Many scholars consider the angel Gabriel’s (AS) three embraces during the first revelation to the Prophet (SAW) a form of spiritual transmission.
The Prophet (SAW) was in the cave of Hira when Gabriel (AS) came and asked him to recite. He said, “I cannot recite.” Gabriel (as) embraced the Prophet (SAW), then pressed the Prophet (S) to him, declaring “Recite.” The Prophet (SAW) replied, “I cannot.” For the third time Gabriel (AS) seized the Prophet (SAW) and said, “Recite.” The Prophet (SAW) then recited the message of God,
“Recite in the name of your Sustainer who created. He created the human being from an embryo. Recite! Your Lord is the most Generous. He taught by the Pen, teaching humans what they did not know.” (Qur’an 96:1-5)
According to a hadith, one day the Prophet (SAW) was holding the hand of Hazrat ‘Umar (RA). ‘Umar said to him, “O Allah’s Apostle! You are dearer to me than everything except my own self.” The Prophet (SAW) said, “No, by Him in whose hand my soul is, [you will not have complete faith] until I am dearer to you than your own self.” Then Hazrat ‘Umar (RA) said to him, “However, now by Allah, you are dearer to me than my own self.” The Prophet (SAW) said, “Now, O ‘Umar, [now you are a believer].”
This was without doubt the result of transmission. The following incident was related by Hazrat Ubayy bin Ka’b (RA),
“When I was in the mosque, a man came in and started to say his prayers. He recited the Holy Qur’an in a manner that appeared incorrect to me. Then another man came in and recited the Holy Qur’an in yet another way. I went to the Prophet (SAW) and told him how these people had recited the Qur’an. The Prophet (SAW) asked both men to recite the Holy Qur’an and they did. The Prophet (SAW) then said that both were right. My heart was filled with evil doubt that was even stronger than that of the period of ignorance (jahiliyya). When the Prophet (SAW) saw my state, he struck my breast with his hand. I started perspiring profusely and my state of fear and awe was such that I felt I was seeing God.”
In addition to these examples, there are many other incidents that can be cited as evidence of the effects of spiritual transmission. However, it is true that spiritual transmission and spiritual affinity are not the real source of the effect: God said to Muhammad (SAW),
“You do not guide those whom you like, but Allah guides those whom he will.” (Qur’an 28:56).
The attainment of the final goal is not possible without God’s grace, but through guidance, following the sunnah, and the sayings, actions, company, and spiritual attention of saints, shaykhs, and their deputies, it is not impossible.