On the Directness of Divine Communication

When the Qur’an was being revealed to Prophet Mohammad, and it took 23 years for the entire Qur’an to be revealed, people would ask him different questions wanting to get an answer to their questions in the Qur’an which was being revealed to him. Thirty odd questions were asked of him and answers were given to all those questions in the Qur’an.

Every time the Qur’an answered a question, it would be in words: “They ask you regarding…so tell them…” This was so except when once the Prophet was asked about God Himself. This time the Qur’an did not reply in its usual style “They ask you regarding me…so tell them…,” but the reply was:

“When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am, indeed, close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me: Let them also, with a will, Listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way.” (2: 186)

Explaining this verse, the scholars of the Qur’an point out that there is a subtlety in the reply to that question which reaffirms one of the cardinal principles of Islam which is that man can approach God directly and there is no need for an intermediary between him and God. They say that all the questions were answered with “tell them” but when they asked about God Himself, the words tell them was omitted altogether and the question was answered directly.

In the above reply, there is a great rejoicing and hope for mankind because God has declared that he will respond to anybody who calls on Him with a sincere heart believing in Him and following His Commandments and following the Right Path.

While on one hand when God has allowed us a direct approach to Him, on the other hand He has sent a messenger with His revelation to teach us and purify us spiritually so that all the defilement in us which stand between us and God is removed. The Qur’an says:

“He it is Who hath raised amidst the unlettered ones an apostle from among themselves, rehearsing Unto them His revelations and purifying them and teaching them the Book and Wisdom, though they have been aforetime in error manifest.” (62: 2)

Therefore, by following the revelation of God which teaches us the Book and Wisdom and by following the teaching of the Prophet who taught us the ways to purify our souls we can achieve the excellence of the wonderful Spirit which is the greatest gift of God to man.