When making this transcendental journey, the Prophet was granted a phenomenal vision of Paradise. Among some of the visions he observed were the following:
- He saw the inhabitants of Paradise and how their situations would be. He also perceived the beauty and bounties that would be bestowed by Allah the most Merciful and Compassionate, who would grant the inhabitants within it a blissful existence in an Eternal Paradise.
- Another amazing vision he beheld was of the River Kawther of Paradise, its banks strewn with pearls and permeated with the sweet smelling musk.
- He saw the angel of Hellfire, Malik, and he also observed the torture and punishments that would be meted out to the disbelievers in Hell.
- He saw the Arsh (Throne) which is the largest creation of Allah in the seven heavens and earth, which marked the ceiling of Paradise.
- The Prophet ascended beyond Paradise where he heard the incredible sound of the pens used by the angels to write in the Preserved Tablet.
He was also elevated and graced with the Divine Luminous Presence of Almighty Allah. He was given several precious grants and bounties by Allah to convey to his Muslim Ummah.
- A supreme gift was the conversation the Prophet had with God Almighty which consists of the words of Tahiyyat, a gem embedded in each of the five daily prayers. The glorious beauty of these words can be clearly understood through the following words – The Prophet Muhammad œ said to Allah Almighty – “All kinds of greetings, prayers and goodness belong to Allah. I present all of the greetings and glorification of the beings with their states and tongues, all of the worshipping of conscious beings like human beings, all of the worshipping and glorification of all prophets to you as a gift; they all belong to you.”
Reciprocating to this greeting, Allah Almighty said to His Prophet, “Peace, the mercy of Allah and His blessings be on you, O Prophet!” Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah œ said, “Peace be on us and on the righteous servants of Allah.” Allah ordered angel Jibril to be a witness by saying, “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.”
- Another valuable gift that was granted to Prophet Muhammad œ were the daily prayers which Allah originally commanded should be fifty in number. Upon Prophet Musa’s advice, Prophet Muhammad œ was told to appeal to Allah to lessen the number of prayers. Prophet Musa was aware (due to his experience with the rebellious Bani Israel people) that the people would not be able to fulfill the requirement of so many prayers. Our Prophet supplicated and returned to Allah nine times (upon the advice of Prophet Musa) requesting Him to reduce this amount, whereupon each time Allah reduced them by five prayers. Finally, they were lessened to the five daily prayers which were made incumbent for Muslims. After this, our Prophet was too embarrassed to approach Allah to lessen the prayers further, so he accepted and submitted to Allah’s will.
- The following hadith elucidates another precious gift the Prophet was honored with at this time:
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet said, “Allah ordered (the angels appointed over you) that the good and the bad deeds be written. He then showed (the calculation) how (to write them). If somebody intends to do a good deed and he does not do it, then Allah will write for him a full good deed (in his account with Him). If he intends to do a good deed and actually does do it, then Allah will write for him (in his account) with Him (its reward equal) from ten to seven hundred times, to many more. If somebody intended to do a bad deed and then turns around and does not do it, then Allah will write a full good deed (in his account) with Him; and if he intended to do it (a bad deed) and actually did it, then Allah will write one bad deed (in his account).” (Bukhari)
- The last two verses of Surah Baqarah, were revealed to the Prophet, namely verses 284 to 286, which are often recited —not only as part and parcel of the Quran— but also separately as magnificent du’âs.
Eventually, following this awe-inspiring Ascension, the prophet proceeded to Masjid Al-Aqsa (where he had tied his mount, the Buraq) and then returned to Makkah. In the morning, he narrated to the Makkans the incidents of his extraordinary journey and its events. Mocking and belittling him, they asked him for clarification and evidence about his journey. When the Prophet told them that he went to Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, the Quraysh refuted this by saying it was impossible for him to make a month’s journey in one night. Then, those who had seen the Masjid before, asked him to describe the intricate features of Masjid Al Aqsa. Then Allah enabled the mosque to be revealed to the Prophet so vividly that he was able to describe the mosque and its surroundings in exact detail —and once again the Quraysh were amazed to hear this stupendous account.
Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah, that he heard Allah’s Messenger say,
‘When the people of Quraysh did not believe me (about the story of my Night Journey), I stood up in Al-Hijr and Allah displayed Jerusalem in front of me, and I began describing it to them while I was looking at it.’
However, they still ridiculed the Prophet and asked him for further proof of this astounding journey. He told them about the caravans he had seen on his way to Jerusalem. The people of Makkah later found a caravan answering to the description given by the Prophet: The Quraysh went out of Makkah to meet the described caravans, astounded when they saw them in the same state as the Prophet had informed them. Nevertheless, the unbelievers were stubborn and rejected the faith.
When Abu Bakr was informed of this Night Journey, he remarked, “If the Prophet said this, then it is undoubtedly true.’ Thereupon Abu Bakr was given the title ‘Al-Siddiq’ (the Truthful, the One who never Lies) because of his strong belief in the words of the Prophet. Even so, the Quraysh scoffed at this incident and further retaliated by increasing their hostilities towards the Muslims. But their attempts to cast doubts in the minds of the Muslims succeeded only in strengthening their belief.
‘They say: “We shall not believe in thee, until thou cause a spring to gush forth for us from the earth…..Or thou have a house adorned with gold, or thou climb a ladder right into the skies. No, we shall not even believe in thy ascension until thou send down to us a Book that we could read. Say (to them, O Muhammad): ‘Glorified (and Exalted) be my Lord (Allah) above all that evil they (polytheists) associate with Him! Am I anything but a man, sent as a Messenger?” [Surat Al-Isra’ 17:90, 93].
To the aggressive Quraysh, to the unbelievers of yore and to the sceptics of today, who are quick to refute and to blaspheme about this wondrous miracle that Allah granted the Prophet, the Quran carries a sufficient answer for them, for Allah says therein,
‘Verily, His command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, “Be!”– and it is!’ [Surah Yasin 36: 82]
Allah is the Supreme Creator, Who does as He wills. This is a great reminder for all of those who ever doubt Allah’s power and question the miracles He granted to the Prophets. Undoubtedly therefore, the Isra’ and Mi‘raj are among the great signs of Allah that point to the truth of His Messenger Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and to the greatness of his status before Allah—may He be glorified and exalted. Furthermore they are among the proofs of the great might and power of Allah, and of His eminence above all of His creation.
Through this earthly journey and celestial incident — through which was revealed Allah’s choice of the Prophet to make this phenomenal journey that defied the normal boundaries of time and space— the Prophet presented another proof of the sublime powers taking place in him by Allah’s design, when he elucidated this ethereal vision.
This miraculous journey occurred because Allah Almighty willed Prophet Mohammad to travel with angel Jibril beyond the boundaries of normal human experience. As Muslims we understand that Prophet Muhammed œ was granted the vision of seeing untold images and Allah in His mercy blessed him with innumerable precious gifts to grant his Ummah. All that is needed to strengthen our faith in His eternal power and ability to do as He wishes and to bring about our full submission to Allah’s will.
This event in the life of Prophet Muhammad œ takes us towards appreciating the ultimate mission of Islam and onwards to the very essence of being a devout Muslim – the bowing down of our wills to Allah, who is able to do all things, according as He sees fit. When we consider the special privileges granted to our beloved Prophet during this wondrous journey we not only believe with implicit faith in Allah’s wise guidance, but we also try to value these lessons, be worthy of the valuable gifts he received for us on this journey, and lead our lives according to all the tenets laid down by Allah in the Holy Quran.