The Secret Of The Miraculous Mihraj
The Prophet (sal) went on the Mihraj (Ascent). For what purpose did he go on this Mihraj? For what purpose was this miraculous mihraj? The purpose was to show to the whole nation of Muhmmed that by following the Prophet (sal) that they also should be able to reach to it. When Jibril (alai) brought Buraq u Sheriff to the Prophet (sal), the Prophet asked him “Is this only for me or also for my Ummah (nation)”. Jibril answered “It is for you and also for your nation and the only condition is that they should follow in your steps, and they should also be able to reach to this.”
The Buraq that was brought to the Prophet (sal) was in a grass field in Paradise, and there were so many other Buraqs with it. But this one was specially taken to the Prophet (sal) because when it heard the name of the Prophet Muhammed (sal), “Ya Muhammed” – Oh Muhammed (sal), a feeling of love came over that Buraq and it fell in love with the person who was named Muhammed. It stopped eating because of this and also started crying. Then Jibril (alai) gave it good tidings and took it to the Prophet (sal).
To the Prophet’s (sal) question as to whether Mihraj (the ascension) was only for him, Jibril answered “It is for your Ummah also and there are Buraqs waiting for them also. Those who are following you may also join after you. If they do not follow you they shall always remain on earth and under the ground.” When all the Sahaba reached to their destinations through the heavens everyone else also reached to their heavenly stations.
Below is a description of the Mihraj of the Prophet Muhammed (sal) extracted from the Life Story of the Prophet Muhammed (sal) written and compiled by Sheik Nazim's beloved wife Hajja Amina Nazim.
The Mihraj of the Prophet Muhammed (Sal) (from the Dalail-i-Khairat Sharhi of Kara Da’ud, d. 1541)
The 178th name of the Prophet on whom be Peace: Sahib-ul-Mi’raj, he who was granted ascent to heaven. Oh Allah, Thy Benediction be upon the owner of this name. The word ‘Mihraj’ signifies an instrument facilitating ascent, such as a flight of stairs. Our Holy Prophet (Sal) ascended to the heavens on a stairway of precious gems beginning at al-Quds (Jerusalem) during his lifetime and in his pure physical form. Among all the prophets and messengers, it was a privilege reserved for the Holy Prophet (Sal) alone to be granted such an experience. Therefore the appellation ‘Sahib-ul-Mihraj’ was appended to his name.
Now we shall set forth in full the account of the Mihraj that the Holy Prophet (Sal) was honoured to experience.
When the Prophet Muhammed (Sal) had reached his fortieth year, he was sent with mercy for the whole world and the prophet and Messenger to all people. He began to preach his message and invite people to faith. It was in the twelfth year of his calling, on the twenty-sixth day of the month of Rajab that the Prophet (Sal) went to the Baytullah (the Kaaba) and sat by himself in front of one of the pillars.
There he engaged in remembrance and meditation of the Lord Almighty. Just then, Abu Jahl came in to meet with his helpers and henchmen. He saw Muhammed (Sal) sitting there all on his own, engaged in the worship of his Lord. Seeing him thus, he thought to himself, “I will play a prank,” and going up close to him, he bent down and asked him, “Oh Muhammed (Sal), are you a Prophet?” Muhammed (Sal) answered him directly, saying, “Yes, I am a Prophet.” Abu Jahl went on to say, “How can you be a prophet whilst you sit here all alone? Where is your following, where are your helpers? Had there been any necessity for a new prophet, the call to prophethood certainly would have come to me. Look at my following, look at the number of my retainers!” And, striking an arrogant pose, he turned around and left. After Abu Jahl had gone, another one of his party came by with his group of followers. He, too, approached the Holy Prophet (Sal) sitting there on his own, with the intention of doing something hurtful to Muhammed (Sal). He spoke as Abu Jahl had spoken, and then he turned and left. In this way, no less than seven of the notables of Quraysh came by with their accomplices and they all spoke the same words as Abu Jahl, as if they had previously devised a plan. As a result, the Holy Prophet (Sal) became very dejected and his spirits fell. He thought to himself, “It is now twelve years that I am calling them to Islam and to the belief in the Unity of Allah Almighty. However, far from accepting the Truth, they don’t even understand the concept of the Messenger. A Prophet has no need of a following of servants and retainers. All that is needful to a prophet is Divine Revelation and the order to make known His Divine Command.” Thus the Holy Prophet (Sal) grew sad.
That night was the twenty-seventh night of the month of Rajab, a Monday night. He proceeded to the house of Umm Hani who was the daughter of Abu Talib, the sister of Imam Ali. She lived in her father’s house, which was situated between Safa and Marwa. The Prophet (Sal) arrived at her house, and finding him downcast and dispirited, she asked him for the reason of this. The Prophet (Sal) explained to her what had happened and why he felt as he did. Now, Umm Hani was an intelligent and resourceful woman. She comforted the Holy Prophet (Sal) and said, “These men undoubtedly know that as a Prophet of Allah bringing the message of Truth you are not in need of servants and accomplices. But as they are a stubborn, envious and ill-tempered lot, they spoke these words with the sole purpose of insulting you and wounding your spirit.” These words served to comfort the Prophet (Sal) somewhat, but he still remained distraught. It is reported that soon after praying the night prayer (Salat-ul-Isha), he fell asleep in Umm Hani’s house in a saddened state of mind.
Then the Lord of all Created Beings who had created Rasulullah (Sal) before anything else, destining him to be a Messenger of many miracles and gifts of mercy to all the people in the world and endowing him with perfection and the ability to awaken love in the hearts of men; the Lord Almighty whose Glory reaches from end to boundless end, other than whom there is no God, in His aspect of Majesty and Might addressed Himself to the angel Jibreel, saying, “My Beloved whom I have chosen from amongst all My Creation, the Best of them all, lies sleeping in the house of Umm Hani, aggrieved by the hurtful words of the unbelievers. Let your piety and obedience be an invitation to My Beloved. Go, adorn your dazzling wings with the gems of paradise and enjoy the dignity of being at his service. Go and tell Mikhail to leave off the weighing out of provisions this night, tell Israfil to abandon his trumpet for one hour, and tell Israil for this one night to refrain from taking any souls. Tell the angels of the lights and luminaries to festoon the heavens with lamps; tell Ridwan to embellish the gardens of Paradise, and admonish the angels to keep the gate to the pits of Hell firmly fastened and the demons of Hell not to move from their places. Tell the Huris to bedeck themselves and to set about scattering precious gems, preparing all the Paradise mansions. Say to the Throne-bearing angels: ‘Wrap the sphere of the skies in its blessed robes and equip yourselves each with seventy thousand angels.’ You, Jibreel , repair to Paradise and there select a Buraq steed, then descend to the face of the earth. All the punishment in the graves shall be lifted for the duration of this night. Go to My Beloved who fell asleep of sad and dejected mind in Umm Hani’s house, and be his companion. Awaken him gently and explain to him that this night he is to be shown his great destiny and the station of nearness (qurb) that excels all other stations of elevation and honour. Invite him to come along with you.”
The Journey in the Buraq
Jibreel then went to the Paradise gardens where he beheld forty thousand Buraqs as they were grazing. Each one had the name of Muhammed (Sal) written across its forehead. Among them was one Buraq, which seemed sad and dejected; its head was bowed and tears were streaming from its eyes. Jibreel approached that Buraq without hesitation and asked him the reason for its distress. The Buraq then said, “As I was prancing about in Paradise Gardens, a voice suddenly came to my ear, which said, ‘Oh Muhammed (Sal)!’ No sooner had I heard this name spoken than I became enamoured of the bearer of this name. For forty thousand years now I have been burning with the fire of separation and the hope of attaining union. Ever since I am weeping, in the sway of intense longing.”
Jibreel had pity on the state of this Buraq and said to him, “Your beloved Muhammed (Sal) has this very night been invited to ascend to the Heavens. He needs to be transported from the Masjid-ul-Haram (Mecca) to the Masjid-ul-Aqsa (Jerusalem) by a Buraq steed. It is you I will select, so come now and attain fulfillment.” Then he saddled the Buraq with a saddle of light and placed a bit in his mouth of green chrysolite. Next he went to the chamber, where the spiritual king of this world and the world to come, the Messenger to both mankind and Jinn, lay sleeping.
Now, the compilers of Hadith have narrated in six collections of Hadith the story of the Prophet’s (Sal) Mihraj as it was told to them by no less than twenty of the venerable companions who heard it as the King of Prophets (Sal) told it to them himself. This then was his narrative:
“I had fallen asleep in Umm Hani’s house, my eyes were closed, but my heart was wakeful. Suddenly, I heard the voice of Jibreel in my ear, and rising from my slumber, I sat up, finding myself face to face with the angel Jibreel. He spoke to me, saying, ‘The Lord Almighty sends you His greetings of peace and invites you to come with me. I will carry you along, for the Lord wishes to shower upon you the diversity of His munificence. Of those that have gone before you, none has ever attained to such munificence, nor will any who are to come after you ever attain to it.”
“I rose and wished to perform my ablutions. Water was ordered to be brought from the heavenly stream of Kawthar. Before I had even uncovered my hands and feet, preparing to take ablution, Ridwan had already brought two jugs full of water from the stream of Kawthar in pitchers of red ruby. He also brought a bowl of green emerald that had four corners to it. In each corner there was a gem that shone like the sun and lit up the night sky. I washed with this blessed water, and they clad me in a wrap of pure light and set upon my head a quilted turban of light.”
“The story of this turban is this: eight thousand years before the creation of Adam, the angel Ridwan wound this turban in my name. Since that time up until now, forty thousand angels stand about this turban reciting praises and glorifying the Lord. After every single one of their glorifications, they recite blessings (Salat-wa-Salam) upon me. That turban has forty thousand folds, and in every one of these folds there are four lines of writing.
In the first line is written: Muhammed (Sal) is the Messenger of Allah.
In the second line is written: Muhammed (Sal) is the Prophet of Allah
In the third line is written: Muhammed (Sal) is the Beloved of Allah.
In the fourth line is written: Muhammed (Sal) is the Friend of Allah.
“After this, Jibreel covered my back with a cape of light and fastened around my waist a belt of red rubies. He placed in my hand a whip made of green emeralds, which was embellished with four hundred pearls, each of which shone like the morning star. He clad my feet in a pair of slippers crafted from green emerald. Thereafter he took me by the hand and led me to the Haram.”
In another narration, the Prophet (Sal) continues his account as follows:
“I made my ablution with the waters of the Zamzam well. Then I circled the Holy House seven times and prayed two Rak’ats at the Maqam Ibrahim. I came to the place called the Khatm and there sat down for a bit to rest. While I was sitting there, Jibreel split my chest asunder and brought two large basins filled with knowledge and wisdom, respectively. Mikha’il brought three basins full of Zamzam water wherein they washed my entrails and my bosom. Then he opened up my heart and took from it the small black clump of clotted blood, while saying, ‘This bit of clotted blood is the reason why men feel fear when they behold an awesome sight. I have taken it from you, for tonight you will behold the Heavens and the Lote Tree, the Divine Throne and Divine Court and the many strange and wonderful things they contain, and many great angelic creatures. Therefore I have cleansed you of this clot, so that you might gaze at whomever you will and speak what needs to be said without fear or constraint.’
He then took from the basin the knowledge and wisdom contained in it and placed it within my heart. He tucked it in and closed my chest again, so that there remained no trace or scar.”
“Jibreel then took me by the hand and led me to a place outside of Mecca. I saw there the other great archangels, Mikhail, Israfil and Israil, each surrounded by seventy thousand angels of their company. When they beheld me, they all stood to respectful attention and I gave them my greetings of peace. In answer to my greetings, they proclaimed the boundless graces of the Lord.”
]“Presently, Jibreel said to me, ‘Oh Prophet of Allah (Sal), I have brought you this Buraq from the Gardens of Paradise. Mount it now, for the Lord on High awaits your coming.’ I turned and saw the Buraq, which was as bright as the sun and as swift as a flash of lightning. As soon as he lifted his foot to take a step he had already reached as far as the eye could see. In addition, this Buraq had two wings by his side, which he used whenever he wished to fly through the air.”
The wise and learned have this to say about the Buraq: his body is smaller than that of a mule, but larger than that of a donkey. He speaks pure, intelligible Arabic. The Lord has created each of his limbs from a different set of precious materials. His hooves are made of corals; his feet are of gold. His chest is of red ruby stone, while his back is made pearls. The wings at his side are of ruby red. His tail resembles the tail of a camel. According to a different narration, his tail resembles that of a peacock and is of extreme comeliness. His mane was that of a horse while his feet resembled those of a camel. He was saddled with a saddle from Paradise, and his stirrups were of red ruby, beset with jewels.
Our Holy Prophet’s (Sal) narration continues as follows,
“The angel Jibreel held the stirrups for me, saying, ‘Mount!’ As I made ready to mount him, the Buraq stirred restively. Jibreel addressed him, ‘Oh Buraq, are you not ashamed of yourself? How dare you dare behave with such insolence? By the Grace of Allah Almighty whose Glory is vast and whose bounties are all-encompassing, beside whom there is no other Lord, never will you see a rider of greater merit and excellence!’ At the angel’s words, the Buraq blushed with shame and began to tremble all over. Large drops of sweat trickled from his brow and he said, ‘Oh Jibreel, I have a request to make, and it was from this urgency that I behaved thus, not because I am reluctant to fulfill my duty. Now you have put me to shame.”
The Holy Prophet (Sal) then turned to the Buraq and asked him what his request was and how it might be fulfilled. “Oh my Prophet (Sal),” replied the Buraq, “I have been stricken with love for you since before time began. For untold eons, I was immersed in yearning, submerged in an agony of love. Now, by the Grace of Allah, I have been granted the boon of beholding your light and perceived your blessed scent. My love now has blossomed forth and increased thousandfold. On the Day of Gathering, when you rise from your blessed resting-place, you will be brought to the place of gathering on a Buraq steed.
The request of my love is this: that you will mount no other steed than me on that tremendous day, thereby completing my happiness and filling my heart with the light of joy.” The Holy Prophet (Sal) answered and said, “I granted the Buraq his request and promised that I would mount no other than him on that day.”
After hearing from the Buraq that he would be brought to the Site of Judgement on the back of a Buraq, the Prophet (Sal), the Glory of all Creation, the Quintessence of all Being grew thoughtful as he pondered the fate and state of his nation on that day. The Lord Almighty who is aware of every hidden thing then made the angel Jibreel ask Muhammed (Sal) the reason for his sudden sadness. The Holy Prophet (Sal) replied, “I have been informed by the Buraq of the honour that will be shown to me on that mighty day in that I will be fetched and mounted on a Buraq. It occurs to me to reflect on the state of my nation on that day: they are but weak, far from perfect, sinful mortals; how, on the Day of Judgement, will they go on foot to the place of assembly which is at a distance of fifty thousand years bearing the weight of all their sins? How will they manage to cross the bridge of Sirat, which is a stretch of three thousand years’ wayfaring?”
“I was then informed by Divine inspiration that Divine Grace would reach every single one on that day. Just as the Lord would send a Buraq to fetch me from my grave, so every single soul belonging to my nation would be sent a Buraq to bring him to the Site of Judgement. They would cross the Bridge of Sirat in a flash and they would traverse a road of fifty thousand years as if in a single moment. ‘This is Our Favour and Grant of Kindness to your nation, oh Muhammed (Sal),’ I was told, ‘therefore, let your mind be easy on this account.”
There is a verse in the Holy Qur’an relating to these events:
On that day that We shall muster the god fearing to the All-Merciful with pomp.. (Mary,85)
The Holy Prophet (Sal) then continued in his narrative, “Learning of the promise of the Lord’s Favour and Kindness, I mounted upon the Buraq filled with joy. Jibreel and a following of seventy thousand angels were at my right stirrup, Mikha’il with seventy thousand angels was at my left stirrup, and every one of these angels held in his hand a candelabrum of light. Behind me went Israfil with seventy thousand angels and on his shoulder he bore the saddle cloth of the Buraq. I begged his pardon for its great size and that he was made to carry it, since it nearly covered him entirely, but he answered me, ‘Oh Rasulullah (Sal), how many thousands of years have I been praying for the favour of being permitted to bear this weight of your Buraq’s covering! At last the All-Gracious Lord has heard my pleas and granted me this favour!’ ‘Why did you pray for this?’ I asked him. Israfil answered, ‘For how many thousands of years did I worship the Divine Throne! At last there came a voice addressing me, saying, ‘What is it that you long for? Your prayer has been accepted.’ I replied, ‘Oh my Lord, when his time on earth has come, I pray that I might be granted one hour in the service of the intercessor for his sinful nation, whose name the King of the Day of Judgement has deigned to write on the base of the Divine Throne beside His own Blessed Name.’ To this the Almighty Lord replied, ‘I grant you your prayer. There will come one night during his lifetime in which I will grant him the experience of My Nearness. I will bring him from his lowly station on earth up to the highest heaven. I will open for him the gates of My treasure houses with the Key of Witnessing. I will lead him from Mecca to the Bayt-ul-Maqdis (Jerusalem), and until he arrives there, you will have the honour of carrying the saddle cloth of his mount.”
The Holy Prophet (Sal) then continued, “That night, the Buraq’s feet did not touch the ground. All the way from Mecca to Jerusalem were spread the fine, flowered silks from Paradise, on which the Buraq trod. On my way, suddenly one Ifrit (demon) appeared before me and leaned towards me, with flames leaping from his mouth. Jibreel then said to me, ‘Oh Rasulullah (Sal), let me teach you a few words to say, which will extinguish the fire of this Ifrit and undo his existence.’ ‘Do teach me, please!’ I replied and he taught me these words:
wa bi-kalimati-llahi-t-tammat-allati la yujawizuhunna
barrun wa la fajir,
min sharri ma yanzilu min-as-sama’i wa ma ya’ruju fiha
wa min sharri ma yakhruju minha
wa min fitan-il-layli wa-n-nahari
wa min tawariq-il-layli wa-n-nahari
illa tariqan yatruku bi-khayrin,
(I seek refuge in the gracious nature of my Lord Allah, and in the perfection of the Divine Word which neither the righteous nor the transgressor is able to breach, from the evil which descends from the sky and that which rises up to it; and from the evil which comes forth from the sky; and from the tribulations of the night and the day, and from all the calamities of night and day, except for those that result in benefit, oh Lord of Mercy!)
“When this Du’a was recited, the fire of this Ifrit died down and the creature ceased to exist.”
“A voice then came from my right side, saying, ‘Oh Muhammed (Sal), stay for a moment and linger; for there is something I wish to ask you...’ This voice called me three times, but I paid it no heed and went on. Then I heard a voice calling me from my left side, and it said, ‘Oh Muhammed (Sal), wait awhile, I need to ask you something.’ But again I listened not to it and passed on. Then I beheld a woman, magnificently bedecked in costly robes and lavishly bejeweled. When I passed close by her, saw that she was a very old woman. Thrice she spoke to me, saying, ‘Stop!’ but I heeded not her call and passed on. Ahead of me I saw an old man, bent over his staff and trembling in every limb. He, too, requested me thrice to stop and stay with him. ‘Look at me and pity my condition,’ he said, ‘let me enjoy your beauty, for I have something I want to ask you.’ But I passed him by, not heeding his please.
After a while, I beheld a fresh youth of surpassing beauty whose face shone with light, ‘Stay, oh Muhammed (Sal),’ he addressed me, ‘for I have things to ask of you.”
“At his words, the Buraq halted, and I gave him Salams. After responding to my greetings, he said, ‘Good tidings to you! All good is in you alone and in your nation.’ To this I rejoined, ‘Al-hamdulillah!’ and Jibreel echoed my words. I then asked him who these people were whom I had just seen. He answered, ‘The voice coming from the right was the voice of the Jews. Had you stopped there, your nation would have been overpowered by them, and reduced to contempt after your time. The voice coming from your left was that of the Christians; had you paused to stop there, your nation would have been overpowered by the Christian peoples after your time and subjugated by them. The woman you saw was this world, the dunya. She appears finely decked out and attractive to those who wish to possess her. Her decorations and fine robes are meant to fool and deceive mankind. The fact that she appears to be an old woman indicates that the Last Day has drawn nigh. Had you been swayed by her appeal, your whole nation would have become obsessed with the goods of this world and would have worshipped them. The old man you saw was the accursed devil, Shaytan himself. He knows how kind and merciful you are by nature, so he tried to ensnare you by appearing pitiful to you. It was nothing but a guile to stay you. Had you been fooled by his words, your nation would never have been saved from his wiles, up to the very last drop of their blood, he would have gained the upperhand over very many of them. As for the young lad you saw, he is the religion of Islam. It was there that you stopped; therefore, after your time, your entire nation will be safe from the machinations of the enemy and the religion of Islam will endure.”
“You had been concerned with a number of questions regarding your nation, such as ‘What will happen when they go out at night into the desert and run into a company of malevolent Jinn? What will be their state after I am gone?’ Allah Almighty who knows all that is hidden and what is manifest then made that Ifrit appear to you and taught you the means of salvation. After your time, there will be no religion that will overcome this religion of Islam. Muslim forces will overcome the nations of the Jews and the Christians. The nation of Muhammed (Sal) will live according to the Divine Law of the Shari’a.
Thus, in the final end, they will be saved from the wiles of Shaitan and reach to safety. Islam will remain on earth until the Day of Judgement. All that you have seen are signs from Allah who wishes to awaken you and relieve you of your fears and doubts.’ So Jibreel explained to me these visions.”
“After some time we reached a place where date palms were plentiful. Jibreel told me to dismount there and to pray, so I did. When I had finished praying, Jibreel asked me whether I knew this place where I had prayed and he told me that it was called Tayyiba (which is one of the names for Medina-t- ul-Munawwara). And he told me that before long I would migrate to this place. Next we came to a place, which was all white. Again Jibreel told me to dismount and to pray there. Then he asked me if I knew the place, and when I did not he explained that this was the tree beneath which Musa had prayed when he came to the land of Madian. When Musa was fleeing from Pharaoh, he came to this land.
Outside the city of Madian he saw some shepherds watering their flocks, and he saw two girls who were standing at a distance from the well, waiting for their turn. Musa felt sorry for the girls and went up to them to inquire why they waited. Learning their story, he said to himself, ‘Herein lies great reward,’ and disregarding his own fatigue, he went and watered their sheep for them. Then he withdrew to a tree and prayed beneath it. This very tree is the tree you have now prayed beneath, oh Muhammed (Sal).”
“Afterwards we came to yet another place, and Jibreel said, ‘Dismount, and pray here!’ When I had done so and again did not know where it was that I had just prayed, he told me, ‘This is Tur-i-Sina, Mount Sinai, where the Almighty Lord revealed Himself to His Prophet Musa and spoke to him, in answer to his supplication.”
“We continued apace and in time reached a grand mansion where again the angel bade me pray, explaining that this was the village where the Prophet Isa was born. When I had done praying, I beheld a group of people who were planting a field. No sooner had they planted a seed than it yielded seven hundredfold. I asked the angel who these people were, and he told me, ‘These are the people who expend of their wealth in the way of Allah.”
“Then again, I beheld another group of persons, whose heads were being smashed with stones by the angels, but they grew back instantly, only to be crushed again. ‘Who are these people?’ I asked the angel Jibreel. He said, ‘They are those of your nation who abandoned the practice of prayer, and those who performed it negligently in that when rising from the position of Ruk’u or Sajda, they did not bother to straighten up completely, but fused the various postures and phases of the ritual prayer in heedless haste.”
“I then saw a certain group of people who were altogether hungry and naked. Around them grew weeds of fire and the angels were driving them to eat those fiery weeds just as animals are driven to pasture. I asked who they were and the angel said, ‘They are those belonging to your nation who did not give the Zakat they were obliged to pay, and who had no compassion with the poor and destitute, the homeless widows and orphans.”
“Then I saw another people: to one side there was a spread of the choicest foods anyone could dream of, to the other there was some dreadfully smelling, rotten meat. These people never looked or turned to the delicious foods, but ate only of the carrion meat. ‘Who are they?’ I asked. ‘They are men and women of your nation who engaged in all manner of unlawful sexual activities, while lawful spouses were available to them.”
“After these, I saw a group of men piling up wooden logs. They were trying to lift them up, but they failed at every attempt. Their strength was simply insufficient, yet they kept up their futile efforts. ‘And who are they?’ I asked. Jibreel told me, ‘They are people of your nation who were engrossed in the affairs of this world (dunya). Whereas they had more than they could possibly use up, they were forever dissatisfied and tried to amass more and more. They are in love with the world and what it has to offer and they are constantly seeking to increase their share.”
“Then I saw a great stone, which had a little hole in it. Out of the hole came a snake and began to grow. Then it turned around and tried to go back through the little hole, but, having grown so large, it could not fit through it, and began to circle round and round the stone in confusion. I asked the Angel what this was, and Jibreel told me, ‘This stone symbolizes the body of your nation, and the small hole within it signifies their mouths. As for the snake, it signifies all the lies, and bad, forbidden things, gossip and slanders that issues from their mouths. Once these things have emerged from their mouths, it is impossible to swallow them again, and they will be punished for these things in this life and the life hereafter. They will hear worse than this and will be called to account. So exhort your nation to mind their words, and beware of speaking evil and hurtful things, so that they might find salvation.”
“Then I saw a person drawing water from a well. With great effort he drew the bucket up to the rim of the well, but he found no water in it, an empty bucket was all he got for his trouble. I asked about him and Jibreel told me, ‘This is the condition of those who performed good works without a pure intention. Their aim was not Allah alone but the acclaim of men. Hence, though they put themselves through great trouble in their worldly lives, they reap no reward for it in the afterlife, but expose themselves only to greater troubles.”
“I saw another people bearing great loads upon their backs. Although they could hardly carry the weight, they said to their companions, ‘Load me up with more!’ ‘Who are they?’ I asked the angel Jibreel who answered me, ‘These are the people who defrauded goods left in their safekeeping. Despite being weighed down with such great weight, they seek to increase their wealth by unrighteous methods.”
“Then I saw another group of people whose tongues and lips were distended and hung down loosely. Angels with shears of fire came and cut off these flapping appendages. But whenever they cut them, they would immediately grow back as they were before, and the angels would resume their cutting. ‘Who are these?’ I asked Jibreel and he replied, ‘These are such persons as denounced their own people to their rulers and tyrants, the sycophants and toadies who upheld all their commander’s lies rather than trying to save their people from the injustice committed by their rulers.”
“Then I saw a people whose flesh was being cut by the angels and fed to them. ‘Eat!’ the angels ordered them. When they couldn’t do this from the disgust they felt, the angels whipped them and ordered them again, ‘Eat!’ until they did so. ’Who are these?’ I asked, and Jibreel told me, ‘These are people who spread calumnies about their fellowmen.”
“Next I beheld a people whose faces were black and whose eyes were blue. Their lower lips reached down to their feet, while their upper lip was affixed to their forehead. Blood and pus dripped from their mouths. In one hand they held a carafe full of fire, in the other hand a glass of fire. The blood and pus oozing from their mouths drips into the bottle and begins to boil. The angels order them to drink this, and force them to do so. But every time they try to fill their glasses and drink from them, the liquid boils so strongly and its stench is so disgusting that they cannot stand it and begin to bray like donkeys.
The angels then beat them and make them drink it by force. ‘Who are these people?’ I asked Jibreel. ‘These are the wine-drinkers,’ he replied.”
“Then I saw another group of people whose tongues stuck out from the backs of their necks and whose faces had become like the faces of pigs. From above and from below they were being whipped and beaten. ‘Who are these people?’ I asked, and Jibreel told me, ‘These are people who bore false witness and gave false testimony, and in so doing wronged the servants of Allah.”
“Another group appeared whose stomachs were so bloated that they hung pendulously down and whose hands and feet were bound and fettered. They could not rise to their feet because of the weight of their stomachs, and fell rolling upon the ground. ‘Who are these people?’ I asked Jibreel. ‘These are people from your nation your practiced usury and misappropriated other people’s property.”
“Next I passed some women whose faces were blackened and who were given robes of fire to wear. Angels were beating them with maces of fire so that they howled like dogs. I asked Jibreel who they were and he said, ‘These are the women who committed adultery and who caused their husbands pain and torment.”
“Next I came upon a group that was being slaughtered by angels with knives of fire. They came back to life, only to have their throats cut anew. ‘Who are they?’ I asked Jibreel. ‘Those are people belonging to your nation who killed a soul without justification.”
“Then I came by a group of people who were suspended in mid-air while fire issued from their ears and noses and mouths. Each one of them was attended by two terrible, vengeful angels, and each angel held in his hand a fiery stick of seventy knots. With these they were beating them continuously, without stopping, while they recited this very significant Tasbih:
Qadir, Muqtadir, Subhanallah. Allah Almighty is the Mighty Avenger over His foes, Allah Almighty is the Most Powerful, Praised be He.
I asked Jibreel about these people and he told me, ‘These are the people who outwardly confessed their faith, while in their hearts there was nothing but hypocrisy and disbelief.”
“Then I saw another group of people who were imprisoned in a valley of fire. They were being burnt to death, but they instantly came back to life, only to be burnt alive once more. Their punishment seemed very severe to me. ‘Who are these people?’ I asked the angel. ‘These are people who failed to honour and obey their parents and who were rebellious and opposed them.”
“Next I came upon a people upon whose chests were placed bowls of fire, while the angels were beating them with big sticks. ‘Who are these?’ I asked, and Jibreel said, ‘These are the musicians who played the lute and sang songs to the people.”
“Then I heard a terrible noise and asked what it was. Jibreel told me, ‘A stone has fallen into the pit of Jahannam from its rim. It has been falling for three thousand years, and now it has hit the bottom. That was the noise you heard.”
About this stone there is the following narration: If a stone the size of a man’s head is rolled down from the earthly skies, it will fall down to earth in twenty-four hours, even though it falls a distance of five hundred years. Consider this distance and then consider how far a stone of that size must fall if it falls for three thousand years! That is the depth of the pit of Hellfire; therefore, take refuge in Allah from its raging fires.
The Prophet (Sal) continues:
“I then came to another valley from which issued the most noxious smells and dreadful sounds. ‘What are these smells?’ I asked, and Jibreel answered me, ‘That is the stench of Hell. Listen to what it has to say!’ I listened and this is what I heard: ‘Oh my Lord, send to me those servants whom you promised to me. My chains, my spikes, my fetters, my Zakkum trees and boiling waters and cauldrons of pus are ready for them, and other punishments as well. My snakes and scorpions have become many, and my depths unfathomable. Send me the servants You have promised to me, that I may begin to punish them.’ This was the reply that the Lord Almighty gave in answer to this request of Jahannam: ‘Oh Jahannam, I leave up to you these works! I will leave to you all those who attribute partners to My Holy Name, who disbelieve in Me and My Prophets, all those who are wicked and villainous, be they male or female, and who disbelieve in the Day of Resurrection – all those I shall throw into your fires!’ Jahannam was pleased with the Lord’s promise and said, ‘I am satisfied, oh my Lord!”
“After this we reached a valley in which blew a gentle breeze and sweet smells wafted all around. A pleasant and melodious air struck the ear. I asked, ‘What is this most pleasing sound, where does it come from and what are these voices saying? What is this gentle wind and from where do these sweet smells come?’ Jibreel then explained to me, ‘This is the smell and the breeze of Paradise. Just listen to what it says, and you will understand.”
“The breeze from Paradise spoke as follows, ‘Oh my Lord, send to me Thy servants whom Thou hast promised to me. All the delights I have in store for them are ready: the pavilions, fine and heavy brocades and silks, carpets and wraps, the pearls, jewels, silver and gold; the amber and musk; the spreads and jugs and vessels; all the varied foods of Paradise, the rivers of milk, honey, wine and water; the Huris, Ghilman and Wildan and all the unspeakable delights of Paradise are stocked in abundance and overflowing plenty. Send Thou Thy promised servants to me so that I might present them with these untold pleasures and shower them with gifts of goodness.”
“The Lord replied to this lovely supplication of the Janna: ‘Oh Paradise, I shall send to you what you desire. I shall send you the men and women who believed in Me and worshipped Me alone, who recognized and honoured My Messengers, engaged in beneficial actions and associated no partners to My Divinity. Whoever is in fear of Me and My Punishment, him I shall free and make safe from it. Whoever turns to Me in his need and invokes Me in extremis, to his need I shall hearken and his intent I shall see through. Whoever grants Me a loan, I shall repay him manifold. Whoever leaves all his cares up to Me, who entrusts all his affairs to Me, I shall take over for him all his labour. For I alone am Allah; there is no god beside Me. I fulfill all My vows; not do I turn back from My promises. All the believers have come to success. The Glory of the Creator outshines that of all His Creation.”
“To these words of Grace, Paradise replied, ‘I am well satisfied, oh my Lord!”
Now the Holy Prophet (Sal) saw a great many wondrous sights on the way to the Masjid-al-Aqsa, but these are the best known of them all, and we shall content ourselves with this much.
Masjid Al Aqsa
The Holy Prophet (Sal) continues his narrative:
“After this, we came to the Bayt-ul-Maqdis. There I saw the angels descending down to earth. They came to meet me and give me the glad tidings of abundant blessings and boons that the Lord of Holiness and Grace was to send to me. They greeted me with these words: ‘Salams to you, who are the first, Salams to you, who are the last, Salams to you, who are the assembler of men.’ With this address they honoured me greatly, still I asked Jibreel, ‘What kind of greeting is this - the First, the Last, the Assembler of Men is the Lord of the Worlds, Allah Almighty?’ Jibreel then told me, ‘Oh Rasulullah, on the Day of Judgement your tomb will be the first to open up, and then that of your nation. Therefore, they addressed you as the Gatherer. On that day, you will be the first to make intercession and yours will be the first intercession to be accepted. Therefore, they addressed you as the First. Of all the prophets in this world, you are the last to be sent, therefore they addressed you as the Last.”
“I then passed by them and came to the gates of the Masjid-al-Aqsa. I dismounted from the Buraq and Jibreel tied him to a ring there. This was the ring to which the prophets and messengers always tied their mounts. The prophets and messengers came to greet me there and gave me much honour.”
Now there are two accounts of the meeting of the prophets and messengers with our Holy Prophet (Sal). One of them maintains that the Lord Almighty called the prophets back to life just for the sake of receiving the Holy Prophet Muhammed (Sal) with due formality; this implies that He resurrected them in their physical forms. The other, more commonly accepted version is this: that He Almighty called only their unblemished spirits to this meeting with the Prophet Muhammed (Sal).
Let us continue with the Prophet Muhammed’s (Sal) narrative:
“They appeared to me as exceedingly great, honourable and enlightened personalities. I ask Jibreel who they were and he told me, ‘They are your fathers and brothers, the prophets and messengers. Give them your Salams and salute them.’ I greeted them accordingly and entered the Masjid-ul-Aqsa together with them. The Iqama was called and I thought to myself, ‘I wonder who will be the Imam of this gathering?’ While I was yet pondering this point, Jibreel took me by the hand and said, ‘Go ahead up front, you are to be Imam, for you are the most excellent and the most highly esteemed.’ So I stepped out in front of them all and led all the prophets and messengers in a prayer of two Rak’ats.”
The scholars have proffered various views concerning this prayer, which was prayed here. If it were categorized as ‘nafila’ (supererogatory), this is contradicted by the fact that it was prayed in congregation, for it is not permissible for nafil-prayers to be prayed in congregation. It also could not have been the Isha prayer, for this consists of four Rak’ats, while only two Rak’ats were here prayed. The most authoritative opinion on this is the following: the prayer, which Rasulullah led in the Masjid-ul- Aqsa is of the same kind as that, which he led and prayed in each level of the heavens to which he ascended and the one he prayed in the Bayt-ul-Ma’mur and at the Sidratu-l-Muntaha, in which he led the entire assembly of angels, and it partakes of its characteristics. It was performed upon the command of the Lord of the Worlds, Allah Almighty.
To continue in the words of the Holy Prophet (Sal):
“After completing the prayer, I turned my back to the Mihrab and my face to the assembly of prophets, on all of whom be peace, and I spoke to them. Every single prophet engaged in praise of the special gifts the Highest Lord had graced him with, and I also joined in the praise of Allah who equipped me with such outstanding gifts.”
“Ibrahim praised the Lord and said, ‘Praise and glory to the Highest of the High who made me His intimate friend and gave me great possessions.”
“Musa praised Him Almighty and said, ‘Praise and glory be to Allah Almighty, the Highest of the High who spoke to me without intermediary, who caused Pharaoh and his henchmen to drown in the waters at my hand and who saved the Children of Israil. He made my nation a people guided to the Truth, judging by the Truth and striving for the good pleasure of Allah Almighty.”
“Next the Prophet Da’ud came forth and praised the Lord, saying, ‘Praise and Glory to the Divine Lord who made me king over such a great realm and who revealed to me the scripture of the Zabur. Who made iron to be as soft as beeswax in my hand, and who placed the birds and the mountains under my command, so that they all joined me in the praises of the Lord, who gave me knowledge of the law and the gift of sweet speech.”
“After him, his son Sulayman stepped forth and glorified the Lord thus: ‘Praise and Glory be to the Lord, the Mighty, the Enduring, who gave me power over the winds, and made the Jinn and the demons subservient to me, so that they did whatever I wished. He taught me the languages of the birds and the beasts and gave me greater excellence than many of His servants. He gave me such an incomparably vast kingdom, which no other mortal can ever hope to attain.”
“Then Isa stepped forth and glorified his Lord, saying, ‘Praise and Glory be to the Almighty Creator who, as He created Adam from clay, brought me into existence without the contribution of an earthly father. He created me solely through His Creative Word, ‘Be!’ He taught me the wisdom of the Torah and the Injil and the knowledge of the law. He granted healing to the sick, seeing to the blind through my supplication, and by means of me, He brought the dead back to life. He made me and my mother safe from the wiles of the accursed devil and he lifted me up into the heavens in my living, physical body.”
“After they had spoken, I said to them, ‘You have now all voiced your glorification of the Lord; it is now my turn to glorify Him,’ and I began by saying, ‘Praise and Glory be to the Lord, the Forgiving, the Merciful, the Abundant, Munificent, the Lord of Might and Honour who has sent me as a Mercy for the Worlds and as a Messenger of Joy to all humankind and as a Warner. He has sent a book to me that makes clear all things, and He has given my nation excellence over every previous nation. He has made my nation to be a people of the middle way. He split open my bosom and removed from it all sin.
He has made my reputation to be blameless and He has given me victory over all created beings and made me the last and final of all prophets.”
“After I had completed my glorification, Ibrahim got up and said, ‘You have been made more meritorious than all the other Prophets with regard to your being victorious and being the last and final of the Prophets.”
Some authorities relate the meeting of the Prophets as follows:
When Rasulullah came to the Bayt-ul-Maqdis, all the Prophets and Messengers rushed up to greet him. They saluted and praised him in many ways and sprinkled upon him showers of light. They marched out ahead of the Buraq as far the Masjid-ul-Aqsa. There, the Holy Prophet (Sal) dismounted from the Buraq, Jibreel tied the halter of the Buraq and everybody halted. Then they addressed the Holy Prophet (Sal) and said, “Oh Habibullah (Sal), it is for you to enter the Masjid ahead of us,” and the Prophet Muhammed (Sal) answered, “You were sent before me as Prophets, you therefore have the right of precedence over me. Therefore, proceed into the sanctuary ahead of me.” Then the Almighty Lord Himself addressed the assembly, “Oh My Beloved, you have attained a special station in this world by appearing with your message of Truth after all those present had gone before; but you are the one who has precedence over everything else that was in the hidden world before the Creation, for all was created from your light. Therefore, it is your right to proceed ahead of them all; enter now!”
At this command, the Holy Prophet (Sal) together with the angel Jibreel entered and all the Prophets and Messengers followed them. Then Jibreel called the Iqama, and the Prophet Muhammed (Sal) led the entire assembly of Prophets, Messengers and angels of the Muqarrabin in a prayer of two Rak’ats.
The Holy Prophet (Sal) resumes the narrative:
“After we had prayed, I received an inspiration in my heart of hearts that it was now time to make supplication for my nation. I therefore raised my hands towards the heavens and began to plead for my weak and inadequate nation. I prayed for their salvation and safety, for grace and forgiveness, and for their release from hell. All the assembled Prophets and Messenger and angels concluded my supplication by saying, ‘Amin!”
“At that very moment, I heard within me a voice which called to me, saying, ‘Oh My Beloved, you are seated in the Masjid-ul-Aqsa, it is the night of your Mihraj. You who are praying here are the Beloved of Allah and a much-honoured Prophet; those answering to your supplication are all Prophets and Messengers and angels of the Muqarrabin, and He to whom you direct you supplication, He is the Most Merciful of the Merciful, the Most Bounteous of the Bountiful. He is Allah who leads all to the Light of His Guidance, the Sublime Lord of all Might and Glory. Beyond doubt, He will grant acceptance to your prayer, He will forgive the sins of your nation and grant them freedom from punishment. By My Might and Glory, I proclaim that I shall grant them of My Mercy. I shall clothe them with the honour of beholding the Sight of My Divine Beauty.”
Oh Allah, grant us that our last breath might be one of faith, oh Lord of Mercy and Compassion! And grant us to behold Thy Divine Presence, for the sake and honour of Thy Prophet Muhammed (Sal), Amin, ya Hannan, ya Mannan! (Oh Most Compassionate, Bounteous Lord!)
The Holy Prophet (Sal) continues:
“After this, Jibreel came out, holding in his hand three cups. One of these contained milk, one wine and the third water. He told me to choose one of these and to drink it. I chose the one that held milk and drank from it, but there was a little left over in the cup. When I handed the cup back to Jibreel, he said to me, ‘You have chosen the natural disposition of Islam.’ Then I heard a voice from the unseen which spoke to me, saying, ‘Oh Muhammed (Sal), had you finished all the milk in the cup, not one of your nation would have had to go to hell.”
“I then turned to Jibreel and asked him to give the cup back to me so that I might empty it entirely. But Jibreel said to me, ‘All that has been written must come to pass; what has been decreed from before the beginning of time, must take place, oh Rasulullah (Sal).”
The scholars make this comment: There are seventeen benefits in the fact that the Holy Prophet (Sal) did not proceed directly to the heavens from the Kaaba at Mecca in the night of his Mihraj, but rather stopped at the Bayt-ul-Maqdis and ascended from there.
If we were here to expound on all the seventeen benefits, it would take us a very long time; therefore, we shall content ourselves with the mention of only two points.
The first is this: Had our Holy Prophet (Sal) ascended to the heavens directly from Mecca on his Mihraj and later told his people about it, it would have been very difficult for him to convince those among them whose minds were stubbornly set in opposition to him. However, the Holy Prophet (Sal) reported that he first went to the Bayt-ul-Maqdis (the Temple site in Jerusalem) and that from there he ascended to the heavens. Even then, some of the most stubborn denied that this could have happened, and they challenged him, saying, “If it is true that you have been where you say you have, then tell us about the shape and structure of the Bayt-ul-Maqdis. We have visited there before and so we know what it looks like, but we know that you have not been there before. If your description accords with what we know, then we will believe in what you tell us. We will then believe that in this night you have been to al-Quds, in full waking consciousness.”
The Holy Prophet (Sal) then gave them the appropriate answers and described to them the shape and form of the buildings there, and thus he silenced them. In this way, the reality of the Mihraj was proven.
But let me dwell on this subject a little longer: The day after the Mihraj had taken place, the Prophet (Sal) told his people about it, but they called it lies, saying, “If you really went to the Masjid-ul-Aqsa last night, then you must be able to describe it to us.” Faced with this demand for proof, the Holy Prophet (Sal) experienced some confusion. He had been entirely engaged in holy converse with the assembled Prophets and Messengers that he had not so much as glanced at the building of the holy mosque there. But Jibreel appeared to him just that moment and said, “The Lord Almighty sends His Salams upon you. He commands me to bring before you the Masjid-ul-Aqsa for you to look at, so that you may give them the answers they desire.” With that he revealed to the Prophet (Sal) the Masjid-u-Aqsa in its complete shape. Beholding the mosque in front of him, the Holy Prophet (Sal) was very glad and confidently told them to ask what they would of him. He answered them, giving precise names and descriptions of the building. For instance, when they asked him how many columns the mosque had, the Prophet (Sal) described to them each single pillar in detail, singling out whether it was made of marbled stone or of real marble. For each detail he gave exact descriptions. He even told them the distance between every single pillar. At last they said, “There is no doubt that he actually went there and saw what he says he saw there. Although we have been there countless times, we could never have given such a close description of all this.” With this acknowledgment, they themselves silenced their own arguments and the reality of the Mihraj was thus demonstrated.
Secondly, the site of the Bayt-ul-Maqdis shall one day be the place of gathering. On the Day of Judgement all of Creation shall be assembled there. It was for this reason that the Lord Almighty brought His Beloved Muhammed (Sal) whom He has honoured above all the other Prophets and all other men to this place in his pure physical body. He imprinted his foot upon that place while he dwelt in the world, so that on the Day of Judgement when all creatures are resurrected and gathered in that place, the terror of it should be lessened and safety be found from its dread for the sake of the Prophet Muhammed (Sal) who stepped in this place once before, during his life in this world. Thus it will be made easy for his nation to endure in that place and they will be protected from its awesomeness.
The place of Gathering consists of fifty stations, and they will remain one thousand years in every station. Thus, that day will be as long as fifty thousand years. For the Holy Prophet’s (Sal) sake, the Lord Almighty makes the sojourn there easy for his nation and they will be protected from all the terror and fright of that tremendous day.
Peace and Blessings from Almighty Allah be upon His Beloved and Chosen Prophet, Muhammed Mustafa (Sal), the Imam of the God-fearing, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallim. Amin!
The Ascent towards Heavens
To return to the narrative of the Holy Prophet (Sal):
“After this, Jibreel took me by the hand and led me outside. No sooner had we stepped out than I beheld a flight of steps one end of which was placed upon the flat ground while the other end reached up and up and disappeared from view into the skies. One of its poles was made of red ruby while the other was of green emerald. The treads were of gold, silver and pearls, and each tread was made of a different precious stone. There were five hundred steps in all and each was embellished and embossed in a different and marvelous way. Never had I seen a thing of greater beauty.”
“This stepladder was the angels’ stairway, which they used to descend from heaven down to the earth and to ascend up to the heavens again. The angel of Death, Israil, uses this ladder when he comes to take home the souls of men. The spirits of men also climb up on that ladder when they leave this world. When a believer comes close to his death, the Lord shows him this stairway and he sees Israil ascending upon it. He loses himself in the contemplation of that stairway and thus does not feel the agony of the throes of death. It is therefore that the eyes of the dead and dying are often found wide open and staring, gazing fixedly at the beauty of that staircase, which the souls must ascend. While he is yet gazing, his soul departs from him, and after the soul has gone, he can no longer close his eyes.”
Oh Lord, we pray that the pangs of death be made light and easy for us and that we might draw our last breath with our faith intact, Amin!
The Holy Prophet (Sal) continued:
“The angel Jibreel took me upon his wing. To the right and to the left the angels surrounded me and thus we ascended on that stairway straight towards the heavens.”
There is the following account concerning this:
The Holy Prophet (Sal) stepped on a stone as he was attempting to affect his ascent. Under the pressure of the Holy Prophet’s (Sal) blessed foot, this stone softened and became as soft as wax. Up to this very day, the imprint of the Prophet’s (Sal) foot can be seen upon this stone. When the Holy Prophet (Sal) wished to raise his foot from the stone, by leave of the Almighty, this stone raised him aloft instead. At the same time, the steps of the heavenly ladder bent down and became one with the stone. The Holy Prophet (Sal) then raised his foot off the stone and placing it upon the step of the stairs, said to it, “Stay, oh stone!” The step upon which the Holy Prophet (Sal) trod then rose up and lifted the Prophet (Sal) up. The next step then bent down and came to meet his foot, and then it rose and carried him up with it. The next higher step then bent itself down to receive his foot, and raised it aloft when he placed it upon it. In this manner the steps continued to bend and rise until they had carried the Prophet Muhammed (Sal) all the way up to the heavens.
The stairs to the pavilions and palaces of the lofty gardens of paradise behave in a manner similar to that of these steps.
When this stone heard the Prophet’s (Sal) command telling it to stay, it obeyed that very instant and remained suspended in mid air, and even so it remains to this very day. From it many useful lessons may be drawn:
While it is only a stone, its unquestioning submission and obedience to the Prophet’s (Sal) command continues into our own time. Therefore, is it befitting of this noble nation to disobey and oppose the Holy Prophet (Sal), having received the order from the Almighty to follow and obey his instructions, and having been cautioned and warned against all opposition to him? This is a point we must think about and take most seriously. To follow the Holy Prophet’s (Sal) enlightened commands and to emulate the actions of his right guidance, to obey him in perfect submission will save us from disgrace and punishment in this world and the world to come. We must always strive to reach for the happiness and bliss of both worlds. May Allah Almighty grant us His Divine Aid and Support and help us achieve Supreme Success, Amin.
There is another tradition that tells us the story as follows:
From this stone, the Prophet (Sal) mounted the Buraq and the Buraq carried him up into the heavens.
Yet another report has the Holy Prophet (Sal) relate as follows:
“At the foot of those stairs, I beheld a great angel. Had this angel spread out both its hands, all the seven layers of the earths and the seven layers of the heavens would have disappeared in them. This angel greeted me and showed me courtesy. Then he spoke to me and said, ‘Oh Rasulullah (Sal), I was created twenty-five thousand years before Adam. Since that time I have been waiting to receive you here, all the while reciting Salawat and blessings upon you in loving expectation of your advent. The Almighty be praised, for tonight I have attained my goal.”
“After I left that angel behind, I came to a sea, which had a depth of two hundred years’ wayfaring. This sea remained suspended through the power of Allah Almighty and not one drop of its waters fell out from it. Whatever creatures there exist on land and in the waters, they all were present in that sea.
In another narration a differing version is related:
Rasulullah (Sal) rose up to the heavens using the rock in the Masjid-ul-Aqsa as a stepping stone to mount the Buraq. The distance from the earth to the heaven is five hundred years’ wayfaring. Each heaven has a depth of five hundred years’ travelling, and between two heavens there is a space of another five hundred years’ travel.
The First Heaven
The Holy Prophet (Sal) resumes his narrative: “When I entered this heavenly realm, I encountered Isma’il in his impressive aspect, seated upon a throne of light. One hundred thousand angels surrounded him, standing in front, to the back, to his right and to his left. Each of these angels had another hundred thousand soldiers at his command. Isma’ il and all those with him engaged in this Tasbih:
Subhana-l-malik-il-a’la, Subhana-l-‘aliyy-il-azhim. Subhana man laysa ka-mithlihi shay’in.
(Praise be to the Highest King; Glory to the High, the Mighty; Glory to Him who is unlike any other.)”
“I then saluted him and he returned my greetings and honoured me. After this I beheld another group of angels, who stood in pious reverence in Qiyam, (the standing position of ritual prayer). They all were engaged in this Tasbih:
Subbuhun quddus Rabbuna wa Rabb-ul-mala’ikati wa-r-ruh
(Praised be He with exalted praise, He who is holier than holy, our Lord and the Lord of the angels.)”
“I enquired of Jibreel about these angels’ form of worship, and he answered, ‘Since the day they were created they have been worshipping thus and so they will remain until the Day of Resurrection. Ask the Lord to grant this worship to your nation, too.’ So I made supplication and the Lord granted this kind of worship to my nation. That is how the Qiyam came to be included in our prayer.”
“Apart from these, I beheld a number of angels created from wind and water. The angel appointed as their head and overseer was called Ra’ad (which means thunder). He is responsible for the clouds and the rains. The Tasbih they were engaged in was this:
Subhana dhi-l-mulk wa-l-malakuti
(Praise be to Him in whose Hand lies the entire creation and its dominion.)”
“From this angel’s voice issued the sounds of thunder and lightning. In the heavenly sphere there remained not one empty space, angels were cramped even into the smallest corner, prostrating themselves and praising the Lord with manifold praises.”
“Then I saw another angel who bore the shape of a man. Below his waist he was made of fire, while above the waist he was made of snow. The fire clung to the snow and although there was nothing separating these two elements, neither did the snow extinguish the fire, nor did the fire melt the snow. But tears were streaming down this angel’s face, and as he wept, he recited this glorification (Tasbih):
Ya man allafa bayna-th-thalji wa-n-nar, allif bayna qulubi ‘ibadika-l-mu’minin.
(Oh Thou who hast joined the snow and the fire, unite Thou also the hearts of Thy believing servants.)”
“I turned to Jibreel and asked, ‘Who is this angel and why does he weep?’ Jibreel explained, ‘He is an angel, Habib by name. He weeps for the sins of thy nation and prays for mercy and forgiveness on them.”
“Then I saw Adam in the form in which he appeared in the world. He was draped in wraps of light and seated upon a throne of light. The Lord Almighty presented to him the souls of the departed, and whenever he perceived the soul of a believer, he rejoiced and said, ‘A pure soul emerges from a pure body.’ After this, he asked for forgiveness and pleaded for mercy upon that soul. Then the angels came and carried that soul up to a high and lofty place, as it is written in the Holy Qur’an:
No indeed; the book of the pious is in Illiyun; and what shall teach thee what is Illiyun? A book inscribed, witnessed by those brought nigh. (The Stinters, 19)
Whenever the souls of departed unbelievers and hypocrites are presented to him, he is vexed and curses them, ‘An impure soul emerges from an impure body.’ The angels then take that spirit and place it in a place called Sijjin, as it is written in the Holy Qur’an:
No indeed; the Book of the libertines is in Sijjin; and what shall teach thee what is Sijjin? A book inscribed. (The Stinters, 7)”
“I then asked Jibreel who was this person and he told me,’This is your first forefather Adam, go towards him and extend to him your greetings.’ So I went to him and saluted him, and he replied to my salute, honouring me by saying, ‘Welcome to you, oh my righteous son. Oh righteous Prophet! Praise be to the Lord who has given me such a son as you.’ In this way he received me well, and I replied to his complimentary speech with these words: ‘Praise be to the Lord who has given to me such a father as thou art one.’ Then again, Adam spoke, glorified the Lord and said, ‘Glory to the Almighty who has blessed you with such great wonders; who has brought you forth from my loins; may Allah always increase the blessings He showers upon you and make you steadfast and permanently grounded in them.’ In reply to this supplication and well wishing, I said, ‘Praise be to Allah, the Lord of Might and Bounty! He who created you from clay through His Divine Powers and who had you carried up to the heavens on the shoulders of angels. Who has made you the Qibla and commanded all the angels to bow down before you and who has made Paradise accessible for your sake.’ To that Adam answered me as follows, ‘For all the bounteous gifts granted to me that you have mentioned, you are still more blessed than I. For all the miracles and gifts that I was granted were only given to me for the sake of your light upon my forehead, I was favoured with all these honours only for the sake of that radiant light.”
“He spoke many more things to me, and ended his speech by saying, ‘From my time on until the time of your prophet hood, only one in a thousand of my children were graced with entering Paradise, while nine hundred and ninety-nine were sent to Hell. When your time of prophet hood came, only one in one thousand of your nation was sent to Hell and nine hundred and ninety-nine were admitted into Paradise.
The Almighty placed your blessed name beside His very own Holy Name even before you appeared in this world and proclaimed your great worth to all of creation.”
“Adam recited this Tasbih:
Subhana-llahi wa bi-hamdihi,
(Glory to the Mightiest of the Mighty,
Glory to the All-Embracing, All-Abundant;
Praised be Allah and glorified be He!
Praised be Allah, the All-Glorious
I seek forgiveness from Allah Almighty).”
“Then I saw a door to the right of Adam from which issued the sweetest of scents. Just to look in the direction of that door filled the heart with gladness and serenity. To his left there was another door; to look at it sufficed to make a man weep and the heart to become heavy. I asked Jibreel about these doors, and he said, ‘The door to the right opens upon Paradise. The souls of the blessed enter through that door, and whoever glances to the right, sees them and is gladdened. The door to the left leads to Hell, and the souls of the sinners must go through that door. Who looks to the left sees them on their way to Hell and is saddened by the sight.”
“Next I saw an angel who had the form of a cockerel. He was very large and his head touched up to the Divine Throne, while his feet were below the seven layers of the earth. He had two wings; when he spread these, they reached from the farthest east to the utmost west. The station of this angel is the Sidratu-l-Muntaha, which shall be described in detail later on, insha’Allah. The angel’s body is created of white pearl, while the comb on its head is of red ruby.”
To rear a pure, white, unspeckled rooster in one’s home is of great usefulness and has very special advantages. This is because of its resemblance to this angel, the Cockerel of the Divine Throne. It benefits not just the owner of the white rooster, but it also protects the neighbours and the environment from many disasters and bad things. The Holy Prophet (Sal) is reported to have said about this, “The white rooster is my sincere friend, and he is also the friend of my friend, the angel Jibreel. He is also the enemy of my enemy, Shaytan. The white rooster protects the house in which he is raised and its owner and entire household, as well as nine neighbouring houses and their inhabitants.”
There is only this condition attached to it: the rooster must be of a flawless white, without a speck. He is of even greater value if his crest is forked, as the Holy Prophet (Sal) says,“The fork-crested white rooster is my dear and beloved friend. He protects four houses to the right, four to the left, four in front and four in back, altogether sixteen houses and their inhabitants from disaster and calamity.” (This Hadith is related by Abu ash-Shaykh from Annas.)
There is another Hadith related by Bayhaqi from ‘Umar who claims that the Holy Prophet (Sal) said, “This rooster makes known to Allah’s servants the times for prayer. Whoever raises a white rooster in his house will be protected from three things: from the evil of Shaytan, the evil of the sorcerer, and the evil of the soothsayer.” However, he who raises a white rooster must on no account slaughter him, as those who know about these matters inform us in the ‘Fath-ul-Qadir’ will have us know: “Sorrow will not depart from the side of him who slaughters a white rooster.”
Imam Tha’libi cites from the book entitled ‘Hayat ul-Haywan’ (The Life of the Animals) by Imam Dumayri: “The Holy Prophet (Sal) makes clear to us these pearls of spiritual wisdom when he says, ‘There are three things that Allah Almighty loves and is pleased with: the voice of him who recites the Holy Qur’an; the sound of the rooster’s call; the voice of him who prays for forgiveness in the time before the dawn.”
To continue with the Holy Prophet’s (Sal) narrative:
“This angel who has the form of a rooster descends to the earthly skies when it is night, and this is his Tasbih:
La ilaha ill’Allah-ul-hayy-ul-qayyum
(Glory to the All-Holy King,
Glory to the Great and Exalted God,
there is no God but Allah, the Ever-Living, Eternally Abiding.)”
“I then asked Jibreel, ‘What is this?’ and Jibreel answered me, ‘This is the reason he is called, ‘the Rooster of the Divine Throne’, for when it is night on earth, he descends to the worldly skies. After one third of the night has passed, he flaps his wings and says, ‘Oh you who would be worshippers, arise and pray!’ All of creation hears this call, all except mankind and Jinn. Therefore, when the roosters on earth hear the angels call, they too flap their wings and voice their call, saying, ‘Oh you heedlees ones! Arise and engage in remembrance of your Lord!’ When half of the night has passed, this angel again flaps its wings and calls, ‘Let those who would perform the supererogatory night prayer (Tahajjud); rise and pray!’ When the roosters on earth hear this call, they too sound their call to pass on to men the message of the angel. When two thirds of the night has passed and only one third of it remains, the angel speaks up again and calls out, ‘Where are they who would ask for forgiveness for their sins, whose sole hope and desire is the Lord of the Worlds? Let them rise and pray for forgiveness and present their invocations!’ Again, the roosters on earth hear this call and pass it on to the people on the earth. When at last dawn begins to break, this angel flaps its wings once more and calls, ‘Now let the heedless ones rise, though they be laden heavily with their sins..’ After this, he again ascends to his station in the Heavens. Again, the roosters on earth hear his words and inform mankind of the angel’s call. This same sequence is repeated every night, uptil the Day of Judgement.”
“And Jibreel continued, ‘When the Day of Judgement is about to occur, this angel will want to call out his call as usual after the first third of the night has passed. But he is stopped by a call from on High, ‘Oh My angel, do not awaken My servants!’ In this way he is prevented from calling, and he and all the angels of the heavens with him realize that the Day of Resurrection is upon them. All at once they begin to weep.”
That night will be the length of three days and three nights, and in that night neither the cocks will crow, nor will the dogs bark. Mankind will lie in a deep sleep of forgetfulness for three full days and nights. Only those who were accustomed to rise and pray the prayer of the night (Tahajjud) will awaken and rise to pray their Tahajjud as usual. But they will wonder and say, “Yet there is no sign of morning breaking, have we risen too early?” Then they will lie down to sleep a bit longer, and when again they awaken, still it will not be day. Then they will understand that it is the longest night before the Last Day, and that indeed it has finally begun.
They will then set about trying to wake up their companions who were not used to rising for the night prayer, but whatever they do, they will not succeed in waking them, it is impossible. Then they betake themselves to the mosques, gathering there and repenting of their sins, praying for forgiveness. There they will remain for those whole three days and nights, weeping copious and incessant tears, imploring the Lord for mercy. When this period is over and the day dawns, the sun will be seen to rise in the west and the Gates of Repentance will be shut.
To continue with our Prophet’s (Sal) narrative:
“I then came to a sea, which was whiter than milk and as viscous as the semen of men. Within it, I beheld things so exceedingly strange and unknown so as to defy all description. Their numbers were unaccountably great and beyond reckoning. I asked Jibreel, ‘What sort of sea is this?’ and he answered
me, ‘This is the Sea of Life. On the Day of Resurrection, after every created thing has died its death, the Almighty will want to raise them all from their graves in order to mete out reward or punishment.
He will then issue His Command and a rain will fall upon the earth from the waters of this sea. The rainwaters will rise to a depth of forty yards upon the level earth and the ground will be drenched to its depths. All the flesh and bones that have rotted in the earth will then be restored, all the skins and strands of hair and nerves will come together and appear once more. As soon as this water comes in touch with the earth, whatever is contained in it will instantly return to its former state. What has long been scattered will be assembled again, and all this will come to pass on account of the action of the waters of the Sea of Life.”
“After this, Jibreel called the Adhan and Iqama, and I led all the angels and inhabitants in a prayer of two Rak’ats. Then I rose to the second level of the heavens,”
The Second Heaven
“The Lord Almighty, praised be His Name, has created this heaven from red coral and called it Qaydum. The name of its gatekeeper is Mikha’il. This heaven appeared to me to be especially full of light and splendour, so much so that I was blinded and had to squint. The door of this heaven is of pearls and its lock is of light. Jibreel knocked upon this door and requested entry. The keeper of the gate, Mikha’il, called from inside, ‘Who is it requesting the opening of this gate?’ ‘I am Jibreel,’ replied Jibreel, and again the angel asked, ‘And who is this with you?’ This is Muhammed (Sal),’ answered Jibreel . Again the gatekeeper asked, ‘Has he been given prophet hood?’ ‘Yes.’ replied Jibreel. ‘Has he come here upon invitation and request?’ asked Mikha’il. ‘Yes,’ said Jibreel, ‘invitation and request have gone before.’ Then the gatekeeper said, ‘Welcome to you, oh welcome guest! How agreeable a visitor!’ With that, he opened the gate.”
“I entered and beheld the guardian angel of this heaven, Mikha’il. There were two hundred thousand angels at his service, each one of whom had another two hundred thousand helpers to assist him. I greeted him and he returned my greetings with reverence. He gave me the joyous news of the many honours and blessings the Almighty was to bestow on me. They were engaged in this Tasbih:
Subhana-llahi kullama sabbaha-llaha musabbihun,
wa-l-hamdu lillahi kullama hamid-allaha hamidun
wa la ilaha ill’Allahu kullama hallala-llaha muhallilun
wa-llahu akbaru kullama kabbara-llaha mukabbirun.
(Glory be to Allah whenever the glorifier glorifies Him;
and praised be He whenever the praiser praises Him;
there is no God but He each time this Tahlil is recited;
and Allah is Greatest each time this Takbir is affirmed.)”
“I passed on and came upon another group of angels who stood in rows and and were bowing in Ruk’ u in perfect reverence and devotion. They remained always in this position and recited this Tasbih:
Subhana-lladhi la tudrikuhu-l-absar;
(Praised be He, the Heir Universal who sees,
Praised be He whom our eyes cannot perceive;
Praised be the Majestic, the All-Knowing.)”
“I asked Jibreel, ‘Since when have they been in this position of Ruk’u?’ and he said, ‘Since the day they were created they have always been bowing in Ruk’u, and thus they will remain until the Day of Resurrection, bowed in Ruk’u, reciting their Tasbih. Pray to your Lord that He granted to your nation this form of worship in their prayer.’ I therefore prayed to Allah for this, and the Almighty granted it to my nation.”
“After we passed on, I perceived two young men and I asked Jibreel who they were. Jibreel explained to me, ‘These young men are the Prophets Yahya and Isa. They are related to each other, being cousins.’ I saluted them and they received my Salams with reverence and greeted me, saying, ‘Welcome to you, oh righteous Prophet, our righteous brother!’ Then they gave me tidings of the many Gifts of Grace the Highest and Holiest Lord had in store for me.”
“The Tasbih of Isa was this:
(Praised be to the All-Compassionate, the All-bounteous;
Praised be the Eternal, Never-Ending;
Praised be He who creates from nothing, then causes to die
and returns to its previous state.)”
“After we had passed them, I saw a very great angel who had seventy thousand heads, and on every head there were seventy thousand faces. Every face had seventy thousand mouths and in every mouth there were seventy thousand tongues. Each tongue spoke a different language, which bore no resemblance to the next. Each tongue glorified the Lord as follows:
Subhanallahi wa bi-hamdihi;
Subhanallahi-l-azhim wa bi-hamdihi,
(Praise be to the Creator, the Glorious;
Praise be to the All-Powerful, All-Knowing;
Praise be to Allah and glorified be He;
Praise be to Allah the Magnificent and glorified be He,
I beseech Allah for forgiveness.)”
‘Who is this?’ I asked Jibreel. Jibreel told me, ‘This is the angel who is charged with the distribution of provisions, and his name is Qasim. He distributes to every single one his daily provision; no one receives more or less than his apportioned lot.”
According to one narration, he is to have said, “If a person finds himself in straightened circumstances and in the morning prayer (Fajr) recites one-hundred times the last line of the Tasbih of this angel between the Sunna and the Fard Rak’ats, then Allah will supply him plentifully and make his provision bounteous.”
This is the line of this Tasbih:
Subhana-llahi wa bi-hamdihi,
Subhana-llahi-l-azhim wa bi-hamdihi
(Praise be to Allah and glorified be He;
Praise be to Allah the Magnificent and glorified be He,
I beseech Allah for forgiveness.)
To continue with our Prophet’s (Sal) narration:
“After passing by this angel, I beheld an even greater, even more wondrous angel who was seated upon a throne of light. He was silent and of morose aspect. The throne he was seated upon had four corners and each corner was supported by seven hundred thousand pillars of gold and of silver. Around him were grouped such multitudes of angels, only the Omnipotent Owner of Might and Bounty, Allah Almighty alone knows their number. To his right angels were ranged row upon row, seventy thousand in all, dazzling in their light. All of them were clad in green and they gave off a lovely scent. Their words, too, were sweet, and their beauty was so great that it was impossible to gaze at them.”
“To the left were another seventy thousand angels, ranged row upon row. Their aspect was of terrible and sinister portent, their faces were black as night and their speech was rude. Their clothing was ugly and the smells they emitted were noxious. When they began reciting their Tasbih, tongues of fire erupted from their mouths. They held before them fiery clubs and blades, and their eyes were so cruel, no one could stand to look at them for long.”
“The angel seated upon the throne was covered with eyes from head to foot, which sparkled as Mars and Venus in the sky. He also had shimmering wings and in his hand he held sheet of paper, while before him there was a tablet. He gazed incessantly at that tablet and not once lifted his gaze from it.
There was also before him a tree, and only Allah can know the number of its leaves. Upon each leaf was written the name of a certain person. Then there stood before him a type of vessel. At times he reached in it with his right hand and drew something out of it, handing it to the luminous and gentle angels to his right. At times he reached for something with his left hand and gave it to the pitch-black angels standing by his left side. As I looked at those dark angels, fear fell upon my heart and I began to tremble. I was seized by a weakness and prostration, and I asked Jibreel, ‘Who is this?’ Jibreel replied, ‘This is the Angel of Death, his name is Israil. There is no one who can bear to look at him. It is he who ends all delights, and cuts off from all community.’ He then went up to him and said, ‘Oh Israil, this visitor here is the Prophet of the Last Times (Sal), he is the Beloved of Allah, the Lord of Mercy.
Speak thou to him!’ Upon these words, Izrail lifted his head and he smiled. Jibreel approached him and saluted him. I also went up to him and proferred my Salams. He received my greetings and showed me great honour. Then he spoke, ‘Welcome to you, oh Muhammed (Sal)! Allah has created no creature more honoured than you, and to no nation has He given greater honour than to your nation. I am gentler and more compassionate towards your nation than to any nation that went before them.’ In response to these words, I said to Izrail, ‘You have gladdened my heart, oh Israil, and cleared my mind of fear. Yet there remains one matter on my mind, for I have seen your state to be one of gloom and grief and I wonder wherefore.”
Israil explained to me, ‘Oh Rasulullah (Sal), since the time the Lord Almighty has appointed me to my post, I have been living in fear of not being able to discharge my duty and of not being able to fulfill my responsibility. That is why I appear gloomy and depressed.’ Then I asked him about the vessel he had before him, and he said, ‘That is the entire world, everything from east to west, from one end of the world to the other is contained in this dish. I dispose of it at will.’ Again I asked him, ‘What is this tablet you are looking at?’ and he said to me, ‘This is the Lauh-ul-Mahfuzh, the Preserved Tablet, on which is inscribed the doom of those who are to die within the year. The angels write them down and hand the list to me. That is the Tablet.’ ‘And what is this page?’ I asked. ‘On this page is written the exact hour of time when these souls are to be taken away.’ ‘And what is this tree?’ I asked. He said, ‘It is the tree of the lives of those living in the world. When a man is born, a leaf unfurls upon that tree upon which his name is written. When his time to die approaches, his leaf begins to yellow and wither and his name appears on the Tablet. I give this leaf to the angels, and they take it and mix it in his food so that he eats it. When he has eaten it, by the leave of Allah he falls ill, and when his time is up, his name is erased from the Tablet. I stretch out my hand and seize his soul, whether he be in the east or in the west of this world. If he is among the blessed, I hand him to the angels on my right, for they are the angels of Mercy. But if he is one of the sinners, I hand him to the angels to my left, for they are the angels of Wrath.”
May Allah preserve us from the doom of the wretched sinners, Amin.
“Again I asked, ‘How many of those angels are there?’ and Azra’il replied, ‘I do not know their number, but whenever I seize a person’s soul, six hundred angels of Mercy and six hundred angels of Wrath are ready to do their duty. They wait expectantly to see to which group it will belong. These angels do their duty only once, the same angels never come twice, and so it will be until the Day of Judgement.’ After this, I asked again, ‘Oh Angel of Death, how do you take the soul of every single individual?’ He replied, ‘Since the time I was created, I have never moved from this spot. Seventy thousand angels are there to serve me, and each one of these has another seventy thousand helpers. Whenever I have to seize a person’s soul, I give my order to them and they go out and bring the person’s soul up into his throat. After that, I just stretch out my hand and grasp it from there.’ I said to him, ‘What I would wish for is that my nation, which is a weak nation, experience death in a mild and gentle manner.’ He replied, ‘By Allah, the Lord of Might and Majesty who has made you the Seal of the Prophets, He Almighty addresses me seventy times during one day and night, saying to me, ‘Take the souls of those belonging to Muhammed’s nation with lightness and ease, and judge their deeds kindly.’
Therefore, I am given to more compassion towards your nation than to any of those who went before them.”
“After this, Jibreel called the Adhan and Iqama and I led the angels and all inhabitants of the second heaven in a prayer of two Rak’ats. Then I continued my ascent to
The Third Heaven
“The Lord Almighty created this heaven from copper and has named it Zaytun. The name of its guardian angel is Arina’il. Its gate is of white pearls and it has a lock of light. When Jibreel knocked upon the gate, the guardian angel called from within, ‘Who is it requesting entry?’ Jibreel answered, ‘It is I, Jibreel.’ ‘And who is this with you?’ asked the keeper of the gate. ‘It is Muhammed (Sal),’ replied Jibreel. Again he asked, ‘Has he been given prophet hood?’ ‘Yes, he has,’ answered Jibreel. ‘Has he received summons and invitation?’ ‘Yes, he has,’ replied Jibreel. Then Arina’il opened the gates, saying, ‘Welcome to you, how pleasing a guest!’ I entered this heaven and I beheld Arina’il to be a great and majestic angel. He had at his command three hundred thousand angels who engaged in this Tasbih:
Subhana-l-mujibi liman da’ahu.
(Praise be to the Giver of all things, the generous Bestower,
Praise to the Opener of All Ways, the All-Knowing,
Praise to Him who answers all prayers.)”
“I greeted this angel and he responded with full reverence and gave me news of many and varied blessings and gifts that were to come to me. After that, I went on and came upon a large group of angels ranged in rows and all in the position of Sajda. While bowing thus, they were engaged in this Tasbih:
Subhana-lladhi la mafarra wa la malja’a minhu illa ilayhi,
(Praised be the Almighty Creator,
Praise be to Him from whom there is no escape
no refuge but in Him;
Praised be the Highest of All.)”
“Jibreel then said to me, ‘They are perpetually engaged in this form of worship. Pray that the Lord grant that also to your nation.’ Then I prayed to the Lord and He granted to my nation the Sajda in their prayer. This is the reason why the Sajda in our prayer is doubled: when I came and saluted them, they raised their heads from their Sajda to receive my salute, then they again bowed down. Therefore, my nation was obliged to perform the Sajda twice in their prayer.”
“I then passed on, and I saw Yusuf in all his great beauty. Of all existing beauty, Yusuf was given one half. I gave him my Salams and he returned them with dignity and bade me welcome. He informed me of many miracles to come and he prayed for me. His Tasbih was this:
(Praised be the Most Bounteous of the Bountiful;
Praised be the Greatest of the Great;
Praised be the Peerless, Unique;
Praised be Eternal, Never-Ending.)”
“After we had passed him, I saw Da’ud and his son Sulayman. I greeted them both and they returned my Salams with respect. They gave me great good tidings and said, ‘Pray in this night that you might be given intercession for your nation and that the Lord grant them security.’ In this way they counselled me.”
“Da’ud’s Tasbih was this:
(Praised be the Creator of Light;
Praised be He who accepts Repentance
and the Bestower of All Good.)”
“Sulayman’s Tasbih was this:
Subhana maliki-l--mulk ,
Subhana man ilayhi tasir-ul-umur.
(Praise to the Lord of All Dominions,
Praise to the Compeller, the Imposing;
Praised be to whom all Things must return.)”
“After I left them, I came to an angel seated upon a throne. This angel had seventy heads and seventy pairs of wings, each pair spanning all the way from the east to the west. All around him I beheld enormous angels, each of which was extremely tall. These angels were punishing a certain group of sinners, beating them with sticks until they fell apart. Then they became whole again and the angels began beating them again. I asked who this great angel was whom I saw seated upon the throne. Jibreel told me that he was the angel Soha’il and he told me that those I saw being punished were the unjust tyrants and cruel oppressors from among my nation. In this way they would be punished until the Day of Judgement. Their Tasbih was as follows:
Subhana man huwa fauqa-l-jabbarin;
Subhana-l-muntaqimi mim-man asahu.
(Glory to Him who is above all oppressors;
Glory to Him who attacks all attackers;
Glory to Him who takes revenge on whomever disobeys Him.)”
“After this, I beheld a Sea of Fire surrounded on its shores by fierce and terrible angels. ‘What is this?’ I asked, and Jibreel explained to me, ‘This sea is the ‘Sea of Sa’q’ (Lightning), and these angels here throw down thundering bolts of fire and lightning from the heavens onto the earth.”
As it written in this Holy Verse of the Qur’an:
He looses the thunderbolts,
and smites with them whomsoever He will.. (Thunder, 13)
“After this I beheld a door, which was made all of camphor wood. Its lower groundsill reached down to the lowest level of the earth, while its upper doorsill reached to just below the Divine Throne. This door was a double door, on which was mounted a lock as great as heaven and earth together. I asked in amazement, ‘What is this door?’ and Jibreel answered me, ‘The name of this door is ‘Bab-ul-Aman’, the Door of Safety.’ I asked why it was so called and Jibreel told me, ‘The Lord Almighty created Hell and filled it with various torments. There came a breath out of Hell, and all the creatures on earth and in the heavens appealed to the Lord for help and protection. Then, the Lord of All Majesty created this door between Hell and the rest of all creation, so that all the creatures of the seven heavens and earths will find safety from it. Therefore, the name of this door is the Door of Safety.’ I then asked to see what was behind that door and asked for it to be opened, but Jibreel said, ‘Behind this door you will find Hell, is that really what you want to see?’ ‘Yes, indeed, I wish to see it,’ I said. Thereupon a Divine Command was heard, saying, ‘Oh My Beloved, upon a sign of your finger, this door will open.”
“I then signalled with my hand and the door opened. I looked beyond it and this is what I saw: a great Minbar of iron, which had six hundred thousand pedestals. Upon it sat a great and terrible angel created from fire. He was busy twisting ropes of fire, making shackles and fetters of fire. His face was awesome and frightful to behold. His hand was powerful and his anger was plain to see. His head was bowed forward and he recited this Tasbih:
Subhana-lladhi la yajuru wa huwa-l-malik-ul-jabbar;
Subhana-l-muntaqimu min ‘ada’ihi,
Subhana-l-mu’ti li-man yasha’a,
Subhana man laysa ka-mithlihi shay’un.
(Praised be He who commits not injustice
and He is the Almighty, Omnipotent King;
Glory to Him who triumphs in revenge over His foes,
Praised be He who bestows on whomever He wilt;
Glory to Him who is unlike anything.)”
“Flames leapt from his mouth as high as mountains, and from his nose darted flares of fire. This angel was exceedingly angry and full of rage, and his eyes, each one of which was as great as the whole world, blazed with fury. As I beheld this angel in all his awesome aspect, I felt afraid. Were it not for the grace and generous support from the Lord Almighty, I would have perished from fear. I asked Jibreel, ‘Who is this, the sight of whom makes me tremble?’ Jibreel told me, ‘Be unafraid, for there is nothing there for you to fear. This is the Guardian of Jahannam, Hell, and his name is Malik. Allah Almighty has created him from His Wrath and since the day of his creation, he has never smiled yet.
His fury increases with every passing moment. Go up to him now and salute him.’ Thereupon, I went up and gave him my Salams, but he was so engrossed in what he was doing that he lifted not even his head. Jibreel passed in front of him and spoke to him, ‘Oh Malik, he who has just given you Salams is the Prophet of Allah, Muhammed (Sal).”
“Jibreel thus introduced me, and when he heard my name, this terrible angel rose to his feet and honoured me with many compliments and respectful greetings, after which he spoke, saying to me, ‘Oh Muhammed (Sal), good tidings to you! For the Lord has vouchsafed to you many miraculous doings; and He is pleased with you: He has forbidden your body to the fires of Hell. From love and respect for you, He has also forbidden the fires to touch those who follow you. He has ordered me to treat the disobedient from among your nation with mildness and restraint. I shall wreak my revenge on those who refuse to believe in you.”
“I then said to Jibreel, ‘Ask him to show me Hell.’ When Jibreel told him of my request, he opened a hole the size of a needlepoint through which I could look into Hell. At first, a thread of black smoke came wafting through the hole. Had that smoke come from the hole for the period of one hour, all the heavens and the earth would have been filled with it. The light of the sun and the moon and all other luminaries would have been occluded, all would have been steeped in darkness and laid waste. But Malik stopped up that hole with his hand and the smoke ceased pouring forth. Then he said to me, ‘Look through this hole and behold Hell.”
“I looked through the hole and I saw the seven layers of Hell stacked one upon another. The uppermost was the one reserved for the disobedient from among my nation and it is called ‘Jahannam’. The punishments meted out here were less severe than in the deeper layers of Hell.”
“The second level is called ‘Lazha’; it is the hell for the Christians;
The third level is named ‘Hotama’, and it is reserved for the Jews;
The fourth level is named ‘Sa’ir’, and it is for the Sabeans;
The fifth level is called ‘Saqar’, and it is the hell for the Majusis;
The sixth level is called ‘Jahim’, and in it shall burn the idolaters;
The seventh level is named ‘Hawiya’, and it is reserved for the
hypocrites and those who claimed themselves to be
Gods, such as Nimrod and Pharaoh.”
“I had not the strength to gaze at the extreme chastisements of those in the lower levels of Hell, so I only saw what went on in the first levels in which were the unrepentant of my nation. I saw that in it there were seventy seas of fire along the shores of each of which was a city of fire. In each of these cities there were seventy thousand houses of fire and in each of the houses there were seventy thousand chests of fire. Each of these chests contained men and women, imprisoned therein, surrounded by snakes and scorpions. I asked the Guardian of Hell, ‘Oh Malik, who are these people locked in these chests?’ He told me, ‘Some of them are people who oppressed their fellows and unfairly enriched themselves through their belongings. Others are those who became proud, and appointed themselves to be leaders and tyrants and ruled by cruel oppression. Greatness and Pride are attributes of Allah Almighty and befit Him alone.”
“Then I beheld a people whose lips were as the lips of dogs and camels. Their bellies were bloated and the Zabaniya (demons of hell; myrmidons) beat them with mallets of fire until their entrails were ripped up and trailed out from their rear ends. Each time this happened, their entrails were recreated and the Zabaniya tormented them anew, and thus it continues. I asked who these people were, and Malik told me, ‘These are the people who wrongfully took for themselves what belonged to orphans.’
“Then I saw another people whose bellies were swollen up like huge mountains. They were filled with snakes and scorpions that crawled about within and caused them great torment. Whenever they wished to rise to their feet, they could not do so for the greatness of their stomachs and the motion of the vermin in them, and they fell back down. I asked the angel, ‘Who are they?’ Malik replied, ‘These are the people of your nation who committed usury.”
“Then I came upon a group of women who were suspended by their hair. I asked who they were and Malik said, ‘These are the women who concealed not their hair and faces from unrelated menfolk and who revealed their beauty to men other than their husbands and caused their husbands pain and chagrin.”
“After them, I beheld a group of men and women who were suspended from their tongues by means of fiery hooks. Their fingernails were made of copper and with them they clawed and tore up their own faces. ‘Who are these?’ I asked, and Malik told me, ‘These are people who swore by false testimony, and who were talebearers, spreading slander and gossip.”
“Then I beheld a group of women some of whom were suspended by their breasts while others were tied by their feet, head down. They were yelling and screaming incessantly. I asked about them, and Malik said, ‘These are women who committed adultery, and such women who had abortions and killed their children.”
“After these I saw a group of men who were tearing flesh from their own sides and placing it in their mouths. But they did not swallow it; they just hid it in their mouths. The Zabaniya were at them, forcing them to eat the flesh, and again, the same thing would take place: they tore of some flesh, placed it in their mouths and the demons of hell would force them to eat it. This was their punishment.
I asked who they were and I was told, ‘They are those from among your nation who openly criticize and belittle people, and who talk behind their backs and spread malicious gossip about them as well.
And those who wink and poke fun at people, making signs of derision with their hands, lips, brows or eyes.”
“Then I came upon another people whose bodies resembled the trunks of pigs, whose faces were like the faces of dogs, and who emitted fire from their rear ends. Snakes and scorpions were biting them, their flesh being eaten by them. ‘Who are those?’ I asked the Angel of Hell, and Malik answered me, ‘They are those from among your nation who neglected to pray or perform their ritual ablutions, and who went about in a state of (ritual) impurity.”
“After that, I came to another group of people who were suffering from extreme thirst, and desperately crying for water. In response to their pleas, they were given goblets of fire filled to the brim with boiling water, and they were commanded to drink from these. Being forced to do so, as soon as the goblets came near to their lips, all the flesh of their faces began to bubble from the extreme heat of the water until it fell off and dropped into their goblets. When they had drunk the water, their intestines fell apart and emerged in tatters from their backsides. “Who are they?’ I asked and Malik told me, ‘These are people from your nation who used to drink wine and other intoxicants.”
“After this, I saw a group of women who were suspended from their feet, with their tongues protruding and hanging out. Angels with fiery shears clipped them off, but they grew back each time. All the while they were braying like asses and howling like dogs. ‘Who are they?’ I asked the angel, and he answered, ‘These are the wailing women who used to loudly bemoan the dead.”
“Then I passed a group of men and women who were seated in copper ovens that were set upon a raging fire, whose flames licked their heads and enfolded their entire bodies. A vile stench arose from here. I asked the angel about them and he said, ‘These are men and women who committed adultery.’ ‘And what is this terrible smell?’ I asked. ‘That smell comes from the discharge of their genitals.”
“Next I saw a group of women who were hung up while their hands were tightly bound to their necks. ‘Who are these?’ I asked. ‘These are women who deceived their husbands and spent their husband’s wealth without his knowledge,’ answered Jibreel.”
“Next I saw a group of men and women who were being punished in the fire and the demons of hell set upon them, beating them with fiery rods. The more they screamed, the harder they beat them. They drove blades of fire into their stomachs and whipped them with whips of fire. Their chastisement appeared very severe to me. I asked about them and Malik said to me, ‘These are such as opposed and disobeyed their mothers and fathers.”
“Then I saw a people who wore great rings of fire around their necks. ‘Who are these?’ I asked the angel. ‘These are the ones who defrauded goods left in their safekeeping.”
“Then I came to a group who were being slaughtered by the Zabaniya with knives of fire, but instantly they came to life, only to be slaughtered anew. ‘Who are these?’ I asked, and Malik told me, ‘They are those who killed a soul without justification.”
“Then I saw people who were eating the most disgusting, stinking carcass. ‘Who are these people?’ I asked the angel. He told me, ‘These are the people who spread slanderous gossip, and thereby ate the flesh of their brethren.”
“Next I saw a place in hell which had two divisions, one for the men and one for the women, and both were being punished in a terrible fashion. I asked Malik who they were and he said, ‘These are men who went out before their kings and rulers, beating with whips the weak and poor of the people, driving them away with cruelty. And these are women who seemingly dressed in a modest fashion, but in reality were naked and displayed themselves to strangers, for when they went about, they adorned themselves to make themselves appear attractive. Therefore, their heads have grown as big as a camel’ s hump, and they cannot enter the peace and safety of Paradise.”
“After this, I saw another group of men and women, all being punished in different ways, each distinct from the other. They were made to suffer the worst castigations of all those punished on this level of hell. For example: they were impaled on poles of fire on which their flesh began to boil and drop off until only their bones remained. But Allah Almighty caused their flesh to grow back forthwith and their torment began anew. Some others were bound with shackles and fetters of fire, and that was their penalty. ‘Who are these?’ I asked again, and Malik answered and said, ‘These are such people who whilst they were alive and well, neglected their prayers and abandoned worship.’ “
“Then I said to the Guardian Angel of Hell, ‘Oh Malik, shut the Gates of Hell, for I have not the strength to regard any more of its sights.’ Malik then said, ‘Oh Rasulullah (Sal), you have witnessed the terrors of Hell with your own blessed eyes so that you might pass on what you have seen to your nation as a warning. And may it serve to increase their fear of Allah and keep them from rebellion and disobedience, and make them steadfast in their worship and submission to Allah. Jahannam has seven levels. What you have seen, is only its very first layer, and the punishments therein are light; they are as nothing compared to the deeper levels of hell.”
The Holy Prophet (Sal) then began to weep from pity for his nation and for the terrors that lay in store for it, and as he wept, the great angels Jibreel and Mikha’il and all the Muqarrabin wept with him and joined in his appeal for mercy. At last there came a call from the Lord Almighty, saying, “Oh my Beloved, for the esteem you hold in the Divine Presence, your prayer is answered and your intercession is granted; so be easy, for on the Day of Judgement, I will give you a special station of intercession and I will spare as many sinners as you ask for, until you say: it is enough! For We have chosen your nation above all other nations, and I have made you their intercessor, so intercede for whomever you wish, I will accept your supplication.”
Apart from Malik, there are eighteen other guardians of Hell, nineteen in all. Their eyes are like flashes of lightning and from their mouths issue tongues of flame and they never once feel mercy or pity, Their rage waxes continuously, for punishment and chastisement is their only task. They are of huge stature, so great that with one hand they pick up and throw seventy thousand sinners into the fires of Hell. Each of their teeth is big as Mount Uhud – so if one tooth alone is as great as a mountain, how great must their whole head, their entire body be! The breadth of the shoulders is a distance of nine days’ traveling, and the thickness of their skin is a distance of three days traveling! If he can grab seventy thousand sinners in the palm of one hand, how unimaginably immense must be the stature of this vengeful angel!
Each one of these angels of Hell commands a division of demons (Zabaniya) whose number is known to Allah alone. It is related that Allah described these angels to His Prophet (Sal) in the revelation of the verse:
I shall surely roast him in Saqar;
and what will teach thee what is Saqar?
It spares not, neither leaves alone scorching the flesh;
over it are nineteen.
We have appointed only angels to be masters of the Fire
and their number We have appointed
only as a trial for the unbelievers,
that those who were given the Book may have certainty. (Shrouded, 26)
When the Holy Prophet (Sal) received this revelation, concerning the nineteen guardians of Hell, he became distressed on account of his nation, and pleaded for them to be spared. The Lord then addressed him, saying, “I have included in this Book (the Holy Qur’an) nineteen letters for your nation, oh Muhammed (Sal); if your nation persists in constant recital and application of the words (comprising those letters), I will make them safe from the nineteen Guardians of Hell and their army of assistant demons.” “What is this word of nineteen letters?” asked Muhammed (Sal). “It is the phrase:
‘Bismillahi-r-rahmani-r-rahim’, spake the Lord.
May the Lord Almighty spare us all and reprieve us on the Day of Judgement from the punishment of Hell for the sake of His Beloved Prophet Abu-l-Qasim Muhammed Mustafa (Sal)! Amin.
“Then,” continued the Holy Prophet (Sal), “the Guardian of Hell closed the hole to Hell and Jibreel called the Adhan for prayer. I led the prayer as Imam and all the angels and inhabitants of the third heaven prayed two Rak’ats behind me. After this we proceeded to:
The Fourth Heaven
This heaven is created of raw silver, or, according to a different narration, from white pearl. The name of this Heaven is Zahir. Its gate was of Light and the lock to the gate was of Light and written upon it were the words, ‘La ilaha illallah, Muhammedur Rasulullah.’ The angel guarding the gate to this Heaven was the angel Salsa’il. After we had knocked on the gate and had answered the same questions as before, we were admitted and the gates were opened to us. I beheld the angel in charge, Salsa’il. He was responsible for all that happened here. Under his command were four hundred thousand angels, and each one of these angels commanded another four hundred thousand angelic lieutenants. These angels praised the Lord in the following words:
‘Subhana khaliq-iz-zulumati wa-n-nur,
Subhana khaliq-ish-shamsi wa-l-qamar-il-munir,
(Praise be to the Creator of darkness and light,
Praise be to the Creator of the sun and the shining moon;
Praise be to the Highest of the High.)”
“Among these angels I noticed a special group; some of them stood in Qiyam, some were prostrated in Sajda, their gaze unswerving from the place of their prostration, so rapt were they in devotion.
Another party of those in Sajda were so entranced that they remained gazing at their noses. The Tasbih of these three groups of angels was this:
Subbuhun quddus, Rabbun-ar-Rahman-ar-Rahim
illadhi la ilaha illa huwa.
(Glorified be our Lord, the All-Holy, the All-Compassionate,
the All-Merciful, besides whom there is no other god.)”
“I then asked Jibreel, “Is this their form of worship?’ Jibreel replied, ‘Ever since they were created, they have remained in this pose of humility. Make supplication for your nation that they, too, might be given this form of worship.’ I prayed and asked this for my nation, and my nation, too, was given this attitude of humility during their prayer.”
“Then I met the Prophets Idris and Nuh. I gave them Salams and they replied reverentially, saying, ‘Greetings to you, oh righteous brother, oh righteous Prophet of Allah (Sal)!’ and they gave me glad tidings of many good things to come. This was the Tasbih of Idris:
Subhana-lladhi ‘ala fa la yablughu ‘uluwwahu ahad.
(Glorified be He who answers those who ask of Him,
Praised be He who constrains the tyrants,
Praised be He whose lofty height none can reach but He.)”
“The Tasbih of the Prophet Nuh was this:
(Glory be to God, the Living and Gentle,
Glory to God, the True and Munificent,
Glory to God, the Powerful and Wise.)”
“Thereafter, I saw Maryam, the mother of ‘Isa, and the mother of Musa, Buhayyid, and the wife of Fir’ awn, Asiya – may Allah be well pleased with them. They all came to greet me. Maryam, the mother of ‘Isa, had seventy thousand mansions, all made of white pearls. The mother of Musa had seventy thousand mansions all made of green emeralds. Finally, Asiya had seventy thousand mansions made of red corals.”
“After this, I came to a great sea the water of which was white with snow. ‘What sea is this?’ I asked. Jibreel told me, ‘This sea is called the ‘Sea of Snow’.’ After we had passed by there, we came to the sun.”
According to one narration, the size of the sun was one hundred and sixty times the size of the earth. According to Ibn ‘Abbas, the sun is as great as a distance of seventy years’ wayfaring.
After Allah Almighty had created the Sun, He created a boat of pure gold in which He placed a throne of red ruby. This throne stands on three hundred and sixty legs and an angel holds on to each one of them. In this way they place the Sun in this boat and every day three hundred and sixty angels guide the sun-boat from east to west, and every night they guide it back from west to east. Then these angels engage in worship and the following day, another three hundred sixty angels come and perform this duty, and so it will go on until the Day of Resurrection. Every group of angels will only perform this duty once. In the Holy Qur’an this verse refers to the movement of the sun:
And the sun – it runs to a fixed resting-place;
that is the ordaining of the All-Mighty, All-Knowing.”
(Ya Sin, 38)
The learned commentators, may Allah have Mercy on them, have said that the sun comes to rest beneath the Divine Throne. The angels take the sun to its place beneath the Throne every night where it bows and prostrates itself before the Almighty Lord. Thus it will continue until the Day of Judgement is nigh. Then a Divine Command will be heard, “Let the Sun stop in the west, and let it rise from there!”
(A detailed interpretation of this vision is given in the work entitled ‘Ara’is-i-Salabi’.)
“Thereafter, Jibreel intoned the Adhan and Iqama, and I led all the angels and inhabitants of the fourth heaven in a prayer of two Rak’ats. Then we proceeded to ascend to