - Endeavour for self purification. In the Quran three states of self are explained: a) Nafs Ammarrah: Self dominated by vice, greed in particular. b) Nafs Lawamah: Penitent self. c) Nafs Mutmainnah: contended self, free from evil tendencies.)

            This was one reason that Merciful Allah showed Mercy upon the mankind by sending Prophets in whom both these evil forces of man viz, nafs and Satan were taken care of. Prophets were bestowed with NAFS-Mutmainna rather than NAFS-Ammara. NAFS-Mutmainna is that NAFS, which does not incite evil but righteousness only. Their Satan was also deprived of the evil properties.

            The second reason for sending the Prophets was that there was a great discrepancy between the limited faculties of man and the infinite Attributes of Allah, so the need arose for intermediaries between man and these Eternal Attributes. The intermediaries resembled on the one hand man, and on the other with the Divine Attributes. This job could not be assigned to the angels as they did not resemble man. So Allah selected only some people from amongst mankind for this job, Allah gave them special capabilities which were necessary for the divine communication. Their hearts were congenial with Mala-u-Aala - a higher body of Angels. It is in association with these Angels that the Prophets could venture such great tasks and accomplished them in a very short time inspite of the fact that they apparently seemed to be alone with the whole world against them. Later on, Allah Taala used to mould the hearts of the people, and used to safeguard these prophets, through angels. We conclude that prophets could only perceive the Truth without any misinterpretation, deception and also in its totality. Therefore there is only one way of salvation, only one way of knowing the truth that is through the prophets of Allah, who receive divine revelation that is called WAHY.

Why the Quran Only?

            There is no doubt that Hadhrat Muhammad (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was a Prophet. Even the opponents of Islam have no alternative but to accept his Prophet-hood. Modern scientists, Embryologists and Zoologists who are free from religious prejudice admit that the Quran is supernatural revelation. An illiterate man like Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), born in a conservative and ignorant society, could never come up with such perfect knowledge about realities as is contained in the Quran.

            One of the essential qualities of Prophet-hood is truth. A prophet cannot tell a lie. Allah says in the Quran that Muhammad (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is the last Prophet, prophet hood ended with him. There will be no prophet now onwards up to the Day of Judgement (Qiyamah), so we have to believe him as the last prophet. We believe in Hadhrat Isa (AS) Jesus Christ and Hadhrat Musa (AS) (Moses) as Prophets. They did not say that they were last prophets, so believing in Muhammad (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) does not mean denying prophet-hood of any other prophet. On the other hand the Quran has endorsed their Prophet-hood as well.

            Secondly, only the Quran, the last testament, exists in its original form as Allah Himself has guaranteed its safety whereas we dont have the Bible and the Tourah (Pentateuch) in their original forms present in the world. We have no other divine book available these days in the world in original form, of course except the Quran.

            I hope that I have proved beyond any doubt my point that to understand Reality, prophet hood is essential and, as Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is the last Prophet and the Quran, last revelation from Allah, so to understand Reality, only one door is open and that is the Quran.

All Praises for Allah The Almighty.

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DARUL ULOOM ILAHIYAH
INSTITUTE OF ISLAMIC RESEARCH
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