Aql and Wahy

The 12th meeting of Majlis-e-Basirat was held at Albasira office in Islamabad on 6 May 2017. These meetings are arranged on monthly basis and this particular gathering was to be convened in the month of April, but due to some unavoidable circumstances its date was changed. The program started with the recitation of Surah Asr by Dr Irfan Shehzad. Before Dr Irfan started to speak on the topic of Aql (human intellect, reasoning) and Wahy (revelation), I said few words relating to the subject and the gist of what I spoke on the occasion is given below:

The sphere of activity of both Aql and Wahy is different. Literal meaning of Wahy is to intimate or indicate secretly and quickly. One gets to know through the study of Quran that Hidayat-e-Takwini (existential or universal guidance) given to the creatures of universe is also interpreted as ‘Wahy’ as is mentioned in the Quran that it is Allah who inspires the bee and guides it make its home. Evil thoughts and uneasy feelings emerging in human mind are also termed as ‘Shaytani Wahy’.  Generally the Wahy in technical sense is the kind of Ilqa (inspiration) that the prophets receive from Allah the Exalted to guide them in their religious matters.

Wahy endorses Aql. It is Wahy that helps Aql to solve problems and remove difficulties wherever it (Aql) fails to deliver. However, it is to be taken into consideration that the yardstick to judge Wahy is the Aql alone.

Dr Irfan Shezad

Both Aql and Wahy claim to provide guidance to mankind. Now it is to be seen what their realm of guidance is. On seeing the world and the life in it, it appears very purposeful to Aql, but it (Aql) fails to know what the purpose of the world and the life is. It is from here that the Aql raises the question: if there is the universe and there is life then who is the creator of it, what is the purpose of it and will there be life after death. This then becomes the domain of Aql. Now comes the turn of Wahy, saying I possess the answers of these questions. Although, Aql as well as philosophy and scientific philosophy also tried to answer these questions and whether they responded positively i.e., there is a purpose behind it, or they responded negatively i.e., it is without any purpose, both these answers are based on mere conjectures and for this reason there is no difference in both these responses. But, Wahy comes with the claim that it definitely knows the answers of these questions. By now, though, Wahy makes an appearance but how to place confidence in it. For this, i.e. relying on Wahy, the Creator of the universe introduced same means through which humans count on things related to this world. For example, the Messenger who brought this Wahy is a very honest and trustworthy personality. It is how human beings run their affairs in this world – placing reliance on honest and upright person, and as such believing on the things that are even hidden from him but stated by anyone whose truthfulness and sincerity is beyond doubt.

What Wahy does now? Two things, Akhlaq (ethics, morals) and Qanoon (law), are needed to pass one’s life in the world. Both these things are imperative for spending life and Wahy plays its role in both of them. As far as Akhlaq is concerned, it (the Wahy) doesn’t give anything new to it. Morality is there in the human nature. Humans know about lying, truth-telling and other such things. They discern that telling a lie is always wrong and speaking truth is always good. Wahy in fact strengthens the basis of moral code. It (the Wahy) not only urges to honour your parents, but also says that God will be pleased with you in case you do the same, so to say that it (the Wahy) reinforces the basis of ethics by connecting it with the Akhirah (the Hereafter).

As far as legislation is concerned, the Wahy provides guidance to mankind wherever human intellect fails or remains indecisive about making laws. For example, in matters relating to Sud (interest), throughout history man failed to determine whether one should take interest or not. It is here that Wahy provides the answer that Sud is forbidden. Similarly, what should be the definite punishment for crimes like theft and murder so that these illegal acts stop to happen in the society? Humans never developed consensus about the exact penalty for these types of offences and it is the Wahy which talked about the precise sentences in such cases. In the same way human nature guides us what to eat and drink and what not to eat and drink, but human nature is deceived when it comes to Sharaab (alcohol). It is here that the Wahy provides guidance and tells that Sharaab is forbidden. Likewise, there are other things where Aql fails to provide definite directions but the Wahy clearly states what is to be done. That is how Wahy complements to Aql.


Dr Nadeem Abbas Baloch

Those not believing in revealed religions don’t accept the concept of Wahy, and to them the thoughts put forward as a result of the Wahy are outcomes of Aql. Some concur with the Wahy but evaluate it by means of thier Aql. For them Aql, instead of Wahy, is the yardstick of judging anything, giving it (the Aql) superiority over the Wahy. The reality is that one not only will have to give his nod to the Wahy but also accord it primacy after accepting religion. In the eyes of Mutakalimin (speculative theologians) there is no contradiction between the Aql and the Wahy.


Syed Asad Abbas

Aql is the criterion for assessing the Wahy, but it alone is not enough. We should also think about what Aql is. In China dogs too are eaten and they don’t find any defect in it while forming an opinion of it through the agency of Aql. Does Aql refer to plain mental capacity or is it something else.


Dr Syed Waqar Haider

Wahy terminologically is Shu’ur-e-Bartar (super-wisdom, super-consciousness), which is transmitted to humans by means of a prophet. We are not talking about the group that doesn’t agree with Shu’ur-e-Bartar, rather, we are speaking about those who acknowledge the Wahy. Understanding Aql is also important. Aql means those propositions which are accepted by all humans such as two and two makes four. There is no disagreement among wise men while dealing with some Aql-based concepts. However, divergence is found on some rational arguments. There is no need of Wahy when dealing about those Aql-based concepts on which there is consensus among wise men. For example, there is concord that telling a lie is bad and abominable. There are some universal facts and the wise men accept them. Wahy is also in agreement with these facts. Those who deem Wahy as Shu’ur-e-Bartar give it supriority where there is disagreement and where it seems that there is a discord between the Wahy and the Aql, and Aql to them is still passing through evolutionary stages. Science is laying stress and banking on experiments and observations. Its results are also changing. It is not necessary that results based on Aql are always perfect. Aql wavers in the face of Wahy. Because of its different interpretations, some people deny the existence of Wahy. It is not a rational way to refute Wahy on the basis of different interpretations. Muslims don’t consider Wahy as the only source of Ilm (knowledge), there are other sources as well. To put it concisely, there is no doubt in it (the Wahy) as if it is the most reliable source of knowledge. The Quran has laid much stress on use of Aql, observation, careful thought and reflection. Yes, there can be talk about the state of Wahy when referring to its technical meaning as well as how the prophets are chosen.


Mujahid Mukhtar Alvi

Aql to us is the only criterion to evaluate and understand anything. Even attaining knowledge of God is dependent on Aql. How can be Aql termed as defective in the face of Wahy when Wahy is understood, evaluated and acknowledged by means of Aql. Nevertheless, essence of Aql and Wahy will have to be explained.


Syed Anjum Raza

Can the true nature of Wahy be analyzed through Aql? What will be the basis and yardstick of terming any word as Wahy?


Syed Rifat Sabzwari

What is Wahy? Is it a state or general meaning? Why there is need of an angel to send Wahy? The concept of angels to us is dealing with metaphysical creatures.


Syed Saqib Akbar

The need is to know the sources of knowledge e.g., Mahsoosat, Maqulat and Wahy. As far as the essence of Wahy is concerned, the Quran has given descriptions of it while talking about bee, the mother of Musa (AS), Hazrat Maryam and prophets. Here Mulla Sadra’s Nazria Tashqeeq holds importance and one should study it. The Quran states: Allah created all things, and then guided them accordingly. The descending of Wahy after the completion of the prophethood stopped in a way that the type of Wahy that is related to the prophets came to an end, otherwise, the system of providing guidance is going on.


Besides Wahy, we will also have to understand Fitrah (nature). Our whole discussion generally revolves round the prophetic Wahy and that Aql accepts it or not, whereas, we need to recognize Wahy in essence. It is said that commandments relating to society have been given through Wahy. Today what we know as Wahy and the commandments we describe as being issued as a result of the Wahy, is it so or not is the basic question in this regard. Didn’t the prophets take any decisions without Wahy. Although a person like Ibn Sina, who although rationally rejects physical resurrection, but accepts it on the basis of Sahih Ahadith. Mulla Sadra raised objection to it saying how it can be possible to accept a thing on the basis of Hadith when it is not logically possible. Mulla Sadra doesn’t agree that there is any disagreement between Aql and Wahy. According to him, physical resurrection is justified by Aql. However, his concept has its own details.


Referring to Wahy in day-to-day affairs, Hudood and Tazirat and other such jurisprudential matters is worthy of note. The status of prophet is very high and Wahy is Shaur-e-Bartar. The process of legislation is significant, but the need of a prophet rises above it. Nabi and Wahy are essential features for having belief in the unseen. Has all the practical Fiqh such as Diyat (financial compensation) in the case of murder is 100 camels etc, been formulated on the basis of Wahy or the source of such things is already prevailing laws in the society. The questions regarding the nature and reality of angels also arise along with the essence of Wahy. Was it an angel who conveyed Wahy to bee? Marifah (knowledge) of human being is also very essential when studying about the Wahy.