Two Kinds of Revelation
The revelation the Holy Prophet ( ) received from Allâh is of two different kinds:
(i) the revelation of the Qur’ân, the Holy Book, named in the Islamic terminology as al-wahy al-matluww (the recited revelation, i.e. the revelation which can be recited in the prayers). This kind of revelation is confined to the verses of the Holy Qur’ân and is written verbally in its folds.
(ii) the revelation received by the Holy Prophet ( ) from time to time to let him know the pleasure of Allâh in day-to-day affairs and the details of the principles laid down in the Holy Qur’ân with their correct interpretation. This kind of revelation is called al-wahy ghair al-matluww (the unrecited revelation). This kind of revelation is not conveyed to the people verbally. It has been demonstrated through the sayings and acts of the Holy Prophet ( ).
The Second Kind of Revelation (Hadith) Proved by the Holy Qur’ân
This second kind of revelation is not contained in the Holy Qur’ân, but the Holy Qur’ân itself not only refers to it frequently but attributes its contents to Allâh Almighty.
Some verses of the Holy Book are reproduced below which clearly prove that the “revelation” is not confined to the Holy Qur’ân, but there is another kind of “wahy” which does not form part of the “Holy Book,” yet it is the revelation from Allâh Almighty:
First Example: The Holy Qur’ân says:
And We did not appoint the Qiblah on which you were earlier, but that We might know the people who follow the Messenger as distinct from those who turn back on their heels. (2:143)
In order to understand the verse, it is necessary to know the background in which it was revealed:
In the early days of Madani life, after the Holy Prophet’s ( ) migration to Madinah, the Muslims were ordered to direct their faces in prayers towards Baytul-Maqdas (Jerusalem) which had been appointed as Qiblah of the Muslims. Up to seventeen months, the Muslims had been observing the Baytul-Maqdas as theirQiblah. It was after seventeen months that the Holy Qur’ân abrogated the earlier order and the Muslims were required to observe the Holy Mosque of Makkah as their Qiblah and turn their faces towards it while praying. The following verse was revealed to appoint the new Qiblah:
…So turn your face towards al-Masjid al-Haraam. (2:144)
This new order was criticized by some disbelievers and they objected on it as to why the Baytul-Maqdas was appointed as Qiblah earlier. The above quoted verse (2:143) was revealed to answer this objection. The answer was that the appointment of the former Qiblah was in order to test the people whether or not they follow the Messenger. To quote the meaning of the verse again:
And We did not appoint the Qiblah on which you were earlier, but that We might know the people who follow the Messenger… (2:143)
Here the appointment of the previous Qiblah has been attributed to Allâh Almighty, which is a clear indication to the fact that the appointment of Baytul-Maqdas asQiblah was done by the order of Allâh Almighty Himself. But this order is nowhere in the Holy Qur’ân, and there is no verse in the Holy Book which directs the turning of faces towards Baytul-Maqdas. This order was given to Muslims by the Holy Prophet () with no reference to any verse of the Holy Qur’ân. Still, this order was mentioned by the Holy Qur’ân in the above quoted verse as the order of Allâh: The words,
“We did not appoint the Qiblah,” instead of the words,
“The Holy Prophet did not…” are too clear on this point to need more explanation.
This statement of the Holy Qur’ân, thus, evidently proves that the previous order given by the Holy Prophet ( ) was based on a revelation which did not form part of the Book. And this is exactly the “unrecited revelation.” The verse of the Holy Qur’ân (2:143) quoted above proves the following facts:
(a) The Holy Prophet ( ) used to receive some revelations which are not contained in the Holy Qur’ân.
(b) These revelations were from Allâh Almighty, so much so that the orders based on such revelations were attributed to Allâh Almighty.
(c) The orders based on such revelation were as binding on the believers as the orders of the first kind of revelations, i.e. the verse of the Holy Qur’ân.
(d) These orders were sometimes given so as to test whether or not the Muslims follow the Messenger ( ) irrespective of the question that his orders are contained in the Holy Qur’ân or not.
Second Example: In the beginning, one of the rules followed by the Muslims in respect of the fasts of Ramadan was that even a short nap after iftaar (breaking of a fast) would nullify the permissibility of having sexual intercourse with one’s wife. So, if someone would sleep for a short while after iftaar and wake up again, he would lose the opportunity of sleeping with his wife during the rest of the night, despite that the fast was over. This rule was prescribed by the Holy Prophet ( ) and was not contained in the Holy Qur’ân. But some Muslims broke the rule by sleeping with their wives after having a post-iftaar nap. Referring to these events, the Holy Qur’ân first admonishes those people who did not follow the rule. Then, by abrogating the same, allows the Muslims in future to sleep with their wives even when they had a nap after iftaar. In this context the Holy Qur’ân says:
It is made lawful for you, in the nights of fasts, to have sex with your women. They are a cover for you, and you are a cover for them. Allâh knew that you were betraying yourselves; so, He relented towards you and pardoned you. So, now you can have sexual intimacy with them, and seek what Allâh has destined for you, and eat and drink until the white thread of the dawn becomes distinct from the black thread; then complete the fasts up to the night. (2:187)
The following points with respect to this verse are worth consideration:
(a) The verse confirms that having sex during the nights of Ramadaan was not lawful before.
(b) The people who had sex during the nights of Ramadaan before this verse was revealed are admonished by describing their act as “betraying themselves.”
(c) The words, “so He relented towards you and pardoned you,” indicate that their sexual act was a sin, because “relenting” and “pardoning” occur only after a person commits a sin.
(d) The words “so now you can have sexual intimacy with them” denote that it is only now that the sexual act during the nights of Ramadaan has been made lawful.
All these points confirm the fact that the earlier prohibition of having sexual intercourse during the nights of Ramadaan was validly made by a competent authority, and the Muslims were bound to abide by it.
But there is no verse in the Holy Qur’ân to convey this prohibition.. It was enforced only by the Holy Prophet (). Still, the Holy Qur’ân not only confirms it, but also treats it as if it were in its own words. It is due to the fact that the Holy Prophet ( ) did not enforce this prohibition by his own will, it was rather based on a revelation of Allâh Almighty which is not contained in the Holy Qur’ân.
Looked at from this angle, this verse on the one hand proves that there is a revelation which does not form part of the Holy Qur’ân, and on the other hand it reaffirms the status of the Holy Prophet () as a law-giver, and that his injunctions, both orders and prohibitions, are binding on the Muslims.
Third Example: On the occasion of the battle of Uhud, some Qur’ânic verses were revealed to make the Muslims recall the events of the battle of Badr: How Allâh helped them and how He promised to send the angels to their aid, and how He actually did so. These verses are as under:
Allâh has certainly helped you at Badr while you were weak. So, fear Allâh so that you may be grateful. When you (O Prophet) were saying to the believers, ‘Shall it not suffice you that your Lord shall aid you with three thousand angels being sent down? Why not? If you observe patience and fear Allâh and they come to you in this their heat, your Lord shall aid you with five thousand angels having distinct marks?’ And Allâh did not make it but a good news for you so that your hearts might be satisfied. And there is no help except from Allâh, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. (3:123-126)
The emphasized sentence of these verses attributes the good news of the aid of angels to Allâh Almighty, meaning thereby that the good news of this aid was given by Allâh Himself. But this good news given at the time of Badr is nowhere available in the Holy Qur’ân. In other words, there is no verse in the Holy Book revealed during the battle of Badr which implies the good news of the aid of the angels. What is quoted above is only a reference of that news, made at the time of a later battle, and it is expressly mentioned in this verse that the good news was given by the Holy Prophet ( ). Still, the news is attributed to Allâh.
Thus, it is another example where the words of the Holy Prophet ( ) are held to be the words of Allâh. There is no reason for this expression other than that the words of the Prophet ( ) were inspired by a special revelation, not contained in the Holy Qur’ân, and this is what is called the “unrecited revelation.”
Fourth example: Referring to the battle of Uhud at another occasion, the Holy Qur’ân says:
And when Allâh promised you that one of the two groups shall be for you. (8:7)
One of the two parties referred to in this verse was the commercial caravan of Abu Sufyan, coming from Syria, and the other group was the army of the Makkan disbelievers, led by Abu Jahl. The above verse says that Allâh had promised the believers that they would triumph over one of these two groups. The Muslims, in fact, won the battle against the latter, namely, the army of Abu Jahl.
The point worth consideration here is that the promise of Allâh to give the Muslims victory against any of the two groups is not there in the Holy Qur’ân. This promise was conveyed to the Muslims by the Holy Prophet ( ) without any reference to any verse of the Holy Qur’ân. Still, the verse quoted above atttibutes the promise to Allâh and not to the Holy Prophet ( ).
The only conclusion derivable from this is that the promise was received by the Holy Prophet ( ) through an “unrecited revelation.” Hence it is attributed to Allâh. Guided by this revelation, the Holy Prophet ( ) conveyed the promise to his companions.
Thus, it is another proof of the existence of a kind of revelation which is not contained in the Holy Qur’ân and is called the “unrecited revelation.”
Fifth Example: Once the Holy Prophet ( ) told a secret to one of his wives. She disclosed the secret to some other person. When the Holy Prophet ( ) came to know that the secret has been disclosed by his wife, he sought an explanation from her. She asked him as to who told him about the disclosure. The Holy Prophet ( ) replied that he was informed about it by Allâh Almighty.
This event has been mentioned by the Holy Qur’ân in the following words:
And when the Prophet told one of his wives about a matter secretly; then, when she told about it, and Allâh has disclosed it to him, he made known some part of it, and turned aside from some part; then, when he told her about it, she said, “Who told you this?” He said, “I was told by the All-Knowing, the All-Aware.” (66: 3)
The emphasized sentence of this verse is quite clear in that Allâh told the Holy Prophet ( ) about the disclosure of the secret. This is also not mentioned anywhere in the Holy Qur’ân. So, it is another concrete example where the Holy Prophet ( ) received some revelation from Allâh other than the one contained in the Holy Qur’ân. This is exactly the “unrecited revelation.”
Sixth Example: During the siege of Banu Nadir, the famous tribe of the Jews in Madinah, some Muslims had cut down date-trees from around the fort to compel the enemy to surrender. After the war was over, some Jews objected to the cutting trees. The Holy Qur’ân has answered the objection in the following words:
Whatever date-trees you cut down, or left standing upon their roots, that was by the leave of Allâh. (59:5)
It has been very directly mentioned in this verse that the Muslims cut down the trees with a leave from Allâh. But nobody can point out to any verse in the Holy Qur’ân to the effect that the cutting of trees during the war is allowed. The question is: from where did the Muslims acquire this leave from Allâh? There is no answer to this question except that the leave of Allâh had been conveyed to them by the Holy Prophet () and he received it through “unrecited revelation.”
Seventh Example: It is well known that the Holy Prophet ( ) had adopted Sayyidina Zaid bin Haarithah ( ) as his son. He married Zainab, daughter of Jahsh. After some time their relations began to be strained and, ultimately, he divorced her. In the days of Jahiliyyah an adopted son was treated as a real son in all respects and for all purposes. The Holy Qur’ân, on the other hand, declared that the adopted sons cannot be treated as the real ones.
To eradicate the Jahili concept of the adopted son, Allâh Almighty ordered the Holy Prophet ( ) that he should marry Zainab ( ) after her having been divorced by his adopted son, Zaid ibn Haarithah ( ). The Holy Prophet ( ) was a bit reluctant in the beginning, for, according to the prevalent custom, it was treated a shameful act to marry the divorced wife of one’s adopted son. But when the Holy Prophet ( ) received a concrete order from Allâh, he married her.
This event has been mentioned by the Holy Qur’ân in the following words:
When you were saying to the one whom Allâh had blessed and whom you had blessed, (i.e. Zaid, before he divorced Zainab), “Keep to you your wife and fear Allâh,” and you were hiding in your heart what Allâh was to disclose and you were fearing people, and Allâh has more right to be feared by you. So, when Zaid finished with her, We made you marry her, so that there may remain no restriction on the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons when they have finished with them. And the order of Allâh had to be done. (33:37)
Here the words, “you were hiding in your heart what Allâh was to disclose,” refer to the fact that Allâh had informed the Holy Prophet ( ) that he will marry Zainab () after she is divorced by Zaid ( ). The Holy Prophet ( ) knew that, ultimately, she is going to be divorced by Zaid, but, out of shame, he could not disclose it and when Zaid consulted him in the matter, he advised him to keep to his wife and not to divorce her.
From this it follows that the Holy Prophet ( ) had been foretold by Allâh that Zainab was going to be divorced by her husband. But this information is not contained in the Holy Qur’ân. It was given to him through an unrecited revelation.
The second sentence is more significant in the context, that is, “We made you marry her.” Here Allâh Almighty declares that the marriage between the Holy Prophet ( ) and Sayyidah Zainab ( ) was contracted by an order of Allâh.This order is nowhere mentioned in the Holy Qur’ân. Still, the Holy Qur’ân affirms it. This is another confirmation of an order conveyed to the Holy Prophet ( ) through an “unrecited revelation.”
Eighth Example: The Holy Qur’ân has repeatedly ordered the Muslims to establish salaah (the prayer) and to be steadfast in it. In the following verse, after repeating the same order, the Holy Qur’ân gives a special concession to the Muslims that, in the state of war, when they fear an attack from their enemy, they can perform the prayer in whatever way they can, either riding on horses or camels or walking on their feet. But after the danger of the enemy is over, they are ordered to perform the prayer in its normal way. This principle has been laid down in the following words:
Take due care of all the prayers and the middle prayer; and stand before Allâh in total devotion. But if you are in fear, then (pray) on foot or riding, but when you are in peace, then recite the name of Allâh in the way He taught you. (2:238-239)
A number of points are worth consideration in these verses:
Firstly, the verse assumes that there are more than one prayers obligatory on the Muslims, but the exact number of the prayers has not been given, neither in this verse nor at any other place in the Holy Qur’ân. That the number of obligatory prayers is five is only mentioned by the Holy Prophet ( ). The Holy Qur’ân, by saying “Take due care of all the prayers,” confirms what the Holy Prophet ( ) prescribed for the Muslims.
Secondly, the verse lays special emphasis on the “Middle Prayer,” but does not define it. The definition has been left to the Holy Prophet ( ).
Thirdly, the most important sentence in relation to our subject is, “when you are in peace, then recite the name of Allâh in the way He taught you.” It goes without saying that the “recitation of the name of Allâh” means here “to perform the prayer” as the context does not permit any other meaning.
Now, the Holy Qur’ân directs the Muslims that in the state of peace they should perform the prayer in its normal way which has been taught to them by Allâh. It is an express indication that the normal way of performing prayers has been taught to the Muslims by Allâh Himself. But no such way has ever been mentioned in the Holy Qur’ân. There is no verse in the Holy Book mentioning the detailed way of performing prayer. It is only the Holy Prophet ( ) who educated the Muslims as to how they are to perform it. But the Holy Qur’ân holds the teaching of the Holy Prophet ( ) to be the teaching of Allâh.
It means that Allâh has taught the way of prayer to the Holy Prophet ( ) through some “unrecited revelation” not contained in the Holy Qur’ân, and the Holy Prophet ( ) taught it to the Muslims. Thus, the Muslims have been taught by Allâh through the teaching of the Holy Prophet ( ). However, the teaching of the Holy Prophet ( ) is described in the holy verse as the teaching of Allâh, because it was based on the “unrecited revelation.”
Ninth Example: Certain hypocrites had not accompanied the Holy Prophet ( ) in the expedition of Hudaibiyah. After that, when the Muslims resolved to proceed to the battle of Khayber, the Holy Prophet () declared that only the participants of Hudaibiyah shall be entitled to accompany him on this journey. The hypocrites who did not go to Hudaibiyah were now interested in their participation in the battle of Khaybar because according to their anticipation the Muslims were expected to gain from there sizeable spoils, which the hypocrites wanted to share. But the Holy Prophet ( ), inspite of their requests, did not allow them to participate in the battle.
This event has been referred to in the following verse of the Holy Qur’ân:
Those remaining behind will say, when you set forth after spoils to acquire them, “Let us follow you,”- desiring to change the words of Allâh. Say, “You shall not follow us; so Allâh has said earlier.” (48:15)
The emphasized words indicate that there was a previous word of Allâh barring the participation of the hypocrites in the battle of Khaybar, and confining the battle to the participants of Hudaibiyah. But no such word exists anywhere in the Holy Qur’ân. It was only a prophetic order. Still, Allâh Almighty describes it as His Own word. The reason is obvious. The Prophetic order was based on the order of Allâh received by him through some “unrecited revelation” which is not found in the Holy Qur’ân. Yet, it was a revelation, as certain as any word of Allâh.
Tenth Example: In the early days of his Prophethood, when the Holy Prophet ( ) received the verses of the Holy Qur’ân revealed to him, he used to recite the same simultaneously, lest he should forget them. It was a strenuous exercise for him, because he felt it was much too difficult to listen to the revelation, to understand it correctly, and to learn it by heart, all at the same time. Allâh Almighty relieved him from this burden when He revealed the following verses of the Holy Qur’ân:
Move not your tongue with it in order to hasten it. It is on Us to gather it (in your heart) and to recite it. So, when We read it, follow its reading. Then it is on Us to explain it. (75:16-19)
In the last sentence, Allâh Almighty has promised the Holy Prophet ( ) to explain the verses of the Holy Qur’ân to him. It is evident that this explanation is something separate from the Holy Qur’ân itself. It is not the Holy Qur’ân. It is its explanation or its exegesis. Therefore, it should necessarily be in some other form, distinct from the words of the Holy Book. And this is exactly what is meant by the “unrecited revelation.” But the two kinds of revelation, though different in their form, are both revealed to the Holy Prophet ( ); both are from Allâh; and both are to be believed and obeyed by the Muslims.
Eleventh Example: The Holy Qur’ân says to the Holy Prophet ( ):
And Allâh has revealed upon you the Book and the wisdom, and has taught you what you did not know and the grace of Allâh upon you has been great. (4:113)
In this verse the revelation of the Wisdom has been mentioned as separate from the revelation of the Book. It indicates that the wisdom referred to here is something additional to the Holy Qur’ân, and it has also been revealed to the Holy Prophet ( ) by Allâh Almighty.
Then the Holy Qur’ân proceeds to say: “And (Allâh) has taught you what you did not know.” It means that Allâh has not only revealed the Book, but has also revealed the Wisdom, and also taught the Holy Prophet ( ) what he did not know before. This teaching includes all kinds of directions given by Him to His prophet, either through the Holy Book or through some “unrecited revelation” in the light of which the Holy Prophet ( ) performed his functions as a messenger of Allâh.
Twelfth Example: The Holy Qur’ân has summarised the various kinds of revelation in the following words:
And it is not possible for a human being that Allâh should speak to him, except by way of revelation or from behind a curtain, or that He should send a messenger and he reveals by His leave what He wills. (42:51)
Now, out of these three modes, the revelation of the Holy Qur’ân was carried out through the third one, namely, through an angel who is identified in the verse by the word, “messenger.” It is clearly settled by some other verses:
Say: Whoever be an enemy to Jibreel (Gabriel, the angel)—it is he who has brought it (the Qur’ân) down upon your heart by the permission of Allâh. (2:97)
And truly it (the Qur’ân) is the revelation of the Lord of the worlds, brought down by the Faithful Spirit upon your heart, that you may be one of the warners, in a clear Arabic tongue. (26:192-195)
These verses are quite explicit on the point that the Holy Qur’ân has been revealed through an angel, named in the first verse as Jibreel, and in the second one as the Faithful Spirit; but the verse (42:51) quoted above describes that there are two more ways of revelation. These two modes have also been used in the case of the Holy Prophet (). It means that the revelation sent down to the Holy Prophet ( ) was not confined to the Holy Qur’ân, but there were other revelations, too. These revelations are termed as “unrecited revelation.”
These are sixteen verses, which affirm not only the existence of the “unrecited revelation” but also its reliability and authenticity, and its binding nature. It is not intended here to produce all the material available in the Holy Qur’ân to establish this kind of revelation. The purpose was to give some examples only, which has, perhaps, been substantially served. But before proceeding further, it will be useful to recollect and summarize the conclusions that stand proved in the light of the Holy Qur’ân as discussed above:
(1) The function of the Holy Prophet () like other prophets is not only to convey the divine Book. He is also to teach the Book, to teach the wisdom and to make people pure by training them practically.
(2) The “Obedience of the Holy Prophet” () is as necessary as the obedience of Allâh; because the latter has always been mentioned in the Holy Qur’ân combined with the former.
(3) The obedience of the Holy Prophet () in practical is the obedience of Allâh; and the latter cannot be carried out except through the former.
(4) The Muslims are bound not only to obey the Holy Prophet ( ), but they are also under an obligation to follow him.
(5) Whatever the Holy Prophet ( ) says or does in his capacity of a Messenger is always based on, or confirmed by, a revelation from Allâh.
(6) This revelation is sometimes contained in the Holy Qur’ân and called the recited revelation, and sometimes it is sent down in addition to the Holy Qur’ân, and the same is termed as “unrecited revelation.”
Source- The Authority of Sunnah.