The Universal Experience of Divine Revelation
When we talk about the human spirit and the soul of people, just what are we speaking about? How do the spirits and the souls of men and women relate to that of God Himself? What is the difference between our spirit and our souls and ours in relation to His? From where, what and/or from whom do our spirits and souls originate? Will we ever reach the stage of development where we can study spirit and soul as easily as some study finger, toe and liver? Why do many call the mind the last frontier? Does this imply that all other frontiers have been explored and “conquered?” What does “conquer” in this sense mean? What was it which was used to do this exploration, etc., if it were not the mind?
Many who have made a study of these terms have noticed how vague the definitions are, which comes from scholars of language. Why should this be the case, when these terms pertain to the very essence of what humans are? Certainly, there is no shortage of definitions, put forth by the scholars, which seem very definite. However, upon examination we see that the scholars run out of gas as they strain to grasp the essence of that which they seek to define. On closer examination, what they set forth as firm and clear definitions, of the essence of life, become manifest as weak, cloudy and indefinite.
Why should this be the case? How can it be other than that, due to what the Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches: That the knowledge of the essence of God and human life could not come until God came to reveal it? Who, other than God Himself, better knows His own nature? Who better knows human nature, in terms of its origin—its very roots—better than the Originator of that nature?
The difficulties involved in such study gives us a glimpse into why the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that spiritual training/teaching is very different from every other kind of study (and effort) and is the most difficult that can be given or undertaken. Yet, it is the most worthy of all studies and yields the most powerful and beneficial results—even as we must study other fields of knowledge, whether for employment, etc. This is not to be overlooked.
Allah makes a statement about the spirit, (or revelation, or of the soul itself, according to different translations) in the same Surah in which Muhammad’s vision is twice mentioned. The vision, as mentioned earlier, is in the first and sixtieth verses of the seventeenth Surah—very significant numbers.
In the Muhammad Ali Translation of the Holy Qur’an, Surah 17 verse 85, we read: “And they ask thee about the revelation. Say: The revelation is by the commandment of my Lord, and of knowledge you are given but a little.”
In his footnote, No. 1464, are these words: “For the word ‘ruh’ meaning inspiration or revelation, see 653. Here, before this verse as well as after it, the Holy Qur’an is the only topic of discussion, and therefore, the context shows clearly that the question of the disbelievers is not about the soul of man, for which the proper word is ‘nafs,’ but about the Holy Qur’an itself, i.e., the revelation or the spirit.”
In Footnote No. 653, Mr. Ali wrote, in part, that the word ruh also “…signifies inspiration or Divine revelation.”
In the Holy Qur’an translated by Yusuf Ali, Surah 17 verse 85 reads: “They ask thee concerning The Spirit (of inspiration). Say: ‘The Spirit (cometh) By command of my Lord: Of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you, (O men)!’”
In his note No. 2285, Mr. Yusuf Ali raises a few excellent questions about revelation and then wrote, “Inspiration is one of those high spiritual mysteries which cannot be explained in the terms of our every-day human experience.”
Some scholars use the word “soul” rather than the word “spirit,” in translating this passage. They present very interesting reasons for their positions. The book titled “A Concordance Of The Qur’an, by Hanna E. Kassis, however, clearly indicates that the Arabic word, generally translated “spirit” rather than the word generally translated “soul” is the word in the verse under discussion. Nevertheless, there are learned persons who still argue that the word ought to be translated “soul” or the “human soul.”
After reading several views, which different scholars have of these words of Allah, I asked myself this: Beyond what scholars have stated, are there other reasons why Allah raises this question in this Surah where the vision of Muhammad is twice mentioned? I’ve thought this several years ago when I first looked at this verse. My Brother’s vision has again stimulated the answers to “old” questions I’ve thought and added new ones.
Many others, including myself, have had profound dreams and even visions, and other types of experiences, which I can only say are of God Himself.
A vision is a communication, which comes from outside of ourselves. It is a communication from someone else to us. The visions mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, in Surah 17, came from Allah.
Briefly, there are many throughout the earth—but especially here in the USA—who make claims of profound spiritual experiences, but who lie to deceive others into following them to hell.
This is not to say, however, that people, generally, (other than prophets, or other men and women whom Allah may use to convey revelation to) do not receive divine revelations. It is, in fact, the universal experience of humanity.
Muhammad Ali’s translation of the Holy Qur’an, especially in Footnote No. 1142 to Surah 10:64 and Footnote No. 1379 to Surah 16:69, and finally in 42:51, where it is written that Allah communicates with human beings in three ways, illustrates the truth of the universal experience of divine revelation on many levels. This subject, and these references in Mr. Ali’s translation, are taken up, to some extent, in Chapter 9 of this book.
If the spirit emanates from the soul, and the souls of men and women are ultimately from the soul of the Almighty God, and of the same substance, then to grant humanity very much, or a great deal, of the knowledge and understanding of the nature and power of the soul, is to give people—in our present immature, insane and wicked condition access to powers far beyond the development of our character to handle with wisdom.
The converse, or opposite, is likewise true. It is clear from the wisdom of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad that there will be a full revelation of the truth of the spirit and the soul of God and man. Soul power is God power.
So Allah is very wise to have given us but a little of the knowledge of the soul or the nature of revelation. In this so-called slick, sleek and slimy world, where people are trying to “get over” on each other day in and day out, it would be worse than giving each one his or her own A-bomb. With the bombs, a huge number (not all) would die before—hopefully—the madness would be brought to a halt. The whole universe would disintegrate if fools had the knowledge of God’s soul power.
More next issue, Allah willing.