The Prophet’s Night Journey and Ascension
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله رب العالمين
وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه وسلم
On the 27th of Rajab, before the Migration to Madinah, the Prophet Muhammad peace and mercy be upon him was taken on a Night Journey and Heavenly Ascent (Al-Isra’ wa Al-Mi’raj). Below are excerpts from the Qur’an, Hadith, and scholarly insight regarding the miraculous events:
“Glory to Him who made His servant travel by night from the sacred place of worship to the furthest place of worship, whose surroundings We have blessed , to show him some of Our signs: He alone is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.” (17:1)
“By the star when it sets! Your companion has not strayed nor is he deluded; he does not speak from his own desire: indeed it is nothing less than a revelation that is sent to him. It was taught to him by one of might powers and great strength, who stood on the highest horizon. Then he drew near and came down until he was two bow-lengths away or even closer, and He revealed to His servant that which He revealed. The [Prophet’s] heart did not lie in seeing what it saw. Are you going to dispute with him what he saw? A second time he saw him: by the lote-tree beyond which none may pass, near the Garden of Restfulness, when the tree was covered in nameless [splendor]. His sight never wavered, nor was it too bold, and he saw some of the greatest signs of his Lord.”(53:1-18)
Excerpt below taken from Sayyid Muhammad ibn ‘Alawi al-Maliki’s “The Prophet’s Night Journey and Heavenly Ascent” trans. Gibril Fouad Haddad (Aqsa Publications, 2006):
The Prophet, peace and mercy be upon him, was taken up to a point where he heard the scratching of the Pens [writing the Divine Decree]. He saw a man who had disappeared into the light of the Throne. He said: “Who is this? Is this an angel?” It was said to him, no. He said: “Is it a Prophet?” Again the answer was no. He said: “Who is it then?” The answer was: “This was a man whose tongue was moist with Allah’s remembrance in the world, and his heart was attached to the mosques, and he never incurred the curse of his father and mother.”
Then the Prophet, peace and mercy of Allah be upon him, saw his Lord, the Most Glorious, the Exalted, and he fell prostrate. At that time his Lord spoke to him and said: “O Muhammad!” He replied: “Twice at your service, O Lord!” Allah the Exalted said: “Ask (sal)!” The Prophet, peace and mercy be upon him, said:
You have taken to Yourself Abraham as an intimate friend (khalil), and You have given him an immense kingdom. You have spoken to Moses directly, and have given David an immense kingdom and softened iron and subjugated the mountains to him. You have given Solomon an immense kingdom, and subjugated the jinn and men and devils to him, as well as the winds, and You have given him a kingdom the like of which no one may have after him. You have taught Jesus the Torah and the Evangel, and made him heal those born blind and the lepers, and raise up the dead with Your permission, and You have protected him and his mother from the cursed devil so that the devil had no path by which to harm them!
Allah said: “And I have taken you to Myself as My beloved and intimate friend (habiban wa khalila).” Allah continued:
I have sent you for all people without exception, a bearer of glad tidings and a warner.
I have expanded your breast for you and relieved you of your burden and exalted your name, as I am not mentioned except that you are mentioned with Me.
I have made your Community the best Community ever brought out for the benefit of mankind.
I have made your Community a mean and a middle.
I have made your Community in truth the first and the last of all Communities.
I have made public address (khutba) impermissible for your Community unless they first witness that you are My servant and Messenger.
I have placed certain people in your Community with Evangels for hearts.
I have made you the first Prophet created and the last one sent and the first one heard in My court.
I have given you Seven of the Oft-Repeated which I gave to no other Prophet before you.
I have given you the last verses of Surat Al-Baqara which constitute a treasure from under My Throne which I gave to no other Prophet before you.
I have given you Al-Kawthar.
I have given you eight lots: Islam, Emigration (hijra), Jihad, Charity (al-sadaqa), Fasting Ramadan, Ordering Good, and Forbidding Evil; and the day I created the heavens and the earth, I made obligatory upon you and your Community fifty prayers: therefore establish them, you and your Community.
Allah’s Messenger, peace and mercy of Allah be upon him, said:
My Lord has preferred me over everyone else (faddalani rabbi).
He has sent me as a mercy to the worlds and to all people without exception, a bearer of glad tidings and a warner.
He has thrown terror into the hearts of my enemies at a distance of a month’s travel.
He has made spoils of war lawful for me while they were not lawful for anyone before me.
The entire earth was made a ritually pure place of prostration for me.
I was given the words that open, those that close, and those that are comprehensive in meaning.
My Community was shown to me and there is none of the followers and the followed but he is known to me.
I saw that they would come to a people that wear hair-covered sandals.
I saw that they would come to a people of large faces and small eyes as if they had been pierced with a needle.
Nothing of what they would face in the future was kept hidden from me.
And I have been ordered to perform fifty prayers daily.
Taken from Shaykh Abdur-Rahman as-Sulami’s “The Subtleties of the Ascension: Early Mystical Sayings on Muhammad’s Heavenly Journey” trans. Frederick S. Colby (Louisville: Fons Vitae, 2006):
When the Real desired that His pure one and lover should become the furthest of creatures in mention, the greatest of them in nearness, the loftiest of them in glory, the most noble of them in ability, and the most famous of them in rank, He caused him to ascend to the heavens and He ennobled him above the angelic realm.
He beautified him with the necklace of the approach, causing him to approach the carpet of nearness which the angels and prophets lacked the strength [to approach]. [He did all this] in order to extol his mention in his heavens just as He raised his mention on His earth.
What was was, what happened happened, the lover said to the lover what a lover says to a lover, He kindly favored him with a kind favor of a lover to a lover, and He divulged to him what a lover divulges to a lover. The two concealed and did not disclose their secret to any but themselves. For that reason He said, “He revealed to his servant what He revealed,”and no one knew what he revealed except the One who revealed [it] and the one to whom it was revealed.
“We appointed not the vision which We showed you but as a test for mankind.” (17:60)