Whenever Allah sent a Nabee (Prophet), he provided various signs that proved that the Nabee was authentic in his claim. These signs took the forms of various unusual and wonderful feats being performed by the Nabee by the Will, Power, and Command of Allah. These signs are called mu’jizaat (miracles).
The miracles of the Prophets alayhimus salaam were of such unique nature that no one else was able to perform them, no matter how hard he tried, and he was thus rendered reluctant and helpless and had to admit that the Nabee in question is a Divine Messenger. The word mu’jizah literally means “that which renders powerless or helpless”, and a miracle of a Nabee is called mu’jizah because the feat performed by him cannot be emulated by anyone, and disbelievers are therefore left helpless.
Mu’jizaat of Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)
The miracles of the previous Prophets alayhimus salaam were mainly of a practical nature and were limited to their lifetime only. The miracles of our Nabee sallallahu alayhi wasallam on the other hand were practical in nature as well as intellectual and some of them exist up to this day, well after his demise. Because Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam is superior amongst all the Prophets alayhimus salaam, similarly his miracles are also not only greater in number but are more superior.
One of the greatest and very well-known miracles of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam is his ascension to the heavens and beyond, known as Me’raj (ascension). This journey apart from being a miracle is a conglomeration of miracles and has been recorded in the Qur’an as well as various books of Hadeeth.
Me’raj in Hadeeth
Haafiz Ibne Katheer rahmatullahi alayh has recorded the incident of Me’raj from twenty-five Sahaabah radhiyallahu anhum (Tafseer Ibne Katheer Vol. 3 Page 3)
The well-known muhaddith, Allaamah Zurqaani rahmatullahi alayh states that the incident of Me’raj is narrated by forty-five Sahaabah radhiyallahu anhum comprising of the Ansaar and the Muhaajireen.
One may ask as to how the Ansaar narrated this incident whilst it took place in Makkah before migration. The answer is that this event was so important and well-known amongst the Muslims that the Ansaar requested its details directly from Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam as is evident from a Hadeeth reported by Shaddaad Ibne Aws radhiyallahu anhu. He reports: We said, “O Messenger of Allah! How were you taken for a journey by night?” (Tirmizi)
The words “We said” also indicate that the conversation of Me’raj used to take place in the midst of a large gathering. Another Ansaari, Maalik Ibne Sa’sa’ah radhiyallahu anhu narrates the story of Me’raj in the following words:
“The Nabee sallallahu alayhi wasallam related to them ” (Bukhaari)
It is clear that the incident of Me’raj was well-known amongst the Sahaabah radhiyallahu anhum and is narrated in authentic Ahaadeeth.
Me’raj-Physical or Spiritual
The Me’raj of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam was physical i.e. with body and soul. He ascended the seven heavens and proceeded beyond that to the Sidratul Muntahaa and further physically. In the mind of a mu’min (true believer), a doubt concerning the possibility of a physical ascent to the heavens does not occur. For a believer, this is a fact that requires no logical reasoning. What doubt can there be concerning Allah’s power to do as he wishes?
Nowadays with the advancement of modern technology, man is orbiting satellites and landing on the moon. If a man has advanced so much, is it not possible for the Creator of man to carry His Beloved Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam physically with body and soul into the heavens and back within a very limited part of the night? Of course, it is possible!
Me’raj was Physical
1. Glorified be He who carried His servant by night (Qur’an 17: 1)
This verse from the Qur’an describes the initial stages of the miraculous journey of our Beloved Nabee sallallahu alayhi wasallam. One can clearly ascertain from the words of this verse that the Me’raj was physical:
a. Allah ta’aalaa initiates the verse with the word ‘sub’haan’ which means glorified be He Whose Self is pure from all defects and frailties and is above all kinds of weakness and helplessness. He is not dependent upon any means and He is not bound by any physical laws. Those things which look extremely strange to our imagination and that our imperfect wisdom thinks as quite impossible are not a bit difficult before the Power and Will of Allah. Thus, from the very outset, the event of Me’raj has been described as extraordinary and the word sub’haan belies the misconception that the event was only a dream.
b. The journey of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam is further expressed by the verb asraa which is used for a journey of body and soul in the state of consciousness by night. This same verb is used elsewhere in the Qur’an too. In Soorah Hood and Hijr, the instruction given to Prophet Loot alayhis salaam by the angles is: So take away your people in a part of the night (11: 81, 15:65). Similarly, Prophet Moosa alayhis salaam is ordered by Allah, Take away my slaves by night (44:23, 20:77). In both cases, the Prophets are ordered to take their people physically with body and soul and not spiritually in dream.
c. The word abd (servant) is used to mean either the body only or body and soul together. It is not used to mean soul only.
2. Another verse of the Qur’an regarding Me’raj is We appointed the vision which we showed thee as an ordeal for mankind (17:60) The word ru’yaa (vision) is used for two meanings: dream or vision/view/ sight. The commentators of the Qur’an have given examples from Arabic poetry where ru’yaa is used to mean vision/seeing and not dream. Imaam Bukhaari has narrated from Abdullah Ibne Abbaas radhiyallahu anhuma the meaning of the word ru’yaa in this verse with the following words: “It (the ru’yaa) was an actual eyewitness (account) which was shown to Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam the night he was taken on a journey (through the heavens)”. (Bukhaari Vol. 6 page 204)
3. It is an accepted fact that when one relates a story or an event but does not say that it was a dream, it is naturally taken as an incident of consciousness. The verse of the Qur’an describing the miraculous journey and the Ahaadeeth do not mention or indicate that it was a dream. Hence this incident will be considered physical in the state of awakening.
4. When the kuffaar (disbelievers) of Makkah heard the details of the incident of Me’raj, they rejected it. They jeered at the Muslims, made fun of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam and called him a liar. They asked him to describe the masjid in Jerusalem, which he had never seen before. Had it been only a dream they would neither have mocked him nor asked for any evidence. Similarly, there was no reason for their rejection as people often dream of strange things. It is apparent that they were asking for further details knowing that the journey was physical. Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam too did not say that it was only a dream. Instead, he substantiated his physical journey with another miracle which is reported by Bukhaari and Muslim from Jaabir Ibne Abdullah radhiyallahu anhu that Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam said, “When the disbelievers of Makkah rejected my night journey to Baytul Maqdis and made queries about the details of Baytul Maqdis, I stood in the Hateem and Allah ta’aalaa opened the veils (between myself and) Baytul Maqdis. I was looking at it and informing them of the details they were asking for.
5. The incident of Me’raj has been listed amongst the miracles of Nabee sallallahu alayhi wasallam. What is so extraordinary about traveling such long distances in a mere dream?
This is sufficient to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam travelled from Makkah to Masjidul Aqsa and then ascended the heavens physically with body and soul in the state of awakening within a very limited part of the night.
Shaykh Muhammad Saleem Dhorat
Riyadul Jannah – Volume:3 Issue:2