IMAGINE for a minute that you are in the Makkah of pagan times, over 1400 years ago. The Ka’ba is full of idols, revered by people to such a degree that they are willing to kill anyone who dares to question their authority, or suggest that their help can neither bring benefit nor harm. Only one man in the history of Makkah has had the ‘temerity’ to do so: He claims that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, and that he is His Messenger and receives revelation from the Heavens above.
One morning, Abu Jahl, a pagan leader and sworn enemy of the Messenger of Allah, spots him sitting in the shade of the Ka’ba, deep in thought. ‘’So, what’s the latest news from heaven?’’ he inquires sarcastically.
To his astonishment, the Prophet (peace be upon him) – fresh from a miraculous journey where he was taken from Al-Masjid Al-Haram (The Inviolable Mosque) in Makkah to Masjid Al-Aqsa (The Farthest Mosque) in Jerusalem in the space of a night – starts narrating an account of the wondrous signs he was shown in the Heavens and Earth.
Abu Jahl listens incredulously for a while, and thinks this is his chance to prove what the pagans have been claiming all along: that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is mentally unsound (Allah’s refuge is sought). He asks the Prophet: “Will you repeat what you just told me to others?” When the Prophet agrees, a huge crowd gathers around him, jeering and shaking their heads in disbelief at such an impossible claim.
Within minutes, word gets around and all of Makkah reverberates with the story of the Messenger’s claim of going to Jerusalem, ascending to Heaven and returning within a night. When the story reaches Abdullah Bin Abi Quhafah, his first reaction is to think that the pagans have concocted another lie against the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, when the person who brought him the news insisted that the Prophet himself has said this, he said: “If he has said this, then it must be true.”