Revelation and Prophecy
Hawzah News Agency – In the previous articles we have explained the ways by which true Prophets can be distinguished from false ones. Now we must address the manner in which communication takes place between the Prophets and the unseen world, that is, through revelation (wahy(.
Revelation is the most important means by which Prophets are in communion with the unseen. It is not the product of human instinct or intellect, but a special mode of awareness that God has bestowed upon the Prophets in order that they might convey divine messages to mankind. The Qur’an describes revelation thus:
And truly, it is a revelation of the Lord of the worlds, which the faithful spirit hath brought down upon thy heart ... (Sura al-Shu‘ara, XXVI: 192-194)
This verse shows that the Prophet’s awareness of the divine message has nothing to do with the activities of the outward senses or the like; on the contrary, this awareness is cast by the angel of revelation into the heart of the Prophet.38 Therefore, the complex reality of revelation cannot be explained by conventional means of analysis. In truth, the descent of revelation is one of manifestations of the unseen which can only be properly assimilated by faith, however much its intrinsic reality may remain mysterious to us. As it is said:
Those who believe in the unseen …(Sura al-Baqara, II:3)
Ayatollah Jafar Sobhani, Doctrines of Shii Islam, A Compendium of Imami Beliefs and Practices, Translated and Edited by Reza Shah-Kazemi, published by I.B.Tauris Publishers, london • new york 2003.