By Samiya Illias
February 6, 2018
… Not (is) the command but for Allah. He has commanded that not you worship but Him Alone … [Quran 12:40]
Mission of the Messengers-XVIII
The belief in the ascension and return of Muhammad as an extension of the belief in Adam’s descent, Jesus’ ascent and Moses’ conversation with God.
Many Muslims believe that Muhammad physically ascended to meet Allah and returned within the same night. Muslims also believe that Adam was sent from The Garden to Earth. They also believe that Jesus was raised alive and is yet to return. Jews, Christians and Muslims also believe that God spoke with Moses. It is also believed that when the time comes, the Believers who have been forgiven will be able to leave Earth and ascend to inherit The Gardens, as an ever-lasting reward by Allah the Most-Compassionate, the Ever-Merciful, the Most-Appreciative!
The ascension of Muhammad is mentioned in the very first ayat of Surah al-Isra:
سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ
Glory to (God) Who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts We did bless,- in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things ).
[Al-Quran 17:1, Translation: Yusuf Ali]
As can be seen in the usage of the word across The Quran, the word is used to mean to go from one place to another:
Screenshot from corpus.quran.com
The Prophet’s journey was a physical journey, not an OBE (out-of-the-body) experience, simply because both The Bible and The Quran state that the human is made of dust. The human is essentially the dust he/she is made of, as explored in another post Human: Body or Soul? Therefore, it must be a physical journey that involved transportation of the body from The Sacred Mosque to The Farthest Mosque.
The Quran describes the Earth as situated within the innermost layer of the seven concentric skies/heavens, and the Throne of God above it. Therefore the farthest mosque from Earth must be at or very near The Mighty Throne, possibly Bait-ul-Mamoor whose oath has been taken in Q52:4.
A common misconception is that al Masjid al Aqsa in Q17:1 refers to the mosque in Jerusalem. The subsequent Aayaat of the same Surah clarify that the Temple of Solomon had already been completely destroyed and didn’t exist then. Masjid al Aqsa is supposed to have been built by Caliph Umar during his caliphate. There was no Masjid al Aqsa in Jerusalem, at the time of Prophet Muhammad’s ascension.
Q17:1 states that the reason for the Ascension was to show signs. Then, we read in Q17:60:
وَمَا مَنَعَنَا أَن نُّرْسِلَ بِالْآيَاتِ إِلَّا أَن كَذَّبَ بِهَا الْأَوَّلُونَ وَآتَيْنَا ثَمُودَ النَّاقَةَ مُبْصِرَةً فَظَلَمُوا بِهَا
وَمَا نُرْسِلُ بِالْآيَاتِ إِلَّا تَخْوِيفًا
وَإِذْ قُلْنَا لَكَ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ أَحَاطَ بِالنَّاسِ وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الرُّؤْيَا الَّتِي أَرَيْنَاكَ إِلَّا فِتْنَةً لِّلنَّاسِ وَالشَّجَرَةَ الْمَلْعُونَةَ فِي الْقُرْآنِ
وَنُخَوِّفُهُمْ فَمَا يَزِيدُهُمْ إِلَّا طُغْيَانًا كَبِيرًا
And not stopped Us that We send the Signs except that denied them the former (people) And We gave Thamud the she-camel (as) a visible sign, but they wronged her.
And not We send the Signs except (as) a warning.
And when We said to you, "Indeed, your Lord has encompassed the mankind." And not We made the vision which We showed you except (as) a trial for mankind, and the tree the accursed in the Quran.
And We threaten them but not it increases them except (in) transgression great.
[Al-Quran 17:59 - 60]
Curiously, another term used in Q17:60 is what is translated as vision or dream. The words translated as show and vision in Q17:1 and Q17:60 share the same root in Arabic. The following screenshots give an idea their usage in some other ayaat of The Quran as well:
Screenshots from corpus.quran.com
Interestingly, a similar combination of seeing and vision is there is Surah Yusuf (Q12:4,5; Q12:100). Moreover, Q12:6 quotes Prophet Jacob stating that God will teach Joseph (Yusuf) the interpretation of ‘Ahadith’ (narratives/statements). The Quran also uses the same word for itself:
وَكَذَٰلِكَ يَجْتَبِيكَ رَبُّكَ وَيُعَلِّمُكَ مِن تَأْوِيلِ الْأَحَادِيثِ وَيُتِمُّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكَ وَعَلَىٰ آلِ يَعْقُوبَ كَمَا أَتَمَّهَا عَلَىٰ أَبَوَيْكَ مِن قَبْلُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْحَاقَ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ
And thus will choose you your Lord and will teach you of (the) interpretation (of) the narratives and complete His Favor on you and on (the) family (of) Yaqub as He completed it on your two forefathers before - Ibrahim and Ishaq. Indeed, your Lord (is) All-Knower, All-Wise."
لَقَدْ كَانَ فِي قَصَصِهِمْ عِبْرَةٌ لِّأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ مَا كَانَ حَدِيثًا يُفْتَرَىٰ وَلَٰكِن تَصْدِيقَ الَّذِي بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَتَفْصِيلَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً لِّقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ
Verily, (there) is in their stories a lesson for men (of) understanding. Not (it) is a narration invented, but a confirmation (of that) which (was) before it and a detailed explanation (of) all things, and a guidance and mercy for a people who believe.
تِلْكَ آيَاتُ اللَّهِ نَتْلُوهَا عَلَيْكَ بِالْحَقِّ فَبِأَيِّ حَدِيثٍ بَعْدَ اللَّهِ وَآيَاتِهِ يُؤْمِنُونَ
These (are the) Verses, (of) Allah We recite them to you in truth. Then in what statement after Allah and His Verses will they believe?
فَبِأَيِّ حَدِيثٍ بَعْدَهُ يُؤْمِنُونَ
Then in what statement after it will they believe?
From the little scientists know about dreams, an on-going subject of research and discovery, the brain and the senses are actively involved in dreaming. In some cases, even the body is actively engaged in the dream. Electrical activity in the brain is being mapped. Different brain waves have been measured, correlating with different states. Of special relevance to this study may be the Gamma waves.
As discussed under Physical Journey above, we learn from The Quran that the human is created from dust, so the involvement of the body is essential for any physical travel.
The Quran informs us of past and future events as dire warnings as well as glad tidings. So, perhaps, for a living person, to be taken on a physical journey to experience the otherwise unseen reality, as well be shown future (and/or past) events, as in a dream, is a combination of both the mind and body phenomena. For Muhammad as the Messenger and the Prophet, the journey was probably experiential of the past, present and future. Allah knows best!
Q17:60 links that which was shown to Muhammad and the cursed tree mentioned in the Quran, explaining that both were intended as a trial for mankind! The Quran mentions the tree that Adam was forbidden to eat from, and it also mentions the tree of 'az-zaqqum' (شَجَرَةُ الزَّقُّومِ), growing from the core of Hell, which is meant as a trial for the unjust.
Our story on Earth begins with Adam’s descent after he was tried with the tree in The Garden. The Quran details the consequence of the disobedience: Adam and his wife lost their natural clothing, with the evidence in our genomes. We humans have gone from being created excellently to having very lowly, imperfect bodies, yet sporting the most complex brains on the planet. The descendants of Adam have indeed been honoured above many creatures, in many ways, and our transportation is of particular significance:
وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ وَحَمَلْنَاهُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَرَزَقْنَاهُم مِّنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَىٰ كَثِيرٍ مِّمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِيلًا
And certainly, We have honored (the) children of Adam and We carried them on the land and the sea, and We have provided them of the good things and We preferred them over many of those whom We have created (with) preference.
Satan is the enemy. The Quran warns of the origin and objective of Satan’s enmity to Adam and his descendants. The Quran also informs us of the similarity in the creation of Adam and Jesus:
إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَىٰ عِندَ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ آدَمَ خَلَقَهُ مِن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ
Indeed, (the) likeness (of) Isa near Allah (is) like (the) likeness (of) Adam. He created him from dust then He said to him, "Be," and he was.
Iblis led Adam to be expelled from The Garden to Earth. Jesus was raised up from the Earth. At the end of our allotted time, when the Anti-Christ is supposed to be leading multitude of descendants of Adam astray, Jesus is expected to return to help rescue the Believers.
Thus a prerequisite to the belief in Muhammad’s ascension, and return, is the belief in Adam’s coming to Earth, Jesus being raised alive, and God speaking with Moses. All these are matters of faith as, as far as I know, there were no human witnesses who saw Moses talking with God, or witnessed Jesus’ ascension or Adam’s descent or Muhammad’s ascension and return. Their companions took these events on faith. Of course, Jesus’ companions did ask for proof: the Table from Heaven, and it was sent down (Q5:110-115). God also showed many clear signs through Moses and Jesus, yet those who were not to believe, rejected it all.
وَلَقَدْ صَرَّفْنَا لِلنَّاسِ فِي هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ مِن كُلِّ مَثَلٍ فَأَبَىٰ أَكْثَرُ النَّاسِ إِلَّا كُفُورًا
وَقَالُوا لَن نُّؤْمِنَ لَكَ حَتَّىٰ تَفْجُرَ لَنَا مِنَ الْأَرْضِ يَنبُوعًا
أَوْ تَكُونَ لَكَ جَنَّةٌ مِّن نَّخِيلٍ وَعِنَبٍ فَتُفَجِّرَ الْأَنْهَارَ خِلَالَهَا تَفْجِيرًا
أَوْ تُسْقِطَ السَّمَاءَ كَمَا زَعَمْتَ عَلَيْنَا كِسَفًا أَوْ تَأْتِيَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ قَبِيلًا
أَوْ يَكُونَ لَكَ بَيْتٌ مِّن زُخْرُفٍ أَوْ تَرْقَىٰ فِي السَّمَاءِ وَلَن نُّؤْمِنَ لِرُقِيِّكَ حَتَّىٰ تُنَزِّلَ عَلَيْنَا كِتَابًا نَّقْرَؤُهُ
قُلْ سُبْحَانَ رَبِّي هَلْ كُنتُ إِلَّا بَشَرًا رَّسُولًا
And verily We have explained to mankind in this Quran from every example, but refused most (of) the mankind except disbelief. And they say, "Never we will believe in you until you cause to for us from the earth a spring. Or you have for you a garden of date-palms and grapes, and cause to the rivers within them abundantly. Or you cause to fall the sky, as you have claimed, upon us (in) pieces or you bring Allah and the Angels before (us). Or is for you a house of ornament or you ascends into the sky. And never we will believe in your ascension until you bring down to us a book we could read it."
Say, "Glorified (is) my Lord! "What am I but a human, a Messenger."
The trilateral root rā qāf yā (ر ق ي) occurs in the Quran as follows:
Screenshot from corpus.quran.com
وَمَا مَنَعَ النَّاسَ أَن يُؤْمِنُوا إِذْ جَاءَهُمُ الْهُدَىٰ إِلَّا أَن قَالُوا أَبَعَثَ اللَّهُ بَشَرًا رَّسُولًا
قُل لَّوْ كَانَ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَلَائِكَةٌ يَمْشُونَ مُطْمَئِنِّينَ لَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْهِم مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ مَلَكًا رَّسُولًا
قُلْ كَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ شَهِيدًا بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ بِعِبَادِهِ خَبِيرًا بَصِيرًا
And what prevented the people that they believe when came to them the guidance except that they said, "Has Allah sent a human Messenger?"
Say, "If (there) were in the earth Angels walking securely, surely We (would) have sent down to them from the heaven an Angel (as) a Messenger."
Say, "Sufficient is Allah (as) a witness between me and between you. Indeed, He is of His slaves All-Aware, All-Seer."
In Q17:85 the question about the RUH is briefly addressed. Before and after Q17:93, which mentions the people’s disbelief in Muhammad’s ascension, Allah’s command, angels, belief in the unseen are mentioned – wondrous concepts, yet made easy to trust for the believing heart.
Q27:40 mentions the instantaneous transportation of an object from one country to another by a person who had been given knowledge from the The Book. As Q13:39 informs us that with Allah is the Mother of the Book. For someone who authors and controls the software of all creation, nothing is impossible for Him!
In this era of science and technology, when there are theories about the multiverse, theories about quantum teleportation, when interstellar travel no longer seems like an improbable dream, when there is active search for a hospitable planet to migrate to; it is far easier to believe that the Creator of Everything can and did transport Adam, Jesus and Muhammad.
Travel to Meet God
مِّنَ اللَّهِ ذِي الْمَعَارِجِ
From Allah, Owner (of) the ways of ascent.
Adam descended and Jesus ascended. Muhammad ascended and descended. The Quran is silent on the details of these travels, such as vehicle, time taken, route, etc. All three travels happened as per the Will and Command of Allah. However, when Pharaoh attempted to reach God:
وَقَالَ فِرْعَوْنُ يَا أَيُّهَا الْمَلَأُ مَا عَلِمْتُ لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَٰهٍ غَيْرِي فَأَوْقِدْ لِي يَا هَامَانُ عَلَى الطِّينِ فَاجْعَل لِّي صَرْحًا لَّعَلِّي أَطَّلِعُ إِلَىٰ إِلَٰهِ مُوسَىٰ وَإِنِّي لَأَظُنُّهُ مِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ
And Firaun said, "O chiefs! Not I know for you any god other than me. So kindle for me O Haman! Upon the clay and make, for me a lofty tower so that [I] I may look at (the) God (of) Musa. And indeed, I [I] think that he (is) of the liars."
وَقَالَ فِرْعَوْنُ يَا هَامَانُ ابْنِ لِي صَرْحًا لَّعَلِّي أَبْلُغُ الْأَسْبَابَ
أَسْبَابَ السَّمَاوَاتِ فَأَطَّلِعَ إِلَىٰ إِلَٰهِ مُوسَىٰ وَإِنِّي لَأَظُنُّهُ كَاذِبًا
وَكَذَٰلِكَ زُيِّنَ لِفِرْعَوْنَ سُوءُ عَمَلِهِ وَصُدَّ عَنِ السَّبِيلِ
وَمَا كَيْدُ فِرْعَوْنَ إِلَّا فِي تَبَابٍ
And said Firaun, "O Haman! Construct for me a tower that I may reach the ways
(The) ways (to) the heavens so I may look at (the) God (of) Musa; and indeed, I [I] surely think him (to be) a liar."
And thus was made fair-seeming to Firaun (the) evil (of) his deed, and he was averted from the way.
And not (was the) plot (of) Firaun except in ruin.
[Al-Quran 40:36 - 37]
Much as we desire to escape and ascend to The Gardens, we will not be able to do so until Allah permits it:
يَا مَعْشَرَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنسِ إِنِ اسْتَطَعْتُمْ أَن تَنفُذُوا مِنْ أَقْطَارِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ فَانفُذُوا
لَا تَنفُذُونَ إِلَّا بِسُلْطَانٍ
O assembly (of) the jinn and the men! If you are able to pass beyond [of] (the) regions (of) the heavens and the earth, then pass.
Not you (can) pass except by authority.
To eventually leave this planet and ascend again, we need to earn Allah’s forgiveness, as detailed in the scriptures:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَأَخْبَتُوا إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ أُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ
Indeed, those who believe and do good deeds and humble themselves before their Lord, those (are the) companions (of) Paradise, they in it (will) abide forever.
يَوْمَ تَرَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَسْعَىٰ نُورُهُم بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَبِأَيْمَانِهِم بُشْرَاكُمُ الْيَوْمَ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ
يَوْمَ يَقُولُ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالْمُنَافِقَاتُ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا انظُرُونَا نَقْتَبِسْ مِن نُّورِكُمْ قِيلَ ارْجِعُوا وَرَاءَكُمْ فَالْتَمِسُوا نُورًا
فَضُرِبَ بَيْنَهُم بِسُورٍ لَّهُ بَابٌ بَاطِنُهُ فِيهِ الرَّحْمَةُ وَظَاهِرُهُ مِن قِبَلِهِ الْعَذَابُ
(On the) Day you will see the believing men and the believing women, running, their light before them and on their right, "Glad tidings for you this Day - gardens flowing from underneath it the rivers, abiding forever therein. That [it] (is) the success the great."
(On the) Day will say the hypocrite men and the hypocrite women to those who believed, "Wait for us, we may acquire of your light." It will be said, "Go back behind you and seek light."
Then will be put up between them a wall, for it a gate its interior, in it (is) mercy but its exterior, facing towards [it] the punishment.
References & Links
Aqsa Mosque means "Bait ul Mamoor" Which is the Farthest Mosque.
Dream States: A Peek into Consciousness https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/dream-states/
Gamma Waves, “Aha” Moments & Dreaming
EEG oscillations during sleep and dream recall: state- or trait-like individual differences?
How muscles are paralyzed during sleep: Finding may suggest new treatments for sleep disorders
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
Is Lucid Dreaming Real?
Mission of the Messengers & Related Posts