Al-Isra and Al-Mi’raj – Part 4
وَبَرَكَاتُهُ اللهِ وَرَحْمَةُ عَلَيْكُمْ السَّلاَمُ
After the prophet’s meeting with Allah, he began his return to the samaa’ Ad-Dunya. Now we don’t have a full chronology of events for this, however we do know of some confirmed incidents that took place.
The first is that of a story that was told to the prophet by Jibrael (AS). And this was the story of the woman who used to comb the hair of the daughter of Phirown. Once while she was combing the hair, the comb slipped from her grip and fell and the woman said, ‘Bismillah.’
Now Phirown’s daughter then asked the woman, ‘Surely you mean in the name of my father?’ as Phirown used to claim to be god.
But to this the woman replied, ‘No, my lord and your lord is Allah, and the lord of your father is Allah.’
‘Do you want me to tell my father you said this?’
‘Yes, go ahead.’
And so when Phirown found out he called this slave woman to him and asked her, ‘Are you saying you have a lord besides me?’
With the same bravery the woman replied, ‘Yes, my lord and your lord is Allah.’
At this, Phirown ordered that a boiling cauldron be brought in front of him, and the woman was told that she had to throw all of her children into the cauldron herself or acknowledge Phirown as her lord. Faced with this the woman asked for one thing, which was that she and her children be buried in the same place, and Phirown agreed. And so she threw her children in, one by one, until at last only her baby who was still suckling at her chest was left. And here she hesitated and could not proceed, however the baby itself began to speak to her, ‘O my mother, go forth and drop yourself in, because this punishment of this world in nothing compared to the punishment of the next.’ And so the woman threw herself in with her child. It is to be noted that only four babies spoke from the cradle, this being one of them with Isa (AS), the witness of Yusuf (AS) and Jurayj being the others.
As well as being told this story, the prophet also saw Jannah and Jahannam. There is some debate as to whether the prophet actually entered Jannah, however a strong argument against it is that as he obviously did not enter Jahannam but just surveyed it, he most likely did the same with Jannah. And he narrates that in Jannah there were tents made of pearls and the soil was made of the perfume musk. However there were many, many wretched punishments in Jahannam. There were those who had in front of them pure meat, and also rotten meat. And they were eating the rotten meat and avoiding the pure meat, and these were the adulterers who used to leave the halal and go to the haram. And there were those with such large bellies that they could not stand up, and they were being trampled with animals. And these were the ones who would get their money from interest, getting as fat as they could and owning as many animals as they could. And there were those who were scratching themselves with nails of copper, and these were the people who used to backbite all the time. And there were those who were cutting their own lips and tongues with scissors of copper, and these were those who would tell others to do well and forget it themselves. And there were those with the noses of camels, and they were swallowing coals made of fire which passed through their bodies and came out of their anuses. And these were the ones who stole and ate an orphan’s money, and were now eating the fire of hell.
As well as this the prophet also saw Dajjaal on his descent, and from here we get the narration that his left eye was bloated and unseeing.
So the prophet came back down to the Bayt Al-Maqdis, and re-rode Buraaq to Mecca. And in some slightly weaker narrations he also passed by three caravans of the Quraish returning to Mecca. And he was returned to the Haram, where he went back to sleep. And he narrates, ‘When I woke up, I felt an anxiety: how was I going to tell the people of what happened to me?’ this shows us that Allah must have told him that he had to tell the Quraish of what took place, as Muhammad (SAW) did nothing without the will of Allah, ‘And as I was sitting nervous and worried, the enemy of Allah, Abu Jahal, passed by me and he saw me in that state.’
And so he said to the prophet sarcastically, ‘What is the matter with you? Did something happen?’
And as the prophet could not tell a lie, he responded, ‘Yes, something happened.’
‘Last night I was taken from the Haram to the Bayt Al-Maqdis.’
Now Abu Jahal was shocked, ‘And you are now here amongst us?’ And the prophet narrates, ‘He didn’t know whether to make fun of me then, or to wait so that I would not retract while he called the other people.’
‘Yes, I am waking up amongst you here.’
‘If I call your people, will you tell them what you have just told me?’
‘Yes, I will.’
And so Abu Jahal began calling out to the people, gathering them to listen to the prophet’s announcement. And when they had all come together he gestured to the prophet, who told them what he had told Abu Jahal. Note: he did not mention the Mi’raj here at all, but only the Isra. That he told later, privately to the Muslims. Now the people who heard the prophet’s claim did not know what to do and all began reacting in amazement to this – remember Muhammad (SAW) was known to have never told a lie in his life – until one of them who had been to Jerusalem himself began to ask the prophet questions about it in order to verify the story. And the prophet narrates, ‘I began describing the Bayt Al-Maqdis, until they began to ask me about specifics that I was not able to recall. And I became confused, and got so terrified and anxious as I had never been terrified before. As I was waiting for what to respond, I saw in the distance Bayt Al-Maqdis rising up in front of me, until I saw it descending behind the house of Aqil ibn Abi Talib (the house he grew up in, in which his cousin now lived).’ Of course, only the prophet could see this, and from here he could answer every one of the Quraish’s questions looking at this image, until one of them said, ‘As for the descriptions of Bayt Al-Maqdis and Jerusalem, then he is accurate.’
And here the prophet also began describing the three caravans that he saw on his way back. And in fact, the closest one was in such a place that Abu Jahal said, ‘If this is the case then the caravan should be coming right now.’ And just as this was said, the news arrived that the caravan had come, and was exactly as the prophet had described it. This incident is also where Abu Bakr (RA) got his laqab of ‘As-Saddiq’ meaning ‘The Truthful and Loyal’, as when the news of the prophet’s journey came to him and he was asked if he believed in it he said: ‘I believe in something even more amazing than this: that the revelation from above the seven heavens comes to him instantaneously.’
There is so much to glean from this incident. Firstly the beauty of the story of Phirown’s daughter’s slave. She had been completely forgotten from history, and yet Allah brought back her story and bestowed it upon Muhammad (SAW) to tell to his ummah in order to show the strength of her faith and to make her into a role model. As well as this we see again and again the humanity of the prophet himself. He felt difficult emotions of anxiety and fear when worrying about how to tell the people of what happened to him, and even more so when he could not answer their questions. And the fact that he could not answer their questions in itself also shows his human nature, as no one visiting a city once at night is able to recall all of the details, especially under pressure, and so the prophet’s confusion were perfectly justified. But we also see the extent of his strength of character and courage, as had any man seen a fraction of what he had then they would have gone insane. And yet Allah mentions in the Quran that ‘the eyes did not falter, nor did they go beyond,’ directly praising the way the prophet firmly took in all that was shown to him.
In addition to all of these realisations, we also gain many lessons to apply to our own lives. Allah gave this miracle and gift to the prophet after he had faced a great many difficulties, such as the incident of Ta’if and the deaths of his beloved Khadija (RA) and Abu Talib. And this shows us that indeed, with difficulty comes ease, and the greater the difficulty the greater the ease. It also teaches us that our job as Muslims in giving dawah is not to hide anything or to change the message of Islam to make it more palatable, but simply to try to show people what the religion of Allah is. And this incident also shows us the permissibility of using physical proofs to try to give dawah, as the prophet did when describing the Bayt Al-Maqdis. And finally, we gain a great lesson in the value of effort. Nothing came to the prophet for free – even when preparing for a miracle, for the Isra, he had to saddle, mount and tie up the Buraaq himself. And it was after he put in that effort that Allah gave him his blessings. And this shows us clearly that effort is directly linked to outcomes and that Allah will only help those who try, and inshallah we should always remember this and use this as motivation to get through our own trials and tribulations
Dr.Yasir Qadhi’s Seerah of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 023