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Newsletter for May 2016
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Isra and Miraj:
The Miraculous Night Journey
by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi
The Israa and Miraj refer to,
two parts of an journey
that Prophet Muhammad
Israa is an Arabic word
referring to Prophet Muhammad’s
It is believed to have been
followed by the Mi’raj, his
ascension to heaven. According
to some of the Hadith scholars
this journey is believed to have
taken place just over a year
before Prophet Muhammad
Muslims celebrate this night by offering optional prayers during this night, and in many Muslim countries, by illuminating cities with electric lights and candles.
Following is the translation of the first verse of chapter 17, Al-Israa, from the Quran that refers to this journey, followed by a detailed explanation of the verse by Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi.
is a reference to the event
known as Mi’raj (Ascension)
and Isra’ (Night
Journey). According to most
traditions – and especially the
authentic ones – this event took
place one year before Hijrah.
Detailed reports about it are
found in the works of Hadith and Sirah and
have been narrated from as many
as twenty-five Companions. The
most exhaustive reports are
those from Anas ibn Malik, Malik
ibn Sa’sa’ah, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari
and Abu Hurayrah. Some other
details have been narrated by ‘Umar,
‘Ali, ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud,
‘Abd Allah ibn Abbas, Abu Sa’id
al-Khudri, Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman,
and ‘A’ishah among other
Companions of the Prophet
The Quran here only mentions
that the Prophet
It may be recalled that
according to authentic reports
when the Prophet
The details of the event provided by the Hadith supplement the Quranic account. There is no reason, however, to reject all this supplementary information on the grounds that it is opposed to the Quran. Nevertheless, if someone is not quite convinced and hence does not accept some of the details concerning the Ascension mentioned in the Hadith as true, he should not be considered an unbeliever. On the contrary, if someone were to clearly deny any part of the account categorically mentioned in the Quran, he would be deemed to have gone beyond the fold of Islam.
What was the nature of this
journey? Did it take place when
Now, let us consider the matter
carefully. The Quran tells us,
in clear terms, that the
However, when it is clearly stated that it is God Who did something out of His power, any doubts about the possibility of these acts can be entertained only by those who do not believe God to be all-powerful.
Those who reject the Hadith as such raise several objections against the traditions concerning this incident. It seams that only two of these objections are worth of any consideration.
First, it is claimed that the
contents of the traditions
relating to the Ascension imply
that God is confined to a
particular place. For had that
not been the case, it is argued
there would have been no need to
transport the Prophet
Both these objections, however, carry little substance, The first objection is to be rejected on the grounds that although the Creator is infinite and transcends both time and place, yet in dealing with His creatures He has to have recourse to the means which are finite and are circumscribed by time-space limitations. This is because of the inherent limitations of man. Hence when God speaks to His creatures, He employs, of necessity, the same means of communication which can be comprehensible to the latter even though His Own speech transcends the means employed in the speech. In like fashion, when God wants to show someone the signs of His vast kingdom, He takes him to certain places and enables him to observe whatever he is required to observe. For it is beyond the power of man to view the universe in the manner God can. While God does not stand in need of visiting a certain place in order to observe something that exists there, man does need to do so. The same holds true of having a direct encounter with the Creator. Although God is not confined to a particular place, man needs to experience His presence at a defined place where the effulgence of His Being might be focused. For it is beyond man’s power to encounter God in His limitlessness.
Let us now consider the second
objection. That too is
fallacious for the simple reason
that the objects shown to the
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