Fourth Sign: It consists of six principles ensuring a complete understanding of the Noble Prophet’s (pbuh) predictions about his Companions, his family, and his community.

FOURTH SIGN

There is no limit to the reports Allah’s Most Noble Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace) gave concerning the Unseen through the instruction of the One All-Knowing of the Unseen. As we have mentioned the types of these reports in the Twenty-Fifth Word, which is about the miraculousness of the Qur’an, and to a degree explained and proved them, we now refer to that Word the explanation of the information he gave concerning the Unseen about past times and prophets, as well as truths concerning Divinity, the universe, and the hereafter, and will point out a few of his many correct predictions concerning his Companions, his Family and his community. But first, for a complete understanding of the subject, we will state Six Principles by way of an introduction.

FIRST PRINCIPLE

All the states and acts of the Noble Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace) testified to his veracity and prophethood, but not all of them had to be miraculous. For Allah Almighty sent him in the form of a human being so that he might be a guide and leader to human beings in their social affairs, and in the acts and deeds by means of which they attain happiness in both worlds; and so that he might disclose to human beings the wonders of Divine art and His disposive power that underlie all occurrences and are in appearance customary, but in reality are miracles of Divine power. If, then, he had abandoned the human state in his acts and become extra-ordinary in all aspects, he could not have been a leader, or have instructed human beings with his acts, states, and conduct. He was, indeed, honoured with paranormal phenomena in order to prove his prophethood to obstinate unbelievers, and from time to time performed miracles as the need arose. But his miracles never occurred in such an obvious fashion as would have compelled everyone to believe, whether willingly or unwillingly. For, in accordance with the purpose of the examinations and trials that man is to undergo, the way must be shown to him without depriving him of his free will: the door of the intelligence must remain open, and its freedom must not be snatched from its hand. But if miracles had occurred in so apparent a way, intelligence would have had no choice; Abu Jahl would have believed as did Abu Bakr, coal would have had the value of diamonds, and no purpose would have remained for testing and accountability.

It is a source of amazement that while thousands of men of different character came to believe through observing a single of his miracles, a single proof of his prophethood, or a word of his, or through merely seeing his face, some wretches are nowadays going astray, as if those thousands of proofs of his prophethood were not sufficient evidence, although they all have come down to us through authentic transmission and with certain proofs, and have caused many thousands of exacting scholars and thinkers and different men to accept faith.

SECOND PRINCIPLE

Allah’s Most Noble Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace) was a human being; hence he acted like a human being. He was also a messenger and prophet, and with regard to his messengership, he was an interpreter and an envoy of Almighty Allah. His messengership was based upon Revelation, which is of two kinds:

The First is explicit Revelation. In this case, the Noble Messenger is merely an interpreter and announcer, with no share in the content. The Qur’an and some Sacred Hadith are included in this kind of Revelation.

The Second is implicit Revelation. The essence and summary of this is also based on Revelation or inspiration, but its explanation and description were left to the Messenger. When he explained and described such Revelation, sometimes he again relied on Revelation, or on inspiration, or sometimes he spoke in terms of his own insight. And, when he resorted to his own interpretation, he either relied on the perceptive power given him on account of his prophetic mission, or he spoke as a human being and conformably to usage, custom and the level of common comprehension.

Thus, all the details of every Hadith are not necessarily derived from pure revelation, nor should the lofty marks of messengership be sought in such thoughts and transactions of his as are required by his participation in the human state. Since some truths were revealed to him in a brief and abstract form, and he himself described them in the light of his insight and according to common comprehension, the metaphors and allusions in his descriptions sometimes may need explanation, or even interpretation. There are, indeed, some truths that the human mind can grasp only by way of comparison. For example, once in the presence of the Prophet, a loud noise was heard. The Prophet said, “This is the noise of a rock that has been rolling down for seventy years and has now reached the lowest depths of Hell.”1 An hour later the news came that a famous dissembler who had recently turned seventy years old had died and gone to Hell, thus explaining the event the Prophet had described by means of an eloquent comparison.

THIRD PRINCIPLE

If any related tradition is in the form of tawatur,2 it is indisputable. There are two kinds of this sort of report: one is those reports about which there is ‘explicit consensus,’ the other is ‘consensus in meaning.’ The latter is also of two kinds: the first includes those concerning which the consensus is implied ‘by silence.’ For example, if a man in a community relates an incident in front of his people and the listeners do not contradict him, that is, they respond to him by keeping silent, this implies their acceptance of the report. In particular, if that community is such as will not acccept any error, as will consider any lie reprehensible, as is ready to criticize and, in addition, shows an interest in the reported incident, the silence of that community testifies strongly to the incident having occurred.

The second kind of ‘consensus in meaning’ is that which occurs when different people relate a particular incident, for example, one okka3 of food fed two hundred people, in different versions-one person describes in one way, another in another way, and another in yet another way, but all are unanimously agreed on the occurrence of the incident. Thus, the occurrence of this certain incident is supported by ‘consensus in meaning,’ and is definite; its actual occurrence is not harmed by differences in detail. But apart from this, there are times when a report supplied by a single person expresses the certainty of consensus, under certain conditions. It also sometimes happens that single report expresses certainity when supported by other, outside evidences.

Most of the reports concerning the miracles and the evidences of the prophethood of the Most Noble Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace) that have come down to us are either of the category of ‘explicit consensus,’ or ‘consensus in meaning,’ or ‘consensus implied by silence.’ As for the others, although they are the report of a single person, they also have the certainty of ‘consensus’ as they have received the acceptance of the meticulous authorities on Hadith. Of such meticulous authorities were those geniuses who were called al-Hafiz, who had committed to memory at least 100,000 Hadiths, who offered for fifty years their morning prayer with the ablution of the night prayer, and who produced the six accurate books of Hadith headed by those of Bukhari and Muslim. Without doubt, any report scrutinized and accepted by them cannot fall short of the certainty of ‘consensus.’ For they acquired such intimacy with the Hadiths of the Noble Prophet (Upon whom be blessings and peace) and became so familiar with his exalted style and manner that they could spot at first sight a single false Hadith among a hundred reports, and would reject it, saying, “This cannot be a prophetic tradition; it does not have his wording.” Since they were able to recognize the precious quality of the Hadith, like an expert jeweller, there was no possibility of their confusing any other word with that of the Prophet. Some researchers, however, such as Ibn al-Jawzi, went to such excesses in their criticism as to regard many accurate traditions as false.4 Nevertheless, this does not mean that the meaning of every false wording is wrong; rather it means that the wording itself is not that of the Prophet.

Q u e s t i o n : What is the benefit of citing the chain of transmission of a tradition so that even if it is not called for in the case of a well-known incident they say: “So-and-so informed so-and-so, etc.”?

A n s w e r : Its benefits are many, and one is that the citing of the chain shows the concurrence of the truthful, reliable and exacting scholars of Hadith and the unanimity of the discerning authorities whose names are included; each of the scholars and authorities signs, as it were, for the accuracy of the tradition, and places his seal on it.

Q u e s t i o n : Why were the miraculous events not transmitted through numerous chains in the form of ‘consensus’ and with as great emphasis as the basic injunctions of the Sacred Law, the Shari‘a?

A n s w e r : Because the majority of the injunctions of the Shari‘a are needed by most people at most times, for they all are applicable to each individual, like an obligation incumbent on all. But not everyone needs to know of every miracle; even if he does, it suffices him to hear it only once. It is, in fact, like the kind of obligation the observance of which by some will absolve the rest; it is quite enough for miracles to be known only to some. For this reason, even if the occurrence and reality of a miracle ten times more certain than that of an injunction of the Shari‘a, it will still come to us through one or two narrators, whereas the injunction is narrated by ten or twenty persons.

FOURTH PRINCIPLE

The future events that the Most Noble Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace) predicted were not isolated incidents; he rather predicted general and recurring events in a particular way. That is, in each such report, he displayed a different aspect of one phenomenon out of several. This is why when the narrator combines these different aspects, they may seem at variance with reality. There are, for example, varying narrations concerning the Mahdi, each with different details and descriptions. However, as was explained in a section of the Twenty-Fourth Word, the Noble Messenger gave the tidings, relying on Revelation, of a Mahdi who would come in every century to preserve the morale of the believers, help them not to fall into despair in the face of disasters, and link the hearts of the believers with the people of the Prophet’s Family, who constitute a luminous chain in the world of Islam. Similar to the Great Mahdi who is promised to come at the end of time, one Mahdi from the Prophet’s Family, or more, has been found in every century. Indeed, one of them, found among the ‘Abbasid Caliphs who were descendants of the Prophet’s Family, was found to have many of the characteristics of the Great Mahdi. In this way the attributes of the Mahdi’s deputies and of the spiritual poles who were Mahdis who were to precede the Great Mahdi and were samples and forerunners of him, were confused with the attributes of the Great Mahdi himself, and the narrations concerning him were seen to conflict with one another.

FIFTH PRINCIPLE

Since none other than Allah knows the Unseen, the Noble Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace) could not know it himself. Instead, Allah Almighty communicated to him the tidings of the Unseen, and he made them known. And since Allah Almighty is All-Wise and Compassionate, His wisdom and mercy require that most of the matters of the Unseen be veiled or obscure. For in this world events disagreeable to human beings are numerous; prior knowledge of their happening would be painful. It is for this reason that death and the appointed hour of death are left obscure, and the calamities that are to befall human beings remain behind the veil of the Unseen. Again, as a result of His wisdom and mercy, Allah Almighty did not entirely or in detail inform His Messenger about the dreadful events that would befall his Family and Companions after his demise, in order not to hurt his extremely tender compassion for his community and his firm affection for his Family.5 For certain Divine purposes, He made some of these significant events known to him, but not in all their awesomeness. As for pleasant events, He communicated them to the Messenger sometimes in outline and sometimes in detail, and the Messenger in turn made them known to his Companions. Thus those tidings were accurately transmitted to us by the scholars of Hadith who were at the height of piety, justice, and truthfulness, and who feared very much the warning of the Hadith, Whoever knowingly tells a lie concerning me should prepare for a seat in Hell,6 and that of the Qur’anic verse,

Who, then does more wrong than the one who utters lie concerning Allah?7

SIXTH PRINCIPLE

Although some qualities and aspects of the Most Noble Messenger(Upon whom be blessings and peace) have been described in books of history and biography, most of those qualities relate to his humanness. But in reality, the spiritual personality and the sacred nature of this blessed being are so exalted and luminous that the qualities described in books fall short of his high stature. For according to the rule, “The cause is like the doer,” everyday, even at this moment, the amount of the worship performed by all his community is being added to the record of his perfections. He is also everyday the object of the countless supplications of his vast community, in addition to being the object of infinite Divine mercy in an infinite fashion and with an infinite capacity to receive. He is, indeed, the result and the most perfect fruit of the universe, the interpreter and the beloved of the Creator of the cosmos. Hence his true nature in its entirety, and the truth of all his perfections, cannot be contained in the human qualities recorded in books of history and biography. Certainly, the stature of a blessed being with the Archangels Gabriel and Michael as two aides-de-camp at his side in the Battle of Badr,8 is not to be found in the form of a person bargaining with a beduin in the marketplace over the price of a horse, bringing forth Khuzayma as his sole witness.9

In order not to proceed in error, one should raise his head beyond the ordinary qualities of the Prophet (PBUH) that pertain to his participation in the human state, and behold instead his true nature and luminous stature that pertain to the rank of messengership. Otherwise, one will either show him irreverence, or instil doubts in oneself. Heed the following comparison for an understanding of this mystery.

Suppose that a seed of the date-tree was planted under the earth, has sprouted and become a large, fertile tree, and is still continuing to grow taller and broader. Or that the egg of a peacock was incubated, a chick was hatched from it and became a beautifully adorned peacock gilded all over with the imprint of Power, and is still growing bigger and more beautiful. Now, there exist qualities, properties and precisely balanced elements that belong to the seed and the egg, but are not as great and significant as those of the tree and the bird that emerge from them. So, while describing the qualities of the tree and the bird together with those of the seed and the egg, one should turn one’s attention from the seed to the tree, and from the egg to the bird, so that one’s reason may find the description acceptable. Otherwise, if you claim: “I have obtained thousands of dates from a seed,” or, “This egg is the king of all birds,” you will invite others to contradict and deny your words.

The humanness of Allah’s Messenger may be likened to the seed or egg, and his essential nature, illumined with the function of messengership, to the Tuba-tree of Paradise, or to the birds of Paradise. His essential nature is, moreover, continually moving to greater perfection. That is why, when you think of the man who disputed in the market with a beduin, you should also turn the eye of imagination to that luminous being who, riding the Rafraf, leaving Gabriel behind, reached the Distance of Two Bowstrings.10 Otherwise you will either be disrespectful toward him, or fail to convince the evil-commanding soul.

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1. Muslim, Janna 31; Musnad iii, 341, 346.
2. Tawatur is the kind of report that is transmitted by numerous authorities and about which there is no room for doubt, that is, a report concerning which there is a consensus of opinion. (Tr.)
3. One okka was the equivalent of 2.8 lbs. or 1,300 gr. (Tr.)
4. ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Laknawi, al-Ajwibat al-Fadila (Tahqiq: Abu Ghudda) 80, 120, 163, 170.
5. For example, he was not made to know about ‘A’isha’s taking part in the Battle of the Camel so that his deep love and affection toward her (May Allah be pleased with her) would not be hurt. He said, in fact, to his wives: “I wish I knew which one of you will be involved in that incident.” Later he was apparently made aware of it to a slightly greater extent, as he once said to ‘Ali (May Allah be pleased with him): “Some event will take place between you and ‘A’isha.”*
6. Bukhari, ‘Ilm 38; Jana’iz 33; Anbiya’ 50; Adab 109; Muslim, Zuhd 72; Abu Da’ud, ‘Ilm 4; Tirmidhi, Fitan 70; ‘Ilm 8, 13; Tafsir 1; Manaqib 19; Ibn Maja, Muqaddima 4; Darimi, Muqaddima 25, 46; Musnad i, 70, 78; ii, 159, 171; iii, 13, 44; iv, 47, 100; v, 292.
7. Qur’an, 39:32.
8. Bukhari, Maghazi 11; Ahmad al-Banna al-Sa’ati, al-Fath al-Rabbani xxi, 26.
9. Abu Da’ud, ‘Aqdiyya 20; Musnad v, 215.
* Musnad vi, 393; Bayhaqi, Dala’il al-Nubuwwa vi, 410; al-Haythami, Majma’ al-Zawa’id vii, 234.
10. See: Qur’an, 53:9.

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