Prophet Muhammad’s Miraj: A Powerful Metaphor for Our Spiritual Journey

Photo: The Trustees of the British Museum. Copyright.

Photo: The Trustees of the British Museum. Copyright. Click on image for article, I Have a Time with God

“While ascent (al-ma’arij) in its simple meaning gives a clue to the upward direction of the Prophet’s journey, it proclaims very emphatically that if God has placed man on this earth, He has also set up a ladder for man to climb up to Him. No wonder Allah calls Himself the Lord of the Ways of Ascent (Dhu ’l-ma‘arij).”Read more

This is an unusual example of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) pictured in an Islamic manuscript. It comes from a royal miniature made to illustrate a copy of the poems of the celebrated Persian Nizami, and depicts the Prophet’s ascension to heaven on the horse Buraq, guided by the archangel Gabriel, with an escort of angels. According to tradition, the face of the Prophet is blanked out in the miniature.

“In spiritual life, serial time no longer exists. The moment a soul breaks through created time and reaches the ‘Eternal Now in God’, everything created is annihilated in its experience. The serial time is torn. Finally, the Prophet says: ‘And He revealed to me secrets that I am not allowed to communicate to you’” — Read more

The identity of the artist who created the illustration is not known. The calligraphy in this piece was created by Shah Mahmud Nishapuri (d. 1564-5) for Shah Tahmasp (r. 1524-76) — the ruler of Iran who at one point owned the Koh-i-noor diamond, then the world’s largest, and now in the Tower of London.

“His yearning for the ‘exalted station’ becomes intense, and as often as he feels this longing he turns to Bilal and says: “O Bilal, comfort us by the call to prayer.” Thus to the Prophet every time of prayer is an ascension (mi’raj) and a new nearness to God.” — Read more

The story of Prophet Muhammad’s journey has had a profound influence on Islamic thought, and Sufism and other esoteric traditions in Islam particular see it as a powerful metaphor for man’s spiritual journey. Please read The Prophetic Tradition ‘I Have a Time with God’ (li ma’a Allah waqt).

Text for image compiled from the website of the British Museum. Please visit http://www.britishmuseum.org.

Date posted: Sunday, May 10, 2015

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Mi’raj-e-Rasul – The Night Journey of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) by Jehangir A. Merchant

PLEASE CLICK: An Esoteric Interpretation of the Mi’raj and the Prophetic Tradition ‘I Have a Time with God’ (li ma’a Allah waqt) By Jehangir A. Merchant

This painted page from a manuscript shows the Archangel Gabriel with the Prophets Moses (left) and Muhammad (right). Surrounded by angels they discuss the question of daily prayers. This happened during Prophet Muhammad’s ascent to heaven. Because it was forbidden to show Muhammad, his face is veiled. Image: Copyright Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF). Please click on image for literary reading.

This painted page from a manuscript shows the Archangel Gabriel with the Prophets Moses (left) and Muhammad (right). Surrounded by angels they discuss the question of daily prayers. This happened during Prophet Muhammad’s ascent to heaven. Because it was forbidden to show Muhammad, his face is veiled. Image: Copyright Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF). Please click on image for literary reading.

DETAILS OF THE IMAGE

This single sheet probably came from a handwritten work completed for the Ottoman Sultan Murad III (r. AH 982–1003 / AD 1574–95), and is currently housed at the Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany. It features, between bands of script, the prophets Moses and Muhammad and the Archangel Gabriel conversing in heaven. Angels, perched on five clouds behind these three principal characters, appear to be listening. The scene portrayed is one from Muhammad’s visionary ascension to heaven. Muhammad stands on the right-hand side in a long green robe and turban, and Moses, wearing a long dark red robe, is on the left, in front of his heavenly throne, which is denoted by an inscription in Arabic lettering. Moses is gesturing his hands in speech. Muhammad, with whom he is conversing, stands on the opposite side. A white veil conceals his face, while his hands are hidden in the long sleeves of his gown. The heads of both prophets are crowned with halos, within which their names, written in a black script, can be deciphered. The Archangel Gabriel stands between Muhammad and Moses, turning towards Muhammad. He is characterised by a twin pair of multi-coloured wings and a crown. He is featured in the Old Testament as the gate-keeper of Paradise. As one of two angels standing in the presence of God (Luke 1:19), it was Gabriel who explained the story of the Messiah (Daniel 8:16ff.). In Muslim tradition, the angel brought the Divine Revelation of the Holy Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad. In Sura 2 verse 97 it is written that: Gabriel ‘has by God’s grace revealed it [the Qur’an] to you [Muhammad] to your heart’.

The text above the three personages, which describes the story, is written in Ottoman Turkish. It includes the account of Muhammad discussing with God the number of daily prayers. Both eventually agreed on five daily prayers. Moses is Muhammad’s heavenly adviser and Gabriel is his companion. The direct speech of all those involved is written in Arabic. The text is taken from a biography of the prophet which had appeared from the AH 1st century/AD 7th century on. The generic term for this type of biography is sira, which translates as ‘life facts’ or ‘way of life’.  (Text adapted from the website of MWNF – see link below).

Date posted: Saturday, May 24, 2014.

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For further information about the image shown above, please click on Page of Ottoman Manuscript. Please also click on http://www.museumwnf.org/.

Links to a selection of Jehangir Merchant’s pieces at Simerg:

An Esoteric Interpretation of the Mi’raj, and the Prophetic Tradition ‘I Have a Time with God’ by Jehangir A. Merchant @Simerg

The night journey (al-isra) and the ascension (al-mi’raj) of the Prophet is observed on the 27th Rajab. This is an event of great spiritual significance because the exalted experience of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) is viewed by all Muslims as an example of his elevated status. Significant events of this nature in the life of the Prophet are a source of inspiration for the believers to excel in their quest for spiritual enlightenment and also serve as a model for the believers to emulate. The attainment of this exalted status is possible for every believer who correctly practice his or her Faith in accordance with the proper guidance of Allah through His Prophet and the designated successors (i.e. the Imams).

An Esoteric Interpretation of the Mi’raj and the Prophetic Tradition ‘I Have a Time with God’ (li ma’a Allah waqt)

Fragment from a manuscript of Bustan of Sadi extolling the Prophet’s miraculous ascension to the heavens (mi’raj) Image: Wikipedia. Please click for article.

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