How Do We Know The Revelation Is Credible? Part 1 | About Islam
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How Do We Know The Revelation Is Credible? Part 1



Reply Date

Mar 12, 2017


Can you elaborate on the process of the revelation and how do we know for sure that none of God’s words have been distorted. How was the message revealed to the Prophet (peace be upon him)? How much influence did the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) have on the revealed words in the Qur’an? Why did God use Gabriel to transmit the divine message? Why did it not go directly to the Prophet?



Salam Amina,

Thank you for your question. 

Please find part one of the answer to your question below. Find the second and final part at the link here.

Muhammad Asad wrote that all religions, not only Islam, rely on the fact that:

only a small segment of reality is open to man’s perception and imagination, and that by far the larger part of it escapes his comprehension altogether.

Equally important is the idea that the human mind:

can operate only on the basis of perceptions previously experienced by that very mind either in their entirety or in some of their constituent elements […].

In other words, we cannot form a clear idea of something that happens entirely outside the realm of our past experiences; and that being so, it is natural that we find it difficult to comprehend the full meaning and relevance of mystical experiences like revelation. 

Indeed, the Quran makes a clear distinction between the perceptible world of experience (shahadah) and the unseen world of transcendental reality (ghayb).

Revelation (wahy) is a means for God’s specially chosen messengers to receive divine messages; we may call it an exclusive channel of communication accessible to the prophets.

For this reason, by way of objective investigation, we can only study the credibility of the person who claims to have received the wahy, learn the circumstances, and observe the results.

From these, we can arrive at some conclusions. The Quran says:

{It is not fitting for a man that God should speak to him except by inspiration, or from behind a veil, or by sending of a messenger to reveal with God’s permission what God wills: for He is Most High, Most Wise.} (Ash-Shura 42:51)

This means that God does not hold a face-to-face talk with any human. The divine message comes to the prophets through the angel Gabriel.

There are other exceptional cases like Abraham (peace be upon him) getting God’s message in a dream or Moses (peace be upon him) hearing God speaking to him from behind a burning bush.

But again, these are exceptional cases. 

Here is an account of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) receiving the first revelation.

According to Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), the Prophet used to go in seclusion in the Cave of Hiraa’, where he used to worship Allah alone continuously for many days before he desired to see his family.

He used to take with him food for the stay and then come back to his wife Khadijah to take his food again, till suddenly the truth descended upon him while he was in the Cave of Hiraa’. 

The angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet replied:

I do not know how to read.

The Prophet added in his report:

The angel caught me [forcibly] and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, ‘I do not know how to read.’ Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time till I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read, but again I replied, ‘I do not know how to read (or what shall I read?).’ Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said: {Read, in the name of your Lord, who created, created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the most bountiful.} (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). 

This happened in the year 610 CE, when the Prophet was forty years old. About the nature of the revelation, the Prophet is reported to have said:

Sometimes it is ‘revealed’ like the ringing of a bell, this form of inspiration is the hardest of all and then this state passes off after I have grasped what is inspired. Sometimes the angel comes in the form of a man and talks to me and I grasp whatever he says. (Al-Bukhari).

Please continue reading part two at the link here

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

The Quran: From the Preserved Tablet to Humankind

How Do We Know that the Quran has Never been Changed?

Is the Quran Authentic?

About Professor Shahul Hameed

Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.

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