Ilhaam

Question

I beg to state that there are a few questions that keep me often on edge. Therefore I seek your kind advice to enlighten me about what is what. I shall be greatly beholden to you for your enlightened views to dissipate my long-standing confusion mentioned as under:

1. What is the reality of Alhaam or Ilhaam . It is generally believed that Alhaam is a direct link of Aulyaa Allah with God Almighty who receive direct intuition from God without involving any intermediary like Hazrat Jibrail as in the case of Prophets who used to wait for Wahee from Allah. The question is when the prophets are far above in the rank and status granted by Allah than the Pious men i.e. Auliyaa how come the Auliyaas are more competent or special entities to receive direct messages from Allah while the prophets selected by Allah Himself are left to wait for Jibrail to receive divine transmissions. This explanation does not appeal to my mind. Kindly inform me about the nitty-gritty of the actual affairs.

2. Who was Hazrat Luqmaan, a prophet, an wali, a selected wise man (equal to prophet) or what? And if he was not a prophet through what source he was advised by Allah to make shukr (gratitude) for according him the divine wisdom (Hikmat) as per Sura Luqmaan (31:13). Was he a wali and he did he receive instructions from Allah through Ilhaam or Alhaam.


Answer

Let us imagine that there are supposed to be people after the Prophet (sws) who receive direct guidance from the Almighty and that we need to follow them in their guidance. Don't you think that the Qur'an, being the complete and clear book of guidance, should have advised us about adherence to these valuable sources of guidance? The very fact that the Qur'an has not given us any such advice is evident to the fact that there is not going to be such divinely guided sources available.

From another point of view, don't you think that if divine guidance was available after the Prophet (sws) then at least a few people from among the companions of the Prophet (sws) should have been in the position of such privilege? Is it not strange that we do not have any references to any such privilege existing among the companions of the Prophet (sws)?

I would like to remain open minded and therefore do not rule out the possibility that a person might receive some kind of divine inspiration that could guide him in his life. The above points however make it clear that even if such divine inspiration exists, it can only be Hujjah (evidence) for the person who experiences it and cannot in any way become Hujjah (evidence) for the rest of people. Even in the Qur'an, when we read about Maryam and mother of Musa receiving a divine inspiration, we see clearly that the inspiration they received only served them for their personal inquiry and was not used by them or referred to in the Qur'an as a message for the rest of the people at the time.

Apart from the fact that the Qur'an does not advise us about Ilham as a source of religious guidance, there is another important factor that makes Ilham (if at all existing) only useful for the person who receives it, unlike Wahy (revelation). Wahy (revelation) is so explicit, so reflective to the circumstances, so powerful and direct and so detailed and extensive that provides enough evidences for people to believe in its authenticity. Ilham (inspiration) however does not have any of these features and therefore does not allow any possibility of being assessed in terms of authenticity (and if one claims that there is an Ilham that does have the above features, then this is in fact what we call Wahy – revelation – and such a person then needs to explain how it can be and what the point of a man receiving Wahy – revelation – is when Prophet Muhammaed (sws) was described by the Qur'an as the seal of the prophets.

As for Luqman, the Qur'an does not describe him as a prophet, but as a wise man (31:12). The verse can be interpreted to mean Luqman received Ilham from the Almighty or the phenomenon refers to the divine guidance inculcated in all human beings. We know that the Qur'an also terms this guidance in the similar idiom. When for example the Qur'an says: "approach your wives from where God has commanded you" it refers to the natural guidance and not an explicit verbal communication.

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