How Was the Qur'an Revealed?

Answered by Ustadh Tariq Abdul-Rasheed
Question: As-Salāmu `Alaykum,
We all know that the Qurʾān was sent down to the Prophet ﷺ. We are also taught that it was indeed Jibrāʾīl (ʿalayhi s-salām) who would recite the Qurʾān with the Prophet ﷺ. It came down over a period of years. We know it is the word of Allāh, and protected by Him too.
But where exactly did Jibrāʾīl (ʿalayhi s-salām) bring it from? Yes, it was Allāh, but was there intermediary seeing as even Jibrāʾīl (ʿalayhi s-salām) never witnessed the splendours of Allāh, as seen from the miraculous night journey.
I ask because I came across a teacher that stated that once the Prophet ﷺ asked Jibrāʾīl (ʿalayhi s-salām) if he knew where the Qurʾān was from, Jibrāʾīl answered he hears it from behind a veil and then brings it down to the Prophet ﷺ, the Prophet ﷺ then said was he aware whose voice it was, Jibrāʾīl said he didn’t, then the Prophet ﷺ said it was his.
I understand this might be a contentious issue for some, and I apologize if I have come across in an improper manner. I just found the entire subject matter engrossing, and very important.
Answer: In the name of Allah of the Beneficent the Merciful
Wa laikum salaamu wa rahmatullahi wa barkaatuh,
We ask Allah that He increase us in beneficial knowledge. Amongst the most noble of the sciences of Islam are the sciences and knowledge of the Holy Qur’an. The scholars say, “the nobility of a knowledge extends from the nobility of its sources.” The Qur’an being Allah’s final revelation to all of creation then it is clear that the sciences which facilitate us having a sound study of the Qur’an are indeed exalted, lofty and noble.
What is Revelation?
The scholars of Qur’anic sciences define ‘wahy’ or revelation as:
Communication of Allah to whom He has chosen from His servants what He wants of guidance [legal rulings and the likes thereof] in a rapid hidden way.
The Importance of Asking
There is no problem at all with your question. There is no shyness as it pertains to seeking knowledge and understanding ones religion properly. The scholars mention that from the etiquettes of seeking knowledge is to ask. The problem in many cases is that a student does not ask because of misplaced shyness or worse assuming he knows.
Imam al-Bayhaqi (Shu’ab al-Iman), relates the following hadith in this meaning, “Moderation in spending is half of [one’s] sustenance, friendliness toward people is half of [one’s] intelligence, and asking good questions is half of [one’s] knowledge.” [Provision of the Seekers]
In fact, the mother of the faithful ‘Aisha relates a very similar question from the Sahabi Al-Harith bin Hisham when he asked “O Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him)! How is the Divine Inspiration revealed to you?” Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him ) replied, “Sometimes it is (revealed) like the ringing of a bell, this form of Inspiration is the hardest of all and then this state passes off after I have grasped what is inspired. Sometimes the Angel comes in the form of a man and talks to me and I grasp whatever he says.” ‘Aisha added: Verily I saw the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him ) being inspired divinely on a very cold day and noticed the sweat dropping from his forehead (as the Inspiration was over). [How Divine Revelation Began, Bukhari Hadith No.2]
*Note: The “ringing of a bell” refers to the revelation as it comes by way of the angel Jibreel.
How is the Divine Revelation Revealed?
Allah says, “And it is not for any human being that Allah should speak to him except by revelation or from behind a veil or that He sends a messenger to reveal, by His permission, what He wills. Indeed, He is Most High and Wise.” [Shura: 51]
The scholars of Qur’anic Sciences discuss this issue in their books and have identified that revelation occurred in about four ways:
1. What Allah reveals directly to the hearts of His Messengers. This is what is understood from the first portion of the above verse, “except by revelation”.
2. What comes in the true dreams of the messengers and prophets and is also understood from the verse, “except by revelation”.
3. When a messenger perceives the speech of Allah without ascertaining the source of the speech. This is understood from Allah’s saying, “from behind a veil” and is know from the story of Prophet Musa (peace and blessings be upon him ) when Allah says, “and Allah spoke to Moses with [direct] speech” [Nisa: 164]
4. What is revealed by way of a an intermediary (the angel Jibreel (peace and blessings be upon him )). This is understood from the verse, “or that He sends a messenger to reveal, by His permission, what He wills”. [Fadl Abbas, Gida’a al-Janan and Mana`a al-Qattaan, Mabahith fi Uloom al-Quran]
This is important to understand as the how-ness of the revelation can be generally classified into two general categories. Namely; what is revealed directly without an intermediary and what is revealed by way of an intermediary. So we see not all revelation comes by way of the Angel Jibreel (peace and blessings be upon him ).
In regards to revelation that has come by way of Jibreel. The scholars have several opinions regarding this. However, the opinion that is accepted by the scholars of Ahl Sunnah is that Jibreel would take revelation directly from the speech of Allah.
Imam Suyuti mentions a hadith from at-Tabarani [with a connected chain] which aids this position from an-Nawas bin Sam`an who says, “When Allah speaks with revelation the heavens shake fiercely from the fear of Allah. The inhabitants of the heavens hear this and fall prostrate. Then Jibreel is the first to raise his head and Allah speaks to him and reveals to him what He wills. Jibreel then reaches the angels as he descends traversing each heaven its inhabitants ask, “what has our Lord said?” he responds, “The utter truth”. He continues until he completes what he was ordered with. [Suyuti, al-Itqan fi Uloom al-Qur’an]
While Imam Suyuti doesn’t mention the grading of the this hadith. Imam Bukhari mentions a sahih hadith of Abu Huraira where The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him ) said, “When Allah ordains something [i.e. reveals revelation] on the Heaven the angels beat with their wings in obedience to His statement which sounds like that of a chain dragged over a rock. [Book of Tawheed, Sahih al-Bukhari 7481]
Imam Abu Dawud also mentions a sound hadith in this meaning. ‘Abd Allah (b. Mas’ud) reported the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him ) as saying ; when Allah, the exalted, speaks to send revelation the inhabitants of the heaven hear the clinging of a bell from the other heaven [like the sound of] pulling a chain on the mountain of as-Safa, and then swoon. They continue to remain like this until Jibreel comes to them. When Jibreel comes the fear is removed from their hearts and they ask, what did your Lord say Gabriel? He would say; Truth, so they would say; Truth, Truth. [Sunan Abi Dawud 4738]
A Note on Sunni Belief
There are two points that should be considered here related to Sunni Creed.
1. When we refer to Allah we should affirm in ourselves that Allah is not defined by directionality as might be assumed in the verse “from behind a veil” [Shuraa: 51]. Imam Fakhr ud-Deen Razi mentions when explaining issues related to this verse that the usage of “from behind a veil” is figurative and that its indication of apparent resemblance [to created things] is because of the usage of metaphors in the Arabic language. [Razi, Mafatih al-Gayb]
2. The speech of Allah is another issue which has been discussed by the scholars of Islamic creed. Because of the nature of language confusion has arose regarding how to understand Allah attribute of speech. What has been soundly established is that the speech of Allah does not resemble the speech of creation. Therefore, it is not comprised of letters and sounds which require air and vibration.
Allah reveals to His Prophets and Messenger by various means. The revelation that comes by way of Jibreel (as) is divinely revealed to Jibreel from Allah as demonstrated by the various narrations. As in the case of the Qur’an Jibreel then delivers that revelation directly to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him ) without stint. This particular way of revelation was the hardest on the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
Allah knows best
Tariq Abdul-Rasheed
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Is the Basmala Part of the Qur’an?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question:  In the Qaloon riwaya of the Qur’an (Maliki riwaya exclusively used in Libya) I noticed the basmala was not an ayat in the Fatiha. I inquired and found that the Malikis don’t consider it part of the Quran at all, whilst the Hanafis (and I think Shafi’s) consider the basmala a revealed ayat through wahi. I’m confused for two reasons: 1) nobody is allowed to deny an ayat of the Quran and 2) Allah protects the Quran from change, and there will never be disagreement as to what is wahi and what is not? Are the different positions on the basmala an exception?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are well, insha’Allah.

There is no difference of opinion on whether the basmala is divinely revealed or not.

The Basmala in the Qur’an

Firstly, it is important to note that there are two types of basmala in the Qur’an: [i] the basmala which is part of the verse in Surah al-Naml [Qur’an, 27:30], and [ii] the basmala which is found at the beginning of surahs.

There is absolutely no disagreement regarding the basmala found in Surah al-Naml.

Secondly, all four schools concur that the basmala found at the beginning of the surahs (except Suarh al-Tawba) is a divinely revealed verse, and it is massly transmitted (mutawatir) — like the rest of the Qur’an — from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace).

The Basmala at the Beginning of Surahs

With regards to the basmala found at the beginning of the surahs of the Qur’an, the scholars have differed as to whether it is part of the surah, simply a separator (between surahs), recited or unrecited. The answer to this question will help determine legal rulings related to it, such as whether the basmala should be recited in prayer. Thus, it is considered a legal issue, and there is a valid difference of opinion within the schools.

The soundest position in the Hanafi school is that it is a verse which was revealed once and assigned as a separator between surahs, and by which to seek blessings (baraka). [Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Abu Su`ud, Irshad al-`Aql al-Salim]

And Allah alone gives success.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

How Do I Know that Allah Most High Exists and is Actively Maintaining Creation?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: Science is affecting my faith, so my questions are:

(1) How do I know that Allah Most High exists?


(2) How do I know the Qur’an is in fact revelation and truly miraculous?


(3) How do I know that He is Active, i.e., He did not just create the world and stepped back?


Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

The Existence of Allah Most High

With respect to the existence of Allah Most High, the signs are far too numerous and overwhelming to even attempt to delineate in an answer such as this. Revelation itself is the greatest proof for humanity, and indeed each verse of the Qur’an is called a ‘sign’ (aya), as it indicates that it is none other than divine speech.

I would like to, however, point out two other dimensions of ‘divine signs’ that might be of interest to you: (a) the cosmos, and (b) your own self, both of which — even if analyzed from a purely scientific perspective — are replete with innumerable wonders, that direct the mind towards a very real awareness of the one Creator.

With respect to the greater cosmos, you can read for example “The Privileged Planet”, a detailed exposition of how our planet is perfectly designed to support life, and moreover precisely positioned for us to marvel over the universe.

And to appreciate how the human body is itself a universe, filled with the most wondrous engineering and design, you can read for example “Signature in the Cell”, referring to the biochemical and genetic complexity of the very building blocks of human life.

Keep in mind that these authors are scientists and are engaged in scientific discourse. They are simply presenting evidence for their theories, and they themselves may not believe in the Creator. Yet for those whose minds are not limited to a scientific paradigm, but can simply reflect as human beings, such books provide detailed information of clear design and specification, which intuitively leads to recognition of the Designer and Specifier.

The Qur’an: True Revelation

As for the truthfulness and miraculous nature of the Qur’an — revelation from the Creator and Designer of all things — please see this related answer:

The Truth of Islam, the Qur’an, & the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him)

Allah’s Constant Maintaining of Creation

The proof of this reality — that Allah the Creator is active and constantly maintains creation in existence, creating every moment as well as everything that exists in each moment — is based on His own statements revealed to us.

In more than one verse, Allah Most High describes Himself as “Creator of everything” (13:16, 39:62, 40:62), and indeed, every moment is a “thing”, as well as every substance, quality, cause and effect that exists in that moment.

Allah Most High also states about Himself, “Every day, He is engaged in a matter” (55:29). “Day” in this context simply refers to a unit of time, as the great exegete Imam Baydawi comments, “That is, in every moment, He creates persons and recreates states and situations, based on His pre-eternal determination.” [Anwar al-Tanzil wa Asrar al-Ta’wil]

Surely, creation is always on the verge of winking back into nonexistence. Were it not for Allah’s constant ‘activity’, it would all disappear.

And Allah knows best.

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

The Role of the Intellect with Respect to Revelation & Religion – Shaykh al-Bouti

“The intellect is the instrument of determining the soundness of transmission; of understanding its content; of reaching understanding of the meanings being indicates. The intellect is, thus, like a lamp that illuminates the milestones of the path for the traveller.” [Shaykh Bouti .. الدكتور البوطي :



إن العقل أداة للوثوق بصحة ورود النقل، ثم هو أداة لفهم مضمونه، وإدراك المعنى الذي يدل عليه. فهو كالمصباح إذ ينير معالم الطريق أمام السائر.