Rafed English

Divine Speech

Adapted from: "Three Topics in Theological Philosophy" by: "Dr. Ahmad Ahmadi"

We know that human speech derives from the vocal chords causing vibrations in the air and these vibrations are heard as meaningful sounds or `speech'. However, `speaking', in this sense, does not apply to God, because He has no corporeal form that He should have vocal chords to cause vibrations and sound. Therefore, we must find some other mean­ing for Divine speech.

Some contend that Divine speech is through creation of sound impressions in the hearer. This is true in the case of intelligent beings with a physical constitution which enables them to hear sounds. However, in the case of incorporeal beings such as angels or human spirits, the creation of sound is not feasible; that is, it is not possible to convey an audible message to the addressee, since he lacks the auditory equipment.

Besides, God has also spoken to inanimate things like the sky, the earth, fire, etc., and has commanded and prohibited them. Can such `speech' be also said to be caused by the agency of sound? Obviously the answer is in the negative.

Therefore, it must be asserted that Divine speech, when addressed to man and other creatures, is in the sense of induction or creation of meaning resulting from speech. That is, the same meanings that human beings convey to one another by means of speech, God induces similar kind of meanings in the intellect of a human being without the need of a voice, larynx etc. Sometimes the speech of God with creatures is in the sense of an act of creation, as in the verse:

    إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُ إِذَا أَرَادَ شَيْئًا أَنْ يَقُولَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ

His command, when He intends anything, is only to say to it Be', and it is.(36:82)

Because saying `Be' to something which does not exist, can only mean creation. Apart from the two meanings stated above, other cases of Divine speech are mentioned in the Quran, as God's commanding the sky and the earth: "Come", to which they replied:

"We come willing­ly." (41:11)

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