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|What the Qur'an teaches-2|
|08/09/01 at 00:24:19|
|Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh|
What the Qur'an teaches
[color=Red]In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent[/color]
[color=Green]Limitless in His glory is He who transported His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah) to the Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) —the environs of which We have blessed — so that We might show him some of Our signs. Indeed He alone is the One who hears all and knows all.[/color]
[i](The Night Journey, Al-Isra', 17: 1)[/i]
The Prophet's night journey
Commentary by Sayyid Qutb
To continue with our introduction of the Surah we say that in the final part of the Surah there is more discussion of the Qur'an and its challenge to all mankind. Yet the non-believers required physical miracles, and asked for angels to be sent down in support of the Prophet's message. They suggested that the Prophet should have a house of adornments, or a garden with date and vine trees, in which rivers should flow, or that he should cause a spring of water to gush forth for them, or that he himself should climb up to heaven and bring them a written letter to read. All these demands are dictated by intransigence, not by the desire to have a proof to ensure conviction. The Surah replies that all this is beyond the limits of the role of God's messenger and the nature of his message. It leaves matters in this regard to God. It derides such demands and those who make them, telling them that had they had control over the treasures of God's grace, which is always abundant and will never be exhausted, they would still fear to give it away. It was sufficient for them to realize that every thing in the universe glorifies God. They should have remembered that the miracles given to Moses did not lead those determined to oppose him to change their minds and follow him. Hence, God inflicted His punishment on them.
The Surah concludes with a short discourse about the Qur'an and the truth inherent in it. It has been revealed in passages, so that the Prophet would read it to people over a long time, as would befit different occasions and circumstances. People may then be influenced by its approach to living and practical conditions. It is received by people of sound knowledge with humility. They will be so influenced by it to the extent that they would weep and prostrate themselves to God. The Surah then concludes with praising God who has never taken to Himself a son or a partner, as it began with glorifying Him.
The story of the night journey by the Prophet from the Sacred Mosque in Makkah to the Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, and then the Prophet's ascension from there to the highest heaven and the world of which we know nothing, is a story which is mentioned in several reports. It has been the subject of much controversy, which continues even today. There are various reports about the place from which the Prophet's night journey started. Some reports suggest that it was the mosque itself, which fits with the phraseology of the verse. One report quotes the Prophet as saying: "As I was in the mosque, at Hijr Ismaeel, half asleep, Gabriel came to me with Al-Buraq." It is also reported that his journey began from the home of his cousin Umm Hani. This report is acceptable on the basis that the term, "the Sacred Mosque," includes the whole Haram area, which surrounds the mosque. Ibn Abbas is reported to have said, "The whole of the Haram area is a mosque." It is also reported that he was sleeping in Umm Hani's house when he was taken on his night journey and returned home before the night was over. He related the event to his cousin and told her: "I saw the Prophets and led them in prayer." As he was about to leave to go to the mosque, she stopped him saying: "I fear that people would not believe you if you tell them what you have just told me." The Prophet made clear his intention to tell them, "even though they would not believe me."
When the Prophet sat in the mosque, Abu Jahl, the arch-enemy of Islam, came to him and asked him whether he had any news. The Prophet told him of his night journey. Abu Jahl called on people to gather and listen to the strange news the Prophet had to tell them. As the Prophet did that, some of them started clapping as a gesture of rejecting what they heard while others put their hands on their heads in a gesture of disbelief. Some people who had earlier accepted Islam now turned away declaring that they were no longer Muslim. Some people went to Abu Bakr, the Prophet's closest friend, to tell him and to find out what his reaction would be. When they assured him that Muhammad actually claimed to have made the return journey to Jerusalem overnight, Abu Bakr said: "If he has actually said this, he is telling the truth." When they expressed their amazement that he would believe such a singular story, Abu Bakr said: "What is so surprising? I believe him when he says something even more incomprehensible. He says he receives revelations from on high and I believe him." Abu Bakr was then given the title Siddiq, which denotes "a true and firm believer."
Some of them had been to Jerusalem and asked the Prophet to describe it for him. Its picture was raised before his eyes and he described it to them in detail. They said that his description was accurate. They then asked him to tell them about their trade caravan and when it would arrive. He told them the number of its camels and its condition at the time. He further told them that it would arrive at sunrise on a particular day, headed by a white camel. On the day appointed by the Prophet, they went out to make sure whether the caravan would arrive. When the sun began to rise, they said: Here is the sun rising. Then they looked and said: And here is the caravan headed by a white camel, just like Muhammad said. Yet they refused to believe. On the same night, the Prophet ascended from Jerusalem to heaven.
Disagreement among scholars touches on the point of whether the Prophet went on this night journey when he was awake or it was a dream-like journey. It is reported that Aisha, his wife, said: "By God, the Prophet's body was never missing, but it was his soul which ascended:" Al-Hassan is reported to have said that it was all in a dream he saw. Other reports make it clear that it was a journey he took, body and soul, and that his bed was still warm when he came back.
The weightier view, on the basis of all the reports we have, is that the Prophet left his bed in his cousin's home and went to the Mosque. When he was at Hijr Ismaeel, half awake, he was taken on his journey to Jerusalem and from there he ascended to heaven, before returning to his bed which was still warm.
Having clarified that, we do not see much point in the long arguments in which people engaged in the past, and still do, concerning the nature of this event which certainly took place. Whether it was a physical, or spiritual trip, or a vision he saw while awake or asleep, does not make much difference. It does not alter much of the nature of this event to say that it was an act of unveiling that enabled the Prophet to see remote places and worlds in a brief moment. Those who understand even a little bit of the nature of God's power and the nature of prophethood will find nothing strange in this event. To God's power and ability, all matters, which appear easy or difficult by our human standards and according to what is familiar to us, are the same. What is familiar to us in our world is not to be taken as the criterion for making a judgment in relation to God's ability. The nature of prophethood is a link with God, which may not be compared to anything familiar in human life. That a remote place or world is shown to the Prophet, or that the Prophet reaches such a place by any means that we know or do not know, are not any more strange or miraculous than for him to receive God's message. Indeed Abu Bakr has put the matter in its proper perspective when he told the people of Makkah that he believed the Prophet in what is even more incomprehensible: the revelations he received from on high.
[i]Arab News - 27 August 1999[/i]
Insha Allah, more to follow....... until the end of the Surah.
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
Haniff (with 2 f's)
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