Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Inspiration vs Dictation?

Continuing on my thots on Inspiration on Scriptures, there is a difference between inspiration and dictation. Islam believes that the Quran is dictated by God and then recited by man. These two articles below provide a good background and understanding. I have included a third (link) for a different view.

Welcome To

Islam is based on the revelations given to Prophet Muhammed (d. 632 AD) in the early 7th century by the Angel Gabriel. These revelations were compiled into what is called the Qur'an (the recitation). Angel Gabriel, as a messenger of God (in arabic, Allah), told Muhammed (saw), Iqraa, which means, "recite" (can also mean, "read," but not in this context), and the Prophet recited after Angel Gabriel the words that have become immortalized in the Qur'an.

Longer version

The story of the revelation of Quran

It was in the year 610 A.D when the Lord of all the worlds touched mankind to change the course of the history.

The night in the outskirts of the city is quite and peaceful. But something strange is going to happen; a great power is going to overtake this man's mind and heart. The happening would be a no ordinary one, and the power no ordinary power. In fact, The Great King, Lord of all the worlds, would send one of His highest ranking angels to speak to mankind!

Verily this is the word of a most honourable Messenger, Endued with Power, with rank before the Lord of the Throne, With authority there, (and) faithful to his trust.
The Holy Qur'an, Surah 81, Ayat 19-21.

Say, the Holy Spirit has brought the revelation from thy Lord in Truth, in order to strengthen those who believe, and as a Guide and Glad Tidings to Muslims.
The Holy Qur'an, Sura 16, Ayat 102.

Verily this is a Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds: With it came down the spirit of Faith and Truth-
The Holy Qur'an, Sura 26, Ayat 192-193.

That blessed night The King of all dominions was about to touch our lives. Is this not worth contemplation? But notice one thing here: It is through the Qur'an that we are granted recognition. It is because of this communication that the seven heavens and those who dwell in them give immortal value to those who walk on the earth.

It is because of obedience to its commands that we are saved and it is because of disobedience to its commands that we are destroyed.It is based on this link, this interface of communication with our Lord and Cherisher that our lives have meaning. It is this Qur'an that seperates the believers from those who turn away. It is this Qur'an that builds nations and binds together the peoples of different lands. How significant a night it was for all of humanity, a night declared to be better and more potent than thirty thousand nights and more!

The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.
The Holy Qur'an, Sura 97, Ayat 3.

So deep in the heart of the night it happened. The high angel Jibreel (AS) descended from the far heavens to the cave, the cave of Hira, atop the Mountain of Light (jabal-i-nuur). Suddenly the cave lit up and the Prophet could clearly see someone, someone carrying a mysterious scroll with inscriptions upon it...

Think about this for a second: Jibreel (AS) did not bring down something strange in essence, it was simply a writing, a string of words from Allah (SWT). But it was not enough for the words to be written upon the scroll for then there would be no need of bringing it down from the heavens. So why was it brought down?

The answer lies in what happened next. This is the crucial part, the part where the Creator establishes connection with his servent.

"Recite" cried Jibreel (AS)
"What am I to recite" replied the Prophet
"Recite" Jibreel (AS)said again.
"What am I to recite" replied the Prophet again.
"Recite" said Jibreel (AS) once more.
"What am I to recite?!?" exclaimed the Prophet once more.

Then, Jibreel (AS) hugged the Prophet tight and cried:

Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created- Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood: Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful,- He Who taught (the use of) the pen,- Taught man that which he knew not.
The Holy Qur'an, Sura 96, Ayat 1-5.

Those were the inscriptions upon the scroll. Now in these few moments something momentous happened. What was it?

Let us turn to the Prophet for the clues. Well, the Prophet described his experience in the cave that night by the following expression:

" It felt as if the letters were inscribed into my heart "

Say: Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel-for he brings down the (revelation) to thy heart by God's will, a confirmation of what went before, and guidance and glad tidings for those who believe,-
The Holy Qur'an, Sura 2, Ayat 97.

So the nature of the Qur'an should be gradually becoming clear to us. How? Well keep going!! Now, we are in a position to answer the question- What is the Qur'an?

It is a recital that has come from Allah (SWT) through His high angel Jibreel (AS). In fact the literal meaning of the word Al- Qur'an in Arabic is The Recital.

But the Qur'an is linked to us in some way and that is why it was brought down that night. This link is set forth and established that very night. The 'magic' moments were when the Qur'an went from scroll to the prophet's (SAWS) heart. So the words are not meant to remain only on heavenly scrolls, but to take root in our hearts. There, in those few moments of that night, lie the secret to learning the Qur'an!!

But how can the Qur'an reach our hearts? To find the answer, all we have to do is realize what Jibreel (AS) did in transferring the words from the scroll into the Prophet's heart. He recited them. Remember he had said "Recite" three times, and finally Jibreel himself recited the message from the Lord of all the worlds and the Prophet carefully listened.

So the experience of the Prophet in recieving the words of Allah (SWT) was by listening to them.

So here they are, the two keys of learning the Qur'an: LISTENING and RECITING .

When the Qur'an is read, listen to it with attention, and hold your peace: that ye may receive Mercy.
The Holy Qur'an, Sura 7, Ayat 204.

Say: It has been revealed to me that a company of Jinns listened (to the Qur'an). They said, 'We have really heard a wonderful Recital!
The Holy Qur'an, Sura 72, Ayat 1. ye, therefore, of the Qur'an as much as may be easy for you.
The Holy Qur'an, Sura 73, Ayat 20.

Copyright © 1997 by SAAMIREEN. All Rights Reserved.

To read a more controversial and alternative view on this issue, read article written by Richard Hooker.

I think some of his facts may differ from the classical views, which i am more familiar with.

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