Gifts of Mi’raj
At the beginning of Surah Bani Israeel in the glorious Quran Allah (Subhanu Wa Ta’Ala) mentioned a great event. Which is known as Isra’ (The night journey).
Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al- Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.(17:1)
In the opening verses of Surah Najm incident of Mi’raj (Ascension} is mentioned.
By the tenth year of the Prophet hood, Prophet Muhammad’s mission of preaching and inviting the whole humanity to Allah was apparently still far from being successful and he was facing extreme oppression from each and every corner. In the last stages of Makkan period, Prophet bore the hardest difficulties of the social boycott when his family had to leave Makkah and stay in Sha’ab Abi Talib followed by the death of his supportive uncle Abu Talib and his caring and beloved wife Khadijah . This year came to know as the year of sorrow.
His life and mission faced unconceivable hardships. The incident of Ta’if was excruciating enough to melt the stones. It was such a terrible and cruel incident that even Prophet mentioned its severity and intensity. The Prophet said, ‘Yes, the day of Ta’if was worse for me than the day of Uhud; that was the most difficult point of my life’.
Despite undergoing much difficulty and being at the depths of grief and while his heart bled with sorrow, prophet Muhammad forbade the angel Jibreel from crushing the stone hearted people of Ta’if between mountains. Such was his noble character and conduct. Lord of the heavens and the Earth appreciated and valued his great manners by opening the doors of His mercy and barakah upon him and paved the way to reach his goal. On one hand, the ill-treatment and rejection from people was heartbreaking but on the other hand, a group of Jinn heard the glorious Qur’an and accepted Islam. This incident brought a glimpse of hope and conviction to the Prophet that he is not unsuccessful in his mission.
Say, [O Muhammad], “It has been revealed to me that a group of the jinn listened and said, ‘Indeed, we have heard an amazing Qur’an. It guides to the right course, and we have believed in it. And we will never associate with our Lord anyone. (Surah Jinn: 1, 2)
This incident occurred while returning from Ta’if at the valley of Nakhla as an unseen help from Allah and was a cause of relief for the prophet. The prophet ‘s advent has been for both humans and Jinn. One incident disappointed and the other elated him. This divine help dispersed the clouds of anguish, grief, pain and despair from the prophet’s heart. He returned to Makkah with a renewed enthusiasm, vigor and vitality.
Allah is the most merciful and compassionate upon His slaves. If he sends trials, he also looks after His slaves, lovingly holding their hands, making hearts at peace, he gives glad tidings of completion of work, He gives assurance of the fruits of labor and grants the fruits as well. Just like a mother embraces her child and shows her approval with love after giving him a difficult task.
After returning to Makkah prophet started inviting individuals as well as different tribes to Islam. From the vast sea of people only a few responded positively to his call. At this time of adversity, a few people of Yathrib (Madina), proved to be the rays of light in darkness. These rays foretold the rising of the sun.
To honour and praise his struggle and hard work in Makkah, to encourage and strengthen his spirits and to equip him for his mission ahead Allah invited prophet Muhammad in His majestic court. Subhan-Allah! How exalted is the status of this noble man that a magnificent vehicle and an excellent escort was sent to fetch him.
Allah welcomed his beloved prophet with the tour of the Heavens. He showed him the grandeur and splendor of His kingdom. He informed him about the good and bad conditions of his slaves. Arranged his meeting with the other chosen prophets. Allah enables all prophets to see the unseen realities with their naked eyes. The objective is to equip the prophets in their mission of inviting people with certainty of sight. These experiences make the prophets confront hardships with Eeman and ease which a common man is incapable of bearing.
This miracle took place a year before Hijrah (migration). The details of the same have been related by 25 of the companions of the prophet . As a member of the Ummah (community) we try to see this incident from a new angle.
Allah invited His prophet saw] with all His glory and grandeur to show His signs and to make him aware of infinite doings of His mercy. As part of the Ummah, it is an honor for us as well. Just like when the head of the family is honored to meet the king with all stateliness, excellence and magnificence then celebrations start ringing in the whole family. Same as if a head of an institute earns an honor then the whole institute shares the honor. Customarily, the one who is allowed to attend the court of highest authority must have some achievements and accomplishment to their credit. Either they have invented something to benefit the society or accomplishment of the duties assigned to him. The magnitude of efforts and struggles exerted by prophet was such that Allah Himself consoled him.
“Then perhaps you would kill yourself through grief over them, [O Muhammad], if they do not believe in this message, [and] out of sorrow”. (Surah Kahf, 18:6)
As if he was awarded for discharging perfectly the responsibilities he was assigned. He was invited with love and affection and assured for the coming achievements.
It is also a ritual that when a particular person is called as a guest in a king’s court, he is not returned empty handed. At Israa, the Lord of the universe is the majestic host and the leader of the prophets is the graceful guest. The one who gives is the Greatest and the one who receives is also the greatest among human beings. The adorations bestowed upon the esteemed guest are extended to his people as well. It was impossible that the Lord of the world would bestowe so much on the prophet yet send nothing to the Ummah of his beloved prophet. How the guest who left behind his followers would return to them empty handed? How was he to assure people of his visit to the heavens, of the reverence and the honor he received? The gifts that he would brought back to his Ummah would testify the graciousness of the Lord.
Allah sent many gifts with the messenger . The question for each one of us is to reflect upon the value we give to these gifts.
Let us view the list of gifts:
1) He who intends to do a good deed but he does not do it, then Allah records it for him as a full good deed, But if he intends to do an evil act and has not done it, then Allah writes it down with Him as a full good deed. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
2) The last verse of Surah Baqarah was gifted.
It was narrated that ‘Abdullah said:
“When the Messenger of Allah was taken on the Night Journey, he came to Sidrah Al-Muntaha, which is in the sixth heaven. That is where everything that comes up from below ends, and where everything that comes down from above, until it is taken from it. Allah says: When what covered the lote-tree did cover it!  He said: “It was moths of gold. And I was given three things: The five daily prayers, the last verses of Surah Al-Baqarah, and whoever of my Ummah dies without associating anything with Allah will be forgiven for Al-Muqhimat.”   An-Najm 53:16.  “The sins of the worst magnitude that drag one into the Fire.” (An-Nihayah)
3) It has been promised that who does not associate partners with Allah his sins will be forgiven.
4) The Ummah was gifted 50 prayers which were reduced to 5 to make it easy for the Ummah but the reward is equal to 50 prayers. [Sahih al-Bukhari ]
Let us for a moment stop and think about our attitude towards the gift of Salah. Imagine how would you feel if you give a precious gift to someone you love yet they throw it away carelessly after receiving it? Would you be able to maintain the same level of affectionate feeling for that person? Umar incident would be a good example to explain it. He gifted a horse to a man. After some time had passed he saw the horse. It had become weak. This troubled Umar so much that he sought permission of RasoolAllah to buy it back but the prophet forbade it. [Sahih Bukhari]
Wouldn’t you be disappointed if you know you were about to be given a more precious gift but it was replaced by a lesser one? What a sense of loss it would be. Imagine if the gift was downgraded due to your inefficiency and inability to use the gift. Imagine the regret you would feel. Salah is the great gift has been given less in number yet its rewards are multiplied. However, neither do we have the shame of receiving less nor are we grateful in our hearts for receiving more rewards for lesser number of salah. There is no remorse in our hearts of neglecting Salah. Salah is an ascent (a Mi’raj) to Allah ]. An invitation to meet our Lord, for private conversation, for stepping up the ladders of progress, for the tour of the heavens, for the creation to be humble and submissive in front of the Creator, for the slave to express his servitude and enslavement with the Master, to visit the world of wonders while getting detached from the whole world, to the pleasures of seeing the Lord.
In hadith Jibreel, the Angel asks “What is Ihsan (perfection)?” Allah’s Apostle replied, “To worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must consider that He is looking at you.”[Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 2, Number 48]
When a believer recites the Holy Qur’an in the Salah he undertakes a novel journey. He witnesses the paradise and the hell, sometimes sees the rise and fall of the nations, sometimes he peep into the past, sometimes see the future, sometimes feels shameful in the presence of his Lord, sometimes receives consolation and appeasement, sometimes when depressed, finds the booster for the morale with which he feels protected in the heat and cold of life’s ups and downs.
Unfortunately, for us Salah is neither the peace of our heart nor the coolness of our eyes. If we examine the Salah in our lives and analyze state of our prayers we will realize that we have never been conscious and perceptive during our Salah. We get indulged in desires which make us waste the Salah. The Quran tells us that Salah keeps away from every indecency and every evil yet in our lives, indecency and evil escalating while we claim to offer the Salah. Is the indecency more powerful or our prayers lack the essence of “Me’raaj”? Indeed we pray Salah but we do not offer it, we do not establish it, Salah is a symbol for establishing Islamic system of life, Salah is the pillar of our deen. Deen is the way of life. If your Salah is not sound, the building of your deen can’t stand firm. If your Deen is crumbling, so is the way of your life. To ponder on this is an obligation of every individual, society is made up of individuals. If every brick of a building is set right the building would stay firm.
Let today be the day to make a pledge that we would value the great gift of Salah bestowed by the Lord of the worlds. We would try to comprehend that at Mi’raj the Prophet was extraordinarily felicitated and as a token of this honour, Salah was bestowed as a gift upon the Ummah of Prophet . The parting advice of the prophet in his final moments for the Ummah was to look after their Salah . [Sunan Abu dawood 5:158]. Do we not take the parting words of our loved ones seriously when they are on their death beds? Do we not feel obliged to fulfill the wills of our dear ones? Our biggest well-wisher Muhammad , to whom we claim to love more than our lives yet we devalue and disregard his last words. On the day of resurrection before anything else, every believing man and woman will be asked if they really appreciated this precious gift. On that day there will be no respite or chance to redo things.
May Allah bless our consciousness, perception, understanding and wisdom with the light of Eeman and make us among those who protect their prayers in order to ascend to the heights of success in this life and hereafter. Ameen
BY: DR. BUSHRA TASNEEM (http://bushratasneem.wordpress.com/)