The Enduring Revelation in Islam: Embracing Mystical and Collective Wisdom as Ongoing Revelation

The Enduring Revelation in IslamIn the present age, where the world is characterized by rapid change and diverse perspectives, the significance of collective revelation becomes even more apparent. As Muslims, we should recognize the transformative potential embedded within our mythology and reflectively embrace its wisdom, writes Dr. Adis Duderija.

By Adis Duderija, New Age Islam

The article below was inspired on the quote below:

“Muslims believe that revelation is an ongoing process. For Islam, revelation began with Adam when he received words from his Lord, and God turned toward him. And while we believe that revelation reached its technical culmination in the Prophet Muhammad through a long period of what we call progressive revelation, nonetheless, it may be said that revelation continues, not in the form of Wahi (revelation technically considered) but in the form of Ilham, or inspiration that is open to the friends and worshipful servants of God. This mode of revelation will not end. It did not begin only after prophetic revelation had ended, but rather, in my view, it always coexisted with it. In other words, the beginnings of what I may call collective revelation are our rich heritage of mythology.” Mahmoud Ayoub , Mormons and Muslims: Spiritual Foundations and Modern Manifestations, ed. Spencer J. Palmer (Provo, Ut.: Brigham Young University, 1983), 105-16.

Contrary to puritanical forms of Islam, certain approaches to the Islamic tradition , especially in forms of progressive and proceee-relational Islam, are premised on the idea that the process of revelation in Islam is not confined to a specific time or limited to what traditionally has been described as prophetic Revelation. While the technical form of this kind of revelation, is known as Wahi, there is another form of revelation as inspiration, traditionally referred to as Elham, continues to flow to the faithful. This ongoing revelation, I argue, has always coexisted with the idea of prophetic revelation and finds expression in the collective wisdom preserved in our rich heritage of mythology and mysticism. In this op-ed, I will explore the significance of this enduring revelation and its relevance in contemporary times.

The Expansive Nature of Revelation:

There are versions of Islamic tradition that view revelation as a dynamic and continuous process. It began with Adam, the first human being, who received words from the Lord and was the recipient of divine attention. While the pinnacle of prophetic revelation is traditionally attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, it is important to recognize that this does not mark the end of divine inspiration. Rather, it signifies a shift from what has been traditionally considered as direct revelation to a more subtle form of inspiration accessible to the devoted followers and friends of God. This continuing revelation, often described as Elham, serves as a source of guidance, insight, and spiritual illumination for individuals and communities.

Collective Revelation and Mythology:

One significant aspect of this enduring revelation is the role of collective wisdom found within our rich heritage of mythology. Mythology, in this context, does not denote falsehood or fabrication but rather encompasses the collective stories, symbols, and archetypes that have been passed down through generations. These narratives can carry profound spiritual and moral insights, offering a deeper understanding of the human condition and our relationship with the divine.

Mythology serves as a repository of collective revelation, embodying the accumulated wisdom and experiences of our ancestors. It provides a framework through which we can engage with timeless truths and navigate the complexities of life. Through myths, we gain insights into the universal themes of creation, purpose, morality, and the nature of the divine. These narratives often offer profound metaphors and allegories that resonate with the human psyche, allowing us to explore the depths of our spiritual journey.

Embracing the Power of Collective Revelation:

In the present age, where the world is characterized by rapid change and diverse perspectives, the significance of collective revelation becomes even more apparent. As Muslims, we should recognize the transformative potential embedded within our mythology and reflectively embrace its wisdom. By engaging with our collective heritage, we can draw upon the accumulated insights of countless generations, fostering a deeper sense of community and continuity.

Additionally, collective revelation can serve as a bridge between different cultures and faith traditions. Just as Islamic mythology can hold profound wisdom, so too can the mythologies of other civilizations. By engaging in constructive interfaith dialogue and seeking common threads, we can discover shared values and foster mutual understanding. This inclusive approach allows us to recognize the universality of divine inspiration and appreciate the diverse expressions of collective revelation across humanity.

As noted above some forms of Islam, such as process-relational Islam is premised on the idea that revelation is an ongoing process, extending beyond the era of prophetic revelation. This enduring revelation finds expression in our rich heritage of mystical thought and mythology, which serves as a repository of collective wisdom. Embracing this collective revelation enables us to access timeless truths, navigate the complexities of life, and foster a sense of community and continuity.

As Muslims, we should embrace the power of mystical and collective forms of ongoing revelation and engage with our mythology in a meaningful ( but not literal) way. By doing so, we enrich our understanding of Islam, forge connections with other cultures and faith traditions, and contribute to a more inclusive and harmonious world. The ongoing process of revelation reminds us, finally, of the profound and enduring nature of divine guidance, urging us to seek wisdom and inspiration in every facet of our lives.

A decades old patron of New Age Islam, Dr Adis Duderija is a Senior Lecturer in the Study of Islam and Society, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science; Senior Fellow Centre for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue, Griffith University | Nathan | Queensland | Australia. His forthcoming books are ( co-edited)- Shame, Modesty, and Honora in Islam and Interfaith Engagement Beyond the Divide (Springer)


Israfel blowing nafir

Israfel blowing nafir, from a manuscript Aja-ib al-Makhluqat

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