The Event of M‘iraj
PROF G R MALIK
The last days of the month of Rajab are usually reserved to remember the miraculous event of M‘iraj in the holy life of our beloved Prophet (SAW). There is a near-unanimity among the biographers of the Prophet and historians of Islam that the event took place sometime (more-or-less a year) before that most revolutionary journey of human history – the Hijrah of the prophet. However there is a difference of opinion with regard to the actual date and month in which M‘iraj took place. The majority view is that it was Rajab and probably the night preceding the twenty-seventh day of the month. Regardless of this, the event of M‘iraj is of crucial symbolic significance. It is a journey that occurred in time and space but transcended both. It is a leap out of time and space into the Timeless and the Eternal. In short it is an extraordinary miracle.
M‘iraj is essentially an experience that was granted to every great messenger of Allah in one form or the other. Abraham (Hazrat Ibrahim AS) for instance was vouchsafed a special demonstration of how the dead are restored to life by the command of Allah (SWT). Similarly Moses (Hazrat Moosa AS) was granted special audience by Allah and had the honour of conversing with Him. Other prophets had this experience in ways different in appearance but in substance of the same nature. Our Prophet’s M‘iraj is in its scope, depth and symbolic import, appropriate to his status of the last and the greatest messenger of Allah. However before we look at the symbolic signification of M‘iraj. Let us bear in mind the description of the event as given by the Prophet (SAW) himself.
According to the Sahihain (Bukhari and Muslim) the Prophet was awakened on the night of M‘iraj by Gabriel. After he woke up, his breast was opened up miraculously, washed clean and filled with the illumination of faith, gnosis and flawless Divinely guided wisdom. Thereafter he was requested to mount the back of Buraq (from barq which means a flash of lightning) and which conveyed him in no time to the holy al-Aqsa mosque. From there the Prophet, in company with Gabriel, ascended the high heavens. In different heavens he met various distinguished messengers of Allah. Of them Adam (AS) and Ibrahim (AS) welcomed him as a pious son whereas the other prophets received him, with honour and warmth, as their pious brother. Surpassing all these heavenly stations the Prophet reached Sidrah al-muntaha (the lote-tree of the utmost boundary). This tree symbolises the ultimate reach of man in the search of Allah (SWT) – the threshold, as it were – of the Divine Presence. What the Prophet witnessed there is beyond any human tongue to articulate. In the highly mysterious language of the Quran:
He (the Prophet) was taught by One of overwhelming and mighty powers. He appeared (in stately form) on the uppermost horizon. Then neared and leaned until He was at the distance of two bow-lengths or even less. Then He revealed to His servant what He revealed. The heart and mind (of the Prophet) did not falsify what it saw. Do you then doubt what he saw when he saw Him descending yet again near the lote-tree of the utmost boundary, near which is the Garden of Abode, when the lote-tree was shrouded with what it was shrouded. (53:5-16).
In the Divine presence the Prophet received three invaluable gifts for the believers: Divine promise of forgiveness for those who do not associate partners with Allah, the last verses of surah al-Baqarah and the commandment to offer prayers fifty times a day. On his return journey the Prophet was asked by Moses (who knew how his people had treated the ten commandments) to go back to Allah and have the number of prayers reduced. For this purpose the Prophet went back several times until the number was reduced to five. Coming back via al-Aqsa he led the prayers of the prophets who were assembled there. After this he was escorted back to Makkah.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 23 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 23 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 24 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
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