September 19, 2016

Understanding Islam XXXVI: Nazil Revelation & Bizarre Behavior, Part 2

The last few posts have leds us into the question of inspiration and makes us focus on Muhammad himself. We’ve already said that Allah requires agents in the form of prophets to communicate his truth to his creation. Yet how does Allah communicate his thoughts and will to these prophets? How is revelation carried out?

The Arabic term which best explains the process of revelation is the word Wahy, which can mean `divine inspiration.' According to the Qur'an the primary aim of Wahy is two fold: 1) to prove Muhammad's call to prophet-hood (Suras 13:30 and 34:50), and 2) to give him authority to warn people (Sura 6:19). In other words, to give himself and his message authority. Concerning the inspiration of the previous prophets, we are told very little.

According to the above Sura there are three methods by which Allah communicates to his creation: 1) by direct inspiration, 2) from behind a veil, and 3) through a messenger (the implication is that of an angelic being). This begs a question: Could these angelic beings have been demonic. Demons are angelic beings. Since the Qur'an tells us little concerning how Muhammad received his revelations, we refer to those who compiled the Sira of the prophet, men like Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Hisham, Ibn Athir, and the Turkish writer Ali Halabi to get a clearer insight. These are insights that are quite revealing about Muhammad.

While the Wahy (inspiration) lasted, according to Muhammad’s wife Aisha, there were the sounds of bells ringing as he sweated profusely. He would become greatly perturbed and his face would change (Mishkat IV, p.359). Muslim Tradition tells us that sometimes he would shiver and swoon, his mouth would foam, and he would roar like a camel (Pfander 1910:345). At other times when the inspiration descended there was the sound near his face like the buzzing of bees (from Umar ibnu’l Khattab and the Mir’at I Kainat,vol.1,p.411), while at other times he felt a tremendous headache (from Abu Hurairah).

Many times it seemed to his friends that he swooned and looked like someone intoxicated (from Ali Halabi’s Insanu’l Uyun). It is interesting to note from a biblical perspective that all of these are signs of demonic possession. All of them. Also revealing is the report by Al Waqidi that Muhammad had such an aversion to the form of the cross that he would break everything brought into the house with a shape of the cross on it.

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