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There are several pastors in the US who, through their sermons, instill into into the minds of their followers the idea that one can really hear God speaking to them, if only they have the right faith and attitude.
Meanwhile, there are authentic Christian scholars who warn against the claims of ordinary believers about God talking to them and directly approving their own chosen course of action in a particular context.
George Bush (Jr), while visiting the Middle East after his Iraq invasion, said that he invaded Iraq because God told him to do so!
Making God in Our Image
First of all, the idea of having “a personal relationship with God” comes from believing Jesus to be God and imagining him to be personally present with a believer in a mood of prayerfulness, as it were.
This is obviously a “God” which people in this kind of delusion create out of their own imagination.
See this quote from an authority on the subject:
They labor under the illusion that the God they make in the image of the self becomes more real as he more nearly comes to resemble the self, to accommodate its needs and desires. The truth is quite the opposite. It is ridiculous to assert that God could become more real by abandoning his own character in an effort to identify more completely with ours. And yet the illusion has proved compelling to a whole generation. (“God in the Wasteland”, Eerdmans, 1994, 100-101.)
How God Speaks To Us (Christian Viewpoint)
There are several articles and sermons written by Christians that explain how God communicates with humans.
Rick Warren in his article entitled: “Four Ways God Speaks to Us”, writes about the four channels that God uses to communicate with people:
- God speaks to us through the Scripture.
- God speaks to us through teachers.
- God speaks to us through impressions.
- God speaks to us through our circumstances.
About the first two channels there cannot be any confusion.
But the third and the fourth channels are tricky: For instance, our impressions are not be a reliable channel for communication.
And the circumstances that drive us to choose a particular course of action may present us with a number of possible courses of action, leaving us in confusion.
If a person wants to hear a clear instruction from God or Jesus, this is what an expert in the field has to say:
…only a wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! (Jesus, recorded in Matthew 12:39)
Now let’s examine the Islamic view of the subject.
How God Speaks To Us (Islamic Viewpoint)
We read in the Quran (and the Hadiths) that God communicated with the prophets through Jibreel (Gabriel) the archangel, peace be upon him.
And in the Chapter 20:9-48 of the Noble Quran we read how God directly spoke to Prophet Moses at the valley of Tuwa near Mount Sinai.
This is an example of God literally talking to one of His prophets.
We need to understand that after the time of the Prophets there is no reliable record of God directly speaking to anyone.
And there is no reference in the Quran or in the books of Hadith about any other human hearing the voice of God.
What we can strive for, at best, is to pray to God to guide us and do our utmost to follow His Law and commandments as expressed in the Quran and the Hadiths.
As for an answer to your question from Islam’s point of view, the best we can find can be summed up thus:
First, our duty is always to submit to God’s will, as expressed in the Book of God and the teachings of the Prophet.
Secondly, we must strive to lead a virtuous life as best as we can.
Thirdly, we have to use our intelligence to assess our own circumstances and choose the best course open before us in the light of Divine Guidance.
Fourthly, we need to pray constantly and most sincerely for God’s help and guidance.
And then you will be, God willing, on the right path.
And Allah knows best.