15-The Night Journey and the Ascent to Heaven
one night as the prophet (pbuh) lay sleeping in the same spot where 'abd al-muttalib used to sleep, next to the ka'bah, he was woken by the archangel gabriel. later the prophet (pbuh) described what happened: 'i sat up and he took hold of my arm. i stood beside him and he brought me to the door of the mosque where there was a white animal for me to ride.'
the prophet (pbuh) told of how he mounted the animal and, with the archangel gabriel at his side, was transported from mecca to the mosque called al-aqsa, in far away jerusalem. there the prophet (pbuh) found abraham, moses, and jesus among a group of prophets. the prophet muhammad (pbuh) acted as their leader, or imam, in prayer. then he was brought two jugs, one containing wine and the other milk.
he chose the milk and refused the wine. at this, the archangel gabriel said, 'you have been rightly guided to the fitrah, the true nature of man, and so will your people be, muhammad. wine is forbidden to you. the prophet (pbuh) also related how they passed through heaven's gates and saw countless angels. among them was malik, the keeper of hell, who never smiles. malik stepped forward and showed the prophet (pbuh) a view of hell and the terrible plight of those who suffer in that place. then the prophet (pbuh) was taken up by the angels, through the seven heavens, one by one along the way he again saw jesus, moses, and abraham, and the prophet (pbuh) said that he had never seen a man more like himself than abraham. he also saw john, called yahya in arabic, joseph or yusef, enoch, that is idris, and aaron. at last he reached the lote tree of the uttermost, the sidrat al-muntaha where no prophet had been before. here the prophet (pbuh) received revelation of what muslims believe.
in the name of allah, the beneficent, the merciful
"the messenger believeth in that which hath been revealed unto him from his lord and (so do) the believers. each one believes in allah and his angels and his books and his messengers-we make no distinction between any of his messengers-and they say: we hear, and we obey.
grant us thy forgiveness, our lord. unto thee is the homecoming". (koran ii.285) , then he was taken into the light of the divine presence of allah, and was instructed that muslims should pray fifty times a day. the prophet (pbuh) recalled: " on my way back i passed by moses and what a good friend to you he was! he asked me how many prayers had i been ordained to perform. when i told him fifty, he said, 'prayer is a serious matter and your people are weak, so go back to your lord and ask him to reduce the number for you and your community.' i did so and he took away ten. again i passed by moses and he said the same again; and so it went on until only five prayers for the whole day and night were left.
moses again gave me the same advice. i replied that i had been back to my lord and asked him to reduce the number until i was ashamed, and i would not do it again. he of you who performs the five prayers faithfully, will have the reward of fifty prayers.
on the morning following these events and the prophet's return to mecca, he told quraysh what had happened. most of them said, 'by god! this is ridiculous! a caravan takes a month to go to syria and a month to return! can you do that long journey in a single night?' even many muslims were amazed by this and wanted the prophet (pbuh) to explain. some ran with the news to abu bakr who said, 'by allah, if muhammad (pbuh) himself has said so, then it is true. remember, the prophet tells us that the word of allah comes to him directly from heaven to earth at any hour by day or night, and we believe him.
isn't that a greater miracle than what you are now doubting?
' then abu bakr went to the mosque and listened to the prophet's detailed description of jerusalem. he commented, 'you tell the truth, 0 prophet of allah!' from then on, abu bakr was honored with the title 'al-siddiq', which means 'he who gives his word to support the truth'. others also began to believe the prophet's story when he went on to describe two caravans he had seen on his way back to mecca. he told the doubters where he had seen the caravans, what they were carrying and when they would arrive in mecca. all that the prophet (pbuh) had said was born out when the caravans arrived at the time he said they would, carrying all that he had described.
in the name of allah, the beneficent, the merciful
"glory be to him, who carried his servant by night from the holy mosque to the far distant place of worship, the neighborhood which we have blessed, that we might show him some of our signs, he, only he is the all-hearing, the all-seeing". (koran xvii:1)
by the star when it setteth, your comrade is not astray, neither deceived, nor does he speak of his (own) desire. this is naught but a revelation revealed, taught him by one mighty in power, very strong; he stood poised, being on the uppermost horizon, then drew near and came down, two bows'-length away, or nearer, then revealed to his servant that which he revealed. his heart lies not of what he saw; what, will you then dispute with him what he sees? indeed, he saw him yet another time by the lote- tree of the utmost boundary near which is the garden of abode when there covered the lote- tree that which covered; his eye turne not aside, nor yet was overbold. verily, he saw one of the greatest signs of his lord.(koran liii:1-18)