Categories
Internal Errors Refutation of Qur'an Contradictions The Qur'an

“Six Or Eight Days Of Creation” Revisited: A Collection Of Major Commentaries On Qur’an, 41:10

We have noted in our earlier rebuttal to a Christian missionary fantasy that A. Yusuf Ali had alluded to the commentaries of the major commentators for his explanation of Qur’?n, 41:10. Unfortunately, Yusuf Ali did not cite the precise quotations of the Commentators that he was referring to. Here, we would like to fill in that gap by citing the relevant commentaries of the Qur’?nic verse in question.

In his commentary, Imam Ibn Kathir explains that Qur’?n, 41:10 talks about events taking place in two days and adds that

"Six or Eight Days of Creation" Revisited: A Collection of Major Commentaries on Qur'an, 41:10 1
They (both) with the previous two days complete four that’s why He says “in four Days”[1]

Al-Qurtubi says in his commentary that

"Six or Eight Days of Creation" Revisited: A Collection of Major Commentaries on Qur'an, 41:10 2
“in four Days” – In completion of four days as one says: I walked from Basra to Baghdad in ten days and to Kufa in fifteen days meaning in completion of fifteen days. This has been said by Ibn-ul-Anbari and others.[2]

Al-Zamakhshari says that

"Six or Eight Days of Creation" Revisited: A Collection of Major Commentaries on Qur'an, 41:10 3
“in four Days” – This is conclusion of the period of creating earth and things which are in it, as if He says all this took place in exactly four days no more and no less.[3]

In Tafsir-un-Nasafi, we read that

"Six or Eight Days of Creation" Revisited: A Collection of Major Commentaries on Qur'an, 41:10 4
“in four Days” – In completion of four days, He means by completion the two days as you say: I walked from Basra to Baghdad in ten days and to Kufa in fifteen days meaning in completion of fifteen days.[4]

Al-Baidhawi notes that

"Six or Eight Days of Creation" Revisited: A Collection of Major Commentaries on Qur'an, 41:10 5
“in four Days” – In completion of four days as you say: I walked from Basra to Baghdad in ten days and to Kufa in fifteen days. Probably, He said this and did not say in two days in order to to connect them with the previous two days. This expression is for (the purpose of) conclusion.[5]

Finally, we quote Imam Ash-Shawkani in his famous Tafsir, “in four Days”:

"Six or Eight Days of Creation" Revisited: A Collection of Major Commentaries on Qur'an, 41:10 6
In completion of four days including the previous two days. This has been stated by Az-Zajjaj and others. Ibn-ul-Anbari says that this is as one says: I walked from Basra to Baghdad in ten days and to Kufa in fifteen days meaning in completion of fifteen days. So, the meaning is that occurrence of creation of earth and what followed it took four days.[6]

Now, we come to a relevant question: what is the reason for saying “in four Days”? Imam Az-Zamakhshari answers as follows:

"Six or Eight Days of Creation" Revisited: A Collection of Major Commentaries on Qur'an, 41:10 7
If you say: Wouldn’t it be better said: ‘in two days’? And what is the benefit of this conclusion? I say: If He says in four days after He have said that earth was created in two days, it is acknowledged that things in it were created in two days. So, the choice between saying in two days and saying in four days becomes equal. But (saying) in four days has a benefit over (saying) in two days; it is the indication that they were exactly four complete days no more and no less. If He said: in two days, while (the term) two days can be given to most of the two days, it would be possible that He meant by the first and the last two days the most of them.[7]

And only God knows best.

All praise is for God, the Lord of the Worlds and Master of the Day of Judgement. God’s wrath is invoked upon those who say “God has a Son!”, for He is free from all the attributes they have ascribed to Him. And since there was never such thing as a “Triune” god, we also reject the petty threats of its worshippers and denounce that the non-existent sterile “Triune” pagan god is a fantasy. And it is to our Rabb alone that we submit in total obedience, even though the disbelievers may dislike it. Am?n! Am?n! Thumma Am?n!

References

[1] Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vo. 7, p. 108

[2] Tafsir-ul-Qurtubi, Vol. 15, p. 290

[3] Az-Zamakhshari, Tafsir-ul-Kashaf, Vol. 4, p. 104

[4] Tafsir-un-Nasafi, Vol. 2, p. 491

[5] Tafsir-ul-Baidawi, Vol. 5, p. 25

[6] Ash-Shawkani, Fath-ul-Qadir, Vol. 4, p. 665

[7] Az-Zamakhshari, op. cit., p. 104

Categories
History Jews of Arabia

The Expulsion Of Banu Al-Qurayzah

Excerpted from Madinan Society At the Time of the Prophet, International Islamic Publishing House & IIIT, 1991

The date of the campaign

The action against Banu Qurayzah took place at the end of Dhu al Qa’dah and the beginning of Dhu al Hijjah in the fifth year1, after the Battle of the Ditch, which took place in Shawwal of the fifth year AH, according to Qatadah, ‘Urwah ibn al Zubayr, Ibn Ishaq and Abd al Razzaq.2 Imam Malik and Musa ibn ‘Uqbah suggested that the Battle of the Ditch took place in Shawwal of the fourth year. Ibn Hazm suggested the same. The three of them drew their conclusion from a hadith of Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar which said that the Prophet would not let him fight at the Battle of the Ditch, when he was 15.3

Al Bayhaqi showed that it was possible to reconcile the two suggestions. He said: “In fact, there is no difference between them, because they meant that it took place after four years had passed and before the fifth year was completed.” Al Zuhri declared that the Battle of the Ditch took place two years after Uhud. All are agreed that Uhud took place in Shawwal of the third year, except for those who suggested that the hijrah calendar should begin from Muharram of the year following the emigration, and did not take into consideration the months which remained in the year of the hijrah, from Rabi’ al Awwal onwards, as al Bayhaqi mentions. Yaqub ibn Sufyan al Fasawi suggested that Badr took place in the first year, Uhud in the second year, Badr al Maw?id in Sha?ban of the third year, and the Battle of the Ditch in Shawwal of the fourth year. This contradicts the opinion of the majority of scholars. It is well known that ‘Umar decreed that the hijrah calendar should start from Muharram of the year in which the emigration took place, and according to Malik, that it should start from Rabi’ al Awwal of that year.

There are three opinions, but the opinion of the majority, that Uhud took place in the third year, and that the Battle of the Ditch took place in Shawwal of the fifth year, is authentic.

Some of the scholars, including al Bayhaqi, explained the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar by saying that at the Battle of Uhud he had only just turned 14, whereas at the Battle of the Ditch he was 15 going on 16. This is reasonable, because when the Battle of Uhud ended, the two sides agreed to meet at Badr for another battle in the following year (Badr al Mawaid), but it did not happen. Al Bayhaqi said: “It is nonsense to say that they came to besiege Madinah two months later.”4

The reason for the campaign

The reason for the campaign goes back to Banu Qurayzah’s breaking of the treaty between themselves and the Prophet. This has been proved from different reports which, when taken together, could be used as valid evidence. Huyayy ibn Akhtab al Nadari5 incited them to break the treaty at a critical time when the Muslims were being besieged by 10,000 warriors from the various tribes. There is a strong report that the Prophet sent al Zubayr ibn al Awwam6 to check on Banu Qurayzah, then he sent Sad ibn Mu’adh, Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah, Abd Allah ibn Rawahah and Khawwat ibn Jubayr7 to check whether the rumors about the treachery of Banu Qurayzah were true. These four confirmed the rumors, and this news distressed the Muslims.

Ibn Ishaq gave a detailed report — without isnad — of the treachery of Banu Qurayzah and their breaking of the treaty. Most of the Sirah writers also reported it without isnad8.

Musa ibn ‘Uqbah mentions — also without isnad — that Qurayzah asked Huyayy ibn Akhtab to take 90 men from the nobles of Quraysh and Ghatafan as hostages, so the Quraysh would not leave Madinah before they had destroyed the Muslims. Huyayy agreed to that, so they announced their breaking of the treaty.9

The Prophet was commanded by God to fight Banu Qurayzah after he returned from the Battle of the Ditch10 so the Prophet ordered his companions to go to Qurayzah straight away, and tell them that God had sent Jibril to shake their strongholds and strike fear into their hearts11, and instructed them that no one was to pray Asr before they reached Banu Qurayzah12. The time for Asr came, and some were still on their way to Banu Qurayzah, so some of them prayed, and some of them delayed their prayer, but the Prophet did not blame either group, because they had tried their best to understand what he wanted them to do. Those who had delayed the Asr prayed it after Isha as Ibn Ishaq explained.13

The scholars reconcile the reports of al Bukhari and Muslim by suggesting the possibility that some of them had already prayed zuhr before the order came, while some had not, so the Prophet ordered those who had not yet prayed not to pray, and ordered those who had already prayed not to pray Asr. It is also possible that two groups were sent out separately: the first group was told not to pray Zuhr and the second was told not to pray Asr.1415, 7/408-9

The Prophet went out to Banu Qurayzah, and appointed Abd Allah ibn Umm Maktum16 to govern Madinah in his absence. This report could be accepted even though it has not been proved to be sahih.

There are many mursal traditions (athar) which strengthen one another to the level of hasan li ghayrih, and which say that Ali was sent to carry the flag at the head of the army.17

The reports differ as to whether the siege of Banu Qurayzah lasted for a month18, 25 days19, 15 days20 or any number of days between 10 and 1821. The strongest evidence shows that it was twenty-five days; most of the Maghazi writers favor this version, following Ibn Ishaq.22

The success of the siege and the fate of Banu Qurayzah

When the siege intensified and became unbearable for Banu Qurayzah, they wanted to surrender and accept whatever judgment the Prophet passed on them. They consulted Abu Lubabah ibn Abd al Mundhir, one of the companions of the Prophet who was also their ally, and he indicated that if they surrendered, they would be killed. Abu Lubabah later regretted saying this, and tied himself to one of the pillars in the Prophet’s Mosque until his repentance was accepted.23 Banu Qurayzah agreed to accept the judgment of Sa’d ibn Mu’adh; they thought that he would show mercy to them, because of the alliance between them and his people, al Aws.

Sa’d was carried to them, because he had been wounded in the hand by an arrow at the Battle of the Ditch, and was ill. He judged that the warriors should be killed, and their wealth shared. The Messenger confirmed this and said: “You have judged according to God’s judgment.”24 By doing this, Sad ibn Mu’adh disowned his alliance with Banu Qurayzah. This did not disturb the Aws at all, despite their alliance with Banu Qurayzah and the fact that they had only recently entered Islam. Their acceptance of this was facilitated by the fact that their leader Sa’d passed judgment on Banu Qurayzah. The number of warriors who were executed was 400.25 Three of Banu Qurayzah were spared because they entered Islam26 and they kept their wealth; three others may have been spared because they were protected by some of the companions because of their loyalty to the treaty during the siege. There are many reports dealing with this, but they cannot be taken as valid evidence. The prisoners were detained in the house of Bint al Harith.27

The executions were carried out in the market place in Madinah, where trenches were dug; they were killed in groups and thrown into the trenches.28 Only one of their women was killed29; she had killed one of the companions — Khalid ibn Suwayd — by dropping a millstone on him.

Boys below the age of puberty were released.30 After the execution of the warriors had been carried out, the Prophet divided their wealth and appointed the women to the custody of the Muslims.31 The books of Maghazi give some detail of how the division was carried out, but their reports cannot be taken as valid evidence.

The Messenger chose Rayhanah ibn Khanafah, one of the women prisoners, for himself, according to Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Sa’d and many others. Al Waqidi and those who followed him said that he married her, but the first suggestion is more likely.

Some contemporary historians tend to deny and weaken the reports dealing with the punishment faced by Banu Qurayzah32 on the basis that proving these reports may hurt humanitarian feelings or serve the interests of Zionist propaganda, but this is not the case. The most authentic Islamic sources prove that it happened. The severe punishments were only given because of the acts of high treason which Banu Qurayzah committed when they betrayed the Muslims and broke the treaty, instead of participating with them in defending Madinah, in accordance with the treaty between the two sides. In this day and age, nations still execute traitors who cooperate with the enemy.

The punishment of Banu Qurayzah fitted their crime, because they had exposed the Muslims to the threat of being killed, their wealth to the threat of being seized, and their women and children to the threat of being taken prisoner; therefore, their punishment was a fitting recompense. There is no need to avoid historical facts or to deny authentic reports. The Expulsion of Banu al-Qurayzah 8

Cite this article as: Bismika Allahuma Team, "The Expulsion Of Banu Al-Qurayzah," in Bismika Allahuma, October 16, 2005, last accessed December 4, 2021, https://www.bismikaallahuma.org/history/the-expulsion-of-banu-al-qurayzah/
  1. Ibn Sa’d, al Tabaqat, 3/74; Ibn Hisham, al Sirah, 3/715; Al Tabari, Tarikh al Rusul, 3/593; Ibn Sayyid al Nas, Uyun al Athar, 3/68 []
  2. Abd al Razzaq, al Musannaf, 5/367; Ibn Hisham, al Sirah, 3/699; al Haythami, Majma’ al Zawa’id, 6/143: he attributed it to al Tabarani and said that the men in the isnad are thiqah. []
  3. Al Bukhari, at Sahih, 3/33, 73; see also Malik’s suggestion. []
  4. Ibn Kathir, al Bidayah, 4/934; and al Sirah at Nabawiyyah, 3/180-1; Ibn Qayyim, Zad al Ma’ad, 388-9; Ibn Hajar, Fath al Bari, 7/393 []
  5. Abd al Razzaq reported this from the mursal hadith of Sa’id ibn al Musayyab, which are the most sahih mursal hadith. The report is valid as evidence, if there are other reports which support it (al Musannaf, 5/368-373). Abu Nu’aym, from the mursal hadith of Sa’id also (Abu Nu’aym, Dala’il al Nubuwwah, 3/183). []
  6. Al Bukhari, al Sahih, 3/306; Muslim, al Sahih, 7/138 []
  7. Ibn Hisham, al Sirah, 3/706, without isnad. []
  8. Al-Waqidi, al Maghazi, 3/454-9; Al Tabari, Tarikh al Rusul, 3/570-3; Ibn Hazm, Jawami al Sirah, 187-8; Ibn Abd al Barr, al Durar, 181-3; Ibn Sayyid al Nas, Uyun al Athar, 3/59-60; Ibn Kathir, at Bidayah, 3/103-4 []
  9. Ibn Kathir, al Bidayah, 3/103-4 []
  10. Al Bukhari, al Sahih, 3/24; Ahmad, al Musnad, 6/56, 131, 280 []
  11. Al Bukhari, al Sahih, 3/24; 144 []
  12. Bukhari (Ibid., 3/24); Muslim (Muslim, al Sahih, 5/163) say Zuhr. []
  13. Ibn Hisham, al Sirah, 3/716-7, from the mursal hadith of Ma’bad ibn Ka’b ibn Malik, who is maqbul. []
  14. Ibn Hajar, []
  15. Fath al Bari []
  16. Ibn Hisham, al Sirah, 3/716; Ibn Sa’d, al Tabaqat, 3/74 (both without isnad). []
  17. Ibn Hisam, al Sirah, 3/716; Ibn Hajar, Fath at Bari, 7/413 []
  18. Tabari, Tarikh al Rusul, 2/583, the narrator himself said that he was unsure as to whether it was a month or 25 days. []
  19. Al Sa’ati, al Fath al Rabbani li Tartib Musnad al Imam Ahmad, 21/81-3. All the narrators are reliable. []
  20. Ibn Sa’d, al Tabaqat, 3/74, without isnad. []
  21. Ibn Kathir, al Bidayah, 4/118-9; Ibn Hajar, Fath at Bari, 7/413; mursal from Musa ibn Uqbah from al Zuhri. []
  22. Tabari, Tarikh al Rusul, 2/583; Ibn Hazm, Jawami al Sirah, 193; Ibn Abd al Barr, al Durar, 189; Ibn Sayyid al Nas, ‘Uyun al Athar, 2/69 []
  23. Al Sa’ati, al Fath al Rabbani, 21/81-3, with a hasan isnad. []
  24. Al Bukhari, al Sahih, 2/210, 3/24-25; Muslim, al Sahih, 5/160-1 []
  25. Ahmad, al Musnad, 3/350, with a hasan isnad; Ibn Hajar (Fath al Bari, 7/14) mentioned the differences in their numbers, ranging from 400 to 900, and reconciled the different reports by saying that the increase included the followers of Banu Qurayzah, such as slaves, freedmen, and others. []
  26. Al Bukhari, al Sahih, 3/11; Muslim, al Sahih, 5/159. The three who entered Islam were: Tha’labah ibn Sa’iyah, Usayd ibn Sa’iyah and Asad ibn ‘Ubayd. []
  27. This is the report of Ibn Ishaq (Ibn Hisham, al Sirah, 3/721). ‘Urwah mentions it was the house of Usamah ibn Zayd. The reports can be reconciled by saying that the prisoners were put in two houses because of their great numbers. []
  28. Ahmad, al Musnad, 3/351; al Tirmidhi, Sunan, 4/144-5 []
  29. Ibn Hisham, al Sirah, 3/722; Ahmad, al Musnad, 6/277; Abu Dawud, al Sunan, 2/150. Its isnad is hasan li dhatih. []
  30. Ibn Hisham, al Sirah, 3/724; Ibn Sa’d, al Tabaqat, 2/72-7 []
  31. Al Bukhari, al Sahih, 3/11; Muslim, al Sahih, 5/159 []
  32. See the research of Dr. Walid Arafat in the papers of the World Sirah Conference in Qatar. Ed. note: See the same paper in The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1976, pp. 100-107 []
Categories
Islam Qur'anic Commentary The Qur'an

Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey And Ascension To Heaven

From Muhammad Asad’s commentary, The Message of The Qur’an

Surah 17 (Al-Isra’), verse 1 reads as:

“Limitless in His glory is He who transported His servant by night from the Inviolable House of worship [at Mecca] to the Remote House of Worship [at Jerusalem] — the environs of which We had blessed — so that We might show him some of Our symbols: for, verily, He alone is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.”

Muhammad Asad’s commentary on this verse is as follows:

“The Inviolable House of Worship” (al-masjid al haraam) is one of the designations given in the Qur’an to the Temple of the Ka’bah, the prototype of which owed its origin to Abraham (see Surah 2) and was the “first Temple set up for mankind” (Surah 3, aya’t 96), i.e., the first ever built for the worship.

Appendix: “The Night Journey”

The Prophet’s “Night Journey” (isra’) from Mecca to Jerusalem and his subsequent “Ascension” (mi’raj) to heaven are, in reality, two stages of one mystic experience, dating almost exactly one year before the exodus to Medina (cf. lbn Sa’d 1/1, 143). According to various well-documented Traditions – extensively quoted and discussed by Ibn Kathir in his commentary on 17:1, as well as by Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari VII, 155 ff. – the Apostle of God, accompanied by the Angel Gabriel, found himself transported by night to the site of Solomon’s Temple at Jerusalem, where he led a congregation of many of the earlier, long since deceased prophets in prayer; some of them he afterwards encountered again in heaven. The Ascension, in particular, is important from the viewpoint of Muslim theology inasmuch as it was in the course of this experience that the five daily prayers were explicitly instituted, by God’s ordinance, as an integral part of the Islamic Faith.

Since the Prophet(P) himself did not leave any clear-cut explanation of this experience, Muslim thinkers – including the Prophet’s Companions – have always widely differed as to its true nature.

The great majority of the Companions believed that both the Night Journey and the Ascension were physical occurrences – in other words, that the Prophet(P) was borne bodily to Jerusalem and then to heaven – while a minority were convinced that the experience was purely spiritual. Among the latter we find, in particular, the name of Ayesha(R), the Prophet’s widow and most intimate companion of his later years, who declared emphatically that “he was transported only in his spirit (bi-ruhihi), while his body did not leave its place” (cf. Tabari, Zamakhshari and Ibn Kathir in their commentaries on 17:1); the great Al-Hasan al-Basri, who belonged to the next generation, held uncompromisingly to the same view (ibid.).

As against this, the theologians who maintain that the Night Journey and the Ascension were physical experiences refer to the corresponding belief of most of the Companions – without, however, being able to point to a single Tradition to the effect that the Prophet(P) himself described it as such. Some Muslim scholars lay stress on the words asra bi-abdihi (“He transported His servant by night”) occurring in 17:1, and contend that the term ‘abd (“servant”) denotes a living being in its entirety, i.e., a combination of body and soul. This interpretation, however, does not take into account the probability that the expression asra bi-‘abdihi simply refers to the human quality of the Prophet, in consonance with the many Qur’?c statements to the effect that he, like all other apostles, was but a mortal servant of God, and was not endowed with any supernatural qualities. This, to my mind, is fully brought out in the concluding words of the above verse – “verily, He alone is all-hearing, all-seeing” — following upon the statement that the Prophet was shown some of God’s symbols (min ayatina), i.e., given insight into some, but by no means all, of the ultimate truths underlying God’s creation.

The most convincing argument in favour of a spiritual interpretation of both the Night Journey and the Ascension is forthcoming from the highly allegorical descriptions found in the authentic Traditions relating to this double experience: descriptions, that is, which are so obviously symbolic that they preclude any possibility of interpreting them literally, in “physical” terms. Thus, for instance, the Apostle of God speaks of his encountering at Jerusalem, and subsequently in heaven, a number of the earlier prophets, all of whom had undoubtedly passed away a long time before. According to one Tradition (quoted by Ibn Kathir on the authority of Anas), he visited Moses(P) in his grave, and found him praying. In another Tradition, also on the authority of Anas (cf. Fath al-Biri VII, 158), the Prophet(P) describes how, on his Night Journey, he encountered an old woman, and was thereupon told by Gabriel, “This old woman is the mortal world (ad-dunya)”. In the words of yet another Tradition, on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (ibid.), the Prophet(P) “passed by people who were sowing and harvesting; and every time they completed their harvest, [the grain] grew up again. Gabriel said, ‘These are the fighters in God’s cause (al-mujjahidun).’ Then they passed by people whose heads were being shattered by rocks; and every time they were shattered, they became whole again. [Gabriel] said, ‘These are they whose heads were oblivious of prayer.’ Then they passed by people who were eating raw, rotten meat and throwing away cooked, wholesome meat. [Gabriel] said, “These are the adulterers.”

In the best-known Tradition on the Ascension (quoted by Bukhari), the Prophet(P) introduces his narrative with the words: “While I lay on the ground next to the Ka`abah [lit., “in the hijr”], lo! there came unto me an angel, and cut open my breast and took out my heart. And then a golden basin full of faith was brought unto me, and my heart was washed [therein] and was filled [with it]; then it was restored to its place…” Since “faith” is an abstract concept, it is obvious that the Prophet(P) himself regarded this prelude to the Ascension – and therefore the Ascension itself and, ipso facto, the Night Journey to Jerusalem – as purely spiritual experiences.

But whereas there is no cogent reason to believe in a “bodily” Night Journey and Ascension, there is, on the other hand, no reason to doubt the objective reality of this event. The early Muslim theologians, who could not be expected to possess adequate psychological knowledge, could visualize only two alternatives: either a physical happening or a dream.

Since it appeared to them — and rightly so — that these wonderful occurrences would greatly lose in significance if they were relegated to the domain of mere dream, they instinctively adopted an interpretation in physical terms and passionately defended it against all contrary views, like those of Ayesha, Mu’awiyah or Al-Hasan al-Basri. In the meantime, however, we have come to know that a dream-experience is not the only alternative to a physical occurrence. Modern Psychical research, though still in its infancy, has demonstrably proved that not every spiritual experience (that is, an experience in which none of the known organs of man’s body has a part) must necessarily be a mere subjective manifestation of the “mind” — whatever this term may connote — but that it may, in special circumstances, be no less real or “factual” in the objective sense of this word than anything that man can experience by means of his physiological organism. We know as yet very little about the quality of such exceptional psychic activities, and so it is well-nigh impossible to reach definite conclusions as to their nature. Nevertheless, certain observations of modern psychologists have confirmed the possibility – claimed from time immemorial by mystics of all persuasions – of a temporary “independence” of man’s spirit from his living body. In the event of such a temporary independence, the spirit or soul appears to be able freely to traverse time and space, to embrace within its insight occurrences and phenomena belonging to otherwise widely separated categories of reality, and to condense them within symbolical perceptions of great intensity, clarity and comprehensiveness. But when it comes to communicating such “visionary” experiences (as we are constrained to call them for lack of a better term) to people who have never experienced anything of the kind, the person concerned – in this case, the Prophet – is obliged to resort to figurative expressions: and this would account for the allegorical style of all the Traditions relating to the mystic vision of the Night Journey and the Ascension.

At this point I should like to draw the reader’s attention to the discussion of “spiritual ascension” by one of the truly great Islamic thinkers, lbn al-Qayyim (Zad al-Ma’ad II, 48 f.):

Ayesha and Mu’awiyah maintained that the [Prophet’s] Night Journey was performed by his soul (bi-ruhihi), while his body did not leave its place. The same is reported to have been the view of Al-Hasan al-Basri. But it is necessary to know the difference between the saying, ‘the Night Journey took place in dream (manaman)’, and the saying, ‘it was [performed] by his soul without his body’. The difference between these two [views] is tremendous….What the dreamer sees are mere reproductions (amthal) of forms already existing in his mind; and so he dreams [for example] that he ascends to heaven or is transported to Mecca or to [other] regions of the world, while [in reality] his spirit neither ascends nor is transported….

Those who have reported to us the Ascension of the Apostle of God can be divided into two groups — one group maintaining that the Ascension was in spirit and in body, and the other group maintaining that it was performed by his spirit, while his body did not leave its place. But these latter [also] do not mean to say that the Ascension took place in a dream: they merely mean that it was his soul itself which actually went on the Night Journey and ascended to heaven, and that the soul witnessed things which it [otherwise] witnesses after death (lit., mufaraqah, “separation”].

Its condition on that occasion was similar to the condition [of the soul] after death….But that which the Apostle of God experienced on his Night Journey was superior to the [ordinary] experiences of the soul after death, and, of course, was far above the dreams which one sees in sleep….As to the prophets [whom the Apostle of God met in heaven], it was but their souls which had come to dwell there after the separation from their bodies, while the soul of the Apostle of God ascended there in his lifetime.”

It is obvious that this kind of spiritual experience is not only not inferior, but, on the contrary, vastly superior to anything that bodily organs could ever perform or record; and it goes without saying, as already mentioned by Ibn al-Qayyim, that it is equally superior to what we term “dream-experiences”, inasmuch as the latter have no objective existence outside the subject’s mind, whereas spiritual experiences of the kind referred to above are not less “real” (that is, objective) than anything which could be experienced “in body”. By assuming that the Night Journey and the Ascension were spiritual and not bodily, we do not diminish the extraordinary value attaching to this experience of the Prophet. On the contrary, it appears that the fact of his having had such an experience by far transcends any miracle of bodily ascension, for it presupposes a personality of tremendous spiritual perfection — the very thing which we expect from a true Prophet of God. However, it is improbable that we ordinary human beings will ever be in a position fully to comprehend spiritual experiences of this kind. Our minds can only operate with elements provided by our consciousness of time and space; and everything that extends beyond this particular set of conceptions will always defy our attempts at a clear-cut definition.

In conclusion, it should be noted that the Prophet’s Night Journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, immediately preceding his Ascension, was apparently meant to show that Islam is not a new doctrine but a continuation of the same divine message which was preached by the prophets of old, who had Jerusalem as their spiritual home. This view is supported by Traditions (quoted in Fath at-Bari VII, 158), according to which the Prophet(P), during his Night Journey, also offered prayers at Yathrib (now called Medina), Sinai, Bethlehem, etc. His encounters with other prophets, mentioned in this connection, symbolize the same idea. The well-known Traditions to the effect that on the occasion of his Night Journey the Prophet(P) led a prayer in the Temple of Jerusalem, in which all other prophets ranged themselves behind him, expresses in a figurative manner the doctrine that Islam, as preached by the Prophet Muhammad(P), is the fulfillment and perfection of mankind’s religious development, and that Muhammad(P) was the last and the greatest of God’s message-bearers. Prophet Muhammad's Night Journey and Ascension to Heaven 9

Cite this article as: Bismika Allahuma Team, "Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey And Ascension To Heaven," in Bismika Allahuma, September 20, 2005, last accessed December 4, 2021, https://www.bismikaallahuma.org/islam/prophet-muhammad-night-journey-and-ascension-to-heaven/