By Sajid Zahid
By Nauman Hadi
In the 5th year of his call the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Sa) was taken on a journey to the heavens by the angel Gabriel in which he not only met earlier prophets but also reached the highest possible limit of man’s nearness to God. This journey is known in Islamic history as the The Miraj (The Ascent).
It is a very common misconception that the Prophet Muhammad (sa) physically ascended to heaven and made the entire journey in a few hours after which he returned back to earth. This has led to all kinds of strange speculations including one theory that argues the Miraj was made possible by a black hole that allowed fast travel to occur in the space of one night.
However, on closer examination it becomes evident that such a notion is contrary to the Holy Quran and Ahadith. Here are 5 facts that prove the Miraj was a dream.
1—THE HEART OF THE PROPHET
We find the Holy Quran openly declared that the Miraj was only a dream or vision that was shown to the prophet (Sa) whilst he was sleeping in the Ka’ba. A verse on this topic from the Holy Quran reads:
‘The heart of the Prophet was not untrue to that which he saw.’
(The Holy Quran 53:12)
If the Holy Prophet (sa) was seeing the magnificent sights during the Ascent through is physical eyes why does the Holy Quran use the word ‘heart’ as opposed to eyes to proclaim that what the prophet saw was true? If in reality the prophet (Sa) was taken up to the heavens in his bodily form and witnessed everything with his physical faculties then surely the verse above should have made mention of his eyes not deceiving him rather than his heart.
2 – THE HOLY QURAN OPENLY SAYS IT WAS A VISION
And We made not the Vision which We showed thee but as a trial for men…”
The Holy Quran 17:61
A similar incident occurred later when the Prophet (Sa) was taken to Jerusalem in a single night. It is regarding this that the Holy Quran states the above. When the Meccans were informed about this journey to Jerusalem in a single night they began to argue over its possibility. It was regarding this that God stated that such a vision was shown as a trial. Hence, if the journey to Jerusalem –or the Isra as it is known – was a vision then this journey too must be the same kind.
3 – THE LOTE TREE
It is also worthy of noting that were the Miraj to take place in a physical state then it would have to be acknowledged that the Lote Tree (beyond which nothing can pass) attained a nearness to God which could not be surpassed by the Holy Prophet (Sa). As is the case with dreams that they hold a deeper metaphorical meaning and require interpretation – in this case the Lote Tree symbolised the boundary of creation after which it was only God’s being that existed. This symbolised that the Prophet (Sa) had reached the furthest spiritual extent that a human could attain with regards to the nearness of God.
4 – IS GOD CONFINED TO A PHYSICAL SPACE
Likewise, if this was not a dream then did the prophet (sa) see God in a physical form when he began to converse with him? After all if the Lote Tree was physical then it must have denoted a physical boundary after which God’s being existed. Of course, then there is the obvious question that if this was something that was witnessed by the physical faculties, then is heaven and ultimately God confined to a physical place?
5 – THE PROPHET WOKE UP AT THE END
Not only does the Holy Quran support the notion that the Miraj was a dream but the Hadith from which the details of this incident are derived too favours this view. The final words of the Hadith end on:
‘The Prophet (sa) then awoke while he was in the Sacred Mosque’
Sahih Bukhari – Kitab ut tawheed
Interestingly, Hazrat Anas Bin Malik (ra) who is the narrator of this Hadith has also explained that this was but a dream. At the beginning of this narration he states:
‘his eyes were asleep but his heart was not—-and so is the case with the prophets: their eyes sleep while their hearts do not sleep.
Sahih Bukhari – Kitab ut tawheed
The Holy Quran, Ahadith and common sense demands that we believe that the incident of the Miraj was a dream, not a physical occurrence.