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the Message Continues ... 7/142
Newsletter for June 2013
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The First Man In
by Nasir Shamsi
Mera'j, the ascension of the Prophet Muhammad to
the Celestial regions, the union of the Lover with the Beloved,
is one of the most significant events of the last prophet's
life. It has fascinated the minds and hearts of the believers
including, the mystics and poets , over the last fourteen
hundred years. Notwithstanding a small minority of believers who
look at the Meraj of the Prophet as a spiritual and not physical
experience, most Muslims, all Shias and majority of
Sunnis--believe it was Prophet's actual and physical experience.
Meraj also has a special meaning and significance in the life of
a Sufi. To him it
is a real experience, the highest ' maqam ' a person could achieve in ' salook ', a final meeting with the ' Mahbub ' , the Beloved; a Lover-Beloved union indeed ! Rumi, like other contemporary scholars believed in the actual physical transportation of the Prophet to the ' Sidratul Munta'h'aa ', the Highest Point.
" Glory be to Him who carried His servant by night from the sacred mosque (of Mecca) to the Distant Mosque, whose surroundings. We have blessed, so that We show him some of our Signs. He alone hears all and observes all.(Quran 17:1)
The venerable poet-philosopher Iqbal , also a
true ' Arif ' of Quran and a disciple (Murid) of Rumi , further
confirms the generrally held belief of most Muslims as well as
Rumi, in this verse:
Mila hai nukta yeh Meraj-e Mustafa se mujhe'h
keh alam-e bashriat ki zad mein hai gardo'n
(From ascent ion of Mustafa has revealed to me that the heavens are within man's reach)
In another of his poems, Iqbal says, sitaron se a'age jahan aur bhi nein abhi ishq ke imtehan aur bhi hain ( there are other universes beyond the Stars there are other trials of ishq (Love) ahead !)
The traditions reveal that the Prophet narrated the accounts of his supernatural travel through the space onto the celestial regions unknown to man, as his personal experience, not as a vision or dream. This is evident from the shocking reaction of the Meccans, including some of his companions who, according to the Egyptian biographer of the Prophet, Mohammad Husain Haykal, turned apostate on hearing accounts of Muhammad's celestial travel.
Accustomed to the routine and the ordinary, they were unable to fathom the esoteric nature of the Divine Grace. For a Sufi, it is not difficult to comprehend the mira' j because he knows that the norms are for the ordinary man. The love-journey is the journey to the extra-ordinary. Prophets are no ordinary men. They are breakers of norm, the norm of the ordinary. Prophet Muhammad was no ordinary person. According to Qur’an , .he was the Seal of the Prophet-hood. Being the last Prophet, his prophet-hood was not confined to a certain people, certain place or certain time. His Prophet hood was not limited by time or space. God called him the ' Rahmatul lil A'alimeen ' the Blessing for the Universes; the jurisdiction of this ' Rehma ' extends to the galaxies, the farthest parts of the universe (hence Iqbal's Sitaron se a'age jahan aur bhi hein )
So no wonder, Muhammad was made to ascend into the space with a lightning speed unknown to his contemporaries and a continuing challenge for the future man. Indeed an eternal Miracle of the Prophet of the Universe ( Rasulal Thaqlain) ! A miracle that will never be equaled or humbled. The Almighty made his servant (abd) ascend into the space, beyond the earthly hemisphere, farther than the galactic clusters of the yet unknown stars, deep into the Seventh Heaven, closest to the Ultimate Love (ishq-e haqiqi), ' at a distance of two bows length or yet nearer still '.
" Hence he (Muhammad) took an over viewing position while he was in the
highest horizon. Then he drew nearer, and became pending. Thus was he at a distance of two bows length or yet nearer still. Then He revealed onto His servant......"
The cosmic transcendence of the Prophet in timelessness puts him in a unique position in the universe; it also points to the widening horizon of human knowledge of the universe. His bodily ascension to an infinitesimally distant destination (maqam) where, " he was in the uppermost horizon (ufqul a'ala 53:7)., yet his return to his earthly home , all within a night , perhaps without any loss of time , points to possibilities, so far unfulfilled, of transcending time.
" For you (God) subjected all that is in the heavens and on the earth, all from Him. Behold in that are the Signs for people who reflect. " (Qur’an 45:13)
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