#316: Divine Inspiration

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. What is the meaning of inspiration from God? And how would one know that it is truly an inspiration from God and that it can be accepted and practised?

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

First, regarding the meaning of inspiration, it is from the meaning of the word (لهم) which is swallowing as stated by Ibn Faris. [1] When it is said “Allah inspires what is good,”, it means Allah taught him. [2]

According to syarak, there are several opinions of the definition of the terminology. Among them, Syeikh al-Syanqiti said: “Something happened to the heart with an assumption without any evidence and not from rational argument, of which Allah specifies for whomever He wishes from amongst His slaves.” [3]

Regarding the evidence related to inspiration, there is a hadith from al-Nawwas bin Sam’an, Rasullullah PBUH said:


ضَرَبَ اللهُ مَثَلاً صِرَاطًا مُسْتَقِيمًا وَعَلَى جَنَبَتَىِ الصِّرَاطِ سُورَانِ فِيهِمَا أَبْوَابٌ مُفَتَّحَةٌ وَعَلَى الأَبْوَابِ سُتُورٌ مُرْخَاةٌ وَعَلَى بَابِ الصِّرَاطِ دَاعٍ يَقُولُ: يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ ادْخُلُوا الصِّرَاطَ جَمِيعًا، وَلاَ تَتَعَرَّجُوا وَدَاعِي يَدْعُو مِنْ فَوْقِ الصِّرَاطِ فَإِذَا أَرَادَ يَفْتَحُ شَيْئًا مِنْ تِلْكَ الأَبْوَابِ قَالَ وَيْحَكَ لاَ تَفْتَحْهُ فَإِنَّكَ إِنْ تَفْتَحْهُ تَلِجْهُ وَالصِّرَاطُ الإِسْلاَمُ وَالسُّورَانِ حُدُودُ اللهِ تَعَالَى وَالأَبْوَابُ الْمُفَتَّحَةُ مَحَارِمُ اللهِ تَعَالَى وَذَلِكَ الدَّاعِي عَلَى رَأْسِ الصِّرَاطِ كِتَابُ اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَالدَّاعِي مِنْ فَوْقِ الصِّرَاطِ وَاعِظُ اللهِ فِي قَلْبِ كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ

Allah SWT states a parable regarding the straight path. On both sides of this straight path are two walls. There are opened doors along these walls. From the top of the door is a veil and from the straight path a voice will declare: “O men, enter this road and don’t deviate (from it).

If a person tried to open one of the doors, then the voice will say: “Curse you, don’t open the door. If you open it, surely, you’ll fall into it.

(Rasullullah PBUH explained) the straight path is Islam, both the walls are limitations set by Allah, the open doors are matters prohibited by Allah SWT, the voice at the door is Kitabullah, and the voice on the road is the advisor (sent by Allah) in the hearts of each Muslim. [4]

Ibn al-Qayyim stated this is the statement of the heart of a believer that is a divine inspiration through the angel. [5]

Divine Inspiration

Regarding inspiration, we should know what is the real meaning of inspiration. Maybe inspiration is a good thing and maybe it’s a bad thing and maybe a thought in one’s heart isn’t an inspiration at all. Allah SWT states:

فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا

“And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness,” [6]

Imam al-Tabari said: “Hence, Allah explained to the souls which should be done, be cautious of, good or bad deeds, transgression or obedience or sin.” [7]

Allah SWT states:

وَهَدَيْنَاهُ النَّجْدَيْنِ

“And have shown him the two ways?” [Surah al-Balad:10]

Ibn Kathir stated: Ibn Mas’ud defined ‘النَّجْدَيْنِas good and evil. This is narrated from Ali, Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Ikrimah, Abi Wa’il, Abi Soleh, Muhammad bin Ka`ab, al-Dhahhak, and Ata` al-Khurasani.” [8]

According to the above evidences and statement, it means that just an assumption that something is divine inspiration isn’t enough, consequently, one must return or go back and consider the inspiration according to the basis of shariah; al-Quran and al-Sunnah. An inspiration that is in line with both the purpose of these bases is accepted and can be practised.

Syeikh al-Sam’ani said: “When differentiating between truth and falsehood, we state as the following: Everything that is true and follows the shariah of the Prophet PBUH although isn’t explicitly stated in Kitab and Sunnah, then it is accepted.

Consequently, anything that contradicts the shariah of the prophet PBUH, then it should be rejected, for such is the whisper of nafs (desires) and the devil. Hence, it is obligatory to be rejected. However, we don’t reject the light Allah SWT grants as an honour and acknowledgement for a slave.” [9]

In a hadith narrated from Abdullah bin Mas’ud RA, Rasullullah PBUH said:


إِنَّ لِلشَّيْطَانِ لَمَّةً بِابْنِ آدَمَ وَلِلْمَلَكِ لَمَّةً فَأَمَّا لَمَّةُ الشَّيْطَانِ فَإِيعَادٌ بِالشَّرِّ وَتَكْذِيبٌ بِالحَقِّ ، وَأَمَّا لَمَّةُ الْمَلَكِ فَإِيعَادٌ بِالخَيْرِ وَتَصْدِيقٌ بِالحَقِّ ، فَمَنْ وَجَدَ ذَلِكَ فَلْيَعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ مِنَ اللهِ فَلْيَحْمَدِ اللَّهَ وَمَنْ وَجَدَ الأُخْرَى فَلْيَتَعَوَّذْ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ ، ثُمَّ قَرَأَ {الشَّيْطَانُ يَعِدُكُمُ الفَقْرَ وَيَأْمُرُكُمْ بِالفَحْشَاءِ} الآيَةَ.

“The devil draws near to man, and so does the angel. The devil’s approach consists of promise of what is evil, and denial of what is true, whereas the angel’s approach consists of promise of what is good and confirmation of what is true. When anyone experiences the latter, let him know that it comes from God and let him praise God; but if he experiences the other, let him seek refuge in God from the accursed devil.” Then he recited, “The devil promises you poverty and urges you to iniquity.” [Surah al-Baqarah: 268] [10]

May Allah bless us with divine inspiration and we ask for His guidance in our lives.

We end with the supplication:

اللَّهُمَّ أَلْهِمْنَا رُشْدَنَا، وَأَعِذْنَا مِنْ شَرِّ أَنْفُسِنَا

“O Allah! Grant us divine inspiration and wisdom and protect us from the evils of our nafs.”

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] See Mu’jam Maqayis al-Lughah5/217

[2] See Tahzib al-Lughah6/6169

[3] See Adhwa’ al-Bayan3/323-324

[4] Narrated by al-Tirmizi (2786), Ahmad (17909) and al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak (245)

[5] See Madarij al-Salikin1/46

[6] Surah al-Syams: 8

[7] See Jami’ al-Bayan ‘an Ta’wil Ay al-Quran, 29/210; Also see Zad al-Masir, 9/140

[8] See Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 4/568

[9] See Qawati’ al-Adillah fi al-Usul2/352

[10] Narrated by al-Tirmizi (3256). He said this hadith is hasan gharib.

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