The Night Journey and the Ascent through the Heavens – Sharh Usool ath-Thalaathah by Shaikh Saalih al-Fawzaan

 Sharh-ul-Usool-ith-Thalaathah by Shaikh Saalih al-Fawzaan
Translated by Dawud Burbank rahimahullaah

Below is the Transcription of the Audio Explanation of Dawud Burbank

The Night Journey and the Ascent through the Heavens (Israa wa Miraaj)

وبعد العشر عرج به إلى السماء ، وفرضت عليه الصلوات الخمس ، وصلى في مكة ثلاث سنين

After the ten years, he was taken up through the heavens and the five daily prayers were made obligatory upon him and he prayed in Makkah for three years.[61]


[61] «After the ten years, he was taken up through the heavens» He sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam remained for ten years upon this – forbidding shirk and calling to tawheed, laying down this foundation. Then, in the eleventh year, he was taken by night from Masjid al-Haraam (the Sacred Mosque) to Masjid al-Aqsaa (the farthest mosque, i.e. the mosque in Jerusalem).

He, the Most High, said:

«Perfect and Exalted is He who took His slave on a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest mosque[17:1]

Whilst he sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam was sleeping in the house of Umm Haani., Jibreel `alaihissalaatuwassalaam came to him and had with him an animal called al-Buraaq, which was smaller than a mule and larger than a donkey. Its steps were as far apart as the distance which it could see. So, he `alaihissalaatuwassalaam was caused to ride upon it and he was taken to Jerusalem at night.

(أسرى) is from (السرى) which means: ‘to travel by night.’ This was something special to him sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam and from the miracles given to him `alaihissalaatuwassalaam. So there, he met the prophets in Jerusalem, then he sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam was taken up through the Heavens. Meaning: he was raised up from Jerusalem to the heavens in the company of Jibreel – and the meaning of (العروج) is ‘to ascend.’

So, he was taken on a night journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and he was taken up from Jerusalem to the heavens – meaning: Jibreel `alaihissalaam took him up and he passed by the inhabitants of the heavens. At each level, Jibreel requested that it should be opened for him until he came to the seventh heaven.

Then, he ascended over the heavens to the farthest lote tree and there Allaah spoke to him with whatever He wished from His revelation and He made obligatory upon him the five daily prayers. So, He obligated for each day and night fifty prayers. However, Moosaa `alaihissalaam advised our Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam to ask his Lord for a reduction, for his nation would not be able to bear fifty prayers in each day and night. So, Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam kept going back to his Lord asking for a reduction until they came to be five.

Then, Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, said, as occurs in the hadeeth of the Israa. and the Mi`raaj:

»أمضيت فريضتي ، وخففت عن عبادي ، وأجزي الحسنة عشرا«

«I have established My obligatory duty and I have made it easy upon My servants, and I will reward a good deed ten times over.»[1]

In the narration of Anas from Aboo Dharr, He said:

«They are five and they are fifty.»[2]

Meaning: They are five with regards to the action and fifty in the balance (of good deeds).

Five prayers in each day and night are equal to fifty prayers upon the balance, because a good deed is rewarded with ten times its like. So a single prayer takes the place of ten prayers.

The Night Journey is mentioned at the beginning of Soorah Subhaan (the 17th soorah) [also known as] Soorah Banee Israa.eel; and the Mi`raaj is mentioned at the beginning of Sooratu-Najm:

«And he saw Jibreel on another occasion. By the farthest lote tree. Near it is the Garden of Refuge. When the lote tree was covered by that which covered it! His (sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam) sight did not deviate to the right or left nor did it go beyond that with which he was commanded. He certainly saw tremendous signs of his Lord[54:13-18]

This was with regard to the Mi`raaj.

He descended from the heaven to Jerusalem, then he returned to Makkah in the same night. So, in the morning he informed the people about that. The believers increased in eemaan, but as for the disbelievers, then their evil increased and they became happy at this and went about broadcasting it: “How can your companion claim that he went to Jerusalem and came back in a single night when we have to exert ourselves upon camels to reach it, taking a whole month to go there and a month to come back?!”

So, they made analogy between the ability of the Creator and the ability of the creation, for the Israa. and the Mi`raaj were a test from Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, for the people. The people of shirk increased in mockery and their evil and their belittlement of the Messenger sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam whereas the believers increased in eemaan.

Therefore when the people of shirk said to Aboo Bakr asSiddeeq radiyallaahu`anhu: “Look at your companion – what he is saying!” He said: “What is he saying?” They said: “He is claiming that he went to Jerusalem (and that he was taken up through the heavens) and that he came back in a single night!” Aboo Bakr asSiddeeq said: “If he said it, then it is just as he said. He has spoken the truth.” They said: “How can that be?” He said: “I attest to the truth of what he says with regard to something greater than that. I attest to the truth with regard to the news coming down from the heavens upon him. So, how should I not attest to the truth of what he says with regard to his being taken at night to Jerusalem?”[3]

This [night journey and ascension] came about through the ability of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, not through the ability of the Messenger sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam. It was only through the ability of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic. This was one of the miracles given to the Messenger sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam and is a case of Allaah showing his honorable status with his Lord, the Mighty and Majestic.

It must be held as a person’s creed and belief that he sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam was taken on the Night Journey and taken up through the Heavens with his soul and his body together whilst awake and not as a dream;, because some people say: “He was taken on the Night Journey with his soul, and as for his body, then it did not go outside Makkah. And he was only taken on the Night Journey and taken up through the heavens with his soul.” This is false and futile speech. Rather he was taken on the Night Journey with his soul and his body `alaihissalaatuwassalaam and he was carried upon al-Buraaq. And this was in a state of being awake, not asleep, since if it had happened with his soul only or if it had been a dream, then what would have been the difference between it and (other) dreams.

Whereas Allaah, the Majestic and Most High, says:

«Perfect and Exalted is He who took His `abd on a journey by night[17:1]

The `abd is used to apply to the soul and the body together. It is not used for just the soul alone that it be described as `abd, nor is it applied to the body alone that is an `abd. It is not used except to apply to the soul and the body combined, for He did not say: “Perfect and Exalted is He who took the soul of His `abd.” Rather He said: «…took His `abd on a journey by night

The `abd is the combination of the soul and the body. And Allaah, the Majestic and Most High, is not rendered incapable by anything and He is the One who has full power over everything.

He (rahimahullaah) said: «And the five daily prayers were made obligatory upon him and he prayed in Makkah for three years» He used to pray them as two rak`ahs. When the Prophet sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam migrated, the four rak`ah prayers were completed and became four rak`ahs – except for Fajr prayer, for in that he lengthened the recitation so it remained as two rak`ahs just as it was, and except for the maghrib prayer, for indeed it is three from the first period when it was made obligatory, because it is the witr (prayer with the odd number of rak`ahs) of the daytime. As for the Dhuhr, `Asr and the `Ishaa prayers, then in Makkah they were two rak`ahs each but when the Prophet sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam made Hijrah, they were made complete as four rak`ahs.

As occurs in the hadeeth:

«The prayer was first made obligatory as two rak`ahs, then when the Prophet sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam made Hijrah, the prayer for the resident was completed and the prayer of the traveler remained as it was.»[4]

This is by consensus of the people of knowledge, that the prayer was obligatory in Makkah and that the Prophet sallallaahu`alaihiwasallam prayed it in Makkah. However, they differ about whether it was made obligatory three years before the Hijrah?

This is what is more correct, just as the Shaykh mentioned here. Or it is otherwise said that it was made obligatory five years before the Hijrah, or it is said one year before the Hijrah, or it is said a year and a half. However the most correct saying is what the Shaykh mentioned is that it was three years before the Hijrah.

And was anything else from the pillars of Islaam made obligatory along with the prayer? This is an area of disagreement amongst the scholars; some of them held that the Zakaat was also made obligatory in Makkah, and that only its applicable limits, its amounts and those eligible to receive it were made clear in al-Madeenah. But as for the origin of its being made obligatory, then that was in Makkah.

And the proof is His saying, He the Most High:

«And give the right due from the crops on the day when it is harvested[6:141]

The meaning of the «due» here is the Zakaat. And the whole soorah came down in Makkah.

And likewise in His statement:

«And those whose wealth has a known portion for the beggar who asks and for the deprived[70:24-25]

This soorah also came down in Makkah. And what is meant by the «known portion» is the Zakaat. So, it was in origin made obligatory in Makkah, however, its details were made clear in al-Madeenah. This is one saying.

The second saying: what is apparent from the speech of the Shaykh here, is that the Zakaat was only made obligatory in al-Madeenah and nothing was made obligatory in Makkah, except for the first pillar which is tawheed and the second pillar which is the prayer. This is what is apparent from the speech of the Shaykh.

Footnotes :

[1] Reported by al-Bukhaaree no. 3208 and no. 3887 as a hadeeth of Maalik ibn Sa`sa`ah and it is a long hadeeth containing the story of the Mi`raaj (the Ascent through the Heavens).

[2] Reported by al-Bukhaaree no. 349 as a hadeeth of Anas from Aboo Dharr, radiyallaahu `anhumaa.

[3] [Reported by al-Haakim in al-Mustadrak 3/65 no. 4407 as a hadeeth of `Aa.ishah radiyallaahu`anhaa. [Declared saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaanee in asSaheehah no. 306].

[4] Reported by al-Bukhaaree no. 350 and Muslim no. 685 as a hadeeth of `Aa.ishah radiyallaahu `anhaa.

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Sharh-ul-Usool-ith-Thalaathah by Shaikh Saalih al-Fawzaan