The term “ wahy” in Arabic means a swift and or secretive transfer of information. It has been used in the Qur’aan as it was used by Arabs in the past to refer to a wide variety of methods by which the transfer of information has taken place.
- The Qur’aan sometimes uses wahy to mean instinctual animal habits. An example of this use can be seen in the case of bees mentioned in the following verse:
“And your Lord inspired the bee by wahy (awhaa) to make its home in the mountains, trees, and what (men) build.”
The bee instinctually builds its hives in appropriate places and according to particular patterns as a result of divine commands secretly written in the cells of its minute brain.
2. Wahy is also used in the Qur’aan to mean natural human instincts that Allaah has placed in humans. For example, Allaah uses it in reference to Prophet Moosaa’s mother as follows:
“And I inspired Moosaa’s mother by wahy (awhaynaa) to suckle him.”
The motherly instinct of suckling her child is a result of information which has been communicated to the genes of every female in a way unknown to man.
3. In the completion of the previous verse, Allaah refers to another aspect of wahy: Allaah’s inspiration to humans to do actions which are not instinctive.
“Then, when you fear for him, cast him into the river (in a basket), and don’t be afraid and don’t grieve.”
This is sometimes called intuition; a person gets a strong feeling that a certain action is the right thing to do, even though there may not be any logical evidence for it.
4. One must be careful, to distinguish between the sources of various inner voices, however, because devils also have the ability to inspire suggestions in human hearts. Occasionally, the Qur’aan refers to the whispering and prodding of the devils as wahy. The following verse is a good example of this type of use:
“And verily the devils inspire their allies by wahy (yoohoona) to argue with you.”
The wahy by which devilish thoughts are inserted into the human minds is also referred to as whispering in the Qur’aan, due to its secretive nature and hidden source. For the same reasons it has been called “ wahy.”
5. Sometimes wahy is used to mean communication by rapid, subtle gestures. For example, Allaah said about the Prophet Zakareeyaa,
“He said, ‘My Lord, appoint a sign for me.’ (The angel) said, ‘Your sign will be that for a full three nights you will not speak to people.’ Then he went out from the prayer niche to his people and gestured (awhaa) to them to praise (Allaah) in the morning and the evening.”
That is, he urged them to worship Allaah more often and more fervently.
6. Allaah uses the term wahy to refer to the process by which He gives commands to his angels, as is illustrated in the following example:
“When your Lord inspired the angels by wahy (yoohee): ‘Verily, I am with you all, so strengthen those who believe.’ ”
“And when your Lord said to the angels, ‘Verily, I will put a khaleefah on earth.’ ”
The Prophet (ﷺ) was reported to have said,
“ When Allaah, the Most High, speaks the revelation (wahy), the inhabitants of heaven hear the heavens tremble with a sound like the rattling of a chain across a smooth stone. They are stunned and faint, and they remain in that state until Jibreel comes to them. When Jibreel comes to them, the fear is removed from their hearts. They say, ‘O Jibreel! What did your Lord say?’ He says, ‘The truth.’ Then they say, ‘The truth, the truth.’ ”
Hence, it has been concluded that Allaah’s commands to the angels are transmitted by Allaah speaking directly to them. From the above it is clear that wahy is used to mean not only the process of revelation, but also the revelation itself.
7. The process of revelation of Allaah’s commands to His Prophet (ﷺ), as well as the revelation itself, is also referred to in the Qur’aan as wahy. A good example of this use is in the following verse:
“And he [the Prophet (ﷺ)] does not speak from his own desires; verily, it (his speech) is revelation (wahy) which was revealed (yoohaa).”
In the terminology of the Sharee‘ah, wahy is defined as the process by which Allaah’s word is revealed to one of His prophets. It is also used for the actual word of Allaah which has been revealed to one of His prophets.