Encounters during the Mi'raj: The Angel Who Never Smiled

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

During the night of the Mi’raj, the Fire was shown to the Prophet (s.a.w.).  In it, he saw Allah’s (s.w.t.) Wrath and His Punishment and Sanction.  Were rocks and iron to be thrown into it, the Fire would consume them completely.  In it were a people who were eating carrion.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) asked, “Who are these, O Jibril?”

He replied, “Those who ate the flesh of people.”

Then the Prophet (s.a.w.) saw Malik (a.s.), the Custodian of the Fire.  He was a grim figure whose face expressed anger.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) greeted him first.  Then the gates of the Fire were closed as he stood outside, and he was raised up beyond the Lote Tree of the Farthest Limit, and a cloud concealed him from everything else, and Jibril (a.s.) stayed back.

Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Alawi (q.s.) said the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) greeting of Malik (a.s.) before Malik (a.s.) greeted him first agrees with the subsequent wording of more than one narrator whereby the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “I greeted him and he returned my greeting and welcomed me, but he did not smile at me,” and this is found in some of the narrations.  However, the correct narration, as the compiler and others have said, is that it is Malik (a.s.) who greeted the Prophet (s.a.w.) first in order to dispel the harshness of his sight since his face showed severity and anger.  It is possible to harmonise the two versions with the fact that the Prophet (s.a.w.) saw Malik (a.s.) more than once, so that Malik (a.s.) was first to greet the Prophet (s.a.w.) the first time, as we said, while the Prophet (s.a.w.) was first to greet Malik (a.s.) second time, in order to dispel estrangement and to inspire familiarity.  Know also that the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) sight of Malik (a.s.) was not in the same form that those who are being punished see him.

As the Prophet (s.a.w.) was descending, he asked Jibril (a.s.), “Why did I not see any of the people of Heaven except they welcomed me and smiled at me except one: I greeted him and he greeted me back and welcomed me, but he did not smile at me?”

He replied, “That was Malik, the Custodian of the Fire.  He never smiled once since the day he was Created.  If he had ever smiled for anyone, it would have been you.”


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