Wahi – Divine Inspirations and Revelations
Describing the phases and forms of revelation experience
The Quran teaches that Allah ﷻ communicated with all His prophets and messengers in one of the following: “And it is not given to mortal man that God should speak to him otherwise than through sudden inspiration (wahi), or [by a voice, as it were,] from behind a veil (hijab), or by sending a messenger (angel) to reveal, by His leave, whatever He wills [to reveal]: for, verily, He is exalted, wise.”
Allah ﷻ communicated with Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in all three ways as mentioned in the verse:
1. Sudden divine inspiration (wahi) - Through sudden inspiration (wahi) i.e. knowledge inspired in to his heart through the medium of dreams or when he would be awake. At times when awake it was so intense to the point that he fell unconscious or his body would sweat even on a very cold day.
2. Veil (hijab) - From behind a veil (hijab) i.e. his direct conversation with Allah ﷻ like Prophet Musa (alaihi salaam) (Moses) did. This would take place in his dreams as well as in person during his Miraj (heavenly ascension) experience. It would also take place during mediation state in tahajjud (late night prayer) or even during the day.
3. Messenger (angel) - By sending his angel who appeared sometimes in original form like Archangel Jibraeel (alaihi salaam) (Gabriel) appeared to him in the Cave of Hira (Ghare Hira) or sometimes angels would appear in the form of a man, like one of the Prophet's companions.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ experienced the entire period of divine inspiration and revelation in different forms till this process was completed. The phases in which he received divine communication took place mainly through different means as mentioned earlier (wahi, hijab & angels). The process was calm and quite in the beginning then became intense when he officially started preaching and gradually the intensity became easy on him due to his ability to handle. The messages and communication that he received from Allah ﷻ mainly consists of two parts: the first is what he explained in his own words found in hadith literature and the second, the most important, are the direct divine speech of Allah ﷻ which consists of what we call the Holy Quran.
Types of Revelation Experiences
Based on what I have learned, to help understand better I am dividing the revelation experiences in to three types explaining the states/forms of his experience which express their intensity and how with time the revelation process became easy on him. Initial experience of divine inspiration began in the form of dreams which continued throughout his prophethood. Later the experience culminated in to auditory sounds which he interpreted according to his God gifted prophetic wisdom. Additionally he also experienced receiving communication through angels who appeared sometimes in human form and other times in their original form.
1. Divine Inspiration & Revelation through Dreams
The process of revelation in Islam started first with dreams. At first the Prophet ﷺ used to observe dreams and then they would become true in his state of being awake. Before sending Jibraeel (alaihi salaam) (Gabriel), Allah ﷻ was preparing the prophet, mentally and spiritually through the medium of Al Mubashshiraat (true and good dreams) as narrated by Aisha (radiAllahu anha): "The commencement of the Divine Inspiration to Allah’s Messenger was in the form of good righteous (true) dreams (al-mubashiraat) in his sleep. He never had a dream but that it came true like bright day light. He used to go in seclusion in (the cave of) Hira where he used to worship (Allah) continuously for many (days and) nights. He used to take with him the food for that (stay) and then come back to (his wife) Khadija to take more food for another period, till suddenly the Truth (the Quran) descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira….” This hadith informs us that dreams were part of the divine inspiration process and it was only limited to this form till the Prophet ﷺ received the first official revelation of Quran, Surah Al Alaq (chapter 96 - The Germ Cell) from Archangel Jibraeel (a.s) (Gabriel).
2. Divine Inspiration & Revelation through Spiritual Auditory Impressions & Angels
Al-Harith bin Hisham asked the Prophet (ﷺ): '"How does the Revelation come to you?'" The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "At times it comes to me like the ringing of a bell and that is most severe for me and when it is over I retain that (what I had received in the form of wahi), and at times an Angel in the form of a human being comes to me (and speaks) and I retain whatever he speaks." Aishah said: "I saw the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) while the Revelation was descending upon him on an extremely cold day. Then it ceased and his forehead was flooded with sweat." This hadith informs us that the other two sources of revelation after dreams, are supernatural auditory impressions that he experienced in the form of "ringing of a bell" which made him experience sweat even "on an extremely cold day" at times. Such difficult experiences would also cause Prophet's companions to sometimes cover him with a blanket as did Umar (r.a), recorded in another hadith: "And Umar screened him and it was (usual) with Umar that when the revelation descended upon him (the Prophet), he provided him shade (with the help of a piece of cloth)…So when the revelation began to descend upon him Umar wrapped him (the Holy Prophet) with cloth..." It was through such impressions he would receive as a message that he would interpret using his prophetic wisdom and communicate as teachings to his followers. Other times he would hear a direct communication of divine speech through the medium of an angel appearing as a man or in their original form as he witnessed Angel Jibraeel at Cave of Hira: “he had six-hundred wings which filled the horizon.” Angel Jibraeel Gabriel (a.s) also appeared in the form of a companion named Dihya Al Kalbi (r.a) as witnessed by Umm Salamah (r.a), prophet's wife and recorded in Bukhari.
Muhammad Ibn Khaldun's Comments on Prophet's Experience At Ghar e Hira (Cave of Hira)
Pertaining to the stage of hearing spiritual auditory impressions (ringing bell sounds), the 14th century historian, philosopher and father of sociology, Muhammad Ibn Khaldun (CE 1332 – 1406) explains as being an intense activity, difficult enough to cause him sometimes unconscious states which caused the the Prophet's opponents to allege that he was under influence of satanic (shayateen) powers. Pertaining to this state of unconsciousness, Ibn Khaldun says that these were experiences to release his soul from physical perceptions (5 physical senses) and become fully connected with the supernatural, the spiritual-angelic realm where he would be able to gain direct access and receive the divine messages in the form of clear speech from the angels. Such as his first encounter with Archangel in cave of hira where the Prophet received the first set of Surah 96 verses: "'Read!' I answered, 'I cannot read....' Then he (Gabriel) seized me again and pressed me to himself until all strength went out of me..." As per Ibn Khaldun the choking feeling were initial phases that prepared him to be in direct contact with higher spiritual-angelic realm. Gradual habituation to the process of revelation brought some relief, compared to reactions such as becoming unconscious, sweating on a cold day or require covering with a blanket. It is for this reason of gradual easiness that earliest surahs and verses of the Quran such as Al-Asr (Chapter 103), Al-Ikhlaas (Chapter 112) are shorter than those revealed ten years after, in Madinah such as Baqara (Chapter 2) and Al Imran (Chapter 3). One may compare the tradition about how the Al Taubah (chapter 9) was revealed, during the expedition to Tabuk. The whole of this (long surah), or most of it, was easily revealed to the Prophet ﷺ while he was riding his camel.
 Al Quran 42:51
 Sahih Bukhari Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 3
 Sahih Muslim Book 30, Hadith 5765
 Jami Tirmidhi Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3634
 Sahih Muslim Book 7, Hadith 2658
 Jami at-Tirmidhi Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3278
 Sahih al-Bukhari 4980
Study of Parapsychology
As discussed earlier in the Mystery of Soul that modern psychology calls psyche what religion calls a soul. The psychologists remain busy studying and investigating psyche - the conscious living power within human body - and its various abilities. Studying the psychic phenomena in human bodies has led the psychologists to also study parapsychology subject. The parapsychology subject in particular deals with human behavior beyond the five physical perceptions (sense of taste, touch, smell, sound, sight) i.e. extra sensory perceptions also called sixth sense. This subject has resulted in the formation of various modern search organizations such as the Society of Physical Research in UK, that has been working and experimenting on telepathic communication, since their inception in 19th century. Then there are several OBE research & training facilities studying and attempting to practice the phenomena of Out of Body Experience, which is widely discussed these days especially in the context of near death experiences related by certain people, during unconscious state in an accident or a major surgical procedure, where they noticed themselves somehow they were out of their own body. Even though the experiments conducted by these research groups do not carry strong evidence yet their results do prove psychic abilities within humans.
ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) Among Certain Animals & Birds
The extra sense perception faculties among animals and bird is well known and confirmed even through modern scientific research. According to Helmut Tributsch of the Free University of Berlin, human skin is quite damp, due to secretions of sweat glands. On the other hand animals have relatively dry skin. As opposed to human skin an animal’s fur gets electrified with static charge when electromagnetic disturbances precede an earthquake and large amounts of static electricity build up in the air. This extra sense perceptions allows them to react such as horses break free, dogs bark violently, and cats move their kittens out of doors. Similarly birds can view the ultra violet rays of light due to special receptors they carry which are not visible to human eyes. These findings of extra sense perception behavior in birds have confirmation in ahadith of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ who said that ‘Angels are created of Nur (light)’ and ‘Shayateen (jinn devils) are created of a smokeless fire’ and their presence is felt by certain birds & animals: “when you hear the crowing of the roosters, then ask Allah of His bounty, for verily they have seen an angel. When you hear the braying of a donkey, then seek refuge in Allah from Shaitan, [the rejected] for, verily, it has seen a Shaitan.” A donkey's ability to detect jinn radiation or energy is similar to the ability of a snake to detect infrared radiation emitting from their prey whom they can strike even in the absence of physical light. It is a fact that certain snakes have holes on their faces called pit organs, that can detect infrared radiation from warm bodies from a distance. This unique extra sense ability allows them to see an image of their predator even at night, as an infrared camera does.
The Prophets Extra Sensory Perceptions
Keeping the ESP theory in mind it seems as though the Prophet ﷺ, due to his spiritual status, had paranormal forms of sense perceptions activated that provided ability for him to connect with the unseen world (of angelic existence) through, may be, some sort of an electromagnetic frequency. The electromagnetic spectrum  on our planet and in outer space have undiscovered frequencies which may carry the possibility of connection with one of our hidden senses to give us more knowledge in to the happenings of Al-Ghayb (Unseen) - an essential part of Islamic faith. This made him available for receiving divine inspiration and revelation (Quran) as explained in his own wording: "Sometimes it is (revealed) like the ringing of a bell, this form of Inspiration is the hardest of all and then this state passes off after I have grasped what is inspired...”  or as one of most knowledgeable companions Abdullah ibn Abbas (r.a) said "Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) stayed in Mecca for fifteen years (after his advent as a Prophet) and he heard the voice of Gabriel and saw his radiance for seven years but did not see any visible form, and then received revelation for ten years." Scientific research also confirms that there is radiation generated from the scalps of our head due to an intense neural activity taking place inside the brain and Electroencephalography (EEG) is an instrument used in monitoring such brain waves. Theta waves detected at 3 to 8 hertz frequency are patterns of neural activity monitored during deep sleep and meditative state. These waves are one of major indicators of brain activity related to learning and intuition. These are activated when we are disconnected from our normal consciousness and senses with the external world. The ability of Prophet to access divine communication through extra sensory perception ability can be compared to Prophet Suleiman (alaihi salaam) (Solomon) ability to hear communication between ants as mentioned in the Quran: "till, when they came upon a valley [full] of ants, an ant exclaimed: "O you ants! Get into your dwellings, lest Solomon and his hosts crush you without [even] being aware [of you]!" Thereupon [Solomon] smiled joyously at her words..." As Prophet Suleiman (a.s) along with his army approached an ant dwelling, he heard them communicate warning to each other. Today its a scientific fact that many insects including ants communicate with each other using pheromones, sounds, and touch. In fact they excrete different types of pheromones for different reactions such as alarm pheromones for danger. Therefore we should no longer be surprised when reading that a prophet of Allah heard them communicate. But what amazes us and baffles science is how did he manage to hear them and through what phenomena? This can only be answered if science dwells deeper in to the study of parapsychology and take religious view in to consideration especially knowledge and experience shared in Islam.
 Jami Tirmidhi - Vol. 6, Book 45, Hadith 3459
 Jami Tirmidhi - Book 49, Hadith 3994
 Sahih Muslim - Book 30, Hadith 5809
 Electroencephalography is an electrophysiological monitoring method to record electrical activity of the brain by placing electrodes on the scalp.
 Al Quran 27:18-19 - Asad Translation.
Dreams are a part of prophethood
Allah ﷻ would also reveal knowledge of al-ghayb (unseen) to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ through various channels including dreams and at times the recipient would be a companion rather than the Prophet himself as clearly explained for us in the Quran and hadith. In fact the Quran also confirms the source of this prophetic knowledge when it mentions Prophet Yusuf (alaihi salaam) receiving the news of his great future through the medium of dream: “when Joseph said to his father, ‘O my father, indeed I have seen [in a dream] eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating to me.’” This dream was fulfilled many years after he became a leader in Egypt and all his family bowed to pay respect to him.
The Prophet ﷺ taught Muslims very important lessons pertaining to dreams when he said: “Nothing would remain of prophethood after me except al-Mubashshiraat. The companions asked: Messenger of Allah, what do you mean by al-Mubashshiraat? He replied: Good dreams seen by a good man and those seen for him by another man. This is one part of the forty-six parts comprising prophethood.” He also said: “A good dream of a righteous person (which comes true) is one of forty-six parts of prophethood.” The Prophet hood continued on earth as long as Allah willed and then the Prophet hood was completed with the arrival of the final Messenger i.e. Muhammad ﷺ. However Allah ﷻ has left the door open for believers till the day of judgment to receive knowledge of al-ghayb (unseen) through medium of good dreams i.e. al-mubashiraat. Therefore, during his prophetic mission, the Prophet himself used to allow the believers with him to share any knowledge that they may have received through this source. Abu Hurairah (radiAllahu anhu) reported when the Messenger of Allah ﷺ finished his morning prayer he used to ask whether anyone had seen a dream, and used to say, “After me there would be nothing left of prophethood except good dreams.”
However while inquiring about the knowledge of their dreams he also made it clear for them as to what is a sound dream and what is a dream that may be unsound. The Prophet ﷺ said “dreams are of three types: one, ‘good’ dreams which are a sort of good tidings (bushra) from Allah; the evil dream which causes pain is from Satan; and the third one is a suggestion of one’s own mind. So if any one of you sees a dream which he dislikes he should stand up and offer prayer and should not narrate it to the people.” Thus he made it clear to the believers the three types of dreams so they understand what they see as a spiritual vision from Allah ﷻ and seek refuge in Him from anything bad that may occur during their dream. In authentic collection of Sunan Ibn Majah that Ubadah ibn Samit (r.a) asked the Prophet ﷺ about the verse: “For them are glad tidings (bushra), in the life of the present world, and in the Hereafter.” The Prophet ﷺ replied “those are good dreams that a Muslim sees or are seen about him.’”
Therefore in Islamic traditions and its teachings Muslims are supposed to have faith that good and true dreams called bushra or al-mubashiraat are received by the believers not only for themselves but for other believers as well. They are part of prophet hood even after the revelation process is complete with the arrival of Quran. Allah ﷻ will leave this one part available till the end of the world to communicate news of al-ghayb (unseen) to believers if and when He seems fit. Please note that this knowledge that will continue to descend on the believers will not be pertaining to religion because the religion has been completed with the completion of Quran. The prophetic teachings clarify that they will be pertaining to individual matters of believers or worldly matters.
 Al Quran 12:04
 Recorded in Muwatta of Imam Malik - DREAMS IN ISLAM - A WINDOW TO TRUTH
AND TO THE HEART by Imran N. Hosein.
 Sahih al-Bukhari 6983 – Sunnah.com
 Recorded in Muwatta of Imam Malik - DREAMS IN ISLAM - A WINDOW TO TRUTH
AND TO THE HEART by Imran N. Hosein
 Sahih Muslim 2263 a – Sunnah.com
 Al Quran 10:64
 Sunan Ibn Majah 3898 – Sunnah.com
Prophets marriage with Mother of the believers Ayesha (r.a)
The Prophet ﷺ married a total of eleven wives within the last ten years of his prophethood which lasted till he passed away. The first of the eleven was Ayesha (r.a) which took place after the death of Prophet's first wife Khadija (r.a) whom he married before his prophetic mission started. Even though the Prophet ﷺ had other wives yet his marriage with Ayesha (r.a) has become a major topic of discussion and controversy mainly in the West. This is due to a hadith in one of the most authentic collection called Sahih Bukhari in which it is said that she was nine years old when he married her. This age is contested in all of the other sources in Islam that mention her to be of much older than nine years. Regardless of her age at the time of marriage, I am writing this to share that it was not the Prophet but in fact it was Allah ﷻ who made decision for this marriage through revelation. A famous Islamic scholar named Sheikh Imran Hosein commented on this marriage: “There was no Nikah performed between the blessed Prophet ﷺ and Aisha (radiallahu 'anhha) here on earth. Allah Himself married them. This means that Allah ordained that she be his wife. He could have done that even before she was born. Would you any one else have a problem with Him ordaining that someone be wife of a man even before He Created her?”
Indeed what the sheikh said is true because Prophet ﷺ did not make the decision to marry Ayesha (r.a), it was Allah’s decision and there is more than enough evidence for this in authentic hadith collection. In a hadith narrated by Ayesha (r.a), the Prophet ﷺ once informed her: “You were shown to me twice in (my) dream. Behold, a man was carrying you in a silken piece of cloth and said to me: She is your wife, so uncover her, and behold, it was you. I would then say (to myself): “If this is from Allah, then it must happen.” The narrations coming from Ayesha (r.a) mention and inform us that Prophet ﷺ seeing her in his dreams before actual marriage or even proposing her father makes it clear that it was a heavenly decision made by Allah ﷻ Himself. The process of revelation in Islam started first with dreams. At first the Prophet ﷺ used to observe dreams and then they would become true in his state of awake. Before sending Archangel Jibraeel (Gabriel) (alaihi salaam) with the first Quran revelation, Allah ﷻ was preparing the prophet mentally and spiritually through the medium of al mubashshiraat (true and good dreams) as discussed in the post of Process of Revelation - Understanding The Prophets Experience:
“The commencement of the Divine Inspiration to Allah’s Messenger was in the form of good righteous (true) dreams in his sleep. He never had a dream but that it came true like bright day light. He used to go in seclusion in (the cave of) Hira where he used to worship (Allah) continuously for many (days and) nights He used to take with him the food for that (stay) and then come back to (his wife) Khadija to take more food for another period, till suddenly the Truth (Quran) descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira….” Dreams are part of Prophethood and give the news of the al-ghayb (unseen) to the prophets and others as per authentic narrations discussed earlier in the post on Dreams - Part of Prophethood. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Nothing would remain of prophethood after me except al-mubashshiraat." The companions asked: "Messenger of Allah, what do you mean by al-mubashshiraat?" He replied: "Good dreams seen by a good man and those seen for him by another man. This is one part of the forty-six parts comprising prophethood.” The Quran also confirms the source of this prophetic knowledge when it mentions Prophet Yusuf (alaihi salaam) (Joseph) receiving the news of his great future through the medium of dream. Thus the dream shown to the Prophet ﷺ was a decision by Allah ﷻ for future of Ayesha (r.a) and the Prophet ﷺ.
At this point it is also important to mention that the Prophet’s ﷺ was not marrying solely based on his desires and wishes. It was Allah ﷻ Who was guiding him in these decisions and approved them because after his eleventh marriage Allah ﷻ decided for him that he should not marry anymore and he did exactly what was decided for him: “It is not allowed to you to take women afterwards, nor that you should change them for other wives, though their beauty be pleasing to you.” Hence all his marriages including that with Ayesha (r.a) had Allah's preapproval and this is confirmed for us in the book of Allah ﷻ.
 Sahih al-Bukhari 5125 – Sunnah.com
 Nikah is an Islamic marriage ceremony.
 What was the age of Aisha when she was married? Please comment on her age? – Women in Islam – www.imranhosein.org.
 Sahih Bukhari Vol. 6, Book 60, Hadith 478 – Sunnah.com
 Imam Malik – Muwatta Malik
 Al Quran 33:52
How was Adhaan received
The Adhaan (call to prayer) was seen in a dream by two of Prophet’s companions, Abdullah b. Zayd b. Thalaba (r.a) and Umar ibn Al Khattab (r.a). They both saw the vision during the life of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and not after him. After seeing this vision they both informed the Prophet ﷺ who himself confirmed that this dream was from Allah ﷻ and thus the adhaan that echoes fives time a day throughout the Muslim world, for past fifteen centuries, is that same one (with slight difference in wording in some Muslim regions). Therefore one thing should be clear that adhaan came to be received at a time when guidance continued to descend to the Prophet and process of revelation was not complete yet. Now the question comes how companions could receive knowledge from unseen when primary recipient of such knowledge was the Prophet ﷺ? Allah ﷻ would reveal knowledge of al-ghayb (unseen) to the Prophet ﷺ through various channels including dreams and at times the recipient would be a companion rather than the Prophet himself. Please refer to the previous post on Dreams - Part of Prophethood to learn more. Based on what Islam has explained about this part of prophethood we can understand why the knowledge of adhaan was revealed to one of the Prophet’s companions:
“When the Messenger first came, the people gathered to him for prayer at the appointed times without being summoned. At first the messenger thought of using a trumpet like that of the Jews who used it to summon to prayer. Afterwards he disliked the idea and ordered a clapper to be made, so it was duly fashioned to be beaten when the Muslims should pray. Meanwhile Abdullah b. Zayd b. Thalaba, brother of al-Harith, heard a voice in a dream, and came to the messenger saying: ‘A phantom visited me in the night. There passed by me a man wearing two green garments carrying a clapper in his hand, and I asked him to sell it to me. When he asked me what I wanted it for I told him that it was to summon people to prayer, whereupon he offered to show me a better way: it was to say thrice: “Allahu Akbar. I bear witness that there is no God but Allah I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Come to prayer. Come to prayer. Come to divine service. Come to divine service. Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar. There is no God but Allah”. When the Messenger was told of this he said that it was a true vision if God so willed it, and that he should go with Bilal and communicate it to him so that he might call to prayer thus, for he had a more penetrating voice. When Bilal acted as muezzin Umar heard him in the house and came to the Messenger dragging his cloak on the ground and saying that he had seen precisely the same vision. The Messenger said: “Allah be praised for that!”’
Therefore in Islamic traditions and its teachings Muslims are supposed to have faith that good and true dreams called bushra or al-mubashiraat are seen by the believers not only for themselves but for other believers as well. They are part of prophet hood even after the revelation process is complete with the arrival of Quran. But moving forward, their news does not include any revelation on religious matters because Islam is completed with the arrival of the Quran. Allah ﷻ will leave this one part available till the end of the world to communicate news of al-ghayb (unseen) to believers regarding their personal lives, if and when He seems correct.
 Dreams in Islam - A window to the truth and to the heart by Imran N. Hosein - Published by Masjid Darul Qur’an – New Edition 2001
Quran revealed through the medium of Archangel Jibraeel (Gabriel) (a.s)
The majority of the Quran was revealed through the medium of Archangel Jibraeel (Gabriel) (alaihi salaam) as mentioned in one of its verse: “CONSIDER this unfolding [of God's message] (najm), as it comes down from on high! This fellow-man of yours has not gone astray, nor is he deluded, and neither does he speak out of his own desire: that [which he conveys to you] is but [a divine] inspiration with which he is being inspired - something that a very mighty one has imparted to him:” The Arabic term 'najm' translated in the verse as 'unfolding' is generally understood to mean ‘star’ and that is how many English translators of the Quran have also translated this verse: "Consider Najm (Star) as it comes down". However in classical Arabic, 'najm' also means ‘arrival or coming of something gradually or in parts’, denoting the fact that the entire Quran was brought down gradually, in parts, to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, one to four or five verses at a time, within a total of around 23 year time period. As for the wording “a very mighty one has imparted to him” is accepted by majority of Quran commentators to be referring to Jibraeel (Gabriel) (a.s) and this is due to the fact that he is the leader of angels and is one of mightiest of angels as also described to us in the following hadith: “the Prophet ﷺ had seen Gabriel (alaihi salaam) (in his actual appearance) with six hundred wings.” The wings of the angels denote their power as confirmed in the Quran: “angels to be [His] message-bearers, endowed with wings, two, or three, or four.” (please read as explained earlier) Jibraeel (Gabriel) (a.s) description having "six hundred wings" implies his mightiness in power whom Allah entrusted to bring down the revelation of the Quran including the first set of Surah 96 verses.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ would sometimes receive Archangel Jibraeel (Gabriel) (a.s) in his original form and sometimes in human form when receiving verses. The following incidents recorded in the hadith collections mention that Jibraeel (Gabriel) (a.s) as well other angels, came in human form and not only did they meet the Prophet ﷺ but also people around the Prophet ﷺ unknowingly witnessed their meeting. However they would usually find out later that it was an angel or angel Gabriel:
Hadith e Jibraeel (Tradition of Gabriel) - Jibraeel (Gabriel) in the form of a traveler
The below is one of the famous traditions in Islam called the Hadith e Jibreel (Tradition of Gabriel) that happened a month before the Prophet ﷺ passed away. In this tradition angel Jibraeel (Gabriel) (a.s) appeared in the form of a man in the presence of the Prophet ﷺ and made inquiries about the deen (religion) so that those with him could observe the conversation and learn important lessons about Islam. Abdullah bin Umar (r.a) said:
Umar bin Al-Khattab (r.a) told me: 'While we were with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ one day, a man appeared before us whose clothes were exceedingly white and whose hair was exceedingly black. We could see no signs of travel on him, but none of us knew him. He came and sat before the Messenger of Allah, putting his knees against his, and placing his hands on his thighs, then he said: "O Muhammad, tell me about Islam." He said: "It is to bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah ﷻ and that Muhammad ﷺ is the Messenger of Allah, to establish the Salah, to give Zakah, to fast Ramadan, and to perform Hajj to the House if you are able to bear the journey." He said: "You have spoken the truth." And we were amazed by his asking him, and then saying, "You have spoken the truth". Then he said: "Tell me about Faith." He said: "It is to believe in Allah (swt), His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and in the Divine Decree, it’s good and it’s bad." He said: "You have spoken the truth." He said: "Tell me about Al-Ihsan." He said: "It is to worship Allah ﷻ as if you can see Him, for although you cannot see Him, He can see you." He said: "Tell me about the Hour." He said: "The one who is asked about it does not know more about it than the one who is asking." He said: "Then tell me about its signs." He said: "when a slave woman gives birth to her mistress, when you see the barefoot, naked, destitute shepherds competing in making tall buildings.'" Umar said: 'Three (days) passed, then the Messenger of Allah said to me: "O Umar, do you know who the questioner was?" I said: "Allah and His Messenger know best." He said: "That was Jibril, peace be upon him, who came to you to teach you your religion."
One very important thing to note is that during the above incident the Muslim community in Madinah knew each other as it was very small town, it was unlike a metropolitan city of our times where many times people hardly even know who their neighbor is. If this man was not from Madinah then he must have traveled from outside. But to their surprise he did not have any traces of travel either even though traveling in deserts of Arabia was rough. Secondly this man is asking questions to the Prophet and every time the Prophet answers he replies in the affirmative. No man in the 23 years of Prophet Muhammad’s preaching had ever asked a question and after listening to the answer confirmed by saying ‘you have spoken the truth’. This is why the Companions said that they were amazed! Thirdly after the event was over the Prophet revealed that it was Angel Gabriel (alaihi salaam) who had come to revise their religious teachings and teach some important lessons.
Archangel Jibraeel (Gabriel) in Battle of Uhud
Another event recorded in the books of tradition that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in battle of Uhud was defended by the Angels which included Gabriel (a.s), and the companions saw this with their own eyes. This event happened when Muslims almost lost the battle and the enemies were on the offense and attacked the Prophet’s side. At that time Allah sent Angels for his assistance. It is recorded in Al Raheeq Al Maktum (The Sealed Nectar) that “In a version by Saad — cleared and authorized in Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim — he said: ‘I saw the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) on Uhud Day with two men — dressed in white defending him fiercely — I have never seen similar to them neither before Uhud nor after it.” In another version: “He means to say that they were Gabriel and Michael.” At this moment Madinah had much smaller community, for this incident took place in the early years of Prophet’s preaching in Madinah. These two men in white, defending the Prophet had never been seen by the companions before this event nor were they ever seen after.
Hamza (r.a) requested Prophet ﷺ to see Archangel Jibraeel (Gabriel) (a.s) in original form
Sheikh Said Al Nursi Bediuzzaman mentions in his work Miracles of Muhammad that Abu Sufyan bin Harith Abdul Muttalib, a cousin of the Prophet ﷺ, reports in an authentic narration that in the battle of Badr, they saw horsemen dressed in white between the sky and the earth. One day Hamza ibn Abdul Mutalib (radiAllahu anhu), the prophet's uncle, asked him that he wanted to see Jibraeel (Gabriel) (a.s). The Messenger ﷺ pointed towards the Kaabah, but Hamza (r.a) could not bear the sight and fell unconscious. (for more details please also see Malaikah - Energetic Beings of Nur (Light))
Archangel Jibraeel (Gabriel) (a.s) appeared in the form of Dihya Al Kalbi (r.a)
Angel Jibraeel Gabriel (a.s) also appeared in the form of a companion named Dihya Al Kalbi (r.a) who had a very handsome appearance. One of the wives of the Prophet, Umm Salamah (r.a) saw the Prophet ﷺ speaking to someone and heard what they discussed. Later the Prophet ﷺ summoned an audience and informed them of that knowledge which he said was just received from Gabriel (a.s). This amazed Umm Salamah (r.a) who till then was thinking whom she seen meet the Prophet was Dihya (r.a). Narrated Abu Uthman “I got the news that Gabriel came to the Prophet (ﷺ) while Umm Salamah was present. Gabriel started talking (to the Prophet (ﷺ) and then left. The Prophet (ﷺ) said to Umm Salamah, ‘(Do you know) who it was?’ (or a similar question). She said, ‘It was Dihya (a handsome person amongst the companions of the Prophet ﷺ.’ Later on Umm Salamah (r.a) said, ‘By Allah! I thought he was none but Dihya (r.a), till I heard the Prophet ﷺ talking about Gabriel in his sermon.'
 Al Quran 53:1-5
 Jami Tirmidhi - Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3278
 Al Quran 35:01
 Sunan an-Nasa'i 4990
 Al-Raheeq Al-Maktum – Chapter: Battle of Uhud – By Safiur Rahman Al Mubarakpuri
 Sahih al-Bukhari 4980
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was not dependent on Angel Jibraeel (Gabriel) (a.s) for all his communication with Allah ﷻ. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ communicated directly with Allah ﷻ as well, many times and without any intermediary whatsoever. For instance during the most famous incident of Isra Wa’al Mira’j (Night Journey & Ascension) he was taken up to the heavens and brought in the direct presence of Allah ﷻ which no other prophet or messenger has ever experienced. In fact, there is a narration from the Prophet ﷺ that: “I have a moment with God in which no angel drawn near or prophet sent, rivals me.” However, the decision to reveal knowledge through angels or directly was decision of Allah ﷻ.
Allah ﷻ communicated with our beloved Prophet ﷺ usually in the late hours of night sometimes through the medium of dreams and sometimes during his deep immersion while in prayer. Prophetic dreams are also part of Prophethood and revelation as explained earlier in Dreams - Part of Prophethood. The heavenly guidance that Prophet ﷺ received was also through the dreams and other means which is preserved for us in authentic hadith literature. This knowledge is secondary to the Quran, which is primary due to pure divine speech of Allah. There is a prophetic hadith that mentions prophet experiencing vision of Allah ﷻ which provided him gilmpse of the unseen and resulted in revelation of knowledge. This happened when he was overtaken by sleep while performing the tahajjud (late night prayer):
“My Lord, Blessed is He and Most High, came to me in the best of appearances. So he said: 'O Muhammad!' I said: 'Here I am O my Lord! And I am at Your service.' He said: 'What is it that the most exalted group busy themselves with?' I said: '[Lord] I do not know.' So He placed His Hand between my shoulders, until I sensed its coolness between my breast, so I knew what was in between the east and the west. He said: 'O Muhammad!' I said: 'Here I am O my Lord! And I am at Your service.' He said: 'What is it that the high ranking angels are discussing?' I said: 'In the acts that raise ranks and the acts that expiate sins, which are walking to the masjid to attend congregation salah, Isbagh Al-Wudu (perfecting ablution) in difficulties, and awaiting the next Salah after the Salah. Feeding others, talking gently and praying while people are asleep. And whoever preserves them, he shall live in goodness and die upon goodness, and his sins shall be like that on the day upon which his mother bore him (without sins as a child is born pure and sinless).'”
The Prophet himself never missed tahajjud and he encouraged the believers to adopt this practice due to the spiritual proximity that we can experience with Allah ﷻ at that time. Abu Hurayra (radiAllahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, said, "Our Lord, the Blessed and Exalted, descends to the lowest heaven every night when a third of the night remains. He says, 'Who is calling on Me so that I can answer him? Who is asking Me for something so that I can give to him? "Who is asking Me for forgiveness so that I can forgive him?'"
 Recorded in Kashfal Asraar (Unveiling of the mysteries) Surah Fatiha – Sufi Tafsir of the Quran by Rashid Al Din Maybudi, a 12 century CE Persian Sunni Scholar and mystic.
 Jami Tirmidhi - Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3234 – Sunnah.com
 Adab Al-Mufrad