Friday, 28 April 2017

Encounters during the Mi'raj: The Prophet (s.a.w.) at the Farthest Lote Tree

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

During the night of the Mi’raj, the Prophet (s.a.w.) was Raised up to the Lote Tree of the Farthest Limit.  There ends whatever ascends from the earth before it is seized, and whatever descends from above before it is seized.  It is a tree from the base of which issue rivers whose water is never brackish.  It does not change in taste, or colour, or smell, and the sweat of those who drink it in Paradise has the fragrance of musk; and rivers of milk whose taste does not change after it is drunk; and rivers of wine which brings only pleasure to those who drink it; and rivers of purified honey.  Someone on his mount could travel under its shade for seventy years and still not come out of it.  The lotus fruit that grows on it resembles the jars of hijar near Madina.  Its leaves are shaped like the ears of the she-elephant, and each leaf could wrap up this ummah entirely.  One version says, one of its leaves could wrap up all creatures.

Shaykh ad-Dardir (r.a.) said, “This is the eighth ascension, meaning that it is the ascension to what is higher than the Lote Tree by means of the eighth step, so that the Prophet (s.a.w.) reached the top height of its branches in the eighth firmament which is called al-Kursi, which is made of a white pearl.  This is found in al-Qalyubi, and it is the apparent sense of the account.  However, it is contradicted by what is mentioned later: ‘Then he came to al-Kawtsar,’ because al-Kawtsar, like the remainder of the rivers, flows from the base of the Tree, not from its top, and the account goes on to say after this, ‘Then he was raised up to the Lote Tree of the Farthest Limit.’  It follows that the raising up to the Lote-tree took place more than once, but undoubtedly this is dubious for whoever ponders it.  I saw in al-Ajhuri's account here, ‘Then he came to the Lote Tree of the farthest boundary,’ and this is correct as it does not signify being raised up.  This makes it clear that he came to the Tree and saw at its base, the rivers, which are soon to be mentioned, and he travelled towards al-Kawtsar.  What the narrator said later, ‘Then he was raised to the Lote Tree of the Farthest Limit...’ indicates that the eighth ascension took place at that later point and that the present stage is only an exposition of his coming to the base of the Tree which is in the seventh heaven.  Another narration states that it is in the Sixth Heaven.  What harmonises the two is that its base is in the Sixth Heaven while its branches and trunk are in the Seventh.”

On top of each leaf there was an angel who covered it with colours which cannot be described.  Whenever he covered it by Allah’s (s.w.t.) Order, it would change.  One version says it would turn into sapphire and chrysolite the beauty of which it is impossible for anyone to praise according to what its merit.  On it were moths of gold.  From the base of the tree issued four more rivers: two hidden rivers and two visible ones.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) asked, “What are these, O Jibril?”

He replied, “As for the hidden ones, they are two rivers of Paradise.  The visible ones are the Nile and the Euphrates.”

Hafizh ibn Katsir (r.a.) said, “What is meant by this, and Allah knows best, is that these two rivers”, referring to the Nile and the Euphrates, “resemble the rivers of Paradise in their purity and sweetness and fluidity and such of their qualities, as the Prophet (s.a.w.) said in the hadits narrated by Abu Hurayrah (r.a.), ‘al-‘ajwa min al-jannah,’ ‘Date pastry is from Paradise,’ that is, it resembles the fruit of Paradise, not that it itself originates in Paradise.  For if that were the meaning then the senses would testify to the contrary.  Therefore, the meaning which imposes itself is other than that.  Similarly, the source of origin of these rivers is on earth.”

One version says that at the base of the tree ran a source called Salsabil.  From it issued two rivers; one is al-Kawtsar.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “I saw it flowing impetuously, roaring, at the speed of arrows.  Near it were pavilions of pearl, sapphire, and chrysolite on top of which nested green birds more delicate than any you have ever seen.  On its banks were vessels of gold and silver.  It ran over pebbles made of sapphire and emerald.  Its water was whiter than milk.”

The Prophet (s.a.w.) took one of the vessels and scooped some water and drank.  It was sweeter than honey and more fragrant than musk.  Jibril (a.s.) said to him, “This is the river which Allah has Given you as a Special Gift, and the other river is the River of Mercy.”  The Prophet (s.a.w.) bathed in it and his past and future sins were Forgiven.

One version says that at the Lote Tree of the Farthest Limit, the Prophet (s.a.w.) saw Jibril (a.s.) in his angelic form.  He had six hundred wings.  Every single wing could cover the entire firmament.  From his wings embellishments were strewn in all directions, such as rare pearls and sapphires of a kind Allah (s.w.t.) Alone Knows.


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