Now that the existence and Oneness of God was established, and the Prophethood of Muhammed ﷺ was established, it becomes incumbent upon the Mukalaf to affirm everything that can be reliably traced back to Prophet Muhammed ﷺ. This is called revelation.

Information that must be affirmed by revelation includes: the finality of prophethood with Prophet Muhammed ﷺ, the existence of angels, the occurrence of the day of judgment, the eternal reward for the believers, the eternal punishment of the disbelievers, as well as the law that the Prophet ﷺ delivered from Allah ﷻ (the name of God according to revelation) and instructed mankind to abide by.

Reliability of Revelation

Not all that which is attributed to the Prophet ﷺ was actually conveyed by him. It is important therefore, to be able to distinguish what’s reliable from what isn’t, such that true revelation can be distinguished from fabrication.

Reports about the Prophet ﷺ are classed into two categories depending on how reliably they go back to him. The decisively reliable (Qat’i Al-Thubut), and the indecisively reliable (Dhani Al-Thubut).

Decisively reliable: a report that has been mass transmitted from the Prophet ﷺ, such that we are certain of its accuracy. For example: the Quran.

Indecisively reliable: a report that has not been mass transmitted from the Prophet ﷺ, such that we are uncertain of its accuracy. For example: his ﷺ saying:

إِنَّمَا الأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّاتِ
Indeed, actions are judged according to intention[1]

Which has been narrated from the Prophet ﷺ by a single companion. Namely, ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab.

That which is decisively reliable forms the core of Islam. Every Mukalaf is therefore required to affirm all of it. This is because we are certain that the Prophet ﷺ conveyed this information.

Reports that are of indecisive reliability must also be affirmed, however with conditions. Amongst those conditions is that the contents of such reports must not conflict with that which has been established by rational necessity, the contents must not conflict with decisively reliable reports, and the report itself must have been transmitted from the Prophet ﷺ by a connected chain of trustworthy narrators.

The reason indecisively reliable reports must be affirmed after all conditions are satisfied, is given the promise of reward and the threat of punishment. We come to know, by way of decisively reliable texts, that obeying the Prophet ﷺ leads to reward:

وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا
And whomsoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, achieves a great achievement[2].

Whereas disobeying him leads to punishment:

فَلْيَحْذَرِ الَّذِينَ يُخَالِفُونَ عَنْ أَمْرِهِ أَن تُصِيبَهُمْ فِتْنَةٌ أَوْ يُصِيبَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
Let those who oppose the Messenger’s commands beware, lest they be afflicted with great trials or a painful punishment[3].

When the above is taken into consideration, the Mukalaf realizes that he does not need to be certain that a report from the Prophet ﷺ is true, in order to act upon it. Just knowing that the Prophet ﷺ probably conveyed some commandment, is enough for the Mukalaf to act upon this commandment in most cases[4].

Clarity of Revelation

Revelation can be classed into two categories depending on its clarity: the unequivocal (Qat’i Al-Dalala), and the ambiguous (Dhani Al-Dalala).

Unequivocal: a text which the Arabic language does not allow for a multiplicity of interpretations for. For example:

لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ
Nothing is like God’s resemblance[5].

Which is a text that can only be referring to God’s absolute uniqueness, and dissimilarity to everything else. The Arabic does not allow for any other interpretation.

Ambiguous: a text which the Arabic language allows for a multiplicity of interpretations for. For example:

الرَّحْمَٰنُ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ اسْتَوَى
The Most Merciful on Al-‘Arsh Istawa[6].

Which is a phrase whose Arabic, devoid of all context, allows for a wide range of possible interpretations. Amongst them:

1. God (the Most merciful) affects (Istawa) the Throne (Al-‘Arsh).
2. God (the Most merciful) subjugates (Istawa) creation (Al-‘Arsh).
3. God (the Most Merciful) sits (Istawa) on the Throne (Al-‘Arsh).

One might now ask: “what standards exist in order to determine the correct interpretation of an ambiguous text?”

We respond: the standards are two. Rational necessity, and unequivocal revelation. Such that if we are faced with a text which affords a multiplicity of interpretations, and some of those interpretations conflict with rational necessity, or conflict with unequivocal texts, then those conflicting interpretations are rejected, and an alternative interpretation must be affirmed.

For example: “the Most Merciful on Al-‘Arsh Istawa”. We notice that the third interpretation listed above (“God sits on the Throne”) conflicts with both rational necessity and unequivocal texts. Conflicts with rational necessity because “sitting” is for bodies, while God is necessarily incorporeal. Conflicts with unequivocal texts because those texts inform us that God does not resemble creation, whereas sitting entails resemblance to creation. This third interpretation is therefore rejected, and one of the others must be affirmed instead of it.

Concluding the Proof for Islam

The three core claims that the Islamic faith is founded upon have been proven in this series. The three claims being: the existence of God, the Oneness of God, and the prophethood of Muhammed ﷺ. Examining the arguments offered in this series in more depth, can also yield proof against many of the false religions in the world today, which will be the subject of future articles God willing.


 

[1] Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith 1.

[2] Quran, 33:71.

[3] Quran, 24:63.

[4] This is comparable to travel by plane. Where the passenger will take the flight, despite not knowing with certainty that the plane will reach its destination safely. The fact that the chances of reaching the destination are high enough, suffices for one to act upon those chances, even if one is not certain of the outcome.

In short, certainty is not a requirement for action. Since it is acceptable to act upon probabilities. This is common practice that everyone performs every single day.

[5] Quran, 42:11

[6] Quran, 20:5.

6 thoughts on “Revelation

  1. Salamu3alaykum.

    Loved this series so thank you for it. But I have 1 question. It’s kinda sensitive so don’t know where I can ask it?

    1. Wa ‘Alaykum Al-Salam,

      You can ask your question here. If I am unable to answer, perhaps I’ll be able to direct you to someone who can.

    2. I’ve always had trouble understanding the concept of hell… will all non-Muslims suffer in hell? Also isn’t Allah S.W.T the Just (Al-3adl)? So isn’t punishing a finite crime with an infinite punishment unjust? This is my biggest question and it wasn’t addressed in your series.

    3. First: as for why your question wasn’t addressed in the series, this is because you do not need to know that disbelievers will receive eternal punishment, in order to realize that Muhammed ﷺ is a true prophet. And what the knowledge of Prophet Muhammed ﷺ’s prophethood does not depend on, does not belong in a proof for the truth of Islam.

      Second: your asking “will all non-Muslims suffer in hell”, the traditional answer is that every human is either a Mukalaf (a being who will be held accountable for his decisions in this life) or not. And every Mukalaf will either die upon Islam or not. It is this last group (i.e. the Mukalaf who does not die upon Islam) that will receive eternal punishment.

      Third: your asking “Also isn’t Allah S.W.T the Just (Al-3adl)? So isn’t punishing a finite crime with an infinite punishment unjust?”, this returns to how you define “unjust”. Our position is that one is unjust, if one acts upon that which he does not own, without right from the owner.

      For example: if you owned a phone, and I used it without your permission… then I have committed an injustice for acting upon that which I do not own (your phone) without right from the owner (yourself).

      With the above in mind, we claim that Allah ﷻ is the owner of all creation. Thus, He can do with it as He wills, and it is rationally impossible for Him to be unjust. And our position is that He has willed to punish the Mukalaf who dies upon disbelief with an eternal punishment. So there is no conflict between His justice, and His choosing to punish some people for eternity.

    4. Thank you for your answer. What do you mean when you said that “what the knowledge of Prophet Muhammed ﷺ’s prophethood does not depend on, does not belong in a proof for the truth of Islam.”

      Also I heard of the difference between Mukalaf and non-Mukalaf. I think Imam al-Ghazali talked about it. Does this mean that only someone who knows Islam is true and does not accept it is a Mukalaf? Is it only that person who goes to hell?

    5. “What do you mean when you said that ‘what the knowledge of Prophet Muhammed ﷺ’s prophethood does not depend on, does not belong in a proof for the truth of Islam.’”

      I meant: you do not need to know that disbelievers will be punished after death, in order to infer that Muhammed ﷺ is a true prophet. You can remain neutral about this proposition (“disbelievers will be punished after death”) while you investigate the proofs for his ﷺ prophethood. Once his ﷺ prophethood has been established, you then look into the text revealed to Muhammed ﷺ, and you find that it informs of punishment after death for the disbelievers. Only then is it incumbent upon you to abandon neutrality and affirm this.

      “Does this mean that only someone who knows Islam is true and does not accept it is a Mukalaf? Is it only that person who goes to hell?”

      I think this is an untenable position given the explicit Quranic passages which inform us of Allah ﷻ’s punishing the sincere disbeliever. I mean by ‘sincere disbeliever’: the one who truly believes that what he follows is the truth (as opposed to the one who knows that Islam is true, but refuses to act upon this knowledge). The most explicit passage, in my opinion, being the one found in Surah Al-Kahf (verses 103 to 106):

      قُلْ هَلْ نُنَبِّئُكُم بِالْأَخْسَرِينَ أَعْمَالًا
      Say: should We inform you of those who have wasted all their deeds?

      الَّذِينَ ضَلَّ سَعْيُهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ يَحْسَبُونَ أَنَّهُمْ يُحْسِنُونَ صُنْعًا
      It is they who squandered their efforts in this life, while they thought they were doing good.

      أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ وَلِقَائِهِ فَحَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ فَلَا نُقِيمُ لَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَزْنًا
      It is they who disbelieved in the signs of their Lord and have disbelieved in meeting Him, so their deeds have gone to waste. And We will not assign any importance to them in the Day of Resurrection.

      ذَٰلِكَ جَزَاؤُهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ بِمَا كَفَرُوا وَاتَّخَذُوا آيَاتِي وَرُسُلِي هُزُوًا
      That is their punishment, Hellfire, because of what they disbelieved in. And because of their mocking My signs and My messengers.

      This passage informs us of a group of people who sincerely believed that they were doing good in this life (“it is they who wasted their efforts in this life, while they thought they were doing good”). Despite this, they will receive punishment in the hereafter (“that is their punishment, Hellfire, because of what they disbelieved in”).

      In short: knowing that Islam is true, is not a condition for Takleef (i.e. you can be a Mukalaf, and not know that Islam is true). What is a condition however, is recieving the message of Islam in an unadulterated form, supported by proofs that would convince most people of intellect. But whether or not the receiver in particular is convinced after all the proofs have been laid out for him, is his problem not ours.

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