The Symbolic Signification of Mi‘raj
PROF G R MALIK
Akhtar-e shaam ki aati hai falak se aawaz
Sajdah karti hai sahar jis ko wo hai aaj ki raat
Rah-e yak gaam hai himmat ke liay ‘arsh-i bareen
Kah-rahi hai yeh musalman se M‘iraj ki raat.
Since Mi‘raj is a leap out of time into the Timeless and out of finite into the Infinite in order finally to connect the two, it is not possible for an ordinary human understanding to comprehend all its symbolic implications and fathom all its depths. Certain symbolic significations are however relatively easier to grasp. Hazrat Shah Wali Allah, that unique diver of the ocean of gnosis and spirituality as well as that of knowledge and wisdom, has chosen a very appropriate and suggestive title for his discourse on Mi‘raj in Hujjat-ul-lah-i al-Baligah. His title for it “Night Journey to al-Aqsa Mosque and then to Sidrah al-Muntaha” clearly identifies the two distinct phases (both interconnected in the end) of Mi‘raj. The first phase – the Prophet’s night journey to the al-Aqsa Mosque symbolizes the continuity of Divine guidance and essential kinship between all Divine revelations. Most of the prophets of Abrahamic chain were raised in the blessed surroundings of al-Aqsa about which the Quran says barakna hawlahu (We blessed its surroundings). The message of these prophets (alihim al-salam) and the message of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) are in essence and in the broader framework of fundamental principles the same. Mi‘raj from this point of view represents the merger of all Divine revelations through Muhammad (SAW) for the final and universal guidance of mankind.
From the Mosque of al-Aqsa, which Hazrat Shah Sahib (RA) calls ‘a window to the Divine domain’, the Prophet ascended heavenwards, signifying the reconciliation and harmonization of the terrestrial and the Heavenly. In other words Mi‘raj was the announcement of the entry of the sacred into the secular, the announcement that God and all that is Divine will be the pivot around which the earthly existence will revolve. The earthly existence of man will thus be sanctified and cleansed of dross. This aspect of the Mi‘raj is particularly relevant to us – the modern men – who have banished the sacred from our life and are reaping a crop of miseries in consequence.
The Prophet’s meeting with the previous messengers of Allah in various heavens and his reception by Adam and Abraham as a ‘pious son’, and by other prophets as ‘a pious brother’, is yet another confirmation of the continuity and similarity of all Divine revelations. Finally his return via the al-Aqsa Mosque and leading all the Prophets of Allah (assembled there) in prayers was the proclamation of the finality of his prophethood and the completion of the Divine guidance of man through him.
The Prophet’s return from the heavenly journey to Makkah signified his return from the Timeless to time in order to connect the two. Abdul Quddoos Gangohi (Allah’s mercy be upon him) is reported to have said that if somehow he had access to such an experience as Mi‘raj, he would not have been able to stand it; he would have been consumed and would not have returned. The Prophet (May Allah shower His choicest blessings on him) came back from that which transcends history to history in order to impart holiness and purity to it.
Of particular significance is the timing of Mi‘raj in the holy life of the Prophet. It occurred before the Prophet’s Hijrah to Madinah where he was going to establish a terrestrial prototype of the Divine order, the kingdom of heaven on the earth.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 30 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 30 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 1 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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