“Glorified and 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
As Muslims we believe in the unseen; we know that there is a hidden reality. We believe in angels, life after death, reward and punishment and predestination. All of the aforementioned have expressions in this world but are rooted in the hidden reality of the unseen realm. Such as in the events of surah 17, ayah 1 from Juz’ 15 (17:1–18:73). Whereas, it is a revelation that draws our attention to Allah’s Servant ﷺ taken on a majestic night journey. Allah is al-Baatin, The Hidden.
My intentions are to share a poetic expression on the Isra and Miraj. This poem is influenced by 17:1 and other verses throughout the Qur’an which address unseen matters. This piece is also influenced by sound hadiths and commentaries, including my own rationale. I have written a poetic vision of The Ascension, entitled al-Isra and al-Miraj.
Malikul-Mulk, Eternal Possessor of Sovereignty.
Only Allah knows and those who were selected, regarding the trajectory of The Ascension.
Only Allah knows how Prophet Muhammad’s soul ﷺ was drawn into the heavenly abode, amidst the heavenly sights to behold; and only Allah knows how he traveled across the desert sand; it was all in Allah’s Plan.
These are events behind a veil; a place where reality is, where the Prophet ﷺ would transverse space and time, on assignment from The Most High.
On a journey to meet those from ancient times, prophets and messengers, a succession line; gatekeepers all arranged in ranks, guarding heavenly spaces.
Traveling distances we could never measure; going places we couldn’t fathom. Places where no one could enter unless called upon; unless there is a decree from The One who Evolves. Allah is Rabb.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺwas in a deep sleep, when Allah sent for him in the unseen. He would move through forums of space and time, with permission from The Most High.
Thus, in al-Masjid al-Haram as his body laid in repose, some say his soul rose. Some say that Angel Mikail was there, while washing the Prophet’s ﷺ heart was Angel Jibril. Allah is al-Nur, The Prime Light.
Then he ﷺ was carried on Buraq’s back for a journey by night, with the stars glistening and shining bright – it was a miraculous event; it was a marvelous sight, a journey by night.
Muhammad ﷺ had been called for a journey light years away, further than the furthest they say.
Rising high, with a bird’s eye view, on the back of Buraq, who was chosen too, crossing the desert, moving in a stream of light-sight unseen, on this blessed night, it was not a dream. Allah is al-Shaheed, The All Observing.
Riding in the majestic sky, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his winged guide.
He traveled through space and in a token of time. He left Masjid al-Haram far behind. A sacred night with more stars than the eyes could behold – a palace of heavenly stars awaiting his soul. For, our Prophet ﷺ would ride through the heavenly skies, with the Mighty Angel Jibril by his side. Allah is al-Hadi, The Guide.
A divine mission, and places to be, the next stop, Jerusalem, a holy precinct, Masjid al-Aqsa a blessed retreat. Where the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was offered a drink of milk or wine to choose from, a test and task; his deeds well done. Traveling distances we could never measure; going places we couldn’t fathom. Places where no one could enter unless called upon; unless there is a decree from The One who Evolves. Allah is Rabb.
The Dome of The Rock, the apex for the next part – long distances to travel, going far! Soaring upward, Buraq left no traces. His flight was fueled by Allah’s graces. Soaring through the unseen, faster than can be seen; traversing through sacred spaces with Jibril and Allah’s graces.
Upon The Straight Way.
Moving towards the heavenly gates.
Moving through spaces;
By Allah’s grace. Allah is al-Wasi, The All Embracing.
The Angel Jibril nearby;
We don’t know, for these events are untold.
Allah is, al-Badi, The Unique One.
What we do know is that they continued on a predestined flight filled with illuminations and insights. Surpassing all laws of gravity; flying in the unseen. Breaths of aspiration, gliding on inspiration; taking the Prophet ﷺto seven places, towards the final destination. Towards gates arranged in ranks, Jibril led the Prophet ﷺthrough time and space; until they arrived at each heavenly gate. Allah is Dhul Jalaali Wal Ikram, The Possessor of Majesty and Honor, The Lord of Majesty and Bounty.
His flight was fueled by Allah’s graces. Soaring through the unseen, faster than can be seen; traversing through sacred spaces with Jibril and Allah’s graces.
At every heavenly level the questioning was the same, the Prophet’s entry had been preordained. There were greetings from our Father Adam who Allah created first; followed by Yahya and Isa sharing the same word. There was Yusuf, who had visions in the unseen. Then there’s Idris, trustworthy and patient, exalted to a high station. Next, Harun, a righteous servant standing beside his brother to fight; an answered prayer of Musa’s plight. Musa, the one who talked to Allah and stood on holy ground, his head bowed, staff in hand, and scrolls with Allah’s commandments. Until finally Muhammad ﷺ arrived at the heavenly gate of our Father Ibrahim, first in true faith. He turned away from idolatry and the stars too, his faith a template for you, a hanif through and through. He was a faithful servant indeed! Allah is al-Wali.
To all in the heavenly abodes we say, عليهم السلام أجمعين (peace be upon them all)
Allah is al-Jami, The Gatherer.
These are the places that Muhammad ﷺ went.
Divine spaces revealed, where the way to pray unfolded, trees and rivers flowing; and to everything we say, Allah is All Knowing.
These are events from times gone by, where he received the prayers, five.
Given to us upon the Prophet’s return; prayers we had to learn; and perform before the dawn of day, just past the zenith, at the full length of a shadow, and after the setting of the sun (17:78–79); then when the whole day is done, to give praise to al-Ahad, The One!
All this Allah showed his Servant ﷺ during that night in the unseen; a journey by night, not a dream. Movements across time and space from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings were blessed; and through the seven heavens on a divine quest. These are lessons from The Most High and miraculous happenings in the night sky.
Yes indeed, Allah is the Hearing, the Seeing.
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Ni’mat Shaheed is a Restorative Justice Practitioner and Facilitator for Oakland Unified School District, an author and a poet. She has studied at Bayan Claremont School of Theology, East Bay California State University, and Laney Community College. Shaheed’s honors include a 2018 fellowship with the Collaborative for Spiritual Development’s Public School Fellows at Teacher’s College, Columbia N.Y. and in 2017 she received the Muhammad Ali Scholarship issued by Bayan Claremont School of Theology.