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May 25th, 2015

M‘irâj and Ma‘ârij, but not Mirage – a Journey, an Ascent – Spiritual or Physical and to Where?

M‘irâj and Ma‘ârij, but not Mirage – a Journey, an Ascent – Spiritual or Physical and to Where?

Miraj (also written as Meraj) is the sum-total of a two stage vision with all its details of Isra, the Night Journey and its retrace, in which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) traveled from Makkah to Ka'aba to Solomon’s Temple and then ascended, in his Miraj, to heavens.

If one is to take Miraj in a physical sense, then it only means that God is limited by time and space and one has to move from one point to another to reach His realm. By implication, His dominion is not to be found on this earth. By such an approach one risks destroying the very definition of Allah who is non-physical, boundless and omnipresent while vainly establishing the physicality of a personal experience of the Prophet. According to Quran, the Children of Adam can enter the Hereafter only after their death when physicality of a person is left behind in this universe and it is only the non-physical aspect of us that moves on to the next:

7:24-25. (God) said,…`In this (very universe) you shall live and therein you shall die and from it you shall be brought forth (in the Hereafter).'[1]

Thus, Quran lays down a law that no human can transition from this physical universe into the Hereafter while one is alive. If Prophet Muhammad, who was one of the many Children of Adam, left this world physically during Miraj to go up into heavens, than at least according to Quran he never went into Hereafter for the mere fact that he was alive. No matter how far and wide and how fast one may travel into deep space, one will never get to the Hereafter because Hereafter is not a space but only a state. Physical death is a must before one can venture into ‘heavens’ unless all that the Prophet saw during his Miraj was in a visionary state.

In the discussion of Miraj, many terms will be explained as needed for their detailed understanding.

‘Araja: To ascend, mount. M‘irâj: The Ascension. Isrâ': The Night Journey or "carrying" by night of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) from the sacred Mosque at Makkah to the remote Mosque at Jerusalem and his Mi‘râj – Ascension to the heaven are two distinct stages of his mystic experience (17:1; 53:1-18). Bukhârî mentions Isrâ’ in Ch. 63:41 and of M‘irâj in Ch. 63:41of his well-known book Sahîh. On this subject see also various well-documented traditions extensively quoted and discussed by Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bâri Ch.7:15 and Ibn Kathîr in his commentary of the Holy Qur’ân Ch. 17:1. Some reporters of the traditions and commentators of the Qur’ân have mixed up the accounts of the M‘irâj –The Ascension and Isrâ –The Night Journey. (Zâd al-Ma‘âd; L; T; R; LL).[2]

The reports about Miraj are found in Hadiths which outline Prophet’s experience of angels, life after death, heaven, and even God and His locale. Naturally, the debate of physical vs. non-physical Miraj takes its root in the fundamental disagreement over physical or non-physical nature of these entities. Unbeknownst to the believers in the former, merely by their arguments, they insist on physical existence of these. Paradoxically, the advocates of physical Miraj will deny physicality of all the said entities, yet all their arguments are about physical travel of the Prophet to a physical realm of Allah encapsulated in the confines of time and space. To reconcile both, at least in the matter of Miraj, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad settles the issue when he, deliberating on a different subject, discusses the Creative attribute of Allah:

…to create something out of nothing is also His work. Just as you see it in a scene in a dream He creates a whole world without any matter, and shows nonexistent things to be existent. Thus such are all the wonders of His power…[3]

Gist of Miraj

“The event of 'MERAJ' in details has been reported in a number of Hadith. One finds mention of miracles and signs in all the great religions of the world. All prophets of Allah have wrought such miracles which appear supernatural to us and it is this part of religion which has been the cause of a vast majority being led into what is called religiosity by todays thinker philosophers and 'MERAJ' being one of such events.

The philosophy underlying 'MERAJ' is simply this, that after the proclamation of Prophethood by the Holy Prophet he was subjected to great afflictions and in such a distressed condition glimpses of the success awaiting the Holy Prophet and his Ummah and the resultant elevation of the human race were manifested to the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, narrating the experience of 'MERAJ' states "I was asleep in Hateem that the roof of the house opened and Gabriel descended in the company of a few other angels. First of all they led me to Zam Zam (a fountain in MECCA) and opened my chest there, took out my heart and washed it with the water of Zam Zam. Thereafter a tray full of EMAN (belief) and wisdom was brought and Gabriel took EMAN and wisdom from the tray and placed it in my chest and closed it. After that an animal called "Burraq" was brought. It ran with great speed so that each of its step was touching the horizon. Riding on this 'Burraq' we first came to MASJID AL-AQSA and offered two 'Rakkat' prayers and thereafter we set out on our journey through skies to heaven in the company of Gabriel. We met Adam on the first sky. There I was shown two rivers and on my asking Gabriel told me that these were Euphrates and Nile. We met Prophet Joseph on second, Idrees on third, John and Jesus on fourth, Haroon on fifth, Moses on sixth and Abraham on the seventh sky. Then we passed through the garden where I saw a river on which palaces having domes of pearls and ground of 'MUSK' were built then we reached a place where the sound of the pen of the Creator could be heard and then we proceeded to 'Sadratul Mantaha' (the farthest lote-tree) and then Allah drew nearer to me so that the distance was reduced to the extent of two ends of a bow, even lesser. Then I was given three gifts, (1) the last verses of the Surah 'Baqarah' (the cow-chapter two) (2) good news of Allah's Mercy that Allah will forgive all except those who set equals with him. (3) Saying of prayers fifty times a day was enjoined.

I met Moses on my way back – then is the narration of the talk between Moses and the Holy Prophet and the ultimate reduction of the prayer times to five. On his way back he returned to MASJID AL-AQSA where all the prophets of the past had assembled and all of them offered their prayers led by the Holy Prophet and one Hadith tells us (Fastaiqaza wa howa fil Masjidalharam) and thereafter he awoke and he was in MASJID AL HARAM.

This in brief is the gist of the story reported in the Books of Hadith. A beautiful fairy tale indeed, if one considers it a bodily journey and does not bother to dig the underlying meanings. It will not serve any useful purpose for a person and his companions who are suffering severe afflictions at the hands of their opponents but if we believe in it as a manifest-vision and spiritual experience then it contains prophecies and promises for the success of those who are passing through that period of hardships and misery. It paints a picture of the bright future for them.”[4]

Timeline of Miraj

Maulana Muhammad Ali in his preamble to Chapter 17, Bani Israil – The Israelites, of his English and footnote of verse 17:1 of Urdu commentary on Quran explains the timeline of the Miraj as follows:

As regards the date of revelation of this chapter [17, Bani Israil – The Israelites], there are many indications that it belongs to the early Makkan period, and must have been revealed in, or about, the fifth year of the Call. The mention of lsrã', which is the same as Mi'rãj, in the very first verse [and the 60th verse], shows it to be an early revelation because Mi'raj is also mentioned in another chapter [53, An-Najm], The Star, which is also one of the early revelations. Ibn Mas'ud, who was one of the early converts to Islam, is reported to have said, speaking of the five chapters, 17th to 21st: "They are of the early revelations and they are the ones that I committed to memory first" (B. 66 :6).[5] Chapter An-Najm, which also touches upon the same subject, was revealed even before the chapter Bani-Israil. Obviously both chapters belong to early Makkan period and are referring to an event that has already happened.[6]

This explanation of Maulana Muhammad Ali removes the erroneous assumption for the time frame of Miraj which is generally affixed much later into tenth or eleventh year of the Call, 610 or 611 AD, when the Prophet was fifty years of age and after the helpless Muslim minority in Makkah had just emerged from their three year banishment and socio-economic boycott, near Makkah, commonly known as Shib Abi Talib.

Additionally, there is a general consensus that five time daily prayers were prescribed during Miraj and we also know by common history that Muslims had been performing these prayers since early Makkan period.

Prophecies in visions of the Prophets

The full context of Miraj can be realized only when the nature of prophecies is understood. A prophet by the very definition is someone who prophesizes. Prophecy foretold by a prophet is not equivalent of a wishful thinking of a child nor is it whimsical. Prophets can prophesize only after they are told or shown of that prophecy by God. Miraj was essentially a vision of the Prophet similar to other prophets before him. Visions of prophets entail prophecies for themselves, for their mission and their nation, which in due course come to their full fulfillment. One such vision was that of Prophet Ezekiel:

2:259. Or consider the case of him (- Ezekiel) who passed by a town (- Jerusalem as it was left in desolation by Nebuchadnezzar) and it had fallen in upon its roofs. He said, `When will Allâh restore this (town) to life after its destruction?' So (in his vision) Allâh kept him in a state of death for a hundred years, then He raised him (to life). Then (God) said, `How long have you stayed (in this state of death)?' He replied, `I may have stayed a day or a part of a day (in this state).' (God) said, `(Yes this too is correct) but (as you have witnessed in your vision) you have stayed for a hundred years. Now look at your food and drink, they have escaped the action of time, and look at your donkey (too, years have not passed over it). And (We have made you visualise all this) that We may make you a sign to the people. And look at the (dead) bones how We set them together and then clothe them with flesh.' Thus when the fact of the matter became clear to him, he said, `I know that Allâh is the Possessor of full power to do all that He will.' [7]

In the said verse, Ezekiel, when he sees the physical and moral desolation of Jerusalem and its people which had happened at the hands of Nebuchadnezzer II; he terms it as its death. He wonders if such a township and its people can be restored to their earlier resplendence. Thereafter, as an answer, Ezekiel is shown a vision in which there is a prophecy spanning a hundred years into the future when Dhul-Qarnain, Cyrus II, another prophet and a king, will restore Jerusalem to its former state. Thus it so happened that after its initial desolation, a century later, the dereliction of Jerusalem, the Solomon's temple that had been razed and Israelites who had been dislodged to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar II and were in their subsequent sorry state for a hundred years, was undone by Cyrus II. Since this was visualization into the future, the actual time of the visionary state of Ezekiel in the stated verse is no more than a day or a part of a day that is confirmed by food and drink, and the donkey as they have escaped the action of time. It is the vision of Ezekiel[8] which then foretold the revival of the apparently ‘dead’ Israelites i.e. the (dead) bones how We set them together and then clothe them with flesh.'[9] This vision in Book of Ezekiel 40:1-49 covers the rebuilding of Solomon's temple the second time by Cyrus II who not only repatriated the Israelites to Jerusalem but also funded the reconstruction of the temple[10]. No wonder, Cyrus II is labeled as a liberator and not as a conqueror in history and is entitled as Messiah by the Jews:

The Book of Ezra narrates a story of the first return of exiles in the first year of Cyrus; for this, Cyrus is addressed in the Jewish Tanakh as the "Lord's Messiah". Glorified by Ezra, and by Isaiah, Cyrus is the one to whom "Yahweh, the God of heaven" has given "all the Kingdoms of the earth".[11]

Similar to Ezekiel, Joseph too saw a vision in his childhood after which he was sold into slavery when he was a young lad by his brothers. His prophecy came to fruition only when he had grown up and was in a high office under the king:

12:4. (Remember the time) when Joseph [in his childhood], said to his father [–Jacob], `My dear father! I have seen (in a vision) eleven stars and the sun and the moon. I saw them falling down prostrate (before God) because of me.'

12:100. And he [–Joseph as adult, when in high office under the king], took his parents to the royal court and they all [i.e. his eleven brothers and parents – eleven stars and the sun and the moon (v. 12:4)] fell down prostrate (before God) because of him and he said, `My father! this is the real fulfillment of my vision of old. My Lord has made it come true. He has been gracious to me, indeed, when he released me out of the prison and brought you from the desert. (This all happened) after satan had stirred up discord between me and my brothers. Surely, my Lord is Benignant to whomsoever He pleases. He it is, Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.'[12]

In the same vein, Miraj too was a vision and a prophecy for Prophet Muhammad, the various aspects of which will be discussed throughout this chapter.

Why Miraj?

Every event in life of the Prophet had a purpose. Miraj too was one such event. Primary objectives unique to Prophet Muhammad were not only that of a Messenger and a Prophet, but also as a Unifier of all religions, an Exemplar and a Teacher. Miraj fulfilled all those requirements for him. Before he could teach any one the esoteric and abstruse aspects of his message he had to personally experience them all – his own embodiment of faith, the non-physical domain of life after death, hell and heaven, previous prophets, proximity to God and what it means, and the prophecies about success of Islam. He had to know in depth each of these aspects of his prophethood. Miraj was one of many such happenings that provided him with the wherewithal to personally know the scope of the spiritual domain of his office of prophethood.

Miraj was essentially a sequential stage in his prophethood which was seeded by his first prophetic revelation:

Recite with the name of your Lord Who created (all the universe)…(96:1)[13]

He was groomed through his prayers:

O you that have wrapped yourself up in robes (of Prophethood)! Stand up (in Prayer) at night except for a small portion of it,…(73:1-2)[14]

He was then assigned his mission:

O you who have been endowed with excellent capabilities! Arise (with the Divine Message) and warn…(74:1-2)[15]

In due course, he was taught every step of the way through Quran:

We will soon teach (you and) make you recite (the Qur'ân) so that you shall not forget (any part of it)…(87:6)[16]

Finally, his spiritually perfection was validated during his Miraj:

… he attained to the zenith of heights (in his spiritual ascension). Then he drew near to Him and afterwards he descended (to mankind, for their guidance). So that he became (as it were) one chord to two bows or closer still …(53:7-9) [17]

Miraj in Quran

The details of Miraj as reported by the Prophet himself clearly speak of a 'vision' and prophecies that he experienced while he was encapsulated in a spiritual state, but within the confines of an intellectual space, yet the incidence was timeless for in import. Miraj was a mystical, not a corporeal condition, which was later fully interpreted by history, both during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and immediately after his death. In simple words, it was not only a ‘time travel’ into the past and future but also the expansion of his mind to its fullest into the spiritual domain as well.

Symbolism in Miraj explicitly reflects the Prophet personally and his mission. Nowhere in the life of the Prophet one finds any traces of rancor in his heart, which was cleansed during Miraj, against anyone or any hint of base sentiments or prejudices in his thoughts or actions. His life is the prime example of monotheism, wisdom and faith as reflected by his chest being filled with faith. His travel in the night to a future distant mosque in Medina was a prophecy of his migration which was to start a Hijra calendar, when the spiritual clock of the world was reset till eternity. With the speed of a swift steed his message spread to the vales of the east and the west, including Nile (i.e. Africa) and Euphrates (Byzantine and Persian Empires). His message unifies the Islam of all the previous, regional or national, prophets in the same manner that he led their congregation in prayers. He is the first and the last universal prophet for all the times; his message cleanses all the previous prophets of base attributions to them. His life and Message reflects the farthest extent of spiritual and moral values, knowledge and achievements that is symbolized by him reaching the farthest Lote Tree. Torah when compared with his Message (–Quran) would inevitably make Moses (PBUH) weep for not only the textual distortions of the former but also of its spirit by its followers. The five daily prayers that are conducted facing Ka’aba are means for ascension for each Muslim, and are the Prophet’s gift from Allah to mankind.

Masjidun (n. of place.): Mosque; Place of prostrating; Place of worship. Masâjid (n. plu.): Mosques. Masjid al-Aqsâ: Distant Mosque; Remote Mosque (Prophet Solomon’s Temple at Jerusalem or The Holy Prophet's Mosque at Medînah.) Masjid al-Harâm Inviolable House of Worship; Holy Mosque at Makkah; The House of Allâh; Ka‘baa. (L; T; R; LL).[18]

Qasa: To be distant (place), go far away, be remote. Qasiyyun: distant. Aqsâ f. Quswâ: (comp. form): More remote; Further. Al-Masjid al-Aqsâ: The Distant Mosque (at Jerusalem).[19]

Of note is that Masjid means 'Place of worship' in a general sense. In context of Miraj, the use of the term Masjid has nothing to do with the common mosque where Muslim congregate for prayers. According to the time-line, Miraj happened while Prophet was still in Makkah and much before the Hijra (migration to Medina in the thirteenth year of the Call). At that time, there was no formal Mosque yet built by the Muslims anywhere. The first mosque at Quba was built near Medina in the year following Hijra. However, in terms of a prophecy, the distant mosque referred to in Miraj can also allude to the future Mosque of the Prophet (Al-Masjid an-Nabawi) in Medina.

At the time of Miraj the blessed precincts that were Masjids, i.e. places of worship, were those built by the previous prophets. Firstly, the Masjid al-Harâm, commonly known as Ka'aba in Makkah, was built jointly by Prophet Abraham and his son Prophet Ismael. Secondly, Masjid al-Aqsâ was built by Prophet Solomon, commonly called the Solomon's Temple. It would be a separate discussion as to why both these places at the time of advent of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) were used for rituals far removed from the original purpose that the builders erected them for. Even worse, Solomon's Temple was more of ruin and a garbage dump at time of the Prophet.

Kashaf: To pull away, remove, take off, open up, lay open, lay base, uncover.[20]

Besides Hadiths, Quran too refers to the Miraj. Miraj was a Kashaf encompassing the journey and ascent in a vision, depicting both the physical life and spiritual perfection of the Prophet. The journey part was by night from Masjid al-Harâm i.e. the Holy Mosque (at Makkah) to Masjid al-Aqsâ i.e. the Distant Mosque (at Jerusalem). Of note is that nowhere in Quran the word Miraj itself is mentioned:

17:1. Glory be to Him Who carried His servant by night from [Masjid al-Harâm i.e.] the Holy Mosque (at Makkah) to [Masjid al-Aqsâ i.e.] the Distant Mosque [from Makkah] (at Jerusalem), the precincts of which (too) We have blessed, that We might show him some of Our signs. Infact, He alone is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.[21]

The stated verse lays out the purpose of this Journey, which was to show him some of Our signs. This showing of signs, the depths of esotericism and the prophecies, to Prophet Muhammad was in the same manner that Prophet Moses was shown signs relevant to his mission – the signs of serpent and shining hand (link). Both prophets, Muhammad and Moses, in their visions were shown the process and the net outcome of their respective missions. For the former, it was his future migration to Medina and then the whole Arabia and the known world of Persian, Byzantine and Egyptian empires were to come under sway of Islam; both mosques – The Kaaba and Temple mount, whose founder were prophets, were to return to Islam; whereas for the latter, his subjugated nation was to be freed, revived and was to be given the guidance in Torah.

Miraj also holds an everlasting prophecy. No mosque ever built by a prophet will remain as a temple for worship outside Islam. This verse was revealed in fourth or fifth year of prophethood. Ka’aba, which was built by Abraham, returned to Muslims two years before Prophet’s death when it was cleansed, once and for all, of any idols and idol-worship. Similarly, five years after his death, the compound of Solomon’s temple was taken over by his companions, led by Caliph Umar, who cleaned the garbage dump on it, and later, Umayyad Caliphs built the current mosque on it. Cities of both these mosques, Makkah and Jerusalem, were taken over by Muslim armies without bloodshed as the general amnesty was offered to the populace beforehand. Conquerors of both cities entered them in a humbled garb.

Today, the Distant Mosque mentioned in Quran covers the 180,000 square yards of al-Haram al-Sharif – the sacred precincts, which essentially is the whole walled compound of the Temple Mount, that comprises of its grounds and the structures later built on it which includes what is now called Masjid al-Aqsâ (originally build by Rashidun Caliph Umar, later expanded by Caliph Abd-al Malik in 690 AD), Dome of the Rock (built by Caliph Abd-al Malik in 691 AD), and even the Buraq Wall commonly called the Western Wailing Wall.

Masjid al-Aqsâ, the Distant Mosque, in verse 17:1 of Quran is a much larger compound, a ‘Place of Worship’ that includes the later built mosque on its grounds of the same name that modern day tourists are familiar with. In equivalence, the Masjid al-Aqsâ in Quran is the same as al-Haram al-Sharif of today.

The journey in verse 17:1 was a 'vision' and a prophecy which is mentioned as such in a later verse of the same chapter:

17:60. And (Prophet! recall the time) when We said to you, `Surely, your Lord has encompassed all people (for destruction) and has power over them (still they remained indifferent).' We made [Ru’yâ’: Vision, dream[22], i.e.] the vision which We showed you (being carried to Jerusalem from Makkah by night) and also the tree (- evil word; see 14:26) disapproved of in the Qur'ân, a means of distinction between the good and the bad for the people. (Despite the fact that) We have been warning them (by sending Our signs), this (warning from Us) only leads them to unrestrained inordinacy.[23]

As to the spiritual and prophetic narrations of the Prophet about his experience of Miraj, Quran testifies to his truthfulness of whatever he says, in Chapter – Al-Najm (The Star):

53:1. I call to witness every part of the Qur'ân when it is revealed,

53:2. That your comrade (Muhammad) has neither deviated (from true guidance in his practices) nor has he erred (in his beliefs).

53:3. He does not say anything out of (his own) fanciful desire.

53:4. This (Qur'ân) is nothing but (pure) revelation, revealed (to him by God).

53:5. The Lord of Mighty Powers has taught him (this discourse).[24]

Quran then gives glimpses of the ascension, the Miraj, which parallel Prophet's own narration in Hadiths:

53:6. (The Lord) Whose powers become manifest in manifold and frequent ways, with the result that he (- this Messenger of God) attained perfection and fullest vigour (both intellectually and physically).

53:7. And he attained to the zenith of heights (in his spiritual ascension).

53:8. Then he drew near to Him and afterwards he descended (to mankind, for their guidance).

53:9. So that he became (as it were) one chord to two bows or closer still.

53:10. Then He revealed that excellent and mighty (Qur'ânic) revelation which He had to send to His servant (Muhammad),

53:11. Whose mind made no mistake in (the interpretation of) that which he saw (during the ascension).

53:12. Will you doubt and dispute with him concerning that (sight) which he saw with his own eyes (it being no figment of imagination)?

53:13. And, of course, he saw Him (in His another manifestation to him) yet another time.

53:14. It was near the Sidrah which stands at the farthest end (of knowledge),

Sidratun: Lote-tree. When the shade of lote-tree becomes dense and crowded it is very pleasant and in the hot and dry climate of Arabia the tired and fatigued travelers take shelter and find rest under it and thus it is made to serve as a parable for the shade of paradise and its blessings on account of the ampleness of its shadow. The qualification of Sidrah by the word al-Muntahâ (53:14,16) shows that it is a place beyond which human knowledge does not go. One of the explanations given by Kashshâf being ‘The knowledge of angels and others ends there and no one knows what is beyond it. Hence the significance conveyed by the words is that the Holy Prophet's knowledge of Divine things was the utmost which could be vouchsafed to a human being.[25]

53:15. Near where also is the Garden which is the real eternal abode.

53:16. (This was) when the sublime thing (- the Divine Manifestation) which was to cover Sidrah had covered it.

53:17. (When he saw the Divine Manifestation) his eye deviated not (from the certainty of the Truth) nor did it wander away (from the invincible faith on which he stood).

53:18. (It was the moment when) he saw the greatly important signs of his Lord. [26]

The stated verses 53:1-18, besides testifying to truthful and trustworthy nature of the Prophet for delivering the Message, they also refer to the deep mystical experience of Miraj which cannot be put into words for its description of an ultimate reality, inconceivable majesty and profound verities[27]. It is quite clear from Quran that the heavenly abode cannot be perceived in terms of human physicality nor it could be linguistically described for its actuality:

32:17. “No soul knows what refreshment of the eyes is hidden for them: a reward for what they did.”[28]

The import of prophecies in Miraj for the Prophet as interpreted by Quran

All the prophecies in the vision of Miraj came to fruition for Prophet Muhammad personally, for his Companions and for his mission. During his Miraj, the Prophet’s heart was cleaned and filled with faith. Quran too testifies to his enlightened life devoted to pristine monotheistic beliefs and being devoid of any malice, to which history bears as independent witness:

94:1. Have We not (in fulfillment of your vision in your boyhood and again when you were entrusted with the Divine Mission) opened, expanded (and illuminated) for you your bosom,[29]

By Hadith traditions, there were 124,000 prophets before Prophet Muhammad; Quran too refers to them in a general statement:

4:164. And (there are some) Messengers whom We have mentioned to you before and (some) Messengers We have not mentioned them to you…[30]

40:78. And indeed We have already sent (Our) Messengers before you. There are some of them whom We have mentioned to you and of them there are some whom We have not mentioned to you…[31]

35:24. … for there has been no people but have (been warned by) a Warner (from God).[32]

When Prophet Muhammad was among the mix all the previous Messengers, and was one of the many in that congregation, it was only a confirmation of what Quran states for him:

46:9. Say, `I am no novel (Apostle) among the Messengers nor do I know what will be done to me (on your behalf) or to you. I simply follow what is revealed to me and I am nought but a plain Warner.'[33]

For the prophet to meet various Prophets in his vision at different levels of exaltation is affirmed by the Quran:

2:253. We have made these Messengers excel one another. There are those of them to whom Allah has spoken much, and some of them He has exalted by many degrees of rank… [34]

Irrespective of some of them [–the prophets that] He has exalted by many degrees of rank, neither the Prophet nor his followers make any distinction between them for the mere fact that each of the prophet believes in Allâh, His angels, His Books and His Messengers. When the faithful gather for prayers in mosque and as evidenced in Hajj, all are equal without any distinction. In Miraj, we know that all prophets joined the same prayers:

2:285. The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him by his Lord and (so do) the faithful. Everyone believes in Allâh, His angels, His Books and His Messengers. (And the faithful declare,) `We make no distinction (in believing) between any of His Messengers.' They say, `(Lord!) we have heard (Your commandments) and we are obedient. (Grant us) Your protection, Our Lord! for to You is the returning.'[35]

3:84. Say, `We [including Prophet Muhammad] believe in Allâh and in that which has been revealed to us and in that which was revealed to Abraham and Ismâîl and Isaac and Jacob and his children and in that which was given to Moses and Jesus and to all other Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between anyone of them (in believing them) and to Him alone do we submit.'[36]

Prophet Muhammad leading all the previous prophets in congregational prayers points to culmination of all the prophethoods into the finality and perfection in his own person:

33:39. Those [i.e. including Prophet Muhammad and all those before him] who deliver the Messages of Allâh and who stand in awe of Him and stand in awe [and prayer] of none except Allâh [as shown in Miraj to the Prophet]. And Sufficient is Allâh to take account.

33:40. Muhammad is no father to any man among you but (he is rather) the Messenger of Allâh and the Seal of the Prophets. Indeed Allâh has full knowledge of all things.[37]

All previous prophets were nation or region specific and their message was only for a limited time, whereas, the Message at the hands of Prophet Muhammad is universal and for rest of the times. The Prophet leading all other prophets as their Imam during Miraj is indicative of that:

34:28. (Prophet!) We have sent you not but towards entire humankind (till the end of time) as a Bearer of glad-tidings and as a Warner but most people do not know (that the Message of Islam is universal and the Qur'ân the last revealed Book).[38]

35:24. Verily, We have sent you with the lasting truth (as) a Bearer of glad-tidings and (as) a Warner (to them)…[39]

The Prophet being welcomed during Miraj by other prophets is basically a fulfillment of their prayers and prophecies of his advent:

2:129. [Abraham and Ismail prayed] `Our Lord! do raise among them a great Messenger from among themselves, who may recite to them Your Messages and teach them the Book and Wisdom, and may purify them. You, indeed, You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.'[40]

46:10. … a witness (in the person of Moses) from among the Children of Israel has borne witness to (the advent of) his like [i.e. advent of Prophet Muhammad]…. [41]

61:6. And (recall the time) when Jesus, son of Mary, said, `O Children of Israel! surely I am a Messenger sent to you by Allâh fulfilling (the prophecies contained in) the Torah which preceded me and pronouncing the good news of (the advent of) a great Messenger named Ahmad, who will come after me…[42]

Miraj prophesized for the Prophet his migration during the night from Makkah to a distant mosque which was later built in Medina and served also as his seat of government. Of note is that the said prophesized migration was to be carried out under the protection of Allah Himself, a guarantee that we find in the verse of Miraj itself – Glory be to Him Who carried His servant by night from the Holy Mosque (at Makkah) to the Distant Mosque (17:1). It is based upon this assurance that Quran quotes the Prophet’s impeccable trust of Allah, the basis of his fearlessness, when during the actual migration at one time he was merely inches away from the drawn swords of the pursuing enemy:

9:40. If you do not help him (- the Prophet), then (know) Allâh has already helped him when those who disbelieved turned him out (from Makkah with only one companion); he being the second of the two when they were both in the cave (of Thaur); and when he said to his companion (- Abû Bakr), `Grieve not (about me). Surely, Allâh is with us.' Then Allâh sent down His Shechinah (- peace and tranquility) upon him, and helped him with troops which were not visible to you, and He humbled the word of those who disbelieved to the lowest, and it is the word of Allâh alone which is the supermost (and so prevails). Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise.[43] [Emphasis added]

The Prophet visiting Ka’aba during Miraj when it was packed with idols was only a window into the future where his return as its master was foretold:

48:27. Allâh had surely fulfilled for His Messenger the vision, that conformed to the rules of wisdom. `(My faithful Companions!) you shall enter the Holy Mosque if Allâh will, safe and secure, some of you with your heads shaved and (others) with (their) hair only cut short (as is a prescribed rite for a Pilgrim), you will have nothing to fear.' (As for the time involved in its fulfillment) He knows what you do not know. He has, infact, ordained for you a victory (near at hand, at Khaibar) to be gained before (the fulfillment of) that (vision).[44]

90:1-2. Nay, (it will never happen as the disbelievers desire.) I do swear by this city (of Makkah), When you will surely alight (as a conqueror) in this city [and eliminate idol worship forever].[45]

Similarly, his going to Masjid Al-Aqsa and his leading the prayers, there was a prophecy of its prescient coming under the realm of Islam.

In the speed of the steed that he rode, he was foretold of lightening spread of Islam at his own hands, at the hands of his own Companions and those after them:

51:1. I call to witness those (beings) who went forth to scatter (the Qur'ânic teachings) far and wide with a true scattering,

51:2. They carry (their blessed) load (of truth),

51:3. Then speed along (exposing the wrong belief and evil practices) with love and peace,

51:4. And then distribute and apportion the work by (Our) command,

51:5. Verily, the promise you are made (about the spread of Islam) is true,[46]

81:23. And he [–Prophet Muhammad] has most surely seen himself (shining in the resplendence of his own light) in the clear horizon (- in the remotest corners of the world).[47]

The Prophet experienced Miraj when there was no possibility of his success in face of the colossal opposition that he was enduring, yet his mission succeeded like none in history:

94:2. And (have We not) relieved you of your burden (of various responsibilities)

94:3. Which had weighed your back down?

94:4. And have (We not) exalted for you your name and given you fame?

94:5. So surely every hardship is followed by ease.

94:6. Yes, every hardship shall be followed by an ease.[48]

The end result of the prophecies of Miraj and success of Islam are in many ways fruition of prayers of Abraham and Ismail:

2:127. And when Abraham raised the foundations of the House and Ismâîl (with him, and they were praying), `Our Lord! accept (this service) from us, You, indeed, You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.

2:128. `Our Lord! make us both submissive servants to You (alone), and (raise) from our progeny a community (preaching virtue and) submissive to You, and show us our ways of worship and turn to us with mercy, for only You are the Oft-Returning (with compassion), the Ever Merciful.[49]

Miraj is reflective of zenith of spirituality – “Holy Prophet had developed a relationship of such intimate closeness with Allah, Most High, that it resembled the joining of the two bows by covenant takers, and so it necessarily followed that the pleasure of one was the pleasure of the Other, and opposition to one was tantamount to opposition to the Other. Therefore, the opponents should take heed, for now if the Holy Prophet (pbuh) shoots an arrow against an enemy, Allah, Most High, will shoot the same arrow at that target, and whoever contracts an alliance with the Holy Prophet (pbuh) will find that Allah becomes his friend. This, too, carries the same purport of several other verses of the Holy Quran like the following, for example:

1. "Whoever obeys the Messenger, indeed, he indeed obeys Allah …" (4:80).

2. "Those who swear allegiance to thee do but swear allegiance to Allah. The hand of Allah is above their hands …" (48:10).

3. "When thou threwest (a handful of dust) it was not thy act, but Allah threw…" (8:17)

After mentioning ‘the measure of two bows,’ the verse goes on to say: ‘or closer still,’ meaning that although the covenant of friendship and amity between two people who had joined their respective bows into one was indeed a powerful sign, yet the Holy Prophet’s proximity to Allah, Most High, was even more intimate than that. In other words, the relationship of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) to Allah, Most High, surpassed by far, reciprocal bonds of friendship between human beings.”[50]

Ma‘ârij, the Miraj for the common mortals?

Miraj of the Prophet raises a natural question i.e. can ordinary mortals achieve their own Ma‘ârij, ascension?

Ya‘ruju (imp. 3rd. p.m. sing.): Ascends. Ta‘ruju (imp. 3rd. p.f.sing.): He ascends. Ya‘rujûna (imp. 3rd. p. m. plu.): They ascend. Ma‘ârij (n. ints. plu.): Stairways. Its sing. is Ma‘rajun.[51]

The answer to the above question is in affirmative and is from none but l-lahi dhī l-maʿārijiAllâh the Master of the ways of ascent (70:3), Who gives the following nine-step guidelines:

70:22. Different however is the case of [i]those devoted to Prayers,

70:23. [ii]Those persons who remain constant and steadfast in their Prayers,

70:24. And [iii]those in whose wealth there is a recognised right (- a fixed share),

70:25. (Set apart) for one who asks (for help) and also (for one) who is prevented (even from asking for one reason or the other);

70:26. (Different also is the case of) [iv]those who accepted the truth of the Day of Requital;

70:27. And [v] those who are fearful of the punishment from their Lord.

70:28. The fact is that the punishment of their Lord is not (a thing) to be felt secure from;

70:29. (Different as well is the case of) [vi] those who guard their private parts (by restraining their passions).

70:30. Except from their (free) wives or those (wives of theirs) whom their right hands own (- slave wives), for which they are not to blame.

70:31. But it is those who seek (to satisfy their lust) in any other way excepting that (of marriage) that are the transgressors.

70:32. And (different also is the case of) [vii]those persons who are watchful of their trusts and their covenants,

70:33. And [viii] those who are upright in their evidences (and bear true testimony),

70:34. And [ix] those persons who are strict in the observance of their Prayers.

70:35. All these (mentioned above) shall be dwelling in Gardens, honoured and treated generously.[52]

Spiritual Miraj for the Prophet, yet Corporeal Mirage for some of the rest

Even though there has been a heated debate in Islamic history and is still going on about the nature of Miraj, whether it was physical or spiritual, one must be cognizant of a few facts in Quran. On a physical plane, one cannot comprehend Allah by common five senses. It would be a fallacy to imagine that one can see the Divine Manifestation by physical eye, which is in the realm of ‘spiritual eye’ alone:

6:103. The physical vision comprehends Him not, but He comprehends all visions, He is the All-Subtle Being (incomprehensible and imperceptible), the All-Aware.[53]

42:11. …Nothing is like Him[54]

The words translated like Him literally mean like a likeness of Him. He is not only above all material limitations, but even above the limitation of metaphor.[55]

It would be a mistake to try to comprehend Him from within the confines of time and space, which to us mortals only started after the Big Bang, whereas He is beyond common physics:

57:3. He is (from) the very First (there was nothing before Him), and (He will exist to) the Last (there will be nothing after Him), and when nothing remains He will remain (He being an eternal Being). He is the Supreme Being (subordinate to no one). And (whereas He comprehends everything) He is Incomprehensible. He has full knowledge of everything.[56]

Allah is non-physical. He is omnipresent and beyond physical dimensions of time and space. One does not have to travel in time and space to reach the realm of his manifestation:

2:115. And to Allâh belongs the east and the west; so whichsoever way you may turn (you will find) there is Allâh's attention. Surely, Allâh is All-Pervading, All-Knowing. [57]

He can be sought by one’s 'heart' as He is 'nearer' to one than one can imagine:

50:16. We created a human being and We know what (dark) suggestions his mind makes to him. We are nearer to him than even (his) jugular vein.[58]

2:186. And when My servants ask you concerning Me (tell them), I am nearby indeed, I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he prays to Me, so they should respond to My call, and believe in Me (that I possess all these attributes) so that they may proceed in the right way. [59]

57:4. It is He Who created the heavens and the earth in six aeons. And He is established on the Throne (of Power). He knows what goes down into the earth and what comes out of it, and what descends from above and what ascends to it. He is with you wherever you may be. Allâh is watchful of all that you do. [60]

Still, if a prophet, a mortal, out of love and passion wants to ‘see’ God, even he cannot:

7:143. And when Moses came at the time and place appointed by Us, and his Lord spoke to him, he said, `My Lord! reveal Yourself to me that I may look at You.' He said, `You cannot stand My revelation. Yet look at the mountain, and if it stands firm in its place, (only) then you shall stand My revelation.' Then when his Lord manifested His glory to the mountain, He sent it crashing down into pieces and Moses fell down unconscious, so that when he recovered he said, `Glory be to You! I turn towards You and I am the first to believe.'[61]

Besides experience of Allah’s manifestation, there is reference to Paradise in Miraj. No living soul has visited the actual Paradise of Hereafter, including the Prophet during his lifetime:

32:17. “No soul knows what refreshment of the eyes is hidden for them: a reward for what they did.”[62]

Even the Paradise is a spiritual state, not a physical space:

3:133. Wing your way to the protection of your Lord and to the Paradise whose expanse is as (vast as) the heavens and the earth. It is prepared for those who become secure against evil;[63]

57:21. (Mankind!) advance quickly, outstripping one another, towards the protection from your Lord and (towards) a Garden the extensiveness of which is (beyond measure) as the extensiveness of the heaven and the earth. It has been prepared for those who believe in Allâh and His Messengers; that (protection) is Allâh's grace and bounty. He grants it to such of those who wish to attain it (and strive for it). Allâh is the Lord of immense grace and bounty.[64]
…we have a reliable tradition on record that a messenger of Heracleus [Byzantine Emperor, born c. 575 – died February 11, 641[65]] asked the Prophet, “If the paradise were as extensive as the heavens and the earth, where would be hell?” “He replied, “Glory be to Allah, where is the night when the day comes?” The verse and the incident recorded clearly show that heaven and hell are not the names of two places, but actually two conditions, because if paradise were the name of a particular place, hell could not exist, as paradise would then extend over the whole of the space. This conclusively gives us a rational view of “heaven,” and is confirmed fully by the trend of modern thought which rejects the conception of the “geographical heaven” as primitive and irrational. Is not Modernism then indebted to the Qur’ân?[66]

To experience Miraj physically only means that the Prophet was a superhuman to defy God’s own created laws of time and space, astronomy, physics, chemistry and biology, whereas Allah states that even He does not break His own laws:

35:42. …And you will find no change in that law of Allâh, nor will you ever find the law of Allâh shifting from its course[67]

Ironically, some of the ‘believers’ insist on the physicality of a supernatural Miraj at par with non-believers who similarly challenged the Prophet for an unnatural performance:

17:90. And they say, `We will never believe unless you cause a spring to gush forth for us from the earth,

17:91. `Or there be a garden of date-palms and vines for you, and you cause the streams to gush forth abundantly in its midst,

17:92. `Or, as you assert (and claim that it shall happen), cause the heaven to fall down upon us in fragments, or bring Allâh and the angels face to face with us,

17:93. `Or, there be a house made of gold for you, or you ascend into the heaven; but we will not believe in your ascending till you bring down to us a book that we can read.' …[68]

To such believers of physical Miraj and of course to the non-believers as well, Prophet replied quite simply:

17:93. … (Say), `Glory be to my Lord! I am not but a human being (sent as) a Messenger.'[69]

18:110. Say, `I [–Muhammad] am but a human being like you…[70]

Again, to undertake a corporeal Miraj, an obvious non-human feat, may possibly be performed by a non-human only, let’s say an Angel, but for sure not by a human prophet:

17:94. And nothing has prevented the people from believing when the guidance came to them except their sayings, `Has Allâh raised a human being (like us) as a Messenger?'

17:95. Say, `Had there been angels on the earth (in place of human beings) walking about secure and sound We (too) would have invariably sent down an angel from heaven as a Messenger to them.'[71]

Historically, it is only the fanatic followers who make their prophets into superhumans and before long the same human prophets are worshiped at par with God. Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism are just a case in point. Oddly, it is the opponents of the prophets who reject them for their being mere humans. Interestingly, so do the Prophets too call themselves as mere humans. Is it not ironic that the blind followers expect their prophets to be superhuman?

14:10. …They [–people of Noah, (the tribes of) `Âd and Thamûd and those who came after them (v. 14:9)] said, `You are nothing but a human being like ourselves…

14:11. Their Messengers (of God) said to them, `It is true we are nothing but human beings like yourselves…[72]

With these evidences from Quran that affirm a spiritual Miraj as the only possibility, we rest our case and feel sorry for those who take it as a physical experience because the pursuit of their illogic is like chasing a Mirage in hope of water in which never will they ever find Miraj for the Prophet nor a Ma‘ârij for themselves, and their case is outlined in Quran which is:

13:14. …like one who stretches forth both of his hands towards the water (wishing) that it may reach his mouth while it never reaches it. …[73]

[1] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[2] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 365
[3] On the concept of God and the status of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, The Light – U.K. Edition, May 2008 Special Century Edition, page 19.
[4]Meraj-Un-Nabi” by Maulana Hafiz Sher Mohammad, English Rendering by Ch. Masud Akhtar BA LLB, Paigham-e-Haqq, p. 5-6, Vol 2, No. 25/26, January/June 1980, Suva, Fiji.
[5] Introductory note for chapter Bani Israil – The Israelites: Maulana Muhammad Ali, p. 543. Sixth Edition, pub 1973
[6] ‘Bayan ul Quran’ by Maulana Muhammad Ali (in Urdu), vol.2, excerpted and paraphrased from footnote 1801 of verse 17:01
[7] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[8] Ezekiel 36: 1“Son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say, ‘Mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord……33 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. 35 They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” 36 Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.’ 37 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Once again I will yield to Israel’s plea and do this for them: I will make their people as numerous as sheep, 38 as numerous as the flocks for offerings at Jerusalem during her appointed festivals. So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
[9] Ezekiel 37: 1 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”…..10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. 11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
[10] Ezra 1: 1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: 2 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem. 4 And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.” 5 Then rose up the heads of the fathers' houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem. 6 And all who were about them aided them with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, with beasts, and with costly wares, besides all that was freely offered. 7 Cyrus the king also brought out the vessels of the house of the Lord that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods. 8 Cyrus king of Persia brought these out in the charge of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. 9 And this was the number of them: 30 basins of gold, 1,000 basins of silver, 29 censers, 10 30 bowls of gold, 410 bowls of silver, and 1,000 other vessels; 11 all the vessels of gold and of silver were 5,400. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up, when the exiles were brought up from Babylonia to Jerusalem.
Ezra 2: 1 Now these were the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of those exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried captive to Babylonia. They returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town.…..64 The whole assembly together was 42,360, 65 besides their male and female servants, of whom there were 7,337, and they had 200 male and female singers. 66 Their horses were 736, their mules were 245, 67 their camels were 435, and their donkeys were 6,720. 68 Some of the heads of families, when they came to the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, made freewill offerings for the house of God, to erect it on its site. 69 According to their ability they gave to the treasury of the work 61,000 darics[a] of gold, 5,000 minas of silver, and 100 priests’ garments. 70 Now the priests, the Levites, some of the people, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the temple servants lived in their towns, and all the rest of Israel[c] in their towns. [English Standard Version]
[11] Wikipedia – Cyrus the Great – Legacy:
[12] Yusuf – Joseph: Nooruddin
[13] Al-Alaq – The Clot: Nooruddin
[14] Al-Muzzammil – He That Has Wrapped Himself Up: Nooruddin
[15] Al-Muddaththir – One Endowed With Excellent Capabilities: Nooruddin
[16] Al-Tariq – The Night Visitant: Nooruddin
[17] Al-Najm – Parts of the Quran: Nooruddin
[18] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 248-249
[19] ibid, p. 457
ibid, p. 486,
[21] Isra – The Night Journey: Nooruddin [Note: This chapter also goes by another title: Bani Israil – The Israelites]
[22] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 196,
[23] Isra – The Night Journey: Nooruddin [Note: This chapter also goes by another title: Bani Israil – The Israelites]
[24] Al-Najm – Parts of the Quran: Nooruddin
[25] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 253-4,
[26] Al-Najm – Parts of the Quran: Nooruddin
[27] See also the footnotes of same verses by Muhammad Asad.
[28] Al-Sajdah – The Adoration: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[29] Al-Sharha – The Expanding
[30] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[31] Ghafir – Granter of Protection: Nooruddin
[32] Fatir – Originator: Nooruddin
[33] Al-Ahqaf – The Sand Dunes: Nooruddin
[34] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[36] Al-Imran – The Family of Amran: Nooruddin
[37] Al-Ahzab – The Confederates: Nooruddin
[38] Saba – Sheba: Nooruddin
[39] Fatir – Originator: Nooruddin
[40] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[41] Al-Ahqaf – The Sand Dunes: Nooruddin
[42] Al-Saff – The Ranks: Nooruddin
[43] Al-Taubah – The Repentence: Nooruddin
[44] Al-Fath – The Victory: Nooruddin
[45] Al-Balad – The City: Nooruddin
[46] Al-Dhariyat – The Scatterers: Nooruddin
[47] Al-Takwir – Loosing Of The Light: Nooruddin
[48] Al-Sharha – The Expanding
: Nooruddin
[49] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[50] Commentary of Chapter 53 (An-Najm — The Star) of the Holy Quran: by Dr. Basharat Ahmad, Translated by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed, excerpt from verses 8 & 9. Link:
[51] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 365
[52] Al-Ma'arij – The Ways Of Ascents: Nooruddin
[53] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
[54] Al-Shura –The Counsel: English Translation of the Holy Qur’ân, edition 2002, by Maulana Muhammad Ali
[55] Al-Shura –The Counsel: Footnote for verse 42:11: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[56] Al-Hadîd – The Iron: Nooruddin
[57] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[58] Qaf – Allah is Almight: Nooruddin
[59] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[60] Al-Hadîd – The Iron: Nooruddin
[61] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[62] Al-Sajdah – The Adoration: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[63] Al`Imran – The Family of Amran: Nooruddin
[64] Al-Hadid – The Iron: Nooruddin
[65] Wikipedia:
[66] Dean Inge’s Homage to Muhammad, by S. Hamid Raza B.A. (Alig), p. 322, Sept & Dec, 1934, The Muslim Revival, Ahmadiyya Buildings Lahore (India)
[67] Fatir – Originator: Nooruddin
[68] Isra – The Night Journey: Nooruddin [Note: This chapter also goes by another title: Bani Israil – The Israelites]
[70] Al-Kahf – The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[71] Isra – The Night Journey: Nooruddin [Note: This chapter also goes by another title: Bani Israil – The Israelites]
[72] Ibrahim – Abraham: Nooruddin
[73] Al-Rad – The Thunder: Nooruddin

12 Responses to “M‘irâj and Ma‘ârij, but not Mirage – a Journey, an Ascent – Spiritual or Physical and to Where?”

  1. Why is it that the great majority of the sahaba of the Holy Prophet considered miraj a physical phenomenon, not spiritual?

  2. The possible answer to that I find in re-quoting HMGA:

    …to create something out of nothing is also His work. Just as you see it in a scene in a dream He creates a whole world without any matter, and shows nonexistent things to be existent. Thus such are all the wonders of His power…

    Even when an ordinary mortal recounts a vivid dream (maybe a vision), the description is usually quite explicit of what one saw, even though it might have fairy tale like quality to it. The Companions closest to the Prophet fully understood it be a spiritual experience, e.g. his wife, Lady Aisha. My guess is that other Companions never questioned the details from the Prophet but assumed/reconciled it to be a physical experience from what they heard. We see that even in the case of HMGA. His companions probably never had discussions with him over a cup of coffee when he related/wrote his visions to them, rather took his statements at its face value.

    At end of the day, a vision is a personal experience. Some recipients might discuss their personal experiences more than others which leaves plenty of room for assumptions from the third persons.

  3. June 15th, 2015 at 8:49 am
    From Zahid Aziz:

    Could it be because the views of the Companions have been passed down to us through later intermediaries who read their own physical interpretations into the Companions' words?

    Let me give you an example from yesterday. Apparently on Facebook a Pakistani Muslim has advised people on how not to get thirsty during fasting. It was to recite Surah Al-Kausar when starting the fast and blowing it on you. Then, he said, you won't feel thirsty during the fast!

    But the whole purpose of fasting is to endure hunger and thirst, and this would negate that purpose! Is it that by this prescription Allah has taught Muslims how to cheat during fasting!

    It could, of course, be that some saint of the past said something to the effect that by fasting your spiritual thirst is satisfied by drinking from the river of Al-Kausar, the river supposedly in paradise, and people later distorted it in this form.

  4. You people are thinking incorrectly, the question should be, why did Mirza Ghulam Ahmad change his belief on the Miraaj from physical to spiritual and what references did he use.  

    And the answer will be, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad changed his belief on this matter in 1891, as he did denied the physical travels to and from heaven of every prophet in Islam/Judasim.  However, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad forgot that he himself had concocted a similar story in 1884, as he told people that red drops had miraculously fallen from heaven to Qadian..Mirza Ghulam ahmad thus casted doubt on his own admissions from earlier in his writing career.  

    Moreover, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad used one hadith from Ibn Hisham/Ibn Ishaq's work wherein Ayesha (ra) is reported to say to the effect that during the Miraaj, Muhammad's (saw) body never left Mecca.  However, Ayesha (ra) couldnt have been more then 7 years old at this time..thus, this report is trumped by the 10+ Sahih-hadith reports which prove that this event was a physical journey to heaven by Muhammad (saw).  


  5. June 19th, 2015 at 7:50 pm
    From Zahid Aziz:

    No "Bilal", the question is your mental obsession with a single issue. The question about Mi`raj exists regardless of whether Mirza Ghulam Ahmad ever existed or not.

    I had to decide last year whether to travel to Paris from UK by plane or the Eurostar railway train. I chose the train. Now you will say that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is very relevant here, and that I chose the train because he has mentioned the train and travelled by it. That is your mental obsession.

  6. Since Bilal has brought up the incidence of ‘red ink’ as narrated by HMGA, it begets to understand it and similar issues first from Quran and then to reproduce what HMGA wrote in its full context and let his writings speak for themselves.

    While HMGA’s writings expound Quran for some of its esoteric aspects, maybe, Bilal can explain the full context and mechanism as told in the writings of Allah through the Prophet for the following verses in which the wish, prayer, intention and gesture of the Prophet in the two battles manifested physically, namely the Battles of Badr and Hunain.

    18:17. Therefore (in this war [of Badr] O Muslims!) you killed them not. (As a matter of fact) it was Allâh Who killed them. And (O Prophet!) it was not you who threw (a handful of small stones) when you did (apparently) throw them (towards the enemy) but it was Allâh Who threw (that He might vanquish your enemies) and that He might confer on the believers from Himself a bounteous favour. Verily, Allâh is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.

    9:25-26. Allâh has already helped you on many a battle field and on the day of (the battle of) Hunain when your multitude made you feel proud but it availed you nought and the land with all its spaciousness became straitened for you then you turned back retreating. Then Allâh sent down His Shechinah(- peace of mind and tranquility) upon His Messenger and upon the believers and He sent down troops which were not visible to you and He punished those who disbelieved. And such is the recompense of the disbelievers. [Nooruddin]

    The corresponding Hadiths to verse 8:17 can be read at this link.

    While reading the following from HMGA, reader has to keep in mind that he clearly states that it was his ‘personal’ experience. We know that personal experiences are personal which are beyond ‘common reason’ and are neither a source of preaching nor adopting a faith by others. 

    Qadiani Jamaat has translated into English some of the writings of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad into a tract “Essence of Islam.” The following is reproduced from its Volume II, pages: 32-37 (link):

    The Hidden World of Revelation

    God Almighty has divided His wonderful universe into three parts.

    (1) The world which is manifest and can be felt through the eyes and the ears and other physical senses and through ordinary instruments.

    (2) The world which is hidden and which can be understood through reason and conjecture.

    (3) The world which is hidden beyond hidden, which is so imperceptible that few are aware of it. That world is entirely unseen; reason has not been granted the ability to reach it, except through mere conjecture. This world is disclosed only through visions, revelation, inspiration, and not by any other means.

    As is well established, it is the way of Allah that for the discovery of the first two worlds that we have mentioned He has bestowed upon man different types of faculties and powers. In the same way, the Absolute Bounteous has appointed a means for man for the discovery of the third world; and that means is revelation, inspiration and visions. This means is not allowed to be wholly suspended at any time; indeed, those who comply with the conditions for achieving it have, throughout, been its recipients and will continue to be such.

    As man has been created for unlimited progress and God Almighty is free from deficiencies, miserliness and holding-back, it would be an unworthy thought that He put into the heart of man the eagerness to learn the secrets of all the three worlds and yet has deprived him wholly of the knowledge of the means of acquiring knowledge of the third world. This impels wise people to believe in the permanent need of inspiration and visions and they do not confine revelation, like the Aryas, to the four Rishis beside whom it is impossible for a fifth person to arrive at that excellence. Instead, wise people, believing in the absolute bounty of God Almighty, deem the door of inspiration ever open and do not confine it to any country or religion. It is true, however, that it is limited to the straight path. By treading along this path these blessings can be achieved, inasmuch as it is necessary for the achievement of everything to follow the rules and methods which are necessary for its achievement. Wise people do not deny the wonders of the world of visions. They have to admit that the Absolute Benefactor, Who has bestowed upon man faculties and powers for the discovery of every little matter in the first world, would not deprive man of the means of discovering the grand affairs of the third world through which a true and perfect relationship with God Almighty can be established, and true and certain understanding having been achieved, the lights of heaven become manifest in this very world. This method is also open, like the methods of discovering the other two worlds, and the truthful people adopt it with great conviction and follow it and obtain its fruits.

    The wonders of this third world are numberless. In comparison with the other two worlds, they are like the sun as compared to a grain of poppy seed. To insist that the mysteries of that world should be wholly revealed through reason would be like shutting one’s eyes and insisting that visible things should become perceptible through the sense of smell.

    The wonders of the third world totally frustrate reason. No one need be surprised at the creation of souls for in this very world such mysteries are revealed to those who have experience of visions, that reason wholly fails to penetrate their reality. At times, a person who has a capacity to see visions can see someone from a distance of hundreds of miles despite numberless intervening obstructions. In fact, on some occasions, in a state of complete wakefulness, he can hear his voice also, and it is even more wonderful that sometimes the other person can hear the voice of the first one. On occasions, in a vision resembling the state of wakefulness, he can meet the souls of those who have passed on. As a general rule, meeting with all dwellers of graves—blessed or benighted—is possible in this manner. I myself have had such experiences.

    This refutes entirely the doctrine of the transmigration of souls current among the Hindus. The greatest wonder is that sometimes one possessing the capacity for vision, through concentration, appears to another person, with the permission of God Almighty, at a distance of hundreds of miles in a state of complete wakefulness without his body moving from its place. Reason holds that a person cannot be at two places at the same time, yet this impossibility becomes possible in the third world. In the same way, a person of understanding witnesses hundreds of wonders with his own eyes and is surprised at the denial of those who altogether reject the wonders of the third world. I have witnessed the wonders and rare visions of that world with my own eyes approximately five thousand times and have experience of them happening to myself.

    It would take a large volume to record details of these experiences. One wonderful aspect of these experiences is that some matters which have no external existence come into being through Divine power. The author of Futuhat and Fusus and other great Sufis have recorded a number of their own experiences of this kind in their compilations. But as there is a great difference between hearing and seeing, I could not have obtained that certainty by merely reading these accounts which I have acquired through my own experience.

    I recall that in a vision I saw that I had drawn up with my own hand certain Divine decrees which related to the future and then presented the paper to God Almighty, the Omnipotent, the Glorious, for His signature. (It should be borne in mind that it often happens in visions and true dreams that some Divine attributes of beauty or glory appear in human form to the person seeing the vision and he imagines the form to be God Almighty. This experience is well known to those who are favoured with visions and cannot be denied). In short, I presented that book to that personification of beauty, which appeared as God Almighty, the Omnipotent, the Incomparable and the Unfathomable, in the state of my vision. On my presenting that document, God Almighty, Who appeared in the form of a ruler, dipped His pen in red ink and sprinkled it in my direction and with the ink that remained at the point of the pen He signed the document. Thereupon the vision came to an end and when I opened my eyes I saw several drops of red ink fall on my clothes and two or three of them fell on the cap of one ‘Abdullah of Sannaur who was sitting near me at the time. That red ink which was part of the vision became materialized and became visible externally.

    I have seen several other visions of the type which it would take too long to set down, but whereby my own experience confirmed that sometimes a matter that is observed in a vision assumes external form by the command of Allah. These matters cannot be appreciated through reason alone. Indeed a person who is afflicted with the pride of his reason hears these things and affirms arrogantly that they are impossible and false and that the person who claims to have had such experience is either a liar or is mad or is self-deceived and for lack of proper research, has not been able to penetrate to the reality. Such a one does not reflect that these matters are testified to by thousands of the righteous from their personal experiences, and of which they undertake a demonstration to those who might keep company with them. Can they be set aside with mere verbal denials?

    The truth of the matter is that, apart from the wonders of the world of vision, reason has not been able to comprehend fully even that which pertains to the world of reason and there are millions of Divine mysteries which are still hidden and beyond the reach of the wise.

    [Surmah Chashm Arya, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 2, pp. 175-181, footnote]

  7. June 20th, 2015 at 8:08 pm
    From Zahid Aziz:

    At this link please see three pages from Muslim Saints and Mystics, the English translation of the famous work about the lives of Muslim saints entitled Tadhkirat al-Auliya. These are from the section about Hasan of Basra, relating the story of him and the fire-worshipper, on pages 7 to 9. Please see the red-lined text on pages 8 and 9. The (ex-) fire-worshipper gave him a document in a dream and when Hasan awoke he saw that document in his hand.

  8. How will Bilal explain the mutual exchange of Caliph Umar’s suddenly calling – Ya Saria tul al-Jabal i.e. ‘O Saria, towards the mountain,’ while he was delivering Friday sermon in Madina and Saria, the field commander in an actual battle hundreds of miles away? How will Bilal explain to every mother whose breasts swell to feed her infant, while the hungry child is out of visual or hearing range?

    Whether Bilal likes it or not, in what HMGA wrote above, he explains the experiences of Miraj, Badr, Hunain, Hasan Basri, Umar and every mother as discussed so far on this thread and every such personal experience elsewhere.

  9. Mr. Ikram,

    Such a lengthy response.  What was the need?  You should practice being short and sweet.  And tell me, why did Mirza Ghulam ahmad deny the physical Mir'aaj in 1891?  What was his motive?  Did Allah tell him?  Or was it a consequence of his claim to be Esa (As)?  And what about the story of the red drops…how did it contradict Mirza Ghulam Ahmad's new theory? 

    Mr. Aziz,

    Stop blaming islamic mystics for the mistakes of your founder.  This is not the proper way to argue.  If it is, then I could many Muslims who believed that Mutawafeeka happened in Israel, not India and thus substantiate the falsity of Ahmadiyya.   And there were some Muslims like Ibn Sina who also took opium and used the Quran to substantiate that claim, and these people have been quoted by the Qadianis.  Islam needs reform, and Muslims who are trying to publish dreams that are eerily real needs to stop.  Global-Islamic movements need to stop.  Islam should be a local situation, not a global network of non-profits that support Murrabis and their families. 


  10. –Such a lengthy response.  What was the need?  

    Sorry, you are not the only one reading the response. Now that full context to your soundbites has been presented, if you had any intellectual honesty, you might have questioned the content of the response, but you did not. Should it be assumed that you got convinced but do not want to admit it? Maybe you got caught in your own logic, i.e. damned if you do and damned if you do not because the same logic of ink has roots in Quran and other examples quoted above. Maybe you, but this forum does not draw its strength from blurbs.

    –You should practice being short and sweet.

    Thank you for your feedback, something to keep in mind. I believe that any answer, especially on a forum such as the current blog, has to be fully contextualized, which might seem lengthy to the disinterested. You have a choice to skip lines while reading it, which is obviously reflected in your comment.

    –And tell me, why did Mirza Ghulam ahmad deny the physical Mir'aaj in 1891?  What was his motive?  Did Allah tell him?  Or was it a consequence of his claim to be Esa (As)?

    I can very easily answer that for myself. Allah too told me to deny a physical Miraj. Surprised? If you have doubts, then read the Quran yourself, which you probably do not, else you too might have been advocating contrary to what you question. —And We have made the Qur'ân easy for admonition, and to understand, follow and remember. But is there anyone who would take heed [and read it]? 54:32.

    Bottom line: In LAM view of spiritual world, first it is Allah/Quran, then Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and then anyone else who brings forth the first two with logic and reason. The foremost among the latter that I personally find is Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (the Mujaddid) and those influenced by the Mujaddid. There are others also, but I have read them only to a limited extent. Imam Ghazali (the Mujaddid) also impresses me.

    However, the questions put to you remain unanswered with regards to verses about Badr & Hunain; events of Miraj, Caliph Umar- Saria, Hasan Basri and others that you provoked.

  11. Mr. Ikram

    You have posted no references to the writings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in terms of denying Miraaj…and yes, we know you people deny all miraculous events and explain them away in terms of 20 century developments..and lets not fortget, Noorudin even held the view that Esa (as) had a biological father til about 1904-ish.  And Mahmud Ahmad never really fought the LAM on this matter.  And you failed to comment on the reason as to why Muslims accepted Physical Mirraj for so long?  Even the saints that you people quote have endorsed this view as well as Mansukh.  


  12. —You have posted no references to the writings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in terms of denying Miraaj.

    Obviously you do not get it. Miraj was a personal experience of the Prophet as narrated by him and it is also mentioned in the Quran for its spiritual import. Why must I ask anyone else besides these two sources for what Miraj was for its actuality? Your response gave away as to what is fundamentally ‘wrong’ with the mindset of Islam for the past several centuries. While they all, you included, declare their Kalima Shahada for Allah and the Prophet, but seek validation for their opinions and beliefs from anyone but these two. In doing so, they even do not burden their own intelligence to seek an answer. Do you get it?

    —…and yes, we know you people deny all miraculous events and explain them away in terms of 20 century developments.

    You are absolutely wrong in your deduction! Give an actual example to prove your point. Keep in mind that the laws of science (i.e. gravity, electromagnetism etc.) are not man made either, but are made by Allah, the Creator of the universe and everything in it. Physical laws of science are just one more human experience of His Laws. Anyone who breaks or disbelieves in Allah’s laws, scientific or spiritual, in common terminology is called a Kafir. Shouldn’t such a denier of God’s laws of science be called a Kafir? Try jumping out from an upper story building in an act of Kufr. For sure, breaking of Allah’s law of gravity results in a broken limb, an injury, which is just another name for a sin. Follow the same law of gravity and you will land on Mars, a working example of reward for a virtuous deed. Advancements in science are complementary to Quran, not antagonist in the manner you portray it. For example, it was physics that gives the exegesis for this verse by defining what escape velocity means: O body of jinn (- fiery natured) and (ordinary) the people! If you have the power and capacity to go beyond the confines of the heavens and the earth, then do go. But you will not be able to go unless you have the necessary and unusual power (55:33).

    —and lets not fortget, Noorudin even held the view that Esa (as) had a biological father til about 1904-ish.

    So be it. That was his choice and opinion, which I do not disagree with either because his opinion of a Jesus having a biological father is factuality in Quran (link). Even God does not give this privilege to Himself to have a son without a spouse: He is Wonderful and Primary Originator of the heavens and the earth! How (and whence) can there be a son for Him, when He has no consort? He has created all things and He has perfect knowledge of everything (6:101).

    —And Mahmud Ahmad never really fought the LAM on this matter.

    You expect me to read of minds of others? Go ask him or his followers.

    —And you failed to comment on the reason as to why Muslims accepted Physical Mirraj for so long?

    We are Muslims too. I hold the opinion of a non-physical Miraj as told by Quran and the Prophet. On the contrary, what is the basis of your belief in a physical Miraj, other than such and such person believed so and for such a longtime, hence following their thinking you believe it as well? I literally feel sorry for the basis of your beliefs. Read the article above and discuss its demerits and give a counter view.

    —Even the saints that you people quote have endorsed this view as well as Mansukh.

    Let it be their opinion, but you failed to quote an actual example. The foremost opinion is that of Allah through Quran and the Prophet.

    However, the questions put to you remain unanswered with regards to verses about Badr & Hunain; events of Miraj, Caliph Umar- Saria, Hasan Basri and others that you provoked. No further discussion unless you answer these. Else, it becomes obvious that you are no seeker of truth and your inquiries are none but venting of hate and spewing of malice, whereas, this is neither the forum not the place for such pointless motives.