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Ascension (Mi‘raj) and the Unity of Prophethood
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Ascension (Mi‘raj) and the Unity of Prophethood

The two sections (terrestrial section, isra’ and celestial section, mi‘raj) of the Prophet’s (SAW) Heavenly Journey not only set to bolder relief the Finality and Universality of the Last Prophet (SAW) of God but it also proves the Unity of Prophethood

Post by on Tuesday, March 1, 2022

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The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is reported to have said: “The Prophets (of God) are ‘brothers’ with different ‘mothers’ but same religion!” (Bukhari and Muslim) This means that from Adam (‘AS), the Prophets of God have brought the same religion with different shari‘ahs (legislations/laws derived from the fundamentals of ‘the religion/al-Din’ by the Prophet of the time as per the requirements of the existing times), however. This had been decided by the Lord well in advance when Adam (‘AS) was being sent to the earth as per these words of the Qur’an: “We said: Get ye down all from here; and if, as is sure, there comes to you guidance from Me, whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (2:38) Moreover, the Qur’an has emphasized the point that the followers of different Prophets would have different shari‘ahs elaborated and derived from ‘the religion’ (al-Din) by the Prophet of the time concerned: “To each among you have We prescribed a Law (shari‘ah) and an Open Way (minhaj).” (5:48)

Now, it is borne out by a perusal of the Prophetic history that the Prophetic vocation has had been an arduous office so much so that these real savants of humanity were not only mocked at, singled out and persecuted but a good number of them were killed as well. However, amidst direst circumstances, the Prophets’ hearts were strengthened by dint of the ‘reality of those things’ which they were commissioned to invite the people to as well as with respect of the final victory of their missions. To this effect, the Qur’an says: “And the Unbelievers said to their Messengers: Be sure! We shall drive you out of our land, or ye shall return to our religion. But their Lord inspired (this message) to them: Verily We shall cause the wrong-doers to perish!” (14:13)

At this juncture of their mission, when the upholders of Falsehood are adamant to annihilate them or drive them out, the Lord shows His Chosen Ones (the Prophets) such epiphanies (tajalliyat) that they are at once convinced of the triumph of their mission. So, when the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had been excommunicated by his clan, when he had been rendered ‘helpless’ after the demise of his wife, Khadijah (RA) and his patron-uncle, Abu Talib and when the hostile behaviour of his distant relatives at Ta’if had traumatized him, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was hosted by his Lord in His Divine Presence. No doubt this Journey is the apex of ‘sublimity’ which an ‘individual servant’ can enjoy vis-à-vis his Lord, but with respect to the history of Prophethood, it exhibits the Unity of the whole Apostleship from Adam (‘AS) to Muhammad (SAW).

The two sections (terrestrial section, isra’ and celestial section, mi‘raj) of the Prophet’s (SAW) Heavenly Journey not only set to bolder relief the Finality and Universality of the Last Prophet (SAW) of God but it also proves the Unity of Prophethood. According to the report furnished by Bukhari, the Prophet (SAW) meets Adam (‘AS) in the first heaven, Jesus (‘Isa) and John the Baptist (Yahya) in the second heaven, Joseph (Yusuf) in the third heaven, Enoch (Idris) in the fourth heaven, Aaron (Harun) in the fifth heaven, Moses (Musa) in the sixth heaven and Abraham (Ibrahim) in the seventh heaven. No doubt these rendezvous were decided by God Almighty, but these eight Prophets, as per scholars, represent the fruits of the whole struggle of the Apostolic Office prior to the Prophethood of Muhammad (SAW).

To put it in the sequence in which the meetings took place, Adam represents devotion and humility, John and Jesus represent mildness and love, Joseph represents perseverance amidst temptations for guarding chastity, Enoch (by inventing the pen and art of writing) represents science, culture and development, Aaron represents the guardianship in upholding the socio-cultural life of his people (Israelites), Moses represents struggle against paganism and Abraham represents utmost patience and supreme sacrifice for the sake of monotheism. Since the Last Prophet (SAW) of God had to culminate the Prophetic Office, therefore, he symbolized all of these qualities!

Nevertheless, the rest of the Prophets of God were also made a part of this Sublime Journey of the Last Prophet (SAW). All the former Prophets from Adam to Jesus prayed behind the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) at Jerusalem. As such, it was proved to posterity that the terrestrial and celestial or the earthly and heavenly or material and spiritual world(s) are interconnected! It also got manifested that Masjid al-Haram (Ka‘bah at Makkah) and Masjid al-Aqsa (at Jerusalem) have the ‘heavenly link’ with ‘the Most Frequented House’ (al-Bait al-Ma‘mur)! Since, as per the report of Bukhari, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) saw “the Father of the Prophets” (abu al-anbiya’) ‘leaning against the wall of al-Bait al-Ma‘mur’ during this Journey, therefore, Mi‘raj also connects the two branches of the Abrahamic Prophets (that of Banu Isma‘il and Banu Isra’il).

As Gabriel guided the Prophet (SAW) to the threshold of Divine Presence, on entering the ‘Enclosure of the Holiness’ (Hadirat al-Quds), he had an exchange of salutations with his Lord thus:

Prophet (SAW): “Blessed, pure and sincere salutations to God!”

God (replied): “Peace upon the Prophet, as well as the divine mercy and blessings.”

Prophet (SAW): “Peace be upon us and on those slaves of God who act righteously.”

As the Prophets of God have always been the ‘leaders of the righteous’, therefore, Ascension (Mi‘raj) of the Prophet (SAW) symbolizes ‘essential unity of the house/office of Prophethood’ with Prophet Muhammad (SAW) bringing to fruition the endavour of all the Prophets of God as has been stated by the Qur’an as:

“O ye messengers! Enjoy (all) things good and pure, and work righteousness; for I am well-acquainted with (all) that ye do. And verily this Ummah of yours is a single Ummah and I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore fear Me (and no other).” (23:51-52)     


(The Author is Assistant Professor Islamic Studies at GDC Kokernag. Email: alhusain@gmail.com)

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