THE NIGHT JOURNEY AND ASCENSION: Lessons and Exhortations

In The Name Of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful

BEING THE FOURTH KHUTBAH FOR THE MONTH OF RAJAB 20/RAJAB/1439AH (6th /APRIL/2018CE)

THE NIGHT JOURNEY AND ASCENSION: Lessons and Exhortations

Praise be to Allah that says: (سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَى بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ) Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.  (Q17:1).

We praise Him, seek His forgiveness and repent unto Him. We seek refuge in Him from the evils of our souls and actions. Whom Allah guides, none can mislead, whomever He misleads, none can guide aright. I testify there is no god but Allah alone, and I testify that Muhammad (pbuh) is his servant and messenger.” May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his household, companions and whoever follows them till the day of recompense.

As to what follows,

Dear Muslims, I enjoin you and I to fear Allah in accordance with the verse:

﴿يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا (70) يُصْلِحْ لَكُمْ أَعْمَالَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَمَنْ يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا﴾ {الأحزاب:33\70-71}

O you who have believed, fear Allah and speak words of appropriate justice. ( 71 )   He will [then] amend for you your deeds and forgive you your sins. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly attained a great attainment.  (4: 131).

Dear brothers and sisters in Islam, today’s sermon shall be focused on the miraculous night journey and ascension of the Prophet (pbuh): lesson and exhortations. We shall stop the series on the attributes of the Servants of the Most Merciful to give room for discussion on the virtues of the coming moments as we are now in the month of Rajab.

This calls to mind the occurrence of a great event in the history of the prophet- pbuh, al-israa wal mi’raaj.

Muslims remember this incident, and gather over it in the twenty-seventh night of this holy month, and there is no clear cut proof that the event happened in that night, though there are several differences about the date among scholars, regarding- which night? Which month? What year? Did it happened once or more? And several other issues and there was no specific mention by the companions, or those who came after them. Their concern was more of the essence and lessons derivable from the event.

There has been no legislation of fast or prayer specifically for the month due to this event, thus the differences.

It commonly assume among Muslims in the later centuries to posit that Al-Israa wal Mi’raaj took place in the twenty seventh night of Rajab, however, this is not our concern here. Our concern is the event itself.

Al-israa’s occurrence is confirmed in the Qur’an, in a chapter named after the event thus:

﴿يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا (70) يُصْلِحْ لَكُمْ أَعْمَالَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَمَنْ يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا﴾ {الأحزاب:33\70-71}

O you who have believed, fear Allah and speak words of appropriate justice. ( 71 )   He will [then] amend for you your deeds and forgive you your sins. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly attained a great attainment.  (4: 131) .

This shows that he who disbeliefs in the event is a kafir.

The ascension part of the event is alluded to in the following verses:

The Mi’raj is mentioned in the Qur’an only once by way of allusion in Suratul Al-najm (The Star), where Allah says:

( 1 )   By the star when it descends, ( 2 )   Your companion [Muhammad] has not strayed, nor has he erred, ( 3 )   Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination. ( 4 )   It is not but a revelation revealed, ( 5 )   Taught to him by one intense in strength – ( 6 )   One of soundness. And he rose to [his] true form ( 7 )   While he was in the higher [part of the] horizon. ( 8 )   Then he approached and descended ( 9 )   And was at a distance of two bow lengths or nearer. ( 10 )   And he revealed to His Servant what he revealed. ( 11 )   The heart did not lie [about] what it saw. ( 12 )   So will you dispute with him over what he saw? ( 13 )   And he certainly saw him in another descent ( 14 )   At the Lote Tree of the Utmost Boundary – ( 15 )   Near it is the Garden of Refuge – ( 16 )   When there covered the Lote Tree that which covered [it]. ( 17 )   The sight [of the Prophet] did not swerve, nor did it transgress [its limit]. ( 18 )   He certainly saw of the greatest signs of his Lord.

The prophet-pbuh- saw Jibreel in his angelic form twice; first was on earth mentioned in the verse: And he has already seen Gabriel in the clear horizon.” (Q81: 23). The second sight was at the lote tree at the night of ascension.

Lessons and Exhortations:

Hardship begets ease. The Prophet-pbuh- experienced many difficulties, against his person and his message. He also lost his beloved wife, the demise of his uncle Abu Talib, and the pains and wound he sustained from Taif, … he was patient and persistent on the mission, until the miraculous night journey and ascension was licensed for him to be a divine intervention and succor for him- pbuh.

Al-Israa means a night journey. Al-Mi’raaj refers to stairs, ladder, or route or place of ascent of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on the night of his ascension.

It was narrated on the authority of Anas bn Malik that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

I was brought al-Buraq which was an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, it would place its hoof a distance equal to the range of its vision. I mounted it and came to the House (Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem), then tethered it to the ring used by the prophets. I entered the mosque and prayed two rak’ahs, and then came out and Gabriel brought me a vessel of wine and a vessel of milk. I chose the milk, and Gabriel said: You have chosen the natural thing. Then he took me to heaven. Gabriel then asked the (gate of heaven) to be opened and he was asked who he was. He replied: Gabriel. He was again asked: Who is with you? He (Gabriel) said: Muhammad. It was said: Has he been sent for? Gabriel replied: He has indeed been sent for. And (the door of the heaven) was opened for us and we saw Adam. He welcomed me and prayed for my good. Then we ascended to the second heaven. Gabriel (peace be upon him) (asked the door of heaven to be opened), and he was asked who he was. He answered: Gabriel; and was again asked: Who is with you? He replied: Muhammad. It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. The gate was opened. When I entered ‘Isa bn Maryam and Yahya bn Zakariyya (peace be upon them both), cousins from the maternal side(2) welcomed me and prayed for my good Then I was taken to the third heaven and Gabriel asked for the opening (of the door). He was asked: Who are you? He replied: Gabriel. He was (again) asked: Who is with you? He replied Muhammad (pbuh). It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied He has indeed been sent for. (The gate) was opened for us and I saw Yusuf (peace of Allah be upon him) who had been given half of (world) beauty. He welcomed me prayed for my well-being. Then I was taken to the fourth heaven. Gabriel (peace be upon him) asked for the (gate) to be opened, and it was said: Who is he? He replied: Gabriel. It was (again) said: Who is with you? He said: Muhammad. It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. The (gate) was opened for us, and Idris was there. He welcomed me and prayed for my well-being (About him) Allah, the Exalted and the Glorious, has said:” We elevated him (Idris) to the exalted position” (Qur’an 19:57). Then he ascended with us to the fifth heaven and Gabriel asked for the (gate) to be opened. It was said: Who is he? He replied Gabriel. It was (again) said: Who is with thee? He replied: Muhammad. It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. (The gate) was opened for us and then I was with Harun (Aaron – peace of Allah be upon him). He welcomed me prayed for my well-being. Then I was taken to the sixth heaven. Gabriel (peace be upon him) asked for the door to be opened. It was said: Who is he? He replied: Gabriel. It was said: Who is with thee? He replied: Muhammad. It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. (The gate) was opened for us and there I was with Musa (Moses – peace be upon him) He welcomed me and prayed for my well-being. Then I was taken up to the seventh heaven. Gabriel asked the (gate) to be opened. It was said: Who is he? He said: Gabriel It was said. Who is with thee? He replied: Muhammad (may peace be upon him.) It was said: Has he been sent for? He replied: He has indeed been sent for. (The gate) was opened for us and there I found Ibrahim (Abraham – peace be upon him) reclining against the Bait-ul-Ma’mur and there enters into it seventy thousand angels every day, never to visit (this place) again. Then I was taken to Sidrat-ul-Muntaha whose leaves were like elephant ears and its fruit like big earthenware vessels. And when it was covered by the Command of Allah, it underwent such a change that none amongst the creation has the power to praise its beauty. Then Allah revealed to me a revelation and He made obligatory for me fifty prayers every day and night. Then I went down to Moses (peace be upon him) and he said: What has your Lord enjoined upon your Ummah? I said: Fifty prayers. He said: Return to thy Lord and beg for reduction (in the number of prayers), for your community shall not be able to bear this burden. I have put to test the children of Isra’il (Isreal) and tried them (and found them too weak to bear such a heavy burden). He (the Holy Prophet) said: I went back to my Lord and said: My Lord, make things lighter for my Ummah. (The Lord) reduced five prayers for me. I went down to Moses and said. (The Lord) reduced five (prayers) for me, He said: Verily thy Ummah shall not be able to bear this burden; return to thy Lord and ask Him to make things lighter. I then kept going back and forth between my Lord Blessed and Exalted and Moses, till He said: There are five prayers every day and night. O Muhammad, each being credited as ten, so that makes fifty prayers. He who intends to do a good deed and does not do it will have a good deed recorded for him; and if he does it, it will be recorded for him as ten; whereas he who intends to do an evil deed and does not do, it will not be recorded for him; and if he does it, only one evil deed will be recorded. I then came down and when I came to Moses and informed him, he said: Go back to thy Lord and ask Him to make things lighter. Upon this the Messenger of Allah remarked: I returned to my Lord until I felt ashamed (3) before Him.

Some lessons and exhortations derivable from the event:

1- Islam is a religion of nature: The prophet chose milk when Jibreel presented him to pick of milk or wine. Allah says: So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know.” (30: 30)

2- Bravery of the Prophet- pbuh: He was courageous to profess the truth before the idolaters.

3- The Position of Abubakr, who was given the account of the event and confirmed it by saying: “If he said so the he has spoken the truth, I will event believe him in things farther than that, I will believe him in accounts from the heaven in the early hours ….” Thus Abubakr was named As-siddiq.

4- The significance of the Aqsa mosque to Muslims:

5- The significance of solat.

6- Isra wal mi’raaj also stands as one of the miracles of the prophet- pbuh.

Importance of the ascension

Sayyid Qutb in ‘Fi zilaal’ states: “The journey from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa chosen by Allah- the most kind, binding the faith from prophet Ibrahim and Isma’il (AS) to Muhammad- the seal of prophets. It also binds the holy sites of all the religion of monotheism. It was an open declaration of the inheritance of the messenger of Allah the sanctuaries of the earlier Prophets, and that his mission encompasses all the holy sites, as well as the relation between them. It symbolizes an expedition which transcends time and space, its meaning and interpretation are heavy beyond the simple meaning derivable at the first glance at an issue …”

Masjid Aqsa is of a blessed surrounding beyond the masjid itself. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is the heart of the Holy Land where in Allah situated the children of Israel and eventually banished them out of it. The journey itself was a great miracle full of signs and wonders. The miraculous movement from Masjidul-Haram to Masjidul-Aqsa within a short while … is equally of the signs of Allah which opens the heart to the prospects of wonderful horizon in life and equally reveals the latent energies concealed within the human nature and the preparations to receive support for selected persons among the human race- honoured before Allah above all other creatures. Allah hears and sees all things – the subtleties, and the conspicuous.
Scholars’ view on the occurrence:

The most among scholars of Islam belief was taken to Masjid-Aqsa physically and then ascended to the heavens until he reached the lote tree, and this cause the amazement of the quraish.

When Ummu Haani heard of the story she advised the Prophet not to tell people that they may belied you. if the ascension was an experience through dream it would not have attracted such level of skepticism and outright denial by the quraish. It is an Islamic faith to accept that the journey was with both body and spirit. The event of Israa and Miraj was a common narration in every region of Islam, about 20 companions narrated it.

However, the purported hadith narrated by ‘Aisha and Mu’awiyyah which states it was a dream experience was sound, even if it were sound, it would not have suffice as evidence due to young age of ‘Aisha then and the kufr of Mu’awiyyah. In addition, the chain was not linked to the Prophet (pbuh) and they have not spoken on that capacity.

The verse- Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.  (Q17:1). points to the following:

  • The firmness of the event in the qur’an and all collections of hadith. It is narrated on the authority of Anas b. Malik that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: I was brought al-Buraq Who is an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, who would place his hoof a distance equal to the range of version. I mounted it and came to the Temple (Bait Maqdis in Jerusalem), then tethered it to the ring used by the prophets. I entered the mosque and prayed two rak’ahs in it, and then came out and Gabriel brought me a vessel of wine and a vessel of milk. I chose the milk, and Gabriet said: You have chosen the natural thing Then he took me to heaven.
  • The event of Israa and Miraj took place both with the body and soul physically mounting the Al-Buraaq, and dream or vision. With this evidence of the qur’an- “Exalted is He who took His Servant by night” the servant mentioned here refers to a being made of body and soul, were it being in dream, it could have read- “He who took the soul of His servant”. Also is the verse- “The sight [of the Prophet] did not swerve, nor did it transgress [its limit]. If it were to be a dream or vision it would have been a miracle, nor caused the quraish any amazement such that some people fell into apostasy when they could not comprehend it thus if it were mere dream such could not have happened.

The event took place a year before the Hijrah. Scholars are unanimous that solat was made obligatory on this night in Makkah but disagree on the form. Bukhari and Muslim reported from ‘Aisha  (RA) “When the prayers were first enjoined they were of two Rakat each. Later the prayer in a journey was kept as it was but the prayers for non-travelers were completed.”

Narrated Abdullah bn Abbass, he said:  “Allah enjoined prayers on the lips of your prophet as four rakats while not on journey, and two rakats on a journey, and one rakat in time of fear” (Muslim).

  • The event of ascension was opportunity that Allah will show His prophet great signs that point to His existence, oneness, and ability such as, paradise, hell, the nature of the heavens, the throne and the world became decimated compared to the expanse of the universe and gained the power of endurance and perseverance and strive in the cause of Allah …

The event also points to the unified message of the Prophets in calling to Oneness of God despite difference in time and law.

Some of the scenes the Prophet witnessed:

  • The Prophet saw some men and people whose heads are pelted with stones. He asked: Who are those O Jibreel? He said: “Those are people whose lag behind of solat” (Al-bayhaqi)
  • The Prophet (pbuh) saw some people who graze freely as the cattle graze on their thorny feeds. He asked: Who are those O Jibreel? He said: “Those are people who did not pay the zakat of their wealth” (Al-bayhaqi)
  • The Prophet (pbuh) saw some people who were eating rotten beef but before is a fresh meat. He asked: Who are those O Jibreel? He said: “Those are some people among your people who had legal wife, but left her to sleep with repugnant woman till daybreak.” (Al-bayhaqi)
  • The Prophet (pbuh) saw some women who were tied with their breasts. He said: “Who are those O Jibreel? He said: “These were women who brought children who are not of their husbands into the household.” (Al-bayhaqi).

SECOND KHUTBAH

All praises are due to Allah, Who says: (وَلاَ تَقْتُلُواْ أَنفُسَكُمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ بِكُمْ رَحِيمًا {النساء:29}) “Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah hath been to you Most Merciful!” (4: 29). May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet, Muhammad, who said: “A strong believer is better and most beloved to Allah than a weak believer, and in both are good.”

Dear faithful, the UN commemorates every 7th of April as the WORLD HEALTH DAY annually. The World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on 7 April, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization  (WHO), as well as other related organisations.

We hereby wish to explain the Islamic perspective to health from the verses of the Qur’an and hadith, regarding how to ensure sound health of the body and avoiding harm on the human body which has been honoured by Allah. Some of these verses include: (وَلاَ تُلْقُواْ بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ {البقرة:195}،) “And make not your own hands Contribute to (your) destruction.” (2:195). Also Allah says: (وَكَتَبْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ فِيهَا أَنَّ النَّفْسَ بِالنَّفْسِ وَالْعَيْنَ بِالْعَيْنِ وَالأَنفَ بِالأَنفِ وَالأُذُنَ بِالأُذُنِ وَالسِّنَّ بِالسِّنِّ وَالْجُرُوحَ قِصَاصٌ {المائدة:45}) “We ordained therein for them: “Life for life, eye for eye, nose or nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal.” (5:45). These verses point to the prohibition of transgressing against the human body through killing, inflicting harm, as that is the focus of another verse which underscores the honour of mankind: (وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ {الإسراء:70}) “We have honoured the sons of Adam” (17: 70). Other verse on protecting the physical health is (إِنَّ اللّهَ يُحِبُّ التَّوَّابِينَ وَيُحِبُّ الْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ {البقرة:222}) “For Allah loves those Who turn to Him constantly And He loves those Who keep themselves pure and clean.” (2: 222). (وكُلُواْ وَاشْرَبُواْ وَلاَ تُسْرِفُواْ إِنَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ {الأعراف:31}) “… eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters.” (7:31).

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said: In these two divine verses is the protection of all health. Allah has guided on consumption of foods and drinks that will strengthen the body as replacement for what has been removed from the realm of permissibility, but with a definition of quantity and type. And whenever man transgress this limit, it becomes an act of extravagance. Each of the two issues prevents healthiness, aiding disease, I mean; neglecting food and drink, or being extravagant in it. Verses of the Qur’an on this matter are many. Of the hadith is reported by Ahmad, that the Prophet- peace be upon him said: “The son Adam “The son of Adam does not fill a vessel worse than his stomach, as it is enough for him to take a few bites to straighten his back. If he cannot do it, then he may fill a third of it for his food, a third for his drink, and a third for breath.” This hadith is the foundation of medicine in this place are many. This hadith is one of the principles of the universal medicine and the foundations of preventive health, and it contains the care of the body and maintenance from what will harm it. Among the hadith on this matter include the statement of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), he said: “He who has hair, should tender it.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood). The Prophet- peace be upon him said: “Purify these bodies …” Narrated by Tabarani.

For more on this subject, we recommend reviewing the books of the Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on him, especially; prophetic medicine, and Zaad Al-Ma’aad.

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