Prophet Muhammad, Angel Gabriel, and Hallucinations

Introduction

A claim made frequently today by anti-Islam/Muslim apologists is that the Prophet ﷺ was hallucinating when he saw Gabriel the Angel (henceforth Jibril). When we look at some of the evidence brought forth to justify this claim, we see that the people making it seem to rely upon the following points:

  1. A selective use of weak and authentic hadiths.
  2. A selective reading of those same cherry picked hadiths.
  3. An assumption of naturalism/physicalism/materialism.

What I’ll do in this article is cite a few narrations which the apologists don’t share that refute their claim and show how even some of the sources they do reference refute their claims as well (note however that this article is not even remotely exhaustive). I won’t be refuting naturalism, but here are a few articles which help demonstrate that God exists which indirectly refutes naturalism:

Simply put, Jibril being a hallucination does not make sense considering the data we have and this claim does not stand up to any critical analysis.

Discussion

The following authentic hadiths by themselves refute the allegation of hallaucinations:

My father, Umar ibn al-Khattab, told me: One day we were sitting in the company of Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) when there appeared before us a man dressed in pure white clothes, his hair extraordinarily black. There were no signs of travel on him. None amongst us recognized him…He (the narrator, Umar ibn al-Khattab) said: Then he (the inquirer) went on his way but I stayed with him (the Holy Prophet) for a long while. He then, said to me: Umar, do you know who this inquirer was? I replied: Allah and His Apostle knows best. He (the Holy Prophet) remarked: He was Gabriel (the angel). He came to you in order to instruct you in matters of religion.

Sahih Muslim 8a (Emphasis mine.)

Sa`d reported that on the Day of Uhud I saw on the right side of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and on his left side two persons dressed in white clothes and whom I did not see before nor after that, and they were Gabriel and Michael (Allah be pleased with both of them).

Sahih Muslim 2306 a (Emphasis mine.)

These narrations prove that the Prophet ﷺ was not hallucinating because we see that his companions noticed Jibril as well. Furthermore, both companions witnessed Jibril wearing white clothes. Were they hallucinating as well or mixing him up with someone else? This is highly unlikely.

We also have a report which shows that effects of angels were noticed by companions even when they weren’t seen physically by them as the angels at that time were in their supernatural form which was in the unseen (ghayb). To give some background, there are narrations mentioning that angels took part in the Battle of Badr and one companion mentions that the Prophet ﷺ saw them:

Narrated Rifaa: (who was one of the Badr warriors) Gabriel came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said, “How do you look upon the warriors of Badr among yourselves?” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “As the best of the Muslims.” or said a similar statement. On that, Gabriel said, “And so are the Angels who participated in the Badr (battle).

Sahih al-Bukhari 3992 (Emphasis mine.)

Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibrahim ibn Abi Abla from Talha ibn Ubaydullah ibn Kariyz that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Shaytan is not considered more abased or more cast out or more contemptible or more angry on any day than on the Day of Arafa. That is only because he sees the descent of the Mercy and Allah’s disregard for great wrong actions. That is except from what he was shown on the Day of Badr.” Someone said, “What was he shown on the Day of Badr, Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Didn’t he see Jibril arranging the ranks of the angels?”

Muwatta Malik Book 20, Hadith 254 (Emphasis mine.)

In Q 8:12, Allah gives an order for angels to execute during the Battle of Badr and we see companions testify to the effects of this:

Allah’s statement,

﴿ سَأُلۡقِى فِى قُلُوبِ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ ٱلرُّعۡبَ ﴾

(I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved.) means, `you — angels — support the believers, strengthen their (battle) front against their enemies, thus, implementing My command to you. I will cast fear, disgrace and humiliation over those who defied My command and denied My Messenger,

﴿ فَٱضۡرِبُواْ فَوۡقَ ٱلۡأَعۡنَاقِ وَٱضۡرِبُواْ مِنۡہُمۡ ڪُلَّ بَنَانٍ۬ ﴾

(so strike them over the necks, and smite over all their fingers and toes.) strike them on their foreheads to tear them apart and over the necks to cut them off, and cut off their limbs, hands and feet. It was said that,

﴿ فَوۡقَ ٱلۡأَعۡنَاقِ ﴾

(over the necks) refers to striking the forehead, or the neck, according to Ad-Dahhak and Atiyyah Al-Awfi. In support of the latter, Allah commanded the believers,

﴿ فَإِذَا لَقِيتُمُ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ فَضَرۡبَ ٱلرِّقَابِ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَآ أَثۡخَنتُمُوهُمۡ فَشُدُّواْ ٱلۡوَثَاقَ ﴾

(So, when you meet (in fight Jihad in Allah’s cause) those who disbelieve, smite (their) necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, take them as captives).) (47:4)

Ar-Rabi` bin Anas said, “In the aftermath of Badr, the people used to recognize whomever the angels killed from those whom they killed, by the wounds over their necks, fingers and toes, because those parts had a mark as if they were branded by fire.”

Tafsir Ibn Kathir Q 8:12 (Emphasis mine.)

This further shows that the Prophet ﷺ was not hallucinating when he saw angels in the form of a human being as well as when they weren’t in the form of a human being.

Below is a passage from Ibn Ishaq’s Sirah and a hadith which apologists like to quote. Because there is a page break, apologists only tend to quote material found on page 72 from Ibn Ishaq’s Sirah, so what I’ve done below is additionally quote material from page 71 to give some context:

“Some months after our return he and his brother were with out lambs behind the tents when his brother came running and said to us, “Two men clothed in white have seized that Qurayshi brother of mine and thrown him down and opened up his belly, and are stirring it up.” We ran towards him and found him standing up with a livid face. We took hold of him and asked him what was the matter. He said, “Two men in white raiment came and threw me down and opened up my belly and searched therein for I know not what.”[1] So we took him back to out tent.

[1] Sura 94.1.

Alfred Guillame’s translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirah pp.71-72 (Emphasis mine.)

Anas b. Malik reported that Gabriel came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) while he was playing with his playmates. He took hold of him and lay him prostrate on the ground and tore open his breast and took out the heart from it and then extracted a blood-clot out of it and said:That was the part of Satan in thee. And then he washed it with the water of Zamzam in a golden basin and then it was joined together and restored to it place. The boys came running to his mother, i. e. his nurse, and said: Verily Muhammad has been murdered. They all rushed toward him (and found him all right) His color was changed, Anas said. I myself saw the marks of needle on his breast.

Sahih Muslim 162 c (Emphasis mine.)

This first report from Ibn Ishaq’s Sirah further confirms that the Prophet ﷺ was not hallucinating when he saw Jibril because the other boy saw him as well. The report cites the boy saying, “Two men clothed in white have seized that Qurayshi brother of mine”. Furthermore, he and the Prophet ﷺ describe Jibril as wearing white clothes which is a distinguishing description consistent with the previously cited reports. In a similar report in Sahih Muslim, there is more than one boy and they mention, “Verily Muhammad has been murdered”. This shows that the other boys noticed Jibril as well because in order for a murder to take place at least two people need to be involved. So, even the sources quoted to prove the claim end up working against the apologists.

Conclusion

The Prophet ﷺ was not hallucinating when he saw Jibril.

Written by Omar Hamid of MuslimsRespond SubReddit

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