There are 72 instances of “awhaa” (أَوْحَىٰ) in the verb form meaning to inspire or to reveal or to signal and there are 6 instances of “wah” (وَحْى) in the noun form meaning inspiration or revelation in the Quran, while we know that an Arabic word may have a range of meanings depending on the contexts.
Review of relevant verses
Below are the translations of the relevant verses where the word found may serve as a guide for us reflecting appropriate meaning depending on the contexts:
- Verb (form IV) means to inspire
[5:111] And when I inspired (awhaytu) to the disciples (of Jesus) that you shall believe in Me and My messenger, they said: “We have believed,” and you (Jesus) shall bear witness with that indeed, we are submitters.
[6:93] And who is more wicked than one who invents lie about God, or says: “It has been inspired (yoohiya) to me,” while it was not inspired (wa-lam yooha) anything to him; or who says: “I will bring down the same as what God has sent down.” And if you could only see the wicked at the moment of death when the angels have their arms opened: “Bring yourselves out, today you will be given the severest punishment for what you used to say about God without the truth, and you used to be arrogant towards His revelations.”
[6:106] Follow what is inspired (yoohiya) to you (Muhammad) from your Lord: there is no god except He, and turn from the idolalers.
[6:112] And thus, we have permitted the enemies of every prophet, the devils from the human and the jinn to inspire (yoohee) fancy words each other in order to deceive. Had your Lord willed, they would not have done it. You shall disregard them and what they fabricate
[6:121] And do not eat from that on which God’s name has not been mentioned, and it is indeed, excessive disobedience, and the devils certainly inspire (la-yoohoona) to their allies to argue with you, and if you obey them, you will surely be idol worshipers.
Note: These verses refer to the Satanic inspiration, which is a warning for us that the Satan and his allies are able to misguide us as well as make us disobedient to God if we fail to stay away from such inspiration.
[7:117] And we inspired (wa-awhaynaa) to Moses: “Throw down your staff”, then it swallowed what they were falsifying.
[7:160] And we divided them into twelve tribes as communities, and we inspired (wa-awhaynaa) to Moses when his people asked him for water that “Strike the rock with your staff”, then twelve springs gushed forth from it. Certainly, every community knew their drinking place, and we shaded them with the clouds and we sent down to them the manna and the quail: “Eat from good things which we have provided you.” And they did not wrong us but they did wrong to themselves
[8:12] When your (Muhammad) Lord inspired (yoohee) to the angels: “I am with you so strengthen those who believed. I will cast the terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved; so strike above the necks, and strike from them every finger.
[10:87] And we inspired (wa-awhaynaa) to Moses and his brother that you shall settle for your people houses in Egypt and shall make your houses as places of worship, and shall observe the contact prayer. And you shall give good news to the believers.”
[12:15] So, when they took with him (Joseph) and agreed that they will put him at the bottom of the well. And we inspired (wa-awhaynaa) to him: “You will inform them of this their matter while they will not know it.
[14:13] And those who disbelieved said to their messengers: “We will surely drive you out of our land, or you must definitely return to our religion.” So inspired (fa-awhaa) to them their Lord: “We will surely destroy the wicked.
[16:68] And has inspired (wa-awhaa) your Lord to the bees that you shall build houses (hives) in the mountains and in the trees, and in that they make (honey).
[20:38] “When we inspired (awhaynaa) to your (Moses’) mother what was inspired (yoohaa).
[20:77] And certainly, we inspired (awhaynaa) to Moses that “Travel with My servants, and make a dry path for them through the sea not fearing to be overtaken, and not to be afraid (of drowning).
[21:73] And we made them leaders who guide by our command, and we inspired (wa-awhaynaa) to them doing of the good works and observance of the Contact Prayer and giving of the Obligatory Charity, and they were worshipers to us.
[23:27] So we inspired (fa-awhaynaa) to him (Noah) that “Construct the ship under our eyes and our inspiration (wa-wahyinaa). Then, when Our command comes and the stream gushed froth, then put into it two from every pair and your family except those of them upon whom the word has preceded. And do not ask Me about those who have done wrong, indeed, they are the ones to be drowned.
[26:52] And we inspired (wa-awhaynaa) to Moses “Travel by night with My servants, indeed, you will be followed.
[26:63] So we inspired (fa-awhaynaa) to Moses: “Strike the sea with your staff.” So it parted while each part became like the great mountain
[28:7] And we inspired (wa-wahyinaa) to Moses’ mother that “Suckle him, then when you fear for him (Moses), then cast him in the river, and do not fear nor grieve. Indeed, we will return him to you and we will make him one of the messengers.
[33:2] And you (prophet) shall follow what (Quran) is inspired (yoohaa) to you from your Lord. Indeed, God is Cognizant of what you do.
[53:4] It is not but an inspiration that was inspired (yoohaa).
[99:5] That your Lord inspired (awhaa) to it (earth)
- Verb (form IV) means to reveal
[3:44] This is from the news of the past we reveal it (nooheehi) to you (Muhammad). And you were not with them when they drew their raffle to which of them will be taken the guardianship of Mary, and you were not with them when they disputed.
[4:163] Indeed, we have revealed (awhaynaa) to you (Muhammad) as we revealed (awhaynaa) to Noah and the prophets after him. And we revealed (wa-awhaynaa) to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the Patriarchs, and Jesus, and Job, and Jonah, and Aaron, and Solomon; and we gave David the Psalms.
[6:19] Say, “Which testimony is the greatest?” Say, “God is a witness between me (Muhammad) and you, and has been revealed (wa-yoohiya) to me this Quran that I may warn you with it and whomever it reaches. Do you truly testify that there are other gods with God?” Say, “I do not testify; He is only One god, and certainly, I am free from what you associate.”
[6:50] Say: “I (Muhammad) do not say to you that I have the treasures of God, nor do I know the unseen, nor do I say to you that I am an angel. I do not follow except what is revealed (yoohaa) to me.” Say: “Are the blind and the seer the same?; then do you not think?”
[6:145] Say, “I (Muhammad) do not find in what has been revealed (yoohiya) to me forbidden for any eater who eats it except that it is: (1) dead, or (2) free blood, or (3) the meat of pig due to its contamination, or (4) blasphemously dedicated to other than God.” However, whoever is forced without seeking disobedience or transgression, then your Lord is Forgiving, Merciful.
[7:203] And when you do not bring them a sign, they say: “Why have you not got it?” Say: “I (Muhammad) only follow what is revealed (yoohaa) to me from my Lord. This is enlightenment from your Lord, and guidance and mercy to a people who believe.”
[10:2] Is it a wonder for the people that we revealed (awhaynaa) to a man from among them that “Warn the mankind and give good news to those who believe that they will have a honorable rank at their Lord?” The disbelievers said: “Indeed, this is obviously a magician!”
[10:15] And when our revelations are recited to them as clear proofs, those who do not expect to meet us said: “Bring a Quran other than this, or change it!” Say: “It is not for me (Muhammad) that I can change it of my own, I only follow what is revealed (yoohaa) to me. Indeed, I fear if I disobey my Lord, the retribution of a great day!”
[10:109] And you (prophet) shall follow what is revealed (yoohaa) to you and be patient until God gives judgment. And He is the best the Judge.
[11:12] So perhaps you may wish to ignore some of what is revealed (yoohaa) to you (Muhammad), and you are depressed by it, because they say: “If only a treasure was sent down with him, or an angel had come with him!” You are but a warner, and God has control over all things.
[11:36] And it was revealed (wa-yoohiya) to Noah that “None of your people will believe except those who have already believed. So do not be distressed by what they have been doing.”
[11:49] This is from the news of the past which we reveal (nooheehaa) to you (Muhammad). Neither you nor your people knew of this before. So be patient, indeed, the end is (good) for the righteous.
[12:3] We narrate to you (Muhammad) the best history in this Quran what we have revealed (awhaynaa) to you; even though before it you certainly, were among the unaware.
[12:102] That is from the news of the past which we reveal (nooheehaa) to you (Muhammad). You were not with them when they made their plan and were plotting.
[12:109] And we have not sent from before yours (Muhammad) except men, we revealed (noohee) to them from the people of the towns. So have they not traveled in the earth and seen how was the punishment of those who were before them? And surely, the abode of the Hereafter is better for those who are aware of. Then would you not reflect?
[13:30] Thus, we have sent you (Muhammad) to a community from before it (many) communities have passed away, so that you may recite to them what we revealed (awhaynaa) to you while they disbelieve in the Most Gracious. Say: “He is my Lord, there is no other god besides He. I put trust on Him, and to Him is my return.”
[17:39] That is from what was revealed (awhaa) to you (Muhammad) from your Lord of the wisdom. And do not make any other god with God, lest you will be cast into Hell, blameworthy, abandoned.
[17:73] And they almost diverted you from which we revealed (awhaynaa) to you (Muhammad) that you fabricate about us other than it, and then they would surely take you as a friend!
[17:86] And if we willed, we would take away which we revealed (awhaynaa) to you (Muhammad). Then you would not find for you about it any protector against us.
[18:27] And you (Muhammad) shall recite what has been revealed (yoohiya) to you of your Lord’s scripture. None can change His words, and you will not find any refuge other than Him.
[19:11] When he (Zachariah) came out among his people from the prayer house, then he conveyed (fa-awhaa) to them to glorify Him morning and evening.
[20:13] And I have chosen you (Moses), so listen to what is revealed (yoohaa).”
[20:48] It has been revealed (yoohiya) to us that the retribution will be upon him who denies and turns away.
[21:7] And we did not send before yours except men, we revealed (noohee) to them. So ask the people of the reminder if you do not know.
[29:45] You shall recite what is revealed (yoohiya) to you (Muhammad) of the scripture, and observe the Contact Prayer. Indeed, the Contact Prayer prevents from vice and evil deeds, and surely, the remembrance of God (through it) is the greatest. And God knows what you do.
[35:31] And what we have revealed (awhaynaa) to you of the scripture, is the truth confirming what was before it. Indeed, God is Cognizant of His servants, Seer.
[39:65] And certainly, it has been revealed (yoohiya) to you (Muhammad) and to those before yours, if you associate partners, your works will be nullified and you will be with the losers.
[42:7] And thus we have revealed (awhaynaa) to you (Muhammad) an Arabic Quran that you may warn (the people) of the central town and whoever around it, and to warn of the Day of Gathering, there is no doubt in it. A party will be in Paradise, and a party will be in the blazing Fire.
[42:51] And it has not been for human that God would speak to him, except inspiration (wahyan), or from behind a barrier, or He sends a messenger is to reveal (fa-yoohiya) by His permission what He wills. Indeed, He is Most High, Most Wise.
[43:43] So you (Muhammad) shall hold fast to that which is revealed (yoohiya) to you; indeed, you are on a straight path.
[46:9] Say: “I (Muhammad) am not different from the other messengers, and I do not know what will happen to me or to you. I just follow what is revealed (yoohaa) to me, and I am but clear warner”
[72:1] Say: “It has been revealed (yoohiya) to me (Muhammad) that a group of the Jinn listened.” So they said: “We have heard a wondrous Quran!”
- Noun form means inspiration
[11:37] “And construct the ship under our eyes and our inspiration (wa-wahyinaa), and do not ask Me about those who have done wrong. Indeed, they are the ones to be drowned.”
[23:27] So we inspired (fa-awhaynaa) to him (Noah) that “Construct the ship under our eyes and our inspiration (wa-wahyinaa). Then, when our command comes and the stream gushed froth, then put into it two from every pair and your family except those of them upon whom the word has preceded. And do not ask Me about those who have done wrong, indeed, they are the ones to be drowned.”
[42:51] And it is not to any human that God would speak to him, except inspiration (wahyan), or from behind a barrier, or He sends a messenger is to reveal (fa-yoohiya) by His permission what He wills. Indeed, He is Most High, Most Wise.
[53:4] It is not but an inspiration (wahun) that was inspired (yoohaa).
- Noun form means revelation
[20:114] So High above all is God, the King, the True. Do not hasten with the Quran before its revelation (wahyuhu) is completed to you (Muhammad), and say, “My Lord, increase my knowledge.”
[21:45] Say: “I (Muhammad) only warn with the revelation (bil-wahyi).” And the deaf do not hear the call when they are warned.
- Verb (form IV) either means to inspire or reveal
[16:43] And we have not sent before yourself (Muhammad) except men, we have inspired/
revealed (noohee) to them, so you shall ask the people of the reminder (scripture) if you have not done to know.
[16:123] Then we have inspired/
revealed (awhaynaa) to you (Muhammad) that you shall follow a religion of Abraham, monotheism; and he has not been with the idol worshippers.
[18:110] Say (Muhammad), “I am only a human like you; it is inspired/
revealed (yoohaa) to me that your god is One god. So whoever looks forward to meeting his Lord, then let him do righteous works and not associate anyone in the worship of his Lord.”
[21:25] And we did not send any messenger before yours (Muhammad) except that we inspire/
reveal (noohee) to him that “There is no god except Me, so you (all) shall worship Me.”
[21:108] Say (Muhammad): “It is inspired/
revealed (yoohaa) to me that your god is only One god, so will you submit to Him?”
[34:50] Say (Muhammad): “If I have gone astray, then I will go astray for myself. And if I am guided, then it is by what my Lord inspired/
revealed (yoohee) to me. Indeed, He is Hearer, Near.”
[38:70] It has been inspired/
revealed (yoohaa) to me (Muhammad) that I am but a clear warner.
[41:6] Say (Muhammad), “Certainly, I am a human being like you; it has been inspired/
revealed (yoohaa) to me that your god is One god. So you shall be straight to Him and shall ask His forgiveness.” And woe to the idol worshipers.
[41:12] Thus, He made them seven heavens in two days and inspired/
revealed (wa-awhaaa) to every heaven its matter. And we adorned the lowest heaven with lamps and guards. That is the design of the Almighty, the Omniscient.
[42:13] He decreed for you the religion what He enjoined for Noah, and what we inspired/
revealed (awhaynaa) to you (Muhammad), and what we enjoined for Abraham, Moses, and Jesus that “You shall uphold the religion, and do not divide it.” Hard for the idol worshipers is that to which you call them. God chooses to Himself whomever He wills and He guides to Himself whoever turns (towards Him).
[42:52] And thus, we inspired/
revealed (awhaynaa) to you (Muhammad) an inspiration (roohan) by our command. You did not know what the scripture was, nor was the faith. But we made it a light, we guide with it whomever we will from among our servants. And indeed, you undoubtedly guide to a straight path.
[53:10] Then He inspired (fa-awhaa) to His servant (Muhammad) what He inspired
Note: There are two instances of awhaa in the verse. One instance of it undoubtedly means “to inspire” while the other instance is confirmed to mean “to inspire” instead of “to reveal” to decode the message in the verse.
- Mathematical confirmation
It is noteworthy that the above instances of “awhaa” can be either meant to inspire or reveal to reflect the message in the contexts. However, we may consider the below mathematical confirmation to make a decision to reflect their appropriate meanings in the contexts. The meanings of these instances may be confirmed “to inspire” because of their participation with the instances that are logically separated to mean “inspire”. However, there are 37 instances of “awhaa” and “wah” in 34 verses across 22 suras in the Quran. If the relevant sura and verse numbers are added, the sum is a multiple of 19 => 2432= 19x128 (as shown in the table below):
Note: The instances that can be either meant “to inspire” or “to reveal” highlighted orange in the table need careful consideration to make the appropriate logical judgment to confirm them to mean “to inspire” because of their participation with the instances meaning “to inspire” which are unhighlighted in the table.
God has designed the universe with seven heavens and the same number of earths. He has created what is in the heaven and what is in the earth as well as what is in between. He has established means to communicate with His all creations to recognize Him as their Lord and to command them to worship Him as well as to obey His laws to be thankful to Him.
The Quran teaches us that He has established three methods to communicate with humans so that they can receive knowledge from Him as promised by Him. The first one is the inspiration in which the word is not heard by the person but the message or the idea enters the heart of the chosen individuals. The second one is the word heard by the person spoken to but from behind a barrier as we know from the appointment of Moses with God at Mount Sinai, and the third one is the revelation sent from God through His angels to deliver to His chosen individuals.
God has used the Arabic word, “awhaa” in the verb form and “wah” in the noun form throughout the Quran to understand His communication with us but there is a difference between inspiration and revelation even the Arabic word is the same for both. God teaches us in the Quran that the Quran was inspired as well as revealed to His prophet. Hence, some instances of “awhaa” and “wah” can be interpreted to either inspiration or revelation to best describe the message in the contexts, and the above mathematical confirmation may help us to make appropriate reflection to better understand the difference between these two methods of divine communication with humans.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.