This talk is about a journey to the Divine Presence. The journey we hope to discuss is that of the Isra wal Mi'raj. About this Journey Allah says in His Book:
"Exalted is He who took His slave by night from Al Masjid Al Haram to Al Masjid Al Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing." [Qur'an 17:1]
Isra wal Mi'raj as a journey itself consisted of two legs – the first is the Isra’ or Night Journey, a horizontal journey, which is the journey of the Prophet from the Masjid al Haraam to Masjid al Aqsa – this is the journey clearly referenced to in the Qu’ran, in the verses just quoted above.
The second leg of journey, the Mi’raj, though parts of it could be said to be indicated in the Qu’ran, finds its categorical reference in Hadeeth. The Mi’raj in contrast to the Isra’, was a vertical journey or ascent to the Heavens, in which the Prophet ascended through Allah’s majesty from the Bait al Maqdas, the Dome of the Rock, through the various heavens until he reached what is known as Sidrat-ul-Muntaha, or the furthermost lote tree. The Sidra or lote tree in classical Arabic lexicology was also a metaphor for the intellect, so as we see on this journey much of what he experienced in the physical had metaphorical dimensions as the Prophet literally passed beyond –the point which human intellect can comprehend; a point exclusively reserved for him in the intimate presence or meeting with his Lord.
In a reference to the Mi’raj, the Qu’ran says:
And indeed he (Muhammad) saw him [Jibrael (Gabriel)] at a second descent (i.e. another time). Near Sidrat-ul-Muntaha [lote-tree of the utmost boundary (beyond which none can pass)], Near it is the Paradise of Abode. When that which covered the lote-tree did cover it! The sight (of Prophet Muhammad) turned not aside (right or left), nor it transgressed beyond (the) limit (ordained for it).Indeed he (Muhammad) did see, of the Greatest Signs, of his Lord (Allah). [Qur'an 53:13-18]
This two legged journey of the Prophet, was a physical journey of the greatest spiritual magnitude, in it are many lessons for us to learn. Amongst the key lessons we want to focus on in this talk are the lessons that preceded the start of this journey, lessons that in themselves were an integral part of acquiring the readiness for it.
The year before this miraculous event is referred to by biographers of the Prophet as the Year of Sadness (`Aam al-Huzn) in the life of our beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). It was in this year that he lost his beloved wife Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) as well as his beloved uncle Abu Talib and following that the persecution increased to the extent that the Prophet decided to visit Taif, described as one of the two Towns, which the Qu’ran refers to in the words of Walid Ibn Mughirah, as follows:
If only this Quran had been revealed to some great man of the two towns (Mecca and Taif)? [Qur'an 43:31]
Taif to the mushrikeen (pagan arabs) was a town comparable to Mecca in its grandeur. It too was a religious center as pilgrims from every part of the country visited its so-called Temple of al-Lat that in turn housed Hubal, the chief deity of Arabia. Taif was also, as it still is today, the summer resort of Meccan aristocracy. The inhabitants of Taif, endowed with diversified large farms and vineyards, were wealthy and prosperous. This wealth had in turn brought about conceit and boastfulness as embodied in the following description of the Quranic verse:
We are more (than you) in wealth and children. We are not the punished! [Qur'an 34:35]
Once in Taif, the Prophet (peace be upon him) first met the chiefs and leaders of Banu Thaqif whom he invited to accept Islam. Their arrogance caused them to be rude and discourteous in their treatment of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Not being content with their insolence, they even stirred up some gangs of the town to harass him. These riff-raffs and rogues followed the Prophet (peace be upon him), abusing and throwing stones on him, basing themselves on either side of the path exiting Taif. They threw stones at him until his feet were injured and smeared with blood, until finally he was able to take refuge in an orchard along the way.
It was in that state, that a most powerful and instructive prayer emerged from the lips of the Prophet, citing his helplessness and condition before his Lord. To put this prayer in context, it is worth remembering the backdrop it occurred in, after three years of suffering a boycott at the hands of the Quraysh as a result of which Muslims were reduced to eating grass and leaves off of trees; of losing his uncle Abu Talib (who was like his father) and then losing Khadija (his beloved wife) two months later and now being stoned and covered in blood, it was in that state that the Prophet turned to his Lord and said:
“O Allah! Unto You do I complain of my weakness, of my helplessness and of my lowliness before men.”
Lesson: It is important to note that the Prophet did not turn outwards and point a finger at Allah, he did not say “O Allah, you know I am the Messenger of Allah, how can these things be happening to me?” No, instead he turned inward and recognized he was weak and that he was helpless and low.
Scholars say that it was with this recognition that he called upon Allah by the opposite to his attributes through His being Strong (Al Qawiyy), Capable over all things (Al Qadeer) and His being Most High (Al Aleey). Even in such dire distress the Prophet was fulfilling his mission of teaching his Ummah (Nation) the correct adab (proper manners) with the Divine. As the Scholars of Islam say if we realize our attributes, Allah will realize His. In other words if we recognize and actualize our lowliness, Allah will actualize His Majesty and Lordliness in our life; but if on the other hand we claim independence and strength and control for ourselves, we will be left to our whims and the blows of fate that will inevitably come our way, all to make us realize who is really in charge – namely, who we are and who He is. The Prophet continued:
"O Most Merciful of the Merciful. You are the Most Merciful of the Merciful. You are the Lord of the weak and You are my Lord."
Lesson: Allah asks us to call upon Him by the Most Beautiful of His Names. So whenever we want Allah to manifest something of His Attributes in our lives, we should call Him by that name most befitting of the attribute. Thus if we want His Mercy (and who is not in need of His Mercy!) we should call him by His name the Merciful. It is indeed the way of Mercy to look after the weak and the Prophet was once again affirming his weakness and the Lordliness of his Lord. He continued:
“Into whose hands have you placed me? Unto an enemy who oppresses me or unto some far off stranger who has been empowered over me?"
Lesson: This is a complaint of a beloved to his beloved; having called Allah by His Lordliness, the Prophet is mentioning the condition that he finds himself in and the difficulty it is for him. The nature of a test is that it is difficult, but in bearing that difficulty and hardship lies great success and wisdom. The Prophet was thus seeking help through the test, by turning to Allah and seeking His help through His Lordliness. This is how we succeed; it is by Allah’s help that we travel to Him. He continued:
"If you are not displeased with me, then I care not, however your ease is better for me."
Lesson: Here the Prophet is displaying the adab of the slave, namely that he should be accepting of whatever his Master sends down. So if the trial is a way of Allah manifesting His displeasure, it is for the slave to repent and feel sorry, not because of the existence of the trial, but because of what it represents – the displeasure of Allah. If the trial is not because of that, it is for the slave to be patient; in all cases it is not the business of the slave to object to what is sent down, for it is the right of one’s Lord to send down whatsoever He wishes and all good lies in what He chooses. However while the Prophet lets it be known that he is content with whatever Allah wants to do with him, he still asks for ease; because Allah loves to be asked for ease (Aafiya) and in an authentic hadeeth, he instructs his Ummah that the best of things to ask for is Afiyaa’ (ease) in this life and the next. Thus we see that the Prophet is teaching us how to make dua’ by showing his slavehood in what he asks for. He continued:
“I take refuge in the Light of Your Countenance through which all darkness in the heavens and the earth is illuminated; and all affairs of this world and the next are rectified.”
Lesson: The Prophet takes refuge in Allah, through Allah. In other words, he takes refuge in the fact that it is Allah who is the Guide and the One who enlightens and that it is Allah who is in charge of all affairs. This is pertinent for us as Muslims; when we reflect on global affairs many people complain of a lack of power and a lack of control and that is precisely the point – we’re not in charge – Allah is. Perhaps once we truly realize that, things will get better. Allah is in control and at every moment of manifesting the world, He is seeking to tell us something about Himself. What remains is for us to try and get what is intended through sincere contemplation (fikr). The du'a continues:
“Lest Your anger descend upon me or lest Your wrath beset me. Yet it is Yours to reproach until You are well pleased. There is no power and no might except through You.”
Lesson: Having taken refuge in Allah, through Allah, the Prophet was keen to allude to the nature of the request. Namely that it was through the state of being an Abd’ (slave), that it is Allah’s right to do as He pleases with His slaves and that He is not asked about what He does with His dominion. The final sentence is the reality of the matter, that “There is no Power nor Might except through Allah”, by realizing this, the Muslim realizes that whatever the contingent events around him may indicate – Allah is in charge. The Prophet was aware of this deep reality and hence the stones, tests and trials he underwent only became a form of increase for him as he showed the appropriate response to each of these situations.
Thus, there was nothing personal there, no vendetta between the Prophet and Taif, rather it was a place for him to call upon his Lord and draw closer. Hence when his Lord then sent the Angel of mountains to seek the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) permission to join together the two hills between which Taif was located, he (peace be upon him) replied, that he rather hoped that Allah would bring forth from their loins people who will worship God alone, associating nothing with Him – and that is exactly what happened. Let us think about that for a moment, the greatest of creation, the Messenger of Allah, the beloved of Allah being subjected to such a trial. A moment’s reflection will alert us as to this thus being the real nature of this world – an abode for being tested.
As Allah says:
“Do People think that they will be left alone on saying, "We believe", and that they will not be tested?" [Qu'ran 29:2]
Lesson: The nature of this world is as the abode of the test (dar al imtihaan) – the greater the ranks sought, the greater the test, this is why the greatest in facing such tests were the Prophets. In an authentic narration, the Prophet on being asked about who the most sorely tested in the world are mentioned that it is the Prophets and then those next in rank, followed by those next in rank and so on. Thus the Prophet indicated that a man will be tested in accordance with the level of his religious commitment, if strong; the test will be more severe.
In that regards a great Scholar of Islam (Ibn Ataillah Al Iskandari) complained to his teacher (Abul Abbas Al Mursi) of his worries and his teacher replied:
There are only four states a servant of Allah finds himself in, no fifth, they are:
(a) Blessings [Ni’mat],
(b) Calamity [Niqmat],
(c) Obedience [Ta’a], and
(d) Disobedience [Ma’siya].
For (a), if one is in Blessings - then what Allah requires of you is
For (b), if you are in a state of a Calamity - then what Allah requires of you is
For (c), if you are in a state of Obedience, then what Allah requires of you is
the Witnessing of His blessings upon you.
Finally for (d), if you are Disobedient, then what Allah requires of you is
The Scholar then said there is no fifth state – so all one needs to do is see what Allah is sending your way and react accordingly. When the seeker believer reacts appropriately to each situation Allah places him in, he is able to make each and every one of his states a blessing, a moment of moving towards Allah. In that regards the Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:
"Strange is the affair of the mu'min (the believer). Verily, all his affair is good for him. If something pleasing befalls him he thanks (Allah) and it becomes better for him. And if something harmful befalls him he is patient (saabir) and it becomes better for him. And this is only for the mu'min." [Sahih Muslim]
Thus, it is that through Sabr or patience in the face of a trial or test – that a Muslim ascends and this was the way of the Prophet, namely constant ascension – with his future state always being greater than what preceded it. To recap, the right response to a trial is that of patience, as the Prophet said:
"Know that in Patience towards what you dislike there is a lot of good for you, and that victory comes with Patience, Relief with Affliction, and Ease with Hardship." [Related by Ahmed]
As the Arabs say, it is through opposites that things become known, thus at the onset of the test a trial may seem like a hardship, but if reacted to accordingly, it becomes a blessing. By facing our trials with the correct response, we in turn generate the readiness in the state of our souls for the Spiritual unveilings that Allah wants to give us – and that is perhaps one of the greatest of lessons of Isra wal Mi'raj. For while facing these trials outwardly, the Prophet was being readied inwardly for the greatest journey any human would undertake, until finally, the great day arrived:
Anas b. Malik nararates: Abu Dharr used to relate that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: "The roof of my house was cleft open when I was in Mecca and Gabriel descended and opened my heart and then washed it with the water of Zamzam. He then brought a gold basin full of wisdom and faith and after emptying it into my breast, he closed it up." [Sahih Muslim]
Lesson: The Prophet was purified, once again, pointing to the immensity of the journey he was about to undergo and the spiritual readiness required. This points to the need for us to purify our hearts, so we too can be ready to undertake the spiritual journeys that Allah has willed for us. As one the Scholars said: “Allah is constantly sending down spiritual unveilings on our hearts; but when these spiritual blessings find hearts distracted from Him, they return from whence they came.” The responsibility for one seeking to travel to Allah is to strive for readiness, to ensure his heart is not distracted from anything besides, just as the person seeking to catch fish, places his fish net in the sea, knowing that is not the net that guarantees catching of fish, but it's being there ensures the fish are caught when they come his way – similarly the person seeking Allah, knows that his readiness does not warrant Allah sending him spiritual openings but that when Allah does send him, his readiness ensures he is able to benefit accordingly.
Then the Prophet was brought in front of a great riding steed:
“I was brought the Buraq, a long white beast, slightly bigger than a donkey but smaller than a mule which when striding, would place its next step as far as the eyes could see (the horizon). I mounted it until I reached al-Quds, Jerusalem. There I tied it up to the same ring used by the Prophets.” [Sahih Muslim and Sahih al-Bukhari]
The Prophet rode the riding mount of the Prophets, a white steed called Buraq, whose name itself is derived from Barq or Lightning, a reference perhaps to the speed at which that animal would travel. The fastest speed known to man is the speed of light. Light is the fastest travelling entity in the world, it travels at the speed of approximately 700 million miles an hour with the result being that light stretches continually towards the ever increasing horizon. This was what was described as being the speed of Buraq, continually travelling with each stride to the horizon; travelling as far as the eye can see by Allah’s special grace, and He knows best.
Lesson: If Allah wanted he could have transported the Prophet to the Farthest Mosque in a fraction without Buraq, but he tasked him to take the means, to take a steed and travel. This is how we are meant interact with the world. We are meant to take the means (asbaab) while trusting on the originator of means (musabbibul asbaab). Likewise on our own spiritual paths, we cannot just expect ourselves to be reformed without striving; without taking the means to remove the haraam from our lives. What is required of us is to take all permissible means available to journey to Allah. Tie your ‘steed’ if you want to go to Paradise, thus our trust or Tawwakkul in Allah should always be accompanied by sincere effort. The Prophet said regarding leaving a camel untied that the correct way is, “First tie it, then rely on God!”
Upon arrival at the Farthest Mosque and entering it, the Prophet found himself in the midst of the most honorable gathering known to man: every Prophet and Messenger from Adam to Jesus, upon all of them be the peace of Allah, were present awaiting his arrival and to pray a two-unit prayer. The angel Jibreel then asked the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah, to lead all the Prophets and Messengers in prayer – indicating his rank as the Final and Seal of the Messengers of Allah.
Lesson: This event is analogous to the passing of the baton of leadership to the Prophet. The form of leadership the Prophets embodied is leadership in service or what we could call servant-leadership. This is why the Prophet said, the sayyid or leader of his people is he who serves. This type of servantleadership of all nations passed till the end of time to the Final Messenger and those who follow him – i.e. his Ummah. Hence if Allah has given us a form of leadership, we need to ask ourselves how we are exercising that. A servantleader does not serve his own ego by managing and controlling people, rather he serves them and through this seeks to serve the deen of Allah.
This is because the way of leadership in Islam is the way of service (khidma) - Today this is the service orientated leadership we need to revive as an Ummah. Where are the Believers today when we look at who is foremost in humanitarian service based on best practice? Where are the Believers today when we look at who is foremost in ecological protection and sustainability as Stewards on earth? Where are the Believers today when we look and see who is foremost in advocating for rights, social justice and safety for all, including animals? This was the way of the Prophet, as Allah Almighty mentions:
To you We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that has come to you. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but it is to test you in what He has given you: So vie one with another in virtuous action. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which you used to dispute about. [Qur’an 5:48]
Upon completion of the prayer, the Prophet was given another choice, two vessels of gold were brought to the Prophet (peace be upon him), one full with milk and the other with wine (alcohol was not yet prohibited under Islamic Law). Jibreel (alayhis-salaam) asked the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) to choose one of either of them and he selected the vessel containing milk and drank it. Jibreel (alayhis-salaam) is then reported to have said:
“You have been guided on al-Fitrah and you have attained al-Fitrah. Had you selected the wine, your nation would have been mislead.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
This confirmed the Prophet’s innate disposition towards righteousness, the innate disposition we all have but which many of us dull through the dust of this world and its distractions.
Lesson: The human has a primordial disposition to recognise right and wrong, and this is the Fitrah that Allah has created human beings on. When one is heedless of this and elects to do wrong, then something has gone wrong in their system of being human. Being in remembrance of Allah keeps one alive to their inner moral compass, which will only lead one to safety and success. Allah confirms our primordial state which gives us this inner moral compass:
So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. Adhere to the Sound Nature of Allah upon which He has created mankind. No change should there be in the creation of Allah- that is the correct religion, but most of the people fail to understand. [Qur’an 30:30]
Following this inspired choice, the Prophet went on the vertical leg of the journey as he ascended into the Heavens from the site now known as the Dome of the Rock today. The journey of Isra wal Mi'raj was a journey providing a view into both the past and the future, on the Isra, the Prophet made pilgrimage and stopped and prayed at the sites where previous Prophets were inspired and had prayed. He also saw where he would emigrate to, i.e. Madinah.
On the Mi'raj, the vertical leg, he ascended the heavens, travelled every level of heaven and saw the consequences of those who do not make their prayers, who abstain from charity, commit adultery, hinder the path of others, eat usury, do not fulfill trusts, sow discord, backbite, slander, and gossip, and those who speak words that they can’t back up. He saw the Dajjal. He also saw and heard Heaven and Hell. He saw the Ummah of Islam in its entirety as well the Ummah or nations of other Prophets. He saw the pull of the Dunya (world) and the Devil. He saw how much life of this world he had left to live. Finally as the Prophet ascended into the heavens, in the topmost level, the 7th level of Paradise, the Prophet Muhammad met Prophet Ibrahim, peace and blessings of Allah be upon them both. Prophet Ibrahim was leaning on the walls of the Ka’bah of Heaven, called Bayt al-Ma’mūr.
This is amongst the highest of stations in Paradise, and one of its key occupants is one who strived and struggled on this earth, who built the Ka’bah of the earth - Prophet Ibrahim, upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah. He followed the path of righteousness and he did not enjoin partners with Allah, and was thus gifted such a high station.
Lesson: You reap what you sow. If you toil productively in this world in a manner pleasing to your Lord, you will also have the highest of stations in Paradise. It is as if Prophet Ibrahim, after building the House of Allah on earth receives a resting place in its equivalent the Heavenly House! Allah informs us of how we are recompensed:
"Nay! Indeed, the record of the righteous is in ‘illiyyun. And what will explain to you what ‘Illiyun is? It is a register inscribed, to which bear witness those Nearest to God. Truly, the Righteous will be in Bliss, on adorned couches, observing. You will recognize in their faces the radiance of delight." [Qur’an 83:18-24]
It was then that the Prophet went where no other form of creation had gone before, to the intimate presence of the Divine Reality. To the presence of the One, the Only, the Maker of all things in a way that Allah knows best, about which He says:
“The sight [of the Prophet] did not swerve, nor did it transgress [its limit]. Verily he certainly saw of the greatest Signs of his Lord." [Qu'ran 53:17-18]
In that intimate gathering the Prophet was given a gift – the gift of Salaat or Prayer. The Prophet said, “As-Salatul Mirajul Mumin” (Prayer is the Miraj (ascension) of the believer). Namely that the Salaat should inspire each and every one of us to take our own individual journeys to the Divine Presence, for this is what the Salaat is intended for. Second hand experience of hearing or reading another’s spiritual experience cannot compensate for the need to take one’s own experience and this is what the Prophet was encouraging us to do. With regards to the prescription of the Salaat, Allah reduced the number of prayers from fifty to five times a day after the merciful plea of the Prophet for his Ummah on the advice of Prophet Moses, may Allah's peace and blessings be upon both of them.
Lesson: Our Prayers like the Prophet’s ascension are meant to be journeys to the Divine Presence; we are meant to travel beyond the limited confines of this world to the unlimited vastness of Allah’s presence. Another lesson in the Prophet’s repeated returning to Allah is that just like the Prophet himself, we must turn to Allah regularly and not tire from it. This is a sign of intimacy, Allah loves that we ask Him and does not (metaphorically) tire until we tire and so frequent dua is nothing but an expression of our Slavehood. We should seek from him that which is good for us as He is Most Generous, but we should also know what the proper manners are when calling on Him. Thus our duas should always be in a state of Slavehood and not a demand or condition that we place on Him. Some people foolishly make duas and then have anger or bitterness when what they ask does not come; not knowing that the key to dua is the poverty and helplessness we feel before Him, knowing that He knows what is best for us and that we don’t. Someone who places conditions on Allah, hasn’t really made du’a; at least in the manner that is required. As for those who do make dua, they are of two types – those whose states make dua and who know that their hearts already speak of their poverty before Him; for such, their hearts make dua without them having to ask; as for the second type, they feel a mistaken sense of independence of Allah and such people are destined to either only turn to him in a state of tribulation, which if it causes them to change is really a blessing or if they don’t change in this life – they are destined to find themselves in a worse off place in the next. And our Lord says:
“Call on Me; I will answer your prayer: but those who are too arrogant to serve Me will surely find themselves in Hell – in humiliation!” [Qur’an 40:60]
When the Prophet returned from the Night Journey, he tried to explain the event to the Quraysh, many of his own immediate family, like Abu Jahl. Yet he was ridiculed by many and seen as strange and weird. The interesting thing is that what most amazed the Mushrikeen of Mecca was how the Prophet was able to take a journey to Jerusalem; in a journey that normally takes a night. It was the thing that they felt would most shake the faith of some of the Muslims; to some, it did. This was despite the fact that the Prophet had never before gone to Jerusalem, yet was able to describe the city in accurate detail. The fact that the Prophet described the city so accurately from a rational point of view alone perhaps should have been sufficient reason for those of sincerity to take heed and listen.
Lesson: Firstly, anyone who takes the journey to their Lord with vigor and conviction will be seen as strange by those who are busy with the glitter of this world. The nature of such people as materialists is that the material is their frame of reference – hence the biggest and most amazing thing for the Mushrikeen (pagan Arabs) was the Prophet’s travelling to Jerusalem in a night; a journey which took them a month. Yet even from a rational perspective, it was the lesser of the two amazing journeys that the Prophet had been on, having ascended through the Heavens afterwards. Thus it is that the blindness of materialism is first and foremost a blindness of true perception – as to the real nature of things.
Secondly, it is important for us to be aware that there were ‘muslims’ who fell into this trap as well; hence true belief in Allah and what He has revealed through the Messenger requires us to take heed of the reality of where we are – that the real abode for the believer is what comes after, i.e. the Hereafter. This means that being busy amassing wealth and success of this world is not the nature of the true believer as Allah Almighty reminds us:
"Beautified in the perception of people is the love of that which they desire – of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return." [Qur’an 3:14]
While the Quraysh mocked and belied the Prophet, they went to Abu Bakr; knowing that if they led him astray – they would lead the Ummah astray. Saying to Abu Bakr, "Look at what your companion is saying. He says he went to Jerusalem and came back in one night", they met with the sincerity of conviction of true belief. Abu Bakr’s response was that if the Prophet said that, then he was truthful for Abu Bakr believed in the Prophet concerning revelation descending to him from the heavens - in light of which going to Jerusalem and coming back in a short period of time was of far lesser magnitude. The insight Abu Bakr had in stark contrast to the Mushrikeen was as a result of his faith, his genuiness in the Prophet saw him bestowed the name As-Siddīq due to this momentous event.
Lesson: The words of Allah, The Exalted and the Prophet, upon whom be peace and blessings, are undeniably true. One does not need scientific proofs or things to fit in our limited frame of reference first in order to believe.
Today, for many, Divine Guidance is questioned until science proves some
meager tangible fact. The Believer today must become familiar with the fact
that it is not science that proves Divine Guidance; rather it is Divine Guidance
that provides the guidance to assess the truths of science. By learning the
religion of Islam, one finds its accuracy and conviction comes through works
and states. Faith in turn needs to be based on solid foundations. When one
bases one’s faith on shaky foundations then it is no surprise that that person
finds his faith shaken with the slightest issue. The essentials of faith are not
arrived at through observational empirical rational based questioning, rather
it is arrived out through us being people of sincerity with Allah, through us
being people of Sidq, as Abu Bakr was with what Allah had tasked of him.
Allah Almighty mentions:
"Oh You who believe! Ask not about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble. But if you ask about them while the Quran is being revealed, they will be made plain to you. Allah has forgiven that, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing. Some people before you did ask such questions, and on that account lost their faith." [Qur’an 5:101-102]
In conclusion, the upshot of Isra wal Miraj is that the favour of Allah is often graced upon us after some of our greatest trials and tribulations. When the Believer perseveres in the twin pillars of gratitude and patience and finds himself consistently responding appropriately to the Divine Decree, Allah showers His Blessings upon such a grateful and patient servant, elevating his rank and making him from those brought closer to Allah. These are the spiritual ascents we should aim for; our own ascents to the Divine presence that come through us demonstrating our patience in the face of calamity, thankfulness in the face of blessings, seeing His giving us our obedience and repenting sincerely to Allah whenever we fall short.
These reactions are the essence of our servitude, as our ascension arises out of our servitude to Allah, striving through thick and thin, having confidence with Him and having reliance upon Him. Like gold needs to go through fire to be purified and therefore valued, so too does tribulation prepare us for what is better. To remind ourselves:
"Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such trial has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until even their messenger and those who believed with him said, “When is the help of Allah!?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near." [Qur’an 2:214]
May we take heed of these and many other lessons in the profound event of the Isra wal Miraj. If noted and striven for, these lessons may well be the ascension of our own station with our Lord, for there is no success other than by and with Allah.
Khutba Paper Courtesy of
Delivered on: 31-May-2013