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Revelation in monotheism is the medium by which a god, such as the Islamic Allah, is claimed to communicate his word to his prophets and followers so that they may inform the people of his will, what he wants from them and what they must do for him in order to be saved from eternal damnation or otherwise reprieved from his wrath.

Revealed Books according to the Islamic tradition

Throughout history, the Qur'an claims, Allah has sent four books as revelations. These are:

1. Taurat: This was revealed to Musa (Moses) and was sent by Allah for the Jews to follow.

2. Zabur: This was revealed to David and is known as the Book of Psalms in today's Bible.

3. Injil: This was revealed to Isa (Jesus) and was sent by Allah for the Jews and non-Jews. Although in reality there many gospels some in and some outside of the Bible, the Qur'an treats the Injil as though it were a single book.

4. Qur'an: This was revealed from the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) to Muhammad. Muslims claim that the Qur'an is for all mankind to follow for all times. It allegedly 'confirms' all of the books that came before it.

The Quran also implies in surah 87:18-19 that a book was revealed to Abraham[1] though the Qur'an offers no further detail and it is not readily apparent to which book the Qur'an is referring here.

Method of Revelation

The method of Revelation in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism/Christianity/Islam) usually took the form of internal inspiration, that is, those who wrote the texts and heard the voice of God, heard it in their heads and there was usually no external indication of the inspiration/message. There are of course, exceptions such as the Talmudic tradition that YHVH narrated each word of the Torah to Moses.

Muhammad's Revelations

According to the traditional narrative, the Qur'an was a continuous revelation, formed over 23 years. Muhammad received these 'revelations' sometimes through an angel that came to him in the shape of a man, and on other occasions whilst he was having a seizure, and the inspiration was like 'a bell clanging in his head.'

Narrated 'Aisha: (the mother of the faithful believers) Al-Harith bin Hisham asked Allah's Apostle "O Allah's Apostle! How is the Divine Inspiration revealed to you?" Allah's Apostle 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 being inspired Divinely on a very cold day and noticed the Sweat dropping from his forehead (as the Inspiration was over).
Narrated Aisha: Al Harith bin Hisham asked the Prophet, "How does the divine inspiration come to you?" He replied, "In all these ways: The Angel sometimes comes to me with a voice which resembles the sound of a ringing bell, and when this state abandons me, I remember what the Angel has said, and this type of Divine Inspiration is the hardest on me; and sometimes the Angel comes to me in the shape of a man and talks to me, and I understand and remember what he says."
'A'isha reported that Harith b. Hisham asked Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him): How does the the wahi (inspiration) come to you? He said: At times it comes to me like the ringing of a bell and that is most severe for me and when it is over I retain that (what I had received in the form of wahi), and at times an Angel in the form of a human being comes to me (and speaks) and I retain whatever he speaks.
Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa from his father from A'isha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, that al-Harith ibn Hisham asked the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, "How does the revelation come to you?" and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Sometimes it comes to me like the ringing of a bell, and that is the hardest for me, and when it leaves me I remember what it has said. And sometimes the angel appears to me in the likeness of a man and talks to me and I remember what he says." A'isha added, "I saw it coming down on him on an intensely cold day, and when it had left him his forehead was dripping with sweat."

Angels and Satan

Despite the fact that Muhammad's revelations were like bells, hadith exist to the effect that bells are "the musical instrument of the Satan."

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Angels do not accompany the travellers who have with them a dog and a bell.
Narrated Umm Habibah: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The angels do not go with a travelling company in which there is a bell.
Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab: Ibn az-Zubayr told that a woman client of theirs took az-Zubayr's daughter to Umar ibn al-Khattab wearing bells on her legs. Umar cut them off and said that he had heard the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) say: There is a devil along with each bell.
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The bell is the musical instrument of the Satan.

See Also

  1. "And this is in the Books of the earliest (Revelation),- The Books of Abraham and Moses.Quran 87:18-19