Thursday, 2 February 2017

Methods of ‘Wahy' on Rasulullah (Sallallâhu Alaihi Wasallam)


Hadhrat Aisha (RA) narrates that one day a Sahâbi, Hadhrat Hârith bin Hisham (RA) asked Rasulullah (Sallallâhu Alaihi Wasallam), how Wahy comes to him, Rasulullah (Sallallâhu Alaihi Wasallam) replied: "Sometimes it comes like ringing of a bell and this type of Wahy is toughest for me, and when this process ends, I remember whate­ver has been said. And sometime an angel comes to me in the form of a man". (Sahih Bukhari)

Salsalat-ul-Jaras (صلصلة الجرس )
It literally means the ringing of a bell. Rasulullah (Sallallâhu Alaihi Wasallam) compared this with the ringing of a bell. It was not because of the fact that it exactly resembled the ringing of bell, then, why was this comparison made? Great Ulema have given different explanations viz.,
i) To know the exact nature of ‘Wahy' is impossible for any body, its actual nature was only experienced by Rasulullah (Sallallâhu Alaihi Wasallam). There were no words to explain its exact nature, that is why Rasulullah (Sallallâhu Alaihi Wasallam) explained it with most appropriate words from the sensual world and he (Sallallâhu Alaihi Wasallam) found it appropriate to compare it with the ringing of a bell.
ii) Some Ulema believe that it was the sound of the wings of the angels that produced the sound like that of a ringing bell. (Uloom -Ul-Qur'ân)
iii) Imâm-ul-Asr Hadhrat Allâmah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (RA) while quoting Ibn Arabi (RA) says that it was compared to the ringing of a bell, not because its sound resembled with it, but because it resembled the ringing bell in continuity and secondly as it is difficult to localise the direction of the sound of a ringing bell, so was it difficult to localise the direction of ‘Wahy'. Since, it is the word of Allâh, Who has no single direction, so is His word without any particular direction. (Faidhul Bâri)
Rasulullah (Sallallâhu Alaihi Wasallam) said that this type of Wahy was toughest for him and it was relatively easy for him when the angel used to come with ‘Wahy' in the form of a man. Hadhrat Aisha (RA) nar­rates: "I have witnessed descent of Wahy on Rasulullah (Sallallâhu Alaihi Wasallam) during very cold days of winter, after the completion of Wahy I used to see lot of sweating on the blessed forehead of Rasulullah (Sallallâhu Alaihi Wasallam)." (Sahih Bukhari)
In other tradition it is mentioned that Rasulullah (Sallallâhu Alaihi Wasallam) used to turn pale, ashen grey in colour during descent of Wahy.
It is reported that once Rasulullah (Sallallâhu Alaihi Wasallam), placed his blessed head on the thigh of Hadhrat Zayd bin Thâbit (RA) and descent of ‘Wahy' started during that very time, Hadhrat Zayd (RA) felt so much weight on his thigh that he thought it was going to crack.
Hadhrat Umar (RA) says that when ‘Wahy" used to come to Rasulullah (Sallallâhu Alaihi Wasallam), there used to be sounds like those of buzzing of bees around his blessed face. This should not be confused with the earlier Hadith where ‘Wahy' has been compared with ringing of a bell, later (ringing of a bell) was experienced by Rasulullah (Sallallâhu Alaihi Wasallam) and former i.e., buzzing of bees was experienced by the listeners around, hence no confusion

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1- Ringing of the bells:
In Sahih Bukhari we have the statement of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) describing the phenomenon of revelation;
"Sometimes it is like the ringing of a bell, this form of Inspiration is the hardest of all and then this state passes ' off after I have retained what is inspired.” (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 2)
What is the significance of relating revelation to the idea of ringing of a bell? This is not mentioned in any Hadith but some scholars have given quite plausible explanations.
Shaykh Anwar Shah Kashmiri has quoted from Shaykh Ibn Arabi the most subtle explanation;
‘He states that the simile has been used in two respects;
a- Firstly it pertains to the continuity of the sound,
b- And secondly in so far as it is difficult to ascertain the direction of the sound of a bell continuously ringing as it appears to be coming from all directions, His words are heard from all directions. 
The exact perception of this state is not possible without actual observation but the Holy Prophet (PBUH) used the simile of ringing bells to bring it as near to the common understanding as possible,’ (An Approach to Qur’anic Sciences p.40 cf. Faidh Al-Bari 1/19-20)
Karen Armstrong makes a valid point when she says; “Revelation cannot be described in a simple manner.” (Muhammad Prophet of Our Time, p.49 pub. Harper Press 2006)
About this manner of revelation the Prophet (PBUH) said; “It is the hardest of all”. This was owing to the fact that there was no direct and common way of interaction but rather a super-human one. This is what made it the hardest of all the forms of revelation.
2- Angel coming in the human form:
Same Hadith also mentions, “Sometimes the Angel comes in the form of a man and talks to me and I retain whatever he says.”
In another Hadith about this form of revelation it is mentioned, the Prophet (PBUH) said;
“And this form is the easiest for me.” (Al-Ittiqan 1/50 cf. Sahih Abu Awana)
3- Analysis and Conclusion:
Comparison of these two forms of revelation supports the earlier explanation about the nature of revelation that physical concomitants of revelation were due to the communication with another –superhuman- world. The more unnatural the contact more extreme were the concomitants. If the angel came in the human form it was not an extraordinary burden on the Holy Prophet (PBUH). But if only the voice of the angel or directly the words of Allah were heard it was an extraordinary state and Holy Prophet (PBUH) had great burden upon him and faced trouble to grasp what was told.

Some refer to the Ahadith which say that “Bell is the instrument of Devil” and relating to the Ahadith in which Prophet (PBUH) said that at the time of revelation he listens to voice like ringing of the bell, they argue that it means the experience of revelation had Satan’s rule in it.
This is over simplification! We have in detail discussed the narration about revelation and sound like ringing of the bell. The very fact that Prophet (PBUH) termed the voice he heard LIKE the voice of ringing bells. The word ‘LIKE’ is significant which proves the absurdity of the parallel drawn between different Ahadith. Ringing of the bells is by no means so novel a phenomenon that Prophet (PBUH) would fail to describe it with certainty instead of making it just an object of simile.

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