Muhammad’s journey to heaven - Tribune Online

Muhammad’s journey to heaven – Tribune Online

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IN the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

Whenever the story of the mystical journey of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to heaven (Lailatul-Mi’raj) is mentioned, the disbelievers always wave it off as one of the sophist tales in religious history. But men of faith are always strengthened in their trust in Allah as the ultimate with the Great Journey of the Prophet to heaven.

What is actually the meaning of Mi’raj? Does it have any relationship with the English word of mirage? Did the journey actually take place? Was it in a dream, vision, trance or sleep? What were the Signs of Allah shown to him during the journey? What transpired between the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), Angel Jubril, and Almighty Allah during the Great Night Journey? What are the lessons of the trip of the Prophet to heaven?

‘Mi’raj’ is an Arabic word, which means ascension. It sounds like the English word ‘mirage’ that is ephemeral, fluid, and something deceitful that flashes like slippery water on the road but disappears as you approach. So, Mi’raj and Mirage are opposing concepts that are on a parallel line that can never meet.

Really, the Night of Ascension (Lailatul-Mi’raj) in Islam is the true account of a spiritual event that is not deceitful or sophistry. It symbolises the mystic vision of the ascension of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW). He was transported from the sacred mosque (of Haram in Makkah) to the Farthest Mosque (of Jerusalem) in a night and shown some of the Sighs of God.

Lailatul Mi’raj is usually dated to the 27th night of the sacred month of Rajab. Though other dates like 17th of Rabiul-Awwal are also given in the year before the Hijrah, most scholars agreed on the 27th of Rajab as the Night of Ascension when the Prophet was taken on the bodily spiritual journey (Q.17:1, 60).

It was indeed a real event that took place, which strengthens the faith of true men in the Unity of Allah. Allah is He that heareth and seeth all things and men’s hearing and seeing are ordinarily so limited that they can do nothing but glorify Him. When one of His creatures is raised up to hear and see the mysteries (Qur’an 17:60), the Night of Mi’raj symbolises the teaching of God from the most ancient times, and yet it was violated by the very people who claimed to be its custodians. It signifies the second time, after the Day of the First Revelation of the Holy Qur’an, when the King of Angels, Jubril, appeared in a visible form. It connotes the day when the practice of Islam was perfected for us, when the five daily prayers were institutionalised and made compulsory. It denotes the day when Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was inspired with form of greetings to Allah when he arrived the precinct of Allah’s Throne that has no limit. Mi’raj was a reflection of God’s knowledge that comprehends all its beings, without any curtain of time or any separation of space.

The Holy Qur’an, Al-Israa 17:53-59, says, “Say to My servants that they should (only) say those things that are best: For Satan doth sow dissensions among them: For Satan is to man an avowed enemy. It is your Lord that knoweth you best: If He please, He granteth you mercy, or if He please, punishment: We have not sent thee to be a disposer of their affairs for them. And it is your Lord that knoweth best of all beings that are in the heavens and on earth: We did bestow on some Prophets more (and other) gifts than on others: and We gave To David (the gift of) the Psalms. Say: ‘Call on those—besides Him—whom ye fancy: They have neither the power to remove your troubles from you nor to change them’. Those whom they call upon do desire (for themselves) means of access to their Lord—Even those who are nearest: They hope for His Mercy And fear His wrath: For the wrath of thy Lord is something to take heed of. There is not a population but We shall destroy it before the Day of Judgment or punish it with a dreadful penalty: That is written in the (eternal) Record. And We refrain from sending the Signs, only because the men of former generations treated them as false: We sent the she-camel to the Thamud to open their eyes, but they treated her wrongfully: We only send the Signs by way of terror (and warning from evil).’”

But just as the ascension of Prophet Isa (Jesus Christ) to heaven from being crucified on the cross is being disproved in some quarters, so also the Night Journey of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) (Lailatul Mi’raj) serves as stumbling blocks to unbelievers who reject faith (Qur’an 3:54; 2:27). The Holy Qur’an, Al-Imran 3:52-55 attests, “When Jesus found unbelief on their part he said: ‘Who will be my helpers to (the work of) God?’ Said the disciples, ‘We are God’s helpers; we believe in God and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims. Our Lord! We believe in what thou hast revealed and we follow the Apostle; then write us down among those who bear witness’. And (then unbelievers) plotted and planned and God too planned and the best of planners is God. Behold! God said: ‘O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject Faith to the Day of Resurrection; then shall ye all return unto Me and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.’”

And the Holy Qur’an, Jinn 72:27-28, notes, “Except an apostle Whom He has chosen: And then He makes a band of watchers march before him and behind him, that he may know that they have (truly) brought and delivered the Messages of their Lord: And He surrounds (all the mysteries) that are with them, and takes account of every single thing.”

In fact, Allah stresses at the threshold of Qur’an 21 that people will continue to disprove the Mi’raj story as they disagree with the Prophets of old whose populations were destroyed. Even at the point of destruction, they will continue to disagree with the message and consider it superficial. The Holy Qur’an, Anbiyaa, 21:1-7 declares, “Closer and closer to mankind comes their reckoning: yet they heed not and they turn away. Never comes (aught) to them of a renewed message from their Lord, but they listen to it as in jest,—Their hearts toying as with trifles. The wrong-doers conceal their private counsels, (saying), ‘Is this (one) more than a man like yourselves? Will ye go to witchcraft with your eyes open?’ Say: ‘My Lord Knoweth (every) word (spoken) in the heavens and on earth: He is the One that heareth and knoweth (all things)’. ‘Nay’, they say, ‘(these are) Medleys of dreams!—Nay, He forged it!—Nay, He is (but) a poet! Let him then bring us a sign like the ones that were sent to (Prophets) of old! (As to those) before them, Not one of the populations which We destroyed believed: Will these believe? Before thee, also, the apostles We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: If ye realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message. Nor did We give them Bodies that ate no food, Nor were they exempt from death. In the end We fulfilled to them Our promise, And We saved them and those whom We pleased, but We destroyed those who transgressed beyond bounds. We have revealed for you (O men!) a book in which is a Message for you: Will ye not then understand?”

Funny enough, the scientific knowledge behind the elevator or lift that ascends and descends people in droves will not be enough to prove the ascension story right to the disbelievers. As truthful, as evident, as real and as certain as the Night of Ascension (Lailatul Mi’raj) might be for the faithful, it is being disputed by the disbelievers.

May Almighty Allah strengthen our faith to accept His Message in the Holy Qur’an and follow the practice of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Ameen.



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