Saturday, 28 January 2017
Seeing the Prophet (s.a.w.) in a Waking State
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
This is Shaykh ‘Ali Juma’ah’s response when he was asked, “Is it possible to physically see the Prophet (s.a.w.) in a waking state and what is the reality of this?”
Seeing the Prophet (s.a.w.) in a waking state is not something based on the issues of the shari’ah that causes a positive or negative change in faith. Rather, it is an issue based on real life events, and causes an immense amount of responsibility for the one that claims it. Seeing the Prophet (s.a.w.) in a waking state comes as a glade tiding and as a miracle. It does not contradict that he has passed from this life nor does it mean that one has become one of his companions; in actuality nothing is and can be based on it.
After these introductory remarks, to analyse this issue we must first ask, “Is this rationally possible or not?” That which is rationally impossible is that one entity be present in two locations. Seeing the Prophet (s.a.w.) in a waking state, though, does not mean him being present in two locations as his location is the Rawdhah, where he is alive in his grave praying and being intimate with Allah (s.w.t.) as is the case with all the prophets and Messengers in their graves. Anas (r.a.) reported that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “The prophets are alive in their graves praying.” Also, there is the statement of the Prophet (s.a.w.), “I passed by Moses on the Night of Ascent near the red dune and he was standing praying in his grave.”
Seeing him in a waking state is not something that is limited to the saint seeing his current state in his grave. This is something that the intellect does not refuse. Likewise, this is aided by textual proof as it is narrated that ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.) was delivering a sermon when Allah (s.w.t.) revealed to him the state of Sariyyah (r.a.), as a miracle to him, while the latter was in Nahawand, in Persia. ‘Umar (r.a.) called out, “O Sariyyah the mountain, the mountain!” and Sariyyah (r.a.) actually heard this. As long as this is something that can happen to other than the Prophet (s.a.w.), then it is not something that is restricted to ‘Umar ibn Khaththab (r.a.), or the companions. Likewise, that which is seen can be Sariyyah (r.a.) or otherwise.
The vision can be an actual vision of the Prophet (s.a.w.), meaning that one sees his actual state in the Rawdhah so one sees an image of this and this image is from the imaginal realm. This results from immense love and contemplation on the person of the Prophet (s.a.w.). A person can have many images of himself if the plains of reflection are many such as a mirror.
There is also a clear hadits indicating the permissibility of seeing the Prophet (s.a.w.) in a waking state, on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (r.a.), who said he heard the Prophet (s.a.w.) say, “Whomsoever sees me in their dreams, they will see me in a waking state, and Satan does not imitate my person.” The Prophet’s (s.a.w.) statement, “they will see me in a waking state,” is an indication of the permissibility of seeing him during one’s life. Restricting this to mean seeing the Prophet (s.a.w.) on the Day of Resurrection is a stretch for two reasons: one, all people will see the Prophet (s.a.w.) on the Day of Resurrection, those who have seen him in dreams and others, and two, the hadith itself gives no indication of restriction of the meaning, therefore for us to restrict it is false.
The issue of seeing the Prophet (s.a.w.) in waking states was asked during the time of Imam as-Suyuthi (q.s.), who composed a treatise on it entitled, “Enlightening Darkness Concerning Seeing the Prophet (s.a.w.) & the Angels.” He said, in the beginning, “There have been many questions regarding those of spiritual states who see the Prophet (s.a.w.) in a waking state. Those who have no firm grounding in knowledge have exaggerated in denouncing this act and acting surprised upon hearing it claiming that it is impossible. Therefore, I composed this treatise.” Imam as-Suyuthi (q.s.) went on to provide the proof text regarding the possibility of seeing the Prophet (s.a.w.) in a waking state and hearing his voice as well as the voice of the angels.
Imam ibn Hajr al-Haystami (r.a.) said, “This matter has been denied by some and upheld by others who are correct. This has been mentioned by those amongst the righteous who are not found blameworthy. As well as reported in the hadits found in Swahih al-Bukhari, ‘Whoever has seen me in their sleep will see me in a waking state.’ by his eyes, or his heart. The meaning, that this is a reference to the Day of Reckoning, is a stretch as there is no point in constricting the meaning to this as all of us will see the Prophet (s.a.w.) on the Day of Reckoning, those who have seen him during sleep and those who have not.
ibn Abi Jamrah, in his commentary on the ahadits he selected from the collection of al-Bukhari, held this particular hadits to have a general meaning of both during the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) life and after. This vision being for the one who is able to follow the sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and others. He said, ‘Whoever claims that this hadits has restricted by the Prophet (s.a.w.) has deviated.’ He went on to say that anyone who denies this denies the trustworthiness of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and the Ability of Allah (s.w.t.) and is a denier of the miracles of the saints which have been confirmed by the sound proofs of the sunnah.”
The noble scholar, Imam an-Nafrawi al-Maliki (r.a.) wrote, “It is possible to see the Prophet (s.a.w.) in a waking state as well as in one’s sleep by consensus of the ahadits masters. The debate is, however, whether one sees his noble essence or an image of it. The first is the opinion of some, while the second is held by al-Ghazali, al-Qarafi, al-Yafi’i, and others. The first opinion is supported by the fact the Prophet (s.a.w.) is the lamp and light of guidance and the sun of the gnosis. Therefore, as one sees the light, the lamp, and the sun distinctly, and what is seen is a body of the sun caused by its accidents, likewise the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) noble body. Therefore, nothing leaves his body in his grave, rather Allah (s.w.t.) Removes the veils so one can see him in his location no matter his location, be it east or west. Or the veils are kept but made transparent so as not to veil what is behind them. What al-Qarafi has argued, however, is that seeing the Prophet (s.a.w.) in a night vision is accomplished by the heart, which is not blocked by the aspects of sleep. Therefore, the vision is through one’s inner perception, not one’s actual vision. The proof of this is that even a blind person can see him.”
Some people have claimed that they have seen and met the Prophet (s.a.w.) in a waking state such as Imam ibn Abi Jamrah (r.a.) and others. Their proof is the well-known hadits, “Whoever sees me in their sleep will see me in a waking state.” The person that denies this is truly at a great loss since if he is amongst those who deny the miracles of the saints, then researching this matter is entirely lost as he has denied the confirmed sunnah. The teacher of our teachers, Imam al-Laqani (r.a.) addressed all these matters in his didactic poem, Sharh Jawharat at-Tawhid.
Imam ibn al-Hajj (r.a.), in his Madkhal, wrote, “Some have claimed that they have actually seen the Prophet (s.a.w.) in a waking state. However, this is a narrow happening and those who can claim this are few and require a level of purity that is rare in this age; rather, it is near extinction. We do not, however, deny it from happening to those whom God protects in their outer and inner states.”
Shaykh ‘Ilish (r.a.) even spoke of seeing the Prophet (s.a.w.) in a waking state as a cause to reinforce the opinions of the scholars. He said, quoting Imam ash-Sha’rani (r.a.), “I heard my shaykh, ‘Ali al-Khawasw say, ‘According to the people of gnosis and insight without exception, nothing that the mujtahid a’immah say can ever contradict the shari’ah. How can what they say stray from the shari’ah when they have examined and weighed their words with the Qur’an and sunnah and the statements of the companions as well as their meeting the Messenger of God and asking him concerning all the issues regarding proofs they have come across. They would ask him, ‘Is this from your statement, O Messenger of God?’ in a waking state and orally.
Likewise, they would ask him concerning everything related to the Qur’an and sunnah before incorporating it into their books, making it religious knowledge by which they worship God with and they would ask him, ‘O Messenger of God we have understood such and such from your statement in hadits such and such, are you content with this or not?’ They would act according to his statements and indications. Whosoever questions the gnosis and insight of the a’immah and their meeting with the Messenger of God from the realm of the soul, we shall say to them, ‘This is from the miracles of the saints.’’”
From the above discussion, we can see that the pious seeing the Prophet (s.a.w.) in waking states indeed occurs. There is no rational or scriptural opposition to this; however, this door is precious and not open to everyone. It is incumbent on the one who sees the Prophet (s.a.w.) in this manner to not relate it to those who cannot understand it and therefore lead to them denying the possibility altogether. Speaking to people with that which they can understand and comprehend is better and Allah (s.w.t.) is Most High, all Knowledgeable.