What is a Mu’jiza (Prophetic Miracle)?
A mu’jiza is defined as something amazing and astonishing which is not naturally found, either projected or having come into existence. The reason for its occurrence is for the truth of a Prophet’s Prophethood to evidently be revealed. It’s necessary for it to beKhaariqe-Aadat, i.e. contrary to normality or evident circumstances of reason. If not, non-Muslims could say after witnessing it that it occurred due to some particular reason or that it is natural for it to have taken place in that manner. Now, when it is a true Prophetic miracle, they are undeniably forced to agree after witnessing it that it is out of the bounds of normal human power and nature. Thus, the person who performs it holds extraordinary power and is consequently a Prophet sent by their Creator عَزَّ وَجَلَّ.
Miracles of the Past Prophets and the Seal of Prophets, Muhammad Mustafa صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ
Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ granted every Prophet a Prophetic miracle (mu’jiza) according to his environment (and the understanding of his nation to witness) so that they may accept the truth of his Prophethood. Hadrat Moosa عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام was granted the miracles of Yade-Baidaa (an illuminated hand) and the changing of his staff into a serpent because magic was widespread in his time. When the magicians saw his miracles, they recognized it not to be magic and immediately believed in him, falling to the ground in prostration.
Similarly, the science of medicine was at its peak during the time of Hadrat Esa عَلَیْہِ السَّلَامand healers and doctors of the time could fool people into believing anything by curing their sicknesses through their expertise in the field of medicine and human biology. Thus, Hadrat Esa عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام was given the miracle of curing the lepers and sick, giving sight to the blind and restoring life to the dead. When these were performed by him, those who witnessed it had to believe in him since they knew that he didn’t perform these extraordinary acts based on his knowledge of medicine. Rather, they were miracles bestowed upon him by the One, true Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ.
Sculpture was the art and profession prominent in the period of Hadrat Salih عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام. For this reason, he was blessed with the miracle of pointing towards a solid rock and causing it to split, revealing a beautiful and healthy she-camel from it. Hadrat Salih عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام said,
هٰذِهٖ نَاقَةُ اللّٰهِ لَكُمْ اٰیَةً
(Surah Hud, Verse 64)
“This is a she-camel of Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ, a sign for you.”
After witnessing this miracle, his people began to believe in his Prophethood.
Our Prophet is the final Prophet of Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ. He came to this world bearing a universal and everlasting religion as the Prophet of all Prophets, and his life and teachings is the heart and fragrance of all the Ambiya. Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ bestowed him with all the miracles of the previous Prophets since his propagation and message is for every past and future generation until the Day of Judgement.
Rasoolullah صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ was granted numerous miracles in every sphere of life and according to the intelligence and understanding of all groups and kinds of people. Amongst them is the unchangeable Quran revealed to him whose every line bears testimony to his Prophethood and truth. All his miracles, from the splitting of the moon in two to the ascension (Meraaj), lead a sane and intelligent person to conclude that Sayyiduna Muhammad Mustafa صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ and Islam are true, and that he is the final, most exalted and beloved of Allah’s عَزَّ وَجَلَّ Prophets.
The Ascension (Meraaj Sharif)
This is also one of the heavenly miracles of the Holy Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ and is something far above the boundaries of man’s intellect. Another name for Meraaj isIsraa, which means “to take someone on a journey at night”. It has been derived from the verse of the Holy Quran in which Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ states,
سُبْحٰنَ الَّذِیْۤ اَسْرٰى بِعَبْدِهٖ لَیْلًا
“Holy is He Who carried His bondsman by night.”
(Surah Banu Israael, Ayah 1)
In the Ahadith, the word ‘عرج بى’ is used to describe this miracle. Hence its other name is “Meraaj”. A large number of Sahaabah Kiraam عَلَیْہِمُ الرِّضْوَان have narrated this miracle in the books of Hadith and Seerat. Allama Zarqaani رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ himself lists 45!
When did it occur?
There are many different opinions regarding the date, day and month in which Meraaj took place, but it is unanimously agreed upon that it commenced from Makkah after the revealing of wahi prior to the migration to Madina. Ibn Qutaibah (Date of demise: 267 AH), Imaam Raafi and Imaam Nawawi عَلَیْہِمُ الرِّضْوَان have all stated that Meraaj took place in the month of Rajab, and Muhaddith Abdul-Ghani Muqaddasi رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ takes the 27th as its exact day. Accordingly, Allama Zarqaani رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ states that the majority of people also believe the 27th of Rajab to be the day and month of Meraaj, and it is established opinion of certain Historians.
(Zarqaani, Vol. 1, Pg. 355-8)
How many times and in what manner did Meraaj take place?
The overwhelming majority of Ulama believe that Meraaj, in a state of consciousness, with both the body and soul of the Holy Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ being present in it, occurred only once. This is also the belief of the majority of the Sahaabah, Taabi’een, Fuqahaa (Jurists), Muhadditheen (Commentators) and Sufiya, and this belief is correct.
Hadrat Mulla Ahmed Jeewan رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ writes:
و الاصح انه كان فى اليقظة بجسده مع روحه و عليه اهل السنة
و الجماعة فمن قال انه بروح فقط او فى النوم فقط فمبتدع ضال مضل فاسق
“The correct belief of Meraaj is that it occurred while the Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَwas conscious and physically present with his body and soul. This is the belief of the Ahle-Sunnah wal Jamaah. If anyone says that Meraaj was a dream or that it occurred with simply his soul alone, that person is astray, a sinner and leads other people astray as well.”
(Tafseeraate-Ahmadiyah, Pg. 408)
The Vision of Allah
Our pious predecessors are divided as to whether the Holy Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَsaw Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ on the night of Meraaj or not however, a large amount of Sahaabah and Taabi’een state that the Holy Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ, with his physical eyes, saw Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ.
(Shifaa Sharif, Vol. 1, Pg. 120-1)
Accordingly, Hadrat Abdullah ibn Haarith رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ narrates that Hadrat Abdullah ibn Abbas رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُما and Hadrat Ka’ab رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ were once present in a gathering when Hadrat Abdullah ibn Abbas رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُما suddenly said, “I don’t know what other people say, but we (the Banu Haashim) say that Rasoolullah صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ indeed saw his Lord in the Meraaj twice.” When Hadrat Kaab رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ heard this, he too stood up and said, “Indeed, Moosa عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام was blessed with only speaking to Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ while Muhammad صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ saw him.”
Hadrat Abu Zarr Ghiffaari رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ (commentating on the verse مَا كَذَبَ الْفُؤَادُ مَا رَاٰى)also states that the Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ did indeed see his Lord on the night of Meraaj, and Hadrat Muaaz ibn Jabal رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ even reports Rasoolullah صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ to have said, “رايت ربى (I saw my Lord).”
Furthermore, Muhaddith Abdur-Razzack رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ narrates that Hadrat Imam Basariرَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ used to take an oath that Sayyiduna Muhammad Mustafa صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ undeniably saw his Creator عَزَّ وَجَلَّ. Some Mutakalimeen (Scholars that specialize in the field of Islamic Beliefs) state that this is even the belief of Hadrat Abdullah ibn Mas’ood رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ (the famous Jurist amongst the Sahaabah). Also, Ibn Is’haaq narrates that Marwaan (the governor of Madina) once asked Hadrat Abu Hurairah رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ whether the Holy Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ saw Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ. He replied, “Yes.”
Hadrat Naqqash رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ also narrates from Hadrat Ahmed ibn Hambal رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ, “I too hold the same belief as Hadrat Abdullah ibn Mas’ood رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ, that the Holy Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ saw his Lord, saw his Lord, saw his Lord. (He repeated this until he was out of breath).”
(Shifaa Sharif, Vol. 1, Pg. 119-20)
The Hadith of Meraaj narrated in Sahih Bukhari by Hadrat Anas ibn Malik رَحْمَۃُ اللہِ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِfrom Shareek ibn Abdullah includes the following towards the end:
حتى جاء سدرة المنتهى و دنا الجبار رب العزة فتدلى حتى كان منه قاب قوسين او ادنى
“The Holy Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ approached Sidratul-Muntahaa and came so close to the Glorious Lord that there was a distance of two bows or even less between them.”
Nevertheless, it is the belief of the Scholars of the Ahle-Sunnah that the Holy Prophetصَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ did indeed see Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ with his own two eyes on the night of Meraaj.
A Concise Description of the Ascension (Meraaj)
On the night of Meraaj, the roof of the Holy Prophet’s صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ house was opened and Hadrat Jibraeel عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام descended inside together with some other angels. They took him to the Haram of the Kaba, split open his blessed chest and washed his heart with Zam-Zam water, pouring wisdom and Imaan from a tray into it and composing it back to its prior form thereafter.
The Buraaq was then brought for Rasoolullah صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ to travel to Baitul-Muqaddas (Jerusalem) When they reached Baitul-Muqaddas, Rasoolullah صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ tied the Buraaq in the same area where the other Prophets tied their transports, entered it and led all the Prophets in two rakaats Nafl Salah.
(Tafseer Roohul-Bayaan, Vol. 5, Pg. 112)
After leaving, Hadrat Jibraeel عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام placed before him two bowls: one of milk and the other of liquor. The Holy Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ chose the milk and drank it. When Hadrat Jibraeel عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام saw this, he replied, “You chose fitrat (original nature). Had you taken the alcohol, your Ummah would have gone astray.” He then took the Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ to the first Heaven where he met Hadrat Adam عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام, then to the second where he met Hadrat Yahya عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام and Hadrat Esa عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام (who were both cousins) and spoke to them for a little while. On the third Heaven, he met Hadrat Yusufعَلَیْہِ السَّلَام, on the fourth, Hadrat Idris عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام, on the fifth, Hadrat Haroon عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام, on the sixth, Hadrat Moosa عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام and on the seventh, Hadrat Ibrahim عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام, who was resting his back against Baitul-Ma’moor (wherein 70,000 angels were present).
Every Prophet greeted our Beloved Messenger صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ by saying, “Welcome, O Virtuous Prophet.” Rasoolullah صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ was then shown Jannah and ultimately reached Sidratul-Muntahaa, where he was told by Hadrat Jibraeel عَلَیْہِ السَّلَامthat he (Hadrat Jibraeel عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام could not go any further. Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ then called his Beloved Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ to the highest Arsh (Throne) and realms beyond it. He spoke to His beloved and His beloved spoke to Him. What did they speak about and what was the created atmosphere? None can describe it, for Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ merely describes it in the following manner,
(10) فَاَوْحٰۤى اِلٰى عَبْدِهٖ مَاۤ اَوْحٰىؕ
“Now He revealed to His bondman whatever He revealed.”
(Surah An-Najm, Verse 10)
And although the Holy Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ was granted numerous gifts and supplications, these were especially given to him by his Creator,
٭ The last verses of Surah Baqara.
٭ The glad tidings of Jannah for anyone from his Ummah who does not commit polytheism (shirk).
٭ 50 daily Salah.
While he was returning with these three gifts, he met Hadrat Moosa عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام who said, “Your Ummah will not be able to perform that many Salah, so it’s better if you go back to Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ and ask Him to decrease the amount.” On his advice, Sayyiduna Rasoolullah صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ went to Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ several times until the daily Salah was lessened by Him to five. Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ, the Most Merciful and Compassionate, said, “My order is irrevocable. O My Beloved صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ! These five daily Salah for your Ummah will be equal to 50 (i.e. they will receive the reward of 50 Salah by performing these 5).”
The Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ was then taken for an intensive journey across the heavenly abodes to see the signs of the power of Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ. He later descended back to Baitul-Muqaddas and finally set off on the Buraaq to return to Makkah Mukarramah. It was at this point that he noticed the scenery of the route and the returning Makkan caravan. When he reached the city, he immediately went to sleep since a large portion of the night still remained.
In the morning, the Quraish were confounded and labelled Rasoolullah صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ a liar when he explained his journey to them. Some of their leaders (who saw Baitul-Muqaddas in their trips) began to ask questions about the building, knowing that he had never seen it before. They asked about its number of doors, arches, etc., and Allah عَزَّ وَجَلَّ immediately placed the entire construction of Baitul-Muqaddas before Rasoolullah صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ. Thus, they continuously asked him questions about the structure while he continuously answered them correctly (seeing the building right in front of him).
(Bukhari Sharif, Kitaabus-Salah, Kitaabul-Ambiya, Kitaabut-Tauheed, Chapter of Me’raaj; Muslim Sharif, Chapter of Me’raaj, Shifaa Sharif, Vol. 1, Pg. 185)
Transports on the Journey of Meraaj
Imam Alaaee رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ states in his commentary that the Holy Prophet صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّمَ rode 5 types of transport during the night of Meraaj:
٭ The Buraaq: From Makkah to Baitul-Muqaddas.
٭ Steps of Noor: From Baitul-Muqaddas to the first Heaven.
٭ Wings of Angels: From the 1st Heaven to the 7th.
٭ Wings of Hadrat Jibraeel عَلَیْہِ السَّلَام: From the 7th Heaven until the Sidratul-Muntahaa.
٭ Raf-Raf: From the Sidratul-Muntahaa until Qaaaba Qausain.
(Tafseer Roohul-Ma’aani, Vol. 15, Pg. 10)