Levels of Divine Guidance, General and Exclusive

It is the Lord of Mercy, who taught the Revelation. 
Hu created man and taught him to communicate.
The sun and the moon follow their destined courses; 
the plants and the trees submit to Hu's designs. 
- The Quran 55:1-6

Introduction: Dara O Shayda

In our modern times, since the very childhood, we have been exposed to a theatrical rendition of the God’s Inspirations to prophets: We see tall handsome Charlton Huston walking in a long robe, in a stately manner, and a deep Anglo Saxon voice calls out to him “O Moses”.

These images are engrained within our psyche, accompanied by a simplistic child-like language of the West dealing with the Divine Inspiration and we are left as not so bright children seeking the understanding of Allah’s Inspiration and communications with the prophets and the holy books.

Within English language there are few words dealing with the forms of Divine Communications, for the most part we have Revelation and Inspiration and both truly rendering one concept: God talked to so and so.

In this treatise we are borrowing from Jawziah to learn the different levels of Divine Communications to develop a language that is applicable for this endeavor and the nascent understanding of this grand affair.

Of the Levels of Divine Guidance, General and Exclusive: Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziya

They are ten levels; the first three are specific to the Prophets:

The First Level

It is that in which Allah the most High addresses directly his slave who is in a normal state of wakefulness as it happened in the case of Moses. This is the highest level of Guidance.

Allah The Exalted stated in 4: 164
“Wa kallamma-lāhu Musā Taklimā”: “and to Moses, Allah addressed His Word, speaking (to him)”.

Already in [4:163], Allah reminds of ITs/His inspiration to the various Prophets:
“Surely We have revealed to you as We revealed to Nuh, and the prophets after him, and We revealed to Ibrahim and Ismail and Ishaq and Yaqoub and the tribes, and Isa and Ayub and Yunus and Haroun and Sulaiman and We gave to Dawood the Psalms.”

This is followed in 4:164 by the specific information that Allah spoke to Moses:
“And (We sent) messengers We have mentioned to you before and messengers we have not mentioned to you; and to Musa, Allah addressed His Word, speaking (to him)”

This shows that the "speech" referred to here is more specific than the general inspiration mentioned in [4:163]- The addition of the Predicate Taklimā (speech) to the verb Kallama (spoke) emphasizes this meaning and refutes the attempts of some to interpret "speech" allegorically as mere inspiration or pointing or information of the inner meaning without direct speech.

The Second Level: The Revelation specific to the Prophets.

“We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him…” [4:163]

“It is not fitting for a man that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration, or from behind a veil, or by the sending of a messenger to reveal, with Allah's permission, what Allah wills: for He is Most High, Most Wise”. [42:51]

In this Ayah, Allah made Revelation a part of speech, with two considerations: It is a part of the direct specific speech without a medium and part of the general speech that involves relaying information in various ways. Wahy (Revelation) linguistically means rapid and secret/hidden relaying of information.

The Third Level: Sending an angelic messenger to a human messenger.

The angelic messenger reveals Allah's orders that were entrusted to him. The angelic messenger may take a human form and be seen by the human messenger and spoken to or seen in the form he was created in or the angel enters the human messenger and reveals to him what he needs to then dislodges himself from him.

The Fourth Level: The level of ‘the addressed’ or ‘the spoken to’ (Al-Muhhadath)

The addressed/spoken to is someone who is spoken to in his innermost and in his heart about some matter. The Prophet is reported to have stated: “ In previous communities there were people who were spoken to (Muhhadathun), if there were ever to be one in my community it would be Omar ibn al-Khattab."

Ibn Taymyia stated:
"The Siddiq (the entrusted) is more perfected than the addressed/spoken to, as he has –in the perfection of his Sidq- no further need for inspiration and unveiling (Kashf). He has entrusted his heart, his secret, his innermost and his outward being to the Prophet and has no other needs.

The Muhhadath (Omar bin al-Khattab) always compared what he was spoken to with what the Prophet brought (Qur'an); if they agreed the Muhhadath accepted the discourse, otherwise he rejected it ; that is how it was established that the level of (being entrusted) Siddiqiat is higher than that of (being spoken to)Tahdith.

As for the one who speaks out of fantasy and ignorance and says: "My God has spoken to me "; it is true that his heart has spoken to him, but who is at the origin of the speech his evil or his God? If he were to insist that it is his God, he then is attributing the discourse to someone without any certainty, and this is a lie."

The Fifth Level: The level of bestowed understanding (Fahm)

Allah, The Sublime, mentioned the two Prophets David and Suleiman, praised them both for their knowledge and wisdom and favored Suleiman with "understanding" in this particular case:

“And Dawood and Suleiman when they gave judgment concern the field when the people's sheep pastured therein by night, and We were bearers of witness to their judgment”. [21:78]

“To Solomon We Fahm (Inspired, made to understand) the (right) understanding of the matter: to each (of them) We gave Judgment and Knowledge; it was Our power that made the hills and the birds celebrate Our praises, with Dawood: it was We Who did (all these things)”. [21:79]

Ali Ibn Abi Taleb related that, he was asked if the Prophet had bestowed any favors on anyone among his people. Ali stated: “No, in the name of the One who has caused the seeds to burst and created every being, no one was given anything except the understanding given by Allah through his Book”.

In his book on Omar ibn al-Khattab, Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari states: "The understanding of what was given to you." For comprehension is a gift from Allah to his slave, a light thrown by Allah in the heart of his slave. Allah is known through it, with it the slave is able to comprehend what no one else comprehends or knows, he understands from the text of the Qur'an what others do not understand, even if they are equal to him in their ability to memorize or to understand the basic meanings of the words.

Understanding [of the knowledge bestowed] from Allah and His Prophet is the hallmark of Siddiqiat (the state of being entrusted), the scholars are ranked according to it.

Look at the understanding of Ibn Abbas of Surah Al-Nasr [110]: “When Allah’s succour comes, and victory and thou seest people enter God's religion in hosts, extol thy Sustainer's limitless glory, and praise Him, and seek His forgiveness: for, behold, He is ever an acceptor of repentance “

Ibn Abbas was with Omar among the Companions who attended the battle of Badr, he was favored in his understanding of this Surah and stated: “It is the Surah in which Allah announces that he is taking His Prophet back to Himself, it informs the Prophet of his upcoming demise”. Omar agreed with this understanding which appears to have remained hidden from the rest of the Companions although Ibn Abbas was at the time their youngest. For where would one find the death announcement in this Surah unless one were favored with a special understanding? (Dara: This serves as the Bātin (Deeply Concealed & Innate) understanding of the Qur’an vs. Zāhir (Surface) concepts that we read in the syntax.)

This becomes more complex and delicate to reach a point where the understanding of most people fails and they are unable to give the basic texts their dues in understanding; as for those endowed with understanding, they are in no need for additional texts to comprehend the essential ones.

The Sixth Level: The level of general education/clarification of truth from a state of vagueness and confusion to a state of clarity (Bayān).

It is the clarification of the Truth (Haqq) and its differentiation from falsehood through proofs, testimonies and indices, so that Truth becomes witnessed (Mash-hūd) by the Qalb (heart) as clearly as physical objects are seen by the eye. This is the level of Allah‘s argument/evidence (Hujjat) against His Creation, according to which, He does not punish anyone or misguide him until each of them has reached this level [of information, clarification].

”And Allah will not mislead a people after He hath guided them, in order that He may make clear to them what to fear (and avoid); for Allah hath knowledge of all things.” [9:110]

Misguidance to the people is then punishment from Allah after He has clarified the Truth and they rejected it or did not act according to it. Their punishment is at that point to err away from Guidance. Allah has never caused anyone to err until they have received this level of clarification.

If you know this then you can understand the secret of Predestination and you abandon doubts and misconceptions on this subject. You would comprehend Allah’s law in misguiding whomever he does misguide of his slaves when He does.

The Qur’an is clear on this matter in several verses like:

“Then when they went wrong, Allah let their hearts go wrong”. [61:5]

“….and their boast, "Our hearts are already full of knowledge"- nay, but God has sealed their hearts in result of their denial of the truth, and [now] they believe in but few things” [4:155]

The first is obstinate disbelief; the second is disbelief due to the sealing of the heart.

Moreover, Allah states: “So long as We keep their hearts and their eyes turned [away from the truth], even as they did not believe in it in the first instance: and [so] We shall leave them in their overweening arrogance, blindly stumbling to and fro”. [6:110]

Allah punishes them for abandoning Belief in Him after Certainty and ascertainment of the Truth in that He keeps their hearts and eyes turned away unable to guide them to Him.

Consider this matter carefully then for great consideration is due to it. Allah the most High states in [41: 17],
“And as for [the tribe of] Thamud, We offered them guidance, but they chose blindness in preference to guidance”.

This then is Guidance after clarification and evidence, if not followed by the Guidance to success and inspiration, the perfection of Guidance is not reached.

There are two types of this level of Bayān:

The Bayān of hearing the recited Qur’anic Ayat and that of witnessing Ayat (Observed Signs) in the physical world. Both are evidence and proof of the Oneness (Tauhid ) of Allah and His Names, Attributes, His Perfection and the Truth of what you have been told about Him.

That is why He invites His slaves, through His recited Ayat (Verses), to contemplate the Ayat (Observable Signs) that they are able to witness and urges them to reflect upon them.

This is the level of Bayān entrusted to the messengers and to the scholars after them, after which Allah misguides whom He wills.

“And never have We sent forth any apostle otherwise than [with a message] in his own people's tongue, so that he might make [the truth] clear unto them;' but God lets go astray him that wills [to go astray], and guides him that wills [to be guided] -for He alone is almighty, truly wise” [14:4]

It is then so that, the messengers bring clarification after which Allah guides or misguides whom He wills in His grandeur and wisdom.

The Seventh Level: It is the level of exclusive education/clarification of truth from falsehood (Bayān Khāss).

It is closely linked with exclusive Guidance in the form of gifts of divine care/management (‘Ināyat), direction to the right course (Tawfiq) and the distinction with abundant bounty from which various blessings result (Ijtiba’) as well as the elimination of the circumstances (Asbāb) and of the elements of failure from the Heart (Qalb) so that Guidance never abandons it.

Of this level, the most High has stated:

“Though thou be ever so eager to show them the right way, [know that,] verily, God does not bestow His guidance upon any whom He judges to have gone astray;" [16:37]

“Verily, thou canst not guide aright everyone whom thou lovest: but it is God who guides him that wills [to be guided]”. [28:56]

The Eight Level: It is the level of “Bestowing hearing” (Isma’).

Of this level, Allah the most High said:

“For, if God had seen any good in them, He would certainly have made them hear: but [as it is,] even if He had made them hear, they would surely have turned away in their obstinacy”. [8:23]
“And neither are equal the living and the dead [of heart]. Behold, [O Muhammad,] God can make hear whomever He wills, whereas thou canst not make hear such as are [dead of heart like the dead] in their graves” [35:22]

This “bestowing hearing” is more exclusive than making hear the argument/ evidence of Allah and the message of the Messenger. For hearing Allah’s argument/evidence is owed to them [according to Allah’s Law] and involves only the hearing of the ears while the hearing in this level is that of the Heart; speech being words and meaning, it relates both to the ears and to the Heart. To hear the words is the function of the ears while to hear the meaning is that of the Heart.

He, Subhāna-Hu, has deprived the disbelievers from the ability to hear the part of the Heart and allowed them only the part of the ears as He states:

“Whenever there comes unto them any new reminder from their Sustainer, they but listen to it with playful amusement, (Lit., "while they are playing"). [21:2]

Such hearing does not benefit the hearer; it serves only to establish the argument/evidence of Allah against him that Allah has made the information available to him. The goal of hearing and its fruit and end-result do not occur when the Heart is playing in amusement, careless and declining to hear, the hearer in this case comes out saying:

"What is it that he has said just now?" It is such as these whose hearts God has sealed because they [always] followed but their own lusts”. [47:16]

The difference between this level and that of the level of “bestowing understanding” (5th level) is that, understanding is more comprehensive and exclusive in a different manner from this level. Understanding is related to the desired meaning, its conditions, its relations and its pointers (‘Isharat) while hearing revolves around ensuring that the desired meaning of the discourse reaches The Heart. It follows that this hearing is the hearing of acceptance.

The Ninth Level: It is the level of Inspiration (‘Ilhām).

Allah the most High stated:
“ Consider the human self (Nafs), and how it is formed in accordance with what it is meant to be, and how it is imbued with moral failings as well as with consciousness of God!” [91: 7-8]

The Prophet instructed Husayn bin Khuza’I upon his conversion to say:
“My Allah, inspire me with my wisdom and protect me from the evil of my Nafs”.

Inspiration has been considered by some to belong to the stationary rank (Maqām) of the (the spoken to) Muhhadathin. It is felt to be higher in rank than prediction (Firāsa). For prediction (Firāsa) can be accurate in rare cases; at times, its owner may lose it or have difficulty with it, while the one with Inspiration enjoys a stable rank: that of closeness and presence (Qurb and Hudhūr).

I say: The state of being spoken to (Tahdith) is more exclusive than that of being inspired (‘Ilhām). For inspiration (‘Ilhām) is general to the believers who have reached faith, while being spoken to (Tahdith) is more exclusive as elaborated above in the case of Omar. Tahdith then is exclusive ‘Ilhām. It is revelation to a non-prophet either to those creatures who have been tasked/made responsible [by Allah the most High] (Mukallafun) as in His Ayat:

And so, [when he was born,] We inspired [thus] the mother of Moses: Suckle him [for a time], [28:7]
"And behold! I inspired the disciples to have faith in Me and Mine Messenger: [5:111]

Or to those who are the non-responsible:
“And [consider how] thy Sustainer has inspired the bee: "Prepare for thyself dwellings in mountains and in trees, and in what [men] may build [for thee by way of hives]” [16:68]

Another difference between Prediction and Inspiration is perhaps the fact that prediction may be the result of gain (Kasb) and achievement (Tahsil), while ‘Ilhām is a pure gift that cannot be obtained through gain.

The Tenth Level: The level of true vision [in the sleeping state].

It is a part of prophecy as established by the Prophet who stated: “True vision is one of forty six parts of prophecy.”

It has been said that true vision was the beginning of revelation/wahy and lasted half a year; it was followed with revelation/wahy in the waking state for twenty three years up to the death of the Prophet. The percentage of the true vision in the dreams amounted thus to one of forty six parts of the prophecy. This is a Hadith Hassan (A fairly authenticated Prophetic Narration); others have reported that the true vision is one part of seventy.


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Technology of the Heart: Levels of Divine Guidance, General and Exclusive
Levels of Divine Guidance, General and Exclusive
Technology of the Heart
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