Meaning of Muhaddas

[ BACK ] In the Sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, the term used for those persons who receive Divine revelation, but are not prophets, is muhaddas. The meaning of this term has been explained by the Holy Prophet himself as: ``A person who is spoken to by God, without being a prophet.''

``Among the Israelites before you, there used to be men who were spoken to by God, though they were not prophets, and if there is such a one among my people it is Umar.''

(Bukhari, book: Qualities of the Companions of the Holy Prophet, ch. Umar; 62:6)

In another version of this hadith in the same source, instead of the words rijal-un yukallamuna (``men spoken to by God'') the word muhaddas (lit. one to whom something is told) is used.

``Among the nations before you there used to be muhaddases, and if there is one of them in my nation it is Umar.''

(ibid.; see also Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Faza'il, ch. Virtues of Umar; vol. vi, p. 91 of the edition with Urdu translation published by Khalid Ihsan Publishers, Lahore, 1981. The hadith in Bukhari is related by Abu Huraira, while that in Muslim is related by Aishah.)

This establishes the concept and definition of muhaddas in Islam --- a non-prophet who receives revelation. (This revelation is, of course, of the type open to saints, i.e. wahy wilayat, and not wahy nubuwwat, as discussed in Sections 4 and 5 of the Evidence.) Classical and modern authorities in Islam have explained what is meant by a muhaddas as follows:

Classical Commentary on Bukhari

``By muhaddas are meant persons to whom God speaks, without them being prophets.''

(`Aini, Commentary on Bukhari, vol. vii, p. 614)


Ruh al-Ma`ani: Commenting on the verse of the Quran which describes three modes of revelation (42:51), this famous commentary of the Quran says:

``In this verse, God has referred to people in general, and not prophets as such, because revelation is not confined to prophets. In previous times, there is the example of Mary and the mother of Moses, who were not prophets but God spoke to them. In our religion, that will be the position of muhaddases of the nation. They will receive revelation.''

(See Ruh al-Ma`ani under verse 42:51)


Shaikh Ahmad of Sirhind:

``Know, O truthful brother, that the speaking of God with man is sometimes face-to-face. This is for the prophets, and is also for some of their perfect followers due to obedience and as inheritance. When a follower receives Divine speech abundantly and frequently in this manner, he is called a muhaddas, as was Umar, the chief of the Muslims.''

(Maktubat, vol. iii, part vii, p. 2, letter no. 51)


Sayyid Muhammad Ismail Shaheed:

``The quality of Umar mentioned in the hadith, `If there had been a prophet after me, it would have been Umar', has been explained by the Holy Prophet as the rank of muhaddas. This is because, after the finality of prophethood, it would not be correct to ascribe prophethood and apostleship to anyone. Similarly, regarding the position of Ali mentioned in the well-known hadith, `You stand in the same relation to me as that in which Aaron stood to Moses, except that there is no prophet after me', it is said that this is also the rank of muhaddas. Also, in the hadith, `The Ulama of my nation are like the prophets of Israel', by ulama are meant the people known as muhaddas.''

(Abqaat, Urdu translation by Manazir Ahsan Gilani, published in A.P., India, p. 403)


Shah Wali-ullah of Delhi:

``The rank of muhaddas is such that when a muhaddas arises, he does not have to follow conclusions derived by human reasoning, just as the sun eliminates the need for ordinary lamps. For he comes with revelation and the knowledge given to prophets.''

(Tafhimat, p. 136)


Maulana Abul Kalam Azad:

``The most exalted group consists of those exclusively select, purified souls who are chosen by the Grantor of Divine grace and favour for momentous tasks. Their light of knowledge and action is derived from the fountain of prophethood, and they follow in the path of prophethood. These special persons are referred to in the hadith of Bukhari by the term muhaddas.''

(Tazkira, Lahore, first published 1919, p. 114)


The word muhaddas has two types of meaning: literal (root) and technical. The word tahdees (from which muhaddas comes) means to relate or inform something. Literally, therefore, this word does not convey the significance of relating news of the unseen, but merely relating something. This is what Hazrat Mirza wrote:

``In no lexicon does the word tahdees convey the meaning of disclosing the unseen.''

(Pamphlet: Ayk Ghalati ka Izala)

As to the technical meaning of muhaddas in Islamic theology, Hazrat Mirza wrote:

``The muhaddas…has the honour of being spoken to by God. Matters of the unseen are disclosed to him. His revelation, like that of prophets and messengers, is protected from the interference of the devil. The real essence of the Law (Shari`ah) is disclosed to him. He is appointed just like the prophets, and, like them, it is his duty to proclaim himself openly. His denier is, to some extent, liable to Divine punishment.''

(Tauzih Maram, p. 18)


According to these two meanings of muhaddas, Hazrat Mirza has denied the application to him of this term in its literal sense, and affirmed its application to him in the technical sense.

We now give extracts from Hazrat Mirza's writings to show that he clearly claimed to be a muhaddas, as distinct from a prophet:

``There is no doubt that this humble one has come from God as a muhaddas for the Muslim nation.''

(Tauzih Maram, p. 18)


``There is no claim of prophethood; on the contrary, the claim is of muhaddasiyyat [being a muhaddas] which has been advanced by the command of God.''

(Izala Auham, p. 421)


``O brothers, I have been sent as a muhaddas from God, to you and to all those on earth.''

(Ainah Kamalat Islam, p. 367)


``I am not a prophet but a muhaddas from God, and a recipient of Divine revelation so that I may revitalize the religion of the Holy Prophet.''

(ibid., p. 383)


``…I have not claimed prophethood, nor have I said to them that I am a prophet… I did not say anything to the people except what I wrote in my books, namely, that I am a muhaddas and God speaks to me as He speaks to muhaddases.''

(Hamamat al-Bushra, p. 79; new edition pp. 281,--,282)


``I firmly believe that our Holy Prophet Muhammad is the Last of the Prophets (Khatam al-anbiya), and after him no prophet shall come for this nation (umma), neither new nor old. Not a jot or tittle of the Holy Quran shall be abrogated. Of course, muhaddases will come who will be spoken to by God…I am one of these.''

(Nishan Asmani, p. 28)


``As our Leader and Messenger [Holy Prophet Muhammad] is the Last of the Prophets (Khatam al-anbiya), and no prophet can come after him, for this reason muhaddases have been substituted for prophets in this Shari`ah.''

(Shahadat al-Quran, p. 24)


Hazrat Mirza, therefore, claimed to be a muhaddas in the technical sense of this term. Never did Hazrat Mirza say that he had progressed from the position of a muhaddas to the higher position of a prophet.