Friday, 15 June 2012
The Journey to the 'Arsh
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following is adapted from a swuhbah from Shaykh Muhammad Nazhim Adil al-Haqqani (q.s.). This is also extracted from the narration of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) on some of the events on the occasion of his Mi’raj. In this case, it is the passing of the 70,000 Veils to the Divine Presence. Jibril (a.s.) was only Permitted to bring the Prophet (s.a.w.) through the Heavens, past the Bayt al-Ma’mur until just beyond the Sidrat al-Muntaha, the Furthest Lote Tree.
“Here, too, I beheld the angel Jibril in his very own shape and form. He had six hundred wings, which were made of various kinds of jewels and pearls. Whenever he would open up a pair of these wings, they filled all the space between East and West. The wings were embellished by all sorts of precious stones. It would have taken a swift-flying bird five hundred, or according to other sources, seven hundred years to measure the distance from one shoulder to the other.
Then they came to an open space from where they could hear the sounds of the writing of the Divine Pen. He said to Jibril (a.s.), “Go ahead.”
But Jibril (a.s.) answered, “You go ahead, for in the Eye of Allah you are more honoured than I and all Creation.” He then passed on ahead of Jibril (a.s.) who followed behind him.
They came unto a veil of gold. Jibril (a.s.) shook the veil and a voice was heard from behind it, saying, “Who are you?”
Jibril (a.s.) answered, “I am Jibril, and Muhammad is with me.”
From within the veil, this angel intoned, “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.”
From behind the curtain, came a Voice which Said, “My servant has spoken truly; I am indeed the Greatest, no Greatness is due to any but Me.”
Then the angel called, “Ashhadu an laa ilaha illa Allah.”
Again, there was a Refrain, “My servant has spoken truly; Anna laa ilaha illa Anna. I am He beside Whom there is no other God.”
The angel repeated the words of the shahadah, “Ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasulullah.”
Again, there was a Refrain, “My servant has spoken truly; I have Sent Muhammad as My Messenger.”
Then they heard the angel say, “Hayya ‘ala asw-swalah, hayya ‘ala al-falah.”
Another Call was heard, “My servant has spoken truly; he calls My servants to come to Me, worshipful. I have Invited them to My gate, and whoever answers My Invitation, will be saved and meet with success.”
Thereafter they heard the angel say, “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.”
Another Call came, “My servant has spoken the Truth: Ana Akbar, I am the Greatest.”
The angel then said, “Laa ilaha illa Allah.”
And the Refrains was, “My servant has spoken truly; there is no God but I.”
Then they heard a voice say, “Oh Muhammad, Allah has Honoured you with Perfect Honour over all those who went before you and who are yet to come.”
The Prophet (s.a.w.) then asked Jibril (a.s.), “Who is this angel?”
Jibril (a.s.) answered, “I swear by the Might and Glory of Allah Who has Sent you as His Messenger of Truth, I have never seen this angel. I do not know who he is or anything about him, but you are now about to find out.”
He then asked, “Are you not going any further then? Does a true friend leave his friend in midstream?”
Jibril (a.s.) answered, “Oh Rasulullah, every angel has his place and station beyond which he cannot go. If I advance even the breadth of a finger, the Wrath of Allah will Burn me. My ultimate station is the Sidrat al-Muntaha. Up to this very moment, I have never gone as far as this point. For your sake and honour, however, I have been Given Permission, and I have brought you here. But I can proceed no further than this.”
Then the Prophet (s.a.w.) asked, “Is there anything you request of the Lord Almighty? If there is anything you desire, I will ask it of Him.”
Jibril (a.s.) answered, “My request of the Lord is that He Permit me, when your ummah is Ordered to march across the Swirath, to spread my wing across that bridge and assist them in crossing it in safety in this way.”
Then an angel stretched forth his hand from behind the veil, and in less time than the blinking of an eye, he pulled Rasulullah (s.a.w.) through to the other side. Then the angel said to him, “Oh Rasulullah, proceed ahead of me.” In a short while, he had brought the Prophet (s.a.w.) before a curtain of pearls. When he stirred the curtain, an angel’s voice was heard from behind it, asking, “Who is this?”
The angel accompanying the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “I am the angel of the golden curtain and with me is the Most Honoured Prophet of the Lord.”
The angel behind the veil then said, “Allahu Akbar” and, stretching out his hand from behind the veil, he pulled the Prophet (s.a.w.) across. In as little time as it takes for the eye to blink, he had traversed the curtain and found myself standing before the angel, where he greeted the Prophet (s.a.w.) with every mark of honour and respect.
In this way, he passed through seventy thousand veils, each one of them made of a different kind of jewel. The distance between each of these curtains was one of five hundred years’ wayfaring, and the thickness of each was that of another five hundred years. When he had passed through all of the veils, he found himself all alone. Then the Rafraf came to him and became visible in the shape of a green settee, which greeted the Prophet (s.a.w.) with greetings of peace. He spoke to the Prophet (s.a.w.), saying, “Seat yourself upon me, for I will be your transport.”
During the night of his Mi’raj, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) journeyed upon five different conveyances. The first was the Buraq, which took him up to al-Quds, Jerusalem. The second was the Mi’raj, the steps on which he ascended into the earthly skies. The third was the angel Jibril’s (a.s.) wing and on it he approached as far the veil. The fourth were the angels who pulled him from one veil to the next. The fifth was the Rafraf. It was with this, he proceeded as far as Allah (s.w.t.) Wished him to go.
The Prophet (s.a.w.) narrated that he mounted upon the Rafraf and it took him as far as the Kursi, the Divine Courtyard. Allah (s.w.t.) Created the Kursi from pearls, and its size and grandeur defies all description. In the Holy Qur’an, Allah (s.w.t.) Says thus about the Kursi:
… His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in Guarding and Preserving them... (Surah al-Baqarah:255)
The most excellent of commentators, ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.), said about this in his commentary: “If the seven layers of the earth and the seven layers of the heavens were put together and spread out, next to the Kursi they would be as a tiny ring which has been lost in a desert.” Between the Kursi, the Divine Court and the ‘Arsh, Divine Throne, there are seventy veils. If not for these, the angels of the Kursi would be burnt from the Light of the ‘Arsh.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) continued his blessed narration stating that he passed beyond those veils. Between each of the veils, he beheld various thrones that were bedecked with fine throws, studded with many gems. All around the thrones curtains were drawn, as if these thrones were still waiting for their occupants. An air of expectancy surrounded these bejeweled seats of honor. He asked the guardians of these thrones, “Who is to be seated upon them?”
They replied, “They will be occupied by souls.”
The Prophet (s.a.w.) asked, ‘The souls of which prophets are they meant for?”
And he was told, “These are not for those ranking among the prophets; their ranks are far beyond that. These thrones are intended for the souls of two groups from among your ummah.”
The Prophet (s.a.w.) asked again, “Whose are these souls?”
“One group is made up of those who have learned by heart the words of the Holy Qur’an Revealed to you, who understand its meaning and who act in accordance to its injections. The other group comprises those who rise at night to worship their Lord when all the world lies fast asleep.”
The Prophet (s.a.w.) beheld many wondrous marvels between the layers of these veils. He saw numberless strange seas and within them strange and wondrous creatures. He saw many angels of dreadful guise, but to comprehend them or describe or explain them exceeds all human means.
After passing through all the veils, he reached the ‘Arsh. Allah (s.w.t.) Created it of green emeralds and it has four legs of red ruby. The ‘Arsh has as many tongues as there are created beings, and each of these glorifies the Lord unceasingly. An angel holds on to each one of the feet of the Divine Throne and holds it aloft until the Day of Judgment. On that day, there will be two angels holding each foot of the Throne, eight angels in all.
The size of these angels is such that the distance between the heel and the ankles of each is that of five hundred years’ wayfaring, and from their earlobe to their neck is another five hundred years’ traveling distance. The Throne-bearing angels never once raise their heads to gaze upwards due to the dazzling gleam of the Light of the ‘Arsh.
One of these angels has the form of a man, and he is always praying, interceding on behalf of humankind, that they may be Granted their sustenance and provisions and that their sins may be Forgiven. The second one of these angels has the shape of an eagle and he is always praying for the provision of the birds and flying creatures. The third of these angels has the form of a lion, and he prays for the beasts of prey to be given their provisions. The fourth one is shaped like an ox and he prays constantly for the ruminant animals to be granted their provisions.
Compared to the greatness of the ‘Arsh, the entire Kursi, the seven heavens and the seven layers of the earth are as a single lamp suspended beneath the sky. All around it are seventy thousand rows of angels circumambulating it at all times, reciting takbir and tahlil. Behind them, are again seventy thousand rows of angels standing upright and reciting takbir and tahlil. Behind them are one hundred thousand rows of angels who hold their right hands clasped over their left hands and each one of them recites a different tasbih. Seventy thousand veils separate these angels from the ‘Arsh.
Then the Prophet (s.a.w.) beheld a single pearl of emerald green upon which was written this line of writing:
Laa ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad ar-Rasulullah, Abu Bakr asw-Swiddiq wa ‘Umar al-Faruq
There is no god but the Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Abu Bakr the Truthful and ‘Umar the Distinguisher of Truth from Falsehood.
The Declaration of Unity, the Kalimah at-Tawhid is written on the base that supports the ’Arsh, and upon the legs of the ‘Arsh itself, and it is written over the gates of the Seven Heavens. Sometimes, this phrase was added, “I have strengthened him through ‘Ali.”
When the Prophet (s.a.w.) arrived at the ‘Arsh, he witnessed great events. One drop fell from the ‘Arsh went into his mouth and the sweetness of it surpassed everything he had ever tasted. When he had swallowed it, the Lord of the Universe Enlightened his heart with the knowledge and wisdom of all that had gone before and was yet to come. The Light from the ‘Arsh surrounded him and the Prophet (s.a.w.) was engulfed by it. The Prophet (s.a.w.) was aware of nothing but that light. When faced with this light, he perceived everything through his heart’s eye as clearly as though he were looking through my eyes. He perceived what was behind him as clearly as that, which was before him, at a level with his chest.
At that, the Prophet (s.a.w.) came into a state of terror when he heard absolutely nothing; not the voices of the angels, nor the sound of any other thing. Then suddenly, the Prophet (s.a.w.) heard a voice that seemed to be the voice of Abu Bakr (r.a.) saying to him, “Qif, ya Muhammad, Inna Rabbuka yuswalli,” “Stay your step, O Muhammad, for your Lord is Sending Blessings.” When the Prophet (s.a.w.) heard this voice, all the terror departed from him completely, and he began to wonder what Abu Bakr (r.a.) was doing there.
It is important to understand that the reason for the Prophet (s.a.w.) proceeding to the ‘Arsh was not to see Allah (s.w.t.), for He is exempt from any particular place. The Prophet (s.a.w.) was taken to these stations in order to witness the entirety of Creation, and to see the Manifestation of the Divine Lord’s Supreme Majesty and Power, as He Says in the Qur’an:
For truly did he see of the Signs of his Lord the Greatest! (Surah an-Najm:18)
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
… in order that We might show him some of Our Signs... (Surah al-Isra’:1)
These narrations, just like all the narrations with regards the Isra’ wa al-Mi’raj are just summaries of the wonders that Allah (s.w.t.) Revealed to him.