Sunday, April 24, 2016

Shab-e-meraj and the mysterious personality

Shab-e-meraj and the mysterious personality

By: Khurshid Imam

Shab-e-meraj or the night of Journey is an important event in the life of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). ‘Shab’ in Persian means night and ‘mera’j means ‘ascension’ / ‘to gain height’ / ‘to rise high’. It refers to the journey which Prophet Muhammad ((Peace be upon him) undertook on a night and went to distant places in the universe.
This event is described in Quran (Word of GOD) as well as Hadith collection (books that contain words or actions of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)).
The event in short is that Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was taken to Jerusalam, Bayt al-Muqaddas. Later he was taken up in the universe. At the highest horizon he saw someone whose identity remains a subject of curiosity. Then he came back.

Some people say that this journey was merely a spiritual journey.
Some say that the whole event is allegorical and in actual sense nothing happened as understood.
Some scholars are of the view that whole event was a dream.

As per our best understanding the journey was neither purely physical nor purely spiritual. This event was not allegorical as is claimed by the Qadiyanis.
Many ayah related to this event make it clear that it was not a dream, rather it was a reality.

وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الرُّؤْيَا الَّتِي أَرَيْنَاكَ إِلَّا فِتْنَةً لِّلنَّاسِ
And We did not make the sight [vision] which We showed you except as a trial for the people .. Quran 17:60.

Arabic word ‘Ru’ya is used in Quran most of the time for ‘seeing’. A few times it is used for ‘vision’.  To translate ‘Ru’ya’ as ‘dream’ in above ayah [17:60] will be incorrect because Quran 53:11-13 proves clearly that it was not a dream.

مَا كَذَبَ الْفُؤَادُ مَا رَأَىٰ
The (Prophet's) (mind and) heart in no way falsified that which he saw. Quran 53:11

أَفَتُمَارُونَهُ عَلَىٰ مَا يَرَىٰ
Will you then dispute with him concerning what he saw? Quran 53:12

وَلَقَدْ رَآهُ نَزْلَةً أُخْرَىٰ
For indeed he [prophet] saw him at a second descent. Quran 53:13

Had the prophet seen all these events in a dream then it would make no sense:
1.     To say that his heart did not lie. It indicates that his seeing was in sync with the reality. His mind, his senses confirmed what he was seeing through his eyes.
2.     To emphasize so much that he saw something important.
3.     To make very clear that he saw something at his second descent.

We know from ahadith that before and after the event of meraj there were some changes done to his body. Why? So that he could undertake the journey across the universe. Normal human body could not have borne the heat and other other waves; hence some changes were required in his body.

Arch angel Jibriel along with two other angels visited the holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) one night, while he was asleep in the Hateem part of Ka’abah. The angel then operated upon his heart and body and made some changes; probably because the material body could not withstand the space travel with the required velocity without certain protection. The related part of the hadith (narration) reads:
 “... Jibriel among them took upon himself to make a cut from the throat down to a part below the heart of the Prophet till he emptied the chest and the stomach. Then with his hands he washed it with Zamzam water till the stomach was cleaned. Then was brought a golden tray in which was a golden light filled with faith and wisdom. Pouring it inside, the chest and the veins of throat were filled up. Then the opened part was closed...”. Sahih Bukhari

By incorporating the changes in the body system, his body was probably converted from material into Noorani (luminous) body to withstand the journey of space. It may be remembered that the material bodies of people destined for heavens would also be changed to luminous (made of light) bodies after the Maidaan-e-Hash’r (the place of the great gathering) before taking them to heavens”.

Also, after completion of this journey his bodily changes were reversed back to their original condition. So, journey of the Prophet was neither purely physical nor purely spiritual.

Neither Asleep Nor Awake:
“The Qur’an in Surah Israa, in which the advent is mentioned, indicates the state in which the Prophet was carried to his journey. It says; “... And we made not the vision which we showed you, but a trial for mankind..”. Quran 17:60

It was neither a dream nor the state of wakefulness in the material sense. The Qur’anic word for the vision is Ru’ya’ which is different from a dream. We find in one of the ahadith describing Me’raj thus:
“... They (the angels) came in such a state that the heart (of the Prophet) was seeing them. The eyes were asleep but the heart was awake. Likewise, the eyes of (all) the Prophets sleep but their hearts do not sleep..” (Bukhari; Kitab-ut-Tauhid; Narration of Abu Hurairah)

The above narration of Me’raj in Bukhari, which is a very lengthy one, ends with the following words; “..And when he (Prophet Muhammad) woke up, he was in Masjid-al-Haram (Ka’abah).”

So, the material body of the Prophet was in a state of sleep after the Me’raj, while during the vision his transcendental body actually visited the places and witnessed the signs of Allah. In sleep he was taken and to sleep he was returned before and after the journey. During the journey, he was not asleep. He saw and witnessed everything with a transcendental body and with eyes, which were not material. Such is the vision of Prophets.”

A normal physical entity even if it travelled at the speed of light could not have reached the first heaven even after 1400 years while the Prophet travelled across all heavens and reached beyond that within a very short period of time [some minutes or hour probably].  How is that possible?

Scientific discoveries have proved it to be theoretically possible. Answer lies in ‘wormhole’.
What is a worm hole? A worm hole is a conduit for connecting two extremely far locations in the universe. Though it is a theoretical possibility, as of now, the concept of worm holes allow for intra universe journey .i.e. journey across two universe or heavens.

“A wormhole is a theoretical passage through space-time that could create shortcuts for long journeys across the universe. Wormholes are predicted by the theory of general relativity.

In 1935, physicists Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen used the theory of general relativity to propose the existence of "bridges" through space-time. These paths, called Einstein-Rosen bridges or wormholes, connect two different points in space-time, theoretically creating a shortcut that could reduce travel time and distance.
Wormholes may not only connect two separate regions within the universe, they could also connect two different universes.
Scientists continue to explore the concept as a method of space travel with the hope that technology will eventually be able to utilize them.”

For more information on the subject, go through:

Based on wormhole, in 2014 a science movie named ‘Interstellar’ was made in which a crew of astronauts travels through a wormhole.

Scientists are looking into the possibility where an entity passes through wormhole and exits into a different universe. However, that is not practical as yet because of many factors. In future – it may be reality. Also, in such journey time will pass extremely slowly. Can this be said that journey of Prophet could have been through a worm hole?

There are many ayah of Quran that indicate about existence of wormholes or such ‘doors’ in the universe.

Quran and wormholes

Quran 15:14-17
وَلَوْ فَتَحْنَا عَلَيْهِم بَابًا مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ فَظَلُّوا فِيهِ يَعْرُجُونَ
Even if we opened out to them a gate from heaven, and they were to continue ascending therein.

لَقَالُوا إِنَّمَا سُكِّرَتْ أَبْصَارُنَا بَلْ نَحْنُ قَوْمٌ مَّسْحُورُونَ
They would only say: "Our eyes have been intoxicated: Nay, we have been bewitched by sorcery."

وَلَقَدْ جَعَلْنَا فِي السَّمَاءِ بُرُوجًا وَزَيَّنَّاهَا لِلنَّاظِرِينَ
And we have placed within the heaven great stars and have beautified it for the observers (those who can see).

وَحَفِظْنَاهَا مِن كُلِّ شَيْطَانٍ رَّجِيمٍ
And (moreover) we have guarded them from every cursed devil.

Quran gives clear indications of worm hole as ‘door in the heaven’ and says that one will continue to pass through it and rise. The traveller – one who passes through this worm hole or door of heaven – will be shocked to see the universe and how beautifully Allah has decorated it. The traveller will find it hard to believe as to where he has come in such short time and what he is seeing; he will feel as if he is intoxicated or bewitched.

وَفُتِحَتِ السَّمَاءُ فَكَانَتْ أَبْوَابًا
And the heavens shall be opened as if there were doors. Quran 78:19

Regarding the burraq or the means by which prophet was taken into space; it is not difficult to understand that the description of burraq given in hadith is to make people of that time understand the means of travel in simple language. Of course, people of that time would have not understood the exact mechanism of this journey, hence some aspects were told in simple terminologies that are captured in books of hadith.
Burraq word is derived from the Arabic word, ‘barq’ which means ‘light’.
Some terms used in ahadith are meant for making contemporary people understand in the way they would have understood better. For example, the use of the word “ant” in place of DNA in context with ADAM and his progenies. This topic is beyond the scope of this article.

With the passage of time, with more pondering over signs of God human beings keep discovering new things. Allah will continue to show his signs everywhere.

سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ
We will show them our Signs in the (furthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own selves, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth”. Quran 41:53 

D.   Whom did Prophet see on meraj - Allah or Angel Jibriel or someone else?

Some people say that the Prophet saw angel Jibriel on meraj. The Prophet had seen angel Jibriel on numerous occasions, so there was nothing extra-ordinary in seeing him on meraj. Some people say that the Prophet saw Jibriel in his ‘original form’ but this is without any proof, without any evidence. Traditions say that angel jibrael could not go beyond a certain point and when prophet ‘saw’ someone special then Jibriel was not with him.
It is an anticlimax of a very extraordinary miracle described with much importance by Qur’an and Hadith. Seeing Hazrat Jibriel, a frequent visitor to the Prophet (even in his original form) would not have been such a big event.

Some people mistakenly think that Prophet actually “saw” Allah. Both groups have their set of narrations for their support. Quran – the furqaan – clarifies when there are contradictory narrations. Nowhere Quran says that the Prophet saw Allah on meraj.

The ayah related to meraj event itself categorically rejects this idea.
لَقَدْ رَأَىٰ مِنْ آيَاتِ رَبِّهِ الْكُبْرَىٰ   For truly did he see, of the Signs of his Lord, the Greatest! Quran 53:18

Allah is beyond comprehension. Prophet did not see Allah on meraj.

Quran 17:1 also says that Allah showed his ‘signs’ to the Prophet. 
لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا   … in order that We might show him of our signs.. Quran 17

Note: Allah communicated with the Prophet when he went for meraj. That does not imply that God lives above 7th heaven or at a particular place. God communicated with prophets when they were in different parts of the world.

Allah asked Prophet Moses to come to Mount Tur and communicated with him then that does not mean that Allah was present physically over mount tur. Allah communicates to his creatures but that does not mean God is present physically in any time and space. Almighty God is beyond time and space and He can’t be confined to it.

We (Almighty God) are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein. Quran 50:16
Do we mean that God is ‘physically’ present near our jugular vein? The answer is ‘No’.

Let us analyze the ayah that talks about the Prophet seeing someone very important. Let’s name him as ‘mysterious personality’ for some time:
      1.    Whom did prophet see? Quran 53:1-14,18 
وَالنَّجْمِ إِذَا هَوَىٰ   By the star when it goes down (or vanishes).
مَا ضَلَّ صَاحِبُكُمْ وَمَا غَوَىٰ  Your companion neither (has) gone astray nor has erred.
وَمَا يَنطِقُ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ  Nor does he speak of (his own) desire.
إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْيٌ يُوحَىٰ  It is only a Revelation revealed.
عَلَّمَهُ شَدِيدُ الْقُوَىٰ  He (Prophet) has been taught (this Qur'an) by one mighty in power [mysterious personality]
ذُو مِرَّةٍ فَاسْتَوَىٰ  One of soundness. And he [mysterious personality] rose
وَهُوَ بِالْأُفُقِ الْأَعْلَىٰ  While he [mysterious personality] was in the highest part of the horizon
ثُمَّ دَنَا فَتَدَلَّىٰ  Then he [mysterious personality] approached and came closer
فَكَانَ قَابَ قَوْسَيْنِ أَوْ أَدْنَىٰ  And was at a distance of two bows' length or (even) nearer
فَأَوْحَىٰ إِلَىٰ عَبْدِهِ مَا أَوْحَىٰ  So (Allah) revealed to His slave whatever He revealed
مَا كَذَبَ الْفُؤَادُ مَا رَأَىٰ  The (Prophet's) heart lied not in what he (Muhammad) saw
أَفَتُمَارُونَهُ عَلَىٰ مَا يَرَىٰ  Will you then dispute with him (Muhammad) about what he saw
وَلَقَدْ رَآهُ نَزْلَةً أُخْرَىٰ  And indeed he (Muhammad) saw him [mysterious personality] at a second descent
عِندَ سِدْرَةِ الْمُنتَهَىٰ  Near Sidrat-ul-Muntaha

Then Ayah Number 18 clearly says that Prophet saw ‘signs’ of Allah and NOT Allah itself.
لَقَدْ رَأَىٰ مِنْ آيَاتِ رَبِّهِ الْكُبْرَىٰ  Indeed he (Muhammad) did see of the Greatest Signs, of his Lord (Allah).

     2.    Whom did prophet see? Quran 81:19-23

إِنَّهُ لَقَوْلُ رَسُولٍ كَرِيمٍ  Verily, this is the Word (Qur'an brought by) a most honorable messenger [mysterious personality]

ذِي قُوَّةٍ عِندَ ذِي الْعَرْشِ مَكِينٍ  Owner of power [mysterious personality], (and high rank) with (Allah), the Lord of the Throne

مُّطَاعٍ ثَمَّ أَمِينٍ  Obeyed and trustworthy [mysterious personality]

وَمَا صَاحِبُكُم بِمَجْنُونٍ  And your companion (Muhammad) is not a madman
وَلَقَدْ رَآهُ بِالْأُفُقِ الْمُبِينِ  And indeed he (Muhammad) saw him [mysterious personality] in the clear horizon

Yellow color text: Refers to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
Green color text: Refers to the one whom prophet saw. Who is this ‘mysterious personality’?

Attributes of that ‘mysterious personality’ as per above ayaah are:
ü  Mighty in power [shaded ul qawa]
  ü  Most honorable messenger [rasul in Kareem]
  ü  Owner of the power [zee quwwatin]
  ü  Near to / with / closer to Allah
  ü  Trustworthy [Ameen]

Let us find from the Quran who is mentioned having the above mentioned qualities.
There is a personality in Quran called ‘Ruh ul quddus’ or ‘Ruh ul amin’ or the Holy Spirit. A big misconception is that people think that Holy Spirit and angel Jibriel are one and the same personality. There is no proof for this understanding. Quran has maintained separate personality of Jibriel and Holy Spirit. Proof for this subject is beyond the scope of this article. Holy Spirit and angel Jibriel both act as messengers for bringing the revelation of God. However, Holy Spirit is higher in rank and closer to Allah. Let us see the following ayaah for proof.

نَزَلَ بِهِ الرُّوحُ الْأَمِينُ  Ruh ul Amin [The HOLY Spirit] has brought it[revelation of God] down. Quran 26:193

قُلْ نَزَّلَهُ رُوحُ الْقُدُسِ مِن رَّبِّكَ بِالْحَقِّ
Say! Ruh ul Qudus [HOLY Spirit] has brought it (the Qur'an) down from your Lord with truth. Quran 16:102

وَآتَيْنَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَيَّدْنَاهُ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ
.. And We gave 'Îsa (Jesus), the son of Maryam (Mary), clear signs and supported him with Ruh ul Qudus [HOLY Spirit]. Quran 2:87

وَآتَيْنَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَيَّدْنَاهُ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ
To Jesus- the son of Mary- we gave clear (Signs), and strengthened him with Ruh ul Quddus [Holy Spirit]. Quran 2:253

رَفِيعُ الدَّرَجَاتِ ذُو الْعَرْشِ يُلْقِي الرُّوحَ مِنْ أَمْرِهِ
".. One who is owner of throne [Almighty God] raises in status does ILQA [to place to put, to reveal] to Al-Rooh [Holy Spirit]. Quran 40:15

From these ayaah we find that the description of Ruh ul Quddus or the Holy Spirit or Al Ruh or Ruh ul Amin matches exactly with the personality whom prophet saw on meraj. Prophet did not see Allah or Jibriel but Ruh ul Qudus or the Holy Spirit. ‘What is the significance of the Holy Spirit and what his relation with Prophet Muhammad is’ – this topic is beyond the scope of the present article.

1.     Shab-e-meraj or night of journey holds an important event in the house of Islam.
2.     Prophet did go to the highest heavens and communicated with Allah.
3.     The journey of meraj is within the gamut of possibilities for mankind.
4.    The journey was neither a dream nor purely a physical one; rather some changes were done to the body to make it possible.
5.    The Prophet did not see Allah on meraj rather he saw one of the greatest signs of Allah – Ruh ul Ameen or the Holy Spirit.
6.   With more discoveries and scientific advancement, exact mechanism of this journey will be understood better.

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